HL Deb 12 February 1884 vol 284 cc567-658

, in rising to move— That this House, having read and considered the correspondence relating to Egypt laid on the Table by Her Majesty's command, is of opinion that the recent lamentable events in the Soudan are due in a great measure to the vacillating and inconsistent policy pursued by Her Majesty's Government, said: My Lords, I rise in a grave conjuncture of public affairs to ask the judgment of your Lordships upon the conduct of the Government with regard to recent events in Egypt, as displayed in the Papers which have been laid on the Table. My Lords, we stand in the presence of events of great gravity, of lamentable occurrences, which have spread discredit upon the English name, and carried sorrow into many a home. In Kordofan, the force sent out by the Egyptian Government, which is under our absolute control, generalled by an English officer, has been defeated and entirely cut to pieces by the insurgent tribes acting under the Mahdi. Again, on the borders of the Red Sea, another force, also sent out by that Government, which is under our control, commanded by Baker Pasha, one of the most skilful officers that ever served Her Majesty, has been defeated and utterly cut to pieces; and now, as we hear to-day—we have from the lips of the noble Earl official confirmation of the disastrous news—Sinkat, containing perhaps the most gallant officer in the Egyptian Service, containing a garrison which have fought nobly for their lives, containing 1,000 women and children, has been taken by the same tribes which overcame Baker Pasha, and have nearly all perished by the sword. We wish to know what is the course of policy which has led to these disastrous results? And when we come to read the Blue Books, we shall find that it is not a single course of policy which has led us to this end. It was possible to have maintained the Egyptian dominions in all their integrity. I have no doubt that if Her Majesty's Government had applied themselves to the task—though, undoubtedly, it would have been at the cost of some sacrifice—British troops would have defeated the populations which in other days had to give way to Mehemet Ali and Ismail Pasha. On the other hand, if Her Majesty's Government had adopted the policy from the beginning of saying that those vast outlying Provinces acquired and added to Egypt in the course of this century were no longer fit to form a part of that Empire, whatever other considerations might have been brought against that policy, no doubt it must have had this result—that none of these disastrous events would have taken place. My Lords, the defence of Her Majesty's Government lies, with respect to those events in the Western Soudan, in this—that in all their instructions they have perpetually stated that they were not responsible for the expedition of General Hicks, and that their representatives were to give no advice upon the subject. Even if they had taken from first to last a steady and consistent policy, it would have been no defence for the result which their policy has brought about. Those who have the absolute power of preventing lamentable events, and, knowing what is taking place, refuse to exercise that power, are responsible for what happens. You find scattered through these Blue Books again and again the phrase—"Her Majesty's Government are not responsible for the expedition of General Hicks;" it occurs with a sameness of repudiation that reminds you of the refrain of a popular song. But suppose that the manager of a mine, seeing that those who are under his guardianship and in his employment were performing some operation of certain danger, were simply to say again and again—"I never gave advice; I am not responsible," what view do your Lordships think a Court of Law would take of the conduct of such a manager? Precisely that which I take here, that if they had consistently adhered to their principle of repudiating responsibility in reference to the Soudan, Her Majesty's Government would have been in no better condition than such a manager as I have spoken of. But they have not done so. The gravest part of the indictment against them is that they have followed no one particular policy, but that they have followed three policies. At first they accepted the Soudan as an integral part of the Egyptian Empire. Abdel Kader conducted many campaigns there; but though all the operations were duly reported to Her Majesty's Government, no disapproval was expressed, no attempt was made to stop the operations that were carried on. In the spring of last year, Lieutenant-Colonel Stewart, a very gallant officer of Her Majesty, was sent on an expedition through the Soudan. He visited all the towns and villages where troops were kept and all the garrisons, detected a great number of abuses, and made a number of recommendations with respect to the disposition and government of the soldiers in the Provinces, and those recommendations were embodied in a very able Report, the value of which the noble Earl opposite has fully acknowledged. Yet, while the noble Earl (Earl Granville) was disclaiming all responsibility for anything that took place in the Soudan, he was, at the same moment, impressing on the Egyptian Government the necessity of making those changes in the administration which Lieutenant-Colonel Stewart had recommended. How was it possible, under such circumstances, to expect that the Egyptian Government should believe that Her Majesty's Government had divested themselves of all responsibility for the Government of the Soudan? The first of the three policies which the noble Earl had recommended was, I think, a sound one. It was at least a sound one at the time. I express no judgment as to what should be done now. It was explained in a despatch of Lord Dufferin on the 2nd of April last year—and the occasion on which it was explained was one of some peculiarity and of a very special character—in which it might have been expected that Her Majesty's Government would lay down for the benefit of the Egyptian Government what policy they wished to be pursued in respect to the Soudan. The occasion was when a new Department was being created for the purpose of taking care of this Province. The head of that Department visited Lord Dufferin, and Lord Dufferin took the opportunity of explaining the policy of Her Majesty's Government to the head of the Department, and it was not an unauthorized act of his own, because he had weeks before explained exactly the same policy to the noble Earl who sits opposite. Now, what Lord Dufferin writes is sufficiently short for me to quote it at length, because it is a statement of the policy which, under his advice, the noble Earl recommended to the Egyptian Government. It was a policy from which they afterwards departed; but which, I think, you will see had very much to recommend it. Lord Dufferin wrote as follows to the noble Earl:— My Lord,—The Egyptian Government has constituted a special bureau for the superintendence of the affairs of the Soudan. The Head of the New Department, Ibrahim Bey, called upon me yesterday. He seemed an intelligent and well-educated person, and I have no doubt that under his direction the present situation of that unfortunate region will improve. I ventured to impress His Excellency with my belief, that the recent disturbances were mainly to he attributed to the misgovernment and cruel exactions of the local Egyptian authorities at Khartoum, and that, whatever might he the pretensions of the Mahdi to a divine mission, his chief strength was derived from the despair and misery of the native population. If the Egyptian Government were wise, I added, it would confine its present efforts to the re-establishment of its authority in Sennaar, and would not seek to extend its dominion beyond that province and the bordering river banks. By this modest policy the annual drain on the Egyptian Treasury would be greatly diminished, if it did not altogether cease, and if he succeeded in endowing Dongola, Khartoum, and Sennaar with a just, humane, and beneficent administration, there could be no doubt the ultimate recovery of so much of the abandoned territories as it might he desirable to re-annex would be easily effected at a later period."—[Egypt, No. 13 (1883), p. 54.] Your Lordships must bear in mind the geography of this district. You will recollect that the Nile splits into two forks at Khartoum, and that between these two forks of the White and the Blue Nile lies the Province of Sennaar. On the West lies the Province of Kordofan, where Hicks Pasha met his death, and the Province of Darfour lies still further to the West. What Lord Dufferin recommended was that Sennaar, which lies between the two forks, should be retained, and that Kordofan and Darfour, which had only been recently acquired, should be abandoned. Therefore, if the policy of Lord Dufferin had been adhered to by the Government, if they had insisted on its being carried out as they have insisted later, General Hicks would never have started on that ill-omened campaign to Kordofan, where he and 6,000 troops met their death. But when Lord Dufferin went away then came the next phase; and from a sound and sober policy Her Majesty's Government went over to a policy of sheer indifference—a policy which I can only call that of the Epicurean Gods. They did not prescribe anything to Egypt. They did not even advise. All their energies were devoted to the one point of preventing their Representative from expressing any opinion or undertaking any responsibility with respect to the operations which were going on. But those operations we know perfectly well were not without serious danger. General Hicks telegraphed on the 3rd of June that he had only 5,000 men for the Kordofan campaign, which he thought quite inadequate, and that he ought to have 10,000. Others thought that nothing short of 15,000 would do; but, at all events, 10,000 were absolutely necessary. This report of his was telegraphed home, and, at the same time, Sir Edward Malet warned Her Majesty's Government of the dangers which were impending. He warned them that already the Egyptian Government could not supply the funds demanded for the operations in the Soudan, and that the operations would undergo a considerable risk of failure, unless they were conducted on a largo scale, and the Army was well supplied in every respect. And then he suggests that Hicks Pasha should be instructed To confine himself to maintaining the present supremacy of the Khedive in the regions between the Blue and White Niles."—[Egypt, No. 22 (1883), p. 27.] that is to say, in the Province of Sennaar, to which Lord Dufferin had recommended that the Egyptian Government should confine itself. If that remonstrance of General Hicks had been listened to, if that warning of Sir Edward Malet had been accepted, the bloody scene which took place in Kordofan would never have been enacted. But this was the advice of the noble Earl. They had gone from their preliminary policy—their sound policy—inspired by Lord Dufferin, and they had lapsed into a policy of Epicureanism. The answer which they sent to Sir Edward Malet was— Report decision of the Egyptian Government as soon as you can, taking care to offer no advice"— this is the way the Government fulfilled their responsibilities, which, by the campaign of Tel-el-Kebir, they had accepted— but pointing out that the Egyptian Government should clearly make up their minds what their policy is to be, and carefully consider the question in its financial aspect."—[Ibid. p. 33.] That seems to be the only aspect in which Her Majesty's Government have considered the matter. But this financial view of the matter did not satisfy Hicks Pasha. Again, on the 5th of August, he telegraphed his apprehensions with respect to the campaign he was ordered to undertake. He said that he had no money, no food, no camels; that the men were insubordinate; and he closed with these words— It is almost impossible to contend against all these adverse conditions.…. Taking into consideration the whole state of affairs in the country, I am convinced that it would be best to keep the two rivers and Province of Sennaar, and wait for Kordofan to settle itself."—[Ibid. p. 83.] Again, he presses upon the Government at home to adhere to the wise recommendations of Lord Dufferin; and again his warning is disregarded. On the 18th of August Sir Edward Malet writes to Hicks Pasha— Although I am ready to transmit to the Egyptian Government telegrams that come from you, I am debarred by my instructions from giving advice with regard to action on them, the policy of Her Majesty's Government being to abstain as much as possible from interference with the action of the Egyptian Government in the Soudan."—[Ibid. p. 85.] Well, there was nothing for it. Hicks Pasha had to start. Instead of the 5,000 men he had asked for he got 3,000, and 1,800 of that number were men who had been previously rejected from the Army. He started, stating his knowledge and belief that the supply of water was not sufficient, and that the troops which he had to count upon were not to be relied upon. In this way he went into the Desert. The supply of water, as he had feared, failed; his wretched troops and himself were cut to pieces; and, so far as we now certainly know, not one returned to tell the tale. But what was the attitude of Her Majesty's Government? Did the fear of any such disaster disturb their supreme tranquillity? On the 19th of November Sir Evelyn Baring telegraphed— No definite news has been received from Hicks since the 27th September.…. Egyptian Government has no funds to meet an emergency, and they have already despatched almost every available man to the Soudan, with the exception of the forces under Sir Evelyn Wood and General Baker."—[Egypt, No. 1 (1884), p. 92.] The noble Earl answers, on the 20th of November— We cannot lend English or Indian troops. If consulted, recommend abandonment of the Soudan within certain limits."—[Ibid. p. 93.] But the noble Earl will not commit himself so far as to say what those limits will be. That is all that the Egyptian Government obtains in the way of guidance or assistance from the English Government, that has undertaken the guardianship of their territory. Well, we know the terrible events that happened. But the information that Hicks Pasha and all his force had been cut to pieces only very slowly penetrated the mind of the Cabinet, and induced them to consider whether there was anything in this world of the least importance to them, except the repudiation of responsibility. On the 22nd of November the terrible tale reached this country; on the 25th of November all that the noble Earl can contribute towards the solution of the difficulty is— Her Majesty's Government can do nothing in the matter which would throw upon them the responsibility of operations in the Soudan. That was after 3,000 men had been cut to pieces under an English General. And the noble Earl went on to say— This responsibility must rest with the Egyptian Government relying on their own resources. I have to add that, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, the Egyptian Government would be right to restrict their action to defensive operations."—[Ibid. p. 98.] Considering that all the troops in the field had been cut to pieces, and that all the other troops were shut up in the garrisons, that was a very modest and safe recommendation. After the 25th of November, the noble Earl lapsed into silence for nearly three weeks. Piteous appeals came from Khartoum, and the Commander there informed the Government that the garrison could not be held in two months' time, that there was no food, that the troops left were the refuse of the Army, and mostly old and blind. At last the noble Earl came down from his height of Olympian serenity on being reminded by the Egyptian Government that if Her Majesty's Government would not send troops it would be fair that the Sultan of Turkey should have an opportunity of securing to his Empire this vast territory, which was being overrun by rebels. This is the suggestion which causes Her Majesty's Government to speak; and they speak in a tone which almost, if you consider the stress of the emergency, sounds like bitter and cruel mockery. Her Majesty's Government instructs the noble Earl to write, on the 13th of December, that— They have no objection to offer to the employment of Turkish troops, provided they are paid by the Turkish Government, and that such employment be restricted exclusively to the Soudan, with their base at Suakim."—[Ibid. p. 131.] In other words, while the English Government were keeping their own troops in Egypt at the cost of the Egyptian Government, while they were refusing to use those Forces in the elementary duty of maintaining the defences of the Empire which they had taken over in charge, they say that if the Turkish Government should be more humanely inclined and disposed to lend their troops for the recovery of their lost Provinces, not one farthing of the expenses should come from the English Government. At the same time the noble Earl recommends simply the abandonment of the territory south of the Wady Halfa—something like, I believe, two-thirds of the Empire. No doubt he was very much surprised to receive an intimation that the Egyptian Government could not undertake to perform such a process of self-mutilation, and thus the third policy of the Government was adopted, and they go from recommendations to command. On the 4th of January an order is sent that the Egyptian Forces shall be withdrawn from the Soudan, and that if the Ministry of Cherif Pasha declined to carry out this operation it should be dismissed. Now, my Lords, what I wish to call your attention to is this—that our judgment of the conduct of Her Majesty's Government does not depend upon what was the right policy to pursue. We may think it was a right policy to maintain the Soudan, or we may think it was a right policy to abandon it; but we must, whatever opinion we hold, condemn the policy of the Government. If they had adopted from the first the policy of Lord Dufferin—if they had resolved to maintain Sennaar, Hicks Pasha would never have gone, and his Army would never have been cut to pieces. If they had resolved to abandon the Soudan, to withdraw every garrison, to give up everything, still these terrible disasters would never have occurred, because the expedition would never have taken place. The shame and misery that have been caused, and the dishonour that has been shed upon the Egyptian Army and upon our English General—I say that those things come not from any definite policy, but from vacillation and inconsistency in the application of three policies, commencing with the policy, which will be found sound and sober, going on to a policy of inertness and indifference and fear of responsibility, and ending with a policy of panic. Now, my Lords, what will the result of this policy most likely be? You are well aware how much the hopes of those who desire to extinguish the last remaining home of the Slave Trade depend upon the operations that have taken place in the Soudan. It was this hope that inspired first Sir Samuel Baker, and afterwards General Gordon, in the performance of difficult and arduous and ungrateful tasks; and it must be confessed that if you once withdraw your hold from the Upper Nile you take away from yourself the last chance of crushing the Slave Trade which supplies Egypt, Arabia, and Asia Minor. Along the banks of the Blue Nile you have the establishments of the slave-dealers. If you hold the Nile you can check their operations; but it is idle to hope that any real impediment to the slave traffic can be interposed by the attempt to control the shores of the Red Sea, and to imagine that in so unwholesome a climate your ships can at all times of the year prevent the passage across by which the Slave Trade is maintained. If you give up the control of the Nile, you give up the attempt to suppress the Slave Trade. And beyond that you may draw fine distinctions between expeditions authorized by the Government and expeditions which the Government allows to go on before its eyes and with its sufferance; but such distinctions are not drawn either upon the spot or in any other nation of the world. To all the world the defeats of Baker Pasha and Hicks Pasha are the defeats of English Generals. They have been defeated by savage tribes, ill-armed, strong in nothing but in their fanaticism, and without supplies. You will have running through the whole Mahomedan world; through the whole Turkish Empire; through Arabia; and among the 64,000,000 Mahomedans who submit to your rule in India—you will have running all through their bazaars this terrible intelligence that English Generals, having fought to maintain their hold of the vast territory that lies south of the Second Cataract, have been again and again defeated, in spite of all the efforts that could be made to support them, and that English rule has been hunted out by Mahomedan insurrection. How much this will conduce to your power in the settlement of the Eastern Question when it again arises, how much it will conduce to the stability or ease of our rule in India, I leave to your Lordships to imagine. There is yet a further consideration. We loudly proclaimed our position in Egypt as temporary and provisional, that we looked forward to the day when we could leave the country, British interests having been secured. But how have they been secured? We could only take away our material force by leaving behind us such esteem and affection in the minds of the population and the rulers of the population as shall make British power and influence supreme in the country; but with what eyes are the Egyptian people likely to look back to the period of British rule in their country? What have we done for them? What impress have we left upon their country, their Empire, their institutions, their social life? We have so demeaned ourselves that their principal commercial city, one of the most ancient cities of the world, has been burned and desolated. We have so acted that their Army rebelled, and we were compelled utterly to destroy it. We took over the Government so ostentatiously that the authority of the Khedive over his Mahomedan subjects has been utterly destroyed; and we have finished by dismembering the Empire, by giving up the splendid conquests of Mehemet Ali, who founded the Egyptian Dominion, and reducing Egypt to a small frag- ment of the area it originally covered. Is that a process which is likely to leave our name imprinted on their minds in association with affection and respect? Because you do not care for Empire, because nothing is so pleasing to you as evacuation, you imagine that all other nations are the same. You imagine they have none of the instincts, you so ostentatiously repudiate, of love to see their country great, powerful, and extended. My Lords, you may tell how deeply this act has been felt by the difficulty which you had in carrying it out. Egyptian statesmen are not a stubborn and stiff-necked race; they do not adhere with undue and incorrigible tenacity to their own opinions; and yet when you required this policy to be carried out you could find no Native Egyptian who would undertake the task; you were obliged to have recourse to a man, highly distinguished no doubt, but whom the population of Egypt yet bitterly remember as a foreigner and a Christian. My Lords, I feel that this inconsistent and halting policy of Her Majesty's Government has not only been the cause of these lamentable events, by which so much blood has been shed, and so much misery produced, but it has also left behind it a legacy of hatred and contempt in the minds of the Egyptian people, which leaves us in this dilemma—that either our occupation must be indefinitely prolonged, or some other nation will take from us the position we occupy. As to the Eastern Soudan, I have not so much to say, because there is not so much material to be obtained from the Papers that are before us. The news, the wretched news, that has reached us this evening lends a sad emphasis to our deliberations. We know that on the 12th of November the Government—indeed, they received the news earlier, in October—were aware that the tribes were up, that the Mahdi's influence had procured the cutting to pieces of an Egyptian force; that their own Consul was killed; that the two towns of Tokar and Sinkat were besieged; that they were ill-furnished with supplies or ammunition, and that they must speedily fall. On the 8th of December Sir Evelyn Baring sent additional information, that on the 2nd of December 720 Egyptian troops were defeated, and only 50 returned, and the garrison was expected to fall from want of provisions. From the 12th of November is throe months, or from the 2nd of December is two months, and to this day what have the Government done to meet this danger? In this case we have not the wretched excuse of the disclaimer of responsibility upon which, in other cases, they relied so much. They have never disclaimed responsibility for the littoral of the Bed Sea; on the contrary, they have openly avowed that it is their policy to maintain the Egyptian Dominion in that locality. Having arrived at this as their policy, we know that from the 12th of November to this date they have not taken a single measure to relieve those who were placed in such terrible straits. They had troops—I think there were 7,000 English troops in Egypt; there were, I believe, three battalions at Aden; there were troops at Cyprus; there were large forces at Malta. Since the 12th of November it would have been easy to have placed on the coast of the Red Sea a sufficient force, at all events, to have opened the way to Sinkat, only 30 miles from the coast, and to Tokar, which I think is less, about 15. It would have been easy to have forced the road, and to have relieved the garrisons; and if you were determined to abandon the locality, at all events not to have had the blood of these garrisons on your head. But from the 12th of November the old Olympic indifference of the Foreign Office continued. The only trace of the Government having received any information on the subject was an instruction to Admiral Hewett to take care of the waters of the ports of the Red Sea, and a telegram from the noble Earl (Earl Granville), in which he sends to Sir Evelyn Baring the following information:—"Tokar and Sinkat besieged, and cannot hold out many days." This the noble Earl sends to Sir Evelyn Baring on the 26th of December, and he sends it as if from a disinterested spectator who had observed an interesting fact, which he thought it desirable Sir Evelyn Baring ought to know. It does not seem to have occurred to him that the interest, the honour, and the pledges of England were in the least concerned in the fall of these garrisons. I have said they did nothing; but there is one thing they did which did much to hasten and assure their doom; they announced with a loud voice that they intended that Egypt should abandon the Soudan. If troops were not to be sent, the one hope of these beleaguered garrisons was that friendly tribes could be induced to interfere in their behalf, and to drive back the forces of the Mahdi; but the friendly-tribes depended upon the assurance that they would not in their turn be deserted; if you tell them from the first that it is your intention to abandon the country, and leave them to the wrath of those whoso forces they have resisted, you may be sure you cannot long count on their friendship or support. This is what Her Majesty's Government deliberately did. Being determined to send no forces of their own, no forces from Bombay or Aden, or Cyprus or Malta—all so near at hand, from any one of which a sufficient force to prevent this terrible calamity could have been obtained—they resolved they would not do that, and they went one step further, and did that which made it absolutely impossible that any friendly tribe should interfere on our behalf. If they had wished to sign the death-warrant of this garrison they could not have acted with more signal imprudence. My Lords, these things carry us back to matters within our recollection. We can remember when those who now hold Office were very strong on the question of responsibilities. We can remember when they insisted on every platform that those who were then in power were responsible for the acts of the Turkish Government, over which they had no material hold or control whatever. Now, having absolute material hold and control over the action of the Egyptian Government, they try to persuade us that these terrible calamities, which they allowed the Egyptian Government and the gallant defenders of these fortresses to incur, do not involve their own responsibility at all. We can remember on another occasion, when the honour of England was at stake and her arms had been tarnished, the Government of this country refused to do what every other Government that ever existed here would have done—they refused to avenge the defeat lest it should involve blood-guiltiness. Is there not blood-guiltiness here? In this resolute renunciation of responsibility—in this abandonment of gallant men to an inevitable doom, in this giving up of 1,000 women and children to all the hideous horrors of an Oriental victory—is there no blood- guiltiness here? My Lords it is on all these things that I ask your verdict. I am told that it is of little avail. Perhaps we may hope to infuse some vigour and some energy where there was none before—to awake the Government to a sense of their real responsibility; to induce them to cast aside the screen of a sham Egyptian responsibility, behind which they have hitherto skulked. But we may not be able to do so. It may not be possible for us to affect the philosophy to which they have pledged themselves, and the promises by which they are bound. If it is so—if we cannot induce them to reconsider their course, at least a duty remains for us to perform. They may take refuge behind their Constitutional powers. They may shelter themselves behind the Caucus. Weak in argument, but strong in wire-pulling, they may defy the opinion of England and of the civilized world. But at least, my Lords, we will discharge our responsibility. We will place on record the convictions of this House, and of that large and influential section of the community whose opinions are reflected here. We will not allow this miserable apathy, this timid repudiation of responsibility, to pass without a protest of indignation. We will, at all events, not be accomplices in the completion of this dishonour.

Moved to resolve— That this House, having read and considered the Correspondence relating to Egypt, laid on the Table by Her Majesty's command, is of opinion that the recent lamentable events in the Soudan are due in a great measure to the vacillating and inconsistent policy pursued by Her Majesty's Government."—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)


My Lords, I rise with a feeling of responsibility which lies on a Minister who is the first to speak on a matter of such grave importance as the defence of Her Majesty's Government on a Vote of Censure, moved, I admit, with great ability by the noble Marquess. There is one thing for which I am grateful to the noble Marquess. I think that in the form of the Motion which he has proposed to you he has made very considerable admissions in favour of the Government. Your Lordships will remember that a week ago the noble Marquess, in this House, explained to your Lordships the necessity of the House of Commons immediately adopt- ing an Amendment to the Address, for fear of not being able to obtain a subsequent day. At the very time he was speaking an Amendment was being moved in the other House. The debate on that Amendment collapsed, to the great misfortune of the Government. Owing to purely accidental circumstances, to which I myself can personally bear witness, it came to an end. The noble Marquess did not complain of this, because they had the immense advantage that this Amendment was concocted by noble Lords opposite and the Leaders of the House of Commons; and, in order to give greater solemnity to it, moved by the ex-Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Bourke), the Representative of the noble Marquess in the other House, who was able to make a full statement of the case; and you had that statement made by the Gentleman who was considered by the Leaders of the House the most competent to make that statement, without any answer being made on behalf of Her Majesty's Government. Now, what was the nature of the Amendment then proposed? It was long, it was comprehensive, it was argumentative. If I remember right the substance of it—I do not attempt to give the words—it condemned the Government for a failure to reconstruct the Government of Egypt, and for not having reorganized justice. It complained that we put ourselves under greater obligations than we were under before to Egypt and to Foreign Powers. It complained that our course had, among other things, tended to this result—tended to delay the withdrawal of our troops from Egypt. Now, I beg to say that this portion of the Amendment struck me as very remarkable; it was the first authoritative statement of the views of the Conservative Opposition that it was desirable not to delay the withdrawal of the troops. I certainly did not expect that result from the speeches made by the noble Marquess and others in the Provinces. But this was an authoritative statement on the part of the Conservative Opposition to show that they were against annexation, or the permanent armed occupation of Egypt. It also insisted on the necessity of the Government making ample recognition of their obligations with regard to Egypt. Now, I beg to point out that there was one other paragraph—I think it related to the Soudan—


The Soudan was not mentioned.


Now, it is a singular fact that, after all these important points in condemnation of Her Majesty's Government had been taken, the noble Marquess, having read the Blue Book, has entirely discarded every single charge against the Government, except that with regard to the Soudan. He accuses us of leaving Egypt without leaving any trace of our beneficent action. It is impossible, however, to read the Blue Books and come to that conclusion. Now, I will mention one point which has been received with ridicule elsewhere; but which, I hope, will not be received with ridicule here. I mean representative institutions in Egypt. The noble Marquess has just told us that he does not think much of the opinion of the House of Commons against his own opinion and the opinion of the rest of England. I therefore quite understand his supreme contempt for Egyptian institutions of that sort. Now, my Lords, it does happen that Lord Dufferin recommended that the experiment should be made of institutions with limited powers. His recommendation was acted upon and was carried out. Lists were made, electors chosen, Members returned; and towards the end of November Sultan Pasha was appointed President of the Legislative Council and of the General Assembly. But he had hardly been appointed a week before it was announced that the institution was a complete failure. Now, can your Lordships imagine that Lord Dufferin or Her Majesty's Government, or any of the numerous persons who were anxious for some mode of self-government in Egypt to be initiated, should have expected that such institutions would, like Minerva, come forth at their birth, fully armed, and that they would have a full-blown House of Lords and House of Commons in a few weeks? We have been anxious to give the Egyptians an opportunity of self-government. A hundred years ago representative government was hardly known in Europe. Now they exist from the Atlantic to the Vistula, and it is everywhere admitted that it is desirable that the people should have a share in the government. I am quite sure that it is not a bad thing that we have already given them a chance of obtaining self-government. One great charge against us in the Amendment was that we have done nothing for the reorganization of justice in Egypt. Everybody who has read the Blue Books must have perceived this—that justice is one of the great requirements of Egypt, and that what we have done is very great indeed with regard to that. We have established Native Courts; we have obtained for them the aid of European Judges, and they are at this moment beginning to sit. Now, with respect to Codes of Law. It has not even in this country been easy to frame Codes of Law. In Egypt they have been completed, and have already been sanctioned by the Khedive. There are a Civil Code, a Commercial Code, a Penal Code, and Codes of Procedure. With regard to the International Courts, it has been settled, with the complete consent of the Powers, that these shall be prolonged, and that a considerable extension of power shall be given to them. So that, with regard to justice in Egypt, it is impossible to say that it has not been entirely reorganized. The prisons of Egypt have been in the most horrible state. Mr. Clifford Lloyd, in October, made a Report strongly condemning them; but at this moment he might justly boast that if we went away to-morrow, the improvement in the prisons would be a monument to the English name. Now I come to another point. The Army has been put under the command of one of our most distinguished Generals—Sir Evelyn Wood. In appearance and in drill these men have been perfectly remarkable. General Stephenson said he could hardly believe what Sir Evelyn Wood and his officers bad achieved in so short a time. It has been stated that this Army will not tight. Well, I admit that that is a considerable drawback to an Army. I deny that it is perfectly fair to say that of an Army which has never been tried. In a very large portion of that Army General Wood, who, after all, is a better judge than your Lordships here in England, has complete confidence. There has been a still more gratifying circumstance the other day, that although all these men under General Wood enlisted on the condition that they should not be sent to what they considered a "hell upon earth"—namely, the Soudan—yet, when a few officers were invited to go there, a number of volunteers came forward utterly disproportionate to the number it was intended to send. I do not think it is just either to the officers or to the men to say that this Army is absolutely worth nothing, because it is a very differently composed Army from an Army which has behaved disgracefully in another part of the world. No doubt the efforts of General Wood and his officers have been of a very successful character. A few words now about the police. The Constabulary was organized by a very distinguished officer—General Baker. Members of that Constabulary were sent to the Soudan, and I believe they behaved very badly as soldiers; but as a Constabulary during two months and in most trying circumstances—namely, when cholera was rampant in Egypt—the men did admirable work. With regard to the police, Mr. Clifford Lloyd has done wonders. He has entirely reorganized the force, and put it into a state of amalgamation and efficiency; and, what is not an undesirable thing to add, with an economy of something like £100,000 a-year. My Lords, with regard to another important question—that of public works—most valuable Reports have been published by an English officer, who is aided by an Indian officer of great experience; and the Egyptian Government, in compliance with a request made by the India Office, have sent out two more officers to assist in that work. As to the state of the land at the present moment, the new system is going on not only with much greater efficiency, not only with much diminished expenditure, but it is going on in a manner which has already obtained the confidence both of the Fellaheen and of the Native officials in the district. One of the great grievances of the Fellaheen is the inequality of taxation; but that was being adjusted, and the house tax would be immediately extended to all Europeans, of all nationalities. Take, again, the case of licences. The Egyptian Government is preparing an appeal on the same principles, and I feel hopeful that the proposal will be agreed to by the Powers of Europe. Then there is another question with regard to slavery in the Soudan. I believe that the conquest of the Soudan by Mehemet Ali increased it, and opened out an avenue of slavery which has continued up to this day, in a manner which nothing else could have done. But as far as Egypt Proper is concerned, the whole question of slavery is now put in different hands—in the hands of the Inspector of Constabulary—and measures are being decided. It is by preventing the supply reaching those who pay for it, more than by any extraneous work, that you can really deal with that great evil. I do not say anything about the obligations which we recognize, as I have already spoken at some length on that point; but I must say one thing with regard to our relations with foreigners. The noble Marquess has stated that we have increased our responsibilities. The other day he told us that we had received indications from the organs of public opinion in different countries to show how wrong we are. I am not quite sure; but I suppose he alluded to the public Press abroad. Now, this I will observe—that English policy will not be directed according to the criticisms of foreign journalists writing from a perfectly different standpoint from that which we ourselves have. I should be very sorry if the time ever came when we should judge of the policy of Germany or France from the writings that may appear in the newspapers of these countries, or that the proceedings of our own Government should be judged by French or German Governments merely by a few extracts from articles written under what circumstances we do not know. If the noble Marquess meant that we had received remonstrances from Foreign Governments, I say that he is absolutely mistaken, and that we have not had one communication from any Foreign Government on the subject. It is true the Sultan did at first object to our sending orders to suspend the withdrawal of the troops after Hicks Pasha's defeat; but I need not say that objection was not insisted upon. We have since had a most friendly assurance from the Sultan, expressing his extreme desire to act in every way with England in regard to the matter. I must say the noble Marquess rakes up all sorts of extraneous subjects, in which he chooses to say we have been failing to the national honour. I venture to go back and ask him what is his particular locus standi for always advocating Turkey in this matter? Does he derive it from the secret arrangement about Cyprus? The Sultan understood that arrangement to be an undertaking on the part of this country to defend the integrity of the Ottoman Empire at the Berlin Conference; yet the noble Marquess was the first person to propose that two important Provinces of Turkey should be handed over to Austria. Was it in the suggestion which he made to the French about Tunis? Was it from the establishment of the Dual Control, which placed England and France in a position which was very galling to the Sultan, and which was objected to by other European States? Are these the warrants which entitled him to lecture Her Majesty's Government for not paying sufficient respect to Turkey? We do not wish to interfere with any of the legitimate rights of Turkey. We have endeavoured, under difficult circumstances, to follow that course, and I refuse to agree that we are open to any censure upon that point. My Lords, the noble Marquess has given us a long analysis of the incidents in the Soudan. He gave us what I must say was a rather coloured narrative. I have got a much fuller and longer, and, as I think, a more perfect analysis; but I should not like to follow the example of the noble Marquess, and omit everything which tells against my case. Why should the noble Marquess quote the cry of alarm on the 2nd of June, and entirely omit to refer to the letter written by General Hicks to General Baker 14 or 15 days afterwards, stating that he was prepared to conduct the campaign with the force available, and that he did not think any mishap probable?


What is the date of that letter?


The 18th of June. My analysis dates a long way further back than that of the noble Marquess, who entirely leaves out of sight the fact that the Mahdi did not first appear after the battle of Tel-el-Kebir, but proclaimed himself the Messiah in 1881. I think that gives an entirely different complexion to the whole statement of the noble Marquess. I will jump over the narrative of the noble Marquess, for it comes to this—that we are accused in the Motion before your Lordships of vacillation and weakness and inconsistency. I, on the contrary, say that we may have been wrong, we may have been too obstinate; but, even on the noble Marquess's showing, we adopted a certain policy at a certain date, and until the terrible disaster to General Hicks we entirely adhered to that policy. Now it is a question whether that policy was right. We found, after the battle of Tel-el-Kebir, which undoubtedly put us in an exceptional position, a state of things which had lasted for two years previously, in which, with varying success, but generally with success, the Egyptian Government resolved to maintain their whole dominion over the Soudan. The noble Marquess, however, is of opinion that we should have interfered. Can anybody conceive anything more calculated to have destroyed all good feeling between this country and Egypt than for the former to have told the Government of the latter, at a time when they believed that they were perfectly able to hold their own in the Soudan, that they must give up that great district? I do not want to present to the House a ridiculous hypothesis; but suppose that by any marvellous concatenation of circumstances a Foreign Government were to say to the Government at London that they must give up India, or to the Government at St. Petersburg that they must give up the Central Asian Provinces, because, in the belief of that Foreign Power, neither of them were able to hold those countries, what would be the reply? Had we insisted upon Egypt giving up the Soudan, it is not so much what Egypt would have said, but what the noble Marquess would have said in such a case, that we should have had to dread. In the circumstances, we should not have been justified in insisting upon Egypt giving up this large Colonial Empire, although the case is very different now, when events have proved mathematically that it was impossible for her to hold it. Had we, however, insisted at an earlier period upon her giving up that large territory, the noble Marquess would have declared that we had covered ourselves with disgrace. The reasoning of the noble Marquess upon this part of the question was, in my opinion, most inconsistent. When we determined not to give Egypt that advice, there were only two courses open to us—one was, to permit Egypt to act alone upon her own responsibility, and the other was to mix ourselves up in the administration of the Soudan. The administration of Egypt was perfectly distinct from that of the Soudan in every way; and when we had once settled that we would not interfere to prevent Egypt from carrying out a policy in the Soudan which we thought reasonable and right, was it right that we should have proceeded to interfere in a piecemeal manner and to have said to the Egyptian Government—"We do not disapprove of your general policy; but we have this or that objection to make in reference to its details?" By adopting that course, we should have made ourselves responsible for the results of that policy without our having been parties to carrying it out. The case, however, became perfectly different after General Hicks's defeat. On this point, however, one assertion has been made against which I must at once enter my protest. It has been assumed that we, as a nation, are covered with dishonour because General Hicks has been defeated. I must, however, strongly protest against the idea that because a Foreign Government selects for the command of its Forces an officer who is on the Retired List of the British Army, or who has altogether ceased to belong to it, that at once constitutes a state of things that renders England responsible for the success or the defeat of that officer. Now, what happened after the Egyptian Government arrived at the determination to send General Hicks into the Soudan? Hicks Pasha's defeat, which took place, so far as is known, on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th of November, was practically known, as a matter of certainty, on the 21st of November, and, in consequence, orders to postpone the evacuation of Cairo were given immediately on the 25th, while the Egyptian Government, having settled to hold the Soudan, decided to strengthen its Army by trying to recruit in Turkey. On the 25th Sir Evelyn Baring telegraphed— In view of the recent intelligence from the Soudan, I have thought it advisable to obtain the opinion of competent military authorities on the military situation in that province, for the information of Her Majesty's Government. Accordingly, General Stephenson, Sir Evelyn Wood, and General Baker met unofficially at my house to-day, and fully discussed the subject. They were unanimously of opinion that the Egyptian Government will find it impossible, with the forces at present at its disposal, to hold the Soudan, and that it will eventually be necessary, after withdrawing the garrisons, to fall back from Khartoum on to Egypt proper. They think that Khartoum should, if possible, be held sufficiently long to allow the more advanced posts and detached garrisons in the Soudan to rejoin. They are also of opinion that it is desirable, under the present circumstances, that the Egyptian Government should act from Suakim, and should try to render as much support as circumstances will allow from that quarter."—[Ibid. p. 98.] This is a very important telegram, as it was reasonable for us to suppose, not merely that this view was being urged on Cherif Pasha by Sir Evelyn Baring, but also that Cherif would not venture to resist the opinion of his own Generals—Wood and Baker. On the 26th of November Sir Evelyn Baring telegraphed that Colonel Coetlogon had sent a telegram to General Wood from Khartoum, stating that a retreat on Berber should be made at once. But on the 26th of November Sir Evelyn Baring informed me that Cherif Pasha was clinging to the hope that Hicks Pasha's defeat was not true, and was hesitating as to asking for assistance by recruiting in Turkey, and that he proposed to wait for a few days before taking action. On the 8th of December the news arrived of the defeat of the Egyptians at Termanhib, three hours from Suakim, and that Tokar and Sinkat, the latter of which commands the road from Berber to Suakim, were surrounded. On the 12th of December Cherif Pasha informed Sir Evelyn Baring that the Khedive and his Ministers had met, and wished to place themselves absolutely in the hands of Her Majesty's Government. In reply to him, the telegram of the 13th of December was sent, recommending an early decision to abandon all south of Assouan, or, at least, of Wady Halfa. It will thus be seen that only five days intervened from the news of the battle of Termanhib to the decision to urge the withdrawal from Khartoum, and that this decision was sent the day after the Egyptian Government had announced its willingness to be guided by Her Majesty's Government. On the 22nd of December Sir Evelyn Baring had informed me that the immediate position was not so alarming as it appeared to be supposed in England; but, nevertheless, the withdrawal was necessary; but he had to add that the Egyptian Government absolutely refused to carry it out, and that the only way to get the policy of withdrawal obeyed was to insist upon it in the most determined way. On the 2nd of January Sir Evelyn Baring informed me that the Egyptian Government intended to hold the Nile up to Khartoum inclusive, which, in Sir Evelyn Baring's opinion, it had not the means of doing. On the 4th of January I replied that Her Majesty's Government desired the withdrawal of the forces from the interior of the Soudan, including Khartoum; and that the Ministers must carry out the advice offered them or forfeit their Offices. On the 7th of January the Egyptian Ministers resigned; and on the 8th of January Nubar came in, entirely agreeing with the withdrawal policy. On the 9th of January Colonel Coetlogon telegraphed that if a retreat was ordered at once it could be safely effected. On the 14th the policy of immediate withdrawal was again pressed on the Egyptian Government, and an inquiry made as to what measures were being taken. On the 16th of January the Egyptian Government asked for a qualified British officer to go to Khartoum, with full powers, civil and military, to conduct the retreat. On the 18th of January General Gordon was sent. It will thus be seen that, so late as the 9th of January, in the opinion of Colonel Coetlogon, the retreat could be safely commenced; and that between the 8th of December, the date of the battle of Termanhib, and the 9th of January, Her Majesty's Government had never ceased urging withdrawal on the Government of Egypt, who, for the first time during the last 15 months, formally declined to receive our advice, which was met by the imperative despatch of the 2nd of January, which I have already mentioned. The noble Marquess argued in the strongest way against the abandonment of that part of the Soudan which includes Khartoum, which he described as the key of Egypt. All that I can say is, that if Khartoum be the key of Egypt it is a key that has never been brought into use. Is the noble Marquess aware that Khartoum is 1,450 miles from Cairo by a river that is only navigable in parts, and that to reach it by land stretches of desert of 200 and 300 miles in extent, without any water, have to be traversed? As to Khartoum being the military key of Egypt, a greater mistake never beclouded the mind of anyone. The noble Earl (the Earl of Carnarvon) talked of "civilization" there. Why, the place is nothing but desolation. There are only a few houses, properly called, in the place. The house of the Governor and two others can only bear the name of houses; the rest of the tenements were in such a state that they would crumble to pieces in the hot weather, unless the occupants, either from natural instinct or the teaching of civilization, smeared the walls with dung, which, of course, did not tend to their improved sanitary condition. The noble Earl (the Earl of Carnarvon), again, was in perfect misery as to the safety of the French and Germans and Italians in Khartoum. The noble Earl might have saved all his sympathy, for, as a matter of fact, excepting a few Europeans in the garrison, there is not one Frenchman, or German, or Italian in the place. There are some Greeks, who will probably stay there whether the garrison is given up or not. I now come to a very sad and melancholy episode which has affected Members of Her Majesty's Government at least as much as any of your Lordships—I mean the disaster to General Baker's Army. The noble Marquess says we might have prevented all that has happened; but he does not say how. What does he think we ought to have done? I do not know whether he thinks that we should have sent a purely British Army into the Soudan, which we were most anxious not to retain, or whether we should have sent a small portion of our troops to be mixed up with General Baker's force, and to be swamped in the miserable defeat which overtook that force. Now, I will venture to read to you, and I will lay upon the Table, the Correspondence that has passed with reference to Suakim, Tokar, and Sinkat—

"Sir Evelyn Baring to Earl Granville.

"Cairo, January 11, 1884.

"My Lord,—I have the honour to enclose a copy of fresh instructions which have been sent to Baker Pasha since the accession of Nubar Pasha's Ministry to Office.

"I have, &c, "E. BARING."

"'General Sir Evelyn Wood to Baker Pasha.

"'January 9, 1884.

"'Excellency,—His Highness the Khedive, having determined to abandon the Soudan Provinces, the Ministry, of which His Excellency Cherif Pasha was President, resigned. His Highness has appointed Nubar Pasha, who has nominated Abd-el-Kader Pasha as War Minister. 'His Excellency has not yet taken over the duties, and I write, therefore, by direction of His Excellency Nubar Pasha, who has received His Highness the Khedive's commands to order me to inform you of what has occurred, and also— '1. All that portion of your instructions which gave you discretion to open the Suakim-Berber route westward of Sinkat by force, if necessary, is cancelled. '2. If it is absolutely necessary to use force in order to extricate the garrisons of Sinkat and Tokar you can do so, provided you consider your force is sufficient and that you may reasonably count on success. 'The enforced submission of the men who have been holding out at these two places would be very painful to His Highness the Khedive; but even such a sacrifice is better, in his opinion, than that you and your troops should attempt a task which you cannot reckon fairly to be within your power. '3. You are directed to continue to use every effort possible to open the route up to Berber by diplomatic means. 'His Highness has not yet decided how the troops and civil populations shall be withdrawn from Khartoum; but he is convinced that non-combatants will pass over the road with more facility if no further fighting occurs than they could after any victory which is now in the power of your force to obtain. '4. The Mansourah, with 180 Bashi-Bazouks and stores, carries these instructions. Be good enough to report what force you consider sufficient to hold Suakim alone, and also to withdraw in safety the people at Sinkat and Tokar. '5. There is but the Mansourah available now at Suez, but when other steamers are sent back by you, or can be obtained from Alexandria, His Highness the Khedive proposes to send to you about 120 more Bashi-Bazouks and about 1,600 Black troops who have been collected by Zebehr. 'His Highness has not yet decided if Zebehr will accompany them, but you are to understand clearly that neither they nor any portion of your force are sent westward of Sinkat, and that the negroes now sent will probably be recalled to Cairo when you have extricated the people at Sinkat and Tokar.

"'EVELYN WOOD, for War Minister.'"

Now, my Lords, we had some right to think the instructions sufficient. General Baker is a very distinguished and brave officer, but he also possesses that quality of military prudence which is absolutely necessary to a great commander. He considered the situation, and we received a telegram from him saying that he was sanguine of success. I do not blame General Baker for having miscalculated the chances of success. How was it possible for the Government at home, or for General Baker in Egypt, to imagine that 4,000 men would throw themselves down to be annihilated by a force not one-fourth of their number? That has, unfortunately, happened. The noble Marquess thinks that nothing has been done by the Government. Before Baker's defeat in his attempt to relieve Tokar we had fair reason to suppose his force would relieve Tokar and Sinkat. I will read the instructions to him. The news of his defeat arrived at 2.30 on the 5th of February. Sir William Hewett reported that the troops left in Suakim were utterly unreliable, and that he intended landing men to defend the place. We immediately telegraphed approving of Hewett's action, and asked him if he wanted reinforcements. The Orontes, with 1,000 seamen and Marines on their way home from China, was somewhere near Suez. We telegraphed at once to stop her at Suez. She had passed in the morning on the 5th, but she was stopped at Port Said, where she arrived on the 6th. We warned Lord John Hay at Malta to be ready to reinforce Hewett. On the morning of the 6th Sir William Hewett telegraphed that Baker's force had returned to Suakim quite disorganized, and that some trustworthy troops should be sent to protect the place. We ordered the Carysfort at Alexandria to be ready to take arms and ammunition to Port Said, and to embark reinforcements from the Orontes, and asked Sir William Hewett what numbers he required. On the 7th Sir William Hewett answered that he wanted to make up the Marines to 500, that he would keep 500 Black troops and 100 Turkish Cavalry, the rest of the Egyptian troops to be sent away. The Carysfort was then ordered to proceed to Alexandria and take 120 Marines (all available) from the Orontes, and proceed to Suakim. Lord John Hay was instructed to send 280 Marines to Port Said to be sent in the Orontet to Hewett, the seamen in the Orontes remaining at Port Said in case they should be wanted. On the 8th the Monarch and the Hecla left Malta, with 300 Marines, for Port Said. Sir William Hewett's proposal to withdraw Baker's force was approved. Sir William Hewett reported that he expected Suakim to be attacked As soon as Sinkat and Tokar fall; two-thirds of people and troops are disaffected, and believe in the Mahdi. On the 9th Sir William Hewett was invested with full powers, civil and military, at Suakim. He was told to warn the Arabs that any attack would be repulsed by British troops. On the 10th, in reply to a question what news he had from Tokar and Sinkat, Sir William Hewett telegraphed that the rebels near Suakim were reported to be about 3,000, round Tokar 3,000 to 4,000, and round Sinkat 3,000, and that there was no news of the Tokar garrison. On the morning of the 11th Sir William Hewett was asked, by private telegram, whether there was any chance of relieving the garrisons of Tokar and Sinkat by negotiation or arms; and, if by arms, what force was requisite? On the evening of the 11th he replied, stating the force which he considered necessary. In the meantime, steps were taken that the Jumna, a troopship on her way to Aden from Bombay, should call at Aden, so that she might take on troops from that place if necessary. Other preliminary measures were taken in communication with Lord Wolseley, so that no time should be lost in the event of its being decided to attempt to relieve the garrisons. No earlier action would have been of any avail, because the Jumna was not due at Aden till the 12th, and the Monarch and Hecla, with the Marines, were not due at Port Said till the 12th. The preliminary arrangements made enable us to send to Suakim a force as large as that stated by Sir William Hewett by the 18th instant. The noble Marquess would have us send a British force to reconquer the Soudan, and calls us vacillating and inconsistent because we do not do so. A distinguished statesman, who is chiefly characterized by an absence of all vacillation—I mean Prince Bismarck—once said of the whole Eastern Question that to Germany it was not worth the bones of one Pomeranian Fusilier, and that it was the duty of a Government to be most economical of the blood of their countrymen and soldiers unless great interests were at stake. Now, would it be an economy of the blood of our fellow-countrymen and soldiers to send a British Army to reconquer the Soudan, or any portion of it, the Soudan being a country in which they have not the slightest interest? I say it would not. The Soudan has no interest for England or India. Then there is another question to be considered, the question of humanity. I quite admit that humanity has great claims; but I know that on former occa- sions humane acts have been determined on by this country—and I hope that in future that will be so—without exactly counting the cost of such acts. But in the case of humanity, like private charity, you must a little consider whether the humane object you have in view does not clash with some larger humane views which you may have in the same direction. Your Lordships know that General Gordon was sent out on a mission, of which, I am happy to say, he is as sanguine now as when he left England, that he will be able to accomplish satisfactorily if time is given him. This opinion is expressed in the following telegram, which we have received to-day from Sir Evelyn Baring:— Gordon telegraphs as follows:—' I have formed a Committee of Defence with Hassan Kalifa Pasha; they meet to-day. They have announced my assumption of the supreme power in the Soudan. I hope to conciliate the whole Province of Berber under my Presidency. Question of getting out garrison and families is so interlaced with preservation of well-to-do people of this country as to he for the present inseparable. Any precipitate action separating these interests would throw all well-disposed people into the ranks of the enemy, and would fail utterly in its effects. Therefore, I trust patience will be shown, and that you will not be at all anxious as to issue. Although our feelings have been greatly moved by the position of Sinkat, and particularly the dreadful news of to-day, and by the anxious position of Tokar, we must remember that those garrisons only represent a fractional part of the Egyptian troops who are scattered over the country; and, therefore, when we are sending out an expedition charged with the relief of some of the besieged garrisons, it is most important that our intentions should not clash with the larger views of General Gordon for the relief of the 23,000 men who are scattered throughout the Soudan. My Lords, we could not have the views of General Gordon until after the news of General Baker's defeat reached him at Berber. We sent telegrams to him last week telling him of the bad news, and inviting his opinion as to whether the sending out of a considerable force would be hurtful or useful to his general purpose. I am glad to say that the information we have received to-day shows that it will not be inimical to the purposes he has in view. [Ironical laughter.] Noble Lords seem to regard that as an inconsequent explanation; but it is not at all absurd to have imagined that General Gordon's scheme for the relief of the Egyptian garrisons might have been defeated by an early and premature interference on the part of the Home Government. The doubt we displayed was perfectly reasonable, though I am happy to find it has been dissipated by the information we have just received. The result was that the following telegram had been sent:— From the Adjutant General, Horse Guards, to the General Officer Commanding the Force Fin Egypt, Cairo, dated February 12,1884. Force is to be collected at Suakim, with the object, if possible, of relieving Tokar garrison if it can hold out; if not, of taking any measures necessary for defence of ports. General Graham to command Force. Redvers-Buller to command Infantry Brigade, and be second in command. Herbert Stewart to command all mounted troops. Two last, and Wauchope, as Deputy Assistant Adjutant General, start tonight. Select other Staff Officers as required in Egypt. Make following arrangements at once, settling all details yourself. Select three best battalions in your command. Those, with 2nd Irish Fusiliers, now in Jumna, and battalion of Marines, to form Infantry Brigade, under Buller. If you deem it advisable, bring garrison of Alexandria to Cairo while expedition lasts. Report if you wish to do so, as orders would be sent to Fleet to hold Alexandria temporarily. While so held a Naval officer will command there. 19th Hussars, Mounted Infantry, and any reliable Native horsemen now at Suakim to constitute mounted force under Stewart. Take horses from Wood's Cavalry to complete 19th, with country horses, leaving behind for the time English horses with the Egyptian Cavalry. One Garrison Battery Royal Artillery to take over guns, equipment, camels, and camel drivers from Wood's Camel Battery. If it has started from Cairo, it must be brought back at once for this purpose It can take ordinary field guns with it up the Nile. Send one of its officers with camel drivers. Baring will give necessary authority. Admiral Hewett will furnish machine-guns, manned with sailors, if required. Do not send field guns on any account with expedition. Regimental transports to be taken with troops. Employ camels as much as possible. Hire them if possible; if not, purchase. Baggage to he on lowest possible scale, as troops ought to be back in Cairo in three weeks. Obtain from Egyptian Government means for carrying water on camels. Turn your best attention to carriage of water. Stretchers at rate of three or four per company. Make best arrangements you can for conveyance of wounded. Tents to accompany force to Suakim or Trinkitat, as case may be. Troops to bivouac on line of march. Provisions for men and horses for a fortnight to be embarked. Arrange for sending on enough afterwards for one or two more weeks. Naval authorities may be depended on for first needs to be landed from ships. All sea transport require to be arranged with Naval authorities. Three months' supply of groceries for 6,000 men, and a reserve of 180,000 lbs. preserved meat and 400 tons forage will be shipped from England immediately. You will telegraph any further requirements. Send your best doctor as principal medical officer. Two hundred and fifty rounds per man, besides 70 in pouch. Furnish each man with ample puggaree. 10th Hussars, from Jumna, will be landed to garrison Suakim. A few of them might be mounted on horses now there, as it is desirable to be strong in Cavalry. Order all good horses now there to remain for this purpose. Tell Parr to do his best to obtain land transport there. Naval officer at Alexandria will arrange for conveyance from Suez to Suakim. Communicate with him at once. Two medical and two commissariat officers start at once for service in your command. All confidence felt in your judgment and experience to settle necessary details. Communicate this to Baring and Hewett at once, and arrange details with latter. The greatest publicity to be given to the determination to relieve Tokar by British soldiers. My Lords, I trust this may be successful. The Government desire, if possible, to communicate with the Tokar garrison, and they think they can relieve them if only they can hold out till the end of the present month. The noble Marquess spoke of the feeling of the country. But it was perfectly impossible that we could have done anything to relieve Sinkat since General Baker was defeated. We can only hope that our efforts will be successful. I have told the noble Marquess that I am quite prepared to repeat the obligations we consider this country to be under. We have no obligation whatever to annex or to countenance anything in the nature of annexation. We say, as we have said from the beginning, that it is our intention to withdraw our troops after we have established a stable and permanent Government in Egypt. We have also a responsibility. During that time we have a right to see that our advice on all important questions is followed in Egypt. I really wish to say one word further, and it is this—that it is utterly impossible to administer the details of the Egyptian Government from Downing Street. What we have done is this—to choose the very best men we can find for that purpose. I venture to say that the men that have been appointed in succession to represent Her Majesty in Egypt are all first-rate men, and that the men we have been able to recommend to the Khedive for his civil and military administration are as good as can be found. Having done this, I am sure that the right principle to pursue is to lay down sound principles by which they are to act, and as long as we have confidence in them, to give them our most ample support. I am sure this is the right doctrine; and although the force of circumstances has obliged us to go farther than that in Egypt, I am quite sure that as much as possible we ought to confine ourselves within those limits. I do not say this because I happen to be connected with the Office whose normal heavy duties are not of an administrative character. I should say exactly the same if I was at the head of a great administrative Office like that of India. In India for more than 30 years the principle of annexation has been abandoned, but Native States have constantly been administered by British Residents, and then transferred back to Native Rulers. The Resident has generally done this through Native Ministers. His duties are easy compared with those of an English Representative exercising influence over the administration in Egypt. The country he administers is at the other end of the world. He has no European foreigners, no Consuls to represent them; no staff of reporters, whose first business it is to report upon every trivial incident, almost always judging of everything by a standard as high, and sometimes higher, than obtains in the most civilized country. The difficulties are enormous in Egypt, and can only be met by a firm support from Her Majesty's Government and from both Houses of Parliament.


My Lords, I have some difficulty in following the noble Earl in this discussion. It is not on account of the arguments which the noble Earl has used; they were very few in number, and, such as they were, I think they are very easily answered. But I do not approach, and I think none of your Lordships can approach, this subject to-night without being sobered and saddened. There are, I am sure, very few of your Lordships, on whichever side of the House they sit, who do not also feel somewhat humiliated at the events which have taken place. But this feeling of sadness and humiliation makes it your Lordships' duty to pronounce on the events which have occurred a judgment which in the eyes of this country and of foreign countries shall be clear, distinct, and unmistakable. A good deal of what fell from the noble Earl it will not be necessary for me to follow. He occupied half-an-hour by the clock in dealing with a Motion not made in this House, but made by a right hon. Gentleman in the House of Commons. That Motion was made before the Papers we now have were produced, and I do not know how it occurred that when the Mover and Seconder of the Motion had concluded no Member of Her Majesty's Government was found to rise and reply; but now at the end of a week the noble Earl has attempted an answer in your Lordships' House. Then there is the subject of the Dual Control. The word Egypt is never mentioned in this House without the noble Earl all at once adjourning the discussion to that question. If the noble Earl wishes at any time to have an academic discussion upon the question of the Dual Control, the noble Marquess behind me will offer every facility for the purpose, and we shall have a night of it. But for the purposes of these Papers now before your Lordships, you might as well, it seems to me, refer to the policy of Rameses II. The subject of the Dual Control has nothing on earth to do with the matter now before us. It is a misfortune that whenever the subject is introduced language is used which appears to me to be highly calculated to mislead. At present we have the blessing of the Prime Minister, who, perhaps, more than any of his Predecessors, has the power of using words which do not exactly represent the real subject-matter on which he speaks, and he has decidedly used that power with regard to Egypt with a freedom which commands our admiration. A short time ago we bombarded Alexandria, which was burnt and destroyed, and sent to Egypt an expedition and had a battle and carried the Egyptian entrenchments and defeated the Egyptian Army; but nobody was even allowed to call that war. It was "military operations." No doubt they were military operations, and the battle of Waterloo was a military operation; but it is better to call a review by its proper name and give the name of battle to such an event as that to which I have just referred. Our Army at present is in Egypt. I should say that at present we occupy the country by our Army. But we are not allowed to use the proper term. What occurred was this. There is "the presence of our troops in Egypt," and there is "the desire to maintain order" there. In this way people are deluded, and they forget for the moment that the position of this country is that we are in military occupation of Egypt. Then there is the mission of General Gordon. He went out to Egypt as an officer in the service of Her Majesty's Government. Some suggested that he was in the service of the Khedive, but that was positively denied. Then we heard that he had a Firman from the Khedive, and was appointed Commander in the Soudan with full civil and military powers. The Government were asked how these things were to be reconciled, and they gave no answer at all. Again, the other night, it was said that the great house of Rothschild had been induced to lend £1,000,000 to the Egyptian Government, and Her Majesty's Government were asked whether they had given their approval to the loan. The noble Earl scouted the idea; the thing was absurd; noble Lords went home and said—"That, at any rate, is a mare's nest." But what did we find? That letters had passed between Her Majesty's Government and the house of Rothschild. It is no doubt true that the Government did not approve the lending of £1,000,000; but they expressed their satisfaction that Sir Evelyn Baring had expressed his pleasure that the Egyptian Government had expressed their gratification that the house of Rothschild should lend the money. Whatever the language held may be, the fact is that the English Government are pledged up to the hilt to approve the loan. Then we were told in the Queen's Speech that Her Majesty's Government had given counsel to the Khedive, and that he had taken a resolution. That was thought to mean that the Khedive had weighed that counsel and was going to follow it. When, however, the Papers were examined we found that Her Majesty's Government had given no counsel or advice, but as positive and absolute a command as ever proceeded from the most autocratic Sovereign to the most humble slave. The Khedive was told that if the advice was not followed his Ministry and all the Governors would be dismissed; and it must be remembered that the Khedive himself is a Governor. What followed? The Khedive assured Sir Evelyn Baring that he was perfectly convinced, and that the arguments of Her Majesty's Government were unanswerable. Well, that is all very pleasant; and one advantage resulting from the publication of the Blue Book is that we have now got at the truth instead of the verbiage we have been accustomed to hear. The position of Egypt and of the Egyptian Government in regard to this country, arising from our military operations and the presence of our troops, is that we are absolute sovereigns of Egypt. The noble Earl (Earl Granville), recounting all the good that had been done for Egypt, passed a panegyric on the representative institutions of Egypt. Could anything be more charming? I believe representative institutions to be a very good thing; but representative institutions where a Foreign Power dismisses the Ministry does not appear to me to be very promising. Well, such is our position in Egypt, and it is no use blinking the fact. There is no Crown Colony where our orders are more imperative and absolute than they are in Egypt. Our position in Egypt has not been altered by the defeats; it is as absolute now as it was in the beginning. We may, or we may not, exercise our rights; but those rights we have had all along. The noble Earl sometimes dwells on Egypt Proper as if for his purpose it could be treated as on a different footing from the Soudan; but there is no ground for the distinction. The Government that governs the whole of the Egyptian territory is the Government of Egypt. We govern the Government of Egypt, and therefore we govern the whole of the Egyptian territory. The Government of Egypt send troops to the Southern Province, and support those troops with the Revenues of Egypt. If we are satisfied with what they do, well and good; but if we are not satisfied, it is within our power, and it is our absolute duty, to interpose. The Mahdi came into existence in 1881, and in 1883 the Government interfered, and Lord Dufferin gave very positive advice. Was not that advice an interference clear and unmistakable? Was the subsequent conduct of the Government consistent? Two or three months afterwards we find them taking a different line, and saying—"We will not give any advice about the Soudan, or undertake any responsibility for it." There is vacillation No. 1. It was said they had no idea but that Hicks Pasha was going on well and would be successful, and that the Egyptian Government would have resented interference. I maintain that that was just the time when it was the bounden duty of the Government to have decided one way or the other what the policy of Egypt should be with regard to her Southern Possessions. If it was right that any part of them should be retained, then was the time to say so, and to give moral and, if necessary, material assistance; if it was not right, then was the time that Egypt could with safety and honour have retreated from the contest. It is too late now, as we find to our shame, after mischief is done and defeat sustained. The time to retreat is before defeat has come. Is it the fact that the Government were under the impression that Hicks Pasha had the ball at his feet and was going to prosper?


I have not said so.


The noble Earl says he did not say anything of the kind. On the 18th of June Hicks Pasha said he would undertake the expedition with good hope of success; but in August he gave a graphic and picturesque description of adverse conditions which it was almost impossible to contend against. General Hicks telegraphed to Sir Evelyn Wood from Khartoum on the 5th of August— The men at Kerkoj are 25 months in arrear of pay, and at Fazoglu 9 months, and have neither clothes nor food; they cannot get very much from the country, as they are surrounded by rebel villages. The men have shown a spirit of insubordination, which is not to be wondered at. It is very difficult to provide food for them at Fazoglu, and I do not know how to remedy this. They are so far off, and steamer cannot get there. I shall try to withdraw them as far as Kerkoj, but the Moudir of Fazoglu, who has left the place in a small boat and come here, says the men were reduced to the last extremities, and it is quite probable that now they have either starved or joined the rebels. The withdrawal will be difficult, as they are 300 men, with 600 women and children, and having to pass through an enemy's country: £80,000 for arrears was promised, but none received yet. If the Government will forego the 1½ per cent charged for bills on Cairo, I could get money from merchants here. I sent a Staff officer to Sennaar to report on matters, and he has returned. Soldiers of the irregular troops have positively refused to go where ordered in consequence of not having been paid. There is neither money nor transport with the army on the Blue Nile. They have no grain from Wad-el-Medina to Fazoglu. They require mo to send steamer from here to take up grain for them. I want all myself—in fact I want more to bring up reinforcements and supplies for Kordofan column. If money is sent to Sennaar camels can be bought, but it will take time. Camels ought to be kept for the force of 6,000 men there; they have none whatever. If I must now deprive myself of a steamer urgently required here, if I am to keep the Blue Nile army from starving, I despair of ever getting my column ready. As at present, it has been arranged it would take 45 days from now to get the reinforcements from Berber. I must try if I can expedite this. It is quite probable that after the season opens the Arabs in Sennaar will break out again; the flies will have gone, and they will have gathered their crops, and they will be free to move where they like. Our column will have gone to Kordofan; and to keep Sennaar in order there will be this army on the Blue Nile, without money and without transport. It is almost impossible to contend against all these adverse conditions; to-day, the first time I have heard of the condition of the Fazoglu garrison, although the Moudir says he has reported frequently. The garrison was left by Abdul Kader. Taking into consideration the whole state of affairs in this country, I am convinced that it would be best to keep the two rivers and Province of Sennaar, and wait for Kordofan to settle itself."—[Egypt, No. 22 (1883), p. 83.] It was the most hopeless expedition ever undertaken. On the 8th of August the noble Earl writes to Sir Edward Malet that the Government have no responsibility whatever with regard to the condition of affairs in the Soudan, and that it is desirable Hicks Pasha should understand this. It is their policy to abstain as much as possible from interference in that question. The same phrases are repeated in November. On the 1st of December the noble Earl falters, and says that, "if consulted, you may advise them to retire within certain limits," not specifying what they are. Was there that action that ought to have been taken? The Government had everything before them. They could have recalled Hicks Pasha, and so confined the expedition to the limits they approved. We have the opinion of Lord Dufferin, that if the operations of Hicks Pasha had been confined to Sennaar, and if he had not gone to Kordofan, there was every reason to suppose he would have been successful. How was Her Majesty made to describe the state of affairs in the Queen's Speech? It was on the 31st of October last year that the Government came to the decision to reduce our troops in Egypt in order to concentrate those that remained. On the 2nd of November the two days' engagement with Hicks Pasha began. Is this what the historian would deduce from the Queen's Speech. It says that— Having had every reason to be satisfied with the tranquillity of Egypt, and with the progress made in the establishment of orderly institutions, I gave, during the autumn, instructions for the evacuation of Cairo, for the further reduction of my military forces, and for their concentration mainly in Alexandria; But in the month of November the Egyptian Army, appointed to maintain the rule of the Khedive in the Soudan, was defeated and broken up with heavy loss. The historian would infer that there was a wide interval between the two events, whereas there was only two days. Is there in the first passage a play upon words? Does it refer to Egypt Proper? I dare say Egypt Proper was very tranquil, just as 140 years ago, at the time of the battle of Culloden, England may have been tranquil, although the fall of a dynasty hung in the balance. Yet I do not think at that time anyone would have proposed a reduction of the Army. The ruin of Hicks Pasha's Army was impending, and yet the Government had every reason to be satisfied with the tranquillity of Egypt. How is the defeat of Hicks Pasha described? It is an "unforeseen and calamitous necessity." Could not anyone have foreseen it who read the Papers? Surely there were men of intelligence in Downing Street, who, going through these Papers, must have foreseen the extreme probability of that which happened. In my judgment, a heavy moral responsibility rests upon Her Majesty's Government for the destruction of Hicks Pasha's Army. The noble Earl said that the noble Marquess had contended for the reconquest of the Soudan. I heard no such statement, nor do I think the noble Earl heard a single word which would justify that statement. My noble Friend did not advocate any policy of the kind. I am not going to advocate any policy of that kind; indeed, I am not going to express any opinion on the subject. But I want to say something about the Soudan. Now, months ago, the Egyptian Government—I do not mean the present Government, but that of Cherif Pasha—stated distinctly that their policy was not to retain the whole of the Egyptian Possessions to the South, but to limit the territory they retained by Khartoum. In fact, Cherif Pasha did not propose to go so far as Lord Dufferin. I dare say this policy of the Government, not to go so far as Khartoum, is a very good policy; but the difficulty is that I find no argument on the subject, although we have some despatches stating the opinion of Sir Evelyn Wood, General Stephenson, and Sir Evelyn Baring. But although Sir Evelyn Baring says he agrees with the policy of Her Majesty's Government, all his arguments are the other way; all his arguments are dead against giving up Khartoum. Hear what he says. At the end of November the noble Earl opposite had telegraphed to Sir Evelyn Baring, on November 22, asking his opinion with reference to the reported destruction of General Hicks's Army by the forces of the Mahdi, and instructing him, after consultation with General Stephenson and Sir Evelyn Wood— To report his opinion as to whether the present state of affairs in the Soudan must be considered as a cause of danger to Egypt proper. Sir Evelyn Baring replied— That the unanimous opinion of Lieutenant General Stephenson, Major General Sir Evelyn Wood, and myself is that the recent success of the Mahdi is a source of danger to Egypt proper, and that the danger would he greatly increased if Khartoum falls, which seems not improbable,"—[Egypt. No. 1 (1884), pp. 96–7.] So far, therefore, as Sir Evelyn Baring goes, I should say that his opinion was against giving up Khartoum. What did he say next? On December 3 he says— General Stephenson and Sir Evelyn Wood are therefore of opinion that, if the Egyptian Government be left to rely exclusively on its own resources, and the Mahdi advances, Khartoum must fall. They think that an endeavour should be made to open out the Berber-Suakim route, not because the mere establishment of communications between those two points will enable the Egyptian Government, with the forces at its disposal, to hold Khartoum permanently, but because the success of General Baker's undertaking will afford the best hope of retreat to the garrison of Khartoum and the immediate neighbourhood. Then he says— If Khartoum is abandoned, they think that the whole of the valley of the Nile, down to Wady Halfa or thereabouts, will probably be lost to the Egyptian Government. As regards the Eastern Soudan, they do not at present wish to pronounce any decided opinion, but they are inclined to think that it may be possible to hold Kassala and one or two other points from Suakim, and Massowah, provided the Abyssinian Government abstains from active hostilities. I have dwelt especially on the opinions of General Stephenson and Sir Evelyn Wood, because, under the instructions conveyed in your Lordship's telegram of the 22nd ultimo, I consulted those officers, and because, as they have seen this despatch, I am confident that I am rightly interpreting their views. I may, however, add that I have gathered, in communication with Baker Pasha, that his views on the military situation do not differ materially from those of General Stephenson and Sir Evelyn Wood.… Although, however, the abandonment of the valley of the Nile south of Wady Halfa might ultimately be productive of good to Egypt, and although it would certainly be a great relief to the oppressed tenantry of this country no longer to be dragged from their homes in order to be sent to the Soudan, I would not on that account underrate the grave consequences which would probably ensue from the abandonment of Khartoum and the provinces lying between it and Wady Halfa. The adoption of this measure would inflict a heavy blow on the authority of the Khedive and of his Government, which has already been rudely shaken by recent events. A fanatical population, flushed with religious enthusiasm and military success, would be brought to the frontiers of civilized Egypt. A considerable military force would be required to guard those frontiers. The fanatical portion of the population of Egypt, and especially Upper Egypt, would scarcely look with indifference at the success of the Mahdi. In a word, the difficulties attending the government of Egypt proper, which are already sufficiently great, would be materially enhanced."—[Ibid. pp. 129–30.] That was Sir Evelyn Baring's opinion. But it did not stop there. On the 22nd of December he says— My own opinion is that the policy recommended by Her Majesty's Government is the best of which the very difficult circumstances of the case admit. The immediate position is not, I think, so alarming as appears to be thought in England. Dissensions seem to be rife among the tribes of the Soudan, some of the most important being opposed to the Mahdi. It is quite possible that by a judicious expenditure of money and by good management the Government of the Khedive may succeed in retaining its authority northwards from Khartoum. They will not, however, be able to hold that country except on sufferance, and I believe them to be perfectly incapable of governing it properly. On the other hand, the abandonment of the country as far as Wady Halfa would inflict a very serious blow upon the authority of the Khedive in Egypt proper. Without doubt, too, the argument of Cherif Pasha, that the friendly tribes and the hordes of Bedouins all round Egypt would turn against the Government, is very forcible. Moreover, although I think that the retention of the Soudan would entail greater financial difficulties than its abandonment, it must not be supposed that the latter course will be free from serious financial embarrassments. A considerable increase in the Egyptian army will be unavoidable. I feel sure that under no amount of persuasion or argument will the present Ministers consent to the adoption of the policy of abandonment. The only way in which it can be carried out will be for me to inform the Khedive that Her Majesty's Government insist on the adoption of this course, and that if his present Ministers will not carry out the policy, others must be named who will consent to do so. I am not, however, at present prepared to say that any native Ministry can be found both willing to carry out this policy and capable of doing so. I should very much regret a change of Ministry, and I think that the loss of Cherif Pasha would be very detrimental to the country, but it will be almost inevitable if the policy of abandonment is carried out. It would also be necessary to send an English officer of high authority to Khartoum, with full power to withdraw all the garrisons in the Soudan, and to make the best arrangements possible for the future government of that country."—[Ibid. p. 144.] Well, my Lords, I submit that with respect to the policy of the abandonment of Khartoum I am at a loss to find in these despatches a single argument in its favour. The arguments supposed to be for it are directly against it. Now, my Lords, suppose that the policy of the Government was right—suppose the policy which they adopted on the 4th of January was right, it is directly at variance with everything they did up to that time; and, therefore, I say that it was vacillating and inconsistent. Now, my Lords, what was done and what ought to have been done if we were to assist the Egyptian Government? The first thing was to have consulted Turkey and obtained her consent. You know perfectly well the terms on which the Khedive ruled Egypt. Yet you were forcing him to do what he had not properly the right to do. [The noble and learned Earl then read an extract from the Firman under which the Khedive held his authority, and by which he was not to abandon any of the privileges given to Egypt or alienate any part of his territory.] What communications did you make to Turkey on the subject? On the 4th of January two despatches were sent to Sir Evelyn Baring, in the first of which the noble Earl opposite says— The general views of Her Majesty's Government on the question of the Soudan were stated to you in my telegram of the 13th ultimo, and have already been made known to Cherif Pasha. They have carefully considered the arguments and views of the Egyptian Government, and your observations upon them, and they see no reason to modify their conclusions as set forth in my telegram of the 13th ultimo. With reference, however, to the proposal contained in Cherif Pasha's note of the 2nd instant, I have to instruct you to inform his Excellency that Her Majesty's Government have no objection to the Khedive's applying to the Porte to send troops to Suakim, provided that it will not increase the expenditure falling on the Egyptian Treasury, or cause the Egyptian Government to delay coming to a decision as to the movements of their troops from the interior of the Soudan. You will further state to Cherif Pasha that Her Majesty's Government concur in his second proposal. As to Cherif Pasha's suggestion (3) that with the frontiers thus reduced Egypt would be able to hold the Nile up to Khartoum, and secure the safety of Egypt, Her Majesty's Government do not believe it to be possible for Egypt to defend Khartoum; and, whilst recommending the concentration of the Egyptian troops, they desire that those forces should be withdrawn from Khartoum itself, as well as from the interior of the Soudan, and you will so inform Cherif Pasha."—[Ibid. p. 175.] And in the second— It should be made clear to the Egyptian Ministers and Governors of provinces that the responsibility which for the time rests on England obliges Her Majesty's Government to insist on the adoption of the policy which they recommend, and that it will be necessary that those Ministers and Governors who do not follow this course should cease to hold their offices."—[Ibid. p. 176.] Then, on the same day, a despatch was written to Lord Dufferin in the following terms:— The Turkish Ambassador called upon me to-day, and asked me whether I had any information to give him about Egypt. He said that he saw much argument in the press which, while it omitted all mention of Turkey, seemed to indicate that England was about to take upon herself the administration of Egypt, and to treat that country as France had treated Tunis. I told Musurus Pasha, in reply, that I had already informed him of the reasons which had compelled Her Majesty's Government to suspend the withdrawal of the troops which had been ordered. The responsibility of this country had, under actual circumstances, obliged Her Majesty's Government to assist in maintaining order in and defending Egypt proper. But they had no intention of sending troops to undertake the reconquest of the Soudan."—[Ibid. p. 177.] We live in a world of visions and dreams. There was nothing in the faintest degree approaching the real state of things in what the noble Earl said to the Ambassador. The unfortunate Ambassador goes home and transmits this as news to his own Government. But that territory belonging to the Sultan of Turkey had been abandoned—not a word was said to the Ambassador on that subject. Then, my Lords, I maintain that the Government ought to have taken some precautions upon the subject of slavery. General Gordon tells you that for two years there have passed out by a particular route not less than 600 slaves every week on their way to the Red Sea. General Gordon glories in the fact that his government in the Soudan practically put an end to that state of things; and I observe that at the time when Sir Evelyn Baring was paralyzed with the orders from home not to interfere, and not to give any advice with regard to the Soudan, he did not feel himself able to remonstrate against the appointment to a high office of Zobehr Pasha, the king of the slave-dealers. What is the state of things with regard to this Mahdi? The only conspicuous leaders in his army are well-known slave-dealers in the Soudan. In fact, the rebellion is based, first, on the propagation of the religious fanaticism of those who composed the army; and, secondly, on the hatred of the slave-dealers at the interruption of their operations. These are the two great objects which the rebels under the Mahdi have in view. With such a state of things before you, you abandon the district where all the slave-trading takes place. The only way in which the Slave Trade could be stopped was by nipping it in the bud at its head-quarters. But it has been our fate, in the present generation, to see two of the most retrograde steps taken with regard to slavery. In the Transvaal you handed back to slavery hundreds of thousands of Natives; and now you are doing the same thing in the Southern districts of Egypt. It is perfectly essential for the safety of the garrisons which the noble Earl has properly described as being sown broadcast over the Soudan that the policy should be kept perfectly secret until those garrisons were either concentrated or withdrawn. I have said that Her Majesty's Government are, in my opinion, morally responsible for the disaster to Hicks Pasha's army. Even if there may be controversy as regards Hicks Pasha, there can be none at all with regard to Baker Pasha, for at that time Her Majesty's Government had intervened and taken possession of the government of Egypt. They were at the head of affairs, and everything which took place then took place under their eye, and was in their absolute power. Now, what was Baker Pasha doing? He was going to relieve Suakim, Sinkat, and Tokar. You had then engaged yourselves to defend the littoral of the Red Sea, and do you mean to say that you engaged only to defend Suakim, and not Sinkat and Tokar, which are only some 20 or 25 miles distant from Suakim? Such a proposition is absurd. There was no difficulty of communication between these places. The roads were perfectly open at that time, and we read in the papers that the roads were perfectly good. You had engaged as long ago as December last to defend the littoral of the Red Sea. Did you not know the position of Baker Pasha? I have here a despatch from Sir Evelyn Baring written on the 3rd and received on the 13th of December. He goes into the question of Sinkat and Tokar, and he tells exactly the number of men Baker Pasha would have with him. He states that the greater portion of them will not fight, and that there were 400 Black troops who might fight, and he adds that if Baker Pasha could do anything, it must be with money and not with troops. If anybody could imagine that Baker Pasha could succeed, I should say he was a simple-minded man. In addition to that, Her Majesty's Government had Sir Evelyn Baring's opinion that they ought to be prepared with forces. Her Majesty's Government had clear and distinct notice that Baker Pasha was at Suakim. He endeavoured to do everything which Her Majesty's Government neglected to do; but his force was unable to do the work. The noble Earl has read telegrams about what has happened since this day week, when we heard of the defeat of Baker Pasha. We have had wonderful activity during the past week. We hear this morning the saddening news of the fall of Sinkat, and then there comes a fresh crop of orders. If, as I hope will not be the case, Tokar should fall, no doubt we shall have further orders and further activity. And now I should like to say a word about General Gordon. I rejoice that he has arrived safe at Berber. General Gordon is one of our national treasures, and I do not think Her Majesty's Government had any right rashly to expose our national treasures. I do not think that since the days of knight-errantry in the dark ages such an expedition was ever undertaken. And I think it was about equally wise as the expeditions of the knights'-errant. I heartily wish that General Gordon may arrive safely at Khartoum; but what is he to do when he gets there? I do not know whether Her Majesty's Government have any idea. If so, they certainly do not favour us with it. General Gordon had formerly the government of this district, and he obtained the most marvellous ascendency over the White population. They would have murdered him if they could. It must be recollected that General Gordon is going to negotiate, not with the Native population of that part of the Soudan, but with the slave-dealers, who will certainly not be favourably inclined towards him. I can only wonder how General Gordon, acting from Khartoum, can save the garrison at Tokar. But, however that may be, I wish General Gordon every success, and I am sure that every one of your Lordships joins in that wish. But if the success comes, I do not think that it will be from Khartoum that the other garrisons will be saved. The noble Earl said that he objected to reference being made to the opinions of Foreign Powers on this subject.


I deprecated the opinion of foreign journalists being accepted as the true expression of the opinions of their various countries.


But the foreign journalists of all countries appear to look at the conduct of Her Majesty's Government from the same point of view. I fully admit that there are many matters of domestic policy on which we might well disregard the opinions of foreign journalists; but this subject stands on a very different footing. We have taken a very unusual step with regard to Egypt. We have requested foreign nations to stand aside, and to let us do what had to be done there alone. They have taken us at our word, and some of those who used the grandiloquent language of the Prime Minister, said that we had received a mandate from the European Powers with regard to Egypt. These Powers are now asking us how we have carried out that mandate.


Where does the noble Earl find that statement?


Through the usual channels of information, which are as open to the noble Earl as to myself. The noble Earl confined himself closely to the despatches which he has received from Foreign Powers; but if he were to take a wider survey of what is going on in the world, if he will pass from the conventional rules of the Foreign Office to the unconventional rules of common sense, he will find that Foreign Powers are now asking us "How have you executed our mandate?" I hope that your Lordships will show the Foreign Powers and the people of this country that, as far as we are concerned, we are of opinion that it is the vacillating and inconsistent policy of Her Majesty's Government which has led to those lamentable events which we all join in deploring.


My Lords, there are many of the observations of the noble and learned Earl who has just sat down which I shall not attempt to answer, partly because he spoke so that I could not hear them, and partly because they relate to topics which are not directly relevant on the present occasion. For my own part, I will endeavour to confine myself to the issue which has been raised by the Motion of the noble Marquess. I cannot but think that the speeches that have been delivered have touched very lightly upon the issue which has been raised by the Motion, which is that the recent lamentable events in the Soudan are due, in a great measure, to the vacillating and inconsistent policy pursued by Her Majesty's Government. The speech of the noble Marquess did not indicate directly any policy other than that pursued by Her Majesty's Government; but it contained a very cautious suggestion that some other policy might have been better. Indeed, the noble Lords opposite are not agreed among themselves as to the exact nature of the policy which ought to have been pursued; because while some of them contend that we should have defended Egypt in the Soudan by force of arms, others are of opinion that Egypt should have withdrawn from that Province long ago. With regard to the terms of the Motion of the noble Marquess, I deny that there has been any vacillation or inconsistency whatever in the policy of Her Majesty's Government. The real charge that has been brought against Her Majesty's Government is not that their policy has been vacillating and inconsistent, but that they have too obstinately and persistently adhered to their policy. I also deny that there is the slightest ground for connecting the recent lamentable events which have taken place in Egypt with the policy which Her Majesty's Government have pursued in that country. It is clear from the published documents that there never was the least departure from the tone assumed by Lord Dufferin on the part of the other Representatives of the Government in Egypt. I totally deny the assumption of the noble and learned Earl that we were to act as absolute masters of Egypt, as persons possessing Egypt by an Army of Occupation, and that we were to exercise all the powers which would belong to us in a case of annexation. We had direct interests in Egypt, some common to us with other European Powers, and others more especially our own, which justified our interference for their protection; we had also undertaken obligations, from which we could not recede, towards the Khedive; and we intefered, from the beginning to the end, solely with the view of protecting those interests, of redeeming the pledges by which we were bound, and of making use of the position which we had assumed for the good of Egypt. At the same time, we always intended to relinquish that position as soon as we possibly could, and in the meantime to respect and support—and certainly not to treat with contempt—the Government of Egypt and the authority of the Khedive. To have dictated to the Khedive that which the noble Marquess has called a dismemberment of his territory, at a time when General Hicks had had an unbroken, or almost unbroken, series of successes, would have been to take a course which I feel sure the noble Marquess and the noble and learned Earl would have been the first to censure; because the justifying cause of pressure on our part for a relinquishment of the territory in question could only be found in the failure of the experiment which the Egyptian Government was allowed to make upon its own responsibility. The whole history of the Egyptian position in the Soudan, before the time when the noble Marquess would have had us so dictate to the Egyptian Government, had consisted of a series of alternate reverses and successes; the reverses having preceded, and the successes having followed, the employment of General Hicks in the Egyptian Service. From the despatches of General Hicks in the first six or seven months of 1883, it is impossible not to see that he believed that the power of the Mahdi was very precarious, and that the Mahdi's people were deserting him. He wanted money and troops, and the supreme command, without interference; and in August these requests were, to a considerable extent, complied with; the Egyptian Government agreeing that, if these efforts should fail, the whole situation must be reconsidered; and our Representative in Egypt thinking it reasonable that those efforts should be made. It was surely impossible for us, after declining to accept the responsibility of those operations, then to dictate to Egypt that she should relinquish the territory. There has been no inconsistency in our policy. We have thought all along that our interests and our duty were concerned with Egypt Proper, and not with that enormous extent of territory, reaching to the Equator, which extends 1,600 miles in one direction, and 1,200 or 1,400 in another. We had entered into no engagements in connection with the Soudan. European interests were not involved in the government of the Soudan in the same way in which they were involved in the government of Egypt. There was an allowance of £100,000 a-year for the expenses of the government of the Soudan, but with it we had nothing whatever to do; and there were good reasons why we should be careful not to commit ourselves to responsibility in that direction. The noble and learned Lord has stated that the causes of the present difficulties in the Soudan are religious fanaticism and the greed of the slave-traders. But that view does not seem to commend itself to Colonel Stewart, who says that the main causes of those difficulties are misgovernment, oppression, and the extortion of the tax-gatherers. Nothing can be more clear than this, that to have interfered in the Soudan at all would have involved our interference on a large scale in order to insure its good government. We may be asked, why did we depart from the policy of non-interference after the defeat of General Hicks? The answer is that it became necessary then to try to put a stop to proceedings which were ruinous and hopeless. As I have said, £100,000 had previously been allowed for the expenses of the administration of the Soudan. But this year £600,000 were devoted to that purpose, at a time when the Egyptian Revenue was suffering under many difficulties. Then 24,000 troops and more were scattered over the land which, without money and large reinforcements, must all have been lost. How could a contest under such conditions have been continued without destroying all hope of that which we have in view in our Egyptian policy—namely, the establishment of improved domestic institutions, of a system of justice and police, of the rudiments of self-government, of a system of equal taxation, and of better financial institutions? All the plans referred to must have been sacrificed if the contest in the Soudan had been prolonged; and it became our duty to impress on the Khedive with all the authority in our power that this was the only policy which could be adopted. I was surprised to hear the noble and learned Earl say that Sir Evelyn Baring's opinion was not in favour of this policy. Sir Evelyn Baring wrote on the 26th of November— In view of the recent intelligence from the Soudan, I have thought it advisable to obtain the opinion of competent military authorities on the military situation in that province for the information of Her Majesty's Government. Accordingly, General Stephenson, Sir Evelyn Wood, and General Baker met unofficially at my house to-day and discussed the subject. They were unanimously of opinion that the Egyptian Government will find it impossible, with the forces at present at its disposal, to hold the Soudan.… They think that Khartoum should, if possible, be held sufficiently long to allow the more advanced posts and detached garrisons in the Soudan to rejoin."—[Ibid. p. 98.] Colonel de Coetlogon wrote to the same effect, and added— Again, I say, the only way of saving what remains is to attempt a general retreat on Berber."—[Ibid. p. 99.] England might, no doubt, send a sufficient force to reconquer the Soudan and to hold it; but I should like to know whether the noble Marquess and the noble and learned Earl would commit themselves to say that England ought to have done so, and, if not, would they say that England ought to have nibbled at the matter? We hear sometimes of prestige. I am glad we have not heard the word in this debate. Prestige is a thing which I do not worship, and to sacrifice to the idol of prestige many British lives and much British treasure is a thing for which I should not be prepared. And most assuredly no policy could be worse than a half policy in this matter. If we were to interfere for the recovery of the Soudan, to hold it or any part of it, such as Sennaar, we must have interfered in force. Well, our policy was not to do so, and we have adhered to that policy in spite of anything that any person may say; and I must remark I have not heard anything in condemnation of that policy in the speeches which the noble Lords have made. No doubt it may be said that we might have done more for relieving the garrisons. But there have been a great many of those garrisons, and one reason for our peremptory tone in pressing on the Khedive the withdrawal of those garrisons was our desire for their safety. One reason why we have availed ourselves of the services of that heroic man, General Gordon, is because he, with his vast knowledge of the country and great influence over the Tribes and Chiefs, was better able than any other man to say by what means a policy of conciliation and pacification might succeed in extricating the different scattered garrisons from the dangerous positions in which they were, and withdrawing them without loss to them and with advantage to the country. That was one main object of General Gordon's mission, and it would not be consistent with that mission that we should accompany it by warlike demonstrations, which could, by no possibility, seem consistent with its objects. I do not say that action from Suakim, or in the immediate neighbourhood, would interfere with such a mission. But so long as there was ground for believing—and I maintain there was—that the force sent with General Baker might be sufficient to meet the danger in that quarter, as the Egyptian Government itself certainly believed, we thought we should adhere as long as we could to our policy of non-interference. The positions of Sinkat and Tokar are not identical with those of the maritime ports which we are committed to defend. Since the disaster to General Baker's force we have lost no time whatever in making those preparations which would enable us to act, if act we must. We could not have acted in time to save Sinkat, but I hope we may be able to save Tokar. But you should not be carried away by the natural and just excitement connected with what happened at Sinkat, so as to lose all sense of proportion in these matters, and disregard the importance of maintaining the general policy of which the mission of General Gordon is the practical result. General Gordon is most sanguine of its success, and no man is better able to judge. If, as we trust, in a short time success shall attend his efforts, I believe the general opinion both of your Lordships' House and of the country at large will not be adverse to the policy of the course we have pursued. At all events, we have pursued it consistently, and with a sincere belief that it was the policy most for the good of Egypt and the good of the Soudan. And with respect to the important question of slavery, to which the noble and learned Earl has referred, I do not think that the experience of the Egyptian Government in the Soudan has been such as to make us believe that the substitution of Native Powers will make things worse. I do not believe General Gordon is of that opinion. It must be remembered, too, that if we maintain our power at the maritime ports, through which alone slaves can be transported, unless they pass down the Valley of the Nile—which the Egyptian Government is bound, and will be able, to prevent—we shall have it in our power to stop the traffic at the maritime ports. I do not think that this is a question of small detail; it is a question of large policy. Our policy, as I said at the beginning, may have been wrong; but of one thing I am quite sure, it has been honest and it has been consistent.


said, that we had no right to have interfered in Egypt at all, and that we were now sinking deeper and deeper into Egyptian mud. He had been very much pained by the speech delivered by the Prime Minister the other night in the House of Commons. At the present time they had the Mahdi in open rebellion, and he was surprised that Mr. Gladstone should have used the expressions he did in reply to a Question with reference to an article in United Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman said— With regard to the article itself, it evidently raises two distinct classes of topics. It contains a clear expression of opinion that the Mahdi is contending for the liberty of his country. That is a subject on which I do not find it my duty at the present moment to give an opinion. He could not conceive anything more astounding than that and other statements which the Prime Minister made with reference to the article to which he had referred.


My Lords, the only objection I have to the Motion of the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury) is in one small respect. It appears to me that the noble Marquess has perused the Blue Books to such effect, that the disinclination evinced by the Government in all their despatches to take up a decided line at any time, has somewhat induced him to follow them a little in that direction. He says that the recent events are due in a great measure to the vacillation and inconsistency of the Government. The only alteration I would make in that sentence is this—I would leave out the words "in a great measure," for I very firmly believe that the disasters in the Soudan, and in Egypt before, are entirely due to the vacillating conduct of the Government. They have desired to pursue several policies, and have attempted to reconcile irreconcilable principles. The noble Earl (Earl Granville) alluded to the Dual Control, and something that happened some time ago; and I would allude very briefly to what occurred in Egypt at the commencement of the difficulties. The Government were actuated by a desire to pursue two principles—one, that, if any intervention became necessary, Turkey was probably the best Power to intervene; and the other, that they were very careful to preserve intact their alliance with France. It was perfectly impossible to succeed in both, or either of those policies. Prance distinctly stated that Turkish intervention was impossible, and would not agree to it under any consideration whatever; and in the desire to please France, and allow Turkish intervention, the Government succeeded in falling to the ground. Then the Government endeavoured to shift their responsibilities on to the shoulders of the European Concert, but they got no satisfaction whatever out of that. The only distinct opinion expressed was that of Germany, which was diametrically opposed to that of Prance. That failed Her Majesty's Government also, and, as we all know, eventually England was obliged to act entirely alone. The rebellion, or the national movement—whichever you like to call it—was getting great head in Egypt. There was one point at which. Her Majesty's Government seemed determined to interfere actively. The noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs mentioned one thing which would justify interference. The noble Earl declared that anarchy would be a sufficient reason for intervention, and for departing from our former and general policy. The noble Earl was informed, by our own Advisers in Egypt, that anarchy was gaining ground at different times. On the 20th of January, Sir Edward Malet said that the refusal to comply with the demand, on the part of the National Party, to exercise some control over the finances would necessitate some interference from the outside—that is, "armed intervention." On the 16th of March, Sir Auckland Colville said that the country was without efficient government and in imminent danger of disorder. Previously to that, the noble Earl had declared that anarchy would cause intervention. Sir Auckland Colville had asserted that it was imminent, and that the country was without efficient government; and yet nothing was done then! On the 5th of May, 1882, the noble Earl declared that matters did not press for an immediate decision. As a matter of fact they did very much. A short time afterwards our Squadron before Alexandria bombarded the forts, and the burning of the town speedily followed. I fully believe that the bombarding, and the burning, and the subsequent disasters which befell Egypt, are entirely due to the fact that the Government had not been able to make up their minds as to what they intended to do. They did not state then that they were interfering. Why? Because they had not made sufficient preparations beforehand for interfering. Even after that event, they endeavoured to declare that we were not at war. If we were not engaged in war, we were engaged in active murder We were engaged in killing people, and if we had not the excuse of warfare, we were committing murder. It is a most extraordinary thing to see Her Majesty's Government, who got into Office imbued with peace principles as a peaceable Government, going to war, or what I call war, though they did not say so at the time; to see the war ending successfully, and on that account being popular, and then to see Her Majesty's Government slip- ping out of peaceful Quaker garments, and coming upon the scene full of war paint, beating the big drum, flourishing trumpets, and claiming for themselves all the honour and glory they could have gained by a successful campaign. I admit that they had great difficulties to contend with previous to the war; but the difficulties were immensely intensified, if they were not created, by their not having a definite policy. They suffered themselves to drift up and down with the tide; first in one direction and then in another, never pursuing a settled course or moving in a straight direction. I believe that in cases of difficulty and danger, the surest way to preserve peace is for a country to speak out and say distinctly what it intends to do. I believe that a straightforward policy is much more likely to insure peace than the most able practice of diplomacy. Wars, complications, and troubles arise from nations being misunderstood, and not having said that they will not allow such and such things to be done, and that in certain circumstances they will act in a certain way. The best policy is a straightforward, outspoken, manly policy. Instead of having such a policy, Her Majesty's Government drifted about idly. Future historians will look upon this epoch of Her Majesty's Government as corresponding with the drift period in geology. The last despatch of the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in its references to the domestic institutions and stability of Egypt and so on, will be looked upon by future historians with the same kind of interest that archaeologists take in the rudimentary evidence of the development of civilization in the earlier races of mankind. After the war, I submit that Her Majesty's Government really found themselves in a position of great simplicity; there was nothing difficult or complicated in the matter. They had become masters of the country; we were in Egypt alone; the rest of Europe had allowed us to go there, and had accepted the situation. We were there, and could do anything we liked in the country; and we made no use of the simplicity of our situation. Instead of taking hold of the country; instead of announcing to Egypt, and the rest of the world, that they would remain there until they had settled the affairs of the country; instead of saying that they intended to stop until they had straightened the finances of the city; placed all its internal institutions on a sound basis, seen its departments administered by capable men, and put the country in such a position that it was free from external aggression—instead of doing all this, they said—"Oh, we shall go out in a few months; we are only waiting the first opportunity to leave the country." If they had put their feet down, and said—"We are going to stop here, however long it takes, until Egypt is in a position to walk alone," no subsequent troubles would have come to that country. But Her Majesty's Government displayed, either an ignorance of what was going on, or a total disregard of it, which was almost supernatural; it is almost impossible to understand it. They appear to have taken no note or notice of what was going on in the Soudan; yet, during 1882, the best authorities frequently gave it as their opinion that the whole Soudan was in a blaze. Her Majesty's Government had any amount of information also from their own officials; they could see what was going on, and that massacre after massacre was taking place. In the month of June we were informed that the Mahdi had taken several prisoners; in July there was a massacre of several merchants; then 6,000 Egyptian soldiers were killed; in October, two battalions of 850 Regulars were destroyed; on the 4th of November there was another engagement, in which 1,000 men were killed; in January, 1883, we were informed that garrisons were cut off; in February, we were told that Suakim and the neighbourhood were swarming with the followers of the Mahdi, and so on. During 1882 and 1883, massacre after massacre and outrage after outrage were going on in the Soudan. Not only were Her Majesty's Government informed by their Advisers that Upper Egypt was in danger, but they were told that Egypt Proper was involved. On the 26th of October, Sir Evelyn Baring wrote— So long as affairs in the Soudan remain in their present unsettled condition, a considerable danger must always threaten."—[Egypt, No. 1 (1884), p. 74.] They were told also that Lower Egypt was involved. All this was perfectly well known to Her Majesty's Government before last November. Yet, in his speech at the Guildhall, the Prime Minister never said one word about the difficulties existing in the Soudan, or the necessity of doing anything there; but he simply stated that we were going to evacuate Egypt, and he stated the reason for it. He said— We should show the world we were going to carry out the declarations we had so frequently made. There is where the difficulty arises. The Government have made declarations that they were going out of Egypt in six months, and they thought themselves bound to endeavour to carry them out, notwithstanding that, by doing so, they caused misery to Egypt, and degradation to their own country. They endeavoured to make their performances fit in with the promises which they had given before they came into Office. They endeavoured to make the conduct of the Prime Minister appear consistent; and they sacrificed the honour of their country and thousands of lives in order to save the Prime Minister one more inconsistency. I think that apparent consistency was dearly bought. What was occurring at the time of that speech? Just before the Prime Minister made it, the very catastrophe occurred which we all so much deplore—General Hicks and 1,100 men were exterminated. I am quite aware the news had not reached us; but news had come home which ought to have warned Her Majesty's Government, and would have led almost any other body of men in London to dread greatly, that such a disaster might occur. Certainly they had ample information to have led the Prime Minister to have made a different statement from that which he made at the Guildhall, when he merely stated that we were leaving Egypt that the world might see how consistently the Government were carrying out the declarations they had made. After that we know how disaster followed upon disaster. A British Consul was killed; 500 men were killed; and many other disasters happened. A great calamity was also suffered in the destruction of Baker's army. Now, my Lords, the situation then was surely sufficiently explained to induce the Goverment, or any Government which had the common interests of humanity at heart, to take sufficient measures to guard against the recurrence of such calamities. A telegram was sent to them that the situation was a serious one, and was causing great anxiety, and that, if Hick's army was destroyed, it was nearly certain that the Egyptian Government would lose the Soudan; and that once they began to withdraw, it was hard to say at what point they could stamp out the insurrection. There was distinct intimation also that Lower Egypt was in danger. But all that the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said was that no troops from England or India should be sent. We have a consensus of opinion before us—Sir Evelyn Wood, Colonel Stewart, and Sir Evelyn Baring, all of whom declared, over and over again, that the success of the Mahdi was a serious and great danger to Egypt Proper, and that that danger would be increased if Khartoum fell, which appeared to be probable. At this point, the Government almost did something. But they did not really do anything. They did not take any active line; they only acted negatively, and countermanded the withdrawal of the troops. But the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs takes great credit for all that had been done to improve the internal arrangements of Egypt during all this long period. I have read the Blue Book, and it is full of schemes, electoral and other schemes; and I believe voting papers were sent out with directions, showing how the Egyptians were to use them—and all this time the country above them was in active rebellion; the movement was going on in which lay, as your responsible Advisers had said, "a danger to Lower Egypt;" the movement of which these three Agents of the Government had said that it would be hard to say on what point it might fall, unless it was checked. All this time, while the Mahdi was carrying on his rebellion, the Government thought that they were doing their duty, to this country and humanity, by sending out voting papers and promoting internal reform. You might as well think it a wise action on the part of a man to amuse himself by putting up some trifling alterations in his drawing-room, while his house was burning over his head. My Lords, I am quite aware that the Government have denied their responsibility over and over again. I say that the Government cannot decline responsibility in this matter. They ac- cepted the situation; they went into Egypt single-handed; and with them the responsibility for that country and for the lives of the inhabitants of that country has rested ever since. They could only divest themselves of responsibility by refusing to accept the situation which they found. But they had not the moral courage to do that. If they had done that, they might have divested themselves of responsibility. But no man can divest himself of responsibility, if he takes upon himself a position which involves responsibility. It was perfectly useless to say in every despatch that "the Government are not responsible." That does not take away their responsibility—they remain responsible because they have placed themselves in a situation which entails these responsibilities, which might have been dealt with satisfactorily by moral courage, but which neglected, has entailed disasters upon Egypt. I hold that the Government is responsible directly and indirectly. Directly, because many disasters—military disasters—are due to the defective management of the Departments in Egypt, Departments which I assert, even strictly speaking, are entirely in the hands of the Government. Your Lordships have read the telegrams—I might almost say the despairing telegrams—of Hicks, saying that he had nothing, was in want of everything, and begging Sir Evelyn Wood to interfere and endeavour to impress upon the Minister of War the necessity of sending these things. You have letters and letters speaking of the defenceless condition of Khartoum; you have the letters and telegrams of Power, acting as Consul in Khartoum, which said that for 40 days they seemed to have been forgotten. All this arises from the defective management in Egypt, which, although nominally in the hands of Egyptians, was really in those of England. Of course, the Government took care that Egyptians should be in charge, for fear that any responsibility should attach to them. But they will find it hard to persuade this country that they are not absolutely responsible for the management of Egypt; and anyone who reads the Blue Books must see that the military disasters have been caused, to a great extent, by the fact that Hicks and Baker were not properly supplied, and that the whole machinery broke down in Egypt. My Lords, I think that the Government are directly responsible also, especially in the Eastern Soudan. Long ago they were told that assistance was wanted at Suakim. In December, Sir Evelyn Baring suggested that our forces should be increased there. In January, Tewfik said that he wanted 2,000 men to enable him to hold Tokar, and supplies in the vicinity of Suakim. Most undoubtedly we must be held responsible for Suakim, Tokar, and Sinkat, ever since the 4th of January; for the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had at last taken up a distinct position—had at last engaged that the Government would assume full control in Egypt. He had at last asserted that the commands of the Government must be carried out, and threatened them with all kinds of pains and penalties if they were not carried out. Can any Member of the Government pretend that, from that day, they did not assume full responsibility? And as nothing was done to assist Suakim, those unfortunate men shut up in Tokar and Sinkat were left to the tender mercies of their enemies to make the best terms they could. If the prayer of Tewfik Bey had been attended to; if the counsels of the Advisers of the Government had been heeded, and the Government had increased our forces there, no doubt these garrisons would have been secured and enabled to withdraw. I believe that the Government are also indirectly responsible for the disasters not only in the Eastern Soudan, but throughout the whole of the Soudan. I am wrong; what I meant is, that ever since January they have assumed the responsibility, and are responsible, for the Eastern Soudan and the Littoral. They have attempted to deny their responsibility for the rest of the Soudan. I am not here to point out what the Government should have done. I do not know what the value of the Soudan is. I know there are different opinions about it. Baker Pasha has said that the Equatorial Provinces are among the richest portions of the Egyptian Dominions. Lord Dufferin takes much the same view. He said that with their great production of corn, indigo, and cotton the Equatorial Provinces ought to be a source of wealth; and he added that the Egyptian Government could not be expected to give up such a treasure. General Stewart also spoke in high terms of the excellence of the cotton and indigo crops; whereas the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs described it as a portion of the Egyptian Dominions which never had been, and never could be, anything but a most unprofitable possession. Well, I do not know which is the true view to take of the matter. But it is really immaterial whether the Soudan is valuable or not. But there can be no question whether the lives of the people there were valuable or not. I do not say what line the Government should have adopted. The accusation is that they did not adopt any line whatever. They knew what was going on in the Soudan perfectly well. They ought to have made up their minds what was the proper course to pursue as regards the Soudan, whether it was advisable to hold it all, to abandon it all, or to hold some portion of it. I do not care which line the Government adopted, so long as they adopted some line. If they had made up their minds to abandon the whole country, they could have saved all those lives which were lost there. They could have drawn off all the garrisons there shut up. The same might have been done if they had retained a portion of it. I believe if they had retained the whole, and distinctly said so, that the rebellion of the Mahdi would never have assumed the complexion which it did assume, and they could have retained the whole country at comparatively small cost. The Government may think that they have succeeded in shifting responsibility from themselves. I feel sure that their countrymen do not hold that opinion. Of one thing I am certain, that if this Government do shelter themselves in this way they do but incur additional responsibility. They do not shelter their fellow-countrymen. The English feel responsible for what has happened in Egypt. The noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs says that a man puts up an umbrella when it rains, and closes it when it ceases to rain. The Government feel confident that they can thus shelter themselves. But there is an expression in the west of America which is applied to a kind of person who is not characterized by great decision and energy of character. They say that such and such a man "does not know enough to go in when it rains." I believe that is the position of Her Majesty's Government. In England they do shelter themselves under their umbrellas when it rains; but they do not shelter their fellow-countrymen. We are being rained upon, not with drops of water, but with drops of blood. My Lords, Her Majesty's Government have succeeded, in a comparatively short time, in creating a more deplorable state of things in Egypt, and in doing more to cast a slur upon the honour of their country than, as far as I can recollect, has ever been done in a similar time by any Government. Governments may make mistakes, of course, and those mistakes may be condoned, because all human beings are liable to make mistakes; but Her Majesty's Government have blundered in a way which it is impossible to condone and difficult to excuse. There is no excuse for men who are in a responsible position shirking responsibility. The whole of the disasters which have occurred are duo to the fact that Her Majesty's Government do not accept the responsibility, and that they have endeavoured to please all kinds of factions within the Liberal Party. It is due to the fact that they Lave endeavoured to make their actions conform with the extraordinary unpractical, unstatesmanlike theories promulgated in the Mid Lothian campaign. As a Member of your Lordships' House, professing Liberal principles, I object to the honour of the Liberal Party being defamed in this way. I do not see what Liberals have done that they should be treated in this manner. I am not talking of those wild enthusiasts who believe that the Millennium has come, and that the world will be ruled by honeyed phrases and neatly-turned diplomatic sentences; but I speak of those common-sense Liberals who adhere to Liberal principles, but who believe that peace is best secured by an honest, a straightforward, and an outspoken policy, and that in a period of great danger some decision of character is advisable and necessary. My Lords, it is very hard that a Liberal should be obliged to weigh on one side the honour of his country, and on the other his adherence to his Party. It is very hard that he cannot profess himself a Member of the Liberal Party without seeing a policy pursued that drops the honour of his country into the dirt; that has cost the sacrifice of thousands and thousands of lives; and that has brought this great Empire into a position so difficult that it is almost impossible to see how it is to find its way out. My Lords, there was a time when the Liberal Party was led on very different principles indeed. There was a time when they brought in truly Liberal measures at home, and when they pursued a consistent policy abroad. There was a time when the Liberal Party was loved and respected at home, and when it was respected and feared abroad. I should like to know the estimation in which that Party is now held in Europe. In those times, Liberal statesmen thought it their duty to lead the country. Now, however, it appears that Liberal statesmen think they have nothing to do but to wait till they have received a certain amount of propulsion from their supporters in the country. They dare not move or initiate anything. They are afraid of offending, at one time, the Manchester "Peace-at-any-Price" Radicals; and, at another time, they are afraid of offending the more modern belligerent Birmingham school. They seek to please all parties, and the result is that they please none. The Leaders never move until there is a consensus of public opinion behind them, forcing them to move. But while public opinion is gathering, and they are waiting till they are quite sure that the movement will be popular on their part, we see those awful disasters and frightful calamities occurring in another country. My Lords, I do not know what reason we have to expect better things in the future from Her Majesty's Government. The noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) said he thought the expressed opinion of this House might be of some use in giving them a little more courage, and forcing them to take some steps now. Without any disrespect to this House, I do not think this House is strong enough to move Her Majesty's Government. It requires something more than that to galvanize them into life. There is only one thing which has any effect on Her Majesty's Government, and that is the knowledge that public opinion is strong against them, and that if they do not move they will lose the support of all sections of the Party. I think Her Majesty's Government must see that that state of things has come about. If they have any estimation of public opinion in this country, they must know very well that the Liberal Party will not put up with this state of things any longer. They are tired to see the mismanagement going on in Egypt; they are wearied to see the bloodshed going on unchecked; and they are disgusted at seeing the honour of their country dragged down in such a way. That may move Her Majesty's Government—the knowledge that they are losing popularity, the one thing Her Majesty's Government strive to retain. That knowledge may compel them at last to take tardy measures. I hope that they will do so. They cannot undo the past; they cannot bring the dead to life; they cannot restore husbands to their wives, nor parents to their children; but they may, at least, take all the measures they can to prevent further effusion of blood. My Lords, I believe that all these disasters might have been avoided if a consistent, manly, courageous policy had been pursued from the commencement. I believe that if Her Majesty's Government had long ago made up their minds as to what they intended to do in Egypt, and had said so, Alexandria would not have been reduced to ruins; the forts would not have been bombarded; the Egyptian Army would not have been destroyed; and that pestilence following would not have swept away some 30,000 people in Egypt. I believe if they had made up their minds in time as to what they intended to do with regard to the Soudan; if they had made up their minds what policy to pursue—whether it was to retain the whole or a part of it, or to abandon it all—I believe that they could have carried their policy out with perfect safety; that the garrisons could have been withdrawn; and that such of the population who wished to go could have left. I do not believe that any one of those military disasters which have occurred there would have occurred, if Her Majesty's Government had taken up any line of policy as regards the Soudan, and if they had spoken their minds like men, and taken prompt and efficient measures to carry out the policy they had indicated. In the same way, I believe that if Her Majesty's Government after the war, when they found themselves in uncontrolled possession of Egypt, had declared their intention of remaining there till the affairs of Egypt were properly settled; if they had said they intended to stop there until they had disentangled the skein, until Eypttian finances and Egyptian taxation were arranged in such a way that the unfortunate peasants could earn some decent living for themselves out of the sweat of their brow; if they had said that they would stop there till Courts of Justice were instituted; and if Englishmen of sense and of experience had been placed at the head of Departments to train up Natives; if they had said they would stop there till all the internal institutions of the country were smoothly working, till taxation was properly adjusted, and till Egypt was secured from all foreign danger and internal trouble—if they had said this, I do not believe that the rebellion of the Mahdi would ever have assumed these gigantic and lamentable proportions; I do not believe that General Hicks and his army would have been destroyed; or that General Baker's army would have been lost for want of proper sustenance and want of materiel through the breakdown of the administration of Egypt. I believe that the greater part, if not the whole, of these disasters would have been avoided. In my conscience and heart I believe that the responsibility for the lives of these men—I do not know how many, perhaps 50,000—who perished by war or pestilence rests upon the shoulders of Her Majesty's Government. I do assert that they cannot shift that responsibility by ending every despatch with a disclaimer of responsibility. I know it is impossible for them to restore these dead to life; but it may be possible for them yet to take measures to prevent further disasters; and I do most earnestly and sincerely hope that, if not the opinion which your Lordships will give, at any rate the clearly expressed opinion of Liberals throughout England will at last compel Her Majesty's Government to have a little moral courage, and to fulfil the obligations which they cannot escape from.


said, the noble Earl who had just addressed the House (the Earl of Dunraven) spoke of the position at the close of the Egyptian Campaign as being a very simple one; but surely his noble Friend must have forgotten the various difficulties which had to be taken into account. He (the Earl of Aberdeen) wished to remark that the point of the Motion, as it was the point of many of the speeches which had been delivered, was that the Government had been vacillating and inconsistent; not that their policy was wrong from the outset, but that they had changed and varied it. But circumstances altered cases; and he did not think anyone would consider it reasonable, in observing a vessel which appeared to be steered in a devious manner, to assume that the man at the helm was incapable or intoxicated, but rather to conclude that he was steering clear of the shoals. Account had to be taken of the susceptibilities of other Powers, as well as those of Egypt itself. The Government, it was true, might have followed another course than they had, which might have been not so difficult; but it would not have been so magnanimous. In undertaking to confine their action to Egypt Proper they acted wisely. Had they sent our troops into the Soudan they would have forfeited all the pledges they had given to this country. Now, however, that a state of things had arisen which necessitated a change of policy, they had at once adapted their policy to the circumstances. No one could respect and admire more than he the officers who commanded the Egyptian Army; but he could not help thinking that the complications in that country had been increased by the fact that these officers commanding Native soldiers threw an implied responsibility upon the English Government. As to the charge of endeavouring to disclaim responsibility, he maintained that, from the first, the Government had recognized the responsibility of staying in Egypt until the Military and Civil administration was thoroughly organized. When circumstances had compelled the Government, unfortunately, to interfere in the Soudan, they had not shrunk from doing so.


said, he did not think that the accusation which had been brought against Her Majesty's Government by the noble Marquess behind him (the Marquess of Salisbury) had as yet been answered by any of the speeches which had been delivered by noble Lords sitting opposite. The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack talked as if the indictment was for not reconquering the Soudan. He had based his argument on the supposition that those who had brought the Motion for- ward were blaming the Government because they had not thought it their duty to send out an Expedition to recover the Soudan for Egypt; but the noble Marquess had been careful, at the outset of his remarks, to say that the indictment he had to bring against Her Majesty's Government was, not that they had not taken any steps to preserve or to recover the Soudan for Egypt, but that from the beginning until now they had not known their own minds, and that their policy had been a vacillating and an inconsistent one, which had led to a lamentable state of things, not only in Egypt, but in the Soudan, which would not have arisen had they known their own minds in the first instance. The noble Earl who had just sat down (the Earl of Aberdeen) had said that Her Majesty's Government might have pursued some other kind of policy, but that it would not have been so magnanimous as that which they did adopt. For his own part, he (Viscount Bury) failed to see the magnanimity of the policy which Her Majesty's Government had pursued, seeing that it had resulted in the loss of thousands of lives. They had just heard that Sinkat had fallen; they knew that Tokar was in imminent danger of falling, and that Khartoum might be attacked any day; that a great number of the Soudan garrisons had already been massacred, and that others might be massacred very shortly, unless something unexpected happened. They knew that the Government had had ample warning of the state of things that had existed throughout last year, and yet they had persistently refused to interfere with the Soudan, and had left its garrisons to their fate without even sending a corporal's guard to their relief. They had been told that Sir Evelyn Wood and General Stephenson regarded the progress of affairs with horror; but they were forbidden to move. The noble Earl opposite (Earl Granville) said that when General Hicks was sent on his unfortunate expedition, there were great hopes that he would succeed, and he said that to show that the Government were right in not interfering then. Granting that the Government were right at that time in abstaining from interference, they certainly ought subsequently to have insisted on the withdrawal of all the garrisons from the Soudan. One reason that had been given for not insisting on their withdrawal was that the Government restricted themselves to the defence of Egypt Proper. He doubted, however, whether the Government could justly put forward that argument, for it was not the case that the Government had refused all responsibility as to the Soudan. One of the earliest papers in the Blue Books was an official Report by Colonel Stewart of the woeful state of the Soudan, and the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had sent a despatch demanding of the Government of the Khedive that the reforms suggested by Colonel Stewart should be carried out in that country. What was that but direct interference? Why could not the Government go a step further and interfere to save women and children from massacre? With reference to military matters, also, the Government had interfered in the affairs of the Soudan, as was shown by the correspondence between Hicks Pasha and Sir Edward Malet, to whom General Hicks addressed demands for additional troops, and complaints when they were not supplied, and to whom he eventually tendered his resignation. It was, therefore, idle for the Government to contend that they had not interfered either in the civil or the military concerns of the Soudan. He did not believe that Hicks Pasha and Baker Pasha had been deliberately betrayed by the Government; but he did believe that the Government had been made the unconscious instruments of the betrayal of those two gallant Commanders. The conduct of Her Majesty's Government was such as to make it the direct interest of the Egyptian Pashas to sacrifice them. Early in the day it was made known to the Government that the funds at the disposal of Egypt would not suffice for the military operations in the Soudan. A subsidy was asked for by Cherif Pasha and General Hicks, and the answer was that no subsidy would be granted. Sir Edward Malet was instructed to impress upon Cherif Pasha that all expenditure in the Soudan must be borne by the Egyptians themselves; but from the answer of Cherif Pasha, it was obvious that he argued that if once the Soudan was given into the charge of an English officer, the English Government would certainly have to intervene if he should be defeated. And that very thing happened. Hicks Pasha's troops were starved, and he was paralyzed by the neglect to supply his troops, and his army was destroyed; and Cherif Pasha's anticipation came true—that the English Government must interfere. As the Government did not insist that both Hicks Pasha and Baker Pasha should have been properly supplied when they entered upon those expeditions, they were responsible for their betrayal. Thereby the intervention so much desired by the Egyptians was forced upon England. Baker Pasha had been defeated, and he had been recalled; but had he been recalled in disgrace? He had been sent out with inadequate means, and did not deserve such treatment. He wished to know whether he had been recalled by the Egyptian or Her Majesty's Government? One word he would like to say of respect and admiration for General Hicks. We knew the difficulties under which he laboured—how he went on an expedition which at first might have been hopeful, but which turned out hopeless through the apathy of Her Majesty's Government. Therefore, we who remained behind ought to express our admiration of that gallant man and the gallant Europeans who died with him. Neither ought we to forget our Consul, Captain Moncrieff, who risked his life, and lost it, in the attempt to avert one of those massacres which were now perfectly certain. Her Majesty's Government, he asserted, had not yet declared, and he hoped before the debate closed they would declare, what their policy in Egypt at this moment was. The noble Earl opposite had read out to them part of a despatch which described certain succours he had sent out to Suakim; bat beyond that they knew nothing. They did not know whether the policy of Ministers was to evacuate the Soudan, nor did they know what geographical limits they attached to the term. They were also equally ignorant as to whether it was intended to withdraw the garrisons and to defend only the actual Nile Valley. An explicit answer should be given on these points, for, as Mr. Bright, in one of his eloquent speeches at the time of the Crimean War, said, the angel of death was abroad, and you might almost hear the sweep of his wings. And so now we might say that the angel of massacre was abroad, and we might almost hear the agonized voices of women and children who were about to be sacrificed crying to us for succour, and if not for succour, at least for vengeance. He contended that unless Her Majesty's Government declared their policy in regard to the Soudan, which they had not yet done, they would soon find the Mahdi across the Nile Valley and besieging the English garrisons in their own cantonments. Let Her Majesty's Government say now, even at the eleventh hour, that this policy of vacillation was to be abandoned, and that something was to be done which would be worthy of the name of England.


My Lords, there is nothing in the tone or temper of the speech of the noble Viscount who has just spoken (Viscount Bury) of which Her Majesty's Government has reason to complain. He followed and enlarged upon, but I think he did not strengthen, the arguments of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) and the noble and learned Earl (Earl Cairns). I shall endeavour, in the course of what I have to say in reply to them, to answer the questions which have been put to us by the noble Viscount. Nor need I dwell on the remarkable speech of the noble Earl who spoke last but one on the same side (the Earl of Dunraven). He assumes the position of a Liberal, but of a dissatisfied and disgusted Liberal. Well, I am no great authority on the subject. There are many varieties of Liberals; but Liberalism which speaks from the Front Opposition Bench, which includes the championship of the Orange Party in Ireland, and which makes it a reproach to the Government that they are amenable to public opinion, is to me a new variety. The noble Earl made us responsible for many things—I think I am justified in including the outbreak of cholera in Egypt. But it is not worth while wasting energy in dealing with the noble Earl's speech, because, though he was exceedingly liberal in his charges, he was very sparing in his arguments in support of them. But, my Lords, what is the charge made by the noble Marquess and the noble and learned Earl who followed him? First of all, the charge is two-fold—one, that the conduct of the Government, in its conduct of Egyptian affairs, has been marked by inconsistency and vacillation; and the other is, that that vacilla- tion and inconsistency have been the cause of the lamentable occurrences which have taken place in the Soudan, the principal, I suppose, being the loss of the Soudan to Egypt. Now, I listened to the speeches which were not wanting in the acerbity which generally marks criticisms on occasions like these. But they seemed to me not merely to fail to establish the charges contained in the Motion, but not even to aim at establishing them. What I suppose we mean when we talk about vacillation, is, that the persons or the Government so accused have altered their conduct, the circumstances remaining unchanged, in such a manner as to show that they have no definite course of action in their minds. And when we speak of inconsistency, we mean that what the person accused has said or done at one time is at variance with what he has said or done at another, under the same, or nearly the same, circumstances. Now, has that been shown, or attempted to be shown here? What utterance on the part of any leading Minister has been at variance with the language which we have habitually held on this question? What act of ours, at any time during the last 18 months, has shown a divergence from the course of policy which we had originally laid down? What, in fact, the noble Marquess has aimed at proving, and what I I am fully prepared to admit he has proved, is that his view of our position and duty in Egypt differs very widely from ours. But it is one thing to show that we have differed from him, and quite another to show that we have differed from ourselves. My Lords, what was the main object, what was the justification, of the English occupation of Egypt? I am not personally responsible for that step, and I do not therefore speak with authority; but I conceive that the best defence of it is this—if we had not interfered when we did, other nations would have done so, and the practical choice lay between an English occupation, and one by France or some other European State. The question was not whether Egypt should be left alone, but whether some other European nation should interfere. It was not choice, but accident, that caused us to interfere singly. We found revolution and anarchy; we had to restore order, and we have done so. But did we, even from the first moment to the present day, say or do anything to create an expectation that we intended our stay to be permanent? I am in the memory of anyone here when I say that, from the first, our hope and our intention has been to withdraw our Military Force as soon as circumstances allowed. My noble Friend in the other House of Parliament (the Marquess of Hartington), indeed, spoke a year ago of hoping that we might do it in six months. He was sanguine; events have turned out otherwise; but do you doubt that he was sincere? We know why the intended evacuation was delayed. The war in the Soudan is the sole and the sufficient cause. But when we announce, from the first, that we shall retire as soon as we can do so, with a hope of leaving behind us a Government strong enough to hold its own; when we reluctantly postpone the execution of that design, in consequence of circumstances which nobody could foresee; when our purpose ultimately to retire remained unchanged, and does so still, I should like to know, my Lords, where is the vaccillation and where is the inconsistency? I quite understand that many others may take an entirely different view of our obligations; that they may think we ought to prepare for a permanent occupation of the country, and that Egypt, under whatever form, ought to be annexed to the British Empire; and if that policy had ever been announced by us, there might be some grounds for the charges that have been made. It is a conceivable and a possible policy, one that has many supporters, both in and out of Parliament. If that policy were announced in the Resolution which noble Lords are invited to pass—if the Resolution censured us for talking or thinking of leaving Egypt, and laid it down that we ought, on the contrary, to have announced our intention of staying permanently, and acted on the announcement, then I should have dissented from the proposal, but I should have understood it. It would have been a fair challenge to us to defend our policy against a rival policy. But what I find fault with in this Resolution is, that it affirms as a fact that which is not a fact—that it imputes to us uncertainty of purpose, whereas we have known our minds throughout—and inconsistency, when we have held the same language, the same ideas of policy, from first to last, until a total change in the situation compelled a change of conduct. I think that the very ground on which we are blamed is inconsistent in itself. The principle which has guided us from first to last has been the same, and that is to leave the Egyptian authorities free to work out their own policy; and the only reason why we have interfered in the matter of the Soudan is that we had no option, in consequence of the danger which threatened Egypt itself. The real objection which noble Lords opposite feel in their hearts is, not that we have pursued a vacillating policy, but that we have pursued what is essentially our own policy from the first. It is because we have been, and are, consistent that we are blamed; because, having, in the first instance, declared to all Europe that our occupation was for a temporary purpose only, and holding that view and that intention still, we have resisted all pressure to make it permanent, or to lay the ground for its being so. That is our real offence—that is the course of action which our opponents cannot forgive. I admit, of course, that our action now is entirely different from what it was a year ago; but that is because we have to deal with a totally altered state of things. As to the loss of the Soudan being caused by what we have done, or have left undone—for that, I suppose, is the chief of the lamentable occurrences referred to—I meet the charge in two ways. In the first place, I do not admit the fact. In the next place, if it were a fact, I do not admit that the loss of the Soudan in itself—apart from the unhappy accidents which have attended it—is a matter for blame, or for regret. My Lords, if we want to judge what was the cause of the loss of the Soudan, we must go back a couple of years. Let us suppose that the events of 1882 had never taken place; either that Arabi had never seized upon power, or that he had been allowed to exercise it without disturbance; that there had been no foreign intervention and no bombardment of Alexandria. Will you contend that the Soudan would, under these circumstances, have been saved to Egypt? Look, on the one hand, at the passionate religious enthusiasm with which the followers of the Mahdi have fought; and look, on the other hand, at the composition of the Egyptian Army. It will not be contended, I suppose, that the armies under General Hicks or General Baker are worse than those under the Egyptian Pashas. Certainly, they were better drilled and better commanded. What reason is there, again, for the suggestion that, if the Egyptian Government had not been interfered with by us, it would have been better able to deal with the insurrection in the Soudan? And if you believe, as I do, that the Mahdi would have equally beaten the Egyptian troops in the Soudan, whether we had been there or not, where is the sense, where is the justice, of holding us responsible for events which would have happened in our absence as well as in our presence? The noble Marquess spoke of our three successive policies in the Soudan—(1) to advise; (2) to ignore; (3) to compel. Our policy from the first was to leave Egypt free so far as the Soudan was concerned. We did give advice; but it was not taken, and we then left the matter in the hands of the Egyptian Government. We finally interfered when practically we had no option, not to save the Soudan, but to save the rest of Egypt. No doubt, it may be said we could even now reconquer the Soudan if we wished it. I dare say we might. But the failure to do that is not what you charge us with. You do not say the Soudan ought to be regained; you say the Soudan ought not to have been lost. But I am quite willing to accept the challenge on this point also. I say that it is not the duty of England, it is not in the interest of Egypt, that we should reconquer the Soudan. It is not old Egyptian territory. It has been acquired, almost the whole of it, in the memory of living men. It has never been any benefit as a source of revenue to Egypt; but, on the contrary, a perpetual burden to the Egyptian Exchequer. The climate is not healthy, even for Natives, and it is pestilential to all who are not Natives. The distance from all markets and from all civilized parts of the earth is so great that its trade, as regards the greater part of it, can never be of any value. If the Egyptian people were consulted, there is no doubt what answer they would give, for they regard service there as exile, with an almost certainty of death. That the Natives themselves do not wish to continue their connection with Egypt is abundantly certain; and though, no doubt, a European Administration might civilize them to some extent, we are not bound to benefit the savages of Central Africa at other people's expense, and against their wish. If we were, not for a time only, but permanently, the Egyptian Government—which we are not, and which we do not intend to be—and if no trouble or disturbance had occurred in the Soudan, the first thing we ought to have done, even under these circumstances, in the exercise of a wise discretion, would be to arrange for our withdrawal from it. Egypt is nearly insolvent—mortgaged up to the eyes—obliged to compound with her creditors, and she cannot need, even if she could afford, which she cannot, the luxury of holding distant Provinces that pay nothing. As to the question of danger to the frontier, what danger can there be? No State exists in the world which is better protected by nature than Egypt Proper; and I can hardly conceive anything more improbable than a serious attack from the South by tribes which have never yet combined for any length of time, across a frontier defended by the Nubian Desert, and when having gained their independence they have nothing left to fight for. The noble Marquess expressed an opinion that the retention of the Soudan would tend to the suppression of the Slave Trade; but that is not the opinion I have formed. I have read most of what has been written on the subject, including the narratives of Sir Samuel Baker and General Gordon, who know the Soudan best; and, from all I have read, I infer it is not by holding the Soudan we should ever put down the Slave Trade. The noble Marquess said that, in the abandonment of the Soudan, Turkey had been unfairly treated, because the Firman forbade the cession of territory without consent of the Porte. To that there are two answers. Necessity has no law. You cannot tie down a country by Treaty to hold territory which it is not able to conquer or to control. But I do not imagine the Firman was meant to apply to such a case as has occurred. It was meant to prevent alienation to any Foreign Power—not merely allowing the indigenous tribes to live in their own way on their own soil. Well, if I have succeeded in establishing these two propositions—(1) that the loss of the Soudan was not due to our action, but that it was lost by Egypt; and (2) that it is not our duty to re-annexit—what does the charge against us turn upon? What is it for which we are held responsible? I suppose the principal accusation is this—I can see nothing else—that we might have interfered, by an absolute and peremptory veto, to stop the expedition of General Hicks; and that we did not do so. My Lords, it is easy to be wise after the event. It is easy to say you ought to have known that the Array of General Hicks would be defeated and destroyed. But, to know that, we must have calculated on two things—the extraordinary energy and fanaticism of the Arab insurgents, totally unlike anything with which former Governments in Egypt have had to contend, and the exceeding badness of the Egyptian Forces. We may or may not think highly of the judgment of the Egyptian authorities; but, surely, they may be credited with some knowledge of their own Army and their own country. We left the matter in their own hands, because it was their business; and we might reasonably suppose that they were the best judges of it, and of the Forces they would have to contend with. If we had not done so, if General Hicks had, by our order, confined himself to the preservation of Khartoum, in which we may fairly suppose he would have succeeded, should not we have been responsible for preventing the Egyptian Government from defending a Province which, no doubt, they would then have said and believed they were in a position to defend successfully? Would such a course have been compatible with our declared policy of evacuating the country as soon as possible? And would it have been consistent with our position to have undertaken the responsibility of compelling the Khedive to surrender a large part of his hereditary Empire, the conquest of his Predecessors, however small its real value? In how absurd a position should we then have been placed? We should have been using force against Egypt in order to compel the Egyptian Government to surrender territory to Mahomedan fanatics; and we should have been told, not without some reason, that we were holding down the country in order to partition it. With regard to the defeat of General Hicks, no doubt there was a chance that some disaster might happen; accidents in war are always possible: but surely a disaster like that which did occur was not within the bounds of reasonable expectation. I admit that, in one respect, we were unprepared for the event. We did not estimate—we had no means of estimating—the full force of that Arab fanaticism of which we have experienced the effects. There has been nothing like it, I will not say since the days of the Prophet and his immediate successors, but certainly since the Wahabi movement in Arabia. Is it anything new that great popular movements should take the world by surprise? Who foresaw the European Revolution of 1848? Who predicted the Indian Mutiny? Who expected that in 1871 Paris would be all but destroyed by its own inhabitants? I am quite sure of this—that if we had, in contravention of the system deliberately adopted by us, forcibly hindered the attempt to defend the Soudan, unwise as we might think it, we should have been just as indignantly denounced for causing its loss as we now are for allowing the attempt to be made. There is another consideration. Where you have superior force you can, no doubt, compel persons who are dependent upon you, as the Egyptian Government is on us, to abstain from doing what you object to. You can, in a certain measure, compel them to do what you wish; but there is one result you cannot accomplish—you cannot expect efficiency or zeal in carrying out a line of policy when you have to act through unwilling agents. No doubt, the British Government had power, from the first days of the occupation, to dismiss any Egyptian official and replace him by an Englishman. But you cannot re-organize a country in a day; and, above all, if you do organize it—if you administer it through foreigners—what becomes of the State so administered when your occupation ceases, and when you hand it back to the rightful owners? It is easy to say we should have done better if we had swept away all Native authority whatever. For the present, possibly, though as to that there may be two opinions; but how as to the future? We wish to help Egypt out of her troubles; but we do not wish to turn Egypt into a British dependency; and we had to consider, and we have considered throughout, not merely what will happen while we stay, but what is to follow when we are gone. There is the fundamental difference between our view and that of noble Lords opposite. They are asking us to use our power, blaming us for not using it, as if we were permanently settled there. We have always looked forward to the time when our power should be at an end, and we abstained from any action which would compromise the future. We exercise a Dictatorship, no doubt, but it is for a time only. Then I am asked why, at the beginning of last month, did we change our tone towards Egypt, and insist on being masters of the policy to be pursued? Surely, the answer is a very simple one. Up to that time the Soudan only was in danger; and we were willing to leave the decision as to that in the hands of the Egyptian authorities. But after their military failures, after the defeats sustained, the whole situation was altered. It was not then the Soudan, it was Egypt itself that was in question; it was feared that the Government of the country was unable to protect it; it was obvious that we occupying the country could not allow it to be invaded or threatened; and if we were to charge ourselves with its defence, we clearly could not permit a divided authority. When the house is on fire, you must let the firemen do what they please with it. But you wait till that happens; and until it happens, and when the fire is put out, the owner is the master. Then we are accused of neglect and delay in not withdrawing or relieving the Soudan garrisons at an earlier date? As regards the garrisons on the coast, those of Sinkat and Tokar, I think the answer is easy. Those places are distant only a few miles from Suakim. At Suakim, Baker, an experienced and competent General, had nearly 4,000 troops under his command, and the total force to which these troops were opposed in the field did not exceed, probably, 1,500, not all of whom had firearms. Now, we may have known—we did know—that the composition of General Baker's force was not very good; but I venture to affirm that nobody supposed that a body of men calling itself a regular army would run away, almost without a shot fired, from half its own number, or less than half, of savages under no discipline whatever. It is a thing, I should imagine, new in war. It is a misfortune; but it is a misfortune for which we, sitting in London, can hardly hold ourselves responsible. Supposing the same thing to have happened in an Indian campaign; that we had Native allies, and that their contingent ran away and caused the failure of a military operation. Should we admit that the Indian Minister, or the Cabinet at home, were answerable for that failure? And surely this is a case of the same kind. We attach no blame to General Baker, and fully recognize his great exertions to make the best of the unfavourable circumstances in which he was placed. We have done, and are doing, what is possible for the relief of Tokar. We may be too late. We may find no means of effecting our purpose; but surely it is premature to assume the certainty of a failure which has not taken place. Up to the defeat of General Baker we had no reason for interference. We had fair ground for thinking that his force was adequate for the purpose. Since that date—it is only a week—we have been continually occupied in providing the means of retrieving so much as is reparable of the loss. We are accumulating force for the defence of Suakim, and we began to do so from the day on which we learnt the destruction of the Egyptian Force. We have been in constant communication with the naval commander at Suakim, and he has been negotiating with the tribes. As to Sinkat, everybody must lament what has passed there; but it will be obvious that no possible rapidity of action could have prevented its fall, when the relieving Egyptian Force was destroyed. That is a mere matter of dates, and will hardly be disputed. My Lords, as to the case of Khartoum, the position is somewhat different. On November 23rd, the defeat of General Hicks was known. On the 25th, Sir Evelyn Baring telegraphed that, in the opinion of the Generals, the Soudan garrisons must be withdrawn, but holding Khartoum as a post to allow them to regain it, and it is unlucky that the Egyptian Ministry did not at once act on that advice. But they seem to have thought that there was still hope; they disregarded the recommendations sent them from here; and they were still of opinion that the Nile, up to Khartoum, could be held on the 2nd of January. Then came the peremptory orders from us, the resignation of Cherif, and the appointment of Nubar. And if it is said that this change was made too late, that we ought to have assumed the direction of affairs at an earlier date, remember that on the 9th of January, after the change of Ministry had taken place, after Nubar had taken the place of Cherif, there came a telegram from Colonel Coetlogon to the effect that a retreat could still be safely effected. My Lords, that fact alone, to my mind, disposes of the charge of undue delay. On the 4th of January we ordered the evacuation of Khartoum; on the 9th the Governor reported that it was still a possible operation. Prom that date there has certainly been no loss of time. I presume that the Governor was informed at once, and that he began his preparations. I do not pretend to foretell the future; but I can see no reason to take a despondent view of the prospects of that garrison. The news that the Soudan is restored to independence must very soon spread. When that is known, the great majority of the nation will have no interest in continuing the war. The Mahdi, and his fanatical following, may dream of the conquest of Egypt; but men do not fight to invade a neighbour with whom they have no quarrel in the same way that they fight to set free their own country. Even the Mahdi is said to have European advisers, and they will hardly advise him to rush into a quarrel with England. There is, of course, a certain amount of risk. If the troops at Khartoum are like those under Baker there may be a great deal of risk; but there is no justification for the idea that the Khartoum garrison is left in a hopeless or desperate condition. For the purpose of the present argument, it is enough to put the matter in this way:—What possible ground have you for censuring us for allowing the Khartoum garrison to be destroyed, when, so far as we know, it is still safe, when we have every reason to hope it may be brought away safely, and when we are doing all in our power for that object? General Gordon, we hear, is hopeful—the garrison is powerful, the country can furnish supplies, and it will be strange if some of the Chiefs cannot be conciliated when there is no longer any cause of war. So, my Lords, with the employment of General Gordon. It has often been said, and I dare say it is generally believed, that that was a sudden thought, taken up and acted upon at the last moment by way of repairing previous neglect. The facts prove the contrary. The Egyptian Government, as early as November, were sounded about the employment of Gordon. He was recommended to them on the 1st of December. They strongly opposed the choice, on the ground that it would tend further to excite religious fanaticism. Nubar, an able and unprejudiced man, shared that opinion. It was represented that, as the war with the Mahdi was a religious war, the employment of a Christian as Commander-in-Chief might be attended with danger. We thought they were likely to know something of their own country, and we deferred to their objections, until the urgency of the occasion became so great that we felt bound to overrule them. It is quite true that the final despatch of Gordon was at short notice. But the question of his appointment had been, as I say, under consideration for two months. My Lords, to sum up the whole case in one sentence, see what it is that you are asked to blame us for. You do not assert that we ought, on the day after Tel-el-Kebir, to have taken the direction of affairs as we have taken it now. That course would have seemed violent and uncalled for, at the time, to everybody. You do not deny that we are right to take the control of Egyptian affairs now. Your proposed censure turns solely on this—that if we had done six weeks earlier what we did in the beginning of January some misfortunes might have been prevented. That may or may not be so; it is very easy to judge by results, but it is often very unfair. The points of our defence are two—first, that the misfortunes which have occurred could not, at least in their full extent, have been reasonably foreseen; and, next, that when they did occur no time has been lost, and no effort has been spared, in endeavouring to repair them as far as they can be repaired. If on these two points you think our case is proved, we are entitled to acquittal. I say frankly that I do not expect a verdict of approval from this House, because I know that the decision on a question of this kind is not given, and cannot be given, upon purely judicial grounds. From the very nature of a political Assembly, that is impossible. We shall accept your verdict with respect, but we shall not treat it as decisive; because we are conscious that in the course we followed in the beginning, which we are following now, and which we shall follow to the end, we shall be supported by Parliament and by the voice of the country.


My Lords, you have had a cold, calm discussion of that which is stirring the hearts of the English people; and if the noble Earl the Secretary of State for the Colonies (the Earl of Derby) thinks he will got a verdict of acquittal from the country, I should wish nothing better than that his speech should be circulated in extenso in every part of England. Such, my Lords, is the defence of the Government; such is the man they put forward as representing the views of England. I ask you whether the faltering accents in which he spoke to us are those you would like to be represented by among other nations, or in the Colonies, or in any part of the world? The noble Earl has told us that, whatever their policy might have been, we should have rejected it. No, my Lords; if their present policy had been taken earlier it might have been effective, and even now we do not find fault with their present policy, but only say it is inconsistent with their former policy. If we take the despatches alone, we must conclude that the Government deserted Egypt, so far as related to the Soudan, from the time that Lord Dufferin left it. When that noble Lord went to Egypt, he thought that what was about to be done in the Soudan was, to a great extent, such as Egypt could fairly do; but he represented to Ibrahim that they should withdraw from Kordofan and Darfour, and confine themselves to a more limited space. That advice having been given, the policy of the Government at that time was clear. It was a policy that Egypt should restrict herself to the Soudan Proper, if I may use the expression, down to Sennaar, but should not extend her power beyond that point. After Tel-el-Kebir it is admitted that Egypt was reduced to a state of chaos, and a military occupation became absolutely necessary. So far we are all agreed. The Government of England undertook to consolidate the State into a firm and solid construction. Could Her Majesty's Government support the Egyptian Government, without advising them as to the whole condition of the country, including the Soudan? The Government were being constantly warned that what was occurring in the Soudan would lead to danger to Egypt Proper. Whence comes the danger to Egypt Proper, except from what has happened in the Soudan? The Government cannot possibly say they were relieved from the responsibility from the first, and statements that they did not undertake it, though plentiful as blackberries, could not release them from it. Again and again the opportunity was offered to them to advise the Egyptian Government against running the risk of allowing Hicks Pasha to make the fatal expedition which destroyed him. I know how the noble Earl at the head of the Foreign Office objected to undertake responsibility in Egypt; but, then, why does he seek to take credit for the paper reforms that have been put forward in that country, unless he was controlling the whole Egyptian Government? We had sent our troops there to maintain our ascendancy over the Egyptian Government, and yet we had allowed that Government to work its will in the Soudan unchecked. In my opinion, the circumstances which called for our interference in the Soudan were just as strong before Hicks Pasha's defeat as they are now; and we might then have interfered with enormous advantage on behalf of those garrisons about which our hearts are so anxious now, and which we might then have easily withdrawn to Khartoum, which would thus have been strengthened to a point that would have rendered it safe from attack, instead of its being garrisoned, as Colonel Coetlogon says, by the refuse of the Army, by a force of lame and blind. Neither must the Government attempt to ride off upon the plea that the whole responsibility rests upon the Egyptian Government, and on the supposition that they had entrusted affairs in Egypt to men who were qualified to conduct them. The Blue Books will show that the noble Earl the Secretary of State has governed Egypt from Downing Street. It is true that Cherif Pasha had said that the Egyptian Government would take all the responsibility for the expedition into the Soudan, and that, therefore, the Foreign Office disclaimed all responsibility. That may be a sufficient answer as between the Government and Cherif Pasha; but it is no satisfactory answer to this House, to the people of England, the Mahomedan subjects of the Grown, or to foreign nations. Her Majesty's Ministers must remember that when they speak they do not speak merely with the voice of the Government, but with the voice of England, and that is why we have a right to interpose and to tell them that they are not giving utterance to the true feeling of the country in this matter. The whole tone of the Government shows that, when they get into a difficulty through their own fault, they regard it as an unforeseen and unavoidable calamity that has overtaken them, and are ready to exclaim— The time is out of joint:—O cursed spite, That ever we were born to set it right. The great point on which England has failed in Egypt is that connected with finance. Here are we eating up the country with our soldiers, which we maintain there under the pretence of lending them, and yet at the expense of Egypt. When it became difficult to maintain any longer the Egyptian power in the Soudan, it was proposed by the Egyptian Government to re-concede the Soudan to Turkey and to send Turkish troops to conquer it. By the irony of fate there sits on the opposite Bench of your Lordships' House a former Foreign Minister, who held that Office when the Bulgarian atrocities and he himself were denounced by the Chief under whom he serves, who is now set up on high as a Colossus, under whose huge legs he peeps about to find—well, he best knows what. And now that Chief is ready, in order to be relieved of responsibility, to consent that the Turkish troops, Bashi-Bazouks and all, should be sent to reconquer the Soudan, and establish all the abominations which he connects with Turkish slavery. Such is consistency. One cannot help being struck with the way in which the Government shift from one position to another in order to get rid of responsibility. What is the position of affairs now? You have heard that the garrison of Sinkat, with 1,000 women and children, have been massacred within a few miles of the coast. Do not say that it is only since General Baker's defeat that you have known the condition of the garrison. Do not say that you have taken no steps to use the military forces of England on that coast, for you have your ships there; and, for my part, I see no distinction between the landing of seamen and marines and the landing of troops. All are alike forces of the Crown. You have known for a long time that the capture of Sinkat would bring the triumphant forces of the Mahdi up to the gates of Suakim, and you knew that you would have to fight them. Is it not the first principle of strategy that you should prevent yourselves from being driven into a corner and surrounded? Then there is the question of humanity, of which the noble Earl spoke. At present you are in the position of a vessel that will not go out of her direct course in order to assist a wrecked ship. You alienated the friendly tribes who would have assisted Baker's troops. They were told that you were going to withdraw from the Soudan, and they feared that, by assisting you, they would draw upon themselves, after your departure, the vengeance of the Arabs under Osman Digna. These are the things which cause that shame which finds expression in the papers. You knew the materials of which Baker's Army was composed. You interposed to prevent the enlistment of Turks and Arnaouts, who would have fought well. I make the statement on the authority of a letter from Sir Samuel Baker, who also says that your interposition was the reason why Sir Evelyn Wood's Army was not ready to take the field. Is it not anomalous that the gendarmerie should be sent into the field, and that the Army should be left at home? Why was that the case? I have never heard an explanation from the Government. The noble Earl opposite (Earl Granville) read a great many passages which I was unable to hear, I am sorry to say. The noble Earl has placed us in a position of great difficulty; for he only laid his Papers on the Table this evening, and we have not had copies. No doubt he was within his right in using them, but it puts us, who have not seen them, at a disadvantage. We are told that the Government did not send troops to the relief of Tokar, because they had not heard from General Gordon that such a step would not jeopardize the safety of garrisons elsewhere. But the Government were parties to General Baker's attempt to relieve Tokar, and if he could go there without interfering with General Gordon's mission, why could not our Marines go also? Surely the garrisons in the neighbourhood of Suakim ought not to be sacrificed, in order that General Gordon may relieve other garrisons elsewhere? The noble Earl who spoke last (the Earl of Derby) said that our real objection is that the Government have not declared a permanent occupation of Egypt. No such objection is in my mind, nor have I ever desired that a permanent occupation of Egypt should be contemplated by the Government. What I understood was that they had pledged themselves to set up a firm and stable Government; and this should have been the chief thing in their mouths, and not perpetual promises of withdrawal, which defeated their object. I am very much amused, and sometimes amazed, at the total disregard, in the speeches of noble Lords opposite, of the real considerations on account of which England went to Egypt. The noble Earl, to my great astonishment, has stated that we went to Egypt to prevent other nations from going there. And yet we carried on negotiations with other nations, begging them to send troops with ours, and instead of the Dual Control we proposed to the French a Dual Occupation. Do not your Lordships think that one of the greatest escapes England ever had was when France refused to join us, and England was never placed in a bettor position than when she was told she might do the thing for herself, and by herself? You need not pretend to be disinterested; it is all a sham. The first object you had when you went to Egypt was to establish English interests and set up a Government which would protect the Suez Canal and insure at all times and at all seasons a free passage for your troops and for your commerce. It was for the gospel of selfishness that you went; it was for British interests; and, thank God, there are some people still who will stand up for British interests. I am never ashamed to say it, because I do not think there would be the slightest pretence or justification for interference in Egypt, unless English interests were at stake. There was nothing else at stake which would justify sending an army to suppress a rebellion; and you took such steps as made it impossible for Egypt to stand alone, and you selected men to control the Egyptian Government who are re- sponsible to you, and who will carry out your orders. It was because you thought that if the rebellion got to too great a head, your interest and power in Egypt would be gone, the occupation of the Suez Canal might be in hands which would be disastrous; therefore you took the sword in hand, put down the Egyptian Army, and brought Egypt from a state bordering on anarchy to a state bordering on chaos. In that state it has remained, because you hesitated to act. It is true you should not have exercised your power in trivial matters or obtrusively; but on all the great principles of policy you ought to have taken up your position boldly and firmly, and insisted that where your advice was given it should be followed. That you have not done. And you have been inconsistent; because the occupation by an English Army showed that you were masters in Egypt, and that you had a right, and that in all cases which concerned British interests that you would dictate. This you should have done, and it was not enough to set up a favourable Ministry and leave it to itself. At last you demand obedience of the Ministry, and dismiss it for disobedience. By doing so, you have proclaimed to all the world that where anything was done you were responsible. From the time that you occupied Egypt after Tel-el-Kebir, everything done by the Government of Egypt was by your permission, and, therefore, wholly upon your responsibility, whether it was in Egypt Proper, in the Soudan, on the coast of the Red Sea, or anywhere else. You have by your conduct, according to Sir Evelyn Baring, given a great impulse to slavery. I take your own authority, who tells you, in one of your despatches, that the abandonment of the Soudan must lead to the great increase of slavery. The extinction of slavery there was one of the objects which you set before you; but it is the increase of slavery which you have achieved. You have now, according to your own admission, taken upon yourselves the whole responsibility for the government of Egypt, for that which is in your hands and for that which is at present out of your hands, and it is for you to decide how you are to deal with it. A man of singularly heroic character has been selected by Government to make a journey across the Deserts to Khartoum. General Gordon has been sent upon a mission; we have no particulars of the means he is about to use. All we know is that he is gone with one or two companions—Colonel Stewart is with him—and everything is to depend on the character of the man whom you have sent. The noble and learned Earl on the Woolsack denounced in his speech the use of the word "prestige." Why have you sent General Gordon into the Soudan? Because of his prestige. Why was it necessary to send him? Because your prestige was damaged. Prestige is only another word for character, and a nation has just as much need of prestige as a man; and it is because we feel that you have forfeited the character which belongs to English Ministers that this Motion has been made. We say your conduct has been vacillating; that the advice you gave in the beginning you had not the firmness to insist upon; that you left everything to drift, and then brought everything into jeopardy. The garrisons imperilled by your conduct were in your charge, and it became you, above all things, to see that they came to no harm. And in order to escape from your difficulties you have sent an innocent, high-minded, disinterested, unselfish man into that great and terrible wilderness of which the noble Earl spoke with such horror the other night. You have sent him as a scapegoat, with all your sins of omission and commission upon his head, and perhaps, like the scapegoat, he will never return. If he is maltreated, if his mission fails, if he is murdered, what will you do then? Will you allow the sacrifice to be made with no attempt to redress the wrongs you have committed? If so, you will find that you live in a country that will hold you responsible for the risks with winch you have loaded the gallant officer who has done so much for this country and for Egypt. You are responsible for the life of Gordon, as well as for those agonizing garrisons, and upon you will the country call to redress the wrongs that you have done. It will inevitably hold you responsible for that which is so precious.


My Lords, the noble Viscount opposite (Viscount Cranbrook) has spoken of what he called the faltering accents of my noble Friend behind me (the Earl of Derby). Whatever may be said of the noble Viscount, he certainly never does speak with faltering accents, for his speeches are always characterized by violence and invective. I think that, when these things are considered calmly, the argument of my noble Friend will not contrast unfavourably with the outbreak of the noble Viscount. I am not going over again the arguments which have been advanced with reference to the Soudan. I doubt very much whether noble Lords opposite are agreed as to which policy ought to be followed in Egypt. The noble Viscount, I believe, stated that we ought to have insisted on the retirement and return of Hicks Pasha and his troops; but if we had done that we should have endangered all the other garrisons. It must be remembered that there were other garrisons, and that the Egyptians are believed to have a considerable force at Darfour, which they must have been left at liberty to attempt to relieve. In a position of serious difficulty it was considered that Hicks Pasha had been successful, and the steps taken were thought to be wise, although they afterwards proved to be unwise; but it was not a moment when we ought to have interfered peremptorily. The noble Viscount also said that the abandonment of the Soudan was the right policy, but that the Government was wrong in not having attempted it before; but how does that square with the remarks of the noble and learned Earl (Earl Cairns) as to the Slave Trade? When the Government went to Egypt, they had incurred no responsibility with regard to the Soudan; but if we had not counselled the retirement of the Egyptian troops from the Soudan, we must have been prepared to make ourselves responsible for the administration of it. No consideration should have induced us to impose Egyptian rule on the Soudan—a rule which it would have been, in the highest degree, disgraceful in this country to fasten on the necks of the Soudanese; and, therefore, if we had interfered at all, our policy could have been only in the direction of retiring entirely from the Soudan. Many of the remarks which have been made on the subject of the beleaguered garrisons seem to have been on the assumption that the English Government had placed them there, whereas the fact is that they had been put there by the Egyptian Government; and the danger to them was caused by the abominable character of the Egyptian Government. It was on that account that they were surrounded by an infuriated population. The Army of Sir Evelyn Wood was engaged for Egypt Proper, and nowhere else. Even if the men had been willing to go to the Soudan, it would have been impolitic to send them. The Egyptians have a horror of the Soudanese service, and it was the knowledge that they would not be called upon to enter it which induced them to serve Sir Evelyn Wood cheerfully. The Sultan declined altogether to allow recruiting in his dominions. It would have been most unjust to General Gordon to have sent British troops to Tokar without knowing what he thought of the situation. His view was, that he could conciliate certain tribes, and bring about the relief of the garrisons; but if British troops had been known to be operating against the Mahdi, the apparent inconsistency might have been prejudicial to General Gordon's mission. To have sent troops without his concurrence would have been extraordinary and unheard-of conduct. I have long known and admired General Gordon; danger never stopped him; and we should not have been justified in hesitating to accept his services on account of the danger involved. In this case, it is not to General Gordon's prestige that the Government trust, but to his general knowledge—the faith which the tribes have in his honesty and honourable character, and to the knowledge that he agrees with the Government in what we deemed the sound policy to pursue with regard to the Soudan. But, my Lords, I heard the noble Viscount say that, in announcing to the world that we intended to abandon the Soudan, we had partly destroyed the means of General Gordon's success. But General Gordon desires that it should be as widely known as possible, and he trusts to that as one of the chief instruments of his success. The Government have, therefore, incurred no grave responsibility in sending General Gordon upon a mission which is essentially pacific. He will announce to the people that the Egyptian rule is to end, and that the whole tribes are to be made independent men as before; and I believe that when he makes that announcement, many of the tribes, knowing that his word is as good as his bond, will co-operate with him in restoring order. As the case stands, there is no responsibility which Her Majesty's Government need shrink from; and I do not myself believe that in the Soudan, at the present moment, the honour and interests of this country have been sacrificed by Her Majesty's Government.

On Question? Their Lordships divided:—Contents 181; Not-Contents 81: Majority 100.

Buckingham and Chandos, D. Leven and Melville, E.
Lindsey, E.
Leeds, D. Lucan, E.
Manchester, D. Lytton, E.
Norfolk, D. Manvers, E.
Northumberland, D. Mar and Kellie, E.
Portland, D. Morton, E.
Richmond, D. Mount Edgcumbe, E.
Nelson, E.
Abergavenny, M. Onslow, E.
Bristol, M. Poulett, E.
Exeter, M. Powis, E.
Hertford, M. Ravensworth, E.
Salisbury, M. Redesdale, E.
Winchester, M. Romney, E.
Rosse, E.
Amherst, E. Rosslyn, E.
Ashburnham, E. Sondes, E.
Bandon, E. Stanhope, E.
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Beauchamp, E.
Belmore, E.
Bradford, E. Verulam, E.
Brownlow, E. Westmorland, E.
Cadogan, E. Wharncliffe, E
Cairns, E. Wilton, E.
Cawdor, E. Zetland, E.
Clarendon, E.
Clonmell, E. Clancarty, V. (E. Clancarty.)
Coventry, E.
Dartmouth, E. Combermere, V.
De La Warr, E. Cranbrook, V.
Denbigh, E. Doneraile, V.
Devon, E. Gough, V.
Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.) Hardinge, V.
Hawarden, V. [Teller.]
Hood, V.
Eldon, E. Melville, V.
Ellesmere, E.
Essex, E. Hereford, L. Bp.
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Zouche of Haryngworth, L.
Kenry, L. (E. Dunraven and Mount-Earl.)
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Morley, E.
Northbrook, E.
Bedford, D. Saint Germans, E.
Grafton, D. Sydney, E.
Westminster, D.
Canterbury, V.
Ailesbury, M. Gordon, Y. (E. Aberdeen.)
Northampton, M.
Sherbrooke, V.
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Cowper, E. Exeter, L. Bp.
Derby, E. St. Asaph, L. Bp.
Ducie, E.
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Ashburton, L.
Auckland, L. Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)
Belper, L.
Blachford, L. Kinnaird, L.
Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.) [Teller.] Lawrence, L.
Lovat, L.
Braye, L. Lyttelton, L.
Breadalbane, L. (E. Breadalane.) Methuen, L.
Moncreiff, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Monson, L. [Teller.]
Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)
Calthorpe, L.
Carlingford, L. Ramsay, L. (E. Dalhousie.)
Carrington, L.
Carysfort, L. (E. Carysfort.) Reay, L.
Ribblesdale, L.
Chesham, L. Robartes, L.
Clifford of Chudleigh, L. Sandhurst, L.
Saye and Sele, L.
Coleridge, L. Sefton, L. (E. Sefton.)
Crewe, L. Somerton, L. (E. Normanton.)
Dacre, L.
Dorchester, L. Stafford, L.
Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine.) Strafford, L. (V. Enfield.)
Emly, L. Sudeley, L.
Fingall, L. (E. Fingall.) Thurlow, L.
Tweeddale, L. (M. Tweeddale.)
FitzGerald, L.
Granard, L. (E. Granard.) Tweedmouth, L.
Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Greville, L. Vernon, L.
Hammond, L. Wenlock, L.
Hatherton, L. Wolverton, L.
Hothfield, L. Wrottesley, L.

Resolved in the affirmative.