HL Deb 09 March 1866 vol 181 cc1788-9

The noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has, I understand, just received a telegram relating to the captives in Abyssinia. I think it will be a source of great satisfaction and comfort to the friends and relatives of the prisoners if his Lordship can communicate any intelligence that can encourage any hope of a speedy termination of their long and severe sufferings.


Owing to the great interest the noble and learned Lord opposite has taken in the fate of the Abyssinian prisioners, I informed him last night that I had received a telegram whilst sitting in this House, and I communicated to my noble and learned Friend the substance of its contents. My noble and learned Friend said that, as the information would afford comfort to the friends of the captives, he thought it would be desirable that I should state it publicly to-day; and I have, therefore, brought it down. It is— Information was received last night from Cairo that Mr. Rassam had written on the 28th of December to Colonel Staunton (our Consul General in Egypt) to the effect that, two days previously, he had got a letter from King Theodore, by which Mr. Rassam was invited to go to the King's Court. The King had sent an escort to accompany him, and had given him every facility for the journey. Mr. Rassam intended to start on the above date, and calculated to meet the King on or before the 10th of January. Things look promising, and the King's messenger gave every hope of the speedy liberation of the captives. Of course, until the prisoners have been actually set at liberty, we cannot be quite sure of their fate; but certainly things look hopeful and promising.


I quite agree with the noble Earl that there is no certainty on the subject.