HC Deb 27 February 1885 vol 294 cc1627-726


Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [23rd February], That an humble Address be presented to the Queen, humbly representing to Her Majesty that the course pursued by Her Majesty's Government in respect to the affairs of Egypt and the Soudan, has involved a great sacrifice of valuable lives and a heavy expenditure without any beneficial result, and has rendered it imperatively necessary in the interests of the British Empire and of the Egyptian people that Her Majesty's Government should distinctly recognise, and take decided measures to fulfil, the special responsibility now incumbent on them to assure a good and stable Government to Egypt and to those portions of the Soudan which are necessary to its security."—(Sir Stafford Northcote.)

And which Amendment was, To leave out from the first word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House, while refraining from expressing an opinion on the policy pursued by Her Majesty's Government in respect to the affairs of Egypt and the Soudan, regrets the decision of Her Majesty's Government to employ the forces of the Grown for the overthrow of the power of the Mahdi,"—(Mr. John Morley,) —instead thereof.

Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

Debate resumed.


Sir, with the exception of a few halting, and somewhat unworthy, arguments from the Treasury Bench, there has been, so far as I know, in the whole course of this debate, no real attempt on the part of any one speaker to con- trovert the charge which has been made against the Government with respect to the capture of Khartoum and the loss of General Gordon. I take that charge to be this—that by declining to utilize the victories of General Graham for the relief of General Gordon the Government rendered necessary both the Expedition of Lord Wolseley and all that it may yet involve, and that General Gordon has perished and Khartoum been lost simply because the Government would not make up their minds to act in time. A more solemn pledge was never made by any Minister to any Parliament or country than the pledge given by the right hon. Gentleman opposite to this House in May last. He told us then that Parliament and the nation had covenanted to do all that might be necessary to rescue General Gordon. Sir, that covenant has not been kept. The responsibility for not keeping it must rest on the Government; and I think that the nation, while recognizing with admiration the great qualities of their hero, and mourning for his loss, will visit the conduct of the Government in this matter with that indelible disgrace, which the noble Lord the Secretary of State for War told this House in May would rest on the Government if they should neglect any means at the disposal of this country for the rescue of General Gordon. Can it be contended that there has been no such neglect? Why, what happened during those three months which passed between the debate in May and the date when the preparations for Lord Wolseley's Expedition were commenced? The Government knew that General Gordon was cut off from communication with the outer world; they did not know his actual position; and yet they spent more than three months, according to the statement of the Prime Minister, in examining the routes by which aid might be sent to him, and this statement is made although the right hon. Gentleman has told us that in August military operations had not been decided upon as necessary. How can this be reconciled with the words of the President of the Local Government Board, who said last night that by the 15th of July orders had been given to despatch certain steamers up the Cataracts of the Nile in readiness for the relief of General Gordon. The fact is, that the Govern- ment deliberately chose to run the chance of his being able to maintain himself for an indefinite time at Khartoum, or to escape without any assistance from them. They delayed the commencement of their Expedition until a date when it was absolutely certain that the state of the Nile towards the end of the year must inevitably delay the accomplishment of its object. And the result has been that they have been again too late. The only serious argument which has been brought forward by the Government in defence of their conduct in this matter is that it is probable that the fate of General Gordon was due to treachery, and that treachery would in any case have occurred on the near approach of British Forces. If that argument were carried out logically, it might be maintained that no British Force ought to have been sent at all. But is it not manifest that time was of the essence of the question? Can it be seriously argued that the risk from treachery would not increase with the length of a protracted and dangerous siege, marked by a growing scarcity of provisions, and by almost daily losses in engagements with the enemy? Would not also the risk increase in consequence of the repeated declarations of the Government that the country would be evacuated as soon as Gordon should have been rescued? I cannot conceive a state of affairs more calculated to encourage the inhabitants of Khartoum to commit those acts of treachery which Gordon himself anticipated, and against which we warned the Government. I do not think that anyone can believe that the death of Gordon was due to inevitable calamity, or to an unexpected visitation of Providence. I think it is clearly due to the apathy and procrastination of the Government, from whom a heavy penalty will be exacted by the country before long. What are you now going to do? To over throw the Mahdi at Khartoum, and to make a permanent railway from Suakin to Berber. Let me say a few words on the proposal to overthrow the Mahdi at Khartoum. Gordon told the Government, at a very early period of his mission, that it was essential that they should smash the Mahdi, and he added words which now seem prophetic—"Remember that when Khartoum once belongs to the Mahdi, the task will be far more difficult, yet you will, for the safety of Egypt, execute it." necessary to hold it. What was their reply? They rebuked him, saying that military operations against the Mahdi were beyond the scope of his commission, and at variance with the pacific policy which was the purpose of his mission to the Soudan; and yet the Prime Minister comes down to this House and says that the policy of the Government has undergone no change. It has undergone a very serious change. I do not say that the change is not warranted by the change of circumstances; but I want to know what they intend that this Expedition shall do? The question has been asked over and over again, and the Government have failed to answer it—I believe for the simple reason that they do not know themselves what the Expedition is to do; they cannot make up their minds as to their future policy in the Soudan. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary told us last night that it was unreasonable and improper to ask questions of this kind, and the President of the Local Government Board told us that they were speculative questions, and that the Government ought not to be asked to pledge themselves to details. But no one asked them to do that. What the House is entitled to have an answer to is this—when they have overthrown the Mahdi, what are the principles which are to govern their policy in the Soudan? Speaking early after the catastrophe at Khartoum, the hon. Member for Bath (Sir Arthur Hayter) expressed the opinion that this Expedition was sent out to rescue or to avenge General Gordon. But the Home Secretary has utterly repudiated any idea of vengeance, and very properly. The right hon. Gentleman stated that the Government had no intention of occupying or annexing any portion of the Soudan for Egypt, or for England, and that the Expedition was sent solely for the purpose of evacuation. Why is it necessary for this purpose? The right hon. Gentleman says because it is the only means by which the evacuation of the Soudan can be accomplished consistently with the safety of Egypt. The Prime Minister, in addressing the House upon this subject, also stated his view of the intimate connection between this matter and the safety of Egypt when he said— Our concern in the Soudan is dependent upon our concern and obligations for the safety and defence of Egypt. But at the very same time that the Home Secretary was defending this Expedition as necessary for the safety of Egypt, he took the opportunity of again proclaiming that over-mastering desire on the part of Her Majesty's Government to get out of Egypt as soon as possible with little regard to the future which has characterized their Egyptian policy from the very commencement, and which, I will venture to say, has been at the root of half our difficulties in Egypt. It is this which has made the best Decrees of the Khedive absolutely valueless, because no one could be certain that there would be any continued policy in their execution, and has compelled the Prime Minister himself, when he was attempting to inform the House the other day of what he was pleased to call the beneficial results of our occupation of Egypt, to give such a pitiful catalogue as he then presented to us. I should like to ask the attention of the House to this matter for a few minutes, because it seems to me to be an essential part of the Egyptian policy of Her Majesty's Government, and one with which the country ought to be acquainted. I should like to ask whether there really have been any beneficial results from the policy of Her Majesty's Government in Egypt; and whether any of the abuses which exist in that country have been remedied? We were told by the Prime Minister that Her Majesty's Government had introduced representative government in Egypt. When that statement was made, it was received with the ridicule it deserved, for everybody knows that all the representative government that exists in Egypt is practically no more than a paper Constitution. I remember that last year a great deal was made by Her Majesty's Government of that important reform which had been effected in Egypt for the benefit of the Native population by making foreign residents liable to the house tax. If hon. Members have looked at the Papers recently presented, they will see that the execution of that Decree of the Khedive has been, I believe, indefinitely postponed. Then the Prime Minister brought forward the suppression of the kourbash. No doubt the use of the kourbash has been materially diminished; but it still exists to some extent in Egypt, as the Report of Sir Evelyn Baring shows. What, however, has been the result of its diminution? Sir Evelyn Baring says— The change has greatly enhanced the difficulty of governing Egypt, the prisons being so comfortable as compared with the homes of the prisoners that imprisonment is little feared, and no other punishment having been substituted. Lord Northbrook says— These changes have weakened the power of the local officers, and have thus contributed to the increase of crime. Then we heard a great deal last year of the New Code of Criminal Procedure, and of the wonderful effects it was to bring about. But what does Sir Evelyn Baring say with regard to it? He says that it is not well adapted to the circumstances of the country, or to the customs and manners of the people, and that some important modifications will have to be made in it. I really think that if hon. Members opposite would read that important despatch from Lord North-brook which appears in the Papers from which I am quoting, they would see how shadowy and flimsy are the claims of Her Majesty's Government to have brought about any beneficial results by their occupation of Egypt. According to Lord Northbrook, the indebtedness of the cultivators of the land still largely prevails in Lower Egypt, while land, in Upper Egypt is still over-assessed to taxation. He admits that the system of the corvée, sometimes enforced by the kourbash, still continues. There is a general impression that the official classes are still corrupt. Prisoners are still kept in confinement for a length of time without being brought to trial, and no great confidence is placed by most of the best authorities in the fighting qualities of the Egyptian Army. There is a very important sentence in Lord Northbrook's despatch upon this question of the Army. He says that it is his decided opinion that it would be neither safe nor wise to fix any definite time for the entire withdrawal of the British troops from Egypt. What a contrast is that to the light-hearted proposal for the evacuation of Egypt made by the Home Secretary last night, and to the extraordinary clause contained in the Anglo-French Agreement entered into last year, by which Her Majesty's Government fixed a definite time for the withdrawal of our troops. I would like also to know how the policy announced by the Home Secretary last night is consistent with another opinion expressed by Lord Northbrook in the despatch from which I have already quoted? Lord Northbrook looks for a prompt settlement of the finances of Egypt through the instrumentality of England, so that the difficulties in which the former country is now placed may cease, and the salutary influence of the English Government may be sustained. We do not know what were Lord Northbrook's recommendations in reference to that financial settlement, because his Report has never yet been presented to Parliament, and I dare say it never will be presented; but I should like to know how far they tally with that Financial Agreement which we understand is no won the point of being made by Her Majesty's Government with the other European Powers. I should like to know whether that Agreement contains any security for maintaining that salutary influence of England in Egypt to which Lord Northbrook attaches such immense importance? Or is that Agreement even worse than that uncertainty for the future which has paralyzed the action in Egypt of the friends of reform, while it has encouraged the efforts of its enemies? Is it true that that Agreement contains the idea of a Multiple Control, which is calculated absolutely to neutralize English influence in Egypt, and to work untold mischief in the country? The President of the Local Government Board last night made a very suspicious reference to that. He said that he hoped the control of Egypt over its own government would not be lessened by any steps which we were taking in this matter at the present time. But the Egyptian Government rests, as everybody knows, upon English influence. I suppose that nobody who has devoted a minute's thought to this question would consider that it is possible for this country to take any action in Egypt without having due regard to the rights and interests in that country of all the other European Powers and to the obligations of Treaties. But the Government certainly cannot deny that we have special interests in Egypt, and that we have made sacrifices to maintain those interests, and that by those sacrifices, and by our duty in the matter both to ourselves and to Egypt, we are bound to maintain a special influence in the future in the government of Egypt. What I fear is that in the Financial Agreement which I understand Her Majesty's Government have made there will be in place of that special influence of England an admission and perpetuation of that system of international interference in Egyptian affairs which has already been for so many years past such a curse to that unfortunate country, and which is absolutely incompatible with the influence which England does at this moment exercise over the government of Egypt. Let it not be said that an International Guarantee of an Egyptian loan does not mean international interference with the government of that country. Even the Turkish Government read us a lesson, in replying to the invitation to the late Conference in London, on the indissoluble connection between finance and administration; and it is perfectly obvious, both from what has passed on the subject and from what has been said with regard to it, that this is its intention and object. Such a Guarantee certainly forms a real liability to the Guarantors, because, by your own contention at the Conference of London, the Egyptian Revenues cannot bear the burden which will be imposed upon them, and the first Guarantor which has to meet its Guarantee will not only have the right, but will be forced, for the sake of its own subjects, to inquire into the administration of Egypt. That will mean a system of international supervision, which will certainly not sustain the influence of England, and may even end in a European war. I am quite aware that some hon. Members in this House do not think it necessary to interfere in Egypt for the sake of British interests; but I think I might appeal even to them as to whether we do not owe a duty to the people of that unfortunate country? We have suppressed the independence of their Government; we have, through what occurred at Alexandria, imposed upon them a vast liability; we have deserted—or allowed to perish, at any rate—their Armies and their garrisons. Now, can we in honour leave this country, after all that has passed, to be a field for the conflict of opposing nationalities, whose mandates, I suppose, whether we approved of them or not, whether they were or were not oppressive to the people of Egypt, would have to be practically executed by British soldiers? Sir, that appears to me to be a position in which this country ought not to be placed; and I cannot understand how it can be consistent with the immense liabilities which Her Majesty's Government are now about to undertake in the Soudan. Is it possible that Her Majesty's Government are going to incur all this vast expenditure of blood and treasure, and then to evacuate the Soudan, for no other purpose than to maintain the safety of a country whose interests they are doing their best to ruin by depriving themselves of all real power to protect them? I do not see how anyone can suppose that it is possible for Egypt to run alone. I wish I could think that it was possible for our real interest in Egypt is that it should be inhabited by a peaceful, friendly, and, as far as possible, self-governing people. I do not think that this country would desire to burden itself with the government, or even the protection, of Egypt unless such a step were absolutely necessary. The question is, Is it absolutely necessary? And that is a question which Her Majesty's Government decline to face, and which I do not think Members below the Gangway have really considered. If Her Majesty's Government really suppose that the action they have undertaken in the Soudan can be followed by the evacuation suggested by the Home Secretary, it appears to me as complete an illusion as that which the Prime Minister entertained last year regarding the intentions of the Mahdi. I do not think it is possible for Her Majesty's Government to adopt a policy of massacre and retire with safety to the interests of this country or Egypt. I am quite aware that this Expedition must be sent; but the people of this country will not support the policy of the Government if there is an intention that all which may be won by the bravery of our soldiers, and by the money of our taxpayers, shall be thrown away by the timidity and vacillation of the Government. I do not see how Her Majesty's Government can carry out in practice the policy of evacuating the Soudan. The Homo Secretary seemed to think that after the Mahdi was overthrown it would be possible to set up the local Chiefs in the various towns and villages as independent Governments. That was not the view of the President of the Local Government Board, who suggests that the difficulty is susceptible of an easier solution. He would protect a few of our more important friends, like the Mudir of Dongola, by taking them to Upper Egypt; but if Her Majesty's Government adopt that policy they will have to carry them a great deal further than Upper Egypt. Such suggestions are like that made by the Prime Minister with regard to the Chiefs in Bechuanaland, when he proposed that the Chiefs should be located elsewhere, and the people left to their persecutors. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster appeared to have some idea that it would be possible to utilize the Mahdi by negotiations for the pacification of the Soudan. And yet he does not, like the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell), consider the Mahdi a highly respectable Mahommedan gentleman, who might attend a Soudanese banquet given by the National Liberal Club, and expound the indestructible principles of the Liberal Party to the great satisfaction of his audience. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster knows that the Mahdi is a fanatical Leader, who has proclaimed his intention to conquer Egypt, overthrow Turkey, and convert the world. How can he suppose that such a man would now be likely to accept the proposal to give up Khartoum and to retire to Kordofan, which was made to him by General Gordon at the outset of his mission, and which met with insulting rejection? But perhaps negotiation with the Mahdi is to take place after his overthrow. And does the Government really mean to repeat the experiment of the restoration of Cetewayo in Zululand? Do they think that a fanatical Prophet, who has been discredited by defeat, would have any authority over his followers? What is much more likely to happen after his overthrow is that he will retire where neither Her Majesty's Government, nor any other Government, would care to follow him. What happened in the case of Osman Digna? You defeated him, and when you retired he followed upon your footsteps. The idea of negotiation is based upon the idea of the Mahdi which was in the mind of the Prime Minister when he held him up to the House as the Chief of men fighting for their freedom. I think it will now be admitted that if we gave up the Soudan to the Mahdi, either anarchy or a slave trading despotism would be the future of the country; and I do not think the people of England will agree to that. With regard to the railway from Suakin to Berber, that work is to be of a permanent character. It may take a couple of years to make. The surveys have not yet been made, and it cannot be begun till Osman Digna's forces are disposed of. When once this railway is made it cannot be abandoned to be destroyed by the wild tribes, or used by their Rulers for the conveyance of slaves. It has been asked what is the policy embodied in my right hon. Friend's Motion? It is not possible for an Opposition, who are not in pos session of all the facts of the case, to expound with perfect accuracy of detail any proposals they might have to make on such a matter as this; but I think what I have said will show the House what, in our opinion, are the essential elements of this question. You cannot, when you have marched through this country, and made this railway, abandon the tribes who have assisted you and the railway you have made, and retire into Egypt again. You must retain the control of the Nile Valley, as far south as Khartoum; and you must see that there is established at Khartoum a Government, subject to your influence, in close connection with the Government of Egypt, ruling with a due regard to the habits and customs of the people, promoting trade with the interior of Africa by the channel of the Nile, and using its power at the most vulnerable point for the extinction of the Slave Trade. That appears to me a policy which is at least definite, and if followed would not impose on this country any such terrible burden as appears to be supposed. The Home Secretary spoke of 30,000 troops being required to protect the railway—


He quoted the opinion of the hon. Member, for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin).


I thought that the right hon. Gentleman adopted it, and I cannot understand how a railway which is to be made under the protection of 6,000 or 7,000 men could require 30,000 to guard it when completed. The Prime Minister told us in more menacing language that the policy to which I have referred was in the teeth of common prudence, in the teeth of the forces of Nature, and that it would be like trying to chain the sands of the Desert when the tempest is howling over it. I do not think the country need be frightened by these terrible words. I remember when, last May, I said that it was necessary that the advance of the Mahdi should be stemmed, and that the longer the Government hesitated the more difficult would be the task, the Prime Minister told me that I was calling upon the Government to adopt schemes as wild, as impracticable, as ruinous in their consequences and unsound in their principle as any he had ever known propounded. My proposal, said the right hon. Gentleman, meant "the re-conquest of the Soudan," and a "war of conquest against a people rightly struggling to be free," which he was determined not to undertake. Yet, in spite of that language, the Prime Minister has undertaken it; and so I feel sure that the policy which has been suggested from this side of the House with reference to the future of the Soudan will be undertaken by a Government of this country, though it may not be the Government of the right hon. Gentleman. I do not believe that England will allow her lives and her treasure to be spent for nothing. Every fresh expenditure of this kind, such as the Government have now made up their minds to incur, ought to be, and must be, a fresh nail in the coffin of that wretched system of dual government in Egypt which deceives nobody but Her Majesty's Ministers, and the only use of which has been to thwart necessary reforms and impose unnecessary burdens upon an impoverished people. Well, then, Sir, I must say that I think the time has come when this country is bound to recognize that Egypt cannot stand alone. If we were to go out of Egypt to-morrow, as hon. Members below the Gangway desire, some other Power would take our place. They know that very well, and, knowing that, they propose such a Resolution as has been submitted to this House by the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley). While we are in Egypt we are bound to do our duty to the people; and we cannot do our duty to the people without admitting and fulfilling those responsibilities which, though Her Majesty's Government will never remember it, are inseparable from the possession of power. I do not know whether I shall be charged by hon. Members opposite with propounding a policy which may lead to war; but I think they have seen in the past that what leads to war is vacillation, indecision, and procrastination, such as have characterized the policy of Her Majesty's Government. I do not know whether I shall be told that I am anxious to extend the responsibilities of this country. No, Sir; those responsibilities exist already. They certainly will be extended if they are not fulfilled. I do not think that I or my right hon. Friend shall be charged with desiring by this Motion merely to embarrass Her Majesty's Government. In the present position of affairs both at home and abroad—a position recognized as being most grave even by the hon. Member for Newcastle—such a course would be unpatriotic and unworthy. This Motion has been proposed because we desire to impress upon the House and the country the policy which we believe is the only wise and safe policy to pursue, and because we are convinced, both by their conduct in the past, and by their reticence in the present, that it will not be carried out by a Government whose only idea seems to be to reconcile differences of opinion between the fragments of their own Party. Sir, we are conscious of the responsibilities that attach to the action which we have taken. No one need be anxious, no one need desire, I am sure, to undertake the government of this country with such a heritage as will be left by the right hon. Gentleman; but, Sir, if we are required to do it, we shall to the utmost of our power endeavour to fulfil the undertaking.


said, that in the few remarks with which he should venture to trouble the House he proposed, as far as possible, to confine himself to the practical question what should be done now, and to examine the decision which Her Majesty's Government had taken under circumstances which afforded the country ground for a new departure. He would, therefore, refrain from following the right hon. Baronet in an examination of the interesting question how far Egypt could be internationalized, or how far its autonomy could be established. The question they had really to consider had reference to the necessity of the Expedition, and of the policy which had been resolved upon by the Government. He would endeavour to show that there was no necessity for that policy being adopted; and he would adduce what were the necessary consequences of the Expedition if the fatal first step was taken. His right hon. Friend at the head of the Government had observed that in what had hitherto happened there had been no choice at any moment as to what should be done; and Lord Derby used almost the same language, subject, however, to this considerable admission—that apparently, in his Lordship's opinion, the first step of all was not necessary. The Secretary of State for the Colonies was now disposed to think that our first intervention in Egypt was a mistake. But, whatever our opinion might be as to the past, we were now at a point where a new issue was presented to us, and where a new departure might be taken. He challenged the necessity of the policy which was about to be adopted, and which was said to depend on the circumstances immediately presented to us. What was this policy which he questioned? It was the policy of overthrowing the Mahdi at Khartoum. The first authority to whom we should refer, if we wished to inquire into the necessity of that resolution, would surely be Lord Wolseley himself. Had his authority been adduced to show that it was necessary? Did Lord Wolseley support Her Majesty's Government in declaring that that must be an inevitable consequence of the fall of Khartoum and the death of Gordon? To everybody who had heard the speeches of the Prime Minister and the President of the Local Government Board, it must be evident that Lord Wolseley insisted upon no such decision, and that he asked the Government to decide the political issue, declaring that he himself was willing to adopt the consequences which would be involved in whatever decision the Government might arrive at. Lord Wolseley was as ready to retire as to advance, and he represented the one course to be as easy as the other. There was, in fact, no military necessity requiring the decision which had been arrived at by Her Majesty's Government. They were entitled to ask—"How can we connect this decision to overthrow the Mahdi at Khartoum with the consequences which were going to flow after it?" If this decision were adopted, what did it entail? What was the further policy of Her Majesty's Government, for they must have some further policy? Here we had a most remarkable variety of declarations on the part of the Government. His right hon. Friend had said that the policy of the Government now was what it always had been—namely, the evacuation of the Soudan by Egypt and its restoration to freedom; but afterwards he had said that he did not mention evacuation by England in that declaration; and the Home Secretary said last night that nothing could induce him to take any step which would lead to the annexation of any part of the Soudan, either by Egypt or by England. In the Home Secretary's opinion, the complete retirement of the English power and influence from the Soudan was to be the complement to the determination to overthrow the power of the Mahdi at Khartoum. We had, indeed, a different speech afterwards from the President of the Local Government Board, who appeared to have addressed himself to one section of the House, while the Home Secretary addressed himself to another. There had been a still more remarkable declaration made "elsewhere." The First Lord of the Admiralty, in a very able and elaborate speech, said that certain persons who had supported us—for example, the Mudir of Dongola—might be utilized hereafter at Khartoum—that was to say, that a person who was an Egyptian Turk, a representative of Egyptian influence, who was at present our ally, might remain in authority at Khartoum. How did that statement agree with the Home Secretary's speech last night? How did it agree with the statement of the Prime Minister? But, putting aside these questions, what did the First Lord of the Admiralty next say? The noble Lord, speaking of the action of the Government and its policy in respect to the Soudan, used these remarkable words—"As far as the Government are concerned, our policy is a clear one." That in itself was a very remarkable phrase. Let hon. Members remember the declaration of the Home Secretary, and observe the clearness— We should hold our own," said Lord Northbrook, "in that country, and conduct its affairs for the benefit and advantage of the people, and in the best manner we could arrange with the people. Then our "clear policy" was to "hold our own" in this country, with which the Home Secretary said we would have nothing to do. First, we were to overthrow the Mahdi at Khartoum. Then, according to one, we were to "hold our own;" according to the other, to have nothing to do with the country. Then came the question of this extra ordinary railway from Suakin to Berber. On Thursday in last week the Prime Minister had said— Among the necessary consequences of adopting the policy of overthrowing the Mahdi at Khartoum are, first, engaging in certain military operations along the Suakin-Berber route, and, secondly, making the Suakin-Berber railway. These were two distinct things. But in speaking on Monday, his right hon. Friend, having in view the possible adoption of the hon. Member for Newcastle's Amendment, said that whatever decision they had come to on the issue presented to them—whether to advance or retire—operations would be necessary on the Suakin-Berber route. Some Members thought the right hon. Gentleman was repeating then his declaration about the making of the railway, which he had stated to be a necessary consequence, whatever course was adopted. They remarked that the surveys had not been made on the route—that the railway could not be made in less than 12 months, probably not in less than two years. But, in point of fact, on Monday the right hon. Gentleman said nothing at all about the railway. His observations then were entirely directed to the necessity of opening operations along that route, supposing the Government were in favour of retreat. No doubt, some operations might, in that case, be necessary. Just as in the Mid Lothian contests, bogus contests were got up to divert the country from Mid Lothian, so, if Lord Wolseley were to retire, it would be necessary to have operations to amuse Osman Digna. Thus the necessity of the railway insisted upon last week was not insisted on this week. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman still thought the railway important. It was simply tntended to facilitate the overthrow of the Mahdi at Khartoum, and was only to be justified, if at all, for that purpose. What was the policy of the Government in connection with that overthrow? How was the right hon. Gentleman's silence at one time to be reconciled with his speech at another? There was a good deal of mystery about it; but, after all, it was an open secret. The explanation was that when the terrible news of Gordon's death reached us, and the Cabinet met, they were under the influence of the idea that no Government could be maintained that did not determine to overthrow the Mahdi; and they arrived at that conclusion, and nothing more, and upon that, and nothing more, they were at present agreed. The Home Secretary, challenged last night about the policy of the Government, retorted by asking what Prince Bismarck would have said if he had been asked a similar question on the outbreak of the Franco-German War. But there was no analogy between the two cases, because Germany was repelling the attack of the foreigner, whereas we should be the aggressive party in the Soudan. Even if there wore such a parallel, he could not reconcile the language of the Home Secretary with his reply to the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) that the Prime Minister should not be changed to please Foreign Powers. But surely the dignity of that House required that the conduct of Ministers of the Crown towards Members of the House should not be guided by the conduct of Prince Bismarck towards Members of the Reichstag, and that a Minister should not stand in the face of the House and claim for himself, with respect to Members of Parliament, the liberty and licence that Prince Bismarck arrogated to the Reichstag. Surely it struck at the root of Parliamentary Government if, at a crisis of this kind, when a Resolution of a decisive character was being discussed, the Executive Government could not be asked what was their policy. Where, in that case, was the power of Parliament and the responsibility of the Government? The Government, at present, were not proposing defensive operations. This was an aggressive and forward movement, and not required by any military necessity, and it was undertaken for political reasons. Lord Wolse- ley, on receiving the terrible news, applied to the Government to ask on what policy he was to shape his measures—the policy of advance, or that of concentration. That in itself was sufficient evidence that the policy of the Government was not founded upon considerations of military necessity. Lord Wolsoley was ready, so far as he could understand, to accomplish the determination of the Government, whichever way it should tend. The President of the Local Government Board had fully admitted that Lord Wolseley expressed his ability to retire, taking concentration as his first step to retirement. But his right hon. Friend tried to justify the resolution of the Government by declaring that Lord Wolseley was too sanguine. Thus, instead of following the advice of their Commander in the field, that advice was disparaged by the suggestion that Lord Wolseley was too sanguine. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster had said that the resolution of the Government was a military resolution. No doubt, it was; but it was not founded on military requirements. If a man determined to go on horseback, that was an equestrian determination; but it might be for purposes of business, pleasure, or health. To call this a military determination was to confuse the issue. It was a completely voluntary movement for a political object. He went back to the point from which he started. Here, at all events, it was possible to break the chain; there was a point of discontinuity. What the Government had determined on did not necessarily follow upon the past. We were entering upon a new path, full of danger and of important consequences for the future, and we could not justify this course except upon the political grounds of the supposed necessity of meeting the Mahdi. This was undoubtedly the case, having regard to the original instructions or to any instructions that were given to General Gordon. As it was supposed by some that he had elsewhere done General Gordon an injustice, he desired to say that his position was based wholly on the attitude of the Government. He was endeavouring to show what was the action to be taken now, having regard to their instructions in the past. No doubt, the instructions in the past did involve a duty now. General Gordon was instructed to do many things and permitted to do others. The permission terminated with his death, and we were not involved in any duty to do what he was permitted to do. But it might be necessary for us to carry out what he was instructed to do. The Government were making a new departure of a positive and aggressive kind. His speech, quoted by the Home Secretary on the previous evening, had been very much misunderstood by that right hon. Gentleman, and also Thy the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who wished to suggest that he (Mr. Courtney) wanted to retire post haste upon Cairo. What he said, perhaps, was not of very much importance. [Mr. WARTON: Hear, hear!] He agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman; but it was important the issue should not be misunderstood. Both he and the hon. Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock) had been misunderstood by Members of the Government. When he and his hon. Friend spoke of retirement, they conceded that the mode of retirement must be determined by the Military Leader on the spot. We had to concentrate our troops and retire step by step, having regard to the necessity of keeping our face to the enemy if he advanced upon us. But retirement itself involved no suggestion of haste, and admitted the repelling of attack if we were pursued. It had been suggested that he and his hon. Friend did not assume that an attack was to be repelled, and that was not their position. All they wanted was that we should abstain from further aggressive movement, and that we should withdraw, as military considerations would allow us, from our forward position in the Soudan. Of course, it was not easy to do it; nobody thought that it was; but we had a choice of difficulties before us. Was it easy to go forward? As we retired we should have to remember our obligations to those who had assisted us, among whom was the Mudir of Dongola. But there was no such great danger to the mass of the people as had been suggested. Experience had shown that the fearful consequences that it was said would follow our retirement were, to a large extent, dangers that existed only in imagination. We had to compare the various and enormous evils that would accompany our advance with those which would attend our retreat. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Huntingdon (Sir Robert Peel) had said in his eloquent speech, with some exaggeration, that we were up to our ankles in blood; but because we were in the morass, ankle-deep in mud—[An hon. MEMBER: Blood!]—he preferred to say mud, because they were in that state—was that a reason why they should go and get up to their haunches? Yet the arguments used amounted to this—that, as we could not escaped unstained, we must be more deeply immersed. It was supposed by some that all the Moslem world was in unity with the Mahdi, and at one with the progress of the Mahdi; but were they certain that, if we retired, he would follow with an ever-increasing force? The apprehensions as to rousing the Moslem world against us were not shared by those who knew Egypt and India best. He had just received from a friend in India a paper written before the news of the death of General Gordon could have reached India, in which he recommended a settlement with the Mahdi as the only means of getting out of our difficulties; but the writer had no alarm whatever about the power of the Mahdi, nor had the people of Egypt. The Sultan was, as far as he could be, an enemy of the Mahdi. The Mahdi would have as much difficulty in following us as we should have in following him. He would find the country denuded of supplies by us, and he would have the greatest difficulty in crossing the desert. His power was great where he was; but it did not extend very far, and his power would be diminished as he followed us. At all events, let us try and see if it would not be so. What was the necessity for our advancing? There was no military necessity. The burden of proof was entirely upon the Government. They had adduced nothing to sustain a positive step, and every argument was against it. Yet a positive step might be fatal. If the railway was made from Suakin to Berber, our settlement in the Soudan was certain; and he hoped it was not yet too late to prevent it being made. But if that railway were made we were permanently lodged in the Soudan. It might be disconnected from Egypt, and Suakin might become the port of the Soudan; but we should be lodged in that country permanently. By making the railway we should cut off a great part of the Soudan from the Nile route. It was said we must destroy the power of the Mahdi at Khartoum; but suppose he did not stop there for us, should we follow him into the desert, thereby increasing his strength as we weakened our own? The moment we retired he would turn upon us. We must destroy him for our own security. Suppose our success was complete, what were we then to do? The Government appeared to have no plan; and the plan to which they would drift was that of setting up certain authorities in the Soudan. That was the plan of General Gordon. He hoped to set up the descendants of certain Sultans displaced by Mehemet Ali. That would be rather difficult, as would he manifest to those who understood the Mahommedan Law of Succession. When you had got these descendants, what kind of people were they likely to be? General Gordon picked up one and tried to keep him, but found him so drunken and dissolute that he sent him back at the end of the first stage of his journey. That was a specimen of the success likely to attend us. Moreover, there was one place for which there was not a dispossessed Sultan, and that was Khartoum. Here Gordon proposed that the non-existent Sultan should be represented by Zebehr. The Sultan at Khartoum would be the most powerful, and would swallow up all the rest. Was not this an exact reproduction, as the right hon. Baronet the Member for East Gloucestershire (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) had said, of what was attempted in Zululand—strange to say, by the same man who was now in the Soudan? Sir Garnet Wolseley set up his 13 Kinglets in Zululand, and now it was possible that he might set up some 13 Sultanets in the Soudan, John Dunn being represented by Zebehr. We swore that we would not interfere in Zululand, and that we would let it alone; we did not desire to annex a single bit of territory there; we said we would have nothing to do with the disputes there, and that the Natives should fight it out and come to some solution which the course of events would prove to be the ultimate one. But we have had to go there. A part of the territory had been reserved, and another part might possibly be annexed, and the whole scheme of settlement had proved to be an abso- lute dream. If we attempted to set up 13 Sultanets in the Soudan, precisely the same difficulty would arise. We should have to assist them on starting; there would probably be a British Resident who might have a guard; and if we established a railway we should have to watch it that it should not be used for the Slave Trade; and the whole fabric dreamed of now, as the consequence of overthrowing the power of the Mahdi at Khartoum, would turn out to be as baseless and insubstantial as any vision of the air. Was history written in vain? Our conquest of India showed the same thing We advanced, we overthrew the Native power, and we attempted to set up some puppet in its place, who could not stand because he had no inherent power of his own, and bit by bit we were drawn in to assert our authority. Tins was the inevitable consequence of the action which the Home Secretary approved, and it was vain for him to refuse to recognize the consequence, and threaten that he would never have anything to do with the annexation of any part of the Soudan either for Egypt or for England. It was the inevitable consequence of the first step which the Government were now taking, and he asked them to think before they made that step irrevocable. They had, fortunately, some hot months before them, which he hoped would be productive of thought. If the Government adopted the step they now proposed to take, we should have an African Empire to add to the responsibilities of our Indian Empire. Our power in this way would be drained, and our men and money exhausted, for what General Gordon had said had always been and would always be a worthless possession. It was in view of these momentous consequences that the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley) had put his Motion on the Paper. His hon. Friend had told the Government that they had got to decide what they would do under the new circumstances, and the Government had decided that the thing to be done was to overthrow the power of the Mahdi at Khartoum. At that step his hon. Friend arrested the attention of the House, and called upon hon. Members to declare against that step of the Government. That was the issue. If hon. Members were not prepared to under- take all the consequences of the first step, they should not allow that step to be taken. If they allowed the first step to be taken, they must not flatter themselves that they could possibly avoid a further step. His hon. Friend, in his expression of regret that the Government had decided to employ the Forces of the Crown for the overthrow of the Mahdi at Khartoum, had nothing to say as to the past, because he had recognized the fact that they were at the opening of a new scene. A new epoch was about to be commenced, and new responsibilities were about to be incurred; and whatever hon. Members might have said and thought in the past, let them determine at this point that they would not sanction the new step. The hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock) expressed nearly the same view. In his Amendment his words were— That this House, while ready to support Her Majesty's Government in any steps which may he necessary to protect the dominions of Egypt from attack by the Mahdi, would regret the extension of offensive military operations beyond the limits which may be adopted as the permanent frontier of Egypt. That was a protest against any new offensive military operations beyond the Egyptian frontier and against the position of the Government, and it was identical in effect with the Amendment of the hon. Member for Newcastle, opposing the policy of overthrowing the power of the Mahdi at Khartoum. The Amendment of the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce) proposed— That, in the opinion of this House, further military operations in the Soudan ought to be confined to the purposes of protecting the frontiers of Egypt, providing for the fulfilment of engagements already entered into, and securing the speedy and honourable withdrawal of British forces from the interior of the Soudan. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce) made a speech last night, he believed, in perfect agreement with the policy of the hon. Member for Newcastle and the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London, and in opposition to the forward movement; but the hon. Member preferred his own words. He would point out that the words of the hon. Member, however much he might dislike the forward movement, could be adopted by those who supported the forward movement. The hon. Gentleman did not secure his own idea; he wanted to prevent the forward movement, and yet he used words which the Government might adopt as justifying that movement. If it was necessary to protest against the forward movement, let them do it openly, and in no words which the Government might adopt as justifying their own plan. This was not a time to indulge in ambiguous words that might mean anything. They had before them in that House two combinations of Gentlemen. They had a Ministry who recommended the forward movement to Khartoum, involving the necessary consequences to which he had referred; and, on the other hand, they had right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite who were advocating those consequences by themselves. The right hon. Baronet the Member for East Gloucestershire (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) directly advocated the setting up of an orderly Government, supported by English power, at Khartoum, which was the necessary consequence of the step which Her Majesty's Government had resolved to take. The Home Secretary last night showed that if hon. Gentlemen opposite came into Office they would not be able to carry out their present policy. In fact, the two sides of the House were very much in the position of the two sons mentioned in the Scriptures, who were instructed by their father to go and work in the vineyard. One said, "I go," but went not; the other said, "I will not go," but afterwards went. His right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary, and others were very much opposed to increasing our responsibility in the Soudan. But they could not prevent that increase if they took the first step. Hereafter it would be said of them, "They went, although they stated that they would not go." Having taken this first step of overthrowing the Mahdi at Khartoum, it was perfectly idle to talk of shrinking from their responsibility. It was self-deceit of the grossest character to do so, whether in the case of India, Zululand, or Egypt. It was the greatest self-deceit to try if they could avoid the consequences of their own acts. But the other side might say they would go, and yet they would not go. They would find considerable difficulty in carrying out their policy. He believed the right hon. Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote) shrank as much as anyone from increasing the responsibilities of the Empire, and in that he would find supporters among those behind him. But there was another point. If by a combination of persons Gentlemen opposite came into power, they would find themselves in a minority, and the majority of that House would be of an entirely different opinion then from what they were now, and public opinion would be entirely different. He asked hon. Members who read the newspapers and met Party managers, what answer they got when they inquired as to what was thought about this Egyptian matter? Was it not—"We wish we had never got into it. Nothing but our respect for the Prime Minister induces us to tolerate it." But if the opposite Party were in power that feeling would be intensified, and would be directed against them with far greater force. If the right hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen) thought of accomplishing his object by bringing those Gentlemen into power he would find himself very much mistaken. On the other hand, let the present Ministry be retained in power, and there was great danger of that being done. The Home Secretary last night, from a feeling of delicacy which they all understood, did not refer to the fact that if he was out of power we should have his massive eloquence used against increasing the responsibilities of the Empire. No longer fettered by the ties of Office, his power would be directed, without reserve and without stint, against the policy of the Conservative Party. But a still more powerful voice on the same side—a voice which was foremost in condemnation of such enterprizes in the past, but which now pleaded in a faltering manner—might be heard denouncing the extension of responsibilities to which now he was a party. Awakening, as it were, from a frightful nightmare, his voice would be raised; and the attempts of the Party opposite to carry out the policy which they had now declared would be foiled by the opposition they would encounter. His right hon. Friend said just now, interjectionally, that if this contention was right, he and his Friends ought to alter the votes they intended to give in the division. Undoubtedly that was a question which would have to be considered, and much searchings of heart must follow. If they had regard to the present issue alone, and to the probable developments of policy in the Soudan, their purpose would apparently be better served by the introduction of Gentlemen opposite to Office than by the present Government. That was a very important thing, which would have to be considered; but the responsibility was not confined to them. He had thought frequently of late of an incident in our Parliamentary history which seemed applicable to the present day—an incident always to be remembered, because two of the most illustrious names in the Parliamentary history of England were engaged in it. Before the repeal of the Corn Laws, when a half-persuaded Minister was hesitating as to the step he should have to take in the near future with respect to those laws, Mr. Cobden in his place, speaking words of truth and soberness, said to the then Prime Minister—"Upon you and you alone rests the responsibility for the maintenance of this iniquity." The Prime Minister misunderstood what was said; he thought he was threatened with personal consequences, and we knew a painful scene followed. He would not dwell further on the incident; he should not have alluded to it, had he not felt deeply that precisely the same language might be used on this occasion. The issue before the nation now—and no more momentous issue had ever been presented—rested upon the decision of one man. At a whisper from him, a change of tone, a single utterance, the nation would be found rising to condemn what it now sullenly acquiesced in. The increase of our responsibility which had now arisen depended on the utterance of one man. This was a fact full of solemnity. He had not himself shrunk from recognizing the responsibility which rested upon each of them, especially upon hon. Members on the Ministerial side of the House; but there was this crowning responsibility to which he would draw attention, because, if it was fully realized, it might induce a half-reluctant Minister to do what a great Minister only could—retrace his steps, and undo the mischief which, so unwittingly and for so long a time, he had supported and carried forward.


said, that the right hon. Member for East Gloucestershire (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach), following the lines indicated in the speech and Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman, had brought against Her Majesty's Government three principal charges. He told the House, as it had been told by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor General (Sir Hardinge Giffard) under the late Government and the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson), that Her Majesty's Government had abandoned Gordon, and that they were guilty, chiefly because they had done nothing to rescue him between the 14th of May, the day on which the debate was raised by the right hon. Gentleman, and the Vote of Credit proposed on the 5th of August. He also brought forward by implication these charges—that they had done nothing to establish a stable Government in Egypt, and nothing also to establish a stable Government in the Soudan, which was necessary to the safety of Egypt. He would endeavour to follow the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman said that, by not utilizing the victories of General Graham, the Government had themselves rendered necessary the Expedition of Lord Wolseley. He should have thought that past debates had shown that it was absolutely impossible to send General Graham's Army to Berber after the victories referred to. It had been stated in some quarters that General Graham had himself expressed a contrary opinion; but he did not credit the statement. General Graham's Army could not have traversed the distance between Suakin and Berber, for at that season the difficulties connected with the questions of transport and water were too great to be overcome. General Hicks, it was true, accomplished the feat; but his transport had been organized beforehand for that special purpose, and the enemy was not at the time of his Expedition in possession of the road and the wells. It had been said that the Government remained inactive between May 14 and August. But was this statement correct? He asserted that it was not. After the debate of May 14, the Government gave their most careful consideration to the subject of the routes to Khartoum. They considered the route by Massowah, the Suakin and Berber route, and the Nile route. The first was very soon dismissed as undesirable. To the Suakin and Berber route the Government were themselves at first favourable, and certain preparations were made in the port and harbour of Suakin, which would now be of use in the debarkation of General Graham's Expedition. But many military authorities were in favour of the Nile route, and certain events occurred which led the Government to select that route. In the first place, measures had already been taken for facilitating the despatch of a Force up the Nile to control a certain portion of it. In the second place, hostile operations were threatened in Upper Egypt, which caused a certain movement of troops along the Nile; and then came the fall of Berber, when it became clear that the Suakin-Berber route was no longer of the same value, Berber being in the hands of the enemy. Lastly, that remarkable man, the Mudir of Dongola, appeared upon the scene, gained a victory over the allies of the Mahdi, and inspired confidence among the surrounding population. All these events, taken together, caused the Government to determine to operate by the Nile route. But other steps were also taken between May and August. The Foreign Office were given to understand that there was a reasonable hope of operating through the medium of the Kabbabish tribe for the relief of Gordon, there being a blood feud between them and the Mahdi; and Major Kitchener was accordingly sent to negotiate with them, an almost unlimited supply of money being placed at his disposal. This step had been productive of advantage, inasmuch as the tribe had since greatly assisted us; and for the courage and diplomatic skill which Major Kitchener had exhibited in establishing relations with them that officer deserved very great credit. Those who accused the Government of dilatoriness should bear in mind that as early as July 18 orders were given that measures should be taken to enable steamers to pass through the First Cataract of the Nile. He did not, however, wish to base the whole of his defence upon the preparations made by the Government. Whether preparations might have been made earlier or not, the fact remained that had it not been for treachery, which no preparations could avoid, Lord Wolseley's Expedition would have been in time to rescue Gordon. Had it not been that in Khartoum, as in Troy of old, someone was prepared to open the gates of the city to the enemy at the critical moment, the House would not then be engaged in a bitter Party debate, but would be rejoicing over the rescue of the hero whose loss all now deplored. As for the loss of life in connection with the fall of Berber, the number of 5,000 was given as that of the Mahdi's killed; but the accounts were by no means trustworthy. The right hon. Member for East Gloucestershire (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) entered upon the financial question, and he further attempted to anticipate the arguments which, no doubt, from both sides of the House would have to be addressed to it, whenever they were able, as he hoped they would before long be able, to lay before it those Agreements which had been come to with the Powers of Europe with regard to the finances of Egypt. He (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) had never been able to see that there was more than one of four policies at the very most which they could pursue. There was the policy which was generally known as the policy of scuttle—not merely of leaving the Soudan, but of leaving Egypt at once, irrespective of the consideration of what might happen when they left. That was not a policy which had ever recommended itself to Her Majesty's Government. It was a policy which would end not merely in disaster to those persons in Egypt to whom we were honourably pledged, but would end with discredit to the reputation of this country, and also with disaster to its material interests. Then there was the policy of assuming a Protectorate of Egypt. He could hardly imagine anything more impossible, more difficult to defend in that House, than the policy of those who would go to Egypt, and who would, at the same time, put England in the position of bringing herself practically into a sort of partnership with the existing Egyptian Government, obliged at every step to consult other Powers in regard to those ties which internationally bind the Egyptian Government. Then there was the policy of those who advocated a more violent course, who said—"Take a Protectorate of Egypt, and sweep aside at one fell blow all those institutions, all those Conventions, and all those International Agreements which now exist." Such a course would not merely imperil the reputation of this country for good faith among the nations of the world, but it would also, in all probability, at once produce complications which might bring about a European war. If they were to adopt none of those three policies there remained but one other, that one which the Government had adopted from the commencement, and to which, he contended, they had been faithful all through, the policy of scrupulous regard for the engagements—the international engagements—which bound us on the one hand to the great nations of Europe, and on the other to the Sublime Porte—engagements which maintained on one hand the liberties and privileges of Egypt, and also recognized the rights of the Porte, which were probably the best guarantee against the interference of any Foreign State—engagements which also bound us to such countries as France and Germany, and which the Government believed, if honourably fulfilled, would in the long run produce far less difficulty than any one of those violent courses which at times had found advocates in that House and in the country. Sneers had been levelled at the Government in regard to their internal reforms; but he asked, was it fair, in circumstances of such difficulty, and considering they only exercised a general control in Egypt in regard to its administration, to turn to ridicule and depreciate everything that had been done by the Government? He admitted there was a great deal yet to be done; but much had been accomplished already. No doubt the kourbash was still used, but there was a great diminution in its use; and although the corvée still existed, no doubt it had been found possible to diminish and almost to abolish its use. If witnesses who could be depended upon were examined, it would be found that a great deal had been done by Her Majesty's Government in Egypt, in spite of the condition of the country and the fact that they had been there a little more than two years. The hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) and the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett) had appealed to him for information with regard to the interference by Italy with Turkish possessions on the Red Sea. They said—"How can you reconcile that with any respect for the international position of Egypt and the Sublime Porte?" There was no mystery upon that question. An attempt had been made, but it had been an entire failure, to show that between his language and that of the Prime Minister of Italy in the Parliament of that country there was confliction. What struck him as very remarkable upon that was that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Huntingdon (Sir Robert Peel) professed to give to the House an account of what had passed in Italy in regard to that subject; but he unfortunately left out the most material part of the story. The right hon. Gentleman quoted his (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice's) statement in the House, and a statement made in the Italian Parliament on this subject; but he entirely failed to quote a further statement made by the Italian Prime Minister in reply to a distinct challenge upon the question. An eminent Italian Member of Parliament brought up a debate on the question, and he accused the Italian Minister of having used language at variance with his (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice's); but the Italian Prime Minister said that his (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice's) language had been entirely consistent with his own. The course of proceedings had been this. On the 3rd of November the Italian Ambassador inquired whether Her Majesty's Government were in any way opposed to an extension of Italian jurisdiction to the north of their settlement at Assab, so as to include Beilul, in the same way as Raheita had already been included in the south. Lord Granville assured him that Her Majesty's Government felt no jealousy of the extension of Italian influence over that part of the Bed Sea coast, but would, on the contrary, welcome it. Her Majesty's Government could not, however, undertake to give away that which did not belong to them, and Lord Granville suggested the desirability of the Italian Government coming to an arrangement with the Porte on the matter. On the 22nd of December Count Nigra inquired in what manner Her Majesty's Government would view a provisional occupation of Zulla by Italian troops. Lord Granville informed him that the Egyptian Government, being unable to continue their hold on all the African littoral of the Red Sea, the ports naturally reverted to the Sultan, whom Her Majesty's Go- vernment had advised to retake possession of some of them. If the Italian Government desired to occupy some of these ports, it was a matter between Italy and Turkey. Her Majesty's Government, for their own part, had no objection to raise against the Italian occupation of Zulla, Beilul, or Massowah. On the 10th of January Musurus Pasha referred to the reports current as to the intentions of the Italian Government on the Red Sea, and Lord Granville stated that it was to be regretted that Turkey had not acted on the suggestions of Her Majesty's Goverment that she should herself occupy these ports. When the Porte protested subsequently against the Italian occupations, Lord Granville expressed a strong hope that Turkey and Italy should amicably arrange the matter, but informed the Turkish Ambassador that Her Majesty's Government must disclaim any responsibility, as their advice to the Sultan to occupy the ports had not been acted upon. He might add in regard to that matter that, although there was no special alliance or understanding in regard to this subject between Italy and Her Majesty's Government, there were relations of very great amity at this moment between this country and Italy. At this moment, which was undoubtedly one of difficulty, Italy had shown that, in regard to her relations with this country, the proverb "that there was no such thing as gratitude in politics," did not hold good. Italy had shown that she recollected the assistance and the sympathies given without hope or intention of obtaining any reward, given by us from our admiration of that country and the remembrance of its great past, given to Italy at the moment of her difficulty, when she was struggling to be free, in the days when the policy of this country was directed by Lord Palmerston and Lord Russell, and inspired also, in no small degree, by the present Prime Minister. In reply to a Question put by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell), he (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) had to say that there was no intention of departing in any way from the 1st Article of the Abyssinian Treaty, by which the inhabitants of Abyssinia were secured free access to the port of Massowah, which was, he believed, a stipulation of very great value to the commercial development of Massowah, and for that reason to the prospects of that country, because a very considerable trade would flow into Abyssinia from Massowah. In the course of his speech the right hon. Baronet the Member for Huntingdon (Sir Robert Peel) had also made an extraordinary allegation with respect to a conversation between himself and Hassan Fehmi. He said Hassan Fehmi told him that Lord Granville had said certain things. When the right hon. Baronet had that interview with the Turkish Minister, did he first tell him, as he was bound to do, speaking to a man ignorant of English customs, that he was questioning him with the intention of quoting his answers in this House? He (Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice) could hardly conceive anything more unfair to a foreigner and a stranger than to speak to him in a moment of confidence, obtain from him a statement, and then quote it in this House, without having given him previous warning, or submitted the statement to him. Now, what were the facts with regard to the right hon. Baronet's quotation? It was entirely incorrect. No such statement was made by Lord Granville. He had the authority of Hassan Fehmi and of Lord Granville for saying that the right hon. Baronet entirely misunderstood the eminent diplomatist whom he quoted. It would be generally agreed that a right hon. Gentleman occupying his position ought not to have made such a statement until ho had fully satisfied himself of its accuracy. Ho would now refer to the main charge against Her Majesty's Government—namely, that they had made no clear statement of their policy in the Soudan. This point had been elaborated with great detail by the two able speakers who had preceded him. When the country was passing through a period of difficulty, it was easy for an Opposition to find fault with and make cheap capital if, at every moment of its career, interrogatories were piled on interrogatories as to every passing incident of every passing hour, and as to what they intended to do under such and such unknown circumstances. There was an old proverb which said "It is a rash thing to prophesy before you know." And for the Government to come forward and state beforehand everything they intended to do in the Soudan in the course of the present year would be an act of folly which no Government would commit. The policy of Her Majesty's Government in regard to the Soudan was carefully set forth in the following instructions given to Lord Wolseley, and printed in the Blue Book [Egypt, No. 35 (1884), p. 113]— You will use your best endeavours to insure the safe retreat of the Egyptian troops which constitute the Khartoum garrison, and of such of the civil employés of Khartoum, together with their families, as may wish to return to to Egypt. As regards the future government of the Soudan, and especially of Khartoum, Her Majesty's Government would he glad to see a Government at Khartoum which, so far as all matters connected with the internal administration of the country are concerned, would be wholly independent of Egypt. The Egyptian Government would be prepared to pay a reasonable subsidy to any Chief or number of Chiefs who would be sufficiently powerful to maintain order along the valley of the Nile from Wady Halfa to Khartoum, and who would agree to the following conditions:—(1.) To remain at peace with Egypt, and to repress any raids on Egyptian territory. (2.) To encourage trade with Egypt. (3.) To prevent and discourage by all possible means any expeditions for the sale of and capture of slaves. You are authorised to conclude any arrangements which fulfil these general conditions. The main difficulty will consist in the selection of an individual, or of a number of individuals, having sufficient authority to maintain order. You will, of course, bear in mind that any Ruler established south of Wady Haifa will have to rely solely on his own strength in order to maintain his position. I have already mentioned that under certain conditions the Egyptian Government would be prepared to pay a moderate subsidy in order to secure tranquillity and fairly good government in the Valley of the Nile. Beyond the adoption of this measure neither Her Majesty's Government nor the Egyptian Government are prepared to assume any responsibility whatsoever for the government of the Nile Valley south of Wady Halfa. The general policy of the Government was still to be found in those instructions. What the Prime Minister stated the other night was that the fall of Khartoum only rendered more important that which was necessary before—namely, that the power of the Mahdi should be broken, and that some stable form of government should be established at Khartoum—a government as stable as circumstances of time and place admitted. The President of the Local Government Board had stated to the House that no pledge as to "the ultimate future" of the Soudan could be given. To do so would be to give details in regard to a position which must largely be influenced by the course of the mili- tary campaign. If the House would consider the statements made by Ministers in the two Houses, they would find that those were four clear statements as to the policy of the Government—namely, that the Soudan was to be separated from Egypt; that it would be placed under such stable government as the circumstances of the time would permit; that a railway was to be constructed from Berber to Suakin; and that Her Majesty's Government believed that the construction of that line would insure the independence of the Soudan from Egyptian interference, and be a guarantee for the permanence of any Government which it might be found possible to establish. The Suakin-Berber railway would develop the commerce and civilization of the Soudan. It would insure a considerable supply of English goods, and induce a wholesome trade to spring up that would give shape to the Soudan economically and commercially. It was not too much to say that no port of any importance existed on the East Coast of Africa between Zanzibar and Suakin; and, therefore, it was no rash thing to say that the Suakin-Berber railway would have a very great influence. The Government were told that when it was made they would abandon the country, and, no doubt, that was their policy; but it did not in the least follow that the railway would be abandoned, or that there would not be established a stable Government in the Soudan which would maintain that railway as an aid to civilization. The case of the Government was a clear one, and there was no discrepancy between the statements of the Prime Minister at different times. To ask them to say more would be to ask what no Government in their sound senses would consent to do. He would only further add that if, before long, it should be his fate to sit on the Benches opposite, he should not follow the example of those who were now in Opposition, but would carefully abstain from coming down and asking the Government of the day to make detailed statements of the policy they would pursue while military operations were going on, and when their policy must, to a great extent, depend upon military considerations. He thanked the House for having listened to a lengthy and, he feared, somewhat dry statement, in which he had been obliged to meet the successive arguments by which the Government had been assailed.


Mr. Speaker, I think it a great honour, Sir, to be allowed to make a few remarks in a debate at such an important crisis; but, though I do not wish to detain the House long, I feel it a duty to one's country, and to those who have gone out to fight for it, and also to those who from bereavement or anxiety for the future are sorrowing at home, to speak out plainly. I may say that it is incumbent on me perhaps to do so, as my constituents know that I am well acquainted with a large portion of that country to which all our eyes are turned. I speak, therefore, as one who has been on the border of the Northern Soudan, although it is many years since I stood on that rock near the Second Cataract, so well known to African travellers, and cast a longing eye towards the South, where then all was quiet, and the English name respected from Alexandria to Gondokoro; and I often think how ashamed I should be were I brought again face to face with those Nubians and Egyptians and black Soudanese who served me so faithfully for many months. As my object in rising is only to add my voice in denunciation of the conduct of the present Government, it is needles for me to weary the House with repetitions of the quotations from the Blue Books, alas! too well impressed upon our minds; but I will say this, knowing the country, and having been acquainted during several years with its people, from the Khedive then ont he Throne to the fellah at his shadoof, that if there had been honesty of purpose and a decided policy in the acts of the Government with regard to Egypt, there need never have been a war at all. But the fact is, the war was undertaken to cover the defects of the Government with a halo of what they hoped would be cheaply purchased glory; for they felt that the country could not sit quiet after such a disgraceful peace as had been concluded in South Africa. They thought they would try their hands at what has turned out to be a very spurious Jingoism upon a foe they were certain to vanquish. That being accomplished, the Egyptian Army being scattered, and most of them having laid down their arms and retired to their villages after the battle of Tel-el-Kebir, I need not waste the time of the House by pointing out by what blunder after blunder the present crisis has been brought about. Nor will I give the Cabinet the excuse of ignorance, for the country knows perfectly well that the Prime Minister and most of his Colleagues cannot have erred on that account. Therefore, this fearful state of things has been created, as the country well knows, by culpable negligence, and the day of retribution has come at last. The censure, not only of this House, but of the civilized world is upon them. I am one of those, Sir, who think the terms of the Resolution are not strong enough for the occasion. It is a mere matter of detail, and I feel it is, perhaps, almost presumptous on my part to take exception to a Resolution moved by the Leader of our Party in this House, who has, so deservedly, the respect and esteem of the whole Conservative Party; but I should like to explain my reasons. In former days the political honour of the Liberal Cabinet stood so high that it was more than likely it would take a mere protest as a Vote of Censure. In former days it was understood that the Government of the day would declare its policy in plain, unmistakable terms, and stand or fall by it; but now a Liberal Government pieces together its policy haphazard from day to day on the chance of what may turn up. Now, instead of submitting it to Parliament, a Liberal Minister merely announces a measure to the House, and waits for the comments of the newspapers before he dare trust himself to give any explanation of it. In fact, the reason, in my opinion, why this Vote of Censure is not strong enough is, that the political honour of the present Cabinet is so low, that it requires the strongest language to prevent their having the chance, by volubility of phrases and dexterity of eloquence, of avoiding the direct issue. I consider that I am fully confirmed in my opinion after hearing the speeches of right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench opposite, and especially those of the Prime Minister and the right hon. Baronet the President of the Local Government Board. I consider such evasive statements, at a time like this, nothing less than an insult to this country, and not to this country only, but to the whole Empire. The Government are asked to declare their policy; but the phrases used by the Prime Minister seem to admit of so many interpretations that it is utterly impossible for an ordinary mind to understand what is meant. It may be that, as one of the Members for an agricultural constituency, I am open to the charge, which I have heard used by a Minister in this House, of Arcadian simplicity; but I think that the manner in which the Government has conducted the Business of the country during the past painful five years may fairly be described as savouring of the Cretan. I say, they have already had too much latitude; they have had their last chance; they have been weighed in the balance and found wanting, and they have shown themselves utterly unworthy of the confidence of the country. For our Empire's sake let this Cabinet of all the talents be exchanged for one of honesty and common sense. No one can envy the Conservative Party having to take Office at such a time, with such a damnosa hereditas as this Liberal Government loaves behind it; but the country knows they will not shrink from the task, however great; and there can be no doubt now, after the speeches in this House, and especially after the speech of our great Leader in "another place," as to our policy; as much of which has been shadowed forth as it is possible for any Opposition to give. I should like to say one word about the letter from General Gordon on the 4th November. The expression he uses there is— Your Expedition is for relief of garrison, which I fail to accomplish. I decline to agree that it is for me personally. No, Sir, General Gordon was not the man to wish that the blood of one single English soldier should be shed on his behalf alone. I wish also to allude to the Mahdi. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon has pretty well disposed of a "smashed Mahdi;" but I wish the House to consider seriously what a "smashed Mahdi" really means. There is no necessity to follow the Mahdi into the interior; if you drive him back, and he dares not come out and oppose you, ho is no longer a Mahdi; he is plain Mohammed Ahmed, or whatever his name may be. In fact, he retires into private life, just as a "smashed" Prime Minister; and I hope, for the sake of the whole British Empire, that we shall soon see such a thing. The Prime Minister will retire into private life; but he will retire with the knowledge that he has harassed and shaken every institution in this country, and that it has been his fate to wither and blast everything he has touched. And now, Sir, before I sit down, allow me to say but a few words about those who are fighting for us in the far distant Soudan, or who have laid down their lives there, having fought for us ever since the first commencement of the war in Lower Egypt. I am only echoing the voice of the country when I say that every soldier, from the greatest General to the humblest private, has done his duty to maintain his country's honour. Many have fallen bravely on the banks of the Nile, or in the thirsty Desert in the hour of victory; but, I think I may specially allude to the death of one who, though wounded in a victorious fight, knew that the retreat was sounding as he died. I need hardly say that I allude to the gallant General, Sir Herbert Stewart. There is a strong resemblance in the circumstances of his death to one which occurred at the beginning of a great war, and which has, I think, already been alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy. I need hardly say that I mean the death of Sir John Moore. Sir Herbert Stewart and those brave men who have fallen rest with their comrades in their glory; and may the retreat that was sounded then be only, as it was at Corunna, a prelude to splendid victories such as rendered the British name so renowned throughout the Spanish Peninsula. But there is one hero who rests "alone in his glory," and upon his grave may be, alas! too truly written that an English Government left him "alone in his hour of danger;" and, while it is ringing through the world how nobly Gordon died, defending the honour of his country, it would remain an "indelible disgrace" to that country if it allows that Government who sent him out to save themselves, and to keep the Prime Minister in Office, to remain in existence one moment longer to complete the ruin of this great Empire.


I am glad to have the opportunity of saying a few words in this discussion, as I represent a small body of persons who probably approach the question from a point of view different from that taken by most of those who have hitherto borne part in the debate. There is no doubt that we are in the midst of a grave national crisis; and if the projects advocated on both sides of the House are carried into effect, we may not be far from heavy national calamities, resulting entirely from that fatal, inveterate propensity to meddle in other people's affairs, which is the chronic malady of our race. It is natural enough that there should be a good deal of crimination and recrimination as to who is responsible for this state of things, each Party trying to make a scapegoat of the other. My contention is, that all those who promoted, who instigated, who sanctioned our unhappy armed intervention in Egypt must be held more or less responsible for all that has ensued. The Prime Minister said the other day that the first step taken in that direction led, as by an inevitable necessity, to all that followed. I am thankful that, for myself, I lifted up my feeble voice from the first against these Egyptian proceedings, and have not ceased to protest against them ever since by vote and voice, in this House and out of it. My hands are clean from any stain of the blood that has been so copiously shed. I am glad it is no part of my duty to defend either Party in this House as respects our Egyptian policy. I think they are both tarred with the same brush. I hold that both are equally guilty, or, rather, that the heaviest measure of guilt is at the door of the Party opposite, and that for two reasons. First, because the miserable complications in which we have been involved in Egypt have sprung from the course they took when they were in Office; and, secondly, because they have done their utmost to push the Government further and further into the policy of aggression and war. It is customary, on these occasions, to deprecate any reference to the origin of things. We are told that what is past is past, and cannot be recalled; and it is useless to discuss it. I was glad to observe that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, in his speech the other night, repudiated this doctrine. It is a very convenient doctrine for those who wish to draw a veil of forgetfulness over their own past errors and misdeeds. But it may be necessary to draw back that veil. Hon. Gentlemen opposite dislike any allusion to the Dual Control. They wince away from it as Sir John Falstaff did from the men in buckram; j and yet it may be required, for a full discussion of this question, to cast a retrospective glance even so far back as that. For no man who has traced this wretched Egyptian imbroglio to its source can doubt that the fountain and origin of the evil was the policy established by Lord Salisbury, when he was at the Foreign Office. It was unfortunate that we should have ever got mixed up with the finances of Egypt; and I am bound to say that the mission of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen) was attended with some mischievous consequences, for an attempt was made to give that mission something of an official or semiofficial character. The right hon. Gentleman himself, before setting out, wrote a letter to Lord Derby, who was then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, saying that— He had been requested by 2,000 holders of Egyptian Stock to represent their interests in the existing crisis of Egyptian finance, asking his Lordship, "in the interests of the English bondholders," to give him "such moral support" as he could afford, and to instruct Her Majesty's Consul General in Egypt to give him assistance. And the British Consul General did give the right hon. Gentleman moral support and assistance, telling the Egyptian Government that he "was a Member of the late Cabinet, and a person of high position and reputation in this country." And this led to the first establishment of the Dual Control, which afterwards became the source of so much oppression and misery in Egypt. I hope one good result that may flow from this miserable Egyptian business will be this—that we shall lay it down as a fixed principle, and adhere to it with inexorable rigour, that when British subjects enter into pecuniary speculations in foreign countries, as they do it for their own interests, so they should do it at their own risk, since it is neither just, nor wise, nor expedient, that the mural responsibility of this nation should be pledged on their behalf, still less that the blood and treasure of its people be expended in defending the interests and collecting the debts of money-lenders and usurers. But it was Lord Salisbury who saddled Egypt on our shoulders. It was Lord Salisbury who converted what was merely a private arrangement between the Egyptian Government and certain English and French gentlemen, undertaken of their own free will, and upon their own exclusive responsibility, into a binding political engagement, which involved the British nation in heavy and lasting obligations as regards the affairs of Egypt. It was Lord Salisbury who compassed and effected the deposition of Ismail Pasha, the Khedive, whom General Gordon describes as "one of the ablest and worst-used men in Europe," and the substitution on the Throne of the present Khedive, expressly and avowedly as the protégé of the English and French Governments, with all the responsibilities and obligations which that act implied. What has been the primary reason assigned for our invading and occupying Egypt? "Was it not this—that we were bound to protect and to uphold the authority of the Khedive? The Prime Minister, a few days ago, said— We have been bound from the time that we first covenanted to keep the Khedive upon his Throne, and at no point have we had before us the choice or the possibility of return. But by whom were we bound in this sinister obligation? By Lord Salisbury. I contend, further, that a large share of the blame for the present position of affairs lies at the door of hon. Gentlemen opposite, because they have used their utmost efforts to egg the Government on in all the fatal measures they have adopted. They approved openly of the armed intervention in Egypt, which was the source of all the mischief and misery that ensued. Did they object to the bombardment of Alexandria? Not at all. The hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst), indeed, greatly to his honour, separated, himself from his Party, and did denounce it in a vigorous and eloquent speech. But the Party as a whole cheered the announcement, when made in this House, that the British Fleet was firing into the forts of that city. And what was the object of the meeting at Willis's Rooms, except to drive the Government, by sarcasms, taunts, and reproaches, to put down Arabi by force of arms? And did anybody join louder than they did in the glorification of the victory of Tel-el-Kebir? Did they raise their voice against the invasion of the Soudan and the Expedition under General Graham, which led to the slaughter of thousands of Arabs to no purpose what- ever? Did they object to the mission of General Gordon, or the means that were taken to rescue him? No; in all these cases they did what they could to push the Government on, deeper and deeper, into the fatal policy of armed intervention. But I am not going to absolve the Government. They have sins enough on their own heads. Their first mistake, in my opinion, was that they did not cut themselves loose from the policy of their Predecessors in Egypt, as they did in Afghanistan, the Transvaal, and Zulu-land. Their plea has been that they were bound by some Convention with Prance. That is not a valid plea. When the Government of this country entered into a Convention with France—a most preposterous Convention—for conducting combined hostilities in Mexico, when they found that the Expedition was assuming proportions and taking a direction of which they did not approve, they did not hesitate to break away from that Convention. And they need not have been very scrupulous as respects the Egyptian Convention, since the French, when they found we were about to bombard Alexandria, in utter disregard of any agreement as to joint action, ordered their Fleet to sail out of port, and so avoided the shame and guilt of having any part in that transaction. The second false step the Government took was when, at the instigation of M. Gambetta, they sent British men-of-war into Egyptian waters. I call that a false step, among other reasons, for this—that when the movements of Armies and Fleets begin, the control of events passes out of the hands of statesmen into those of naval and military men, who can only do one thing, and that is to fight. And I should not very much wonder if, when the secret history of this business comes to be written, it will be found that the real author of the Egyptian War was the British Admiral. And verily he has had his reward. But a third false step taken by the Government was to depart from their policy of neutrality as respects the Soudan. Again and again did they declare that they had nothing to do, and would have nothing to do, with the Soudan. The Prime Minister said in this House—"It is no part of the duty incumbent upon us to restore order in the Soudan." And when the Egyptian Government was sending out the Expeditions under Hicks and Baker, Lord Granville was never weary of disclaiming all responsibility for those acts. Would to Heaven the Government had adhered to their decision as respects the Soudan! But when the intelligence came that Hicks and Baker had been defeated with great slaughter, then there was a loud outcry raised by certain classes in the country, and the Government, most unhappily, yielded to that clamour, and, in spite of their protests, did meddle in the Soudan, and they did so in this singular way—by simultaneously sending General Gordon to one part of the Soudan, to proclaim the independence of the people, and an Army and Navy into another part of the Soudan to slaughter the Soudanese for their efforts to secure independence. No doubt, they meant the mission of Gordon to be a mission of peace—to effect the evacuation of the garrisons by pacific means. It was so recognized and so accepted by General Gordon himself, for, in writing to Sir Evelyn Baring, these were his words— I understand your desire to be the pacification of the country without bloodshed, and the formation of Native Government; also that, on public grounds, I am to run no risks. I will fulfil your orders."—[Egypt, No. 12 (1884), p. 88.] For a short time he seems to have acted on this view of his duty. On his arrival, or, indeed, before his arrival, at his destination, he issued a Proclamation declaring that— The Soudan and its Government have become independent, and will look after their own affairs, without interference by the Egyptian Government in anything whatever. But he very soon forgot this, and began to call the people and to treat them as "rebels." What right have we to call these people rebels? Against whom are they rebelling? Not against us, as they owe us no allegiance. Not against the Egyptian Government, since we have proclaimed, through the mouth of our chosen Representative, that they were absolutely independent of Egypt in every respect whatever. I ask what right had we, or have we, to fight the Soudanese? Why were these men in arms? Because, as the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War (the Marquess of Hartington) said in this House— They had revolted against what was undeniably acknowledged to be an intolerable and oppressive Government. And, surely, there is evidence enough to sustain this allegation of the noble Marques—evidence from our own countrymen and officials, who were most conversant with the state of the Soudan. Lord Dufferin said that— Whatever might he the pretension of the Mahdi to a Divine mission, his chief strength was derived from the despair and misery of the Native population. Sir Samuel Baker, who knows the country well, and once acted as Governor of the Soudan, says— If you had only seen what I have seen in that fertile region—whole tracts of territory left deserted and desolate because the soldiers were out collecting the taxes—that is to say, they were plundering the villagers, violating the women, maltreating the men, and generally making hell upon earth—you would not he astonished at the insurrection. If I had been a Native of the Soudan I would have rebelled long ago, and so would Gordon, and so would anyone; but they are a patient and long suffering people, and it has taken years of injustice and cruelty to force them into rebellion. And General Gordon said— That the people were justified in rebelling, nobody who knows the treatment to which they were subjected will attempt to deny. And the Prime Minister himself, when certain people were urging him to prosecute further hostilities in the Soudan, used these words— Are you quite clear that we are justified in going on fighting and subduing these people? Because, if you are, I am not. It appears to me that they are fighting for their freedom, and I am not clear that we are justified in going to fight them. And if all this be so, if these people are struggling to free themselves from an intolerable and oppressive Government, if they are fighting for freedom, what right have to go in there and slaughter them by the thousands while defending their own homes against an unprovoked invasion undertaken in the interest of their oppressors? There was one man in the Soudan who had acquired great influence and authority there, and with him, surely, we ought to have treated—and that was the Mahdi. It is the fashion now to stigmatize this man as a fanatic and a savage, and other uncomplimentary names. He may be all that; but our saying so does not prove it, for it is our invariable custom, when we invade or attack or wrong any people, to blacken and traduce their character as a justification of our own acts. So far as I know, no serious attempt has ever been made to negotiate with the Mahdi for the peaceful surrender of the garrisons. We have no reason to assume that he would not have met such negotiations fairly. We have some facts which point in the other direction. Three of the garrisons—namely, Obeid, Barra, and Tokar—did surrender. They were obliged to do so without conditions, because their food supplies were absolutely exhausted; yet the treatment of the soldiers and inhabitants left no room for complaint. The noble Marquess told us in this House that when Tokar surrendered there were 700 persons within its walls, dwelling in apparent safety under the protection of Osman Digna's Army. Did Gordon ever try to treat with the Mahdi? We have a vague report, depending on the oral testimony of a Native, as to a letter sent by Gordon to the Mahdi. But he acted not in the spirit of a negotiator, but in that of a Dictator and King-maker. He sent him a robe of some sort, and offered to make him Sultan of Kordofan. But he could not have meant even that as a serious attempt at conciliation; because, on the 27th of February, nine days after his arrival in Khartoum, and three weeks before the return of the messenger he had sent to the Mahdi, he is writing home that the Mahdi must be smashed, he was sending troops to show his force, and that an expedition would start immediately to attack "the rebels." The fact is, that his military instincts proved too strong for him, and overpowered all sense of his proper mission; for within a very few weeks of his arrival at Khartoum we find him writing to Sir Evelyn Baring, deploring that his "lovely Krupp guns" were doing so little execution upon the Natives. We see masses of the enemy," he said, "yet fail to do much. The enemy lost by shells yesterday 16 horses and 40 men killed and eight wounded. This he calls "awfully bad practice." The whole history of this war, among other things, proves the utter absurdity of putting any attempts at conciliation into the hands of naval and military men. Sir Evelyn Baring and Lord Granville instructed Admiral Hewett to make an announcement to the Chiefs, recommending them To meet General Gordon at Khartoum, where, by accepting the terms offered, they might secure their independence, and be re- lieved from the oppression and misgovernment they hare hitherto suffered."—[Egypt, No. 12 (1884), p. 55.] But Admiral Hewett would have nothing to do with such a suggestion. He thought it undesirable to issue such a proclamation. The rebels must be defeated first. Similar instructions seem to have been sent to General Graham; and how did he fulfil them? Why, before the battle of Teb he sent a letter to the outposts, which, I believe, was affixed to a pole and stuck in the sand, addressed to the Sheikhs of the tribes, in which he said— I summon you, in the name of the English Government, to disperse your fighting men before daybreak to-morrow morning, or the consequences will be on your own heads."—[Ibid. p. 181.] That was General Graham's notion of pacific negotiation. But what are we to do now? Well, let us start fair. What was the object of Lord Wolseley's Expedition? Here are his instructions— The primary object of the Expedition up the Valley of the Nile is to bring General Gordon and General Stewart from Khartoum. When that object has been secured, no further operations of any kind are to be undertaken. As the safety of these distinguished men is no longer in question, why should we advance? I own that I was astounded and appalled by the policy developed in the speech of the Prime Minister on the first night of the Session. We were told that there should be immediate action from Suakin against Osman Digna; that we are to attempt no accommodation with the Mahdi, but we are to overthrow his power at Khartoum; that we are to construct a railway across 280 miles of desert, from Suakin to Berber; and to all this is now joined the ominous intelligence of the appointment of Prince Hassan to join Lord Wolseley as the Representative of the Egyptian Government. When I hear all this, it seems to me that we are about to launch into enterprizes so vast and so vague, involving inevitably such an enormous expenditure of money, and such a terrible waste of human life, and especially implicating us in such immense and illimitable consequences and responsibilities for the future, that I was fairly staggered to find such a policy coming from such lips. I do devoutly hope that the Government may yet be induced, before it is too late, to modify this tremendous policy. I warn the Government that there is a great and growing feeling in the country against any further aggressive policy in Egypt or the Soudan. I have no difficulty as to the vote I shall give on the Motion of the Leader of the Opposition (Sir Stafford Northcote). If the right hon. Gentleman had stopped at the first part of his Motion, I might have felt constrained to vote with him; though when I find the Party opposite stigmatizing the policy of the Government as one which "has involved great sacrifice of valuable lives and a heavy expenditure, without any beneficial result," it sounds to me very much like the Devil rebuking sin, for did not their policy in Afghanistan, in the Transvaal, and in Zululand, lead to a great sacrifice of valuable life, without any beneficial result? But when the right hon. Gentleman goes on, in the latter half of his Motion, to commit us, in vague and general terms, to indefinite responsibilities in the Soudan, I am obliged to part company with him. I shall vote unhesitatingly for the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley), as that points to what seems to me the only true and safe policy—that is, the withdrawal, at the earliest practicable opportunity, of our troops from the Soudan. But when we speak of the withdrawal of the troops, nobody means a sudden and precipitate retreat without regard to the safety of our countrymen. Too many precious British lives have been already sacrificed in these unhappy Expeditions to make anyone desire that those who remain should be exposed to any further un-unnecessary hazard. But what we mean is—no more aggressive operations; no war for revenge or military prestige; no smashing of the Mahdi; no conquest of the Soudan; no attempt to impose Egyptian rule on the Soudanese; and, above all, no countenance to any insane projects permanently to occupy and govern those vast and worthless deserts.


said, he thought it would be well if the hon. Member for Merthyr could manage to abstain in the future from introducing Party attacks upon the Opposition into his harangues in favour of peace. The hon. Member said that everything that occurred in Egypt was due to Lord Salisbury; and he alluded, in illustra- tion, to a financial undertaking which was the work of one of the most eminent statesmen of the Party opposite—Lord Derby. The hon. Member actually appeared to think that the cause of the bloodshed at Alexandria, Tel-el-Kebir, El Teb, and subsequent engagements, was the fact that the late Government, at a given period, insisted that in the affairs of Egypt England should not have a less important influence than France. With regard to the controversies before the House, he held that, whatever might be the result of the division, it would still remain true that the country had unanimously condemned the past policy of the Government. The Home Secretary himself adopted, on Thursday, a humble and deprecatory tone, which clearly showed that he did not believe that the acts of the Government could be substantially defended. Fortune did not declare itself systematically against a Government; but the present Government had failed all round, and, therefore, it was useless for them to blame their ill-fortune. The Government had been exceedingly well served by the Army, the Navy, and their Diplomatic Agents. Whatever had been done by their servants had been done well; but everything that the Government had themselves done had been done badly. The Government had also had good service from the Opposition. The Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, shortly before the Session began, asked, what had the Opposition done to assist the Government? He would answer that the Opposition had given the Government a very great deal of good advice, which had, unfortunately, been systematically neglected. Almost every misfortune that had happened to the Government had been prophesied in detail by Conservative or independent Liberal Members. The right hon. Member for Ripon asked the Government some very awkward questions. In reply, the Home Secretary also asked a number of questions, and then drew a series of parallels between himself and the First Napoleon, Prince Bismarck, Count Moltke, and, in fact, almost all the statesmen and generals of foreign countries. There seemed to be as little resemblance between the Home Secretary and Prince Bismarck as between the facts of the Franco-Prussian War and the circumstances of the present Egyptian War. The Go- vernment professed to have a policy, I and for some time he thought he under-stood what their policy was. But doubts gradually arose in his mind, and now he was in a state of complete uncertainty on the point—the fact being that it was of the misty kind that lent itself to every variety of interpretation. The man who desired to see in it a peace policy must appeal to the speech of the Home Secretary. Anyone who wanted to find a forward or war policy must appeal to some of the speeches of the Prime Minister. For anyone who wanted to establish good government in the Soudan there had been some good phrases; and those who wanted to leave the Soudan after rescuing Wolseley would find that that was the main object of the Government. It was at once a peace policy and a war policy. At first Ministers produced this result by the use of ambiguous phrases; but yesterday a new device was adopted in debate. They were intelligible and consistent enough, each in their own way; but they absolutely contradicted each other. Thus, while the Home Secretary was saying that— The only reason, in my opinion, that justifies our going to Khartoum is that that is the only manner in which the evacuation of the Soudan can be accomplished to the safety of Egypt, Lord Northbrook was telling the House of Lords that— Our policy is a clear one. Poor Lord Northbrook! We shall hold our own in that country, and conduct its affairs for the benefit of the people, and of peace where we could arrange with the people. He quite admitted the efficacy of this system in catching votes; but he felt bound to protest against the novel principle of Members of the Cabinet airing their dissensions in that House. It only remained for the Secretary of State for War to get up and endeavour to assuage the doubts of that peculiar political machine, the Whig mind. When that was done, the new device of the Government would be carried out to perfection. In his (Mr. A. J. Balfour's) opinion, it would be well, when the Members of Her Majesty's Government appeared in public, that they should proclaim one particular policy, and adhere to it. The hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney) had delivered that evening one of the ablest and most eloquent speeches he had overheard; and, curiously enough, the most damaging attacks upon a Government were always delivered by some hon. or right hon. Member who had just left it. The conduct attributed to Ministers by the hon. Member was, in the highest degree, flagitious. As a late Member of the Government, he, no doubt, knew them well; and if he said they were capable of such conduct, they, no doubt, were. He was entirely with the Government, as far as they were engaged in rescuing General Wolseley, who had been sent out to rescue General Gordon, who had been sent out to pacify the Soudan. But further than that he did not go with them. In the view of Her Majesty's Government, there was no blood-guiltiness in war as long as you got nothing by it, and merely wasted blood and treasure to no purpose; but the moment you fought for the sake of mankind, or of the country, and tried to get something for them, then the guilt of blood lay upon your head. He asked that we should not enter upon this gigantic operation, of which he was afraid we were only seeing the beginning, merely for the sake of destroying men who were fighting for their liberty, and then abandoning the Soudan; but that, when we called upon the country to make these enormous sacrifices, we should, at all events, gain something for England, for Egypt, and for civilization.


said, that, on the part of himself and of the hon. Member for Newcastle, he desired to enter their protest against Her Majesty's Government taking any single step in Egypt, or in the Soudan, which could be approved either by the Conservatives or by their allies, the right hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen) and the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W E. Forster), who, he had no doubt, they would hear to-night take the same view of this question as the right hon. Member for Ripon. Holding the opinions they did, he and the hon. Member for Newcastle were naturally anxious to find out what was the real policy of the Government with regard to the Soudan. The hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. A. J. Balfour) had said that he had some difficulty in discovering what the policy of Her Majesty's Government was. For his part, he had no such difficulty. Although, doubtless, the statements of the different Members of the Cabinet on the subject were somewhat at variance, it was easy to see that the policy of the Government was to overturn the Mahdi, to make an aggressive campaign in the Soudan, and to build a railway from Suakin to Berber, or to somewhere else. A good many reasons, or rather excuses, had been put forward in support of this policy on the part of Her Majesty's Government. The relief of the garrisons, the necessity for putting down the Slave Trade, and their old friend prestige had been put forward at first as the reasons why we should continue the war; but those reasons for that act had gradually disappeared from view. They had been told that it was necessary, in order to defend Egypt, that we must smash the Mahdi. He failed to see what ground could be shown for such a proceeding on the part of Her Majesty's Government. Ethiopia had been attacked from the time of Cambyses; but he never heard of Ethiopia attacking Egypt. We might as well send a Fleet to attack St. Petersburg in order to prevent Russia attacking us in Afghanistan. The right hon. Member for Ripon had said that we ought to take a portion of the Soudan, and then make friends with the Mahdi, and leave him in the Western Soudan; but would it not be more difficult to deal with the Mahdi then than now? Would he not be sure, in such circumstances, to attack the Government we left in Khartoum after we retired? The right hon. Gentleman said that we must occupy Berber for military reasons. Where did the right hon. Gentleman get that idea from? Certainly not from Lord Wolseley's despatches. Lord Wolseley was sometimes called our only General; but if he had made an advance which required a railway and 10,000 more troops to enable him to retire, no military man would be able to accord him the title of a General at all. But the fact was that it was not Lord Wolseley, but Her Majesty's Government, who were responsible for the plan of the campaign. It was true that Her Majesty's Government, following their usual course of endeavouring to shift responsibility from themselves to somebody else, had sought to make Lord Wolseley responsible for any steps that might now be taken by him in the Soudan; but Lord Wolseley had declined to take the responsibility upon himself, and had said—"No; you, the Government, must tell me what I am to do." It was, therefore, Her Majesty's Government, sitting like an Aulic Council, who had determined that Lord Wolseley was to advance and overthrow the Mahdi. The right hon. Baronet the President of the Local Government Board had told the House that his idea was that we ought to advance into the Soudan with the view of leaving peace and tranquillity behind us. But why should we undertake to do that in this particular part of the world at the sole expense of the people of this country? But what kind of peace and tranquillity should we leave behind us? Our troops conducted themselves well; but we had a number of Bashi-Bazouks with our Army, and they ravished women, burnt villages, and killed and murdered everyone they encountered. That was the sort of peace and tranquillity we were bringing upon the Soudan. The right hon. Gentleman said that unless the Government promised to remain in the Soudan he should vote against them. But it was precisely because the Government must remain in the Soudan unless they came back at once that he objected to their staying there any longer than could possibly be helped. Let them sweep away all this nonsense about taking one part of the Soudan and then making friends with the Mahdi. If our troops went to Khartoum and set up a Government there, how long would that Government last after they left? The truth was that if once we set up a Government at Khartoum our troops must remain to support it. The Prime Minister had said that he was not going to set up an Egyptian Government at Khartoum; but in that ease why had he sent Prince Hassan with Lord Wolseley? They knew the Prime Minister's opinion of the Turks, and therefore they might be sure that he would not set up a Turkish Government there. Would the country consent to Zebehr Pasha being set up at Khartoum? Then, if not, what sort of a Government did Her Majesty's Government intend to setup? Her Majesty's Government had frequently alleged that the Conservatives were responsible for all that had occurred in Egypt and the Soudan. They went on the "This is the house that Jack built" principle. Why, they might as well say that Adam was responsible, because if Adam had not existed we should not have been in the Soudan. But now, at all events, the Government were going to take a new departure, and they could never say that the Conservatives were responsible for this campaign in the Soudan. Her Majesty's Government had always complained of the Convention entered into between the Conservatives and Tewfik; but now they themselves were going to enter into a Convention with a new Tewfik in Khartoum; and if they were turned out of Office they would be able to go about the country protesting against everything that was being done in consequence by hon. Members opposite. What ought to be the proper policy in the Soudan? We ought to withdraw from the Soudan as soon as possible. Lord Wolseley should be told that it was his business not to march to Khartoum or to overthrow the Mahdi, but to withdraw within the Egyptian Frontier. What were we about to do? We were going to fight a little at Suakin and to kill a few thousand Arabs there; we were going to fight a little at Berber and to kill a few thousand more Arabs there; and then we were going to wait until the autumn before going to Khartoum and killing a few thousand more Arabs there. And then we were going to retire. The Prime Minister said that evening that the Mahdi must have known the pacific character of General Gordon's mission, and that we could not now negotiate with him, because he might have entered into some sort of a Treaty with General Gordon. It appeared to him that if a General said he was an Egyptian Governor and intended to smash up some other person, that other person was not very likely to consider the mission a pacific one. At the present moment where was the pacific mission? The Mahdi must have learnt that we were sending Lord Wolseley to overthrow him; and how, then, could he think that it was a pacific mission? Let us, if necessary, convey to the Mahdi as soon as possible the terms on which we were willing to withdraw from the Soudan; and then let us leave the Soudanese to themselves, free to have as prophet General Booth, or anybody else they might choose. As a sensible man, he would probably rest satisfied with being master in his own home, and would not, by pursuing us into Egypt, court his own destruction. He hoped the Prime Minister would seriously take into consideration whether he was really fulfilling the policy of the Mid Lothian campaign. If the right hon. Gentleman frankly declared that he was opposed to the policy of aggression, annexation, and war, the Radical and Liberal Party throughout the country would rally to him. It was the right hon. Gentleman who was responsible for what was going on, as he occupied an exceptional position in the country, where no one enjoyed so much popularity. [Ironical cheers and laughter from the Opposition.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite knew that he was speaking of facts. But the Liberals had a hard struggle at present to reconcile their desire to support the Prime Minister in the policy he was pursuing. The right hon. Gentleman had but to hold up his hand in order to make the whole Liberal Party rally and sustain him, not only against hon. Gentlemen opposite, but against the right hon. Members for Bradford and Ripon, and all those Whigs who had been the curse and the bane of the present Ministry. Radicals were told that they were impractical zealots and doctrinaires; but the truth was that it was in consequence of being in favour of the integrity and grandeur of the Empire that they were opposed to these useless, purposeless, and impolitic Expeditions. While he was opposed to Her Majesty's Government on the Amendment of the hon. Member for Newcastle, he was still more opposed to hon. Gentlemen opposite. He might be a very simple-minded person; but he was not so simple-minded as to jump out of the frying-pan into the fire. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, with their Amendments, were throwing a fly to catch votes on that side of the House; but he trusted no Radical would rise to the fly. The meaning of all these Amendments was—"Turn out the Government and put us in." What would be gained by that? It was said that no speech ever turned a vote; but Lord Salisbury's speech on the previous night would have turned his vote against any Gentleman of the same way of thinking as his Lordship. If the Party opposite came in, what would happen to the Redistribution Bill? He had seen it stated that they would appeal to the present constituencies. ["No!"] He distrusted them, and thought it would be better for the Liberal Party to remain in power and get the Bill through anyhow. If the House had to choose between Lord Salisbury and the Prime Minister, he trusted the House would decide in favour of the latter. He had himself placed on the Paper an Amendment to that proposed by the hon. Member for Newcastle. The Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Newcastle asked them to refrain from expressing an opinion on the policy of the Government. He (Mr. Labouchere) never refrained; and no doubt the Prime Minister, when thinking the matter over, would say—"Why did I not follow the Member for Northampton? I should not have been in such a mess as I am now." The Prime Minister's opinions were his, for the right hon. Gentleman agreed with him in everything. For his own part, he stood by the policy of the Mid Lothian campaign, when the Prime Minister denounced the Jingo policy of annexation and war. If anyone had then said—"You will acquire power and become the most powerful Minister England has had for many a day; you will bombard Alexandria; you will massacre Egyptians at Tel-el-Kebir and Suakin; and you will go on a sort of wild-cat Expedition into the wilds of Ethiopia in order to put down a Prophet," the right hon. Gentleman would have asked, in the words of Hazael, the King of Syria—"Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing?" His complaint was that the right hon. Gentleman had not sufficient faith in the Radicals who brought him into power. The Radicals would stick to him now; but he was inclined to think the Whigs would not. In conclusion, the hon. Member said he was willing to make a sacrifice on the altar of simplicity; and therefore he proposed to withdraw his own Amendment, and support that of his hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle.


It is making a great claim on the indulgence of the House to address it on a night of this kind, and at this hour; but I assure the House I will not interpose longer than 10 minutes between it and the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster). I do not know if any serious answer ought to be given to the speech which has been delivered to the House by that very impracticable politician, the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere). It is supposed to be a speech in defence of Her Majesty's Government; but it has been a characteristic in this debate that the only difference between us on this side and those who sit below the Gangway on the other side is this—whereas we attack Her Majesty's Government, those who sit below the Gangway on that side reserve all their attacks for the Prime Minister himself. We have heard speech after speech in which the Prime Minister has been denounced as a man who might, if he chose, have saved the country from a policy of wickedness and disgrace, and has not used his power to save the people from the wickedness and shame of this policy. The fact that there are four Amendments in the name of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway shows that there is not one of the Liberal Party sitting there who can formulate a Motion with which any one of his neighbours will agree. With all the comment that is made upon the Resolution of the Leader of the Opposition, there is this about the Resolution. It is accurate, it is intelligible, and it will serve its purpose if it be passed. Her Majesty's Government could not continue to sit upon those Benches and still enjoy the respect of the only body of people who now respect them—I mean, of course, themselves. As to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley), it is a sham Amendment. He knows perfectly well the sort of people among whom he is sitting. He knows they have not the courage for a real rebellion, so he proposes an Amendment in which he says—"We will refrain from expressing an opinion on the conduct of Her Majesty's Government." Why does he refrain from expressing that opinion? If, Sir, he could express an opinion in favour of Her Majesty's Government, and if he thought there were 50 Members of this House who would support him in that opinion he would be delighted to recognize the public and private ties of which he spoke so feelingly on Monday last. But if he, in fact, disapproves the conduct of the Government, why has he not the courage to say so? Because he knows the sort of Party by whom he is surrounded. The fact is, this is a sham Amendment. It is said, and I believe with some truth, that the intention of some Members of the Radical section is to vote for this Amendment, which they are quite sure will be defeated, and then to vote for the Government against the Resolution of the right hon. Baronet—one vote for their consciences, which they take care shall have no effect, and one for their Party; so that they will secure the continuance in power of a Government which, so far as we know, is committed to a course of wanton and objectless bloodshed, and, having by their votes made it possible that this course should be pursued, they can go down to their country constituents proudly claiming to be the friends of peace and freedom, and appeal for their justification to the Division List which records their votes on this futile Amendment. I said that if they take this course they will leave the Government to pursue a course of wanton bloodshed. I mean these words in the fullest extent. I believe that the course which has been indicated in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary would be a most disastrous, and, I think, a wicked course. If we are going to Khartoum, there to do the work of civilization, and put some Government there which may utilize the magnificent position and opportunities of that city, and establish an outwork of Western civilization—if you can do that without too great a sacrifice and expenditure then do it. But to go to Khartoum to fight the Mahdi, if he be there, and, if he be not there, then to abandon Khartoum to some imitation King that you may set up, whether in the person of an Egyptian Prince or anyone else, is a wild and wicked enterprize, and one to which I believe the country will never consent. Sir, this debate was relieved the night before last by a most interesting account by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster of his elementary studies in military science. He told us about the retreat of Sir John Moore, about the retreat of the Duke of Wellington on the lines of Torres Vedras, and he told us nobody should leave any position he was in until he had a perfectly safe place to fall back upon. Sir, he has taught a lesson to his Predecessor in one of the Offices he has occupied. The moral is that when a man is Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, he should not leave that post unless he has the Chancellorship of the Duchy to fall back upon. But it is not here amongst ourselves that we can discuss the question of military strategy. The conclusive condemnation of the Government on this matter is this—they have declared that they are going to Khartoum for military objects, and they have not produced a syllable of evidence that either Lord Wolseley, or anyone else of capacity to judge military matters, has shown that that movement is necessary; and not having done that, I say that the movement upon Khartoum, unless they pledge themselves to utilize it for the establishment of a Government, is a movement nothing can justify. We have been told by the Prime Minister that great difficulties have been in the way of the Government. Well, Sir, to the feeble knees every hill is steep. These difficulties which have existed have been made by the Government. They have never had a policy with regard to Egypt since the death of M. Gambetta. They put in a Joint Note by advice of M. Gambetta, which was a fatal step, and the next step was that which led them into this mischief—a step which Lord Granville declared in his own name, and that of the Prime Minister, he believed to be a mistake. On the 15th of May, 1881, Lord Granville wrote a despatch to our Representatives abroad, announcing that the Fleets were going to Alexandria; and a curious departure was adopted from the ordinary practice in diplomatic documents. He mentioned the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. He said he and the Prime Minister alike thought it would have been desirable to have had the concert of the other Powers; but as France had gone so far with us in other matters this was not pressed. From that time to this it has been a course abounding in difficulties, which, if Ministers had gone forward with a clear eye and resolute step, I believe they would have trodden down; but they have been stumbling forward on the path, always with their eye turned back to see if a majority of the House of Commons was being led in a web behind them, following and supporting them. Sir, as I listened to the right hon. Gentleman on Monday evening, I wondered if his memory reminded him that it was the anniversary of a notable event in his life. On the 23rd of February, 1855, the right hon. Gentleman announced in the House of Commons the reason for which he had left the Cabinet of which he had been a Member. It was a Cabinet that is now remembered by Englishmen with neither gratitude nor respect. In the year 1854 the weakness of the Government led us into a wholly unnecessary war, and the mismanagement of the Government almost destroyed an English Army. And now I think there is no division of opinion among Englishmen as to the merits of that Government. All Englishmen reproach it for the feebleness and incompetence which involved us in such heavy sacrifices. Sir, I believe that 30 years hence all Englishmen, without distinction of Party, will look back with reproach and indignation upon the Cabinet of 1884, which used a brilliant soldier that his name might cover and shield an imperilled Ministry, and, directly he had served that Party purpose, refused his appeals, neglected, his counsels, and left him abandoned to perish. Sir, there is one man, and one man alone, upon whom the reproach of both these Ministries will fall. The Prime Minister shared the weakness of 1854. To him I believe are, in the main, attributable the disasters which we now deplore. But, Sir, there is one thing more, and it is the darkest line that can be added to this picture. The Prime Minister has more than once, here in this House, endeavoured to palliate the conduct of the Ministry by suggesting that the officer who, at their request, accepted the post of honourable danger, might, if he had so pleased, have found an opportunity to run away. In the debate of the 23rd of February, 1855, the right hon. Gentleman used these words— The fault of our Constitution now, if it be a fault, is this—that public servants are, perhaps, not called to account with sufficient strictness."—(3 Hansard, [136] 1845.) Sir, I agree with those words. Loss of Office is too small a punishment for the betrayal of public duty and the neglect of public duty, and even that penalty may be evaded. The trained fidelity of Party, personal combinations we have heard something to-night of in a whisper or a tone, and the subtle instruments of Parliamentary influence, in the use of which the present Government is ex- perienced and skilled, may to-night prevent the expression by this House of the unhesitating condemnation which their fellow-countrymen have pronounced. But though Members may cling to the Office of which they are proved unworthy, they will not be unpunished. Personal humiliation, the discredit of their Party, the indignation and scorn of the people, will be a sure and severe, but still an inadequate, punishment.


The hon. and learned Member who has just spoken (Mr. E. Clarke) has made a bitter and vehement attack upon the conduct of the Government. No doubt, some Member of the Government will reply to it. But what comes more home to us at this moment is their future policy; thereto, with regard to their past policy, I do not pretend to say that I approve of it. But I think the hon. and learned Member, when he reads his words, will come to the conclusion that the exceeding vehemence of his attack will not be justified by the opinion of the country or of the House. I will say little about the past, and that little will be in relation to General Gordon. I shall not dwell much upon his fate. I know very well that that great and noble and unselfish spirit would have revolted at the idea of a Party struggle over his dead body, or over the sufferings and anxieties of the last few weeks of his life. So far as he is concerned, I venture to hope that his self-sacrificing and patriotic spirit may have some influence over this debate. I cannot but believe that the Members of the Government—my old Colleagues—do feel quite as much as any of us his loss, and the circumstances connected with it. But I think it would have been better, from their own point of view and for their own feelings, if they had not been so anxious to justify themselves in every step they have taken, when, so far as I can see, such justification is impossible. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister evidently believes that the delay in the sending of the Expedition for his relief did not cause Gordon's death. He almost went so far as to suppose that this delay prolonged his life, because it had postponed that approach of the relieving Army which was to be the signal for treachery. I do not think that that is the opinion of the House or of the country. The Secretary of State for the Colonies (the Earl of Derby) has made the same statement in "another place." One word with regard to this hypothesis. In order to secure the success of treachery, it was necessary that there should be not only treachery within the city, but also a strong force without the city. It was a very short time, only two or three weeks, before the last catastrophe, that the Mahdi, with his forces, took possession of that important place, Omdurman, just below Khartoum, the possession of which vastly increased his power, and prevented the escape of Gordon, if he had designed to attempt it with a few faithful followers, by the White Nile. I believe it was the possession of that place that gave the traitors encouragement and the means of carrying out their treachery; but how if the Expedition had arrived a month before? One word more. I wait, and all General Gordon's friends and admirers wait, for the publication of his diaries. We know there are six volumes of them, and I want to take this opportunity of saying that I trust, and cannot but believe, that the Government will take care that every word in these diaries comes before the public. I am not sure that the Government has the right to determine the matter. Unless they are official diaries, they belong to General Gordon's family. As it is sometimes suggested that his relations or friends might have some feeling on the subject, I take the opportunity of saying—and I am authorized to do so on behalf of his nearest relatives—that they are most anxious that every word in these diaries of public interest should be published. They will be the record of the agony of a noble soul, who cared not for his own life or what he suffered, but only for those who were trusting in him, whom he had in charge, and whose lives were getting day by day in more danger, and he did not know how to save them. My noble Friend the Secretary of State for War (the Marquess of Hartington) will, of course, close this debate. He will have much to say, and, therefore, it may seem hard to ask him further questions. But there is one question I should like to ask him. It was very late before the Expedition was resolved upon. It was August 20 before the despatches omitted the phrase "if it would be necessary" to send the Expedition. I want to ask this question, and it is fair that the House should have an answer. Were there no representations made by Lord Wolseley as to the delay of this Expedition? If so, why were they not attended to? Were the reasons political or military? Were they fully considered or not? My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister gave a military reason. He said that when the possibility of its being right to send an Expedition had come into view, no doubt much time was spent in the examination of the question of the two routes. [Mr. GLADSTONE dissented.] Yes; that is so. Only this morning I took down from the report of my right hon. Friend's speech in The Times these words— When the possibility of its being right to send an Expedition to relieve General Gordon had come in view, no doubt much time was spent in the examination of the question." [Mr. GLADSTONE: Hear, hear!] "I think I may say, for some months, the balance of evidence appeared to be in favour of the Suakin route. It was not until after that period had elapsed that at length, and with deliberation, and therefore in time, judgment appeared evidently to preponderate in favour of the Nile route. Now, I think this military reason requires some explanation from my noble Friend the Secretary of State for War. It was not merely that the life of Gordon was at stake, but also the success of the Expedition. We know that the result of his death and the fall of Khartoum has enormously increased the difficulties and dangers to be confronted by the Expedition. We have the right to ask—Are the affairs of the War Office so conducted that doubts with regard to these two routes could continue so long unsolved? Did this need for balancing advantages last so long as to make the failure of the Expedition, in any circumstances, so much more probable?" Again, I think we ought to know whether it was solely on military grounds that there was this long examination, or whether there were not also political and Parliamentary considerations? The hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley), in his remarkably terse and vigorous speech, made a remark about myself which gave me pain. He said that if one cause more than another had conduced to the final catastrophe and the death of General Gordon, it was the attitude taken by hon. Gentlemen opposite and by myself in the pressure they put upon the Government to prevent the appointment of Zebehr. Now, that was a very serious charge. I knew General Gordon. He was a personal friend. I am proud to say he was a distant relation of mine; I am in constant communication with his family; and when I am told that I caused his death, hon. Members will not be suprised that I feel the charge.


I desire to explain that nothing could have been further from my intention than to impute any such aim or object to my right hon. Friend. What I said was this. General Gordon applied for Zebehr to be sent to him from February 18 onward. So late as March 5 Lord Granville wrote that the question was still open. On March 10, my right hon. Friend, in an extremely powerful and vigorous speech, said he hoped Zebehr would not be sent without the House being consulted. On the very next day Lord Granville wrote the despatch stating that Zebehr could not be allowed to go. Surely, then, I may be permitted to say that my right hon. Friend was partly and gravely responsible for the non-sending of Zebehr.


I did not for a moment suppose that my hon. Friend, or, indeed, any individual in the Three Kingdoms, could have charged me with having such an aim and object. But I would like to know how my hon. Friend would feel, under the same circumstances, if he were charged with having acted in such a manner as to cause Gordon's death. The hon. Member has described what happened. I objected strongly to the appointment of Zebehr Pasha. Afterwards, finding the Government had felt some objections, I said the House ought to be informed of the reasons why Zebehr should be sent, before he was sent. The Government thought the same, and they instituted inquiries; they got reasons from General Gordon, and they were not satisfied with the appointment. My hon. Friend says they were wrong; but I very much doubt whether he, in the same position, would have acted otherwise. Would he have been prepared, not merely to send Zebehr, with his antecedents, but to support him with the power of England after ho got to Khartoum? I will not dwell further upon this subject, except to say that I thank hon. Members for allowing me to defend myself from this charge—for I still think it a charge—and that I adhere to what I stated on May 13. If hon. Members will kindly refer to my speech of that date, they will there see that I stated, what I repeat now, that the Government were not so much to blame for refusing to send Zebehr, as for their lamentable refusal to take the consequences of their decision. Zebehr Pasha was not sent. General Gordon then said—"Let me retire." But he was not allowed to retire, nor was he helped to remain. I will detain the House no longer on this branch of the subject; but let me now turn to the future policy of the Government. What is the future policy of the Government? Nobody knows. I do not know. My hon. Friend, the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) said he did know; but, having discovered it, he did not like it at all. He began by saying that the object of his speech was to prevent the possibility of my views and the views of my right hon. Friend the Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen) being carried out. But although he stated that to be the object of his speech, his attack was directed entirely against the Government. The hon. Member gave me a name which I have never been called before. Although I have been called by many names, both outside the House and in it, I do not remember ever before having been called a Whig. The hon. Member did not correctly state the view of my right hon. Friend. What my right hon. Friend stated—and I agree with him—was that if we go to Khartoum or anywhere else, and if we take upon ourselves responsibilities, then we must fulfil them. We must, therefore, be careful how we incur these responsibilities. I say we do not know what the policy of the Government is. We know that the Government have pledged themselves to use the power of this Empire to do a certain thing; but we do not know, nor can we discover, what is their policy or object in doing this thing. The Prime Minister, yesterday week, when he made his first careful statement—we have got it now by heart—said that, upon hearing of the fall of Khartoum, the Cabinet had a most momentous question before them, and had to decide what steps they should take. The question which seemed to be put before them—I cannot understand why it was the only alternative—was, whether or not they should proceed to overthrow the power of the Mahdi at Khartoum? The Government decided that it was their duty to overthrow the power of the Mahdi at Khartoum, and to use the Forces of this country for that purpose, and to send out this Expedition for that purpose. It is one thing to prevent the Mahdi from taking Khartoum, and another thing to pledge the country to the overthrow of the Mahdi at Khartoum. What does that pledge mean? If it be carried out—and it is a very serious matter before England, before Europe, and even before Africa to make this pledge, unless there be a most determined effort to carry it out—it means a most bloody and most costly war—hundreds and thousands of our brave men killed, and tens of thousands of brave Arabs. I have to answer to my conscience and to my constituents for the course I take in this matter. Some of my hon. Friends below the Gangway find no difficulty whatever in voting confidence in the Government. My hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney)—I do not know what he will do exactly—said that if he wished his views to be carried out—and anyone who heard his most powerful and eloquent speech will feel with what earnestness he holds his views—he should most certainly not vote with the Government, but with the right hon. Gentleman opposite. What are the reasons which the Government have given for the course they propose to take? Again, I must go back to the statement of yesterday week with reference to the Expedition, that any other resolution than the one for the overthrow of the power of the Mahdi at Khartoum would be an abandonment of the original objects of the Expedition. I wish that these objects had been as clearly stated months ago as they were yesterday week. I am not sure, if they had, that the Expedition would not have been far less costly, less large, and probably would have succeeded better. What are the objects now, when they do not appear to be so necessary as before Gordon's death? The first is to "rescue those to whom Gordon felt bound in honour, and for whose safety he was pledged." That object must be abandoned. Gordon is dead; those whom he had pledged himself to protect were killed with him, or they have fled, or they have joined the Mahdi; at any rate, they are not there to rescue. The next object is to rescue other garrisons in the Soudan. Again I say, if we bad made that our object a few months ago, it might have been more useful. But what garrisons? Khartoum is taken. Bahr Gazelle may be holding out; Kassala, according to the last accounts, was holding out with great bravery. But if the Government were to send an Expedition to rescue the garrisons of Kassala and Bahr Gazelle, it would probably march, not by way of Khartoum, but of Abyssinia. The next object is to establish some orderly Government at Khartoum, and the last is to check the Slave Trade. I take them together, because, if there be no orderly Government at Khartoum, there will be no check upon the Slave Trade. What does my right hon. Friend mean by the establishment of an orderly Government? I do not know, nor does the House know. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition asks, as he has a right to ask, by the terms of his Motion—"Do you mean a good and stable Government?" I do not myself see the difference between the two. We all remember the eloquent fervour and indignation with which my right hon. Friend denounced the idea of establishing a good and stable Government. Then, what is the real difference between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition on this point, between establishing an orderly Government and a good and stable Government? I confess I do not understand the difference in the mere words themselves. But my right hon. Friend, as we all know, is the greatest master that ever existed of distinctions and differences. He convinces himself of them, as he does others; but he does not always convince facts. If a real attempt be made to establish an orderly Government, it will be much the same thing as trying to establish a good and stable Government. But then conies the question whether the Government are going to make such attempt or not. If they are going to overthrow the power of the Mahdi, what are they going to put in the place of it? My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department hoped they would set up the power of the Native Sultans. Many remarks have been made about that. It is much the same as the policy which was adopted in Zululand. My right hon. Friend quoted the authority of General Gordon in favour of it. I wonder at that, because General Gordon, before his arrival in Khartoum, found that it was impossible and hopeless to attempt it. Are you going to put up at Khartoum a puppet to be knocked down when you leave it, or will you put up a man whom you will undertake to support? If the latter, then there is no difference between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, as far as Khartoum is concerned. But I must say that I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen) that if you are to put up a puppet for the purpose of being knocked down when you leave, a war for such a purpose would be a useless war, costing men and money, and leading to no result, or, if to any result, to anarchy; and if I be asked by my constituents whether there is not blood-guiltiness in such a war, I shall be unable to reply. But other Members of the Cabinet have spoken. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Trevelyan) made a most interesting speech, full of the most delightful historic illustrations; but he took very good care, I observed, to say nothing about overthrowing the Mahdi at Khartoum. What he did say was that it was our duty to pursue the war. I suppose it is; I imagine that, if we do not pursue the war, the war will pursue us. Then came the speech of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department, one of the most powerful speeches I ever recollect hearing in this House—a most eloquent speech, full of argument. But for whom? Not for the Government, but for my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle. What he wished to do—what he showed to be his great desire—was to get out, not only of the Soudan, but of Egypt. Not a word in his speech about establishing a stable Government at Khartoum. I suppose it might be included in the objects which the Head of the Government declared were not to be abandoned, but which he described as merely secondary objects. Then why does the Secretary of State for the Home Department go to Khartoum? Because it is, he says, the only manner in which the evacuation of the Soudan can be accomplished consistently with the safety of Egypt; but he gave not the slightest shadow of an argument for this opinion. Then came my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board (Sir Charles W. Dilke). He gave this definition—"It is our intention to use all reasonable care to leave behind us in the Soudan a state of tranquillity." That is a now version of the Government policy. We are to overthrow the power of the Mahdi at Khartoum, not because it is necessary for the safety of the Army, or conducive to the success of the military operations—not because it is necessary for the safety of Egypt—but because, having gone to Khartoum, and having left it, we may leave it with the comfortable conviction that we have taken every reasonable care to insure tranquillity. Yes; but what is reasonable tranquillity? It may be interpreted to mean putting up some puppet, and giving some verbal or written declaration that he will be supported, and then, after destroying the only possible Government at Khartoum—the Government of the Mahdi—which might secure tranquillity, although probably accompanied by cruelty, leaving the place really to anarchy. It might be that, but it will not be; because the British people would come forward, and, in spite of the prophecies of the hon. Members for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley) and Liskeard (Mr. Courtney), would express the conviction, which is strong in their hearts, that if this country undertakes great responsibilities, even among barbarous nations, it must fulfil them. Not being able to obtain much information in this House, I read the debates of the other, where I found that the First Lord of the Admiralty (the Earl of Northbrook) had declared that the policy of the Government was clear, and that they would hold their own in the country, and conduct its affairs for the benefit and advantage of the people. But his policy is very different from that of the Home Secretary; and considering the power of that right hon. Gentleman in the Government, and everywhere else where he takes a part, I very much doubt whether the First Lord of the Admiralty will be able to carry his policy out. Now comes the question, What are we to do? There are a large number of Motions before us, and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has no easy task before him when he has undertaken to say "No" to all of them. I cannot vote for the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle. What would the Amendment of the hon. Member mean, if there were a possibility of its being carried? I do not believe that he himself would have moved it if he had thought that it would be carried, though there are, I imagine, some Gentlemen who will vote for it, as ho would not do so, if they expected such a result. But what would it mean? It would mean retreat, acknowledgment of defeat, and, what is of more importance, a declaration that we do not intend to fulfil the responsibilities which we have already incurred. There is, however, in reality only one question before us; and that is whether we can repose confidence in the Egyptian and Soudan policy of the Government? It is impossible to separate the one from the other, for their Soudan policy is only an illustration of their Egyptian policy. My hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard, in his eloquent peroration, made an appeal to the Prime Minister, asking him to wake up and to dictate a policy to the country which would be right and consistent with the views of my hon. Friend. He gave the House to understand that he knew that was the real policy of my right hon. Friend. My hon. Friend is a man of great eloquence, earnestness, and great knowledge; but, if he will allow me to say it, with the belief that he has even more knowledge than he possesses. One way in which he shows this belief is by stating, as he has done in Cornwall and in this House, that he knows what are the real and inmost thoughts of the Government, although they have not been expressed. However, we cannot jump to the same conclusion, because we have no facts to warrant it. What are the facts which we have before us? My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made a most remarkable statement in his speech the other night. I do not know that I ever heard from him, or from any Prime Minister, such a speech. Replying to the charge of the hon. Member for New- castle, that they had not the courage of their convictions, he said— We had no alternative in this Egyptian policy. Each step was inevitable; our decisions, sad and deplorable as they may have been in themselves, were yet inevitable in the circumstances, and at the moment when we were called upon to take them. Why this helpless position? Why this slavery to circumstances? Why is my right hon. Friend, with all his power, his wonderful faculties and popularity, such as no other Prime Minister in our days has ever possessed—why is he, with his Colleagues, who are also men of ability such as is rarely met with in the same number of men, forced to make this confession of helplessness? Why avowed policy of drifting? For this reason—because, in every step which they have taken, they have not looked forward to the next step. That has been the case from the beginning. When, by the power of our arms, we overthrew Arabi and the Egyptian Government, there was no acknowledgment for a long time afterwards by the Government, even in their own minds, of their responsibility for securing that there should be good government. When the Expedition of General Hicks was permitted to go to the Soudan, there was no thought of what might happen in the event of its probable failure and destruction. When the Egyptian Government were ordered to abandon the Soudan, no attempt was made to secure the retreat of the garrisons; and when Gordon came forward, with his devotion, to undertake his mission, there was an absolute and almost child-like refusal to face the responsibility of his possible failure. When our Government appointed General Gordon Governor General of the Soudan, they had no knowledge or comprehension of the responsibilities of that appointment; when his proposals were rejected—that of sending Zebehr among others—there was no suggestion of other plans; when he was ordered to remain at Khartoum, there was no attempt to secure his safety. The danger to him was at last realized, and then there were months of indecision as to whether he should be relieved, and how. And now, when we are asked to take this new departure, as my hon. Friends call it, and are asked to support the pledge of the Govern- ment to overthrow the Mahdi at Khartoum, there appears to be no consideration of what is to be the next step. Why, even in the matter of this railway we do not know what is to be done, There are different stories given by all of the Ministers as to what is to become of this railway. All I can find out is that it will be made, probably for military reasons, just about the time when the Nile will be full, and the troops could go by that route. There is no doubt the railway might do a great deal of good; but we cannot get from the Government any sort of definition as to what their object is. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister put this question, last Monday, upon very high grounds. He described it not merely as a Vote of Censure, but as a Vote of Confidence. He evidently wished us to understand that we were to give this vote, not as we often have to do, in Votes of Censure, in consideration of everything that might happen from their success, but upon the merits of the particular question. He was quite right. The merits of this question are so important that the vote must be given upon them. What did he say? He said that this was a serious crisis, and deprecated the spectacle, in the face of the world, of a disparaged Government and a doubtful House of Commons. There is, however, one thing worse than a disparaged Government, and that is a doubting Government. We have a doubting Government, because we have a divided Government. We often hear of differences in the Cabinet, and I know very well that such rumours are generally unfounded. But no one can have heard the speeches that have been made by Members of the Government, or watched the decisions that have been come to, and also the want of decisions, without being certain that rumour, in this case, has been right. It is clear there have been two parties and two voices in the Cabinet for months—on this Soudan and Egyptian policy—those who wished to fulfil the responsibilities we have undertaken, and those who have tried to evade their responsibilities. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department has shown clearly enough how difficult it must be for any Cabinet of which he is a Member, with his power and his energy, to fulfil those responsibilities. We have no right to incur responsibilities unless we intend to fulfil them. We have incurred responsibilities which we must fulfil, and therefore I cannot vote for the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle. My right hon. Friend the Member for Ripon has been charged with saying that he goes further than the Government. What he really said, and I agree with him, is that whatever responsibilities we incur, whether we go forward or not, having incurred those responsibilities we must fulfil them, and that we should not incur them unless we intend to fulfil them. But although I will not vote with my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle, if these two policies are to go on in the Cabinet, neutralizing one another and making no policy a success—in fact, preventing any real policy from being carried out—I say that better than that would be even the policy of my hon. Friend. But, Sir, this doubt and vacillation have continued long enough. We have one more speech to hear to-night—namely, one from my noble Friend the Secretary of State for War. If it were not for the views expressed in the speech of the Home Secretary, I dare say we might have implicit confidence in the speech we are about to hear from my noble Friend. His earnestness of purpose is well known. No one disputes it; but what guarantee have we that he will have the power to give effect to his desires? I fear that this policy of doubt and vacillation will continue? If I thought it was at an end I would throw all considerations of the past to the winds, and not only vote for the Government, but support them with all my might; but I see every reason to believe that it will continue, and therefore I cannot record my vote in their favour.


Mr. Speaker, there are on the Paper tonight many Amendments to the Resolution which has been proposed by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), who has just sat down, says there is only one issue before us. I cannot altogether agree with him in that statement, because, in my opinion, there are two very distinct and important issues upon which the House will have to decide to-night. One is placed before us by the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley)—namely, whether we are to adopt the policy of retreat, or whether we are to go forward and break the power of the Mahdi, with whom we have been in conflict. The issue submitted by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, which, although a part of the Resolution, professes to lay down a policy for the future, is substantially whether, on account of the alleged shortcomings of the Government in the past, and the inadequacy of their present declarations of the policy in the Soudan and the conduct of the operations which are now in progress—in fact, that the policy of this country throughout the world should be placed in other hands. Well, Sir, both of these issues are, or certainly may be, of great and supreme importance. The first of them is of the most immediate and pressing urgency, although I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford that, for the present, it is an issue not in doubt. Probably, as has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney) to-night, it may be an issue which may eventually come before the country, and it would be rash and imprudent at the present time to say that the country has absolutely made up its mind with regard to it; but it is not an issue before the House to-night. Whoever may sit on these Benches, the Expedition in the Soudan will proceed, and such help as he may demand will be given to Lord Wolseley in the enterprize in which he is now engaged. The issue may, in the future, involve larger issues than any that are in question at the present moment; but, as regards immediate action and policy, the vote of to-night can make no change. With the permission of the House I will say a few words on each of the issues which has been placed before us. With reference to the issue raised by the hon. Member for Newcastle, I would ask whether, under present circumstances, we intend to retreat from the Soudan? It is very easy for the hon. Members for Newcastle and Liskeard to make academical, and I dare say strictly logical, declarations as to the inexpediency of the course we have adopted in this matter. My hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard has, however, omitted one thing from his speech and argument to-night. He has said that the step we have recently taken in Egypt was the necessary and logical consequence of the steps we had previously taken there, and that it was impossible, having once commenced to interfere in Egyptian affairs, for us to have stopped short of anything which we have done up to the present time. But my hon. Friend says that we have now reached a point when it is possible to take a new departure; and, indeed, he says that the recent decision of the Government is, in fact, a new departure. I think that a mere statement of the facts and of the position in which we stand will show that my hon. Friend is mistaken in his assertion, and that the present step which we are called upon to take is the inevitable consequence of the previous steps which he himself approves. Let us see what is the position in which this country stands at the present moment. We sent General Gordon to Khartoum; we may have been wrong in coming to that decision; but I should like to ask any of the hon. Members who take that view to consider what was the state of public opinion on the subject in this House, in this country, and throughout the world, at the time that General Gordon was sent out. I will ask those hon. Members to say whether that public opinion was an unwise or an ignoble public opinion? That public opinion, although it did not desire to continue Egyptian rule in the Soudan, protested against the abandonment, without an effort at rescue, of those garrisons and those Egyptian subjects who, through no fault of their own, and many of them against their own will, found themselves in the Soudan, and who were exposed to the imminent danger of massacre or of slavery. In the circumstances, it was impossible for us to refuse to attempt to rescue the whole of those garrisons and those Egyptian subjects. We carefully considered the case of the different garrisons, and we took into account the enormous distances which separated some of the positions, together with the conditions of climate, and we found that it would be impossible to reach all those garrisons; but, at the same time, we felt that, in the opinion of the country, something ought to be done to relieve them. It was the opinion of the Egyptian authorities that something might be done by the mis- sion of General Gordon; and it was the opinion of General Gordon himself, as well as of many others in this country. It was also the opinion of the Government; and we felt that we were not entitled, in the circumstances in which we were placed, to refuse General Gordon's self-sacrificing offer, that if he could do something he would gladly go out. Well, then, Sir, what have we done further? We have sent out an Expedition to endeavour to relieve General Gordon and the garrison of Khartoum. Perhaps some hon. Members may think that we were not bound to send out such an Expedition; but here, again, I ask hon. Members to consider what was the state of opinion in this House and in this country upon that subject, and to consider whether it was possible, when the fact of General Gordon's imminent danger was made known, that public opinion would have been satisfied if no effort had been made to relieve him and the garrison of Khartoum? Now, we are in this position. First, in the form of a British officer, General Gordon, and next in the form of a British Army—a victorious British Army—the power of civilization has been brought face to face with the power of barbarism and anarchy. It might, in these circumstances, have been open to my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle, but it certainly is not open to my hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard, to contend that we have been mistaken, and that we should have adopted a policy which, in our opinion, it would have been impossible for us to adopt, and which the sense of the country would unanimously have repudiated. After the gallant defence of Khartoum for a whole year by General Gordon, after the Relief Expedition has come into conflict with the forces which were besieging it, after they have uniformly triumphed in those conflicts, and have approached within a few days' march of Khartoum, not only to rescue Gordon, but to carry on his successful resistance against barbarism—I say that, in such a position as this, it is impossible that the march of that victorious Army should be stayed and converted into a retreat, owing to an act of treachery on the part of one of General Gordon's Army; but a lesson must be taught, not only to the people of Africa, but to the whole world, that the policy of the British Empire is not to be reversed by the single act of a traitor in General Gordon's camp. My hon. Friend has said that this is a new departure; but does he think the alternative he suggests would not be a now step and a new departure, and does he think that a step of that kind, converting a triumph into a retreat—a new step of most momentous importance, independently of the consideration whether it could be honourably adopted—would be a step of an authoritative or binding character that it would be politic or wise to take? Sir, that would be a lesson, indeed, which I hope we shall be slow to teach, either to the people of Africa or to the world. We owe something to the people of Egypt, for whose affairs we are responsible; and can it be supposed that so great an encouragement could be given to the forces of anarchy, which are opposed to civilization as it exists in Egypt, without inflicting a heavy blow upon all the prospects of the regeneration of that country? We owe something not only to the people of Egypt, but also to other Powers who have interests in Egypt. We owe something to our Ally, France, which has interests in Egypt. We owe something to our Mahommedan subjects. We also owe something to our Indian Empire. What would the Mahommedans of that Empire think if they beheld the spectacle of British civilization retiring before a barbarous form of Mahommedan fanaticism? Then, we owe something to every one of our own Colonies which are brought into contact with savage races; and we owe something to every Colony in the world to which the name, the credit, and the honour of England are dear. Then, Sir, if that would be, as I think it would be, a new departure, and a new step of a momentous and most disgraceful character, what was to be done? We came to the decision communicated by the Government to Lord Wolseley. I will not quarrel about words; but I maintain that it was only a political decision, in the sense that it was a decision between retreat and maintaining our position. Lord Wolseley required instructions; and we required information as to the resistance which he would meet. Lord Wolseley told us that if we abandoned all idea of going to Khartoum, and if we abandoned all intention of overthrowing the power of the Mahdi, he would take his measures accordingly. He said, on the other hand, that if we resolved not to retreat, but to prosecute the original object of his Expedition, as far as it could be prosecuted, he would also be prepared to take measures with that object. Well, Sir, we informed Lord Wolseley; and I doubt whether we had any alternative but to tell him that military measures were to be taken based on the necessity we recognized, that it would be necessary that the power of the Mahdi should be broken; that that object would probably involve an advance on Khartoum; and that his military measures were to be based upon that possibility. If the political circumstances change, the military measures must, of course, be changed also; but I cannot say that I see any probability of any such change, or that it will be possible for Lord Wolseley, and the Army at his disposal, either to maintain his position or to destroy the power of the Mahdi, which we told him was an essential condition, without making those preparations which are necessary to advance to and, if necessary, recapture Khartoum. As to the second issue before us, that is not a question of the immediate military policy of the country. I believe that the Opposition, if they accede to power, will carry it out. They will find that there are larger and wider issues involved than the issue which the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Stafford Northcote) has raised. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir William Harcourt) pointed out last night what some of these issues were, what tremendous responsibilities were involved, or might be involved, in a policy which is not distinctly stated, but shadowed out in the right hon. Gentleman's Resolution. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Gloucestershire (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) has, tonight, spoken somewhat more definitely than his Predecessors in the debate of the policy of his Party in the Soudan. He has asked us to state, not the details, but the principles of our policy. He has taken exception to what was said by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department, to whom he attributed the statement that the sole object of this Expedition was the evacuation of the Soudan. What I understood my right hon. Friend to say was that the measures which we are taking would be necessary if that were the case. But the Prime Minister has already stated other objects which would be sacrificed if we arrived at any other decision—objects which we were not prepared to sacrifice, but which we were prepared to make reasonable sacrifices to obtain. But when the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) attempted to define a policy himself, he proceeded a certain distance; but, to my mind, he stopped short of giving the House a clear and definite idea of what that policy was, just as we have been accused of doing. The right hon. Gentleman, it is true, said we must retain the control of the Nile Valley, at least, as far as Khartoum, and the route from Suakin to the Nile. Well, Sir, as far as the objects of that policy are concerned, that is definite enough. But he stopped short then, and did not tell us how all this was to be done—whether the control over the Nile Valley was to be retained by British troops, or Indian troops, or a Fellaheen Egyptian Army. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman thinks that it will be possible permanently to retain a large British Army in the Nile Valley, or to keep open the communication between Suakin and Berber. I do not know whether he has consulted the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope), or the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton), whether, in their opinion, the employment of the Indian Army for such a service would conduce to the popularity or the efficiency of our Indian Army. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman supposes that the Fellaheen Army, which met the Arab Tribes at Teb, under Baker Pasha, can be trusted to retain for us the control of the Nile Valley and the communication between Suakin and Berber. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman contemplates the organization of Native levies. Is he certain that that policy can be carried out, and is he prepared to pledge himself as to the mode, and has he a distinct opinion how these objects, however desirable in themselves, can be accomplished? Is the House prepared to pledge itself to the policy described by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department, of undertaking, in the heart of Africa, the government of a new India, in circumstances much more difficult than those which attend the present government of our Indian Empire? And, Sir, there is another question. Are right hon. Gentlemen opposite prepared, with a light heart, to undertake such a policy? Are they confident that the country will support them steadfastly and earnestly in their determination to carry it out? Why, Sir, what is the very first step, if they succeed in defeating us to-night? If they succeed in taking our places, of what will the majority which will produce that result be composed? Is it a majority which will be prepared to support them in carrying out that earnest and steadfast determination—that policy which has been indicated? Are you certain that a majority of this House, which may place you in power, will support you in that policy; and are you certain that the country—either the existing constituencies or those which are shortly to come into existence—will do so? Well, Sir, if right hon. Gentlemen opposite are so convinced, if the House is convinced, that the country is ready to support them in that policy, I have no more to say. I have only to say that they are the men, and not we, who ought to be entrusted with the execution of that policy. But that they have formed any such determination I greatly doubt. If they do not propose any great change in the policy which we set before them—if, in fact, it is only to be a change of men, and not of measures; if they are not prepared, any more than we are, to attempt to attain the object they aim at by all reasonable means, then, perhaps, I may be permitted for a short time to advert to some of the charges, retrospective, present, and prospective, which have been brought forward in this debate, as a reason why we should change the men and not the policy. It may be true that a Government must be judged by the results of its policy; but it is not to be always assumed that there is some way in which success could have been achieved, and that it is bound to be impossible that any combination of circumstances could ever occur in which the choice before the Government is anything but a choice of evils, and in which it was absolutely impossible that a satisfactory result could, in any case, have been obtained. Unless all assump- tions are to be made against the Government, I maintain that now, with all the knowledge that has been acquired after the event, and not before, it is impossible to show that there has been any other course open to the Government, at any period of these transactions, which would have insured success, or which might not have led to as great or greater misfortunes than those which have occurred. It cannot certainly be shown that it was any inevitable consequence of our policy that has prevented the relief of Khartoum. It has been pointed out that what has prevented the relief of Khartoum was an act of treachery—an accident, which no foresight could possibly have averted—an event which might have happened a week or a month after General Gordon reached Khartoum. It is quite true, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, that time was of the essence of this matter, and that it was probable that the time which elapsed before General Gordon was relieved greatly increased the chances of treachery; but we know, as a matter of fact, that treachery existed in General Gordon's camp from the time of his arrival. We know the severe measures he had to take in order to punish it; and I altogether dissent from the contention of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) that treachery could not be successful unless it was supported by a powerful enemy at the gates of Khartoum. Sir, as it happened in the present case, it appears to have taken the form of opening the gates to the enemy; but there were other forms which it might have taken. General Gordon might, without difficulty, have been assassinated in his Palace, and the defence of Khartoum would then have collapsed as effectually as by the opening of the gates. But for this act of treachery there is every reason to believe that the Force under General Stewart would have reached Khartoum, and would have raised the siege of the city, and that he would have enabled General Gordon to defeat the scattered Forces by which he had been so long beleaguered. The main object of the Expedition of Lord Wolseley would then have been accomplished; and this Resolution which is now before the House would never have been made, although I have not the smallest doubt that the ingenuity of right hon. Gentlemen opposite would have found some other equally satisfactory ground for moving a Vote of Censure on Her Majesty's Government. But, Sir, I have to ask whether the judgment of the British House of Commons is to be reversed; and whether that which is now made the subject of a Vote of Censure would not rather have been the subject of a Vote of Approval and of Confidence in the Government but for an act of treachery? Sir, what are the alternatives which are so lightly spoken of, and which, we are told, were within the reach of Her Majesty's Government throughout these transactions? We are told that we might have utilized General Graham's successes at an earlier period. As to that, I, for one, shall never cease to rejoice that we did not yield to the advice given us, as I think, on imperfect knowledge of the circumstances, that we should send a couple of squadrons at the time from Suakin to Berber. I do not deny that those squadrons might possibly have reached Berber; but we know that within a very short time of the date at which they could have reached it, Berber was beleaguered and surrounded; the tribes on all sides of it were in revolt; and there is no reason whatever to suppose that that little Force would not have been surrounded and beleaguered in Berber during the summer months; and that, in addition to the anxiety undergone on account of General Gordon and his gallant companions, in addition to sending an Expedition for his rescue, we should have had to send an Expedition to rescue the garrison at Berber, surrounded by hostile tribes, without any means of communication, and without any means of obtaining supplies. Then, Sir, we were told we might have sent General Graham's Force; but those who speak of the employment of General Graham's Force at the time overlook altogether the fact that this was absolutely impossible. General Graham's Force was not provided with transport. ["Hear, hear!"] Hon. Gentlemen opposite cheer that statement; but perhaps they do not remember that General Graham's Force was organized very rapidly, and for a special object. It was approved by the majority in this House that it should attempt the rescue of the Egyptian garrisons in the immediate neighbourhood of the Red Sea. It was not possible, in a short time, to bring together General Graham's Force with the amount of transport that would have enabled him to move any great distance into the interior; and when hon. Gentlemen speak so lightly of moving a large Force to Berber, in my opinion very few of them have considered what the difficulty of transport is. An hon. Gentleman asked me, the other day, whether I was aware that the whole of General Hicks's Army moved into the Soudan? Sir, I am perfectly aware that, in totally different circumstances, when the country was comparatively tranquil, that it was possible to move bodies of men along that route in very small detachments, and in a short space of time. But the circumstances at the time we have to consider were altered, and the country was not tranquil; and there is the strong probability, and even an absolute certainty, that a large Force would have to be encountered at the end of the march. Everyone knows that an Army on its march through a barren country must be accompanied by an enormous number of transport animals; that, in addition to the ordinary wants of the Army, water for that Army, water for the followers, and water for the transport animals themselves has to be carried on the backs of camels and other animals. It will, therefore, be seen that the number of animals required is almost past calculation; and I have not heard any competent authority put the number of camels necessary for sending any respectable Force across the Desert to Berber at less than between 40,000 and 70,000. Then, Sir, lam asked why were not earlier measures taken between April, or May and August, for the purpose of preparing an advance from Suakin, either by means of a railway, or by the Nile route? It is quite true that there were many and great difficulties to be considered and weighed very carefully. There were differences of opinion between the Military Authorities as to the best route to be taken. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford asked me a question to-night with reference to the advice given by Lord Wolseley on this subject. Sir, I not entitled—indeed, I think I am bound—not to give my right hon. Friend any information as to the advice given on this subject by Lord Wolseley to the Government. Lord Wolseley is one of the confidential Military Advisers of Her Majesty's Government; he was consulted at the very earliest period of these transactions by me, and I was throughout in confidential communication with him. There would be an end of confidential communication between a Government and its Military Advisers, if, on the demand of any Member of this House, a Minister of the Crown, who is alone responsible, were compelled to tell the House what was the advice given him from this quarter or from that with reference to operations. Although I say that the military difficulties were great, and although there was a difference of opinion between the Military Authorities, I have no hesitation in saying that the justi6cation, or excuse, or whatever term you prefer, of the Government has rested mainly on the fact—which we have never attempted to conceal—that the Government were not, until a comparatively late period, convinced of the absolute necessity of sending a Military Expedition to Khartoum. The grounds of that opinion were fully stated by my right hon. Friend and myself in the debate in this House in the middle of last May, and they were still more carefully and fully stated on the 5th of August last. My right hon. Friend reviewed at that time the evidence in our possession, and frankly and openly communicated to the House—and it was made the ground of Parliamentary action—that the Government were not satisfied, from the evidence in their possession, of the proved necessity of the relief of General Gordon by a Military Expedition. That opinion of the Government was never concealed. At that very time, when we came to the House to ask for a Vote of Credit, it was stated to the House that it was not a Vote for the despatch of an Expedition, of the military necessity of which we were not satisfied; but that it was a Vote to enable the Government to make certain preparations for the contingencies of such an Expedition, if the necessity of it were proved. With the experience we have since obtained of the difficulties and dangers attending any operation of that character, I think that the Government had a right to hesitate, and was bound to hesitate, before it involved the British Army in all those dangers and difficulties, unless and until it was beyond the possibility of doubt that the relief of General Gor- don could not be effected in any other manner. It is very easy to talk about the possibility and expediency of making preparations which would have enabled us to move when the necessity was proved; but, Sir, it is not so easy in practice to draw a distinction between the preparation for, and the initiation of, an Expedition. Take, for instance, the Berber-Suakin route, recommended by hon. Gentlemen opposite; nothing more could have been done than was done short of the absolute despatch of the Expedition to make preparations for an advance by that route. Not a step could be taken further than was taken for the preparation of a railway from Suakin without sending forward another Expedition and again attacking Osman Digna; and, in my opinion, the House of Commons and the country would not have supported the Government in sending another Expedition, unless it was adequately and conclusively proved that it was necessary for the rescue of General Gordon. Well, Sir, the circumstances were somewhat different as regards the Nile route; and, as regards that route, we did endeavour to draw a distinction between operation and preparation. But the moment preparation was made that distinction entirely vanished. We had not only to make preparations here—to order supplies, and so on—but we had to make preparations in Egypt, and beyond it. We had to secure the co-operation of the Mudir of Dongola, and of the tribes under his direction—the tribes on the Nile and in the Korosko and Bayuda Deserts, and beyond the Frontiers of Egypt Proper, whatever might have taken place at Khartoum; but once these measures had been taken with regard to those tribes, it was almost unavoidable that the movement should take place. I say, therefore, it was not so easy as hon. Members opposite probably suppose to make preparations in advance for an Expedition. It seems to be supposed that, because we have not succeeded in relieving General Gordon, no result has been accomplished. In my opinion, a very considerable result has been accomplished. The Province of Dongola has been secured; the movement of the Mahdi, which was rapidly extending towards the Frontier of Egypt, has been altogether checked; the Frontiers of Egypt itself have been made absolutely secure; the British troops have been successful in every encounter that has taken place; and no one can suppose that, in the prosecution of future operations, the successful conduct of those operations I have referred to will not be of great advantage, and tend to the success of whatever movement may hereafter be made. The Government have been asked to give further pledges with regard to the object of their policy in the Soudan. I can very well understand that that demand should be made by the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley), and by the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney), who are altogether opposed to our policy; and I can understand that such demands should be made by hon. Gentlemen opposite, who, although they approve of the immediate steps which we are taking, have no confidence in our general policy, and distrust our ability to carry to a successful issue those measures to which we are absolutely pledged. But what I find more difficult to understand is that, with such pledges, such an additional assurance as this should be demanded of us by those who say that they desire to support Her Majesty's Government. I cannot understand how they can wish to support us, and, at the same time, to fetter us by pledges and engagements which would be made in ignorance of the circumstances under which those pledges were given, and which could not but hamper us greatly in future operations. Sir, in my opinion, we have already had not too little, but too much of declarations, which have been extracted from us, I must admit, with tolerable impartiality from all quarters of the House. Such pledges are, in my opinion, simply mischievous, and injurious to the public welfare in whichever direction they go. They are pledges which, to the best of my knowledge, were never before asked for from a Government about to enter upon such an undertaking as that which we are entering upon; and, in my opinion, they ought not to be given by any Government. I read the other day that the great Duke of Wellington made it a rule always to strive to ascertain what was on the other side of a hill. But I should be very much surprised to hear that the Duke of Wellington ever based his policy, or announced his plans beforehand, upon the forecast which he so made. It is all very well to endeavour to learn what is on the other side of a hill; but I think no wise man would base his policy beforehand upon a guess as to what lay on the other side—pledge himself to a policy which must necessarily be a forecast on circumstances which he cannot fully know. I have been asked personally to-night to give additional pledges, and to add something to the declarations which have been made by the Government. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) has stated that he would have confidence in the honesty of my intentions, but that he would doubt my power to carry into effect any pledges which I might give. I will set my right hon. Friend's mind at rest by assuring him that I have no desire or intention of giving him pledges in addition, or at all contrary, to those already given by other Members of the Government. I must ask the House to take the policy of the Government from the declarations of Ministers who have already spoken—from the declarations before the House—and more especially from the declarations of the Prime Minister himself. My right hon. Friend at the head of the Government yesterday week, in a very careful statement, told the House what were the objects which we had in view, and which were reasonable objects, and objects we were prepared to make reasonable efforts to execute. Among these objects he enumerated the security of Egypt, the protection of the tribes who had been friendly to us, the suppression of the slave traffic, and the establishment of an orderly Government at Khartoum. Well, as to the security of Egypt, my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) seems to think that it is our interference in Egypt that has brought us into all these troubles. We are told that it is very unfair to be continually telling the Opposition that it is in consequence of their policy that we are in Egypt. I do not know that we have said that it is the policy of the Opposition that has led us into Egypt; but I can say who contributed to the state of things which led us to Egypt, and that is the hon. Member for Northampton himself. In 1882 the hon. Member said, in the discussion on the Vote of Credit for the Expedition to Egypt, that— He did not know that there was anyone more strongly opposed to intervention than he was, speaking of the general term; but he really believed this intervention was absolutely necessary."—(3 Hansard, [272] 2052.) I do not know whether additional pledges were asked for as to our intention to maintain the security of Egypt. I do not suppose any hon. Member in the House believes that we are more indifferent to the security of Egypt on account of the great sacrifices we have had of late to make. It is true that we have always professed, and that we still profess, that we have no intention of permanently occupying Egypt, and that we intend to maintain those pledges which we have given to Egypt and to the European Powers. But we have always said that we did not intend to retire from Egypt until the main objects of our intervention in that country were secured; and nothing, so far as I know, has been said by any Member of the Government during that debate that could in the slightest degree weaken that assurance. The protection of the tribes who have assisted us is one of our objects, as the Prime Minister has stated; and I do not think that if the policy of Her Majesty's Government is carried out, there need be any fear that that object will not be secured. Do hon. Members suppose—for what reason should they?—that there will be any great difficulty in defending the tribes who have befriended us after the overshadowing military power of the Mahdi has been broken—as the Government intend to break it, by the military operations under Lord Wolseley? It is difficult to say at this moment what measures will be taken by the Government; but there is no reason to believe that it would be a work of any special difficulty, or one that the Government would not be likely to undertake, to give adequate protection to the tribes when the military power of the Mahdi was broken. As to the suppression of the Slave Trade and the establishment of an orderly Government, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford seems to think there are insuperable difficulties in the way; and unless we are prepared to explain to him exactly the mode in which an orderly Government is to be established he refuses to give us his support. But what did General Gordon go to do? He went out with the intention of establishing an orderly Government at Khartoum; and what was it that prevented the accomplishment of that object? Why, the military insurrection of the Mahdi, by which he was confronted almost from the first moment of his arrival in Khartoum. Is there any reason to suppose that this end will be difficult or impossible of attainment after the military power of the Mahdi has been broken? At all events, what advantage would be gained by our attempting to describe the exact measures that may have to be taken? As to the railway from Suakin to Berber, it seems to be supposed that we alone, of all the Members of this House, are indifferent to the civilizing influences that can be served by a railway—such as the establishment and development of sound trading principles, as opposed to the fanatical, predatory, and plundering habits of the Arabs. I know of no reason why we should be supposed to be more indifferent than anyone else to these advantages. The House may rest assured that we shall use every reasonable effort to make the railway valuable not only—as it is absolutely necessary it should be—for the military purposes for which it is now being constructed, but for the civilization and permanent benefit of that part of the world. Sir, these are the objects which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has described, and which every Member of the Government, to the best of my belief, has in view. These are our objects, and all of them are similar to those General Gordon went to the Soudan to endeavour to accomplish. These are the objects which General Gordon failed to accomplish, though he was supported by such authority as the Egyptian Government could give him. We shall attempt to accomplish his objects with the assistance and the support of better, and I hope purer, means than were at his disposal. Though these are our objects, and though we hope earnestly that we may succeed in their accomplishment, I do not think we are called on, and I do not think we should be justified, on necessarily imperfect knowledge, in making absolute declarations of policy which it may be beyond the power even of this country to carry out without entailing sacrifices upon the people of this country greater than we have a right to demand. I regret that it should have been necessary for me to detain the House so long. I thank the House for the indulgence it has given to me; and, in conclusion, I have only to express a hope that the decision about to be taken will be clear, definite, and fixed in character, so that no doubt may remain as to what is the opinion of the House of Commons at a crisis so important as the present.


Mr. Speaker—Sir, at this hour of the morning I shall not presume to address the House for more than a few minutes. I congratulate the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) on the frank, manly, and open speech that he has just made; and if I am obliged to add that I do not think that the speech of the noble Marquess has carried the case of the Government much farther than those speeches which, in the course of the evening, we have heard from his Colleagues, I am convinced that it is due to no lack of ability on his part, but to the weakness of the case of the Government. He has told us, with reference to the past, how, in his opinion, the lamentable death of General Gordon was brought about. The noble Marquess asks how and why was General Gordon sent out; and goes on to say that General Gordon was sent out in deference to public opinion. I must say that I think that such a man should not have been made a mere sacrifice to public opinion. The noble Marquess told us how that public opinion had risen. The noble Marquess has told us how, because Her Majesty's Government had ordered the Egyptian Government to abandon the Soudan, the question arose as to how the garrisons were to be extricated from those fortresses in which, but for that announcement, they might have remained safely. Therefore, the Government hit upon the expedient of sending General Gordon upon that mission. But why, I ask, was it that the Government, in a moment of hasty panic, gave that fatal order for the Egyptian Government to abandon the Soudan? Why, because against the advice of Lord Dufferin and of General Hicks, against the opinion of everybody who knew the relations of the question of the Soudan to Egypt, the Government determined to take no note of what happened in the former country. Why, because turning a deaf ear and a blind eye to all that was passing in the Soudan, they permitted the only Army Egypt then possessed to be destroyed, after having first destroyed her best Army at Tel-el-Kebir because they permitted it to go to certain destruction under the leadership of the gallant but unfortunate Hicks Pasha. Following, then, the train of reasoning of the noble Marquess, I say that he has conclusively proved that the death of General Gordon, the capture of Khartoum, and the wider dangers and probable misery that are in store for us, are the direct product of that fatal act of folly on the part of the Government in refusing to listen to the advice tendered to them in regard to Hicks Pasha's ill-omened advance. Then the noble Marquess says—repeating what the Prime Minister, on a former occasion, said—that, after all, General Gordon's life would have been spared if it had not been for an unexpected act of treachery on the part of some of his garrison. I entirely dispute the right of the Government to set up that excuse for their laches and delays. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) pointed out—and pointed out with truth and accuracy—that this act of treachery could not, in all human probability, have been consummated previous to the fall of Omdurman, and its capture by the Mahdi. How long before the capture of Khartoum had Omdurman fallen? A very few weeks, at the outside. What does Lord Wolseley tell us in the last despatch with which we have been favoured from him? Why, he tells us how deeply he regrets being unable to leave England a month earlier than he did. That fatal month was lost by the apathy, by the indifference, or, if the noble Marquess pleases, by the over-caution of the Government, which, in all human probability, would have prevented the fall of Khartoum and the death of General Gordon. The noble Marquess said that time was taken in considering the military problems connected with the advance of an Army to Khartoum. But the noble Marquess did not shrink, with the frankness which characterizes him, from saying that one of the principal reasons that rendered the Expedition too late was the indecision of the Government as to the necessity of the Expedition itself. I maintain that at the end of February, when Her Majesty's Government rejected all the suggestions and proposals of General Gordon, it then became their primary duty to devise means of rescuing him from Khartoum. Instead of adopting that course, on the showing of the noble Marquess himself, they wasted month after month until, according to the right hon. Baronet the President of the Local Government Board (Sir Charles W. Dilke) last night, it was the middle of July, or, according to the noble Marquess, the middle of August, before they took any practical steps to rescue the brave man whom they had so long left unaided to his own resources. Those are the grounds on which we say the Government are culpable in the eyes of this House, of the country, and of the civilized world for the terrible catastrophe which we all deplore. And now, Sir, one word only as to the future. The noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War has told us that he cannot—that he will not—add anything to the assurances for the future which have been given to the House by his Colleagues in their speeches. Well, Sir, we have listened to this debate, and we have heard men connected with every Party in this House say that the statements of the Prime Minister and his Colleagues are not satisfactory, and not such as would justify the vast expenditure of blood and money the policy of the Government calls on the House to maintain. The noble Marquess has not said anything which would beget confidence as to the course which the Government intend to pursue after their military operations are successful. There are three distinct policies before the House. There is the policy of the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley); that is intelligible; it is clear; I think it is a mistake. There is the policy of the Government, explained as it has been by four or five Cabinet Ministers. What is it? What continuity do we find in the speeches of Ministers? There is nothing to give the House the slightest confidence that any one of the four objects quoted by the noble Marquess will be in existence six months after the military operations in the Soudan have terminated. Then there is the policy which my right hon. Friend (Sir Stafford Northcote) had indicated in his Resolu- tion. That is a policy, I venture to say, which clearly defines the permanent character of the good influences which we hope to derive from the military successes of the Expedition sent out by Her Majesty's Government—that is a policy which I trust the House will adopt. The noble Marquess has endeavoured to frighten the House by considerations extraneous to the question at issue. He asked us if we are certain that we shall have the support of the people—if we are certain that we shall have the subsequent support of the House, even if to-night we gain a majority? I am certain of neither of these things; but of this I am certain—that it is our duty to endeavour to carry this Resolution; and I am certain it is the duty of the House of Commons to carry it. Sir, I know not what the division may be—I know not whether the numbers in our Lobby may be great or small; but this I do know—that behind those numbers, be they great or small, there will be ranged the generous aspirations, the fixed resolve, and the firm determination of an indignant and sorrowing, but a courageous and an indomitable people.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 288; Noes 302: Majority 14.

Alexander, Maj.-Gen. C. Bruce, Sir H. H.
Allsopp, C. Bruce, hon. T.
Amherst, W. A. T. Brymer, W. E.
Archdale, W. H. Bulwer, J. R.
Ashmead-Bartlett, E. Burghley, Lord
Aylmer, J. E. F. Burrell, Sir W. W.
Bailey, Sir J. R Buxton, Sir R. J.
Balfour, A. J. Callan, P.
Baring, T. C. Cameron, D.
Barry, J. Campbell, J. A.
Barttelot, Sir W. B. Carden, Sir R. W.
Bateson, Sir T. Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G.
Beach, right hon. Sir M. E. Hicks- Chaine, J.
Chaplin, H.
Beach, W.W. B. Christie, W. L.
Bective, Earl of Clarke, E.
Bellingham, A. H. Clive, Col. hon. G. W.
Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C. Close, M. C.
Beresford, G. De la P. Coddington, W.
Biddell, W. Cole, Viscount
Biggar, J. G. Commins, A.
Birkbeck, E. Compton, F.
Blackburne, Col. J. I. Coope, O. E.
Boord, T. W. Corbet. W. J.
Bourke, right hon. R. Corry, J. P.
Broadley, W. H. H. Cotton, W. J. R.
Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F. Courtauld, G.
Cowen, J.
Brooke, Lord Creyke, R.
Crichton, Viscount Hay, rt. hon. Admiral Sir J. C. D.
Cross, rt. hon. Sir R. A.
Cubitt, right hon. G. Healy, T. M.
Curzon, Major hon. M. Herbert, hon. S.
Dalrymple, C. Hicks, E.
Davenport, H. T. Hildyard, T. B. T.
Dawnay, Col. hon. L. P. Hill, Lord A. W.
Dawson, C. Hill, A. S.
Deasy, J. Holland, Sir H. T.
De Worms, Baron H. Home, Lt.-Col. D. M.
Dickson, Major A. G. Hope, right hon. A. J. B. B.
Dixon-Hartland, F. D.
Douglas, A. Akers- Houldsworth, W. H.
Dundas, hon. J. C. Hubbard, right hon. J. G.
Dyke, rt. hn. Sir W. H.
Eaton, H. W. Jackson, W. L.
Eckersley, N. Johnstone, Sir F.
Ecroyd, W. F. Kennard, Col. E. H.
Egerton, hon. A. de T. Kennard, C. J.
Egerton, hon. A. F. Kennaway, Sir J. H.
Elcho, Lord Kenny, M. J.
Elliot, G. W. Ker, R. W. B.
Ellis, Sir J. W. Knight, F. W.
Elton, C. I. Knightley, Sir R.
Emlyn, Viscount Laing, S.
Estcourt, G. S. Lalor, R.
Ewart, W. Lawrance, J. C.
Ewing, A. O. Lawrence, Sir T.
Feilden, Lt.-Gen. R. J. Leahy, J.
Fellowes, W. H. Leamy, E.
Finch, G. H. Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.
Finch-Hatton, hon. M. E. G. Legh, W. J.
Leigh, R.
Fitzwilliam, hon. C. W. Leighton, Sir B.
Fitzwilliam, hon. H. W. Leighton, S.
Fitzwilliam, hon. W. J. Lennox, right hn. Lord H. G. C. G.
Fitz-Wygram, Sir F.
Fletcher, Sir H. Lever, J. O.
Floyer, J. Levett, T. J.
Folkestone, Viscount Lewis, C. E.
Forester, C. T. W. Lewisham, Viscount
Forster, rt. hn. W. E. Lindsay, Sir R. L.
Foster, W. H. Lloyd, S. S.
Fowler, R. N. Loder, R.
Fremantle, hon. T. F. Long, W. H.
French-Brewster, R. A. B. Lopes, Sir M.
Lowther, rt. hon. J.
Freshfield, C. K. Lowther, hon. W.
Galway, Viscount Lynch, N.
Gardner, R. Richardson Macartney, J. W. E.
Mac Iver, D.
Gibson, right hon. E. Macnaghten, E.
Giffard, Sir H. S. M'Carthy, J.
Giles, A. M'Carthy, J. H.
Goldney, Sir G. M'Garel-Hogg, Sir J.
Gooch, Sir D. M'Kenna, Sir J. N.
Gorst, J. E. M'Mahon, E.
Goschen, rt. hon. G. J. Makins, Colonel W. T.
Grantham, W. Manners, rt. hon. Lord J. J. R.
Gray, E. D.
Greene, E. March, Earl of
Greer, T. Marriott, W. T.
Gregory, G. B. Martin, P.
Grey, A. H. G. Marum, E. M.
Gunter, R. Master, T. W. C.
Halsey, T. F. Maxwell, Sir H. E.
Hamilton, right hon. Lord G. Mayne, T.
Meagher, W.
Hamilton, Lord C. J. Miles, Sir P. J. W.
Hamilton, I. T. Mills, Sir C. H.
Harrington, T. Milner, Sir F.
Harris, W. J. Molloy, B. C.
Harvey, Sir R. B. Monckton, F.
Moore, A. Ross, A. H.
Morgan, hon. F. Ross, C. C.
Moss, R. Round, J.
Mowbray, rt. hon. Sir J. R. St. Aubyn, W. M.
Salt, T.
Mulholland, J. Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.
Muntz, P. A. Scott, M. D.
Newdegate, C. N. Selwin-Ibbetson, Sir H. J.
Newport, Viscount
Nicholson, W. Severne, J. E.
Nicholson, W. N. Sexton, T.
Nolan, Colonel J. P. Sheil, E.
North, Colonel J. S. Small, J. F.
Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H. Smith, rt. hon. W. H.
Smith, A.
Northcote, H. S. Smithwick, J. F.
O'Connor, A. Stanhope, hon. E.
O'Connor, J. Stanley, rt. hon. Col. F.
O'Connor, T. P. Stanley, E. J.
O'Donnell, F. H. Storer, G.
O'Gorman Mahon, Col. The Strutt, hon. C. H.
Sullivan, T. D.
O'Kelly, J. Sykes, C.
Onslow, D. R. Talbot, J. G.
O'Shea, W. H. Thomson, H.
O'Sullivan, W. H. Thornhill, A. J.
Paget, R. H. Thynne, Lord H. F.
Parnell, C. S. Tollemache, hon. W. F.
Patrick, R. W. Cochran- Tollemache, H. J.
Tomlinson, W. E. M.
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. Tottenham, A. L.
Pell, A. Tremayne, J.
Pemberton, E. L. Tyler, Sir H. W.
Percy, rt. hon. Earl Wallace, Sir R.
Percy, Lord A. M. Walrond, Col. W. H.
Phipps, C. N. P. Warburton, P. E.
Phipps, P. Warton, C. N.
Plunket, rt. hon. D. R. Watney, J.
Power, P. J. Whitley, E.
Power, R. Williams, General O.
Price, Captain G. E. Wilmot, Sir H.
Puleston, J. H. Wilmot, Sir J. E.
Raikes, rt. hon. H. C. Wolff, Sir H. D.
Rankin, J. Wortley, C. B. Stuart-
Read, C. S. Wroughton, P.
Redmond, J. E. Wyndham, hon. P.
Redmond, W. H. K. Wynn, Sir W. W.
Rendlesham, Lord Yorke, J. R.
Repton, G. W.
Ridley, Sir M. W. TELLERS.
Ritchie, C. T. Thornhill, T.
Rolls, J. A. Winn, R.
Acland, rt. hn. Sir T. D. Baring, Viscount
Acland, C. T. D. Barnes, A.
Agnew, W. Barran, J.
Ainsworth, D. Bass, Sir A.
Allen, H. G. Bass, H.
Allman, R. L. Baxter, rt. hon. W. E.
Amory, Sir J. H. Beaumont, W. B.
Anderson, G. Biddulph, M.
Armitage, B. Blennerhassett, Sir R.
Armitstead, G. Blennerhassett, R. P.
Arnold, A. Bolton, J. C.
Asher, A. Borlase, W. C.
Ashley, hon. E. M. Brand, hon. H. R.
Baldwin, E. Brassey, Sir T.
Balfour, Sir G. Brassey, H. A.
Balfour, rt. hon. J. B. Brett, R. B.
Balfour, J. S. Briggs, W. E.
Barclay, J. W. Bright, right hon. J.
Bright, J. Findlater, W.
Brinton, J. Firth, J. F. B.
Broadhurst, H. Fitzmaurice, Lord E.
Brogden, A. Flower, C.
Brooks, M. Foljambe, C. G. S.
Brown, A. H. Foljambe, F. J. S.
Bruce, rt. hon. Lord C. Forster, Sir C.
Bruce, hon. R. P. Fowler, H. H.
Bryce, J. Fowler, W.
Buchanan, T. R. Fry, L.
Burt, T. Fry, T.
Buxton, F. W. Gabbett, D. F.
Buxton, S. C. Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.
Caine, W. S. Gladstone, H. J.
Cameron, C. Gladstone, W. H.
Campbell, Sir G. Gordon, Lord D.
Campbell, R. F. F. Gordon, Sir A.
Campbell-Bannerman, right hon. H. Gourley, E. T.
Gower, hon. E. F. L.
Carbutt, E. H. Grafton, F. W.
Carington, hon. R. Grant, Sir G. M.
Cartwright, W. C. Grant, A.
Causton, R. K. Grant, D.
Cavendish, Lord E. Gurdon, R. T.
Chamberlain, rt. hn. J. Hamilton, J. G. C.
Chambers, Sir T. Harcourt, rt. hn. Sir W. G. V. V.
Cheetham, J. F.
Childers, rt. hn. H. C. E. Hardcastle, J. A.
Clark, S. Hartington, Marq. of
Clarke, J. C. Hastings, G. W.
Clifford, C. C. Hayter, Sir A. D.
Cohen, A. Henderson, F.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Heneage, E.
Collings, J. Henry, M.
Collins, E. Herschell, Sir F.
Colman, J. J. Hibbert, J. T.
Colthurst, Col. D. la Z. Hill, T. R.
Corbett, J. Holden, I.
Cotes, C. C. Holland, S.
Courtney, L. H. Hollond, J. R.
Cowper, hon. H. F. Holms, J.
Craig, W. Y. Hopwood, C. H.
Cropper, J. Howard, E. S.
Cross, J. K. Howard, G. J.
Crum, A. Howard, J.
Cunliffe, Sir R. A. Illingworth, A.
Davey, H. Ince, H. B.
Davies, D. Inderwick, F. A.
Davies, R. James, Sir H.
Davies, W. James, C.
De Ferrières, Baron James, W. H.
Dickson, J. Jardine, R.
Dickson, T. A. Jenkins, Sir J. J.
Dilke, rt. hn. Sir C. W. Jenkins, D. J.
Dillwyn, L. L. Jerningham, H. E. H.
Dodds, J. Johnson, E.
Duckham, T. Jones-Parry, L.
Duff, R. W. Kinnear, J.
Earp, T. Labouchere, H.
Ebrington, Viscount Lambton, hon. F. W.
Edwards, H. Lawrence, Sir J. C.
Edwards, P. Lawrence, W.
Egerton, Admiral hon. F. Lea, T.
Leake, R.
Elliot, hon. A. R. D. Leatham, E. A.
Errington, G. Leatham, W. H.
Evans, T. W. Lee, H.
Fairbairn, Sir A. Lefevre, rt. hn. G. J. S.
Farquharson, Dr. R. Lloyd, M.
Fay, C. J. Lubbock, Sir J.
Ferguson, R. Lusk, Sir A.
Ferguson, R. C. Munro- Lyons, R. D.
Ffolkes, Sir W. H. B. Macfarlane, D. H.
Mackie, R. B. Roundell, C. S.
Mackintosh, C. F. Russell, Lord A.
Macliver, P. S. Russell, C.
M'Arthur, Sir W. Russell, G. W. E.
M'Arthur, A. Ruston, J.
M'Clure, Sir T. Rylands, P.
M'Coan, J. C. St. Aubyn, Sir J.
M'Intyre, Æneas J. Samuelson, B.
M'Lagan, P. Samuelson, H.
M'Laren, C. B. B. Seely, C. (Lincoln)
M'Minnies, J. G. Seely, C. (Nottingham)
Magniac, C. Sellar, A. C.
Maitland, W. F. Shaw, T.
Mappin, F. T. Sheridan, H. B.
Marjoribanks, hon. E. Shield, H.
Maskelyne, M. H. N. Story- Simon, Serjeant J.
Sinclair, Sir J. G. T.
Mason, H. Slagg, J.
Maxwell-Heron, Capt. J. M. Smith, Lieut-Col. G.
Smith, E.
Meldon, C. H. Smith, S.
Mellor, J. W. Stanley, hon. E. L.
Milbank, Sir F. A. Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.
Monk, C. J. Stanton, W. J.
Moreton, Lord Stevenson, J. C.
Morgan, rt. hon. G. O. Stuart, J.
Morley, A. Summers, W.
Morley, J. Sutherland, T.
Morley, S. Talbot, C. R. M.
Mundella, rt. hn. A, J. Tavistock, Marquess of
Noel, E. Tennant, C.
Norwood, C. M. Thomasson, J. P.
O'Beirne, Colonel F. Thompson, T. C.
O'Brien, Sir P. Tillett, J. H.
O'Donoghue, The Tracy, hon. F. S. A. Hanbury-
Otway, Sir A. J.
Paget, T. T. Trevelyan, rt. hn. G. O.
Palmer, C. M. Verney, Sir H.
Palmer, G. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Parker, C. S. Vivian, Sir H. H.
Pease, Sir J. W. Vivian, A. P.
Pease, A. Waddy, S. D.
Peddie, J. D. Walker, S.
Pender, J. Waterlow, Sir S.
Pennington, F. Waugh, E.
Picton, J. A. Webster, J.
Playfair, rt. hn. Sir L. West, H. W.
Portman, hon. W. H. B. Whitbread, S.
Potter, T. B. Whitworth, B.
Powell, W. R. H. Wiggin, H.
Power, J. O'C. Williamson, S.
Price, Sir R. G. Willis, W.
Pulley, J. Wills, W. H.
Ramsay, J. Willyams, E. W. B.
Ramsden, Sir J. Wilson, Sir M.
Rathbone, W. Wilson, C. H.
Reed, Sir E. J. Wilson, I.
Reid, R. T. Wodehouse, E. R.
Richard, H. Woodall, W.
Richardson, T. Woolf, S.
Roberts, J.
Robertson, H. TELLERS.
Roe, T. Grosvenor, right hon. Lord R.
Rogers, C. C.
Rogers, J. E. T. Kensington, rt. hn. Lord
Rothschild, Sir N. M. de

The Question is, that there be added to the word "That," in the Original Question, the following words:— This House, while refraining from expressing an opinion on the policy pursued by Her Majesty's Government in respect to the affairs of Egypt and the Soudan, regrets the decision of Her Majesty's Government to employ the forces of the Crown for the overthrow of the power of the Mahdi. The Question I have to propose is, those words be there added."

Question proposed, That the words 'while refraining from expressing an opinion on the policy pursued by Her Majesty's Government in respect to the affairs of Egypt and the Soudan, regrets the decision of Her Majesty's Government to employ the forces of the Crown for the overthrow of the power of the Mahdi' be there added."—(Mr. John Morley.)


I have an Amendment to move, in the following words:— To leave out all the words after the word 'this' in the first line of the Motion, to the end, in order to insert the words 'Government has failed to indicate any policy in reference to Egypt and the Soudan which justifies the confidence of this House or the Country. The words of the Amendment speak for themselves. As was stated in the early part of the Sitting, the Government propose to vote against every proposal. Therefore, I assume that, in the first division that will take place on these words, the Government will vote in support of my Amendment. I trust that I may be allowed to make it quite clear. They will vote for my Amendment for the purpose of getting rid of the Motion of the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley); and, that Motion having been disposed of, they would then vote directly against my words.

Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment, To leave out from the word "this" to the end thereof, in order to add the words "Government has failed to indicate any policy in reference to Egypt and the Soudan which justifies the confidence of this House or the Country."—(Lord George Hamilton.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the said proposed Amendment."


What I stated early in the evening was, that I was not prepared to vote for the Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. I voted against the words of the right hon. Gentleman, and they have been rejected. I now propose to vote against the words proposed by the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Morley); but I by no means intend to support the Amendment of the noble Lord.


I only desire to say one word. It ought to be quite clear what the position is. It is a very unusual one. Generally speaking, when the policy of a Government is challenged by a Resolution, and an Amendment is put down which is not in favour of the Government, but which is also hostile to them, the practice has been hitherto for the Government to vote for the retention of the words of the Motion in order that they may afterwards vote against them. On the present occasion Her Majesty's Government have taken a different course, and they have found it better to vote against everything that is proposed, without coming to a direct issue on any one point, so that, if they obtain a majority in each division, the result will be; that nothing will be left on the Journals but the word "that" I am bound to j say that a more appropriate description of the policy of Her Majesty's Government I cannot imagine.


The right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Stafford North-cote) has stated that in cases of this kind, where a Resolution hostile to the Government has been proposed, and an Amendment is also submitted which the Government cannot accept, it has been the practice to go through the form, or farce, or whatever you like to call it, of voting for a Resolution of which we disapprove in the first instance. I believe that that has taken place in certain cases; but it is not the rule. It is quite as often the practice to vote against each Resolution of which we disapprove; and the result in this case will be that there will be no misunderstanding in the matter, as we shall vote straight, against the Resolution of the right hon. Baronet, against the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley), and against the Amendment of the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton).

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 112; Noes 455: Majority 343.—(Div. List, No. 34.)

Question proposed, That the words Government has failed to indicate any policy in reference to Egypt and the Soudan which justifies the confidence of this House or the Country' he there added.


Sir, before this Question is put I should like to say one word. If the proposition of the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton) were put in its entirety I should feel the greatest difficulty in giving a negative to it; but the proposition is, "That these words be here added," and to that I have no difficulty in giving a negative vote.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 277; Noes 299: Majority 22.—(Div. List, No. 35).


At this late hour (2.25), Mr. Speaker, I do not propose to press my Amendment.

Forward to