§ LORD CHELMSFORD
said, he wished to put a Question to the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, of which he had given him notice, relative to the Abyssinian prisoners; and he was induced, to do so in consequence of an article that had appeared in The Pall Mall Gazette, but principally in order that if possible the relatives of those unhappy persons might obtain some satisfactory or at least authentic information about them. The article to which he referred was published in The Pall Mall Gazette on the 25th May, and Was in the following terms:—We briefly announced yesterday that intelligence had been received from Massowah up to the 28th April. To-day we are enabled to give a few details respecting the unfortunate captives. These details are communicated in a letter from Mr. Fladd, at Gaffat, who writes very discouragingly of the present condition and prospects of the prisoners. It appears that King Theodorus, after experiencing a reverse in Shoa, came in haste to Magdala, procured reinforcements and guns, and returned to that country. While at Magdala he spoke harshly to the prisoners, and before leaving ordered a change for the worse in their treatment. Mr. Fladd's letter is dated March 16, and contains the following extract from a note addressed to him by Mr. Stern:—As it appears that they have quite forgotten us in Europe, nothing remains for us but to prepare ourselves for the worst—a miserable death.'Under these circumstances he wished to ask the noble Earl, What was the date of the latest intelligence he had received from Abyssinia, and what was the account then given of the condition of the prisoners? He also wished to know whether Mr. Rassam still continued at Massowah, or contemplated returning to Aden; probably also the noble Earl would not object to inform him whether any steps had been taken to send any other mission for the purpose of approaching the Emperor; and, if so, whether it would be accompanied by any presents?
§ EARL RUSSELL
was understood to say, that the latest accounts received from Abyssinia by Her Majesty's Government were up to the 28th April, when Mr. Rassam wrote that he had sent several messengers to the Emperor, and that the 1044 rumours of additional hardships imposed upon the prisoners did not appear to be well founded. At that date Mr. Rassam was still waiting to fulfil his mission.
§ LORD CHELMSFORD
asked whether, if further information reached the Foreign Office, there would be any objection to communicate it?