HL Deb 03 March 1881 vol 259 cc49-131

, in rising to move the following Resolution:— That nothing in the information laid before this House justifies the announced policy of Her Majesty's Government in regard to Candahar, said: My Lords, I rise for the purpose of moving the Resolution of which I have given lengthened Notice. My Lords, it is not without a deep sense of responsibility that I ask your Lordships to place upon record this expression of opinion. The security of the Queen's great Empire in India is an object which all British statesmen must have equally at heart, and in the promotion of that object I do not attribute any monopoly of patriotism to either side of this House. Deeply as I deplore—and I do most deeply deplore—the intention announced by Her Majesty's Ministers with regard to Candahar, still I am persuaded that it does at least represent their conscientious estimate of what they consider sufficient for the attainment of an end which their Predecessors in Office no less conscientiously endeavoured to attain by stronger and more far-reaching measures. If this intention had been irrevocably carried out, I should have shrunk from suggesting to others those causes for anxiety which it certainly creates in my own mind. But, fortunately, both for the safety of India and the honour of England, that intention, although the announcement of it has been reiterated, is not yet carried out; and in the situation it concerns there is much which seems likely to render both difficult and dangerous any immediate attempt to carry it out. In these circumstances, there is still time for further inquiry and reflection; and I confess I am not altogether without hope that if, on full examination of it, your Lordships should be led to the conclusion that the difficulties and dangers of this situation are of a permanent rather than a temporary character, Her Majesty's Ministers may even still be induced to re-consider a decision at which they appear to have arrived upon, to say the least, a very rapid and summary survey of the circumstances affected by it and the authorities opposed it. My Lords, whatever view may be taken of the policy which induced the late Go- vernment of India to maintain a permanent and powerful military control over Western Afghanistan, I can assure your Lordships that this was, at least, the deliberate determination of a unanimous Administration, acting upon the no less unanimous advice of all the most competent authorities in India at that time. It was not the arbitrary fiat of a Viceroy or a Secretary of State. It was wholly uninfluenced by the passions of Parties or the humours of persons; and it was not a hasty decision. It cost the late Government of India a much longer time to arrive at this decision than it has taken Her Majesty's Ministers to announce their intention of reversing it. On all the grounds of it, there was a complete unanimity of conviction between the Supreme Government of India and the two great Frontier Governments of the Punjaub and Bombay. Indeed, I doubt whether in the whole history of Indian Administration the action of the Governor General in Council has ever been supported on a question of equal importance by a stronger or more authoritative body of opinion in India itself. But, my Lords, this is not all. Your Lordships will remember that at the time when the Queen assumed the Imperial title in India, Her Majesty was pleased to mark her confidence in the loyalty of the Feudatory Courts by appointing many of their Rulers to be Imperial Councillors to the Suzerain Power. Now, this question of Candahar concerns all the interests of India, regarded as an Imperial whole; and I cannot imagine a question upon which the Viceroy might, with greater advantage or propriety, place himself in personal communication with those Princely representatives of Native sentiment and opinion in India. I do not mean to say that it is always possible, or even advisable, to treat Asiatic questions from a purely Asiatic point of view; but I do say it is most advisable to endeavour to ascertain that point of view, and not to underrate the practical importance of it in dealing with such questions. Be that as it may, I did personally and confidentially discuss this question with all the chief Feudatory Princes of Northern and Central India; and I do not hesitate to say that our policy respecting Candahar was in accordance with the opinions they expressed to me about it. As regards Native opinion in the Provinces under our own immediate administration, I could pass hours, were it worth while to do so, in reading to your Lordships both public addresses and private letters expressing, on the part of all classes of the Native community of British India, their sympathetic approval of our policy on the subject of Candahar. And, lastly, I will remind your Lordships that Her Majesty has upon the North-West Frontier of her Indian Empire, besides the Ameer of Cabul, another great neighbour—a neighbour whose interests are vitally concerned in the retention or abandonment of Candahar. That neighbour is the Khan of Khelat, our loyal and useful ally. Well, my Lords, the Khan of Khelat has repeatedly evinced his lively satisfaction on account of our policy about Candahar; and, since my return to this country, I have received from His Highness a letter, expressing his hope that it will not be disturbed. My Lords, I will not dwell any longer upon this aspect of the question. I trust I have said enough to satisfy your Lordships that the retention of our military control over Western Afghanistan is a policy advised by all the most competent authorities in India, approved by Native as well as European opinion in that country, and congenial to the only Asiatic ally upon whose active loyalty you can confidently reckon, so long as you do not disregard the protection of his interests in the prosecution of your own. Surely such a policy ought not to be set aside without grave consideration and convincing evidence of the obligation to abandon it. And, in point of fact, my Lords, not long before the announcement made to us in the gracious Speech from the Throne, this was the opinion apparently entertained—it was certainly the opinion publicly expressed—by the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for India. All attempts to elicit from him any premature declaration of policy on the subject of Candahar were repelled, and I think most properly repelled, by the noble Marquess. He pointed out that the new Government and the new Viceroy had only just come into Office; that they found themselves confronted with facts and considerations, not previously familiar to them, which it would be their duty to study very carefully, in consultation with their political and military advisers in India; and that, until all the facts and opinions bearing on this question had been laid before them and seriously examined, Her Majesty's Government could not form, still less could they express, any decision about Candahar. That was, I think, a sound, a statesmanlike, and an honourable statement of the position of the present Government, and of its responsibilities in reference to this question. But how has that statement been carried out? I think your Lordships would like to know, and, on a question so vital to their interests, I think that the people of India and of England are entitled to know, what is the opinion of the new Viceroy, and what is the advice tendered to Lord Ripon by his Councillors in India. To these questions the Government have vouchsafed us no reply. Pressed by an increasing public opinion to show some ground for what appeared to be a foregone conclusion arrived at without reference to the Government of India, Her Majesty's Ministers have, at the ninth hour, produced certain documents—and what are they? They have laid before your Lordships a very lengthy Minute of my own, written three years ago, previous to the first Afghan campaign, before a shot had been fired in Afghanistan, and at a time when the Government of India was not only most anxious, but still hopeful to avoid hostilities with the Ameer of that country. Now, in this Minute I reviewed from a general, and, I may say, a confidential standpoint, a variety of hypothetical contingencies; but I did not review, because I could not review, the situation that did subsequently arise—that situation with which the Government of India had to deal—and with which it has still to deal—with especial reference to Candahar after Candahar has been twice conquered by British troops, after a British Mission has been massacred at Cabul, and after the discovery at Cabul of those most sinister documents which are now upon the Table of this House. I have no personal objection to the publication of this Minute; but I need hardly point out to your Lordships that it was intended for confidential consideration by my Advisers and by the Cabinet of England. This is the first time that I have ever heard of a Government publishing, for the information of foreign Powers, the confidential discussions and speculations of its own authorities about its means of international defence and attack. Therefore, although I have no personal objection to the publication of that Minute, I must say that I think its publication was not a necessary, that it was not a wise, and certainly that it was not a patriotic act on the part of Her Majesty's Government. In addition to this document Her Majesty's Government have furnished us with a series of lucubrations by a gentleman who I believe was once, many years ago, a Judge at Bombay, and who never in the whole course of his life, so far as I know, was directly concerned in the responsible Administration of India, or intrusted with any responsible employment on the Frontier. They have also given us a variety of opinions by other gentlemen not connected with the Government of India. Some of these gentlemen are no doubt men of ability, and one of them is an officer of great eminence and deserved reputation acquired from his successful conduct of campaigns, not in India, but in Africa. But all these gentlemen, whatever their ability, labour under an essential disqualification for giving any authoritative opinion on the precise question before your Lordships, because they, one and all of them, are destitute of any recent local or personal experience in regard to the circumstances which have created this question, and with which the Government of India has been dealing in reference to it. No doubt the noble Duke the Lord Privy Seal has told your Lordships that the contemplated action of Her Majesty's Government as to Candahar is in accordance with the opinions of former Viceroys, and also of former Secretaries of State for India—himself being one of the latter. Now, I do not yield to the noble Duke or to any one of my countrymen in my feeling of veneration for the great men who in former times have governed India; and I listened with amazement to the denunciations of the noble Duke when last month in this House he accused me personally of having gone out to India expressing myself, as he said, in terms of condemnation and contempt towards all former Viceroys from Lord Auckland to Lord Northbrook. Since the noble Duke made that statement I have referred to every one of my public utterances both in India and England, upon Indian affairs, and I defy the noble Duke to find in any one of them a single syllable that can in the least degree warrant such an accusation. This, my Lords, is a very small matter, and perhaps I ought to apologize for noticing it; but I should feel myself unworthy to stand here and appeal to your judgment on a question of the greatest national importance if, on any previous occasion, I had been guilty of the vanity and folly attributed to me by the noble Duke. I hope, however, that it is not inconsistent with due respect to former Viceroys to say that the question we are now concerned with, and the particular circumstances which have forced that question on the Government of India and the Government of England, had not arisen in the time of former Viceroys, and could not possibly have engaged the practical attention of those eminent men. Former Viceroys were not called upon to deal with the established influence of the Government of Russia at Cabul; they were not called upon, under immense responsibilities, to study those Russian revelations which we have found at Cabul; and surely the known opinions of all the most competent and responsible authorities in India who have been practically dealing with these circumstances and this question during the last five years ought not to be invalidated by a vague reference to the opinions of former Viceroys and former Secretaries of State in regard to essentially different circumstances and a totally different situation. I must say, moreover, that the great importance which has been attached by the noble Duke opposite to the opinions of eminent men no longer personally concerned in the government of India or its affairs appears to me difficult to reconcile with the reason lately given by the noble Viscount (Viscount Enfield) for withholding so long from the knowledge of this House and the country the very strong opinion expressed on this precise question by my noble Friend the late Commander-in-Chief in India. The noble Duke told us that the Government did not think it worth while to furnish us with the opinion of Lord Napier of Magdala on this question, because he was no longer personally connected with the military or the political affairs of the North-West Frontier of India. But was the late Lord Lawrence so connected with those affairs at the time when his opinions, ex- pressed more than 20 years ago, were so vehemently invoked by noble Lords opposite, and so vociferously proclaimed from every Radical platform, by all the drummers and trumpeters of their party? No, my Lords! of the terrible mandate issued by Her Majesty's Ministers for the repudiation of British pledges, and the virtual destruction of British influence, in Afghanistan, there is only one intelligible explanation. It is the only explanation in regard to which Her Majesty's Government have not shifted their ground between finance and morals; it is the only explanation on which they have constantly laid stress, and to which they have appealed with a great appearance of pride; and, therefore, I do them no injustice if I assume that this explanation represents the real motive of their contemplated action in regard to Candahar. It cannot be doubted that the means placed in the hands of the Government of India to exercise from Candahar a powerful military control over Western Afghanistan represents one of the most important results of the late Afghan War. But the present Ministers, before they came into Office, before they had any opportunity of studying the facts, the origin, and the circumstances of that war, or the situation in regard to which it should be practically considered, pledged themselves—not, my Lords, to the people of India, not to the people of England, but to the most violent and most ignorant of their own political supporters, to treat that Afghan War, if they could, as an interpolated record in the authentic pages of the history of India—a record to be torn out or obliterated, if possible, by reverting, regardless of its existence, to what? To their old policy, with its old results, to the old reliance upon Russian promises, with the old confidence in Afghan friendship, the old faith in English inactivity, associated in their recollection with those palmy days when the lion and the lamb lay down together, under the joint administration of the noble Duke opposite and the noble Earl the late Viceroy of India. My Lords, believing, as I do, that this Golden Age is a fiction, I am perfectly content to place the whole question of Candahar upon the issue of its historical truth. That issue has been greatly simplified by an important admission lately elicited from Her Majesty's Ministers, who have now told us, not only that they do not dispute, but that they unreservedly, endorse the principle laid down by every Indian administrator, and by every British statesman, that Russian influence in Afghanistan is in-compatible with British power in India, and that, even at any cost, it must be excluded or counteracted. That being the case, the expediency of retaining or abandoning Candahar is narrowed from a question of principle to a question of fact. If, as a matter of fact, the policy to which Her Majesty's Government is now so confidently reverting did succeed in excluding or counteracting Russian influence in Afghanistan, then, notwithstanding the events and revelations of the last five years, there is a primâ facie case for reverting to that policy, and resting content with its results. But if, on the other hand, that policy wholly failed, upon the fullest and fairest trial, to achieve this result; if, as a matter of fact, it actually facilitated the establishment of Russia's influence in Afghanistan, and if I can satisfy your Lordships that such influence is a serious danger to the British power in India, then I think there will be very few noble Lords who will not share the feeling of extreme alarm with which I contemplate this reversion to the principles and results of it. Let us come to facts. The discussion of them is further simplified by the noble Earl the First Lord of the Admiralty, who has told your Lordships that, during the whole period of his Viceroyalty, he had no reason whatever to suppose that the Russian Government was seeking any influence in Afghanistan, or that the action of its Central Asian authorities was in the least degree incompatible with a loyal observance of its engagement towards our own Government. I listened to that statement with great surprise. My impressions are materially at variance with those of the noble Earl. I have the strongest possible reason to suppose, and not only to suppose, but to assert most positively, that the whole period of the noble Earl's Viceroyalty was marked by incessant and successful efforts on the part of the Russian authorities to establish an illegitimate influence in Afghanistan; and I further assert that this influence was constantly directed towards the formation of a Russo-Afghan Alliance for purposes which, if they could have been carried out, would have shattered the whole fabric of British power in India. What I assert I trust I shall be able to prove to the satisfaction of your Lordships without detaining your attention at any inordinate length upon this preliminary, but essential, point. Your Lordships will doubtless recollect that Russia's engagement not to seek any influence in Afghanistan was given in 1869. The attempts of her authorities to acquire such an influence commenced as early as the spring of the following year. They began with a complimentary letter from General Kaufmann, answered by the Ameer in terms dictated by the Viceroy of India, who was then Lord Mayo, and who, naturally enough, saw nothing in that letter to object to or complain of. But, my Lords, the Correspondence, thus commenced by the Russian Governor General, gradually, indeed I might say rapidly, assumed a more practical and significant character. And in the summer of 1872 he addressed to the Ameer of Cabul a communication about the boundaries of Bokhara, which caused considerable sensation in the Cabul Durbar. The Ameer was seriously alarmed by that communication. He lost no time in forwarding to the Viceroy a confidential message, in which he expressed his anxiety and apprehension about Russia's apparent designs upon Khiva; and he appealed to the British Government to protect him from the attempts of the Russian authorities to establish regular and frequent communication with Afghanistan. Well, my Lords, this appeal was made to the British Government in 1872; and, in reply to it, the Ameer was advised to thank General Kaufmann for the friendly sentiments of a letter which had caused His Highness so much uneasiness. Thus encouraged General Kaufmann continued his correspondence; and, in the autumn of the same year, the Russian officer acting for him at Tashkend informed the Afghan Governor of Balkh, at the desire of the Russian Government— That the friendly relations subsisting between the Russians and the Afghans should become more firm and consolidated daily."—[Central Asia, No. 1. (1881). pp. 7–8.] My Lords, pray consider this expression. Firm and consolidated relations between the Russians, and a State excluded from the sphere of their influence! On this the Cabul Durbar observed— Notwithstanding the Russians are well aware that the Government of Afghanistan is united with the British Government, they openly write unsolicited letters for the promotion of their friendship with Afghanistan, and do not relax in the frequency of their communications on the subject. The Ameer, however, was again informed by the Viceroy that the British Government in nowise shared, or approved, his dissatisfaction at the increasing frequency and significance of these unsolicited communications. His Highness, consequently, ceased to consult the British Government about them; and in the winter of 1873 the acting Governor General of Russian Turkestan appears to have considered himself in a position to address Shore Ali as a subordinate ally of the Russian Government. I entertain the hope," he wrote, "that the High Governor General will not refuse your request, and that he will represent to His Majesty the Emperor your conscientious mode of action and your endeavour to become worthy of the grace of my august Master."—[Ibid., p. 8.] Worthy, my Lords, of the grace of a potentate from whose influence we, in our innocence, understood the Ameer's dominions to be solemnly excluded! Well, at the close of that year the Ameer's disregarded apprehensions had been justified by the Russian conquest of Khiva. From the Governor General of British India, to whom he had so recently confided those apprehensions, he received no communication whatever on the realization of them. But he did receive from the Governor General of Russian Turkestan a long communication on this subject. It was followed by a significant change in the tone of his own communications with the Viceroy, whom the Ameer then, for the first time, addressed in a form forbidden by established etiquette, and for which no precedent could be found in our Indian archives. My Lords, while Shore Ali was thus beginning to display his estrangement from the Government of India, these are the terms in which he was being addressed by the Government of Russian Turkestan in the spring of 1874— I hope that after your death Sirdar Abdulla Tan will follow your example, and make himself an ally and friend of the Emperor."—[Ibid., p. 10.] The ally and friend, that is, of a Power pledged to treat Afghanistan as a State entirely beyond the sphere of its influence! Why, what more than a friend and ally could the Ameer have been to the British Government? This letter was quickly followed up by another from General Kaufmann himself on the same subject. The Russian Governor General writes— I hope that the chain of friendship now existing between Russia and Afghanistan will in future increase and become firm, owing to the recent alliance between the Emperor of Russia and the Queen of England. And he adds— I doubt not that this alliance of the two Powers will be an omen for those countries which, under the protection of the Emperor of Russia and the Queen of England, live in great peace and comfort."—[Ibid., p. 10.] And the writer adds that he is in a position to assure the Ameer that the British Government is well disposed towards His Highness. My Lords, to European ears these words may sound unimportant, although, no doubt, your Lordships will appreciate the skill with which a matrimonial alliance between two reigning Houses is here represented as a political alliance between two Empires—an alliance, moreover, having special reference to the treatment of Afghanistan by the Allied Governments. Nor need I dwell upon the significant anxiety to convey to the Ameer of Cabul assurances which would have come, to say the least, more naturally from the Viceroy of India. But Orientals are accustomed to study phraseology of this kind with the utmost nicety, and to read between the lines suggestions of what "more is meant than meets the ear." Upon receiving this letter the Cabul Durbar observed—"The Russian Government has now made itself partner in the protection of Afghanistan." Whatever; impression this letter may have been intended to convey, that is the impression that it did actually convey; that is the impression which the Ameer of Cabul communicated to the Government of India; and as that impression was left uncorrected by the Government of India, it naturally continued to influence the Ameer's appreciation of his position. My Lords, if this incessant talk about chains of friendship, and firm and consolidated relations, was in anywise compatible with the plain terms of the Russian engagement of 1869, surely that engagement is not worth the paper it was written on. I am not aware that the British Government is under any similar engagement to regard Khiva and Bokhara as excluded from the sphere of its in finance; although, as a matter of fact, we do not interfere in the affairs of those countries. But if the Government of India, or its Frontier authorities, allowed themselves to send constant messages and letters to the Princes of Khiva and Bokhara, exhorting them to become worthy of the grace of our August Mistress, by strengthening the chain of our friendship and alliance with them, can any of your Lordships doubt that the Russian Government would call upon the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to put a stop to such provocative proceedings? For my part, I am persuaded that the demand would be peremptory, and that the noble Earl would promptly and courteously comply with it. And more than this, my Lords; I feel no doubt that if Lord Lawrence had been Viceroy in 1872 and 1873, he would have then considered it just as necessary to protect Afghanistan from the obtrusive patronage of Russia as it was, he said, in 1868 to protect that State from her far less probable, and far less dangerous, hostility.

My Lords, we have heard from the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, on the authority of the Russian Ambassador in London, that these terms, "friendship and alliance" do not really mean friendship and alliance; that, in fact, they do not exactly mean anything at all; and that we are to regard them as extraordinary mistranslations. Now, I must ask leave to remind your Lordships that the letters in which these terms occur, and they occur in all the Russian letters to Shore Ali, were written in Persian. Those letters have been translated over and over again by a series of experts in India; and I am loth to believe that the Government of India is so ill-served that its officials are more ignorant of the Persian language than are those of the Russian Government at Taskhend. But one thing is certain—whatever these terms were meant to imply, they were interpreted by the Ameer of Cabul, to whom they were addressed, as meaning friendship and alliance in the fullest and most practical sense of such words.

But here, my Lords, I must notice an event which I cannot but regard as the turning point—the fatal turning point—in our relations with Afghanistan. In the year 1873 Shore Ali reviewed his position. There was much in it which, rightly or wrongly, he regarded with avowed dissatisfaction and increasing anxiety.

He had the wisdom to perceive in time that Afghanistan, or, at least, its Ruler, could not permanently stand alone in a condition of complete independence and isolation between the British and Russian Empires. He saw one Power apologizing and advancing, the other expostulating and standing still. And he saw that, sooner or later, he must practically throw in his lot with that Power which might prove, not only best able, but also most willing, to befriend and assist him. Recent events had convinced him that the time was at hand when his final choice must be made. He had also the shrewdness to see that the alliance of a wild, warlike State like Afghanistan, lying between the no longer distant bounds of their respective Empires, would be a political acquisition of considerable value to either England or Russia, and that he was in a position to offer it to the highest bidder. He offered it first to the British Government, with a result which disappointed his expectation; and Russia, who was obviously the best able, proved also the most willing, to make the highest bid for it. If he joined her in a quarrel with us, she could offer him the re-conquest of half the Punjaub, the plunder of Peshawur, and perhaps a slice of Persia. If he joined us in a quarrel with her, what could we offer him on the other hand? Absolutely nothing, except this—the guaranteed and unconditional assurance that we would, against all corners and in all eventualities, maintain for him what he already possessed; and even this guarantee the noble Earl in consultation with the noble Duke declined to give him. When Shore Ali found himself placed in that position—when he saw that the British Government declined to give him the assurance he asked for—when he saw that the Viceroy of India was painfully afraid of giving the slightest umbrage to the Russian Government—when he saw the authorities of the Russian Government so reckless of the susceptibilities and rights of the British Government—is it surprising that he should then have lent a willing, and afterwards a greedy, ear to the constant assurances he was receiving from Tashkend of Russia's desire to consolidate and tighten with him what General Kaufmann correctly called "the chain of her friendship?"—that chain which ultimately dragged both the Ameer of Cabul and the Government of India into the sea of trouble he himself had in vain foreseen! One thing is perfectly certain—that the Ameer of Cabul lost no opportunity of publicly venting his disappointment and resentment at the result of his overtures to the Government of India. Nothing has more astonished me, in all previous discussions of our relations with Afghanistan, than the scant attention paid to the attitude of the Ameer towards the noble Earl who was then Viceroy of India after the summer of 1873. Before that time the Ameer of Cabul had promised Lord Mayo to en-courage by all means in his power free intercourse between his subjects and ours. And he had talked of establishing great fairs for that purpose. I need scarcely say that he did nothing of the kind. But what did he do instead? He hermetically sealed his dominions to us, and maltreated his own subjects whenever he suspected them of intercourse with ours. The former Government of India had virtually constituted him sole guardian of the main passes into India by intrusting to him arrangements, which he undertook to carry out on our behalf, with the Pass Tribes, for keeping them permanently open to us. But, instead of doing this, he used his influence with those tribes to induce them to keep the passes permanently closed against us. Regardless of the repeated remonstrances of the Punjaub Government, he courted forbidden relations with the States to the East of Cabul. He curtly refused to the noble Earl (the Earl of Northbrook) a passage through his dominions for a British Envoy, bound on a peaceful errand, to a neighbouring State. In spite of all these evidences of ill-will and hostility, the noble Earl continued to press upon him pecuniary assistance; and this he contemptuously rejected, leaving it untouched and unacknowledged in the Indian Treasuries.

This being the condition of the relations between Cabul and the Government of India at the time of which I am speaking, a great change occurred two years later, as far as its relations with the Russian Government were concerned. In the month of September, 1875, an Envoy from the Russian Governor General in Turkestan arrived at Cabul, and the Russian Government was from that time forward permanently represented to all intents and purposes at Cabul by incessant relays of special Envoys, the one always arriving before the other departed. The business of these Envoys could not be ascertained, for it was not transacted like that of our own Vakeel, openly, and in public Durbar, but secretly and at midnight with the Ameer himself. We are now told that these Envoys are not to be regarded as Russian Envoys, because they were not European, but Native subjects, and servants of the Russian Emperor. But really, my Lords, I cannot see that this makes any practical difference. Whether these gentlemen came from Bokhara or St. Petersburg, they were the agents of Russia, and were sent to Cabul in order to represent there the authority of the Russian Government, and to establish its influence. The Government of India was informed by its officiating Commissioner at Peshawur that— The meaning of these frequent communications from Russia is obviously to establish friendly relations with the Afghans, and gain them over to an alliance with Russia. As soon as one agent is preparing to take his departure, another conies. My Lords, I cannot think your Lordships will deem it unreasonable to connect these prolonged secret negotiations with the subsequent open despatch and reception of General Stolieteff's Mission; or to assume, as I did assume, and do assume, that they had some deeper object than a mere exchange of civilities between one Government and another, wholly excluded from the sphere of its legitimate influence. A Russian Envoy was at the Court of Shore Ali when I arrived in India; and I feel not a shadow of a doubt that, from the date I have mentioned, the Ameer was acting towards us under the established influence of Russian advice. And so matters went on, till the arrival of General Stolieteff at Cabul for the open conclusion of a Russo-Afghan Alliance against India. Upon the proceedings of General Stolieteff, and the advice given by him to the Ameer, I shall say nothing to-night. They are now known to your Lordships, and they speak for themselves. But I must refer to one commentary made upon them by the Ameer himself, as bearing upon the Peshawur Conference. At the time when our Envoy was in peaceful communication with the Amour's Envoy, for the purpose of endeavouring to improve our relations with His Highness, that Prince was exhorting not only his subjects but his neighbours to prepare for a jehad against our rule in India—and I need not say that a jehad, being a religious war, is one of the most cruel and fanatical character. In September, 1878, however, when, from those who had promised him a permanent dominion at Peshawur, Shore Ali was obliged to crave a temporary lodging at St. Peters-burgh, he published a Firman to his subjects explaining the advice of Russia, upon which he was acting. In this Fir-man he quotes a letter written to him. by General Stolieteff from Livadia, and containing these words— Like last year, you are to treat them (the English) with deceit and deception until the present cold season passes away; then the will of the Almighty will be made manifest to you—that is to say, the Russian Government having repeated the Bismillah, the Bismillah will come to your assistance."—[Central Asia, No. 1. (1881). p. 24.] My Lords, what is the meaning of this allusion to "last year?"— Like last year, you are to treat them with deceit and deception until the present cold season passes away: What does this mean? Why, it can have but one meaning, and that meaning is plain. It means this—"The advice we give you now is the same as the advice we gave you last year, and on which you then acted so successfully at the Peshawur Conference. You must do now what you did then—engage time British Government in a deceptive and abortive negotiation for peace, in order to gain time for the preparation of war."

And now, my Lords, allow me to recapitulate the conclusions which appear to me established by the facts to which I have solicited your attention. On the strength of these facts I affirm once more that Russian influence at Cabul did not commence with the Stolieteff Mission, and that it did not cease with the withdrawal of that Mission. I affirm that for all practical purposes the late Ameer of Cabul had ceased to be the friend and ally of England, and that he had virtually become the friend and ally of Russia, at least three years before I had any dealings with His Highness, or any connection with the Government of India. I affirm that the sole cause of the late Afghan War was a Russian intrigue of long duration, for purposes which it was the imperative duty of the Government of India to oppose at any cost. And, finally, I affirm that the establishment of Russian influence was caused by the collapse and paralysis of British influence at Cabul, and that this was the natural result of that deplorable policy to which Her Majesty's Government are now so eagerly reverting.

My Lords, all duties are reciprocal; and in face of the Russian engagement of 1869, one of two positions must be accepted by any British Government. Either that engagement leaves us responsible for the Ameer's conduct towards his other neighbours, or it does not. If it does, we must have, and use, the means of controlling conduct for the consequences of which we are responsible. If it does not, then the Ameer's other neighbours are clearly entitled to enforce against him, without any reference to us, his full responsibility for conduct affecting their interests. And, in doing this, his Russian neighbours may be compelled to enforce the influence of their power up to the very gates of India. Unless, therefore, we are willing as well as able to exercise in Afghanistan a paramount influence, involving an acknowledged responsibility, we forfeit the right to exclude Russian influence from that country, and the engagement of 1869 becomes a mischievous fiction, for neither can we enforce, nor Russia fulfil, the terms of it. This was fully, though fruitlessly, pointed out by Shore Ali, when in 1873 he said to our Cabul Agent— Great anxiety weighs on me day and night, and I am not relieved in any moment from it, that the juxtaposition of boundaries with Russia will involve difficulty in making provision for the security of the borders in the interest of both Governments. And again— Time has approached very near when the Russians … will make communications for exercising some influence in my kingdom. It is as clear as daylight that, as soon as the Russians will take possession of Merv Shah Jehan, the Turcomans will necessarily take refuge in Badghees in Herat; and then he added— Under these circumstances, such difficulty will present itself to me that even the British Government with regard to the interests of the Afghan and British Governments being identical, will have to adopt very serious measures for its removal."—[Afghanistan, No. 1, (1878) p. 111.] My Lords, this reference by the Ameer of Cabul to the probable result of a Russian occupation of Merv reminds me of a duty I owe to my right hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies. I regret very much that in some former remarks of mine I attributed to Mr. Grant Duff an opinion which he has not expressed and does not entertain. The opinion repeatedly expressed on this subject by Mr. Grant Duff is not—as I then erroneously supposed—that Russia's occupation of Merv would send a thrill to the heart of India, but that Merv is the first point at which Russian and British interests would come remotely into contact; that Merv lies inconveniently close to Herat, and that if Russia, having advanced to Merv, were to threaten Herat, it would then become our duty to go to war with her all over the world for the protection of Herat. My Lords, my divergence from the opinions of my right hon. Friend is less than my admiration for the clearness and candour with which he has recorded them. I do not think that Russia, if established at Merv, would threaten Herat, for she would have no cause to do so. But, without beating a drum, or firing a shot, her presence at Merv would silently, swiftly, and irresistibly establish at Herat that influence which, in the opinion of Liberal statesmen, must impose on us the exceedingly disagreeable, and probably very inconvenient, duty of going to war with her all over the world. This would be the inevitable result of such contiguity between an Asiatic population at Herat, and a great European Power so inconveniently close to Herat. But surely, my Lords, prevention is better than cure. Surely it is wiser and safer to stay at Candahar, whence we can exclude Russian influence from Herat by peaceably extending our own influence in that direction, than to retire to the Indus, and there passively await an event which is to involve us in a great European war for the purpose of undoing what could not otherwise have been done in a remote corner of Asia. The noble Duke (the Lord Privy Seal) has expressed his astonishment at the prodigious importance I now attach to the retention of Candahar, because, he says, I did not hold this opinion till a late period of my Viceroyalty. That is true—I did not. But, in the statement which elicited this remark, I thought I had explained the reason why. I can sincerely assure your Lordships that the late Government of India was not an annexionist Government. As long as we had any reasonable hope of loyalty on the part of Ayoob Khan, or of the observance of the Gandamak Treaty, which gave us moral guarantees of adequate control over Afghanistan, our wish was not to weaken, but to strengthen the Cabul Power; but the whole situation and our duty concerning it were changed irrevocably by the atrocious crime which compelled us to occupy Cabul, and by the revelations discovered at Cabul and now known to your Lordships, of the extent to which Russian influence had penetrated to the very heart of the country.

My Lords, it then seemed to all my Colleagues in the Government of India, and it still seems to me, that the only practical means of counteracting the dangerous consequences of Russian influence at Cabul would be to assume to ourselves over Western Afghanistan a controlling and commanding position, not dependent on the good or bad faith of any Cabul Ruler. Such control can only be exercised from Candahar. The history of the last eight years clearly shows, not merely that the Russian power is approaching, and must approach, to-ward India, but that Russia has long sought, is still seeking, and will continue to seek, great political influence over Afghanistan; that this influence has already found a fulcrum at Cabul; and that it must be a permanent source of disquiet to the British power in India, because it is to Russia the means of disturbing British power in India whenever she wishes to embarrass British policy in Europe. Therefore, for the safety of the British power in India, it is indispensable that the Government of India shall have the means of preventing—at all events, of counteracting—Russian influence in Afghanistan. But how are we to counteract it unless we can exercise in that country a more powerful and certain influence of our own? It is absurd to suppose that you can have any controlling power over a country in which you have no locus standi at all. Now, amongst the arrangements contemplated by Her Majesty's Government after the evacuation of Candahar, where do they expect to find a locus standi in Afghanistan? I cannot see where. The experience of the past few years has certainly proved two things—first, that you cannot exclude Russian influence, wherever you fail to establish British influence, in Afghanistan. Secondly, that you cannot secure the friendship or alliance of any Afghan Ruler by merely leaving him alone; and for this simple reason—no Afghan Ruler wishes to be left alone. He cannot stand alone. No doubt the Afghan Tribes, like all other wild tribes, cherish their independence. But the Ruler of those tribes cannot long remain independent of foreign support. He needs it; he knows that he needs it; and if he does not get from you the support he requires, he will seek it, and probably get it, from Russia. On the other hand, if you give him the support he requires, you incur on his behalf liabilities which you cannot safely accept, or conveniently discharge, without the means of controlling his conduct. And yet, at the same time, if you shrink, as well you may, from such indefinite liabilities—if, like the Government of 1863, you dare not, or will not pledge to them all the support he requires—how can you reasonably expect from him active gratitude for your cheap advice, or confident submission to your timorous control? History has emphatically answered this question. And therefore, my Lords, if you are not prepared to abandon all control over Afghanistan and to yield it up to Russian influence, I say that you must give the Government of India some guarantee—not moral, but substantial and material—that it shall have the means of occupying and keeping in that country the natural and necessary position of a powerful protecting State. That is just the guarantee we have in the possession of Candahar. If we had not had confidence that Her Majesty's Government would not deprive the Government of India of this great security for India's practical independence of the good or ill-will of any Cabul Ruler, we should not have done anything so dangerous as to recommend Her Majesty to recognize as Ruler of Cabul a Prince who is undoubtedly a Russian protégé, who has passed a great period of his life in receipt of Russian hospitality, and who re-entered Afghanistan as an uninvited candidate for the Throne, supported by Russian arms and Russian money.

But it is stated that high military authorities have said that if we give up Candahar we can get it again when we want it. Well, my Lords, I think that that is a very bold assumption. I have no doubt that if you retired now, and wanted to take it again two or three months hence, you could do so with ease; but can you say with confidence that you could take it two or three years hence? Great as are the undisputed strategical advantages of Candahar, the late Government of India did not regard the retention of it primarily, or mainly, as a military question. We felt that it would give us a political and commercial control over Western Afghanistan up to Herat so complete that we might contemplate with unconcern the course of events at Cabul. If you retain Candahar, and hold it firmly and fearlessly, then you may view with indifference the uncertain faith and fate of Cabul Rulers, and the certain advance of the Russian Power. If you retain Candahar, and administer it wisely, you will replace anarchy and bloodshed and difficulty and uncertainty on your own border by peace and prosperity; and if you connect Candahar by rail with the Valley of the Indus, you will be able to sweep the whole commerce of Central Asia, vastly augmented by the beneficent protection of a strong, a settled, and a civilized Government, into the harbours of Kurrachee and Calcutta, and thence into the ports of Liverpool and London. But, my Lords, you cannot do all this unless you retain a garrison in Candahar. And let me remind the House that those who now denounce the occupation of Candahar have been, for four years and upwards, denouncing with even greater vehemence, the occupation of Quetta. Arguments so eagerly adopted in the one case are not likely to be resolutely resisted in the other. Will not the pressure which ends in the abandonment of Candahar be also brought to bear upon Her Majesty's Government till it secures the abandonment of Quetta? Allow me to remind your Lordships of the circumstances which led to the occupation of Quetta and the consequences which have resulted from that measure.

When I reached India in 1876, the Khan of Khelat and his Sirdars were at open war with each other, and the whole Khanate was in complete anarchy. The British Resident had been withdrawn from the Khan's Court, and the subsidy of His Highness had been stopped. He was too poor to bribe, too weak to coerce, his turbulent nobles and hungry tribes. The result was that the whole of our Sindh, and a great portion of our Punjaub, border, were seething with disturbance, and harassed by depredations which we could neither prevent nor punish. The Bolan Pass—then the great trade route between India and Central Asia—was permanently held and closed by robbers. This state of things was so intolerable, that, whilst I was on my way to India, the noble Earl who was then Viceroy had despatched Major Sandeman with a strong military escort, and a general instruction to settle matters, as best he could, in Beloochistan, without any reference to the Ameer of Cabul. To have recalled this important Mission when it had already crossed our border would only have made confusion worse confounded; and I am bound to say that it is mainly owing to the great ability of Sir Robert Sandeman, and not a little to the strength of his military force, that before the close of that year we were fortunately able to re-establish our relations with Khelat on a foundation which has not only relieved the Government of India from all serious anxiety in this direction, but has also proved fruitful in blessings to the Prince and people of the country concerned. The Bolan Pass, then re-opened, has never since been closed. The re-opening of it added two lass of rupees to the income of "that unfortunate man, the Ameer of Cabul." During the Afghan campaign of 1878 not a single British soldier was maintained, or a single robbery committed, in that Pass. Throughout the country villages have been rebuilt, and trade and agriculture not only restored, but powerfully stimulated. The revenues of the Khan, and the wealth of his subjects, have been largely increased; both the Sovereign and the people are contented; and our Khelat border is perfectly quiet. My Lords, the occupation of Quetta was indispensable to this result; for neither could the Khan's legitimate authority be adequately supported, nor could his Sirdars feel any confidence that their own legitimate rights would be adequately respected, without the presence of a British force at, or near, Quetta. The measure was adopted at the joint request of His Highness and his subjects, and it was carried out in accordance with treaty rights of long standing, which were then solemnly reaffirmed. There is only one word I wish to add on this subject. Let me ask your Lordships to consider how terribly the difficulties, the anxieties, and the expenses of the Government of India would have been augmented, if the condition of that country, and of our relations with it, had been in 1878 or in 1880 such as I found them in 1876. And yet, my Lords, it is to the intolerable condition of 1876 that Her Majesty's Government will revert, in their relations with Khelat, if, for the sake of stultifying the policy of their Predecessors, they abandon Quetta. But what reason can be urged for the abandonment of Candahar, which does not equally, and even more forcibly, apply to the abandonment of Quetta?

Her Majesty's Government have told us that they are going to retire from Candahar, and I gathered from the statement made the other day by the noble Viscount the Under Secretary of State for India (Viscount Enfield) that the stampede will not be stopped at Pishin. Will it never be relaxed till it has reached the Indus? Up to the present moment no limit has been put to this policy of surrender and retreat. We can only surmise the unavowed limits, by reference to the avowed principles, of it. We have been told that it proceeds upon the purest principles of morality. But, my Lords, in the abandonment of Quetta the purest principles of morality will be confronted by far fewer practical impediments than those which have, on behalf of such principles, been surmounted by Her Majesty's Government in their decision to abandon Candahar. As regards the abandonment of Candahar, I greatly fear that the reputation of the British Government, in that minor but practical department of morals which belongs to courageous loyalty and scrupulous good faith, will not be saved by the assertion that the Wali of Candahar has spontaneously resigned the charge he accepted in reliance on our support. I fear that throughout India and Central Asia there will be a universal and a lasting impression that the Wali's resignation is only the natural consequence of the announcement made by Her Majesty's Government, that it is not their intention to fulfil the pledges given to him by the late Government of India. And, if Candahar is to be given up, to whom is it to be given? Surely this question ought to have been considered and decided before the intended abandonment of Candahar was publicly proclaimed to all our supporters and well-wishers in Western Afghanistan. But, my Lords, if it was considered and decided, why is the decision of it still withheld, even from the knowledge of those whose personal safety it so terribly concerns? My Lords, whatever policy Her Majesty's Government may prefer to the policy of keeping the pledges bequeathed to their keeping, there is certainly one policy which, in the interests of all concerned, they cannot too promptly abandon before they abandon Candahar itself; and that is the policy of continued indecision and mystery about their ulterior intentions. This may be a very convenient policy to Her Majesty's Government; but it is a very cruel policy to a large number of other human beings. You cannot, without danger as well as humiliation, hand over Candahar to your recent and notoriously inveterate enemy, Ayoob Khan. Will you, then, restore it to Cabul? But if there be one thing more hated than another by the Candaharis, it is the yoke of the Cabul Power. Will you give it to Abdurrahman? He is at present barely able to hold his own in Northern Afghanistan. Abdurrahman may possibly turn out by-and-bye to be the ablest and most loyal ally you have ever had upon your North - Western Frontier. May it be so! But at present you have no certainty that he will be anything of the kind. On the contrary, there is much in his antecedents which ought to restrain any sanguine expectations of that sort. At present you have absolutely no means of insuring his good behaviour; and in future, if you give up Candahar, you will have absolutely no means of punishing his bad behaviour. And this he will know. My Lords, it would surely be no act of true friendship or statesmanship to put Abdurrahman in a position which must augment not only all his present difficulties, but also all the future temptations whereby, if he is ever led to doubt your power or your firmness, as they were doubted by Shore Ali, he will be sure to do what must, as your Lordships well know, bring him sooner or later into conflict with the Government of India.

And yet, my Lords, if Her Majesty's Government do neither of these things, there is absolutely only one alternative open to the policy they have proclaimed. They cannot avoid it; and their victims cannot escape it. Candahar will be left as a prize to be raffled for, or rifled, by every ambitious gamester in the sanguinary lottery of Afghan politics. But what does that involve? It involves the most grievous calamities to a population we have undertaken to protect, and the most serious danger to an Empire of which we are the guardians. It involves the creation of a fervid focus of intrigue and conflict on the most vulnerable point of our own Frontier—intrigue and conflict unrestrained by even the faintest confidence in the good faith of British promises or the steadfast purpose of British power. And are all these calamities to be inflicted, all these interests to be betrayed, all these shameful tragedies to be enacted, in the name of morality? Really, my Lords, one is tempted to re-echo the reproach addressed to Liberty by the victim of her fraudulent executors, and exclaim—"Oh, Morality, what crimes are committed in thy name!"

My Lords, I have little more to say. I have found it impossible to explain the grounds of my appeal to that attention which your Lordships have so indulgently accorded me, without reference to events and circumstances in some of which I have been personally concerned. But it is not in defence of myself, it is in defence of great national interests that I stand here to-night. The question now before your Lordships is not whether the late Government of India was right or wrong in all its action, but whether the present Government of England will be acting rightly or wrongly, if it abandons Candahar. This is the issue raised by the Resolution I submit to you. Allow me to sum up the situation which must be affected by your vote on it. Russia's unavowed, but active, influence in Afghanistan has been steadily increasing ever since the year 1872. The Afghan policy to which Her Majesty's Government are now endeavouring to reverthas not only failed to prevent, but it has practically facilitated, that result. The Afghan policy they refuse to continue has at least bequeathed to them the means of counter- acting that result. If you accept the conclusion admitted by the noble Duke, and affirmed by every Indian statesman, that Afghanistan must on no account be allowed to remain under the forbidden influence of Russia, then, my Lords, for the enforcement of that conclusion you must choose between the retention of Candahar and reliance on the instructions said to have been issued to General Kaufmann "not to do it again." There is no alternative. To talk about developing the internal resources of India is nothing to the point. There is no reason why the continued development of India's internal resources should not proceed pari passu with the consolidation of her external securities. But do not fatten the lamb only to feed the wolf. My Lords, all those whose privilege it is to build up the noble edifice of India's prosperity must be content to labour like the builders of the second Temple—working with one hand, but holding the sword in the other to defend their work.

To me, my Lords, it seems, and I doubt not that to, at least, many of your Lordships it must also appear, that Her Majesty's Ministers inherited from their Predecessors in Office great advantages, and easy duties, on the North-West Frontier of India. They had only to maintain positions already won for them by others, and promises for which they, at least, could not be blamed. What is being done with those positions? What has become of those promises? To both, the good faith of the British Government, and the honoured name of the British Sovereign, were pledged with the sanction of the Constitutional Advisers of the Crown. They constitute, therefore, a great national trust. Some part of that trust has, I fear, been dissipated by its recent guardians. But before it be too late, let us, my Lords, for the sake of India's safety, for the sake of England's honour, endeavour to rescue what remains of it.

Moved to resolve, That nothing in the information laid before this house justifies the announced policy of Her Majesty's Government in regard to Candahar.—(The Earl of Lytton.)


said, that on a former occasion they had been told by certain noble Lords opposite, that there should be no reference to the causes which led to the Afghan War while discussing the propriety of retaining or leaving Candahar. Any expectation that no such feeling would be shown in connection with those causes must have been rudely dissipated by the speech of the noble Earl. In the observations which he should make, he (Viscount Enfield) would keep as closely as possible to the question whether the Government were right or wrong, from political, financial, commercial, and military points of view, in the determination to evacuate Candahar. It was neither his wish nor his intention to stand up as the apologist of Russia. He believed that our relations with that country were, at the present, moment of a very friendly character. The noble Earl, who talked so much of the ill-will disclosed in the Russian Correspondence discovered at Cabul, should bear in mind the frank and very friendly way in which the noble Earl (the Earl of Beaconsfield) spoke of Russia on December 10, two years ago. The noble Earl said— Eight months ago war was more than probable between this country and Russia; and an imprudent word might have precipitated that war. ….I will say of the expedition which Russia was preparing in Central Asia at the time when she believed that war was inevitable between our country and herself—I will say at once that I hold that all those preparations on the part of Russia were justifiable; and if war had occurred, of course they would have contributed to bring about the ultimate result, whatever that might have been. Had we been in the position of Russia I doubt not we might have undertaken some enterprise of a similar kind.….We may admit that if war had occurred between the two countries all the preparations in Central Asia against Great Britain and India were justifiable; but when it was found that war was not to be made, Her Majesty's Government made becomingly courteous representations to St. Petersburg, and it was impossible that anything could be more frank and satisfactory than the manner in which they were met."—[3 Hansard, ccxliii. 514–15.] The words then spoken were the words of a British statesman who was anxious to preserve the goodwill which at this moment happily prevailed between this country and Russia. The noble Earl (the Earl of Lytton) had made such frequent references to the Afghan War that he could not refrain from making some remarks on that subject. The noble Earl had said that the Government and its friends had acted as though they wished that recent events in Afghanistan could be expunged from the historical records of this country. He was not ashamed to say that he should be glad if that record could be obliterated from our history. He believed that feeling was shared by those with whom he had the honour to act, and by a great majority of the people of the United Kingdom. But the present Government had not, as the noble Earl had implied, rudely and quickly undone the work of their Predecessors. What was the state of things when the present Government came into Office? They found that overtures had been conducted more or less satisfactorily with Abdurrahman Khan. These negotiations were further carried on by the Queen's present Advisers, and by the 22nd of July something in the nature of a final settlement had been made with him with respect to the government of Cabul. What had happened with respect to Candahar? The Government found that Shore Ali had been placed there in authority, supported by British forces. Then followed the defeat of our troops by Ayoob Khan at Maiwand and the successful march of General Roberts. All these events had happened in the interval since the accession of the present Government, and it could not be said that they adopted any sudden course, whether their proposals in respect of Candahar were right or wrong. It had been said that the people of Candahar were extremely anxious for our rule. But those who knew the character of the Afghan people would know that the Afghan was a man who feared no danger, but would do anything to preserve his independence and his liberty. If lie were made the servant of another State his first endeavour would be to emancipate himself. Therefore, British rule was not likely to sit lightly or pleasantly on the Afghan people. On that question he referred to a letter of Sir Douglas Forsyth, published a few weeks ago. That letter contained the following passage:— While While the question of the retention or evacuation of Candahar is under discussion and the opinions of eminent military authorities and statesmen are canvassed, it may not be out of place to quote the words of an Oriental, now no longer able to speak for himself, whose sagacity and keen intellect would be readily acknowledged by his most distinguished opponents, and whose intimate knowledge of the Afghan character and of the whole subject entitles his opinions to great weight. In frequent conferences with him I found that he invariably turned the conversation to the question of Russian advance towards India, and how Afghanistan was to be protected. With the map spread before him, he would carefully measure the distance from Merv to Herat and from Candahar to Mooltan, and eagerly ask what troops we had in the Punjaub and how soon they could be pushed forward. His idea was for us to move a force when necessary to Quetta, to be pushed forward as far as Candahar if required. But he always accompanied the idea with the ready remark—'But you must withdraw from Candahar as soon as you have made the Russians retire.' The language he used was very much in the following words:—'We Afghans are people of the hills, and, please God, we can take care of ourselves, and give a good account of any foe who tries to enter our mountains,' adding emphatically, 'Whoever be our invader, whether Russian or English, the Afghans will never rest till they get the enemy out of the country. But in the plains it is different, we cannot cope with your European armies, and therefore we should be glad to avail ourselves of your help should the Russians come by way of Herat and the route to Candahar. But you must not think of remaining in Candahar, or you will in such case be looked upon by the Afghans with hatred, as foes instead of friends, and there will be perpetual warfare. But if we can feel certain that you will retire as soon as your work is done, your temporary march to and occupation of Candahar will do good; you will be welcomed as friends, and by retiring to Quetta or to the Indus you will be quite close at hand to render assistance at any future time when required.' Such was the advice given by Syad Noor Mahamad, and whether it be considered good or bad by the light of more recent experience, there can be no question as to the sincerity and intensity of Ids alarm at the possibility of annexation, an alarm which overpowers the mind of almost every independent Chief and Prince in India, and which often drives the weaker-minded among them to very foolish acts. These wore the words of the late Minister of Shore Ali. He would also refer, on the general question of the policy of annexation of fresh territory, to the alarm felt during the Viceroyalty of his noble Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty lest Baroda should be annexed. He would also give extracts from the Blue Books with respect to the Khyber Pass and the arrangements made with the Khyber and Kuram Tribes. First, with regard to the Khyber Tribes— It is arranged that the pass shall remain under their independent and exclusive charge, and shall be kept open by them, and they are to receive the customary allowances. So long as they fulfil their conditions we will place no troops in the pass, and it is to be clearly understood that no other regular troops will be permitted to occupy posts in the pass without our consent. With respect to the Kuram Tribes— The Jajis, who inhabit the country beyond (westward of) Peiwar, to pass under Cabul juris- diction. The Tunis, on eastern slopes of the Peiwar, and the Bangash tribes, are to be self-governed. Two leaders have been chosen who are to rule by means of a general tribal council. This form of self-government was unanimously agreed upon by the tribes themselves. Their proposal was accepted, and General Watson has given small sums of money to assist enrolment of a levy for defence, and warned them against intriguing with Cabul agents beyond the Peiwar. … In return for its recognition the British Government requires the tribes to conform to any advice it gives them. He did not think that the maxim of a great foreign statesman, "Beati possidentes," applied to the condition of things in Afghanistan, for our tenure of Candahar might be very precarious. We should be exposed to constant intrigues and to attacks from Cabul and Herat—there would be a nest of intrigues constantly around us—every adventurer from Cabul or Herat would endeavour to secure Candahar by doing his best to expel the infidel and the invader, whilst a stray shot or the knife of the fanatic might at any time rouse the people in arms against us. Then it was said that our prestige in India would suffer. He did not agree with that view. We had sufficiently avenged the murder of Sir Louis Cavagnari, and the disaster at Maiwand; and he felt sure that, great as had been the admiration excited in India by General Roberts' brilliant march and victory, moderation in the use of that victory would arouse even greater admiration. He would next turn to the commercial aspect of the question, upon which his views were much strengthened by those of a man who might be considered one of the highest authorities on the subject. He alluded to Lieutenant-Colonel Browne, of the Royal Engineers, who had lived many years in South Afghanistan, and who was Engineer in charge of the Public Works along the line from the Kohat Pass in the north, to below Dehra Ghazee Khan in the south. During these years he learnt the common language of the tribes, Pushtoo, and cultivated the acquaintance of their Chiefs; and he left behind him on this Frontier a name well known to the present day. He had accompanied General Biddulph's force as Political Officer on its return march from Pishin, through' the Bori Valley to Dehra Ghazee Khan, and fed it during its march through this, at that time, unexplored country. Afterwards he did similar duty with Sir Donald Stewart's force as far as Khelat-i-Ghilzai, on its march from Candahar to Cabul. In a lecture in London last December, Colonel Browne alluded to possibilities of increased trade. He said— The idea that by retaining Candahar, by developing its agricultural and trade resources, &c., we could make it pay its expenses, is another illusion, as, under British administration, it would not pay a tithe of the cost of its occupation. Let anyone who knows both Peshawur and Candahar, and their relative trade, agriculture, and distance from the Indus, consider the fact that after 32 years of English administration, the revenues of the Peshawar district are entirely inadequate, in time of peace, to pay for its garrison. In face of such a fact, can it be gravely argued that Candahar might be made to pay for the expenses of a garrison on a war footing? And further on he said— It is sometimes supposed that by occupying Candahar we might develop, to our advantage, a great Central Asian trade, and remove the vexatious dues which have hindered its expansion. This is a pretty theory, founded on European ideas of civilized trade. As a matter of fact, the dues on Central Asian trade are levied at Herat, at Maimaneh, and Balkh, and will not be in the least degree affected by our holding Candahar. He (Viscount Enfield) protested against the doctrine that we should proceed to destroy the independence and liberties of the people of Afghanistan for Ole, chance of selling a greater quantity of Manchester cottons and Birmingham hardware. In illustration of what had been so ably said by Colonel Browne, he would refer to the case of Peshawur. Similar promises of a remunerative commerce had been made with respect to that territory; but it had never been found that the revenue was equal to the expenditure. The real reason which was urged why Candahar should be permanently occupied by our troops was that if it was evacuated there would be great danger to our Indian Empire. From Whom would that danger arise? Either from Afghanistan or from Russia. As to the Afghans, from 1850 up to 1878 our relations with that people had been of a fairly friendly and harmonious character. At the time of the Indian Mutiny Dust Mahomed valued the friendship of England. It might be said that Russia would intrigue against us, and persuade the Afghans to attack our Indian Empire. His answer was that the Afghans were quite as likely to dislike the Rus- sians as to dislike us; and they would hardly be disposed to pull the chestnuts out of the fire for Russia. But it might be suggested that the Russians would first attack and occupy Afghanistan, and then attack us. What should we be doing all the while? We should be massing our troops, organizing our reserves, and accumulating our supplies at the proper base. It would take some time for Russia to conquer Afghanistan, occupy and annex it, and then advance to attack us in India. At a lecture given by Sir Henry Rawlinson about three years ago, as to the formidable character of the difficulties which Russia would have to overcome before she could thus prepare to invade India, the following words occurred:— The distance from the Caspian to Merv by the Akhal country and Serakhs is about 700 miles; and to keep up communications by a line of posts along this interval would be a very serious operation indeed. From the western end of the Deregez Atock, moreover, to Serakhs, a distance of 200 miles, the line would pass through Persian or quasi-Persian territory, and Russia, therefore, could not, of course, undertake such a movement without an understanding with the Government of the Shah. In the matter of supplies, also, food could not be possibly obtained in the districts traversed by the Russian columns. Either provision caravans must follow the troops from the Caspian, which, along a line of 700 miles would entail enormous expense and risk, or grain must be supplied. from Khorassan. Lieutenant General Sir John M. Adye, a distinguished Artillery officer, wrote a year ago as follows:— A General Officer at Merv ordered to move southwards on Herat, and so on to Candahar and the Indus, might well feel in a condition of almost hopeless despair. In the first place, it would be absolutely incumbent on him to collect a very considerable force, duly provided with heavy artillery and munitions of all kinds, the mere concentration of which over such routes its have been described would occupy a long time and entail enormous cost. Looking back, he would be aware of the vast distances between himself and the nearest resources of the Empire—distances not merely to be measured by the actual number of miles, although they are very great, but aggravated by the accumulated obstacles of unhealthy foodless deserts and unsafe communications. Neither from the north nor from the west could he hope at any time to receive reinforcements, except by small detachments and at rare intervals; so that his very position, without moving at all, would be precarious and depressing. But it may be said that a General, while not neglecting his communications, should refrain from dwelling too much on dangers left behind, and should rather keep his eyes and. his thoughts constantly directed to the front. The out-look from Merv, however, and the prospects of a successful advance, are, perhaps, even less promising than a retreat across the desert. From Merv to the Indus is, in round numbers, about 1,000 miles; and although, in the vicinity of Herat and Candahar, a certain limited amount of supplies could be found, we know, from the accounts of Ferrier, Marsh, and others, that the only route lies through districts where rocky mountains and sandy wastes vie with each other for the mastery, and that the country, as a matter of course, is infested with marauding tribes. Our own experience is amply sufficient to enable us to realize the difficulties and dangers of a march of 1,000 miles through Afghanistan. But it would be said that Russia, perhaps, would not wish to conquer, occupy, and annex Afghanistan, but would only be anxious to march through it, and to attack us through a friendly territory. Well, to do that she must have an army of at least 50,000 men, infidels in the eyes of the Afghans, who would have to occupy Herat, Ghazni, and Cabul, and then march against us. Many years ago that danger, which had always been regarded as possible though somewhat problematical, was dwelt upon with great force and eloquence by one whom all admired and respected, the late Sir James Outram. The words which Sir James Outram used in 1854 were equally true now in regard to the position of any European troops marching from the westward against British India. Even assuming that such an army would meet with a friendly reception from the Afghans in the first instance, it was scarcely possible that those amicable relations could be maintained long enough to afford it time to recover from the effects of the fatigue and privation which it had undergone in coming so far. Afghanistan produced little beyond what was necessary for the support of its own inhabitants, and the demands on such limited resources would inevitably soon create such a dearth in the land as must excite the irritation of the population against the cause of their distress. Sir James Outram went on to say— And no efforts of their Chiefs could then restrain them from acting as hostilely towards those quondam friends as heretofore they did against the British Army. Ere Russian or Persian troops could reach Candahar or Cabul we certainly should have authentic knowledge of their approach. It would then be time enough to enter upon defensive preparations. It is scarcely possible that less than one season would be required by the enemy to recruit in Afghanistan ere descending the passes; but, allowing that a shorter halt would suffice, there still would be ample time to concentrate sufficient forces at Shikarpore and Peshawur to meet the enemy when he debouches from the Bolan or Khyber. Another danger, however, which might be apprehended was not an actual invasion, but possible intrigue. It had been said that a golden key opened most doors; and if Herat was the key to India, what was the kind of key that was proposed to be used a few years ago? That Persia should be provisionally permitted to occupy Herat, under sufficient guarantees for her good administration of it, and for her adequate protection of British and Indian interests at that point, and with a special reservation of our right to occupy the place with British forces in certain eventualities. If Persia temporarily occupied Herat, Russia would have a right to establish Consuls there. That proposal never went beyond preliminary stages. There was a dry point connected with this subject of Candahar to which the noble Earl never alluded in his speech—namely, the cost which a permanent occupation of Candahar would entail. Sir Henry Norman, who was for many years chief Military Adviser to the Governor General in Council, estimated the cost of maintaining 20,000 or 22,000 men there at £1,400,000 a-year; while the expenses of barrack accommodation and of fortifying the town—both of which were considered absolutely essential by Lord Napier of Magdala—had been estimated by another authority, on the basis of providing accommodation for 10,000 men, at £1,609,180, the interest of which sum would have to be added to the annual expenditure. The Secretary of State did his duty in producing the best materials he could for the formation of an opinion on the question of retaining or abandoning Candahar. Fifteen authorities were given, seven of which were in favour of the views of Her Majesty's Government, and seven in favour of the views taken by the noble Earl opposite. The other authority was Sir Donald Stewart, who had thought fit to change his opinion. The Memorandum of the noble Earl opposite on this subject was a most masterly production. The noble Earl entered fully into the subject. He said, though we could never allow Candahar to fall into the hands of a rival Power for political, and especially for military, considerations, yet he did not think that a permanent occupation of Candahar by us would actually strengthen our power. He further said that to occupy Candahar permanently would entail a large military expenditure; but he anticipated no necessity for such permanent occupation unless we found ourselves in a great war with Afghanistan; but that we might reasonably hope to avoid. Sir Henry Rawlinson believed the Afghans would offer the most determined opposition to the interference of Europeans in their domestic affairs. Upon the question of extra pay to the Native troops, a contingency which Lord Napier of Magdala very frankly said might become necessary, General Rennell Taylor, a distinguished officer, and one who knew India and Indian troops very well, said— The Candahar duty would be unpopular with the Native soldiery after the novelty had worn off; and as regards Lord Napier of Magdala's remedy of raising their pay, this is a door which, if once opened, it is not so easy to close again. Men who have been for some time on high pay do not fancy having it cut down when they return to the Provinces. After a time we might get tired of giving enhanced pay in what we might consider to have become a prosperous and pleasant city; and then if we proposed cutting down the pay of the soldiery to the original scale, an old and ominous struggle between the Government and its Native soldiery might be revived. The proposal to give increased pay to Native soldiers was, therefore, one the propriety of which was open to question. Sir Garnet Wolseley, of Asiatic and African fame, had said that to occupy a point so far removed from the Frontier would involve us in very serious financial burdens, and that no Afghan army could ever prevent an English army marching from Quetta to Candahar. Sir Frederick Roberts, while advocating the retention of Candahar, said that "our presence there must be little felt," and went on to say— It may not be very flattering to our amour propre; but I feel sure I am right when I say that the less the Afghans sue of us the less they will dislike us. Should Russia in future years attempt to conquer Afghanistan, or invade India through it, we should have a better chance of attaching the Afghans to our interest if we avoid all interference with them in the meantime. The military occupation of Candahar is, as I have before stated, of vital importance; even there we should make our presence but little felt, merely controlling the foreign policy of the ruler of that province."—[Afghanistan (1881), No. 1, par. 30. p. 71.] If we retained Candahar permanently we should have also to permanently annex an adjoining territory half the size of England and Wales; we should have to take Ghazni and Khelat-i-Ghilzai to the east, Furrah, Girishk, and Herat to the west. Lord Hartington, in his despatch of the 11th of November, 1880, said— But they cannot believe that the measure which is now advocated would really satisfy the demands of those who propose it. They are inclined rather to believe that it would only be the first step towards still more extensive enterprize. In the despatch of your Predecessor's Government of the 7th of July, 1879, they said, in discussing the question of the retention of Candahar—'The local experience recently acquired by our expedition into Western Afghanistan has fully confirmed our previous impression that the strategic value of Candahar exists only in connection with a system of frontier defence much more extensive than any we now require or have ever contemplated.' Whether this be an accurate statement of the strategic value of Candahar or not, it cannot, I think, be doubted that its acquisition as a permanent military post would quickly be followed by fresh apprehensions as to its security, and further demands for the completion of a system of defence of which it would be represented to constitute only a part. Thus, whether looking at the question of the retention of Candahar from a political, a military, a commercial, or a moral point of view, he should say that there was a strong balance of opinion against that step being taken. The military opinions were divided, the commercial advantages were doubtful, the political objections were serious, and the financial embarrassments were probable. It had been said that the resolution of the Government had been taken hastily; but the despatches of Lord Hartington disproved that assertion. On the 21st of May last, his first despatch indicated this line of policy, without giving an actual pledge with regard to it, and on the 11th of November the noble Lord stated his final decision on the subject. That decision might be erroneous, but it was not ambiguous; it was the result of a careful study of the question and of the opinions of those who in a civil and a military capacity could throw light upon an intricate question. In recommending this policy for adoption by the Government of India the Government were acting in the spirit of those noble and weighty words which were addressed to the people of India by Her Majesty in the Royal Proclamation of November 1, 1858— We desire no extension of our present territorial possessions, and while we will permit no aggression upon our dominions or our rights to be attempted with impunity, we shall sanction no encroachment on those of others. He hoped that Her Majesty's Government would pursue the line of policy so indicated constantly and persistently, and that they would be enabled, by the blessing of Providence, to do that which every noble Lord in that House, of whatever side in politics, must have at heart—namely, to secure the prosperity, the security, and contentment of Her Majesty's Indian Empire.


, who had placed Notice of an Amendment on the Paper to add at the end of the Motion the following words:— That Commissioners be appointed to consider and report on the most suitable form of administration for Candahar and its dependencies, whether as a Crown Colony, as a portion of the Presidency of Bombay, or as attached to the Government of the Punjaub, said, that as one who had taken an early interest in this subject, he desired to be allowed to record his testimony in favour of the retention of Candahar. In his opinion, the debate admitted of being carried on on a wider basis than that on which it had been placed hitherto, and that some permanent system of policy should be discussed. The reason for the fact that, in this respect, we were without a policy was not far to seek. After the conquest and occupation of the Punjaub, the idea of an Afghan policy sprung up, and was maintained as part of our Indian system. It seemed to him at the time—and he had not since altered his opinion—that for the first time in the history of India we were desirous to devolve upon others duties which were our own—we desired to erect a barrier between the forces of Central Asia and our Indian Government; in other words, to adopt a policy which had never been pursued down to that time. He, for one, wished to see adopted a policy which did not rest upon any foreign buttress—he wished to see a policy devised which should determine our course of action in Central Asia—particularly at this moment, when Central Asia was about to be annihilated, in a political sense, by the approximation of the Russian and the Indian Frontier. Whatever Her Majesty's Government might decide ultimately as to the abandonment of Candahar—and he did not think they could themselves state with precision the course they meant to take—he hoped that a policy would be adopted which would suffice for many years to come. Masterly inactivity was desirable if it meant an attitude of watchful repose; but if it meant mere indifference as to consequences it was a policy much to be deplored. It did not seem to be generally understood that the city and territory of Candahar were admirably suited for incorporation with our Indian resources, and could be made practically impregnable when occupied by forces under British rule. What he wished particularly to see was the adoption of a policy which should put an end to the miserable suspicions which were as bad in their effects as small wars; and he believed such a policy would be perfectly easy, without involving any considerable additional cost in the maintenance of our Indian Army. With regard to the great question of commerce, he would quote the informed opinion of the late Sir William Merewether, who said— In a commercial point of view the security given to trade by a strong government at Candahar cannot be otherwise than most advantageous to the Afghans as well as to ourselves, and should have full consideration. It will insure that trade safe and speedy transit to and from our seaports, … while the exports … will proportionally increase."—[Afghanistan, (1881), No. 2, p. 57.] A report from a Cavalry officer, dated October 17, 1880, said— We have moved to the rich country to the south of Candahar. I cannot exaggerate the wealth and richness of this country. Anything will grow in it. The soil yields rich crops of wheat year after year. Many parts of it could be turned into wine-producing vineyards. The grapes are simply magnificent, and only a fourth of the land available is now cultivated. All, in fact, that was required for the increased prosperity of Candahar was increased security. What he suggested by the Amendment he had placed on the Paper was that the Ministry should inform themselves of the best form of government for Candahar under the protection of the British Crown. He preferred to constitute it into a Crown Colony rather than under the Government of the Punjaub or of the Presidency of Bombay. The completion of the railway would place it within six weeks of Woolwich for defence, and of Liverpool for commerce. They were now at Candahar, and, in the words of the great soldier who had made Italy what it is—"We are here—here we will remain; we are at Rome—at Rome we are determined to abide."


was painfully aware that the military opinions he held on the subject under discussion were not in accordance with those generally held on that side of their Lordships' House, and ran counter to the opinion of many distinguished officers of the Army to which he had the honour to belong. He did not, however, come to the consideration of the question simply by examining maps and reading official Correspondence. Out of a service extending over 37 years he had been 16 years in India; and he had, in company with Sir William Mansfield (the late Lord Sandhurst) travelled over the whole of the Western Frontier of that country, had visited the border station of Jacobubad, and had ridden over a good part of the desert in which it was situated. His opinion had been formed not without considerable anxiety, opposed as it was to opinions which must carry great weight; but he was satisfied that any permanent occupation of Candahar, or of any portion of Afghanistan, would place our garrison there in an entirely false military position. He was anxious, however, that it should be understood that he did not express any opinion as to whether it was advisable to evacuate immediately that important position. The length of the communications which a Russian force would have to keep up in any advance which they might make to the Indian Frontier would be a very difficult and a very serious obstacle to their reaching the Indus. It was a very difficult matter to conduct operations successfully when an army was divided by a long distance from the base of its supplies. He had himself fully realized that difficulty in the course of the Abyssinian War. It was quite clear to him that if Russia chose, looking at her present advanced position—her line of advance being probably through Merv—she could occupy Herat at any moment. Should she do so, however, she would be on the horns of a dilemma, because she could not feed her army through the long line of desert, but would require to do so by the shorter and more favourable line through Persian territory, her real base being the Caspian Sea. In order, therefore, to obtain necessary supplies she would have either to make an alliance offensive and defensive with Persia, in which case the Afghans would become her enemies, or to take by force the line of communication in Persian territory, in which case the Persians would be her enemies. Herat was spoken of as the key of India; but Herat was miles from the Indus—the only door by which an enemy could enter India. The possession of Herat, it was true, might open the door to the possession of Candahar, and the possession of Candahar might open the way to the Indus. But if the Russians should even arrive at the Indus it did not follow that they would get any further. The occupation of Candahar would not prevent Russia from occupying Herat; nor was it certain that Russia, if she should take Herat, would advance through Candahar. Some authorities believed that they would advance by Cabul and the Khyber. Supposing that the Russians should determine to advance from the Oxus by the direct route to Cabul, what advantage would it be to India to have a garrison occupying Candahar? Sir Donald Stewart and Sir Frederick Roberts had both marched with a force along the road between Candahar and Cabul. But when they did so, they had a harbour of refuge at the end of their march occupied by our troops. No General, however, occupying that place would venture to march viâ Ghuzni, which would be in the enemy's hands, to Cabul in order to drive the Russians out of it, unless he was supported by another army coming through the Khyber; and, even under those circumstances, it would be very doubtful if either force could be properly supplied with all that an army, advancing on so serious an undertaking, would require. Therefore, Candahar, in the event of an advance on India through Cabul and the Khyber, would be of no real advantage. It would, in fact, be disadvantageous, as a large number of troops would have to remain there and could not be withdrawn. Turning his attention to the question of a Russian advance through Herat and Candahar—what steps, he asked, ought to be taken in such an event? Ought our forces to meet the enemy half way between Herat and Candahar, or ought they to await the attack in the neighbourhood of the latter place? Suppose the Russians were in possession of any portion of Afghan territory—suppose they occupied Herat—they would still be 400 miles from Candahar; and it would be a serious consideration for an army to cross such a country as that 400 miles—a country scantily provided with food and water, in traversing which an army would have to carry its supplies with it forwarded from enormous distances. Suppose them arrived at Candahar, how far were they from India? Still 400 miles of more difficult country. There was an impression abroad that our Western Frontier was a weak one. He was of opinion, however, that it was an extraordinarily strong one. The line of the Indus was our natural boundary line. A river was said to be a bad frontier to defend; but that only applied when the river could be crossed at several different points. But there was only one point where an army, debouching from the Bolan Pass, could cross the Indus, and when they had crossed it they would still have some 250 miles of almost desert country to march through before reaching the Sutlej, a broad and difficult river to cross. Even before crossing the Indus their supplies would have to be carried over 400 miles of wild and desolate country. Those difficulties would apply even if Russia occupied the whole of Afghanistan. He felt sure that the danger to India was not from without, but from within. So long as our subject-population in the country were contented, and so long as our troops were well-seasoned and disciplined, we might look without anxiety upon the advance of Russia. But he would give one note of warning. The safety of India depended upon the loyalty of the people and the trustworthiness of our Sepoy Army. He trusted, therefore, that in any re-organization changes which might be made, the caste prejudices and old traditions of the Native Army would not in any way be ignored. Any attempt to introduce changes distasteful to the Native portion of our Army in India might have the most serious results; and we might suddenly find, when looking to it for support, that we had been trusting to a broken reed.


said, he owed an apology for addressing their Lordships on a subject of such importance, and he should not have ventured to do so but that he had in his possession memoranda of his father, who had been Commander-in-Chief of the Forces in India during the Viceroyalty of Lord Lawrence. The late Lord Sandhurst had said— I can conceive no greater political mistake than that which would unite the whole population of Afghanistan in the most open hostility against us, which would compel us to meet that hostility on ground most favourable to our opponents, and with a great waste of our resources. I believe that, putting the case hypothetically, if Russia and England must contend for supremacy in Asia, that party will enter into the struggle with greater advantage which shall have abstained from forestalling events by the annexation of Afghanistan. That view was corroborated by the late Lord Lawrence, who said— The Afghan will bear poverty and insecurity of life; but he will not tolerate foreign rule. The Papers, written in 1867, were accompanied by Minutes by Sir Henry Norman and others now surviving, who, by Minutes issued lately, stated their opinions to be unaltered. Although a large garrison at Candahar might give security and promote trade, he believed that the Hindoo traders in no way represented the feelings of the people of that country. The late Lord Lawrence said that the Afghans would not tolerate foreign rule, and he believed that British influence was synonymous with Afghan hatred, and it followed that by withdrawing from Candahar we should no longer be acting as Russia's catspaw in incensing the Afghans against ourselves. His father had expressed the following opinion:— It may he said that the alarm testified with regard to Russia as affecting British interest in India is more unreasonable than anything that is possible to describe. As a military and political rower we have absolutely nothing to fear from Russia, whether she stop at her present limits, or spread her power even to our own borders. A great mischief is done by those who, from whatever cause, occupy themselves with preaching the falsehood of our weakness in India. We are simply invincible in that country, provided only we are true to ourselves. I take my stand upon this—that we must at times use influence and enforce results; though it is my conviction that we have reached the proper limits of territorial development. I have ever been the uncompromising opponent to British aggression in the Kingdom of Cabul in opposition to Russian advance in Central Asia. As to Russia's position at present he might remark that she had no strength. An army of mobility required supplies, ease of transport, water, and good roads. Russia had none of these things. She was 1,000 miles from us, and the further she advanced the more her difficulties would increase; and if we, by going to Candahar, met her half way, we should incense the inhabitants of that country against ourselves, which would materially facilitate the progress of Russia. The people through whose country she would have to pass were of the most fanatical description, and we had no reason to suppose that they would have any greater affection for the Russians than for ourselves. By withdrawing to our own Frontier we should force Russia to lengthen her lines of communication, and thus to weaken them. The advantage of withdrawing to our own Frontier was obvious. When General Primrose met with that disaster at Maiwand, all our communications were attacked, and the shock was felt as far as our Frontier. With Russia advancing and the tribes hostile to us we should labour under the greatest disadvantages in that respect; whereas, being strong in our compact position on our own Frontier, we could await Russia backed by the wealth and resources of India. As to the internal effect which the occupation of Candahar would have, let him give their Lordships another extract from the authority he had already quoted— Supposing that, for the reasons we are debating, we had been obliged to send forward a large force, say two-thirds of the Bengal Army. Consequently, it might be that the whole resources were divided by the mountains from India, and that all our communications might be in extreme jeopardy. … It is a great mistake to look upon India as a solid base of operations, whence to pour 100,000 men, as we should do from England in a case of emergency, trusting to the people to redeem the Government from difficulties. India was not our native country—we were aliens there; and even if it were possible to draw 100,000 men from that country it was doubtful whether we should have right on our side. He believed that the Native Army was in a very efficient state; but it was an undoubted fact that this foreign service was most distasteful to it. Recruiting had almost come to a standstill, not only in the Punjaub, but also in Madras. It was said that the Natives had no patriotic feelings; but they must be endowed with a certain modicum of com- mon sense, and they would not relish service beyond the Frontier, if they could possibly avoid it; and our military system being based on the voluntary principle, the number of our recruits must diminish. The public should search in the proper channels for information, instead of being the victims of irresponsible lecturers and travellers. Lord Lawrence, almost to the last day of his life, advocated the policy of non-interference to which he was always so true. He was unable to discover that Sir Henry Norman and other eminent men at the India Office at this moment had changed their minds on that subject; neither had the noble Earl the Viceroy of India (the Earl of Northbrook), who preceded the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Lytton) changed his; and therefore he felt perfectly convinced that had the late Lord Sandhurst been still alive, he would have given his most cordial support to the policy of Her Majesty's Government in the withdrawal from Candahar. In conclusion, he must strongly oppose the Motion of the noble Earl opposite.


said, it was with considerable diffidence that he ventured to offer a few remarks to their Lordships upon the large and very important subject now before them, in the form of the Motion of his noble Friend the noble Earl and the Amendment of the noble Lord opposite (Lord Waveney). Apart from its importance, the subject appeared to him to be one which adapted itself most naturally to the calm and critical temper which it was the custom of that House to exercise in its deliberations. Whatever might be the views of noble Lords individually upon the policy of annexation generally, he did not think there were any Members of the House who belonged to that particular school of politicians who might be termed the "Take nothing and give up everything school"—those who would set aside and ignore as unworthy of consideration the most vital interests of the Empire, and who based their proposed course of action upon grounds snore or less sentimental or vague, or upon considerations purely financial, without calculating whether the expense incurred would be justified by results obtained or advantages gained. Therefore, in that House, at least, it was possible to approach that question of the retention of Candahar distinctly on its merits. They were all equally interested, no matter on what side of the House they sat, in the preservation and integrity of Her Majesty's Dominions in India. The point at issue between them was the means by which that was to be secured; and he should therefore endeavour to avoid saying anything of an acrimonious character or in the nature of Partizan criticism. If the question had assumed a Party character, it appeared to him very much to be regretted. It was distinctly an Imperial question, and the result of the ultimate action of the Government would be to determine whether or not a decisive step should be taken to secure us, once and for all, against the possible occurrence—in his opinion, the not very remote occurrence—of a great national catastrophe. He was not going to discuss the advantages of Candahar as a military position. That was incontestable, and he fancied was not disputed. It had been recognized as the key of India from the time of Jenghis Khan downwards; and suppose we were to evacuate Candahar now the necessity for its re-occupation at some future time was inevitable, whatever might be our ability at that future time to enforce that necessity. The question, therefore, arose in two forms—whether this was the moment for us to choose for occupation, and whether, in the event of our deciding that it was not, we should not find ourselves in a position of great disadvantage, and perhaps worse, when the necessity of reversing that decision was forced upon us? Now, with regard to the first point, he begged their Lordships to consider what the policy of successive Viceroys was with regard to Afghanistan previous to the accession of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) to the Seals of the India Office in 1874. It had been variously described. The noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Argyll) was of opinion, he believed, that it was a policy of absolute non-interference, and he cited in support of that contention the entire agreement which existed between himself and the late Lord Mayo during their official connection. It would appear to be argued from this that had Ids (the Earl of Donoughmore's) lamented Relative been alive now he would have still adhered to that policy of non-interference. But what was the state of the case in 1869? There was ample evidence in the Papers to show that at that time there was no disinclination on the part of the Ameer to admit English Agents to certain towns in his territory, always excepting Cabul itself; and that evidence was confirmed by a note of Colonel Barnes, written in 1877, in which he states— I can fully corroborate all that Captain Grey and Dr. Bellow say as to the willingness of the Ameer at Umballa to consider the subject of British agencies in Afghanistan, had he received encouragement to enter officially into the subject, and had his expectations of being granted a new Treaty been responded to. But in that case it was the Viceroy who was the unwilling party. There was no object at that time, and in the then condition of affairs in Central Asia, in going further than he did. Lord Mayo's object at that time was to establish an intermediate policy, which should be capable of further development should necessity arise—a necessity which he (the Earl of Donoughmore) believed he certainly contemplated, and which if he had lived till now, he ventured to think, he would have admitted to have arrived. And, apropos of that, he had read with some care the voluminous Papers upon this subject, and there was one point that had struck him particularly. Lord Mayo met with his death before the Khanate of Khiva fell into the hands of the Russians; but he was alive at the time of the establishment of the Russian stations at Krasnovodsk and Kizil on the Caspian. In fact, these stations were established a very few months after the Conferences at Umballa. Well, the subsequent events and the utterances of Russian diplomatists in the matter of Khiva were well known to their Lordships; but if we looked through the published Papers we did not find a single representation to the Home Government from Lord Mayo as to this matter. In fact, after the despatches of the Conferences of 1869, we had nothing more to do with Lord Mayo's Viceroyalty, but pass at once to that of the noble Earl opposite. Now, he could not help thinking that there must be some slight omission in this matter—and, at all events, it would be very advantageous to know what Lord Mayo's feelings were upon this question—and he sincerely hoped that seine noble Lord either at present or lately connected with the India Office would be able to enlighten them on the subject. Well, Lord Mayo's was an intermediate policy, and one capable of, and intended for, future development; but it was, at the same time, the continuation of the policy of his Predecessor. Well, let them see whether they could find in the minds of the statesmen of the time any reason for instituting "a policy capable of development." And hero he felt that he was getting upon more or less dangerous ground. He was liable to be told that it was inconvenient and embarrassing to bring charges against a Power with which we were in relations of amity. Well, he would endeavour not to offend in that respect. He had no desire to say anything ill-natured against Russia and the Russians. He had lived in the midst of them for five months, and had always found them, socially, the most charming nation he ever came across—which was probably the secret of their constant and invariable diplomatic successes. But, at the same time, he could not help remembering—what some people appeared not to have learnt, or to have forgotten—that we had to deal with a Power who had already, in the steady pursuit of an hereditary policy, threatened India by active measures, and did so now by her position on the Frontiers. What did Lord Clarendon say in 1869? He foresaw, as long ago as then, what had been a most important factor, as he (the Earl of Donoughmore) could say from practical experience elsewhere, in the Russian advance in Central Asia. The noble Earl then read a portion of Lord Clarendon's despatch. Then followed the negotiations about the neutral zone, resulting in declarations from Russia as to non-interference with Afghanistan, the boundaries of which principally were finally settled in 1873. But where were the Russians in Central Asia all that time—that was, in 1869? Why, they were not oven at Krasnovodsk Bay—they did not go there till December. It was true that they held Samarcand, and practically commanded Bokhara, and the plains beyond it as far as the Oxus; but they did not threaten our Western Frontier as they did now. And yet the late Lord Clarendon—and, we may presume, the noble Earl who succeeded him, as he subsequently carried out his policy as regarded the Frontiers of Afghanistan—were fully alive to the dan- ger which now threatened us face to face. After Lord Mayo came the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Northbrook), who succeeded to the policy of his Predecessor, as Lord Mayo had to that of Lord Lawrence; but, unfortunately, as he thought, the Government did not consider, in spite of the noble Earl's representations, that the moment for the development of that policy had arrived. He was not going to enter into that question; but the fact remained that in 1873 there was an opportunity of putting our relations with Afghanistan on such a footing as would tend greatly to remove uneasiness on our part as to Russian progress in Asia. It was not, however, until the noble Marquess came into Office that any attempt was made to develop the policy of Lord Lawrence and Lord Mayo. But then it was too late. The Ameer had already been alienated, and the result had been the events of the last two years, and the position in which we were at this moment. And this was that position. Instead of a friendly Ruler and a friendly people, whom we might have secured in 1873, we had a country disorganized by a recent war, with a Ruler who professed himself our friend, but whom we knew to have been for years a refugee in Russian territory, and subject to Russian influences; we had a neighbour on our Western flank upon whom we could not count, but upon whom our possible adversaries can. We have those possible adversaries in such positions as to command practically all the high roads into Afghanistan. The road was open to them, should they ever choose to move, or should circumstances similar to 1878 recur. We hold at this moment the key of India. The question for their Lordships and the country was, would they retain it? Remember that the danger was not only external, but internal as well. The course we pursued was being watched by every Native Prince, by every intelligent and educated man in India itself, and it was being watched equally in Europe. There had been few more valuable contributions to the literature on this question than a letter from Professor Vámbâry—an impartial, uninterested observer, to the noble Earl, published a few weeks ago. But we were told there was an alternative course. We could retire from Candahar, and, when the necessity arose, we could take the necessary steps for its re-occu- pation. It had been a favourite argument with those who advocated a retrograde movement at this moment, that it was only opposed by military opinion and upon military grounds. He could not quite agree with this. It appeared to him that there were very important political considerations to be noticed, more especially such as he had pointed out, and which would result from the impression produced upon the Queen's subjects in India by our action in the matter, whatever it might be. There was, however, this to be noticed as regarded the military aspect of the question, that while the great preponderance of opinion was at this moment in favour of the continued occupation of Candahar, two at least, if not more, of the most reliable authorities upon the question had only lately changed their opinions on the subject—he meant Lord Napier and Sir Donald Stewart; and as regarded those who disagreed with their fellows in the Profession, the disagreement was, not upon military grounds, but for financial reasons. Those were the arguments of Sir Garnet Wolseley and Sir Erskine Perry, who argued almost entirely upon the question of cost, and not upon reasons of military expediency. The question of cost was one into which he did not care to enter. It required a more advanced politician than he was to argue as to whether the Empire should be maintained at "too great a cost" or not. But the political question remained. He was convinced that the time was not very far distant when Candahar would be a necessity to us; and what they had to decide now was whether we should remain there now and endeavour to conciliate the population and accustom them to our rule, or whether, when the time came that we must advance, we should take the risk of doing so through a hostile country, with all the disorganization created by our present retirement behind our backs. Let their Lordships remember the years it took to accustom the inhabitants of the Punjaub to English Sovereignty, and let them recollect the condition of popular feeling in India at this moment. He saw no reason why in a very few years the Candaharis, who were not Afghans by descent, should not be converted into as loyal subjects of the Queen as the Sikhs were at this moment. He believed them even to be anxious for our government, and, con- sidering what they had undergone from Cabuli Rulers in past times, it was not to be wondered at. As regarded Indian opinion, it had been clearly expressed, and he would give it to their Lordships as he had heard it expressed by a distinguished Indian ex-official the other day— You know what we are; you are our masters, and your rule is the best we ever had; but you are still strangers, and if we saw other strangers coming from the north, making great promises, and having apparently through your negligence a great chance of success, we could not help ourselves. Many would flock to the stranger; some of them would set up for themselves, but the effect upon you would be the same. You could not oppose Russia and re-conquer India at the same time. You would have to go. But if you hold such a position as would make an invasion from the north to our minds impossible, you would have no troubles in India. And Candahar would undoubtedly be such a position. Before he sat down he should like to say one word as to the reality of what some people in this country looked upon as a bugbear. He meant the ultimate advance of Russia upon Afghanistan and the Indian Frontier. He was one of those people who did not share the views of the noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Argyll) and those who agreed with him upon this subject, nor could he admit that the danger was in any way overestimated. He did not find any fault with Russia, and perhaps if he were in the position that Russia was we should do very much the same. Now that the strain that existed between the two Governments in 1877 and 1878 was removed, he was quite willing to admit that we had more to fear for the moment from the danger Lord Clarendon foresaw than from anything else—the danger of independent action on the part of Russian officials. Turning for a moment to the last Blue Book issued by the India Office, it would be seen that it contained a Memorandum written by Sir Henry Rawlinson, in which he went into the whole question and discussed alternative lines of policy. That Memorandum was written on the 25th of September last, and there was a postscript to it, which, perhaps, he might be permitted to read to their Lordships— It may be only proper to notice that as I am closing this Memorandum, intelligence arrives from Persia of the Russian Government having despatched Colonel Grodekoff with three officers to the Khorassan-Afghan frontier, laden with presents, but charged with what is called an 'exclusively commercial mission.' As Colonel Grodekoff knows nothing whatever of commerce, but knows a good deal of Afghan politics, being the officer who very recently published a very interesting account of his journey from Samarcand by Sir-i-Pul and Mymench to Herat, there can be no reasonable doubt that his present mission is connected with the pending settlement of Western Afghanistan. Can it be prudent, then, to obliterate all traces of our Candahar occupation, and even cancel our means of acquiring information as to current events upon the frontier, just as Russia is showing signs of renewed activity in that direction, and the opportunity seems to be now offering for the realization of her long-cherished scheme of exerting a direct influence at Herat:"—[Afghanistan (1881) No. 2, pp. 65–6.] That paragraph was worthy of attention, and should afford food for reflection to those whose views at present were in favour of evacuating Candahar. He had only gone very slightly and very marginally into one or two points connected with this very large subject. He had attempted, as far as possible, to avoid controversy upon questions of past policy, and upon which much might be said. It appeared to him that the issues were so grave, the decision to be arrived at so important, that it was not a moment for Party recriminations or differences of opinion upon the past. He had said nothing—though much might be said about it—of that very ably and skilfully conducted diplomatic advance by General Kaufmann into the confidence of Shore Ali, conducted first by letters, then by messengers, and finally by Embassies. He had said nothing of that extraordinary Correspondence which had lately been laid on the Table of the House, which showed what relations it was possible for the Russian Government to create with the Rulers of Afghanistan—relations which, unless we took steps to prevent it, it would be in its power to create again. He had one more proposition to place before the House. He did not desire to play the part of Cassandra; but he asked their Lordships to look abroad—to Africa, to Eastern Europe—and at home as well, and then to consider whether this was a moment to do anything to weaken our Indian Frontier. He did not think that it was; and holding that opinion, and believing that the time had at length arrived when it was necessary and expedient for us to hold the key of India, he should follow the noble Earl into the Lobby that night.


My Lords, in a discussion of this importance I will not waste your time with merely verbal criticism, but I wish to point out that there is something unusual in the wording of this Resolution. The noble Earl who moved it passed in his speech an uncompromising censure on the policy of the Government, but in the Resolution I do not find a word of censure on that policy. The Resolution does not in way condemn it. What we are asked to affirm is merely this—That the justification for the abandonment of Candahar, be it what it may, is not to be found in a particular set of Parliamentary Papers. That is not a very important conclusion, and I notice this point, because the very peculiar wording of the Resolution seems to imply a doubt on the part of those who framed it how far a Resolution framed in the spirit of the noble Earl's speech would be accepted by your Lordships.

My Lords, no one, even of those who least agreed with the substance of the noble Earl's argument, could fail to recognize the singular ability and ingenuity with which he conducted his case. No one, further, can consider it strange that, having been absent from England when the debate on the Afghan War took place two years ago, he should take the earliest opportunity of vindicating his own share in that transaction in which he took so active and conspicuous a part. The noble Earl laid great stress on the support which his policy had found among the Native population, and he assured us that he could take up hours in reading letters of approval which he had received from Natives. Well, Indians of all ranks and classes are very apt to be of opinion that what the Governor General for the time being does is right; but I think it would require a very large number of written communications from individuals to enable any man to say with confidence that he carried with him the support of even a small fraction of the enormous population of India. Among the witnesses whom he called was one in particular, the Khan of Khelat. Well, he is undoubtedly a very competent witness as far as knowledge of the subject is concerned; but I do not think the noble Earl or anyone else would consider him altogether an impartial witness on such a question as the holding of Candahar.

It is not necessary for the consideration of the question actually before us to go into details as to past transactions, or to revive the controversy of two years ago on the policy of the Afghan War. That matter is settled and disposed of; the country has decided upon it; whatever our personal opinion may be, the verdict of the jury has been pronounced, and argument comes too late. And, for my part, I am heartily glad that there is no need to go back upon it. The issue now before us is simply this—things being as they are, the war having taken place, having been successful in a military point of view, and Cabul having been abandoned, is it or is it not wise to retain Candahar as a British possession? I must still further disencumber the debate, as far as I am concerned, of irrelevant or practically unimportant matter. If there are any persons who look upon this merely or mainly as a local question, affecting the local interests of the people of Candahar—if there are any to whom the mere fact that we have no right to Candahar except the right of conquest seems conclusive against our remaining—I say, plainly, that I do not hold their view. We are bound in such a matter to weigh the various interests concerned, and to give to each its proper value; and, considering the enormous importance, not to England only, but to Asia, of keeping unbroken the peace of India, and considering the ruin and misery which would be caused by the disruption of our Indian Empire, I have no doubt that we should be justified in holding Candahar, with or without the consent of its people, if by letting it go we risked the security of India, and if by holding it we made India safe. My Lords, it is for the sake of India—it is for the sake of our power there, and all that it is implied in the continuance of that power, that I come to the opposite conclusion from that which is embodied in the Resolution of the noble Earl. Only this I will add—that the question is not merely a military one, in which case I should leave it to soldiers, or one merely diplomatic, or merely financial, but it involves considerations of war, diplomacy, and of finance; and that all these together, not any one of them separately, must be the basis of the judgment which you form. My Lords, let me first take that which is the simplest and easiest to deal with—the consideration of expense. Is the Indian Revenue in a position in which we can afford to incur any outlay not absolutely necessary? I may be an "alarmist," though I hope that that is not my habit; but I confess I have looked for many years past with considerable apprehension at the position and at the prospects of Indian finance. I will keep clear of details, but look generally at the situation. You have, in the first place, an Income which is barely kept equal to the Expenditure by keeping down public. works, or by charging to capital many of those public works which are absolutely necessary. You have a Debt—not heavy, indeed, in itself, not heavy in regard to the numbers of the population on whom it falls, but which is heavy in proportion to their wealth, and which is felt as a double burden, because nearly the whole of the interest goes out of the country, and is not returned to it. You have a further drain, inevitable but burdensome, to supply the salaries and pensions of civil and military officials, and a good deal of that also, probably the greater part—is sent to Europe, and does not return. You draw £8,000,000 a-year from the most uncertain and precarious of all conceivable sources of revenue—the opium monopoly. The Chinese Government might cut off that source of supply, as it were, by merely holding up its hand; they have only to licence opium growing at home, and a largo part, at least, of your £8,000,000 vanishes at once. You have a Revenue not absolutely inelastic, as it has sometimes been called, but which is not to be compared in regard to expansion with what we see at home. More than that, my Lords, you have a difficulty and a danger before you compared to which, in my mind, the risk caused by foreign intrigues is utterly insignificant. You have a population living on the simplest food, without trade or manufactures, which will not migrate, and which continues to increase. In old times the population of Bengal was kept down by wars, by famine, and by pestilence. We have put an end to internal wars, we do what we can to mitigate the pressure of famine and to prevent pestilence, and what is the result? Dr. Hunter, the able statistician employed by Government, tells you what is the state of the case. You are threatened with a pressure of population upon your means of subsistence such as the world has never seen before. I only touch upon that subject. This is not a time to go into it; but I think you will find that those who have most deeply studied the economical situation of India are generally those who take the least sanguine view, and who feel the deepest anxiety as to its economic future. But, my Lords, we need not look so far forward. Take India as it is at the present time. Can you safely increase the taxation to any appreciable extent? I do not believe you can. I believe you are now very near the point at which increased taxes do not bring an increased Revenue; and in any case, suppose it possible to raise more than we do, is the risk of creating internal discontent nothing? If what we fear is not so much invasion as disaffection excited from without; if the risk which we are so anxious to avert is the risk of internal insurrection, surely, my Lords, it is more important to make sure that the materials for a conflagration do not exist than to take extraordinary and costly precautions against a spark or two finding its way in. If you have a people ready and ripe for revolt the occasion will come some day. If they are on the whole contented, incitements to insurrection will do little mischief. When, therefore, I am told of the danger of foreign intrigue in India, I do not meet the argument by the assurance that India is in no danger—I wish I could think so—but what I say is, that you have to choose between incurring one risk or another, and that the risk which arises from crushing down a people with taxes is tenfold greater than that of leaving a vulnerable—if it be a vulnerable—point on your Frontier. But then I may be told that England—the English Exchequer—will bear part of the burden. It will be quite time enough to discuss that hypothesis when it is shown that English constituencies, chiefly composed of working men and poor men, are willing to increase their burdens for any such purposes. I do not believe they would agree to it; and if under any impulse they did so, still you would have no security for the arrangement lasting. We have seen enough in the last few years of the rapid fluctuations of public feeling in matters of this kind; and if, for the first time, India were made a direct burden on the English taxpayer, I am afraid you would create a state of opinion at home far more dangerous for the maintenance of the Empire than any which now exists. Nor, my Lords, is it possible to argue with those persons who contend that the revenue derived from the Candahar district would appreciably lessen the cost of holding it. You will sooner get honey out of a wasp's nest than you will draw taxation from an Afghan province. I see in the last Blue Book, that Shore Ali is reported to have said— I am not afraid of your annexing Afghanistan, because it yields only £1,000,000 revenue, and it would cost you £10,000;000 to keep it. I recollect hearing some saying of the same kind ascribed to Dost Mahomed many years ago. Whoever said it, the estimate is just; and what holds good of a whole holds good equally of a part. Stones and armed men are the produce of the Afghan country, and you will find no other. But, my Lords, putting the financial part of the question aside, in what sense is the occupation of Candahar intended to be a safeguard? What is it that you are afraid of? Is it invasion, or is it diplomacy? My Lords, if India is to be invaded from the Russian Dominions one thing is certain—the invading force must first occupy and hold for a considerable time a large portion of intervening Afghan territory. Do you think the Afghan nation will submit willingly or tamely to an occupation of their country? Do you suppose that the presence of Russian troops in their towns and villages, for however short a time, will be acceptable or even tolerable? Why, we know enough of Afghan character to be aware that one of their most marked characteristics is an intense love of independence and consequent jealousy and hatred of any foreigner who meddles with them. With a people such as they are, fanatical, suspicious, intolerant of strangers, no prospect of distant advantages would ever compensate for the domination of their country by a Russian force. If Russian troops were to enter the country on their way to India, I daresay it might be a wise step, in a military point of view, to occupy Candahar. I grant you that. But in such circumstances as I have supposed, would you require to go there as an enemy? No; you would be received as a liberator and as an ally. The foreign Power, whoever it may be, who is actually holding Afghan soil will be more detested by the Afghans than any other Power for the time being. If we are occupying Afghanistan, the Afghan Chiefs, whoever they may be, will intrigue with Russia. If Russia is holding Afghan territory, they will throw themselves into our arms. Given a nation and a Government which only wants to be left alone, which is comparatively weak, between two great Empires and almost equally afraid of both, it is that Empire of the two which shows the least wish to intrude upon or control them which will be looked upon as a protector and friend. And even if it were otherwise—if necessity compelled you again to advance on Candahar against the will of the Natives—is that a matter of extraordinary difficulty? We have had, unluckily, a good deal of experience of fighting in Afghanistan. Where have we met any serious resistance? The difficulty has been—what it always is in a turbulent and half-civilized country—to maintain communications and to get supplies up to the front. No Asiatic fortress has held out in recent times even for a few days against European artillery. Putting matters at the very worst, therefore—supposing a foreign Army to have entered, or to be entering Afghanistan—supposing that under that state of things the Afghans refused to call in help from us—supposing that we considered it a military necessity to reoccupy Candahar, can you not take it when you want it without holding it permanently in a time of peace? Is it worth while to incur the cost even of £1,000,000 a-year—probably of a great deal more to hold for 20 or 30 years a position, which would be only an embarrassment and an encumbrance to you in time of peace, on the bare chance that if you are attacked in one particular manner or by one particular enemy you may possibly find it useful as an outpost? But, then, my Lords, it is said, what we really have to fear is not foreign invasion, but foreign intrigue with the Native population. Well, be it so; but how in the world will holding Candahar protect you against Russian intrigue at Cabul? Only in one conceivable way—namely, that the occupation will be a standing menace to the Rider of Cabul—that is to say, to reduce the country to the condition of a Dependency, so that he will not dare to receive overtures from Russia—at least openly and to our knowledge, whatever he may do in secret. But, then, what you mean is a great deal more than the mere occupation of Candahar. What you mean is that you intend, by means of holding one Afghan capital, to make the whole country dependent. Well, that is going a good deal beyond the point which we had reached some time ago when a leading Member of the then Government told us that what he desired to see was "a strong, friendly, and independent Afghanistan." And, my Lords, that is not the least valid of the objections against this occupation. You may, as I conceive, keep entirely clear of the internal feuds and politics of Afghanistan by remaining within your present, or nearly your present, boundaries. I am not now arguing the question of a few square miles more or less which may be required to give a better line of defence. You cannot, I am sure, hold one-third of the Afghan Kingdom in your own hands, and, at the same time, keep clear of the internal affairs of the other two-thirds. There is no well-defined Frontier—no line of demarcation. England remaining outside of Afghanistan may possibly be an ally—at any rate, may not be regarded as an object of hostility; England occupying Candahar can never, in the nature of things, hold any position at Cabul except that of an enemy or a master. I do not affirm that the two capitals have never been separated. No doubt at various times they have; but they are looked upon by the whole Afghan nation as constituting integral parts of one Kingdom. The nation has been broken up, no doubt, into tribes; but it has been often seen in nations, having a similar tribal organization, that, however hard it may be to induce them to combine in time of peace, however incessantly occupied they may be in fighting one another, they are always ready to unite against a foreign invader. Let us take a lesson from what is passing in Europe at this time. What do we see in Greece at the present day? We see that no Government has a chance of holding power at Athens that does not dangle before the people the prospect of an extended Greek Empire. And so it will be in Afghanistan. No Ameer will ever be able to hold his own at Cabul who does not encourage the notion of the recovery of Candahar sooner or later. Is not that a bribe easy for Russian or other foreign agents to offer? Does it not furnish the best and most convenient opportunity possible for those very intrigues of which you are always afraid? Whereas, so long as you keep outside of the Afghan territory, no Ameer who is not a madman will be likely, under any circumstances which we can foresee, to engage in an offensive war against England in the hope of conquering and keeping some outlying fragment of the British Dominions. That, my Lords, is a fact to which you can hardly attach too much importance. Stay where you are, or, rather, where you were, and it is at your own choice whether you go further. Advance to Candahar, and I believe you cannot stop there. The very jealousy and hostility which you will provoke at Cabul will be a reason for going on to Cabul; the jealousy with which your advance will be viewed in Russia will be the reason for further Russian advances. My Lords, I should really like to know how many of those who cry out for the retention of Candahar will be satisfied in their own minds to make that a limit? Have we not heard something of Herat? There was a meeting held last week, crowded and enthusiastic, to protest against the proposed withdrawal; but who was the chief speaker at that meeting? An able officer, a brilliant writer, an eager partizan of the policy of advance; and it is not very long since I read an interesting little book by him, written in support of that policy, pointing out the fertility of the Herat country, the resources which it possesses, the ease with which it could be defended, the danger of letting any other Power hold it, and so forth. That question is kept a good deal in the background just now. But I say, with some confidence, whatever reasons may be valid for the move onwards from Quetta to Candahar, I will undertake to find reasons just as conclusive why, if you go there, you would not leave the matter unfinished; why the position of Candahar should be regarded as insecure, and the object of it unaccomplished, if you do not hold Herat at the same time. My Lords, if the cost and the risk of holding Candahar were infinitely less than they are, I would still advise against it for this reason—If once you get even a finger entangled in this complicated wheelwork of internal Afghan politics, the finger will draw in the hand, the hand the arm, and you will not extricate yourself except in a very damaged condition. You are free to keep out of it; you are not free if once involved, to determine how far or to what extent you will be involved. My Lords, the noble Earl has told us that, without advancing one step or moving a single soldier, Russia, once holding Merv, will be practically dominant at Herat, as a necessary consequence of being in close proximity to that city. Why is that argument valid in favour of Russia, and not valid where it applies to us? Are we not also in close proximity to Afghanistan? Why is proximity to count for so much in the case of Russia, and for nothing at all in ours? Again, the noble Earl says— If you withdraw from Candahar, your retrograde movement caunot stop there; you must give up Quetta, too. My Lords, where is the likeness between the two cases? We are at Quetta in virtue of a Treaty of not very recent date, with the full and free consent of both Chiefs and people, who have never shown the slightest desire that we should withdraw. Will anyone contend that that is the state of things at Candahar? And, if not, where is the resemblance? Besides, there is a considerable difference between occupying a position on your own Frontier and occupying one 300 miles beyond it. It may or may not be wise to hold Quetta. I am not arguing that question; but it is a question in no way affected by the decision concerning Candahar. My Lords, a great deal of stress is laid—and not unnaturally laid—on the fact that among civil and military officials in India there is a preponderance of opinion against withdrawal. I admit that that is so, although with many exceptions; and I admit, also, the great ability and the disinterested purpose of those who are in favour of the policy of advance. But I contend that the weight of their opinion is lessened by one fact about which nobody who knows anything of Indian history can have a doubt, that the same language has been held and the same arguments used from the time of Warren Hastings to our own, where the alternative has been between annexation or leaving things as they were. The Services unite almost to a man where there is a question of extending the area of British possessions. They pushed on Lord Auckland; they applauded every annexation of Lord Dalhousie, some of which were certainly questionable, both in point of justice and of policy; and they almost hunted down Lord William Bentinck, the only Governor General who, up to that day, pursued a policy of reducing expenses and keeping out of wars. It is not difficult to see why that should be the predominant feeling of the official class in a military Empire administered by Europeans. An Army would not fulfil the conditions of its existence if it did not look forward with pleasure to fresh campaigns; and fresh provinces to administer have their attractions for civilians. The feeling is not a selfish one; it is partly a natural esprit de corps, partly an equally natural tendency to overrate the advantages of English administration. Anyhow, the feeling is there; and it would be just as strong if the matter in dispute were the holding of Persia or Burmah—or, I had almost said, of China—instead of Afghannistan. But surely, my Lords, a sentiment of that kind ought not to be blindly accepted by us in the place of argument. Surely we, at least, know that the great danger of military Empires is their constant tendency to expand into proportions which make them impossible to hold together. From the days of Alexander to those of Bonaparte, that has been the temptation and the ruin of conquering States; and why are we to suppose ourselves an exception? My Lords, the main argument for an extension of territory is always the same—that it is necessary for safety, because safety depends on prestige. The argument is plausible, and it is dangerous because it is plausible. I can very well believe that under many circumstances it might require a real exercise of political courage to refuse a possible annexation—you disappoint thereby your officials and your Army, and possibly, though not necessarily, you create for the moment an impression of weakness; but is not that a risk which you must run, and is it not a less evil than the evil of indefinite and perpetual expansion? Go on as far as you please—you must have a Frontier somewhere. Wherever you have a Frontier, there is a possibility of disputes and quarrels; but you do not lessen that risk by advancing. Swallow up Candahar, Herat remains; seize on Herat, and Persia still lies behind. It is likely enough that our Asiatic relations with Russia may, in any case, be uneasy; but are we likely to improve them by closer contact? Proximity only multiplies possible causes of difference; it certainly can do nothing to lessen them. But, in the present case, is any loss of prestige involved? When Afghanistan was invaded two years ago all intention of annexation was emphatically disclaimed. We were not at war, it was said, with the Afghan people, but with the Ameer; we wished for nothing so much as to see Afghanistan strong, independent, and friendly. It is not my object now to criticize these utterances; all that I contend for is, that they harmonize perfectly well with the policy of retirement from Afghan territory, while they are absolutely inconsistent with the policy of even partial annexation. What loss of prestige can there be in doing in 1881 that which we announced that we should do in 1878? But, then, it is said—"The Natives will think your power is gone, and they will begin to defy you." Well; but did they do that before? The circumstances are not new. We have held all Afghanistan. We marched through it 40 years ago; and not out of fear or weakness, but on the ground of rational policy, we withdrew. What followed? Was there any disturbance? Were our motives misinterpreted then? Did anybody think our Indian Empire was about to collapse? And, if not, why should they think so now? My Lords, if there be such a thing as a cowardly policy, I will tell you to what kind of policy that name applies—it applies to a policy of aggression founded on terror. It is the worst form of public cowardice when you do that which you do not believe to be in itself wise or politic, merely because you think if you do not do it somebody will say you are afraid. My Lords, the purely military question is one which it would be presumptuous in me to dwell upon. I know that military opinions are divided. I only, therefore, venture to ask one or two questions, which, no doubt, some one more competent than myself will answer. I would ask first whether, having a vast Empire and small Army, it is wise to impose on yourselves the necessity of locking up a very large garrison in a very out-of-the-way place, whore it is useless except for one special purpose? I would next ask whether service in the Afghan country has not been found peculiarly unpopular in the Native Army—so much so as to have latterly interfered with recruiting? I would inquire, further, whether, in the event of any general disturbance in India, a garrison at Candahar is not liable to be cut off, or, at least, greatly annoyed, by insurrections in its rear; whether, in fact, the position is not too isolated to be safe from a military point of view; and whether, in the event of a war with Russia, one of our chief advantages of defence does not consist in the long and difficult country to be traversed, and whether we do not throw away a good deal of that advantage by advancing to meet the enemy half-way? These, at least, are matters for inquiry. My opinion upon them will be worth nothing; but if we are asked to go to vast expenses and incur many risks in order to secure a military advantage, we ought, at least, to know where we shall get the advantages for which this sacrifice is made. My Lords, a great deal has been said—a great deal more, probably, may be said—about those Russo-Afghan Papers which have appeared after so long an interval. I mention them merely in order that I may not seem to ignore their existence; but I do not see how they bear on the present argument. What they show is this—that a Russian Agent tried to get Afghan support when a war was expected between England and Russia; that he held out expectations to the Ameer which he could not make good; and that, when the difference between Russia and England came to an end, he threw over his intended ally without scruple. I should imagine that the result of that transaction would be to make secret alliances between Russia and Afghanistan very difficult for the future. For what is the language of the Russian General?—"Be ready to fight, but don't fight without us;" and when that was said he perfectly well knew that Russia had no intention of fighting. A more deliberate deception never was practised; but it is the Afghans, and not we, who have reason to complain. But, my Lords, had things been otherwise it would not effect my argument. I have never said that Russia could not try to meddle in Afghan affairs. What I contend for is that holding Candahar is not the right way to meet such attempts if they are made. My Lords, I have stated the reasons for which, in my judgment, it is not desirable to adopt the policy embodied in the Resolution of the noble Earl. I cannot do what, under such circumstances, is usually done—make an urgent appeal to your Lordships to avert the public dangers and inconveniences which will attend the adoption of this Resolution. I cannot do that, because I do not believe that any dangers or any inconveniences to the public will follow. The Resolution, I suppose, is very likely to be carried. What then? You will not alter the opinion of the other House of Parliament, nor the opinion of the Government who are responsible for the course that they may take. I will venture to say you will not alter the opinion of the country. You will simply have uttered a protest. It is your right—no one questions that; but for myself, deeply concerned as I have always been for the credit and influence of this House, I doubt the wisdom of putting on record, without necessity, an opinion which will remain without result. You set your own consciences free, no doubt; but, at the same time, you register—I do not like to use a harsh word and say your own impotence, but your own inevitable inability to alter the course of events. The outside world, I am afraid, will take a cynical view of the situation; they will simply say—"By all means let the House of Lords pass as many Resolutions as they like; it pleases them and it does no harm." But is that a dignified position for this House to accept? One of two things must happen if this Resolution is carried. Either a counter Resolution will be moved in the other House of Parliament, and, of course, be carried there, or else no notice whatever will be taken. In the one case you are snubbed, in the other you are ignored. Neither is, to my mind, a pleasing alternative; and I should not have thought it was one to be accepted, far less to be invited, by those who are most anxious to support the dignity of this House. But, my Lords, that is a view which chiefly concerns those who, on the Main Question, look upon the matter differently from me. For myself, I shall vote against the retention of Candahar, because I believe it will be a burden and not a benefit—a source of weakness, not of strength—be- cause I hold that our best defences in India are a full Treasury and a contented people, an Army not too widely scattered for its work, and neighbours who are satisfied that we have do design on their territory or their freedom. Keep Candahar, as the noble Earl proposes, and every one of these conditions is reversed; and if I thought the dangers of Russian intrigues were as formidable as some persons seem to consider them, I cannot see the way by which they would be more effectually promoted than by endorsing the policy embodied in this Resolution.


The counsel, my Lords, with which the noble Earl opposite concluded his speech amounts to this—that your Lordships, being a part of the Great Council of the Realm, should never give your advice upon any subject unless you are certain beforehand that it will be accepted. I am not entirely surprised at that recommendation coming from the noble Earl, for I cannot help remembering that at the last great debate we had in this House his own view of the course which was best for him to pursue was to express an opinion strongly against the Bill then under consideration, and then to vote for it. He naturally expects your Lordships to follow, in some sense, the example which he has set, and, though you feel strongly against the abandonment of Candahar, because you are not certain your advice will be followed, you are to abstain from following your own convictions. In my view, that is not a worthy estimate of the duties of this House. On others lie the responsibility of the course which is being adopted. Our plain duty is to express the truth as we feel it on this and the other momentous questions of the day. If we fulfil that duty, we shall fulfil the highest function for which we exist. I am not prepared to admit that because at present the opinion of the House of Commons and, as some persons think, that of many persons in the country tends to an opposite direction, therefore the proceedings of this House will be wholly without effect in bringing about a sounder state of reasoning and opinion. My Lords, in reference to the functions of this House, it is right that you should bear in mind that, while in one sense your position is less powerful by far than that of the other House of Parlia- ment in that you cannot immediately influence the actions of the Executive in those matters which lie in its immediate jurisdiction, you are in another respect in a superior position to that of the House of Commons in that you are able freely, and without reference to other considerations, to give your opinion frankly upon such matters as are brought before you, The other House has a Government to support and a Party to keep in Office, and even if the opinion of the House wore the contrary of what it is, it might be that they would be disposed to keep back that opinion from the fear of imperilling other objects nearer their hearts. Therefore—especially when Party discipline is so strong as it is now—it is on that account all the more desirable that the people of this country should have freely and frankly laid before it the opinions of those who are nearer the centre of affairs, and have better facilities than the other House of judging of matters which concern the external welfare of the Empire. The great point to be borne in mind in this debate is that we have been dealing for a great number of years past with a danger which has constantly been altering in the way in which it approaches us and m nearness and intensity. The result is that there is, on the one hand, a great latitude and a great diversity of opinion on the part of distinguished authorities. On the other hand, it must be borne in mind that when many of the authorities referred to were alive the danger was much less serious than it is now. Such authorities would probably not now, if they were living, hold the opinions which they then expressed. We have heard, on the other hand, a number of high authorities quoted by the noble Viscount who represents the India Office in this House. He went back as far as 1854, and quoted the opinion of Sir James Outram on the danger we had to apprehend, and the remedies we ought to take to meet that danger. But when that opinion was expressed the Frontier of Russia was several thousand miles further off than it is now, and many obstacles existed to her advance which have since been removed. It is as though someone, in discussing the necessity of applying a remedy to the rinderpest were to quote the opinions of celebrated experts as to what should be done for keeping away that plague when it was as far distant as Hungary or the Dardanelles. Naturally, your views as to what should be done against the rinderpest would be much affected by the fact whether it was at the time in Germany, Holland, or Lincolnshire. You would be much more inclined for drastic measures when it was close by than when it was far away. It is impossible for us to tell what might have been the views of the great men who have passed away. I doubt very much whether even Lord Lawrence would be inclined for this abandonment of all the positions we have gained, although he did, as we well know, deprecate the policy in consequence of which our present position has arisen. But the truth is, that within the last few years the danger from Russian aggression—or rather Russian advance, for aggression is, perhaps, a word which we have no right to use—has constantly increased. It is not merely that it has increased by the addition of new territories to the Russian Empire. On the East and towards Turkestan, no doubt, the Russian Frontier has constantly advanced. But while the advance was confined to that region it was always open to Russia to say that that was only the natural growth of her Empire, and that it was only what must happen when cililization came into contact with barbarism; that it was the natural policy of a civilizing race. But now the cloud approaches us from the shores of the Caspian Sea. In that direction there are no Provinces to bring under; there are no Russian interests to watch over. Her presence on the eastern shores of that Sea, where there is nothing before her but a desert to conquer, is in itself a plain proof of a design against something beyond that desert. Since she came there, within the last few years, persistent and successful efforts have been made, and she has advanced first to one point and then to another. The most desert and difficult part of the country has been overcome. The formidable resistance of the Turkomans, upon which many of us—and I myself at one time—relied to delay her advance, has crumbled into dust before one of the ablest Generals in the Russian Service. And now we are at this point, that the forces of Russia have overcome the only enemy they had to fear; they have passed the most serious part of the desert which lay before them; she is beginning the construction of a railroad by which all difficulties of supply will be removed; and she has secured the co-operation of Persia who, we have every reason to believe—without prying into the secrets of the Foreign Office—is a mere puppet in her hands. That is the danger. It has gone on constantly increasing, decade by decade, and year after year. Why should it stop? What reason is there for believing that the future will not be as the past? What reason is there for believing that the Power which has hitherto been arrested by no obstacles, and which has shrunk from no sacrifices, will hereafter find those obstacles to be insuperable and those sacrifices to be greater than she can bear? Well, the danger being there, the question which your Lordships have to ask yourselves is, what remedy, what defence is open to you; what protection can you trust to? Ten years ago, I think the Government of that day trusted very much to the promise of Russia that she would not interfere with the internal affairs of Afghanistan. I have not heard anybody to-night exactly say that he trusted to the promises of Russia. In truth, those promises have been unfortunate. There was a promise that she would not occupy Khiva, and she did occupy Khiva. There was a promise that she would not extend leer territory on the banks of the Caspian, but she has extended her territory on the banks of the Caspian. There was a promise that she would not interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan, and she has interfered in those internal affairs. In short, we can now see that the cycle of events is first that a promise is given, then that promise is broken, and then that a new promise is given on the top of it. In what particular stage we are now I do not exactly know. It is possible that the noble Earl opposite has got at this moment a promise in his pocket that Russia will not advance beyond Geok Tekke. The Russian papers which have been produced give us an insight into the causes why these promises cannot be relied upon. Never was a Power more afflicted with disobedient officers than the great and powerful Empire of Russia. There are old stories of the same kind, which those who have read the history of Afghanistan will remember, all of them illustrating this peculiar defect in the character of the Russian officer. We remember how, in the old war, Vicovitch, having gone against his instructions, was made to blow his brains out when he went home; and how Simvuid, at the Court of Persia, in the teeth of what we were told officially were his instructions, urged the Shah to undertake the campaign against Herat. And when we carry on our view into Europe, we remember a few years ago the remarkable phenomenon of Turkey being invaded from Servia by an army headed by Russian officers, those officers being said to be acting in diametrical opposition to the instructions they had received. Then there is the case of Khiva. We know that the Russian Government desired not to occupy Khiva, and that it sent a trusty Minister to assure us that it would not be done. Nevertheless, the Russian officer was again too strong for the Emperor, and Khiva was occupied. And now we have had the last case of the Russian Embassy to Afghanistan. It is described as an Embassy which was sent there when there was the chance of war between Russia and England. If the Russian Government really intended that to be be their policy, then they must have had an odd idea of the time when there was likely to be a war between England and Russia, because General Stolieteff started from Tashkend on the very day after the Treaty of Berlin was signed. If he selected that day as the one on which it was most likely that there would be war between Russia and England, I can only say that we are never safe; and I hear with very much less satisfaction than I should otherwise have done the assurance which the noble Viscount opposite gave us this evening as to the good relations existing between England and Russia. I do not think that the noble Earl entirely did justice to the peculiar character of that letter of the 8th of October—according to the Russian, and the 20th according to our style—in which General Stolieteff urges the Ameer to pretend peace no to prepare for war against us, and to wait for the Mussulmans on the other side of the Oxus, to go to war along with him. That letter was written three months after the Treaty of Berlin, and it was not written from Afghanistan, but from Europe; and, as far as I can find out, on that very 20th of October, when General Stolieteff was contriving that conspiracy against the honour of his Imperial master, he was actually residing at Livadia. With all these facts before us, I do not think that we can rely on any assurances from the Government of Russia to stay, even for an hour, the destined advance—for it is, I think, the destined advance—of the Russian troops to Afghanistan. There is another security, which was at one time a great favourite with the late Lord Lawrence and the men of his school, and is still a security, I think, with the noble Earl the First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord Northbrook)—namely, that India should not take precautions to defend herself, but should trust to the diplomatic or to the warlike action of the Government at home to arrest any action of Russia on the side of Afghanistan. I am not sure that the noble Earl who has just sat down (the Earl of Derby) did not allude to something of that kind; but it is popularly expressed by the phrase that if Russia advances to Herat we can make war upon her in every part of the world. What, my Lords, does that mean"? You can only make war with Russia by sea. Cronstadt is impregnable, and unless you are on terms of alliance with Turkey—a position, I fancy, you have abundantly succeeded in getting out of by this time—you cannot make war with Russia by way of the Black Sea. And what does this making war with her in all parts of the world mean if her force advances to Herat? You will be driven, after all, to take some precautions on your Indian Frontier from the very absurdity of attempting to control that Power which is placed in all other respects absolutely beyond your reach. Then, if you are able to resist any advance, be it military or diplomatic or a conjunction of the two, what place is best situate by nature to enable you to construct that defence? I imagine that there is no substantial disagreement among great military authorities, whatever their views as to the precise policy at this moment to be pursued, as to the enormous strategical advantages of Candahar. Candahar has been described by a considerable strategical authority as an isthmus surrounded by dry land, and that very forcibly depicts the value of its military position. It has a desert on the south that cannot be turned on that flank, and to the north it has a difficult, desolate, and dangerous country through which no well - appointed army can march. The result is, that if an army wishes to approach India by the Passes, it must pass either close by or within striking distance of Candahar. Now, we are in possession of Candahar. I am very glad that the noble Earl who spoke last lent the weight of his authority to dissipate what seems to me the somewhat foolish and exaggerated language which has been used about the moral aspects of this matter. We are at Candahar by the right of conquest. The noble Viscount (Viscount Enfield) appeared to indicate that he thought it was a high exhibition of morality to deny the right of conquest, and to maintain that, having taken it by war, we are bound to give it up; but I would only point out to him, without entering into these difficult questions of morality which concern matters of war and conquest, that, at all events, his doctrine must be consistent—that if it is our duty always to give up everything that we have conquered, it is a contention which will lead us a great deal further than Candahar—and I am afraid there is no part of our Indian Empire which would escape the action of his ruthless morality. I shall not touch further upon that question than to say that, according to all the evidence I have seen, it appears to me probable that the majority of the population of Candahar, if they were allowed to speak their minds, would prefer our remaining to our going. That the Afghans, properly so called, wish us to depart is true. I imagine that in the last century, if the Highlanders had been asked what they thought of English government, and of police, and of regular administration, they would have taken a hostile view of them. That is very much the view the Afghans take of our Government. They are an eminently lawless race. We impose obedience to the law—and, on that ground alone, they wish us to go. There is, however, a much stronger ground for this feeling—and that is that the Afghans are Mahomedans of a singularly fanatic type. But what appears to be borne out by the majority of witnesses is that most of the population of Candahar are not Afghans that they are Persians, Hindoos, Beloochi—in fact, a mixture of races, who only wish to be allowed to trade in peace. No doubt, those who trade and make money would desire our rule in preference to that of the Afghans. But a more serious objection to our remaining at Candahar is taken on the ground of finance. The noble Viscount opposite went into some detail; but I do not think even he accepted the violent estimate of Sir Henry Norman. The noble Viscount assumes that a garrison of 20,000 men will be required, and that that garrison will cost £750,000, Then he adds 100 per cent, without any calculation or investigation of details as to the further cost that would be necessary, for contingencies and additional supplies. This would increase the cost to £1,500,000. All these calculations are subject to enormous variation. I have seen a calculation of the number of men, sanctioned by one of the highest military authorities of the day, and one best acquainted with Afghanistan, and that calculation is that 12,000 or 13,000 men would be required. I have also seen a calculation as to the additional cost that would be brought upon the country owing to the distance from the source of supplies—it is put down at more than £350,000. Whether the troops themselves are an addition to the force of India or not is not a matter upon which I think the weight of military authority is in the negative direction. We have now a large force occupying the Frontier at three points—Jacobabad, Peshawur, and Rawul-Pindi. They are not there because those posts require a great force in themselves. When you move the Frontier forward, these troops will naturally leave these places and take up their new position on the Frontier that you have adopted. There are now about 12,000 or 13,000 at the three garrisons; or, at least, there were that number before the war began. Scarcely any increased force to the main Army of India will be required when these men have removed from the old to what will be the new Frontier. There is considerable military authority for saying that no material annual expense will be incurred for the force necessary to occupy Candahar. But I do not care to enlarge upon that point, because I really think that the calculation of the noble Earl who has just sat down (the Earl of Derby) has assumed too serious dimensions. He dwelt upon—and pointed it by illustrations—what he regarded as the deadly perils which en- viron the finances of India. He spoke of the contingent and uncertain character of the opium revenue—yielding £8,000,000 of revenue—he led us to believe that no serious addition can be made to the Revenue of India; and he finished his picture by painting in the darkest colours the terrible fate which was reserved for a country, the population of which was rapidly increasing beyond all possible means of subsistance to maintain them. My Lords, the saving of £300,000 or £400,000, which it appears would be required for the occupation of Candahar, will be no material relief from such a calamity. But, on the other hand, you have to consider the financial loss which results from false economy in matters of this kind. What would we give now if the regiments in the Transvaal last summer had never been removed? No doubt, it was done from the best motives of economy. I am making no charge whatever—I am simply illustrating my point—but the result of the saving, from a most laudable motive, a small amount of money has been a very serious expense, both in men and money, to this country. What would we have given in the case of the Zulu War if it had been delayed a sufficient time to allow of an adequate force being at hand to carry out operations? Well, what is the course which the Government propose to pursue in regard to this new danger that has arisen on the North-Western Frontier? Remember that I am not asserting that it is probable any sane statesman in Russia contemplate the conquest of India; but what is a very possible achievement, and what may be a very reasonable object of Russian policy, would be to make Afghanistan so completely a Dependency of Russia, to bring it so far within Russian military and diplomatic influence, to train its troops by Russian officers, and to arm them with Russian arms, to hold a Russian force ready to support them in case of conflict, that a menace would be created on our North-Western Frontier of the Indian Empire—a menace which would paralyze and control your policy in any other part of the world. That is the policy to which Russian statesmen may fairly look forward, and which it is not impossible they may achieve. It is a policy by which, if they do achieve it, the fate of Constantinople will be sealed. If they can once apply such a threat to your North-Western Frontier as to make you seriously concerned for the safety of your Indian Empire, no policy adverse to theirs can be pursued by this country in South-Eastern Europe. How do you propose to act in order to prevent them from establishing this supremacy and superiority in Afghanistan? I must confess that I do not quite understand the policy which the Government propose to themselves to adopt. Some people—I think among them Sir Henry Norman—some of the extreme advocates of the old policy which the noble Viscount advocates, are in favour of our remaining below the Indus and waiting there for the enemy to come. I have heard little to-night that leads me to suppose that that is a policy which any reasonable man would adopt, and I can only point at the terrible danger any Government would run who might propose to put it into execution. When Afghanistan is in hostile hands, and when the Passes are commanded by your enemies, do you imagine that no thoughts will arise in the minds of the Mahomedans that within the period of two long lives themselves have furnished the Rulers to India? I cannot believe that, with a formidable enemy in front, you can safely count upon the centre of your power in India remaining undisturbed; you cannot at once defend India and re-conquer it. But a more probable course, and one far more likely to be followed, is that which has been suggested by the noble Earl who has just sat down—namely, that whenever you anticipate great danger from the Russian advance in Central Asia, you should return and re-take possession of Candahar. But, as was very pertinently asked by my noble Friend who opened this debate, Can you do it? You must remember that, in such an event, Afghanistan will be hostile. A heavy veil will overspread that country, as has been the case before, and you will be absolutely ignorant of all that passes within it; while Russia, advancing closer and closer by the North-West, will have free access to it by Merv and Herat. Another question is, Will you meet with the same kind of Afghan Army when you return up the Pass of Bholan as that which you left behind? Will you not rather meet, if not with a European Army, with a Native Army with much of the skill and learning and discipline possessed by that of Russia? Some people appear to lay much stress upon the moral effect which our evacuation of Candahar will have upon the people of Afghanistan. There is a strange idea prevalent with regard to the Afghan character, which hardly coincides with that which is entertained by those who have lived in that country. There is an idea that they are highly impressionable, and that they are very easily touched and gained upon by any striking act of self-restraint, and that if they see you retiring behind your Frontier their first impulse will be to fall into great ecstasies at this great act of moral and virtuous renunciation, and will swear to each other that thenceforward nothing shall induce them to listen to the bribers or to fear the intimidation of Russia. I am afraid that that scarcely coincides with what experience has taught us with regard to the Asiatic character. I am afraid that in Asia allegiance is merely the recognition of superior strength, and that the Afghans will, on the whole, ask themselves, when they are determining to whom their allegiance shall be given, which is the stronger Power—which is the Power that can protect their friends and punish their enemies—and I am afraid that they will conclude that the stronger Power is that which advances and never retreats, and not the Power which retreats and preaches all the way. Of course, there are several ways of putting a retreat. I recollect, during the American War, when the Federals were compelled to execute that disagreeable operation, their Generals always spoke of this action as a strategic movement to the rear. Her Majesty's Government chose to describe it as a high moral act of renunciation. But these are all delicacies of civilization. The Afghan has to judge by experience of his own country and race, and his experience is that people who stand are the stronger, and the weak are the people who give way. I fear that when you have undertaken to execute this manœuvre, on which so much reliance is placed, of coming back to Candahar when you hear the Russians are at Herat—and I suppose commencing, by the way, to construct a railway at the same time; and, perhaps, after much debate at home and discussion in Parliament, and possibly a General Election intervening—I fear that when the salutary movement is resolved upon, you will have to meet something even more dangerous than the Russian Armies, and the alienation of Afghan allegiance and obedience. You will have to meet the general belief in that country in the decay of our own national power. Depend upon it, Candahar is no trivial or unimportant city. Its strategic value and its great historic importance make it the object of the attention of the whole nation; and the Power that is seen to give up Candahar will, in the words of a great living Statesman, be thought to be "a Power that has lived." The noble Earl spoke very contemptuously of those who fear to be thought afraid. The Rulers of India, who are attempting the stupendous task of governing 250,000,000 men by 250,000, do well to fear that they should be thought afraid. With them reputation for courage and strength, if it be not a substitute for the possession of that strength, is, at all events, a safety and protection against unnumbered evils which must accompany the repression of disorder in such an Empire as your Indian Empire. But, think for a moment—when you cast a fatal doubt on this reputation for strength, which is so essential, if not to your existence, at all events to your peace and tranquillity—what is the particular crisis at which this is done? Are your Armies in all parts of the world so strong and so successful that you can afford, at this particular time, to have it said that, struck down by a terrible blow in Africa, you are compelled to abandon the conquest you have made, and leave Afghan territory to those whom you conquered? My Lords, if you regard financial considerations, or, for the sake of deferring to the fantastical opinions of a particular clique of politicians or religionists who are not unrepresented in the present Government, if you take a course such as this, you, at the present time, suffer a doubt to be cast in the minds of millions of the Asiatic population on the strength and power of your military force, and you will have sacrificed that position, that reputation for tenacity, for resolution, on which your splendid Empire was originally based, and by which alone I venture to say it can be held.


My Lords, it seems to me somewhat strange that the noble Marquess who has just sat down (the Marquess of Salisbury) did not devote some part of his speech to answering the very temperate speech of the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby) who has just addressed the House. As far as I was able to follow the speech of the noble Marquess, he did not attempt to answer the arguments of the noble Earl, but contented himself with a few criticisms on minor points which were alluded to. In some respects I can say, from my own knowledge, that the statement of facts made by the noble Marquess were inaccurate. For instance, he stated that General Stolieteff started from Tashkend the very clay after the signature of the Berlin Treaty; but I know that he left on the day following that on which the Conference at Berlin commenced.


said, he had taken the dates from the Blue Books laid before Parliament. If the noble Earl would look into the Blue Book, he would see that the date was July 14.


I reassert my statement, and leave it to the noble Marquess to contradict it if he chooses after a further examination of the Blue Book. Then, again, the noble Lords opposite were, many of them, Ministers of the Crown at the time when most of the events under consideration happened, and it is not for us on this side to take up the cudgels or to apologize for Russia or the Government in power at the time of which I speak. The noble Earl who commenced this debate (Earl Lytton) was good enough to spend a full hour of his speech in making an attack upon the bumble individual now addressing you. In reference to that part of his speech I will only say that I have no intention to bring up again the old stories discussed in this House two years ago, or to enter on a disquisition as to the frame of mind of Shore Ali Khan in 1876. When I heard him read letter after letter from General Kaufmann to Shore Ali Khan, I was reminded of the story of Serjeant Buzfuz, who, having dwelt on the remark in Mr. Pickwick's letter that he wished to have prepared for him a dish of chops with tomato sauce, added the instruction to Mrs. Bardell, "Don't trouble yourself about the warming pan." I cannot understand that the expression of the learned Serjeant was more apropos to the issue in "Bardell v. Pickwick" than were the references of the noble Earl to alliances between illustrious houses as based upon the correspondence between Shere Ali Khan and General Kaufmann. The noble Earl has a perfect right to give an account of his own administration of India, but he has tinged that account with pretty much of Eastern romance. The noble Marquess has followed very much in the same line. I shall not follow either of the noble Lords, but confine myself entirely to considerations based upon the wisdom or the unwisdom of retaining possession of Candahar. I am in this difficulty, my Lords, that the different arguments in favour of the withdrawal from Candahar have been so exhaustive—those of my noble Friend behind me (Viscount Enfield), of the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby) below the Gangway, and the military argument of my noble and gallant Friend opposite (Lord Chelmsford)—that I would be but repeating their arguments if I went into the question. I contend that the noble Earl who brought forward this Motion was quite wrong in saying that we have reversed the policy of our Predecessors. What did we find when we came into Office? We found that the noble Earl hail determined to leave Cabul without much caring whether he made an arrangement with Abdurrahman or anyone else for preserving order there. We found that his Government had determined to hand over Herat to Persia—an arrangement which had broken down. And was the policy of the noble Earl to annex Candahar? By no means. The late Prime Minister gave your Lordships a solemn assurance that no such intention existed. The noble Earl selected a man of very considerable merit—the late Wali—to be Governor of Candahar, to be supported by a considerable British force. But within six weeks of the noble Earl leaving Office the troops of the Wali mutinied, the result being a disaster to the British arms. It then became apparent that it would be impossible to retain the Wali at Candahar, and that, therefore, the whole policy of the late Government had broken down. We had then to determine what was to be done with Candahar—and it is, therefore, to put the case the wrong way to say that we have departed from the policy of our Predecessors, for within a few weeks of our taking Office there was no policy of theirs which we could carry out. It seems to me, therefore, that we should have had some stronger reason than any given by the noble Marquess for a new policy—namely, the annexation of a district as large as Great Britain, and involving responsibilities which he has greatly underrated. Well, my Lords, the question may be argued in two ways, and it is constantly argued in both. It is sometimes said that Russian invasion is a bugbear—that Russia would not be so foolish as to think of invading our Indian Empire. By other advocates of annexation it is said that it is necessary to retain Candahar in order to protect British Possessions in India against Russian aggression. I shall not go into that matter further; but it will be admitted that there are high military authorities on both sides of the question. Some, like my noble and gallant Friend Lord Napier of Magdala, think that Candahar would be a very important strategical point in case of any contemplated attack by Russia. Others, equally high in point of authority, think that it would not. I take it that the Department of the War Office who have considered this question and come to a conclusion upon it deserves some notice. The whole Intelligence Department of the War Office, representing the scientific branch, under his Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, have come to the conclusion that the retention of Candahar as a strategical point is highly undesirable; and, therefore, my Lords, there is no preponderance of military authority in favour of its retention. The noble Earl below the Gangway (the Earl of Derby) asked, would it be wise, in the event of war, to have so large a force as it would be necessary to keep at Candahar held in that isolated position—one from which they could not be withdrawn for any other service? In the opinion of Her Majesty's Government that is one of the strongest considerations against the holding of Candahar at the present time. But, my Lords, the argument most used to-night was that by occupying Candahar we should be able to increase our influence and diminish the influence of Russia in Candahar. I admit frankly that the observations of the noble Marquess were perfectly correct in one respect. It is quite correct to say that by the advance of the Army of Russia against the Turkomans, Russia has got nearer to Afghanistan. But the question is, whether the occupation of Candahar is or is not likely to diminish Russian influence and to increase our own. I have always thought that one of the results of this war was a demonstration that the feeling in Afghanistan is hostile to Russia. It is the universal belief that what the Afghans desire is simply their own independence; and I am of opinion that they only wish to be left alone by England and Russia alike. The nation that interferes with Afghanistan, that endeavours to annex Afghan territory, whether it be England or Russia, will be the nation to which the Afghans will be hostile. Therefore, I consider that to occupy Candahar would be the surest way to extend Russian influence in Afghanistan and to open the road to the danger apprehended by the noble Marquess. The noble Earl (the Earl of Lytton) made some charges against the Government of breaking faith. In reply to them, I may refer your Lordships to the despatches of the present Secretary of State for India, in which the desire is deliberately expressed that faith should be kept in every case where pledges have been given to any person or tribe in Afghanistan. If, after the speech delivered by the noble Earl (the Earl of Lytton) in the Legislative Assembly of Calcutta, when he said that the British Government repudiated all views of conquest; after the Proclamation issued by the noble Earl to the Sirdars and people of Afghanistan; after the promise of the noble Earl to respect the independence of the Khan of Khelat—Ministers of the Crown should countenance and advise the retention of Candahar, what faith would Princes and Chiefs in India be likely to place in the solemn assurances of English Ministers? As to the moral aspect of the case, I am not one of those who would for a moment say that if the annexation was absolutely necessary to maintain the British Empire, we should not be justified in making it; but it is, at least, as noble Lords opposite will admit, a debatable point. As regards the question of expense, I have to say that in my opinion no reasonable man could put the number of troops that would be required for the retention of Candahar and for the necessary supports between that place and the Indus at loss than 20,000 men. We cannot reasonably calculate the expense consequent upon the retention of Candahar under 1,500,000 per annum chargeable upon the Indian revenues. There would also be large expenses for barracks, fortifications, and railroads, amounting probably to £5,000,000. The question of expense is a serious one—and it must be borne in mind that it is dangerous to impose additional taxation on the people of India. That was the opinion of Lord Mayo, and it is shared by many eminent men. If the large sums which I have mentioned are spent in the retention of this territory, the development of works of public utility in India will be impossible. The noble Earl opposite says that our prestige will suffer if we withdraw from Candahar. I should like to ask why our prestige would not equally suffer by our withdrawal from Cabul? I think that the noble Earl might have taken a lesson, if I may be allowed to say so, from my noble and gallant Friend Lord Strathnairn, whom I do not see in his place. That noble and gallant Lard said that the prestige of British arms in Afghanistan would be secured to the posterity of that country by the gallant action fought by General Roberts at Candahar; and I think that the noble Earl would have been better advised than to imply that our prestige will be diminished because we think it right to withdraw from Candahar. The noble Earl then said a good deal about Native public opinion in India. I do not doubt, my Lords, that there are in India many Natives—and Mahomedans especially—who are not well-affected to this country. But as regards the general opinion of the Natives of India, I believe that the noble Earl opposite is entirely mistaken; and I draw my conclusions from the opinions expressed in the Native Press, condemning the policy of the late Government, and advocating the early abandonment of Candahar. My Lords, this question cannot be discussed altogether without reference to authority; but I am not going to quote opinions to your Lordships, as it is, in my opinion, unadvisable to go further into that branch of the question. I want your Lordships to consider for a few moments what has been, up to the present time, the prevision of the noble Earl late at the head of the Government and the noble Earl near him as to the management of the affairs of Afghanistan. Have their anticipations been correct or have they not? I take the noble Earl the late Viceroy first. He anticipated that the Mission of Sir Neville Chamberlain to Cabul would be successful, and that there would be no need for resorting to hostile measures or going to war with Afghanistan. A very few days after the expression of that opinion we were at war with Afghanistan. I take another case. The noble Earl the late Prime Minister, on the 5th of August, 1879, speaking at a banquet at the Mansion House, explained to the Lord Mayor what the Government which he represented had done in Afghanistan. He said— My Lord Mayor, you have reminded me that it was to the City of London that I first announced the determination of Her Majesty's Government to secure for our Indian Empire an adequate and scientific frontier: I have now the gratification of reminding you that that object has been accomplished and achieved with a rapidity and a precision of execution which cannot easily be paralleled in the annals of war. That was spoken on the 5th of August, 1879, and it was on the 3rd of September that Sir Louis Cavagnari and his escort were murdered in the city of Cabul. If that is political prescience with regard to the affairs of Afghanistan, I should like to know what political prescience really is. And where is the scientific frontier now? It is painful to ask what, according to these Papers, has become of the scientific frontier to which the late Prime Minister and the late Viceroy of India attached such vast importance. From the last Blue Book we find that the question was asked whether it would be possible to keep British troops in one of those positions—namely, the Kuram, which was so much advocated at one time. There was not a single officer, from General Sir Donald Stewart and General Sir Frederick Roberts downwards, who did not state that that position would be utterly untenable. What was the next political programme from the noble Earl opposite? We had a policy of revision. What has become of all the arrangements that were made by the noble Earl? Just before the Dissolution we heard from the noble Earl opposite a violent attack in the Legislative Council of Calcutta on the Prime Minister, because he saw that the Financial Estimates put forward by the Indian Government did not show the real expenditure. And these are the Advisers that ask your Lordships to agree to an extension of your Empire—an extension which, I am bound to say, as I have said before, would be to the advantage of Russia, if Russia ever, by intrigue or by force, desired to damage the British Empire.

Moved, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(The Viscount Cranbrook.)

Motion agreed to.

Debate adjourned till To-morrow.

House adjourned at half-past Twelve o'clock, till To-morrow, a quarter before Five o'clock.

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