HC Deb 27 May 1879 vol 246 cc1364-82

said, that as he wished to avoid the practice of conducting anything like a cross-examination of a Minister of the Crown at Question time, he did not follow up his Question, though the right hon. Gentleman, he must admit, had made an answer which, in a great degree, was satisfactory. But he rose now, as they were about to adjourn, to ask the Government to follow up—as he hoped the Government would—the exceedingly grateful and welcome announcement which was made near the close of their proceedings on the day before by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and which had been confirmed so far by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The latter right hon. Gentleman dealt, however, with only these two points—that no annexation of territory was to be attempted in South Africa, and that there was a benevolent intention to end the war if Cetewayo made overtures for peace. He had no doubt in the world of that intention on the part of the Government. He did not believe that the Government were anxious to prolong this war for one day longer than they, in their policy, thought necessary; and it was to their policy that his Question had been directed. The real pith and substance of the Question had been put to the Government on the previous night by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth (Sir Robert Peel). Would the terms of peace imposed, or sought to be imposed, upon Cetewayo be such as to cause the war to be a protracted and bitter one, or a short war with a happy ending? They knew the terms of peace offered to Cetewayo before the invasion; and they now desired to know whether the circumstances of the moment warranted the Government in desiring to conclude peace on terms less exigent or more exigent than those that were put into Sir Bartle Frere's Ultimatum to Cetewayo? The Government must know the terms of peace which Sir Garnet Wolseley would be empowered to offer. Were they to be less or more severe than those which Cetewayo from first to last had from us? It was no use to say that they were ready to receive proposals for peace; that was merely a civil phrase, and amounted to nothing. What the country desired to know was whether the Government intended to put upon Cetewayo the same rude terms that drove him into the war; or would they give him a chance of coming in upon terms more nearly reflecting the spirit of that noble despatch which the Secretary of State for the Colonies wrote to Sir Bartle Frere condemnatory of his policy? If the papers were to be trusted, and if they could believe all they heard, it was almost too late, for Zululand had been again invaded by the Imperial Forces, who had waited and waited until they had a powerful and overwhelming strength at their command. During all these weeks the Zulu King seemed Lo have avoided retaliatory measures upon their Colonial Possessions If he were animated by such, bloodthirsty designs as would warrant the Government in that which was now about to be done, he had his opportunity of giving effect to them, but he had not availed himself of it. No; in his own rude, barbaric way, the man had been silently making an appeal to their chivalry and generosity, and there was that about to happen which would prevent him from sueing for peace. Unless something was done they would be in the midst of scenes of carnage and bloodshed and the havoc of war, and they would find Cetewayo, if he were the brave man he took him to be, sealing his own lips and saying he would make no further offer to us. He urged the Government to make every effort to bring about a speedy peace, and not allow Cetewayo to say that when we were weak he allowed us to wait without attacking us, but when we were strong we invaded his country once more. The Government should not wait for the advent of Sir Garnet Wolseley in South Africa before they made an attempt to conclude peace, if that was their object. He made that appeal in no embittered spirit; but he would say that at the outset of the war it was intensely unjust, and now the time had arrived when the Government should terminate the struggle, and not bring disgrace upon the British flag by prolonging the war.


did not yield to anyone in the desire that such terms should be offered to the Zulu King as might lead to the termination of the war, on conditions consistent with the safety of our Colonists and compatible with that humanity which was as creditable to a great country as was the utmost display of bravery. At the same time, however, he was sensible of the great responsibility which rested upon anyone who spoke on that (the Opposition) side at the present moment. So far as Gentlemen on that side were concerned, they had reason to congratulate themselves on the outcome of recent events; because, a few months ago, they earnestly advocated the supersession of Sir Bartle Frere, and now the Government had superseded him. ["No!"] That was, they had deprived him of the power of doing what many feared he was about to do—namely, to carry on a war for objects which they did not believe to be legitimate objects. They ought, therefore, to be satisfied with that. It was row admitted that the policy which was sought to be pressed upon cetewayo at first was not the policy which they were disposed to insist upon at present. The sending out of Sir Garnet Wolseley was, in his opinion, an event of very happy augury; and the Government would be worse than blind if they did not see that the country desired an end of the present state of things, so long as it could be brought about in a way compatible with the honour of the country, and less than that it would be impossible to accept. It was their policy and their wisdom to let the Government see what they desired to be done, and leave it to them to carry it out. And what was it they now wanted to gain? They desired that measures should be taken to secure as speedy and satisfactory a termination of the war as possible; and he was not sure that this object would be best secured by pressing the Government too much on the subject at the present moment. There were many occasions on which it was legitimate and, right, as well as absolutely necessary, for the Opposition to press the Government; but, at a moment when the Government appeared to have come round to the Opposition policy, though only doing now what they ought to have done two months ago, it was rather for the Opposition to encourage them, and show a desire to afford them as much support as they legitimately could in carrying out that policy. He (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) made it his principal complaint against the present Government, that although they were often right, they were generally right about two months too late. Just so it was with regard to the presentation of Papers on all these important subjects; the Government presented ample Papers, but they were almost always about two months too late to be serviceable for debates. The Opposition might argue that the step which the Government had now taken was as much as to say that they admitted that the conditions which were attempted to be imposed upon Cetewayo at the commencement of the war were not the conditions which they were disposed to insist upon now in sending out Sir Garnet Wolseley. For his own part, he should not have discountenanced the continuance of any discussion by which practical good was likely to be obtained; but, Members of the Opposition having already fully expressed their sentiments, it was now their policy and their wisdom to let the Government see that they desired to encourage them in carrying out the policy which they seemed now to have adopted, in the hope that under Sir Garnet Wolseley the past might in some measure be retrieved, and that we might soon see a speedy termination of the unhappy war in South Africa—a war which was begun without necessity, and in the conclusion of which the principles of magnanimity, generosity, and humanity ought to be allowed to have full weight.


wished to explain, that in questioning the Government on this subject he did not desire in any way to find fault with the appointment of Sir Garnet Wolseley. On the contrary, he thought the only point was whether the Government ought not to have adopted that course many weeks ago. He desired, however, to ask again, though in a different form, the Question he put yesterday—whether Sir Garnet Wolseley, in accepting the office of High Commissioner and Commander-in-Chief in South Africa, would still remain High Commissioner of Cyprus; whether, in fact, he was to hold the two appointments simultaneously; or whether he was to be succeeded in Cyprus by Colonel Greaves? As Sir Bartle Frere also held the office of High Commissioner in South Africa, he wished to know what steps were being taken to prevent a conflict of authority between him and Sir Garnet Wolseley? Another point he desired to refer to. There was a wide-spread feeling that there had been much unnecessary discomfort, not to say unnecessary illness, amongst the troops who had already arrived in South Africa. It had been reported that 25 per cent of the men who had recently gone out there were laid up by disease; and if the Government were in a position to give the House any information on that subject, it would be gratefully received. If there was any truth in the statement, he trusted the Government would take prompt measures to supply the existing want both of doctors and medicines at the seat of war. He trusted also that Sir Garnet Wolseley would have authority to exercise his discretion in taking advantage of any opportunity for speedily terminating a war which could do us no honour, and which must bring grief and woe to many homes in England.


said, he thought the right hon. Member who formerly held the office of Under Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) had rightly asked the House not to press the Government for details as to what it might be necessary to do at the Cape. Indeed, he thought it was unusual for an Executive possessed of the confidence of the country to be pressed to the extent to which Her Majesty's Government had been; and he (Lord Elcho) had noticed with satisfaction that his noble Friend the Leader of the Opposition was very careful when he spoke yesterday to avoid this fault, remarking that he only spoke upon the subject at all after the Government had themselves done so. Now, there could not be a doubt that this appointment of Sir Garnet Wolseley was a great change, and it had been received by the House and the country and the Press as a happy augury. He trusted that it might prove to be so. Sir Garnet Wolseley was a man of great administrative ability, with a sound military knowledge of strategy and tactics; and he (Lord Elcho) had no doubt that what ability, intelligence, and also kindliness of disposition could do to bring this war to a satisfactory termination would be done by that distinguished gentleman. He had the pleasure of Sir Garnet Wolseley's acquaintance—indeed, enjoyed his friendship, and he looked with great satisfaction upon his appointment. But he could not but couple this feeling of satisfaction with the feeling which naturally arose from the fact that this war had shown us that, without calling out our Reserves, we had, practically, no Army; and the appointment of Sir Garnet Wolseley looked very much as if, in the opinion of the authorities who were responsible for the safety of the State, we had but one General. He need not dwell on that further than to express a hope that what the nation expected from this appointment would be realized, and that there would be soon in South Africa a satisfactory and permanent settlement of the present unhappy state of affairs. But, while thus speaking, and while anxious to do justice to Sir Garnet Wolseley, hefelt that but scant justice had been done to Sir Bartle Frere in speeches which had been made in that House, and in this matter he could not even except Her Majesty's Government. He had not the pleasure of Sir Bartle Frere's acquaintance—he had, indeed, only seen him once in his life—and, therefore, spoke entirely without any personal feeling, but solely according to the dictates of conscience. He thought that in the speeches made and the course taken with reference to Sir Bartle Frere, hon. Members did not sufficiently put themselves in the position of that gentleman when he was sent out to South Africa with the high powers which were conferred upon him by his commission—powers, be it remembered, of peace and war—powers which were not granted to an ordinary Colonial Governor, but which were given to him as High Commissioner. Hon. Members did not sufficiently put themselves in the position of a man who, well known for his humanity and for his negrophilism, if he might say so, in other parts of the world, found himself suddenly confronted with what, acting to the best of his judgment, he believed to be imminent danger to the Colonies for whose safety he was responsible. If we had had difficulties to contend with in that army of organized Zulus, what did that show? It showed how great the danger was; and the greater our difficulties the greater was the danger shown to be. That much was clear from the course of the war. They had heard a great deal of the extraordinary gallantry of that savage race. No one could speak of it too highly. He did not believe that our nation ever in its history encountered so physically brave a people as the Zulus. Indeed, if he could prophesy, he could confidently predict that the day would come—as certainly as this country would prosper and progress as a great Imperial Power —when the Zulu troops in the British Service would occupy the same position towards us in South Africa as the Sikhs and Goorkhas now did in India. Therefore, let it not be thought in anything he said about the Zulu Chief and his Army that he failed to appreciate their most remarkable physical qualities. But what was the character of King Cetewayo, who was in this House held up to their admiration? While listening to a speech lately made in "another place," he happened to find himself standing by the side of a member of the Austrian Embassy, and said to him—"Why, they talk of this Zulu King, who is, practically, a gorilla, armed with guns and assegais, instead of fighting with his tail and claws, as if he were the Emperor of Austria." ["Oh, oh!" "Withdraw!"] He (Lord Elcho) had nothing to be ashamed of, and he had nothing to withdraw, but he had a good deal to prove, or rather, wherewith to prove his statements. What had they on record? Why, that King Cetewayo was as cruel as he believed he was crafty; that he murdered, having first what he called smelt them out as guilty of witchcraft, all persons whose property he wished to get possession of; that he flayed men alive, covered them with honey, and, while they were still alive, planted them in ants' nests. They had it from his hon. Friend opposite the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke), that he killed his prisoners; and why? Because he had no prisons. His prison discipline, therefore, was of the simplest, and so was his poor law, for they read that the aged and infirm were buried alive. And now as to his troops. He said this with great reluctance; but he thought the time for plain speaking on that question had come. He gave the Zulus credit for their gallantry; but he had seen a letter which showed them the type of man they had to deal with in that country. He had seen a letter of which sheets and sheets were written in pencil after the battle of Isandlana, and the writer said that every soldier who fell was disembowelled; that the hands, feet, and heads of many were cut off; and that drummer boys were found with their hands tied behind their backs and hung up on meat hooks. This was the sort of King they had to deal with, such were his soldiers. Now, he ventured to think that our Colonists were entitled to be considered in this matter, and that Sir Bartle Frere, defending a long frontier with a fordable river adjoining a great Colony, ought not to have had such hard measure dealt out to him as he had received at some hands on account of the steps which he had found it necessary to take under a heavy weight of responsibility. Whenever he heard speeches in that House strongly taking the Zulu side and ignoring that of our Colonists, who were in danger from that sword of Damocles which was hanging over them, he was led to reflect thus'—If for the Tugela, they read the Thames, and for Natal they read Chelsea; if for Zululand, they read Surrey, and if that condition of things existed on the other side of the Thames in the wilds of Wimbledon and the forests of Coombe Wood, which existed in Zululand, they would not have had such Motions made in the House as had been made by the hon. Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke); and the inhabitants of this side of the Thames would be only too thankful to any man of courage who took upon himself the responsibility of grappling with the danger and securing their safety. Passing, however, from that point, he would observe that they had heard from the Government what, generally speaking, the policy now to be pursued in South Africa was to be. ["No!"] He had said "generally speaking." He had gathered from the reply of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that day that what the Government looked to, and what Sir Garnet Wolseley was supposed to be the most efficient instrument they could find for obtaining, was an honourable termination, consistently with the safety of the Colony, of the present war; that they were ready to receive any overtures from Cetewayo; and that they did not look to any addition of territory. All that he trusted was that Sir Garnet Wolseley would not go out too much fettered, either in his civil or military capacity, as to the measures which he might think it necessary to take to attain those objects—the safety of the Colony and a permanent peace. Annexation was a word which seemed to shock hon. Gentlemen; but he asked them for a moment to look at the map. He repeated, what he had often said, that if they could speak in the House as counsel upstairs did before a Committee on a Railway Bill with maps before them, many things would not be said which were said on questions under discussion. He now held in his hand a map of South Africa. All the parts marked red were British territory, while a little yellow patch, not more than one-twentieth of the whole, was not British. Now, looking to the course of the world and of history, looking to what went on in America and the rest of the globe, did they believe it was physically possible that, sooner or later—lie did not say now—the country so situated would not be annexed? ["Hear, hear!" from the Opposition.] He was glad to find that the strength of his argument was so readily admitted. As had happened in America, wherever a civilized Power came in contact with a barbarian Power, especially with one so dangerous and so armed and organized as this, the result must be, sooner or later, for the sake of peace and of humanity, the uncivilized Power must be absorbed by its civilized neighbour. He, for one, should not be surprised if it turned out, sooner or later, that in order to obtain the object which they all contemplated by the appointment of Sir Garnet Wolseley, it might be necessary even to annex the Zulu country. On the other hand, he had heard objections raised to what was called the establishment of fortified posts in that country. He happened at dinner lately to be seated by a French officer, who was one of the most intelligent and able men whom it had been his fortune to meet in the course of his life. The conversation naturally turned on what was uppermost in every man's thoughts. It seems to me," said this officer, "that your position in South Africa is very similar to what ours was in North Africa—in Algeria. We had Colonists there whom we were bound to defend, and they were constantly liable to inroads and fights with the Natives who, when beaten, retired. This went on for years and years, until the appointment of Marshal Randon, who said—'If I am empowered to carry on this war and to make the Colony secure in the way which I believe to be the best, I engage that peace shall be maintained, and that the Tribes shall be no longer dangerous to our Colonists.' Well, the Marshal proceeded by making roads, and establishing fortified posts as he went on. He hoped that as far as these fortified posts were concerned, the hands of Sir Garnet Wolseley would not be tied, and that it would be open to him to take such military steps as might be necessary to secure the safety of the Colonists. He had no more to say than this. ["Hear, hear!" from the Opposition side below the Gangway.] Of course, he did not suppose that his views would meet the approval of a section of the Party opposite; but he had deemed it right, in justice to Sir Bartle Frere and in the interests of his country, to make the few observations he had done, and which, if no one had led the way, he would not have ventured to utter. He hoped we might see a permanent and satisfactory peace established. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, though they might dispute his argument and differ from him, would, he trusted, give him credit, at least, for this—that he was at heart not less humane than themselves. Equally with them he hated unnecessary war, and he could assure them that those who had suffered from war knew the sorrows and the miseries it produced. But he believed it to be essential, not only for the sake of humanity, but for the sake of civilization—for the sake of the Colonies, aye, and for the sake of the gallant savages who were now fighting against us—that the war which, sooner or later, was inevitable should be settled finally and in a permanent way. He also thought that, looking to the future and to the further organization and arming of these savages which, sooner or later, would have taken place, it was well for all concerned—for them, for us, and for our Colonists—that this war had come upon us sooner rather than later.


I cannot allow the speech of my noble Friend to pass without remark. It appears to me that it is a speech which does not express the views entertained by the House in general or by hon. Members on the other side. I do not now at all complain of the words of kindness and consideration and honour in which my noble Friend spoke of Sir Bartle Frere. I think Sir Bartle Frere has been placed in a position of the greatest difficulty, and has the strongest claims upon our sympathy, as well as our generous regard. He was sent out to Africa at a time when, I fear, the seeds of this difficulty had already been sown by prior proceedings for which he was not responsible. He has had a task of the most arduous character to conduct; and certainly I, for one, have not been able to concur in all the opinions which he has formed upon a complicated state of facts; but I am confident that when Sir Bartle Frere returns to this country, or in whatever position of life he may be found, he will continue to draw to himself the admiration and regard of his fellow-countrymen. ["No, no!"] I must, at the same time, draw a distinction between my dissent from the particular opinions which he may have formed in a particular combination of affairs, and the views which I think we are bound to entertain towards a man who, in a long course of years, has occupied so honourable and distinguished a name in the service of the Crown. I must say that I hope hon. Members will not be disposed to widen unnecessarily the field of this debate. An appeal has been made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sandwich (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) to the House to refrain from pressing the Government for any particular declaration; and the hon. and, learned Member for Louth, who commenced this debate, and with whose general views I, for one, very much concur, showed at once his sense that it was necessary that something should be said, and his desire to reduce to the lowest point compatible with his conscientious convictions any demand he made upon Her Majesty's Government for information. It is in the interest of the opinions of the hon. and learned Member for Louth that we should not press for information at this moment. Her Majesty's Government, whatever I or anyone else may think of their former proceedings, have to deal at present with a ease of very great difficulty. They have made an important approximation towards the views generally entertained on this side of the House by the declaration they have made of their desire, at least, with regard to the annexation of Zululand. It may be—and I trust it will be—that in other respects they will find themselves nearer to the views of those who have disapproved of Sir Bartle Frere's policy than might at one time have been supposed. They have before them other questions than the question of annexation. They have before them the various subjects that were raised in the terms of the Ultimatum. They have before them those demands which what is called the public opinion of the Colony make—in my view of this question a most fallacious guide—that may be influenced either by mortification from the disaster they have sustained, or by exultation with the successes which followed. They have to consider, likewise, the difficulties in which they are placed in respect of the relations subsisting in the Transvaal territory; and, upon the whole, I do not feel I should discharge my duty to the country by pressing upon them for any declaration whatever, after the steps they have taken. What I hope is, that the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Louth, and that the general tone of this discussion, and the general tone of the House upon the whole subject, may incline them both to a course of mercy and of moderation. It is not necessary for us to follow my noble Friend who spoke last in discussing the character and proceedings of Cetewayo; but I think there are two observations which may be fairly made—that for cruelty, and for the aggravation of cruel customs existing in savage lands, no apology is to be made; but that, on the other hand, our main duty is to regard the conduct of this man in his relations with ourselves. If they have, on the whole, been such as to present a hopeful character, if his proceedings towards us admit of a fair and charitable construction, then, I think, we should hope that the savagery of his proceedings at home which, I am afraid, is in many particulars undoubted, may be mitigated hereafter by friendly intercourse with a Christian and a better instructed people; for I have little hope, I confess, of conquering evils of that kind by the infliction on his nation of the horrors of war. If it were a question of dealing with him individually, and punishing his crime upon his own person, then, indeed, I could understand the argument we have heard. The argument is, that the barbarous character and manners of this man have exhibited themselves in cruelty to the aged and infirm, and in the oppression—the bloody oppression—of his own subjects. If that be true, and, possibly, to some extent it may be true—it is surely an unfortunate inference that those subjects are to be made to bear all the cruel inflictions that war may bring upon them. I hope Her Majesty's Government will make note of this discussion as tending to confirm the tendency on their part that, while we would do nothing that would injure the safety of our Colonies, yet when that safety is secured, the more moderate and more merciful their views, the better they will meet the convictions and desires of their country. My belief is that we shall do a greater service to the cause of humanity by leaving this matter, than we possibly could by calling upon the Government now to make declarations which I feel it would be difficult for them to make, and by challenging them to promises that they will do things which they may well be inclined to do if they are reasonable, but in regard to which it may also be a fact that their declaration of that intention may be the greatest obstacle to carrying it out. For my part, I decline to put any pressure upon the indisposition of the Government to declare their views. My hopes and desires run earnestly and strongly in one direction, and I believe that to be the direction of the general opinion of the country; but I would not ask for an express declaration from Ministers at a time when I feel it is difficult for them, consistently with their duty, to lay such declarations before us.


thought that his noble Friend, in saying things that would irritate the mind of the country at the time when Sir Garnet Wolsoley had received his new appointment, had chosen an unfortunate moment for uttering his sentiments. From the brilliant abilities and great military character of Sir Garnet Wolseley, they might be perfectly confident that whatever military operations he would undertake would be carried on satisfactorily, and to the honour and glory of this country, he still thought it was the duty of the Government, at the earliest opportunity, to make peace; and he hoped that they would give no encouragement to any desire of revenge that some persons might feel with reference to the cruelties which had been inflicted on our men.


said, that after what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone), he did not propose to continue the discussion any further. It would be in the recollection of the House that on Friday last he gave Notice of a Resolution which bore on the subject before the House, and he thought it would be convenient that, under the circumstances, he should state that, in his opinion, the terms of the Resolution had now become inappli- cable to the situation, and he, therefore, proposed to remove it from the Order Book. He was glad to think that the greater part of the suggestions contained in that Resolution had been practically conceded by the Government. They had, in the strongest language, deprecated a war for revenge, or a war for the increase of territory, and had declared their intention to instruct Sir Garnet Wolseley, not merely to receive, but to entertain, any proposals that might be made for peace. There was only one point upon which the Government had not up to the present expressed their opinion. He did not press for an explanation; hut he wished to point out to the Government that if they did not take care that Sir Garnet Wolseley was instructed not to insist on the full terms which wore demanded by Sir Bnrtle Frere, then, most certainly, this country, against the wishes of the Government, against the wishes of Parliament, and against the wishes of the majority of the people of this country, would be drifted into that annexation against which they all so much protested. He trusted that care would be taken to prevent such a thing occurring.


said, he entirely agreed with what the hon. Member had just said; and he thought that after the declaration of the Government, which was of a character which must be satisfactory to the House and to the country, it would be idle to pursue the discussion any further. He thought the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) ought to be satisfied with the conversation which had taken place, and with what had been said by the Government. As he stated yesterday, he rejoiced that the Government had taken the course they had done, and he thought it was an augury of a satisfactory solution of the question; but he must protest against one expression which fell from the right hon. Gentleman opposite with regard to Sir Bartle Frere. No doubt, he was a man of great social position and of great ability, and one who had done great services to the country; but, then, they must remember that in South Africa he had been a signal failure; and he was sure that if the Government had acted earlier in the matter, as they were wanted to do, and as they were now doing, a great deal of trouble and difficulty would have been obviated. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) was always very ready to give credit to those who sat near him when anything good was done. But it was from below the Gangway, and not from the front Opposition Bench, that the question had been given in the present case; and when he heard hon. Gentlemen say they were glad to find that the Government had at length come round to their "views," he said that was not a fair way to look at the position. If hon. Gentlemen had read the Papers, as he and many others had read them, they would have seen that the policy of the Government from the beginning was contrary to that which Sir Bartle Frere had pressed upon them. Although he had been as vigorous as others in opposing the policy which had been pursued in South Africa, he had always maintained that it was a policy which was forced on the Government contrary to their wishes and their intentions, as indicated in the Blue Books in their hands. He would only add the further observation, that he most earnestly hoped that in sending out Sir Garnet Wolseley to South Africa, he was sent there with a message of peace. They read only that day that arrangements were made for sending 23,000 men into Zululand. God forbid that that should be done! When the right hon. Gentleman said he wanted to see the honour of the country maintained, he replied, so did they who had agitated on the question. The honour of the country was as dear to those who had resisted the aggression as to any hon. Gentleman on that Bench. But what they did want to see, where there was an enemy, with whom we had quarrelled, who sought our friendship, and who sought mercy at our hands, was, that now we should not refuse to him that mercy, but make with him those terms of peace which he was anxious to obtain— The quality of mercy is not strained; It droppeth, as the gentle rain from heaven, Upon the place beneath: it is twice blessed; It blosseth him that gives, and him that takes. He hoped that would be the principle which would guide Her Majesty's Government in dealing with the question. He hoped that with all the power of this country they would endeavour to make peace, and to show mercy to an enemy who had resisted, but against whom there was now such a formidable Force in the field; and he must warn the Government that if, in sending out Sir Garnet Wolseley to the Cape they intended to promote a system of aggression, the country would be as dissatisfied with Sir Garnet Wolseley as they had been with Sir Bartle Frere. He believed the intentions of the Government were other than those; and with that hope, and in that expectation, he looked forward to the prospect of an early peace and a satisfactory settlement of that grave and serious question.


explained that what he had said was that the Government had come round to the policy of those who wished Sir Bartle Frere to be superseded, and he himself had spoken in the late debate to that effect, so that he had assumed nothing but what was, as regarded himself, strictly true.


wished the Government to make some statement with regard to their intentions in respect to the Transvaal. Sir Garnet Wolseley was to go out to South Africa not merely as Governor of Natal, but also as Governor of the Transvaal, and was to supersede both Sir Henry Bulwer and Colonel Lanyon; and he thought it would be satisfactory to the House, if some statement was made with regard to the instructions which were to be given to the High Commissioner with respect to the Transvaal. He thought the conduct of the Boers had been worthy of respect and consideration. A good deal had been made out of the camp at Pretoria; but really the camp at Pretoria was nothing more than an unmistakable demonstration against the annexation of their territory, and the Boers had carefully refrained from adding to our embarrassments when we were at war with the Zulus. He complained that notwithstanding this action on the part of the Boers, and their friendly reception of Sir Bartle Frere, the moment his back was turned a battery was sent into their territory to overawe them. It would be extremely satisfactory if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would give the House some assurance of a general character that the attitude of the Government towards them was not one of determination to retain, against all resistance, any power of supremacy which had been obtained, in the first place, through fraud, and which had since been maintained by force.


Sir, with reference to what has fallen from the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney), I can only say that, at the present time, we are waiting for, and expecting, a communication from Sir Bartle Frere, which will give us fuller information as to the proceedings that took place at Pretoria. We have, to a certain extent, that information, having received it in a telegraphic form; but we shall receive fuller information from the Memorial which we understand has been drawn up and given to the High Commissioner to forward. With regard to the stories which have appeared in the newspapers as to a Force having been sent into the Transvaal for the purpose of overawing the Boers, we are only informed that a party of Dragoons has been ordered into that part of the Colony, but for what purpose is not stated, and it would, therefore, be premature to express any opinion as to the rumours which are floating about. Whenever a communication is received—which, I have no doubt, will be very shortly—Her Majesty's Government will take it very fairly and fully into consideration, and will give the necessary instructions to Sir Garnet Wolseley with regard to it. I do not think this is a convenient opportunity for raising a discussion on that large question. With regard to the conversation which has taken place to-day, though there have been expressions used and opinions stated which I regret, yet I am not disposed to take exception to the general tone of the discussion. But I hope I may be excused from entering, on the part of the Government, as largely and freely into this question as some hon. Members have felt themselves able to do; because it must be borne in mind that the Government are, in this matter, under very heavy and serious responsibility. What we may say is one thing; but we have to consider both the effect of what we may say and the effect of what we may do, not only in this country, but in the Colonies and in the large regions for which we are responsible. And bearing in mind how very complicated the circumstances of the case are, and how many considerations must be taken into account, I feel that the tone of the House generally has been the true and right one. But whilst hon. Members are anxious to express their opinions, and to put before the Government the considerations which they think ought to weigh with us, they would not desire to force us into declarations which may be embarrassing from their minuteness, or which may impede, possibly, the very objects which we all desire to bring about. I have noticed a certain inclination in different parts of the House to credit the Government with a new policy. I am bound to say that I do not admit the justice of the observations which have been made, nor that any step which the Government have resolved upon taking offers any concession whatever, or any departure whatever, from the line of policy which we have hitherto pursued. Under the circumstances of the case, as they at present present themselves, we have thought it right to take a particular step, which we believe to be a right and wise step, and the motives for which we have explained in the few words which I addressed to the House yesterday, when I stated that it was necessary to concentrate the civil and military powers of the different authorities in a single hand, and it was important and desirable to take the opportunity of Sir Garnet Wolseley going out to South Africa to give him full and confidential, and fresh instructions as to the policy which Her Majesty's Government desired to pursue. What is that policy? We have explained from the beginning it is not one of annexation; neither is it one of what might be called revenge.

Message to attend the Lords Commissioners;—

The House went;—and being returned;—

Mr. SPEAKER reported the Royal Assent to several Bills.