I wish to ask the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War, Whether he can, without inconvenience to the Public Service, give to the House further details with regard to the letter which has been received from General Gordon?
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
We have received an abstract of the letter of General Gordon which was received by Major Kitchener, dated, I think, the 4th of November. The contents of that letter have been stated with tolerable accuracy in the newspapers, so far at least as it is expedient to make their contents public at present. It appears that General Gordon himself mentions that the Mahdi knows everything, so that care must be taken as to what is published. In these circumstances, the House will, I am sure, support Her Majesty's Government in declining to communicate any information which might be of use to General Gordon's enemies; and I trust that I may also be allowed to take this opportunity of expressing the hope that the Press—who, no doubt, will receive from their numerous Correspondents information sent to them without any bad intention, but which it would be undesirable to publish—will exercise some discretion in the face of that statement by General Gordon, that the Mahdi knows all about the military operations. I am not certain whether two items in the abstract have yet been published in the newspapers. One is that the Greek and Austrian Consuls are all right, and the other is that General Gordon wishes the newspapers to say that he has received letters through Major Kitchener from Sir Samuel Baker, his sister, and Mr. Stanley from the Congo; but he does not want to have more private letters sent, as it is too great a risk. That, I think, is all the information in addition to what has been stated in the newspapers. I should add that news has been received from another source that the friendly tribes have captured a convoy of 3,000 camels which were on their way from the River Gash to join the enemy.