§ The Earl of Aberdeen
had stated yesterday, that he would move for the production of papers which were indispensably necessary for understanding our relations in the East. There were two parts of this question as distinct as peace and war could make them; the one related to Persia, and the other to the countries of Affghanistan. With respect to Persia, he did not intend to say a syllable; he would make no speech, and he asked for no papers. The House had been informed in the Speech from the Throne, that "differences which had arisen had occasioned the retirement of her Majesty's minister from the court of Teheran; but that her Majesty indulged the hope of learning that a satisfactory adjustment of these differences would allow of the re-establishment of her Majesty's relations with Persia upon their former footing of friendship." He supposed that those negotiations were still proceeding, and that they had not been interrupted. He was not aware, however, that they bore a very propitious aspect, for not only had our minister retired from 866 that country, but every member of the mission had also left; and when they also knew that a portion of the Persian territory, taken possession of by others, had been retained by us, he thought there must be an end to those arguments usually resorted to on such occasions. He hoped, however, that the adjustment which had been looked forward to would take place, especially as he believed there was no ground of difference either existing now, or had ever existed, which did not admit of adjustment, and the sooner this was done the better. With respect to the other part, the affairs of Affghanistan, the question was very different, for we were at war there, and had been since the month of October; and it did not seem to be very unreasonable that their Lordships should know what we were fighting about, and the causes that had brought us into this condition. It was true, that the noble Viscount had produced fourteen or fifteen treaties which might be invaluable for the collection of Mr. Marten's, but they did not afford any material information. They could only look to the manifesto of the Governor-general, which he had sent forth to the world, and which had been communicated to that House; and what led him to make any observation upon it was, that he wished the noble Viscount to understand that much explanation would be required before he could accept that declaration, which was, of course, partial, as a justification of the policy which had been adopted; and he must say, that judging by that exposition alone, he had never seen a document which required more explanation, or which appeared so much to justify the worst imputations that had ever been cast on our Eastern policy. It was to be considered as a favourable statement, issued by the Governor-general to justify his future course; and no man could say, unless it were subsequently explained, this course was not as rash and impolitic, as it was ill-considered, oppressive, and unjust. It was possible, however, that his opinion might be modified by what might be produced hereafter. He would move, in the first instance, for copies of any correspondence which had passed with the court of Caubul and the rulers of Affghanistan, previous to the proclamation of the Governor-general on the 1st of October 1838.
§ Viscount Melbourne
said, with respect to the first part of the observations of the noble Earl, so far as they related to Persia, 867 he did not mean to go further into them than to say, he entirely agreed with the sentiments expressed by the noble Lord, that there was nothing in the present state of affairs there, or of our differences, which did not admit of adjustment, and he earnestly hoped and trusted that the differences would be peaceably settled and adjusted. With regard to the second section of the noble Lord's observations, he thought, that considering it possible that the opinions the noble Lord had expressed might be modified by further information, it would have been somewhat more fair, somewhat more prudent, somewhat more just altogether, somewhat more just towards the country to which the noble Lord belonged, and somewhat more just especially towards those who had the conduct of the affairs of government, if the noble Lord had abstained from declaring those opinions so freely and so prematurely. The noble Lord professed not to give any opinion upon the declaration of the Governor-general, and yet he said he never saw a declaration that went further to justify the worst imputations upon the policy of this country in that part of the world than this. Now when they considered the extent of the imputations which had been cast upon our Government in that quarter, he thought that the noble Lord was pronouncing rather strong opinion, bearing in mind also, that the noble Lord at the same time admitted, that he did not understand the true state of affairs. It was a proof of what had been the case throughout the late war, when noble Lords who sat on the opposite side of the House were too apt to forget, for the sake of party advantage, all regard for the real interests of the country. He had asked for, and he expected the noble Lord would have furnished him with, a list of the papers he wished to be produced, that he might have an opportunity for minutely examining them—of making inquiry respecting them, and of considering whether they ought, or ought not to be produced. If the noble Lord would let him have that list, and delay his motion for a day or two, he (Viscount Melbourne) should be enabled to state what his opinions were upon the subject.
§ The Earl of Aberdeen
had one word to say in explanation. If the noble Viscount did not permit him to make any observation on the proclamation of the Governor-general, why did the noble Lord lay the 868 document on the Table of the House? If he did not mean it to be commented upon, for what did he produce it? If the noble Lord intended that their Lordships should be silent upon that declaration, he ought not to have given the information. A Government might, no doubt, produce too much, as well as too little, and if that declaration had not been on the table, he would not have said a word about it; but being there, it was monstrous to suppose that it was not to be commented on, that they were not to express their opinion of its character. He was very happy to find that the noble Viscount had learnt since he had sat on the Ministerial side of the House, what the duties were of those who sat on the opposite side. He denied that he had stated anything which that declaration did not justify, and did not call fur. It was possible, from this mode of producing papers—giving portions at one time, and portions at another—that those portions which had to come might modify the opinion to be formed of those which had been produced. It was an excess of imprudence, perhaps, to say, that if he were called on to pronounce his opinion of the policy pursued by the Governor-general, or the defence set up by its author, he must have no hesitation in condemning it, as most unjust and oppressive, so far as appeared from the statement of the Governor-general himself; but if it were so, those documents which the Government had with held must be of a most extraordinary character, contradicting their own documents, and more favourable than them to their own conduct.
§ The Duke of Wellington
thought that all the information with respect to Persia, since the mission of Mr. Ellis, should be laid on the Table of the House.
§ Viscount Melbourne
said, that if the noble Duke would make a motion on the subject, he would give it his best consideration.
§ The Duke of Wellington
declined to make any motion; he merely threw out the remark for the consideration of the noble Lord.
said, that the House had been sitting for more than two months, and surely the noble Lord had had time to lay the papers on the Table of the House, or at least to consider what papers should be produced on a subject which must necessarily attract a great deal of observation in Parliament, and to which 869 special reference had been made in the speech from the Throne.
said, that on the very first night of the Session he had made some observations, which came under the same category of objection as had been advanced against the noble Earl. There was much truth in the saying, that the person who was his own advocate had not always the wisest man for his client, and he thought that the exposition of the Governor-general did not go against the proverb; his defence of his only policy was no exception to the general rule, There was no expediency in the policy which he had pursued; there was no justice in the policy which he had pursued; it was in complete dereliction of every ordinary rule of reason. The declaration in the Governor-general's proclamation, that because Persia had behaved ill, it was necessary to dethrone the King of Caubul, put him in mind of a quotation used by the noble Lord, the Governor-general, in a speech of his own, when he used this illustration—"You may well say, that it is Stoney Stratford, for I was never so bitten by fleas in my life." The one was, one was as bad logic as the other. In his opinion, such a proclamation ought not to have been published; it was, he believed, contrary to the usual course in India. The noble Viscount was very free in his advice as to the duties of noble Lords on the opposite side of the House; but the noble Viscount seemed to have forgotten on that (the Ministerial) side the duties he learnt on the other; and when he again sat on the opposite side—how soon that might be he (Lord Brougham) could not tell—he would doubtless forget again the advice as to those duties which he had given from his present side.
§ Viscount Melbourne
had complained of his noble and learned Friend on the first day of the Session for pronouncing judgment, and for having made up his mind upon a case without waiting for any information; but his complaint against the noble Earl was of a very different nature—he complained that the noble Earl, after having read some papers, pronounced a strong opinion, though he admitted that he had not made up his mind, and that subsequent information might cause him to alter his sentiments. With respect to the proclamation, the noble and learned Lord found fault with its terms, and he also found fault with its 870 publication. He did not know whether that course were usual in Indian affairs, but they must leave the propriety of ordering the publication to the determination of the Governor-general, who had a better opportunity of forming a judgment as to its expediency than their Lordships; and, in the absence of information, he trusted to the indulgence and allowance of the House not to condemn the Governor-general's conduct. As to what he should do when he was on the other side of the House, it would be quite time enough to settle when he got there.
quite agreed with the noble Viscount in his last observation; and he would no doubt fulfil his intentions when he got on the other side; for the noble Viscount would never address his mind to the consideration of that point till he should be compelled by necessity, He had not objected to the publication of the declaration, but to the thing published; his objection was not to the manner of doing it, but to the thing done.
said, there were two the Governor-general in India; whether it was justifiable, and the other was, whether it was politic. They might assume, from the evidence already produced, that the conduct was a folly; it remained for the evidence to be produced, to determine whether it were a crime.
§ The Earl of Ripon
said, that not only our Minister at the Court of Teheran, but also that the different members of the mission had quitted Persia, and that we had likewise taken forcible possession of the Island of Karak. He wished, therefore, to ask, whether Sir Henry Bethune—who was styled a Major-general in Persia, though he believed, that he did not hold that rank in England, and who had received a salary of £.2,000 a-year from England, and the assistance of some engineers, for the purpose of assisting Persia and teaching her soldiers, notwithstanding the removal of our Minister, notwithstanding the withdrawal of the other members of the mission, and notwithstanding the differences which existed—would still assist Persia, and would still receive from this country £.2,000 a-year salary?
§ Viscount Melbourne
said, that whether the officer alluded to had actually withdrawn from the service or not, he could not tell; but unquestionably, if the differ- 871 ences were not settled, the salary would cease.
§ Motion withdrawn.