§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
I wish to ask a Question or two in reference to the statement that was made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I think at an unusual time—such statements being generally made after, and not before, the Questions. I do not wish to conclude with a Motion; but I trust the House will permit me to say one or two words in explanation. I understand the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated that Sir Garnet Wolseley had been appointed both Civil and Military Governor of South Africa. ["No."] Then, of some portion of South Africa.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I said Natal and the Transvaal, and those portions of territory to the North and East of those Colonies.
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
Well, I wish to know what is the effect of that appointment in regard to superseding officers already there—among them Sir Henry Bulwer, one of the most competent men in South Africa? I wish to know from the Government, Whether it is to be understood by the House and the country that the confidence of the Government has been withdrawn from the General Commanding-in-Chief; and whether the statement which has appeared in the Cape papers that Sir Bartle Frere has no intention of resigning the position he holds is correct, or whether he has acquiesced in the censure that has been passed upon him by Her Majesty's Government? I wish to put another Question and make an explanation. I do not wish to conclude with a Motion; but I am particularly anxious that this subject should be discussed before the adjournment for the holidays, and should be prepared to raise the question to-morrow on the Motion that you, Sir, do leave the Chair; but I will not do so if the House will permit me to make an explanation. It has to be remembered that at this present moment there are at the Cape forces amounting to nearly 22,000 men, and I want to know whether anything has occurred——
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
I rise to Order. I think it is unfair to other Members that the right hon. Baronet 1242 should be allowed to make remarks unless he means to conclude with a Motion.
§ MR. SPEAKER
As long as the right hon. Gentleman puts a Question, and confines himself to that Question, and to such information as is necessary to make that Question plain to the House, he is in Order.
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
The Question is one of very great importance, and it is this—Whether it is to be understood by the House of Commons and by the country that the confidence of the Government has been withdrawn from the General Commanding-in-Chief, Lord Chelmsford? I wish also to inquire whether Sir Henry Bulwer, the competent Governor of Natal, is superseded? I wish also to inquire whether Sir Bartle Frere is supposed no longer to exercise the functions which he has hitherto discharged in that part of South Africa? I hope the Government will also allow me to inquire whether it is intended before the vacation—either tonight or to-morrow—to offer to the country any statement as regards the position of affairs in South Africa?
said, he wished to put a Question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the same subject, and he also had no intention of concluding with a Motion if he could avoid it, but the circumstances were peculiar; the emergency was severe. They would tomorrow evening be dismissed to their homes for a fortnight; and, if they were to judge from the past, they might expect on Wednesday or Thursday to receive some stunning surprise. It was, therefore, strongly pressed upon him that he should like to know—[Interruption.] He did appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as they were about to separate to-morrow, to make, if he could, some statement with reference to the present position in South Africa, and also in reference to the intentions of the Government that were to be carried out by the new Commander-in-Chief. He must ask the indulgence of the House while he completely explained his Question. If, while hon. Members were scattered through the country, they found an invasion of Zululand once more in full swing, and scenes that all would deplore being enacted, the blood of the country 1243 would be lip. [Cries of "Oh!" "Move!" and "Order!"] He would conclude with a Motion. He decidedly objected to Members being dismissed to their homes without some specific information on a subject which was deep in the heart of the country. They wished for peace; and they wanted a positive assurance from the Government that they would not renew the invasion of Zululand for any mere idle pretext of what was called vindicating the disaster of Isandlana. They wanted to know how much bloodshed the Government thought must be poured out before that vindication took place. It was to him abhorrent that, 10 days hence, they should find a war, brutal and barbarous, in full swing, and no House of Commons sitting to put even a Question to the Minister of the day. He would tell his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) that his Motion would come too late, for they would then be told, "Our arms were in the field, and our gallant soldiers in the grip of a deadly foe. Do not paralyze their arms at a moment like this; to do so would be eminently unpatriotic." He appealed to the Government to tell the House that Sir Garnet Wolseley would be the messenger of peace—he need not be a coward for that, for he had already vindicated in Africa and elsewhere the traditional courage of the British Army—and that he would take in his portfolio some decision of the Government which would enable him, before carrying fire and sword into Zululand, to make offers to Cetewayo which might effect a settlement of the question. He begged to move the adjournment of the House.
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
asked leave to second the Motion, and begged most earnestly to support the appeal made to the Government by the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan). A moment or two ago he ventured to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Papers shortly to be laid on the Table would contain the general instructions which had been given to Sir Garnet Wolseley? The Chancellor of the Exchequer made what he (Mr. Chamberlain) chose to call a very cavalier reply—"That he could not be expected to say what would be contained in the Papers." That seemed to him an extremely unsatisfactory position in which to place the House. They wanted 1244 to know whether the appointment of Sir Garnet Wolseley was an augury of peace, or whether he only went out to South Africa as a messenger of still more violent war? They had felt—and that had been one of the grounds of the Motion he had made—they had felt that as long as Sir Bartle Frere was High Commissioner, and enjoyed the confidence of the Government, and as long as his policy was unchanged, there was no chance of peace until the Zulu power had been utterly destroyed. That kind of peace they regarded as no peace at all, but only the beginning of further difficulties and danger. They felt that unless a new Representative of Her Majesty were sent out, there would be no hope of a peaceable settlement of this most unfortunate affair—a war commenced in injustice, and which they did not wish to see continued—a war commenced in injustice and wrong—a war commenced without any necessity—a war in which the country would never have engaged, if the House had had an opportunity of expressing an opinion upon it. He seconded the Motion for adjournment.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Sullivan.)
§ MR. O'DONNELL
trusted that in the satisfactory assurances which, he hoped, were about to be given, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be able to say that Sir Garnet Wolseley would be instructed to grant to the people of the Transvaal, who had been fraudulently robbed of their rights, as full and complete an instalment of independence as was consistent with the safety of our South African Colonies.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I do not understand, Sir, that the House desires now to open up a general discussion upon South African policy; but I do fully understand that hon. Members who were not present when I made a statement at the beginning of Business would wish to hear what I then said. What I stated at that time was, that after a full consideration of the condition of affairs in South Africa, Her Majesty's Government had decided that the arrangement under which the chief Civil and Military authority in the neighbourhood of the seat of war was distributed between four different persons could no longer be deemed 1245 adequate. By these four different persons I, of course, mean Sir Bartle Frere as the High Commissioner, Sir Henry Bulwer as Civil Governor of Natal, Colonel Lanyon as Administrator of the Transvaal, and Lord Chelmsford, Commander-in-Chief of the Forces. I therefore said that Her Majesty's Government had determined on appointing Sir Garnet Wolseley as Civil and Military Governor in Natal, the Transvaal, and the Native territory to the Northward and Eastward of those Colonies which are now the seat of war. Sir Henry Bulwer is the Lieutenant Governor of Natal, and Sir Garnet Wolseley will be the Governor. Similarly, he will be the Governor of the Transvaal, and he will be the High Commissioner who will conduct the relations of the Crown with the Native Tribes to the north and east of those territories. It will be remembered that that country is more than 1,000 miles distant from Cape Town, and that Sir Bartle Frere is at present—and will be for some considerable time—detained at Cape Town by important business which he has to transact in Cape Colony. With reference to the Question of the right hon. Baronet, Sir Bartle Frere has not yet answered, or we have not received, any answer to the despatch to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. I do not think it would be convenient that I should attempt, on the present occasion, to enter into any fuller explanation further than to say this—that we propose immediately to lay upon the Table Papers which will explain the precise nature and the reason of the appointment which has been made of Sir Garnet Wolseley. Of course, the instructions which will be given to Sir Garnet Wolseley will be laid upon the Table, and will be circulated as quickly as possible, but we were anxious to save time; and I am not sure whether it will be possible to include those instructions in the first batch of Papers which will be laid on the Table. Of course, they will be laid upon the Table, and I hope they will be very shortly in the hands of hon. Members. The Papers which relate to the nature of the appointments will be laid immediately. Of course, I cannot object to any discussion which hon. Members may choose to invite us to; but I hope it may be considered that this is not a very convenient opportunity for 1246 entering upon a discussion of South African policy.
§ SIR HENRY HAVELOCK
said, he had no desire to enter into any general! discussion; but he thought it would be convenient to the House and the country that there should be a fuller explanation as to how the new arrangements would affect the position of Lord Chelmsford. Sir Garnet Wolseley was a lieutenant-general, and Lord Chelmsford held the local rank of lieutenant-general in Africa. He wished to know whether Lord Chelmsford's position would be that of second in command, or would he revert to the command of one of the two main columns, or would he revert to the command of the troops in Cape Colony, 1,000 miles from the seat of war, or would he be entirely superseded and set aside? He knew the eminent capacity of Sir Garnet Wolseley, and he hoped he would take out a message of peace, honourable to this country, and conduct the military operations to a successful and speedy termination.
§ MR. WADDY
thought hon. Members were fully justified in asking for some further information than the Chancellor of the Exchequer had yet given. He had given entirely the go-by to the letter, if not to the spirit, of the Questions addressed to him on this side of the House. What ought to be distinctly underststood was, whether the instructions to be given to Sir Garnet Wolseley would place him in the position of being a messenger of peace, or a messenger of war, charged with the extermination of the Zulu people? Everyone, of course, knew the high merits and capacity of Sir Garnet Wolseley, and they had heard something about the vindication of the honour of this country; but were they going to tell the world that it was necessary to vindicate the majesty of the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland by exterminating these wretched Zulus? To say such a thing was almost an insult. It was, therefore, essential to know what Sir Garnet Wolseley was instructed to do in Africa. How long-were we going to continue this war against this wretched Zulu Kingdom—against a country which, in fact, had never attacked us? It had already been stated that the war was an unjust one, and hon. Gentlemen opposite had demurred to the statement. But what could be stronger than the censure passed by the Government on Sir Bartle Frere 1247 for what he had done in the matter? But what were we doing now, and after that policy had been censured by the Government? We were establishing a series of military posts right across the Zulu country; and for what earthly reason? The House ought to be told what was going to be done. There were, practically, 25,000 soldiers there already; and Sir Garnet Wolseley, and he did not know how many more soldiers, were going to be sent out. The chief thing which the people of this country desired to know was, whether this war was to last two or three years, or how long? Were we to drive the Zulus out of the full extent of their territory? You would not get rid of them by so doing, but might make things worse and worse. That being so, the people wished to know whether anything short of the entire destruction of the Zulus was to be the limit of the operations that was to end the war. Whether unjust or not in its inception, it was clear that we could gain no credit to our arms by proceeding with it any further against a mere horde of savages.
§ SIR ROBERT PEEL
I wish to express the unfeigned satisfaction which the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer has given me, and I hope that now we shall see this miserable affair in South Africa placed in the hands of one competent to deal with a most difficult situation, and that that of which I and many others in this House complained of from the beginning—namely, the extreme difficulty attending the ruling and directing of South Africa by four or five heads—will now be removed by the sole direction being placed, as we have been told it will be, under the management of one capable Commander. I wish, also, to call the attention of the Government to the two assurances which they have made during the course of this Session—one was in answer to the humane request made some time ago by the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan), and the other in answer to the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain); and, on the first occasion, the Government stated most distinctly that until the reverses of the Army had been avenged, and until their military position was reestablished, they did not intend to enter into any negotiations for peace. Let us hope, now that the military position has been re-established, that they will not 1248 shrink from listening to the humane voice that was first raised in this House by the hon. and learned Member for Louth, and that they will now in their hearts consider whether the time has not arrived for entertaining proposals of peace from a man upon whom, from the showing of the Government themselves—and no matter what anybody else may say, the Blue Books prove it—upon whom a war has been forced—a war both unnecessary and unjust—and who, over and over again, expressed his desire to be on friendly terms with the great English people. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has replied to the hon. Member, for Birmingham that instructions both negative and positive have been forwarded. Now, let us hope that, above all, straightforward and honest instructions have been forwarded to the Cape—and that the first opportunity will be taken, not to overrun the country, nor to undertake measures which will lead to the further shedding of blood and to still further expenditure, but to terminate a war which shocks the hearts and feelings of the English people.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
Sir, I had no wish to take part in this debate; but I cannot avoid making a few remarks. I entirely agree with what has been said upon the subject; and I earnestly hope that the instructions given to Sir Garnet Wolseley will be such as will bring the war to a speedy conclusion. I think the Government ought not to feel surprised at the great anxiety of the House to know something as to the purport of those instructions. I am very glad, indeed, to hear the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It does much to relieve my anxiety not merely with regard to the safety of our troops, but with regard to our policy in South Africa. We have much confidence in Sir Garnet Wolseley; but I hope I may be allowed to remind the House that we are in this position:—We are informed, so far as we can gain information from the despatches on the Table, and from intelligence obtained from the newspapers, that the policy upon which the war now appears to be conducted at this moment in South Africa is such that the Zulu King—to use an expression I have seen quoted on good authority—feels that if he were to comply with the demand which has been made upon him for unconditional submission, that would, in his opinion, 1249 mean perpetual imprisonment. I cannot think this fear of his very unreasonable, and, if so, his reluctance to accept our conditions is very natural. Does the Government intend another departure in the policy they have of late pursued in South Africa? It is surely not upon military grounds alone that Sir Garnet Wolseley is being sent out to the seat of war; and I most earnestly desire that the Government will not allow the House to separate without some assurance that we may hope to look forward to a speedy end of this war. This is not the time to debate whether the war is a just one or not; but I never knew a case in which there was such a general admission of the accuracy of the statement made by Members on this side of the House that the war is an unnecessary one. Let the Government consider what is the real meaning of a war which is not a necessary war, what it means to our soldiers, what it means to the gallant men—savages though they are—who are fighting against us; what is the condition of our own brave youths, fighting as they are for their Colours, for the banner of Englishmen—fighting under the terribly disastrous circumstances of climate—still, I hope, not for the utter extermination of a hopeful race, who, savages though they are, have yet shown great courage and the power of obedience. If this war be persisted in, it will probably mean the utter extermination of this race by an overpowering force? I cannot resist the opportunity of earnestly calling upon the Government to give some assurance that there is no intention to cause the extermination of the Zulu race, and that we may look for a speedy termination of the war.
§ COLONEL STANLEY
The Government have said all along that they were as anxious as any persons in the country could be to conclude this Zulu War at as early a day as was found to be consistent with the safety of our Colonies and the honour of our arms. From that declaration they have in no degree departed, and I would venture to state that the instructions with which Sir Garnet Wolseley will be furnished will be framed in the fullest accordance with those principles. It has been found necessary for the purpose of affairs in South Africa to place the conduct of matters in the hands of one officer, who 1250 shall exercise both civil and military control; and it has been found that it was a most fortunate circumstance that Sir Garnet Wolseley's presence at home has enabled the Government to avail themselves of his able services. [Laughter.] If the House will take my authority for the statement, his coming home is connected with purely military matters; and the Government have availed themselves of the circumstance of his being at home to send out without delay an officer, of whose courage and talents it would scarcely become me to speak, but which are fully recognized by the country, and which have been successful in a remarkable degree, not only in a military, but also in an administrative capacity. Singularly fortunate, also, is it that within the last few years Sir Garnet Wolseley has had, of all men, perhaps the best means of forming an intimate knowledge of Natal, and of its Frontiers, and the tribes along its borders; and we trust that, acting in the fullest accordance with the instructions he receives, he will be able so to act that, with little delay, he may give such a turn to affairs in those Colonies as may lead to the operations in the field being speedy and conclusive, and will thus enable this country, at the earliest possible period, to revert to that peace which, provided it can be obtained with safety to our Colonies and honour to our arms, we all alike desire. I am asked by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford whether Sir Garnet Wolseley is to be sent out with instructions for the extermination of the Zulu people? I will venture to say that no one who will take the trouble to search through the Correspondence relating to the affairs in Zululand will find such a word, or anything like such a word, in it from beginning to end. The fact is, it is utterly opposed to the policy of the Government. It is necessary that the safety of the Colonies should be provided for; it is necessary that the system of future defences should be provided for; and, in both respects, I think I may venture to appeal to the judgment of the country—if any man can be found more fitted to provide for those exigencies than Sir Garnet Wolseley? I am asked how far Lord Chelmsford's position will be affected by the change? Sir Garnet Wolseley is in the Army senior to Lord Chelmsford, and though it is true that 1251 Lord Chelmsford at the present moment holds a local rank which gives him the position of lieutenant-general, he is still in many degrees junior to Sir Garnet Wolseley; and by the sending out of a senior officer he will naturally have to subordinate his plan and his general action to the superior officer who may be on the spot. I am bound to say that the instructions to be framed, giving Sir Garnet Wolseley the general direction of affairs, military as well as civil, must not be held to imply censure on Lord Chelmsford's proceedings. It is simply that we have found it necessary at the present time to place the direction of affairs, civil and military, in one pair of hands; and that Her Majesty's Government, having fully stated the views with which they are anxious, at as early a period as may be consistent with the general safety, to bring this war to a conclusion, will send out Sir Garnet Wolseley with instructions framed on that basis—instructions which I hope, with the great ability that distinguishes him, he may be able to carry out efficiently and ably for the benefit of the country and the Colonies.
§ MR. WHITBREAD
desired to come to the specific question—"What ought to be done by the Government to-day and to-morrow?" The Questions which had been addressed to the Government were, in his opinion, most reasonable, and the assurances of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman who had just spoken were good as far as they went; but the House wanted fuller and more definite information. Was there any ground for withholding the instructions given to Sir Garnet Wolseley? As far as he could see it, there was absolutely none at all. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had told them that he would lay the full text of the instructions before the House as soon as he could. Why should they not be laid before the House today or to-morrow?
§ MR. WHITBREAD
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman meant to say that he had come down there and had assured the House that the Government were going to send out Sir Garnet Wolseley to South Africa to assume the supreme command, but that the Cabinet did not yet know what his instructions were to be?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I really must correct the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Gentleman asks why do we not lay the text of the instructions before the House, and I reply the text is not prepared.
admitted that he did use the word text, but what he wished to ask for was the substance in detail of the instructions. It seemed to him that was a most reasonable request. The House were about to separate for a fortnight. It was a question on which the country entertained the deepest feeling. They knew perfectly well what the views of the Government were generally on the subject—that they did not wish to go into the war at all. But was this appointment of Sir Garnet Wolseley to be looked on as a turning point? If it was, let the Government frankly tell the House what the instructions were. Unless the Government were prepared to state to-morrow in detail what was the substance of the instructions proposed to be given to Sir Garnet Wolseley, then, in his judgment, the House ought not to allow itself to be sent about its business. He should not have made such a strong statement but for this—they knew the language which the Government had held in this House, and they knew the language which they had held to their subordinates in South Africa, and they knew the consequences of that language, and that the country had been plunged into a miserable war. The House, therefore, wanted to know whether they might look on this as a turning point in the policy of the Government? If the instructions would bear that interpretation, why could not the Government give it to the House before sending them away for the Holidays? When they came back they would be told they were too late. That was the way they had been treated. It was always so. The Government said—"Do not discuss these things now, because you interfere with the carrying out of a policy;" and when it was over their reply was—"Oh, all that has gone by, and you are now to late to express your opinion." He therefore hoped the House would take time by the forelock, and insist on knowing what the instructions were. The Government must have made up its mind what they were to be, and he hoped the House would not allow itself to be sent about 1253 its business until it knew what they were.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that he declined on the present occasion to enter upon the causes of the war in South Africa. That was a matter upon which Her Majesty's Ministers must satisfy their own consciences. Considering the circumstances of the present juncture, he thought that the present was obviously a case in which the command ought to be concentrated; and, in his opinion, it could not have been concentrated in abler hands than those of Sir Garnet Wolseley. He deprecated, however, a section of the House assuming the functions which the Dutch Commissioners thought they were performing while Marlborough was carrying on a successful war. He deprecated the idea that because doubt might be entertained as to the justice of the origin of this war, the Government should, after many valuable lives had been sacrificed, and after a hostile spirit had been aroused in an African tribe which was organized in the fashion of the old Knights Templars, be tempted to believe that the country would excuse a failure in an undertaking which had already cost us so dearly. As the case now stood, the first duty of Her Majesty's Government was to secure the lives and property of the Colonists, while their next duty was to secure this country against a repetition of such onerous demands as had been made upon it for this purpose during a period of depression.
§ COLONEL MURE
said, the reason why he was anxious to see the war concluded—however good the conduct of our soldiers—was that in no sense could it ever be called an honourable war, or one which would bring honour to the Colony or to the British arms. He looked with a deep feeling of sorrow, not only at the losses which were being sustained by our own soldiers, but at the slaughter of the Zulus, who were being slain by thousands. Many of the soldiers who had been sent out to fight the Zulus wore more boys, which he regarded as a great military mistake and a great blot upon the humanity of this country. If they were to have war let them employ men to fight, and not boys; and he urged upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer that no diplomatic harm could be done by the Government being frank and open in their communications to the House.
wished to confine his remarks to the point to which the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) limited his observations. The right hon. Member said the demand upon the Government was reasonable. He (Mr. Chaplin) said it was unreasonable. What was that demand, and what was their position to-night? The Government had come to a most serious decision. They had decided to send out a Commander-in-Chief to command our Forces in South Africa, and they came down to the House and said that the instructions they had given to Sir Garnet Wolseley would, as soon as they were prepared, be laid on the Table. The demand was that, at a moment's notice, Government should communicate the instructions given to Sir Garnet Wolseley to the House. [An hon. MEMBER: To-morrow.] It was true the hon. Member for Birmingham had qualified his demand and said "to-morrow;" but how could they be printed by tomorrow? And what did these instructions mean? The instructions to Sir Garnet Wolseley meant the future policy of the Government in South Africa. They must be of some length; and unless the House had them before it, how could hon. Members initiate a debate upon them? He hoped the Government would not allow themselves for a moment to be inveigled into a grave debate on this important matter.
§ MR. FAWCETT
thought the request of his hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham was a perfectly reasonable one. The Question of his hon. Friend was one which the country was asking, and expected to be answered. He wished to point out that it would be fairer to the Government if 24 hours were given to them to consider whether the Question which his hon. Friend had addressed to them was one which they could consistently with their public duty answer. His hon. Friend had asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to tell that House and the country what was the general policy which Sir Garnet Wolseley would be instructed to carry out. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said it would be impossible to tell without compromising that policy, of course our mouths were closed. But as the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that the substance of the text would be laid before the House in a few days, 1255 there could be no reason for secrecy. The simple question raised by his hon. Friend seemed to him to be one of the first importance—namely, whether or not the influence of that House should be brought to bear on a question of vital importance before the House, and also whether the opinion of the House should produce any effect upon the policy about to be carried out. As he understood the Motion for the adjournment of the House would be made at the beginning of the Morning Sitting to-morrow, he would suggest to his hon. Friend whether it would not be well for him to repeat his Question on the Motion for the adjournment.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, when the right hon. Baronet (Sir Robert Peel) rose to put his Question accompanied with some explanations, he (Mr. Mitchell Henry) had ventured to rise to Order, on the ground that it was unfair to other Members of the House to open the flood-gates of this question, and not allow other Members to express their opinions. It was impossible it could be so. He wished now to ask a Question in relation to the appointment of Sir Garnet Wolseley. The Government, apparently, had now found out this Officer was the right man to conduct affairs in South Africa; but Sir Garnet Wolseley's opinion, based upon experience, had been long on record, and that opinion was that no war should be commenced in Zululand with a Force of less than 20,000 Europeans in the country. Contrary to that opinion, Sir Bartle Frere was sent out, and he had no experience. Lord Chelmsford, whose experience was very slight, was also sent, and the war was commenced with a Force utterly inadequate. Everyone acquainted with the Zulus and their mode of warfare shuddered at the manner in which the war was entered upon, with that spirit of light-hearted-ness for which M. Ollivier was celebrated at the commencement of the Franco-German War. Since the Zulu War commenced we had had disaster after disaster, and our troops had undergone suffering almost unparalleled in the history of Colonial warfare. What was now the condition of our troops there? The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Secretary of State for War knew perfectly well that in one division of the troops at the Cape there was an amount 1256 of sickness and a dearth of medical officers which was a disgrace to this country. It was well known that the clothes of the troops were much worn out, and that they had not received a supply of light clothing, which it was essential, in a country like Africa, they ought to receive. The country at a future time would require a complete answer to all these questions. At present he felt justified, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for reasons not easy to understand, and at a very unusual moment, interposed to inform the House that Sir Garnet Wolseley was going to the Cape for the purpose mentioned—he felt justified in asking, did the Chancellor of the Exchequer suppose that the country would be satisfied without knowing for what purpose Sir Garnet Wolseley was going? If so, he would find himself mistaken. The Government seemed to claim credit for their action, and it was only reasonable in the House to demand what were the instructions Sir Garnet Wolseley would carry with him? When the debate re-commenced to-morrow, if it was so arranged, he hoped the Minister for War would be able to give some information as to the condition of the troops in South Africa, their sanitary condition, the condition of the supplies sent out, when those supplies reached the troops, and the condition of the Commissariat and of the Medical Department. He believed the conditions of each and all were deplorable. There was another question to which the First Lord of the Admiralty might give an answer. Why, with a force of 5,000 or 6,000 well-seasoned soldiers in the country, did the Government continue to send out boys to reinforce the troops in South Africa, when they must know that those boys would die in great numbers? Why was it that a force of Marines—well-seasoned soldiers—was kept at home? Why did the Secretary of State for War introduce a Bill to allow of the First Class Reserves being called out, while, all the time, there was this force of well-seasoned Marines ready and willing to do their country service? It was perfectly well known the real reason was that there was a difficulty of etiquette between the Naval and Military Departments. A Government should be able to override these difficulties, and send out men who, well-tried by length of service, were able to fight well, maintain their 1257 health, and have a chance of returning in reasonable numbers to their native land.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, the observations of the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) might be apposite if the whole general question of the war in South Africa were under consideration; but the House had before it a much smaller and more pressing question. He would not go back to considerations connected with former arrangements in those districts where war now prevailed, but rather would adopt the right hon. Baronet's (Sir Robert Peel's) view; and he much regretted that the speech from the Treasury Bench since he spoke did not seem to warrant the roseate view the right hon. Baronet had taken. The subject was a question of engrossing importance. Not a town or village they went to, but they found what was going on in Zululand discussed by all classes; and in view of this universality of interest, he asked why it was that this statement they had heard was made only two days before the House was to adjourn for the Whitsuntide Holidays? He inferred that this statement might have been made a week ago, and yet they had chosen that time to inform the House—not that Sir Garnet Wolseley had been put in command of 17,000 men to South Africa; there was nothing extraordinary in that, for the House had seen how General Biddulph, at the Peiwar Kotal, and other Generals in Afghanistan, were sent to carry out previous arrangements; but then there was the clear expression of the Government policy from the lips of Lord Lytton. But here, he asked, on the eve of the House breaking up for a fortnight, was the old policy to be pursued in Zululand with stronger vigour? He thought he had a perfect right to ask this Question. The Secretary of State for War had made use of one pregnant observation. He had said—"We had Sir Garnet Wolseley home for military operations."
§ COLONEL STANLEY
No, that must not go forth. What I said was, that Sir Garnet Wolseley was home to assist on a Committee of a military character, and for that purpose alone.
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
, continuing, accepted that statement; but he had noted the words at the time, and several hon. Members understood the right hon. 1258 and gallant Gentleman to say Sir Garnet Wolseley was coming home in connection with military affairs. If that was the reason Sir Garnet Wolseley came home, then it was fair to ask, was it from reasons not military he had been selected to proceed to the Cape? All the debate might have been saved if Government had at once stated what instructions Sir Garnet Wolseley would carry out. In the absence of that, the House must fall back on surmise, and it was his surmise that the Admirable Crichton of the British Army had been selected to go to Zulu-land because of his military capacity. All recognized his military distinction, but he would not say there were not a thousand of equal ability in civil life in England. But why was he selected, and why was the House to be told in a whisper he was selected, because of his civil distinction? He repudiated such an idea, and believed the House would join in asking for an answer. For what had Sir Garnet Wolseley been selected to go to the Cape? When did this change come over the opinion of the Government as to the power and ability of Sir Bartle Frere, and the military capacity of Lord Chelmsford? And if there was no change, if Sir Bartle Frere 's intelligence was still as great, and Lord Chelmsford's military genius so transcendent as hon. Gentlemen opposite would maintain, why were they suspended? He would like to learn how, in every military club in London, where this subject would be discussed with some knowledge, to what this action of the Government would be attributed? It could be but to one cause—that having sent an indiscreet man to take civil control in South Africa, and a man of no special military distinction to take the military command, the Government at last saw the error of their ways, and to save Questions of an unpleasant character being put to them, they selected an opportunity to acquaint Parliament when they thought there would be a narrow attendance, the only Business anticipated being the voting of a sum of £4,000,000 or £5,000,000. [" Oh, oh!" and laughter.] They made this passing statement, and the House was to submit in perfect quietude. He was wrong in calling it a statement—this assurance. Hon. Gentlemen opposite might well try to interrupt him, for 1259 he had heard their warrior souls expressed in words on a late occasion when they were going to drag the flag that had borne the battle and the breeze over the hills of Rasselas and over the mountains of Afghanistan. They spoke in a high and inflated style, which he could not attempt to imitate. He was not there to make a warrior speech; but he had a right to ask, what everyone would ask to-morrow, what did the Government mean by this new move? Did not everybody know that there was not a second-class clerk in any branch of the Public Service—and he rejoiced that it was so—who could not put on a sheet of paper what was the policy of Her Majesty's Government? But he could imagine why the policy was not given out. The policy was a waiting one. "God is good," says the proverb, and in 14 days Providence might set all right. So in 14 days, when the House met again, things might change, and Government would say—"Why did you not wait for the information we had to give you? Now we give you a statement we trust you will all receive." An alternative policy, he thought, the people disliked as much as a great Leader of the House once said" they "disliked coalitions." At least his voice should be raised, though the front Bench was dumb, and if they refused an answer it should not be because they were not asked. What was the text of the new policy; or was the old policy to be carried out before Sir Bartle Frere and Lord Chelmsford were sent away, and Sir Garnet Wolseley took control? Was it to be a policy of high-handed aggression or conciliation? ["Oh, oh!"] That was the Question he asked, and, notwithstanding the right hon. Gentleman's speech, that was the Question the nation would ask tomorrow.
§ SIR JULIAN GOLDSMID
said, that Sir Garnet Wolseley was going out as Governor of Natal and as High Commissioner of Natal and the adjacent territories. Under such circumstances, what position would Sir Bartle Frere hold, as he was High Commissioner at present? Surely there ought to be some revocation of his appointment, because he was for the future to be only High Commissioner at the Cape. He should also like to know whether, if the Government had only recently discovered that it was necessary 1260 to combine the civil and military authority in one man, they would communicate to the House the reasons which led them to come to that conclusion? He apprehended, he might add, that, although the Government might not be prepared that evening to inform the House as to the substance of the instructions to be given to Sir Garnet Wolseley, they would do so before the House separated to-morrow.
MR. O'CONNOR POWER
said, the Question of the hon. Member for Birmingham simply asked that the House should be placed in possession of the instructions Sir Garnet Wolseley was about to receive, and the hon. and learned Member for Louth made a distinct appeal as to what was the nature of those instructions. In all the House had heard from the Treasury Benches that evening, and from what had been said by the hon. Gentleman opposite who had undertaken to speak for the Government, they had had no answer whatever to the appeal which was made by the hon. and learned Member for Louth. The sentiment which was uppermost in the minds of hon. Members, and what was also uppermost in the minds of the people outside, was that the people had had enough of this unjust, cruel, and exterminating war. That was the sentiment which had given life to the whole of the discussion, and the Government, in its attempts to answer the statements made on that side of the House, had made no answer, and taken no notice of those sentiments, and the appeal which was based on this. The Secretary of State for War said if they took the trouble to examine the whole of the Correspondence in reference to the question, they would find that the Government never was, and was not now, and would not be in the future, in favour of a policy of extermination. He admitted that if they looked at the Paper for the despatches which had been written by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, they would have not so much reason to complain; but the Secretary of State for War forgot that while he wrote those despatches which the Government had endorsed, the Government had also endorsed the conduct of those in South Africa, who had acted diametrically opposite to them. It was no use telling them that the view of the Secretary of State for the Colonies was of the most 1261 peaceable character. That clearly appeared in the Blue Books; but they had over and over again expressed their regret that their views had not been carried out. That was the real root of the question. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that it had been found no longer advisable to leave the control of the civil and military affairs in South Africa in the hands of four different persons. What did that mean? Did it mean that there was a conflict of opinion as regarded the manner in which the war was to be prosecuted? They knew that there was a conflict of opinion between the officials in South Africa in the discussion of what led to the war. Was it only in the most critical time of the proceedings that the Government had found out what they ought to do? Those were important Questions, which were suggested by the announcement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and it was only reasonable that the hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House should be anxious for complete information on the subject before they consented to adjourn for the Holidays. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford had said that our soldiers were fighting with the courage of Englishmen, but it might rather be they were fighting with the courage of Irishmen, especially under the circumstances that an Irishman was now selected to retrieve our fortunes in South Africa. He only regretted that the valour of our soldiers was being exhibited in a bad, unjustifiable, and dishonourable war.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
Sir, perhaps I may be allowed to say a few words in reply to the Question addressed to me by the hon. Baronet the Member for Rochester (Sir Julian Goldsmid). He desires to know, firstly, for what reason Her Majesty's Government propose to make this change in the civil and military command in South Africa; and, secondly, what will be the position of Sir Bartle Frere in future. I think it will be far more convenient to the House if I ask hon. Members to wait for a few days, until they receive the Papers which will be laid on the Table of the House, and which will fully explain the reasons for this change and the position of the several officers in South Africa. But I may say these Papers will fully establish the absolute necessity for vesting' the whole supreme 1262 civil and military command in the district affected in one person, and will also show that Sir Bartle Frere will retain not only the functions of Governor of Cape Colony, but the functions of High Commissioner that were vested in his predecessor, Sir Henry Barkly. The point, however, that has principally occupied the House this evening is, what is the nature or purport—I may say the spirit—of the instructions with which Sir Garnet Wolseley is going out? I do not think I need say much in reply to the statement of the hon. Member for Mayo, who seemed to think that, whatever instructions were given, it was pretty certain they would not be obeyed——
MR. O'CONNOR POWER
Oh, no; I never said that Sir Garnet Wolseley would not obey his instructions. What I said was that those already in South Africa had flatly disobeyed their instructions.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
However, I recognize the natural desire of hon. Members to know the spirit of the instructions to be given to Sir Garnet Wolseley; but I would point out the extreme difficulty—nay, the danger to the Public Service—of complying with such a request at the present moment. Supposing these instructions were read from beginning to end by myself or by my right hon. Friend, what would be the result? They would be immediately telegraphed to South Africa, and published there, before the officers intrusted with the duty of carrying them out had arrived, and the very effect that we desire by these instructions to produce might thus be rendered absolutely impossible. This, however, I will say, in addition to what has been said by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Secre-taryforWar—that Sir Garnet Wolseley's instructions will be consistent with the spirit and the letter of the expressions of opinion, with which the House is acquainted, on the part of Her Majesty's Government—to obtain as soon as possible an honourable peace; and that, therefore, as a matter of course, so far from any measures tending to the extermination of the Zulu people, or driving them to despair, Sir Garnet Wolseley will be told that it is the object of Her Majesty's Government not to extend the British territories in South Africa, but to secure for the future the safety of those now belonging to us; and that he will be not 1263 only authorized, but directed, to receive and entertain any bond fide overtures that may be made to him by the Zulu King, in order that, as soon as possible, the end of his mission may be accomplished.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
Sir, I think that probably the statement just made by the right hon. Gentleman will be satisfactory to the House; but I cannot but regret that it was not made sooner. I must also point out that the reason which the right hon. Gentleman has given for not stating the instructions to Sir Garnet Wolseley more in detail seem somewhat inconsistent with that which was given at an earlier period of the evening by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I understood the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say that Papers would be laid on the Table and be almost immediately in our hands. If that be so, it would then be possible for the contingency that the Secretary of State for the Colonies dreads to take place; for these instructions would be telegraphed to South Africa, and be discussed there, before the arrival of Sir Garnet Wolseley. I assume that the Government will lay the Papers upon the Table as soon as, in their opinion, they can be presented without any injury to the Public Service; and I do not know that under the circumstances we can expect more than the statement just made by the right hon. Gentleman. I cannot sit down without saying I have heard with great satisfaction the announcement made by the Government this evening. We, on this side, must look upon it, to a very great extent, as a justification of the course that we thought it necessary to take a month or two ago. It is not with the policy of the Government, as laid down by them, that we have had to find so much fault. What we had have to find fault with is, that the policy was placed in the hands of men who evidently held different views, and that the instructions given by the Government were not carried out. The selection of Sir Garnet Wolseley—a man in whom the country has every reason to have great confidence, who has had the opportunity of holding personal conferences with Her Majesty's Ministers, and who, I may assume, is personally acquainted with those views, and is also in perfect agreement with them—is of such a character that the 1264 affairs of the country will be in very different hands, when Sir Garnet Wolseley reaches the Cape, from those in which they have hitherto been unfortunately placed. I think the Government cannot be surprised at the great anxiety that has been expressed for information this evening. We cannot help looking upon this as a very critical turning-point in this matter; and although we know the general views of the Government on the subject, I think the House will have heard with satisfaction that the instructions Sir Garnet Wolseley will take with him will emphasize those views which have already met with the approval of this House. We, on this side, do not yield to any hon. Members opposite in our desire that the conclusion of the war shall be one that will give safety to the Colony, and, at the same time, honour to this country. But what we do wish clearly to understand is, that the honour of the British arms does not require the slaughter of an indefinite number of Zulus, and we also desire to know that the Government are not pledged to the opinion, which we know is held by Sir Bartle Frere, that there is no possible security for our Colonists in South Africa until the military organization of the Zulu Kingdom is entirely destroyed. I gather from what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman that these are not the views held by the Government, and that the instructions given to Sir Garnet Wolseley will be in conformity with those despatches from the Colonial Office which have met with most approval in this House.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, he had that morning sent to the Secretary of State for War a letter written by Bishop Colenso and referring to the messengers reported to have been sent by Cetewayo to Lord Chelmsford to ask for peace—a subject on which the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) had already asked a Question. From this letter, the Secretary of State would see that these messengers were men who had formerly brought most important messages from Cetewayo to our Government, and that, in Bishop Colenso's opinion, they were of sufficiently high authority to be the bearers of overtures of peace.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
desired to ask the Colonial Secretary, whether the commission at present held by Sir 1265 Bartle Frere was cancelled or about to be cancelled? That commission was one conferring such great and general powers that Sir Bartle Frere considered it justified him in making war without the consent of the Government; and unless it were cancelled, they would have no security for the future, and it would be likely to conflict with Sir Garnet Wolseley's commission.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, if the hon. and learned Gentlemen would wait until he saw the Papers, he would find that they explained precisely the position of the matter.
did not think the assurance of the Government so satisfactory as the right hon. Gentlemen on the front Bench seemed to believe. He wished to know whether Sir Garnet Wolseley's instructions would forbid the employment of Native auxiliaries for following up the Zulus when beaten in the field? The practice had given rise to horrors that was a disgrace to humanity and civilization.
said, he recognized the force of the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Hackney, and thought it would, therefore, be desirable of him to withdraw his Motion for the adjournment of the House, and give Notice that to-morrow he would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he could state to the House in substance the instructions given to Sir Garnet Wolseley with reference to the negotiations for peace? He thought it unreasonable that he should ask anything as regarded military movements. Those must be left to the General in the field; but, under the peculiar circumstances of the House adjourning for a fortnight, he thought it right that he should ask for the substance of the instructions with regard to the negotiations for peace; and if he did not get a satisfactory answer, it would be his duty to oppose the Motion for the adjournment of the House.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.