THE EARL OF CARNARVON
, in rising to inquire, Whether the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs will give this House information as to the present critical position of General Gordon; and whether Her Majesty's Government are prepared to take any steps for his relief? said: My Lords, before the commencement of the Easter holidays, when Parliament was separating, Questions were asked in this House as to whether Her Majesty's Government were prepared to give any information with regard to the position of General Gordon in the Soudan, and the measures which they proposed to take with regard to it. To those Questions no very direct or explicit answers were given; but we were assured by the noble Earl opposite, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, if I gathered correctly the general purport of his remarks, that Her Majesty's Government were fully alive to their responsibilities, and that they entertained no fears at that time as to the safety of General Gordon. I am not about to quote any speech made in "another place;" but, at the same time, I shall not be exceeding the precedents allowed in this House if I say that we gathered, from sources of information which we know to be perfectly correct, that the Prime Minister, speaking in the same tone, went somewhat beyond the remarks of the noble Earl, and stated that General Gordon was perfectly able to withdraw from Khartoum if he thought fit, that he was at perfect liberty to withdraw, and that there was no more fear for his safety there than if he were in Cairo. Now, three weeks have passed since those two statements were made, and if the prospect was dark then, it has darkened very much since that time. It was but yesterday that we saw an announcement in the Press of a fresh massacre—300 fugitives were butchered to a man. We are told that Shendy is surrounded, we further learn that Berber is in much the same condition, 262 and in another quarter it is stated that Kassala is also environed by rebels. In the same sources of information to which I have referred, I see some remarkable and very subtle distinctions set up between "surrounding" a place and "hemming" it in. I cannot myself follow those dialectical subtleties with sufficient skill to do justice to them. I am not prepared to say that General Gordon, at this very moment that I am speaking, is in imminent danger of death; that, of course, is all a question of time; but I may say, so far as information which is publicly open to us goes, there is every reason to believe that, given a certain time, General Gordon's life is not worth very much. And more than that, matters have changed for the worse in this respect—that General Gordon's mission is now pretty nearly an admitted failure. I doubt if anybody will stand up and say that he is either carrying out, or likely to carry out, the objects of his mission. General Gordon must himself see that whether "hemmed" in or "surrounded" he is practically a prisoner in Khartoum; and such seems to be the disturbance of feeling in all that country that, as we read in to-day's paper, Cairo has been practically placed in a state of siege. Now, what is, so far as we know, General Gordon's position? He is certainly beleaguered. He may have provisions enough for the present. But there is nothing certain as to whether his ammunition is running low. He praises the loyalty of the people; but we know that he has also been exposed to the treachery of officers, and he has but two Englishmen with him. I can perceive nothing more serious than that telegram from General Gordon to Sir Samuel Baker, which appeared in yesterday's papers, and which I understand the Government admit to be, if not textually, at all events substantially accurate. What, I say, is his position? I would not like to use the word—I do not like to give it that name—which is applied to it by many persons; and yet I hardly know what other term to use except that to which I refer—I mean "desertion." Her Majesty's Government, so far as I understand what they have said, deny that they are abandoning General Gordon. In the last despatch that has been published on this subject, and in the very last paragraph 263 of it, I read these words of Sir Evelyn Baring to General Gordon. After recapitulating the instructions he says—In undertaking the difficult task which now lies before you, you may feel assured that no effort will be wanting on the part of the Cairo authorities, whether English or Egyptian, to afford you all the co-operation and support in their power."—[Egypt, No. 6 (1884), p. 3.]If that is not to be construed into a pledge of help, I am totally at a loss to understand what is the meaning of the English language. No help has been given, and from the very meagre explanations which have been vouchsafed, no relief is at present intended. General Gordon even applied for the assistance of a certain Turkish Pasha, Zebehr. Her Majesty's Government refused that application, and I am not prepared to say that they were wrong there. But they have not granted the application; and if the story be true of the un-ciphered open telegram from Sir Evelyn Baring at Cairo to General Gordon at Khartoum, I am at a loss to understand how any Government can persuade itself that it was giving support to a man in Gordon's position. But, again, Her Majesty's Government seem to say, if I rightly understand what is reported in "another place," that General Gordon needs no help; that he is practically safe. I think the expression is "that he is as safe in Khartoum as he would be in Cairo." Well, that is an official statement on one side. I have to set against that, on the other, telegram after telegram which have appeared in the public prints, some of them purporting to have come from the only, or almost the only, other Englishman in Khartoum with General Gordon, and others from General Gordon himself, and your Lordships know very well that these two statements are absolutely irreconcilable. There is a telegram quoted in one of this morning's papers, which is so remarkable that I am loth almost to give credence to it; but, still, it is so remarkable that I think I may venture to read it to your Lordships. This telegram is as remarkable for its explicitness as its strength of language—General Gordon has telegraphed to Sir Evelyn Baring expressing the utmost indignation at the manner in which he has been abandoned by the English Government, and has stated his resolution henceforth to cut himself entirely adrift from those who have deserted 264 him, on whom will rest the blood-guiltiness for all lives hereafter lost in the Soudan.I do not affirm that to be accurate. I should like to hear from Her Majesty's Government their version of the matter; but, at the same time, in substance, perhaps, it is correct. Well, then, I can only say, from all those private sources of information open to any one of your Lordships, and of which many of you have taken advantage, there is but one opinion among English communities, and that is that General Gordon is a doomed man. But then the Government have urged the great difficulty of relief or facilities of relief. Had relief, my Lords, been attempted earlier, the difficulty would have been proportionately less. We know very well what English troops have done before on those burning sands even later in the year than at present. We know what they have done recently. If there is to be no relieving force sent, it was the duty of Her Majesty's Government to have thought of this some time ago. General Gordon was invited—he was urged—to undertake this perilous duty; and with a chivalry and unselfishness which does not find a corresponding echo in Downing Street, with a chivalry and unselfishness beyond all praise, he accepted the duty; and, more than that, he accepted it at a time when Her Majesty's Government needed his assistance sorely for their own political position here in England. They owe him a very great debt of political gratitude. For a time his ascendancy of character, and the influence he seems to exercise upon these tribes, prevailed; but it is perfectly clear that that influence is now waning, and there is very great reason to believe that a catastrophe at any moment of the gravest nature may fall upon him, or the people of Khartoum as well, because he declares practically in one of his telegrams that nothing will induce him to leave them to their fate. I ask if Her Majesty's Government have in contemplation any measures on this subject? [Cries of "None!"] My noble Friends behind me say "None!" but I do not quite believe it. I think Her Majesty's Government all through these memorable transactions in Egypt have had some measures in view, the misfortune has been that they have adopted them, too late; and it is for that reason that I press now so urgently to know whether 265 there are any measures in contemplation. Before the House separated we had frequent complaints "elsewhere" of the discussions that had taken place on this subject. No doubt it is very inconvenient for Her Majesty's Government to be interrogated on it; but let me point out that the remedy is in their own hands—if they will only declare openly and unreservedly what their intention is they will cease. At all events, we have time enough in this House to discuss these matters, and to press for information; and I hope no considerations will induce us to forget that which it is alike our right and our duty to repeat—namely, that for the information of the country it is expedient that we should know what is the position of General Gordon, and what steps the Government were prepared to take for his relief.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, it was with great surprise that I read this morning that a few moments after I left the House last night, when there was absolutely nothing left on the Paper, and I was anxious to return to my Office, that the noble Earl (the Earl of Carnarvon) passed a very severe censure on me, and expressed his surprise, as he chose to call it, that I did not condescend to make a statement on the Egyptian policy of the Government in this House. I can quite understand the noble Earl's anxiety to make a statement of his own, and to add to some of the able and eloquent speeches which have been made during the Recess on this subject, which he has a perfect right to do, and which I do not in the slightest degree complain of. But I am perfectly unaware of the reasons why he expected one from me, or made a severe complaint against me for not having made a statement on this particular occasion. We all know that the noble Earl is a severe critic of foreign policy; we know how he criticized the foreign policy of Lord Beaconsfield; but it is quite new to me that one of the grounds of objection to Lord Beaconsfield's policy was that he did not weekly, or fortnightly, or monthly, volunteer a detailed statement of his foreign policy. The noble Earl has put a Question to me; he has also criticized somewhat severely a verbal distinction drawn in "another place." He says there is no difference between being surrounded and being hemmed in. But if a town is hemmed in it would not 266 be possible for provisions largely to be brought into the town from outside. He went on to complain of what we had done; and he stated that General Gordon had been urged—he apparently insinuated it was somewhat against his will—to undertake this mission. What happened was this—we had for sometime in view the possibility of making use of General Gordon's great reputation and experience as regards affairs in Egypt, and at last General Gordon was consulted as to whether he had any advice to give us on this subject; and the advice given us in that perfectly simple-minded, chivalrous, energetic character to which the noble Earl has paid a just tribute was this—I advise you to send myself out, and I am confident that I shall be able, entirely concurring in your policy, both of evacuation and of not employing military force, to achieve great results in that manner.The noble Earl says that, in not sending out a military expedition to his succour, we are acting contrary to the last phrase of the despatch he wrote. It is quite true he was promised co-operation; but we had not the slightest hint—we had not the slightest idea—that he required it, and it would be entirely contrary to the spirit of his mission that he should be backed up by a military expedition from this country. The noble Earl says we must admit General Gordon's mission has been an entire failure. I do not admit it. I think General Gordon, whether he succeeds or not, has done well. I quite agree with the noble Earl inasmuch as I am not sanguine as to the success of General Gordon in being able to withdraw all the garrisons from the different parts of the Soudan; but I say that he has done immense good by his arrival in putting an entire stop to the onward movement of the Mahdi's troops towards Egypt, so confidently predicted by noble Lords opposite. The noble Earl says General Gordon is in a critical position. I do not pretend that his position has not been one of danger. Ever since he left Cairo on his way to Khartoum, dangers of all sorts have assailed him. The days on which he was in the greatest danger were during that almost romantic ride he undertook across the desert in order to reach Berber. But at this moment I repeat what has been stated "elsewhere," that I have no fear as to the personal safety of General Gordon in 267 Khartoum now. There are provisions there for five months, and he himself said he was as safe as if he was in Cairo. It is well known that the Arabs shrink from any attempts at attacking a fortified town. I do not, therefore, admit that General Gordon—however much his chance of effecting his grand object may be affected—is in danger at this moment, or that Khartoum is in danger, or will be for some time to come. As to the telegram in this morning's papers, I should say it was sent, not to the Government, but to Sir Samuel Baker. And I am sorry for the feeling which, on the impulse of the moment, General Gordon showed. But I think it is most naturally explained. Unfortunately, of all telegrams and instructions sent to General Gordon only one short one has reached him, in consequence of the difficulty of communication; and, under the circumstances, I certainly am not surprised that General Gordon should have thought himself entirely abandoned by Her Majesty's Government. In answer to the noble Earl's Question. I say I do not consider that General Gordon's position at this time is critical; and I repeat what has already been stated twice in the other House, that Her Majesty's Government feel themselves under obligations with regard to the personal safety of General Gordon, but that they utterly decline to say more than that at this time. The noble Earl complains that an unciphered despatch had been sent to Berber. I have not the slightest idea whether it was sent unciphered. But, supposing it was, it was certainly a mistake, and it is exactly the mistake the Government have been exposed to, and liable to commit, by the constant pressure on the part of this House, and still more of the other House, calling upon us to say what we will do, and what we will not do. It is exactly the same kind of mischief. I have no more to add at this moment.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, the noble Earl complained with some severity of the censure of my noble Friend, because last night the noble Earl did not volunteer information on the subject of General Gordon. He does not appear to realize the deep anxiety felt out-of-doors by the whole of this country as to the fate of this gallant man. He appears to think it quite enough that we should wait quietly 268 and see him beleaguered by men seeking his death, trusting to his five months' provisions, and the possibility of an expedition in the autumn. I do not think such stoicism will be shared by the people of this country. I think they will insist on some more active demonstration of sympathy on the part of Her Majesty's Government. I confess that I do not understand the nature of the defence urged by the noble Earl. It appears to be maintained that General Gordon's perilous mission was undertaken upon a sort of limited liability. Her Majesty's Government were willing to send General Gordon into danger, but on the distinct understanding that he was not to expect any help from them if that danger became serious. If that was the understanding it is a very remarkable one, and I do not suppose any Government has ever sent out a Representative of the Queen under such circumstances before—it is an absolutely new precedent in the history of English government. If that was the understanding with General Gordon, at least we must suppose that it was recorded in some definite form, and that he was aware of the strange and desperate character of the task with which he was intrusted by the Government. But what do we see in the telegram of which the Government themselves admit the substantial correctness? General Gordon expresses the utmost indignation at the manner in which he has been abandoned by Her Majesty's Government. That cannot be explained by saying that General Gordon had received no telegrams since he started. That is not the question. The question is, What was the understanding under which he went out? That is not affected by what has passed. It is clear from his statement that he, at least, did not suppose that he was to be exposed to certain death at the hands of the Arabs round Khartoum, and that the Government was to be free from any obligation to make the slightest attempt to relieve him. My Lords, I know that your feeling and the feeling of the country is one of deep personal sympathy with General Gordon; but there is more than deep personal sympathy to be considered—there is the honour of the British nation. No deeper, no more vital disgrace could befall this country than that General Gordon should be allowed to perish in his undertaking 269 without assistance from the English Government. Already there is sufficient of Egyptian blood to be laid at the door of Her Majesty's Government; already we have made sacrifices enough of those whose Kingdom we have taken over, whose responsibility we have undertaken, and to whose safety we are practically and substantially pledged. We have had now five massacres of Egyptian troops, massacres caused by the neglect of Her Majesty's Government—Hicks, Baker, Sinkat, Moncrieff, and Shendy. I do not suppose so bloody an account—an account in which blood so mingled with disgrace was ever brought home to an English Government before. If they are resolved to make no effort to save this gallant man they will not only be covering the English name with dishonour, but they will be destroying that belief in English prowess which is the only hope they have of being able successfully to discharge their responsibilities in Egypt. They cannot scuttle out of the country, having destroyed every form of government, and leave things just as they are. The responsibility, let the Government shrink from it and shirk it as they will, must rest with them; and it is on the reputation of England that they must depend for their power to carry it out. By their neglect, and by the disgrace which, time after time, they pile upon the name of England, they are paralyzing the power of this country. I hope they may even yet be induced to make some announcement that will alter the state of things in Egypt. But we at least cannot undertake the complicity of silence; we believe that the silence observed by Her Majesty's Government is perilous to General Gordon, is ruinous to the hope of England's supremacy in Egypt. We believe that if even now the announcement of some effective steps were made, whatever the physical difficulties in the way, it would act with magical effect on the banks of the Nile; but if this ruinous silence is persisted in a catastrophe will come which will cover England with disgrace, and the responsibility of which we will not share.
§ THE EARL OF NORTHBROOK
said, that the noble Marquess, profiting by the Recess, had taken the advice of a young and active Leader in his Party not to shrink from responsibility. He had recommended art immediate military 270 expedition to Khartoum, and that this country should assume the responsibility of the government of the Soudan.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I said nothing about assuming responsibility for the government of the Soudan; but that, whether you were right or wrong in being there, the government of Egypt must be with you, and that responsibility you cannot shirk.
§ THE EARL OF NORTHBROOK
Do I understand that the noble Marquess does not recommend that the government of the Soudan should be assumed?
§ THE EARL OF NORTHBROOK
said, he had certainly understood the noble Marquess to have made that recommendation a few minutes ago. If he had no such intention he would, of course, accept the disclaimer; but he regarded it as an instance of the ambiguity and vagueness of the language used by the noble Marquess, for he certainly had understood him in that sense. The noble Marquess, however, had recommended an immediate military expedition to Khartoum. Had he considered the season of the year—the difficulties of the operation—the loss of life to the English troops by approaching the Equator in the middle of an African summer? While recommending this expedition, the noble Marquess, almost in the same breath, had accused the Government of blood-guiltiness. That was the characteristic consistency of the noble Marquess, who further had entirely misrepresented what fell from his noble Colleague (Earl Granville). The noble Earl explained, what everybody must have known thoroughly well—namely, that when General Gordon accepted his mission to Khartoum it was on the distinct understanding that it was to be a pacific mission, and not to be supported by any military expedition. Because the noble Earl had repeated, with perfect accuracy, a circumstance notorious to all, the noble Marquess immediately endeavoured to fix on him the responsibility of saying that under all circumstances General Gordon would be abandoned by the Government. Nothing of the kind had ever been said. On the contrary, the Government had always admitted their responsibility for the safety of General Gordon. But the House must be aware that in matters of 271 this kind it was impossible for the Government to give explanations as to what course they might think it their duty to take; and in answer to these desultory Questions no other reply could properly be given by those responsible for the management of these most difficult affairs than the reply which had been made by his noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
§ VISCOUNT BURY
said, that the noble Earl had entirely misrepresented what had been said by his noble Friend. Whenever that question had been raised in that House those on that side of the House, at least, had been careful not to say what the Government ought to do, but to leave the responsibility with them, and with them the responsibility must remain. What the noble Marquess had said was what he believed was felt by every man on that side of the House, that no sign of activity was being shown by Her Majesty's Government, and that the practical outcome of the policy that they had chosen to adopt was that "too late" must be written on every one of their operations; that nothing they could now do would serve to free General Gordon from the despair in which he found himself. Some astonishment had been expressed that General Gordon had been drawn, into using some expressions which he was construed to have used in haste. But for months General Gordon had remained in Khartoum looking over the desert for the help that should have come to him. They knew that not only did the people of England regard the position of that gallant man with the deepest sympathy, but that they would hold those responsible who should leave him to a bloody fate. They had had five massacres, as the noble Marquess had said, everyone of which might have been prevented by some timely steps on the part of Her Majesty's Government; another massacre would too surely follow. What they on that side of the House wished to say was that they would have no share in the responsibility of that massacre by not warning the Government of the consequences of the policy that they were now pursuing. The noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had alluded with some contempt to the fact that prophecies had been made that that insurrection of the Mahdi was likely to spread from the Soudan into Egypt. But, as 272 a matter of fact, the telegrams showed even now that it was spreading; and recent information had reached them that the tribes were gradually rising between Khartoum and Assouan and to the Second Cataract, from which the insurrection was sure to extend into Egypt Proper. What preparations had the Government now made to stop that advance of the rebels which would surely take place, and which would involve the whole of Egypt? If the insurrection extended beyond the limits of Egypt, did noble Lords opposite not believe that it would extend to the whole of the Mahomedan populations which were subject to the sway of Her Majesty? Was there no danger for India in the policy of laissez aller now being allowed to continue? The noble Earl who spoke last said Her Majesty's Government was under a pledge only to give moral support to General Gordon. But if this was so, that unciphered telegram about which they had heard, and which the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs passed by so lightly, was a most important example of want of moral support to General Gordon. Even although the Government might refuse to send him material support, which they on the Opposition Benches thought he had a right to demand, still the sending of an open, unsealed letter was a failure of moral support. The noble Earl said the sending of this unciphered telegram was a mere mistake. But was it really so? Within half-au-hour of the despatch of that telegram the whole of those concerned knew perfectly well that General Gordon had nothing further to hope for from this country in the way of material support. From that moment General Gordon, as they knew by his own despatches and telegrams, gave the matter up for lost. He said that he would not take any further orders from Her Majesty's Government, but that he would pursue his own course, and what that course was they all knew. He had written to his friend, Sir Samuel Baker, asking whether, among the capitalists of this country and of America, £200,000 could not be raised to send him that military aid which certainly ought to have been sent to him by this country. Would it not be a disgrace if they should go cap in hand from one capitalist to another to ask them to subscribe a fund 273 for the purpose of rescuing an eminent General from death? In some quarters the raising of such a fund had been contemplated upon the receipt of the telegram. But it would be impossible to carry out such an object without the consent of Her Majesty's Government. He asked, therefore, whether they would not sanction the raising of that fund to despatch such an expedition as could be organized by Sir Samuel Baker with the £200,000? Without the assent of the Government it would be useless, impracticable, and almost impossible to raise such a fund. But when they looked around and saw that General Gordon was to be abandoned, at any rate until the autumn, then they had to see whether in any quarter aid could be given. The Government, at least, ought to tell their Lordships whether they would sanction such an expedition, or whether they would themselves send forth any expedition, organized in their own way, to the relief of General Gordon. If they would not themselves send out an expedition, would they sanction the stepping of other persons into the breach, and the taking upon themselves the duty which the Government shrunk from undertaking? The outlook before that gallant man at Khartoum was certainly a dismal one. They had seen it stated in some of the speeches that were delivered during the Recess that at the time General Gordon was sent out the Conservative Party were a consenting party to his despatch, because they did not object. It was true that the Conservative Party did not object. It would have been impossible at any time for the Conservative Party to object with effect to any mode which the Government chose to adopt, and upon their own responsibility to declare advisable, for a change of the position of affairs in the Soudan. But having once sent General Gordon out, and his self-devotion having placed him in a position of danger, it was manifest that all England would demand that he should be there supported, and the half-hearted denials of responsibility by Her Majesty's Government would not be echoed throughout the country. Some means must be found by which General Gordon should be rescued from the position in which he was placed, or great would be the responsibility of the Government in the matter.
§ LORD WAVENEY
said, he believed these means to be now at hand. It was impossible to believe that the nation would rest content with seeing General Gordon sacrificed to his spirit of devotion. They had heard a great deal respecting the duty of maintaining General Gordon at Khartoum, and about guiding him safely through that policy which he had inaugurated so well. Their Lordships would recollect the Abyssinian. Expedition conducted by the noble and gallant Lord (Lord Napier), whom he did not see present. He had taken pains to verify the districts which interposed between the last scene of his great triumph—Magdala—and Khartoum, upon which the eyes of the world were at present fixed. After enumerating the various places on the route between those two cities, he pointed out that an Abyssinian Army had been, on a former occasion, stationed within six marches of Galahat, the most advanced Egyptian, camp, and that a force of 25,000 men, which was at present available, should be utilized to march across the Frontier to the relief of Khartoum. This force would be strong enough to cope with all the difficulties, and if made in May or June it would be perfectly capable of opening the gates of that beleaguered city, and of relieving a district which was at present threatened with anarchy.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
said, they had heard two things that night. The first was that Her Majesty's Government did not intend to assist General Gordon at this time, and the second was that it was impossible to do so. But if it was impossible, that should be shown and clearly proved. If it were impossible, he did not think they should have had Lord Napier of Magdala a short time ago entering into details showing how an expedition could be undertaken and General Gordon relieved. If there was a possibility of doing so it ought to be tried, and any doubt there might be it should be in favour of General Gordon. He saw a letter a day or two ago in The Times from a distinguished officer, stating that if we had sent Indian troops a month ago to Suakin, those troops would have had a good chance of marching to Khartoum.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
Lord Napier suggested that Indian troops should not be employed, but English, troops.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
said, the Government did not seem to be aware of the tremendous feeling with which General Gordon was regarded in the country; but they could not now plead ignorance; and they might rest assured that if anything fatal happened to General Gordon, they would not long after remain in Office. In the whole course of his life—a great part of which had been a political one—he had never known the feeling of the country to be so strongly and so universally displayed as it had been upon the question of the position of General Gordon.
THE EARL OF GALLOWAY
observed, that the noble and gallant Lord on the Cross Benches (Lord Napier of Magdala) told them a few days ago that there would be no difficulty in sending troops across the desert to relieve Khartoum. His object in rising was to ask a Question with reference to one point in the speech of the noble Earl opposite (Earl Granville). The noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had declined to give any information as regards what was to be done in the future; but he prefaced his observations by stating that Her Majesty's Government had still a thorough belief that General Gordon was perfectly safe, and that he was still in a position to carry out what the noble Earl had described as the grand object for which he went to Khartoum.
THE EARL OF GALLOWAY
Does the noble Earl tell me that he has not said in this House that, in the belief of Her Majesty's Government, General Gordon was able to carry out the grand object for which he went to Khartoum?
THE EARL OF GALLOWAY
said, in that case, he must confess that his whole question was at an end. He understood from the noble Earl that the Government still believed that General Gordon could carry out his grand object. He was surprised at such a statement, and he rose simply to ask the noble Earl what the "grand object" of General Gordon was? He had never had a distinct statement from the Government as to the exact mission General Gordon was sent to accomplish. He heard, incidentally as it were, that he was to relieve the Egyptian garrisons in the 276 Soudan. It was too late now to say a word on that subject; but he hoped the noble Earl would excuse him if he ventured to ask what the grand object was for which General Gordon was sent out to Khartoum?
§ EARL GRANVILLE
I am sorry the noble Earl misunderstood what I said. There is no doubt whatever as to the object of General Gordon's mission. It was twofold. Primarily, it was to assist the garrisons in coming away from the Soudan; and, secondarily, to arrange, if possible, some settled Government for the Soudan. I did not state that I was confident of the success of these objects which General Gordon has undertaken. On the contrary, I admitted that his chances of success were very greatly diminished. I said that I considered that he had served a most useful purpose by arriving at Khartoum and stopping the onward movement of the Mahdi, on which so much stress was laid by the Opposition.
§ House adjourned at Six o'clock, to Thursday next, a quarter past Ten o'clock.