HL Deb 20 February 1885 vol 294 cc898-900

asked, Whether the noble Earl the Under Secretary of State for War had any further information to communicate to the House relative to the position of General Buller's Force in the Soudan?


My Lords, I have no further information beyond what I stated to your Lordships yesterday in regard to that Force; but before I sit down I have an extremely melancholy task to perform. I think it is my duty to inform the House of the latest information we have received from the seat of war, and that a telegram was received to-day from Lord Wolseley; and the best way I can communicate the news is by reading the telegram, which is as follows:— Korti, Feb. 19, 1885. It is my most painful duty to announce to you the death of Sir Herbert Stewart, at 5 P.M. on the 16th instant, from the effects of the wound received in the action of the 19th ultimo. Colonel Talbot, in reporting this sad event to me, says:—'I beg to be allowed to express the deep grief of all ranks who have had the privilege of serving under this distinguished officer, especially of those who have so lately followed him into action, and also their sense of the great loss which they, the Army generally, and the country have sustained.' He was to be buried by the soldiers whom he so recently led to victory at the entrance to the valley leading to the Gakdul Wells. No braver soldier or more brilliant leader of men ever wore the Queen's uniform. England can ill afford the loss of this young General, while his death robs me of the services of a dear friend and of a dear comrade. All the other sick and wounded are well. I am unwilling to mar, by any words of mine, the effect of this most touching message, every sentence of which will find an echo in the hearts of all who read it. In a very brief period, the Army and the country have had to mourn the loss of two of its most able Generals, two of its bravest soldiers, and two of its truest men. General Stewart and General Earle died as true soldiers, leading their men to victories gained against fearful odds. It was by the skilful disposition of their troops that those victories wore gained, and gained all too dearly by the loss of two such Generals. My Lords, the country and the Army have to mourn the loss of two able men and soldiers whom we can ill spare. To the deep grief of their relatives it may be, at least, some alleviation to feel that their sorrows and their losses are participated in by the Army and the country at large.


My Lords, I cannot allow this opportunity to pass without paying my tribute of respect to the memory of that gallant soldier, the news of whose death has just been communicated to your Lordships by the noble Earl (the Earl of Morley). A finer soldier never existed in Her Majesty's Service. He was a young officer who, by his own merits and his personal bravery, had brought himself into a prominent position in the Army much earlier than usually happens in the ordinary course of events. I take this opportunity, also, of expressing my sense of the gallantry and high conduct of General Earle. Both those officers have served their Queen and country with that distinction and heroism, which, I am sure, is so dear to, and animates tire heart of, every Englishman if in a position to show it. They have had that opportunity, they have nobly carried out their duty, and they have fallen in the service of their Queen and country. The Army is proud of such men, and I think the country must also be proud to see such men in her Army. I also wish to take this opportunity of referring to another brave officer. I fear there is now little hope of the safety of General Gordon. I would say that these were three of the finest soldiers that England ever produced from her earliest history, and the country greatly mourns their loss. Everyone in this campaign has done his duty; and certainly no man has done his duty more honestly, fearlessly, and conscientiously than the late General Gordon. Whether in China or the Soudan, his power was most remarkable; while as to his merits we know what he did in the Soudan, and that, as to his powers of controlling men, they were most remarkable, and have never been surpassed. In his case, as in the case of the other two distinguished officers I have mentioned, I must express, on the part of the Army, my sincere and deep sympathy and regret at the loss which the Army, Her Majesty, and the country have sustained.