HC Deb 21 July 1884 vol 290 cc1747-8

asked, Whether the Government have received any confirmation of the following statements with regard to General Gordon, recently published in The Pall Mall Gazette, by Dr. Schweinfurth, the great African traveller:— Berlin, Thursday. — You forget Gordon, whose fate in a few weeks will be fulfilled. It is the eleventh hour; under parties' disputes your noblest citizen's cry for help is suffocated; horrors related of sufferings in Khartoum unexampled; hopelessly abandoned, defence of his house against increasing numbers is desperate; and, whether the intelligence given by so-called pilgrims at Suakin as to the fall of Berber contradicts previous statements of pilgrims as to its safety?


No, Sir; no confirmation has reached Her Majesty's Government of the statements telegraphed by Dr. Schweinfurth, who has himself informed Her Majesty's Ambassador at Berlin that the news was derived second-hand from Nubians recently arrived at Cairo, who had been cross-examined by a friend there. The statements of pilgrims as to the safety of Berber have from time to time been contradictory; and I informed the House on several occasions that the information of whatever kind obtained from this source must be received with caution. I may add that Mr. Egerton telegraphed from Cairo yesterday that Nubar Pasha had handed to him the following translation of a letter purported to have been received by the Mudir of Dongola from General Gordon:— Khartoum and Senaar are well defended (en bonne défense). Tell the bearer where and how many are the reinforcements. There are 8,000 men at Khartoum. The Nile is rising considerably. In giving this telegram to the House, I think it necessary to add that its contents ought, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, to be received with caution; but in the opinion of Nubar Pasha, with which Mr. Egerton concurs, the letter of General Gordon is genuine. The Mudir has been instructed to forward the original to Cairo. Mr. Egerton also telegraphs that further information received from Major Chermside confirms the report that assistance had been asked from Berber of Osman Digna, apparently against General Gordon, of whose movements the rebels were afraid.


May I ask my noble Friend whether the statement which also appears in the newspapers this morning is believed to be correct—namely, that the Mudir of Dongola had stated that he kept the messenger in order to take back a reply to Khartoum?


The Mudir of Dongola apparently does wish for a reply to be sent.


In what language is the letter from General Gordon?


In French, I believe; at least it was transmitted in that language to Mr. Egerton.