HC Deb 03 November 1884 vol 293 cc796-7

I wish, Sir, to put a Question to the Government as to whether they have received any intelligence from Khartoum or from Egypt with respect to the fall of Khartoum, or the position of General Gordon?


My right hon. Friend (Mr. Gladstone) has asked me to answer this Question. So far as we are aware, there is absolutely no foundation for the rumour that has been circulated as the fall of Khartoum, or as to the capture of General Gordon. That rumour appears to have originated, so far as we have been able to ascertain, at Cairo; and we have received absolutely no confirmation of it whatever. The latest intelligence, I believe, that we have received arrived late on the night of October 31, in a telegram from Sir Evelyn Baring. He said that Sir Charles Wilson telegraphs— Kabbabish Arab has brought news that Madhi's troops attacked Gordon's position at Omdurman, opposite Khartoum, a few days ago, and were repulsed. We hear also that hostile Arabs are numerous again at Ghabra, on the Debbeh-Khartoum road. I think these reports are likely to be correct. Sir Evelyn Baring says the substance of this was given to Reuter's Agency to correct reports about the fall of Khartoum, which are devoid of foundation. That is the latest intelligence, so far as I am aware, from Dongola. I believe my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Earl Granville) has telegraphed to Sir Evelyn Baring to ask whether he can give any explanation of the reports which have been spread at Cairo; but I think the answer has not yet been received. I may also state that we have a direct contradiction to the statement which appears in The Times of this morning, that telegrams had been sent by the Khedive to the Queen and the Prince of Wales giving an account of the alleged fail of Khartoum. My right hon. Friend has also asked me to answer the Question of the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow), which appears on the Paper as follows:— Whether instructions have been sent to Lord Wolseley defining the official position between himself and General Gordon, should they speedily meet; and, it so, whether such instructions have been communicated to and have received the approval of the Khedive, considering General Gordon is a servant of the Khedive? Instructions have been sent to Lord Wolseley defining the relations between himself and General Gordon, both in their civil and military capacities. These instructions, so far as they relate to General Gordon's civil appointment, have been sent after communication with, and with the concurrence of, the Khedive. It is not considered desirable at the present time that these instructions should be made public until Lord Wolseley is in a position to act upon them.