§ THE EARL OF HARROWBY
, in rising to move for a Return of a—Despatch addressed to Sir H. Drummond Wolff by Lieutenant-Colonel Parr from the headquarters of the Egyptian Army at Cairo, dated 17 January, 1886, in reference to the efficiency and gallantry of the native Egyptian troops, and the friendly relations now existing between the English officers serving in the army of the Khedive and the native officers and men,said, he had observed that in many quarters there was a disposition to regard the fellaheen as mere beasts of burden and poor and worthless creatures; and the despatch he moved for conveyed a very different and far more accurate view of the labouring population of Egypt. It showed that the great mass of the Native Troops were strong and vigorous, and that the class from which they were drawn might be safely trusted to defend their country. He ventured to suggest that the paper was well worthy their Lordships' consideration and study. If they did that it would enable them to remedy two injustices which had been done—one, the injustice to the Native Egyptian working class as a material for a real solid army, and the other to the distinguished British officers who had created a Native Army. The Paper would tend very much to remove that feeling of hopelessness about Egypt which was in the public mind of this country, at any rate upon one important point—that a Native Army might be raised from a sound, solid, reliable agricultural class which were capable, under proper management, of defending their own country. He hoped, in con- 1253 clusion, that it would not be supposed that in saying this he wished to accelerate the departure of the English troops from Egypt. He considered nothing could be more foolish on the part of anybody who wished success to English interests in Egypt to constantly suggest their possible sudden departure.Moved for—Despatch addressed to Sir H. Drummond "Wolff by Lieutenant-Colonel Parr from the headquarters of the Egyptian Army at Cairo, dated 17th January, 1886, in reference to the efficiency and gallantry of the native Egyptian troops, and the friendly relations now existing between the English officers serving in the army of the Khedive and the native officers and men."—(The Earl of Harrowby.)
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (The Marquess of SALISBURY)
I hope that my noble Friend will not press his Motion, because I am informed that the despatch has been laid on the Table quite recently, and therefore it will be open to your Lordships to examine it. I quite agree in the motives which have induced my noble Friend to urge that this despatch should be more read. A very great injustice has been done to the fellaheen undoubtedly in the past. I remember one battle, I think El Teb—one of the early battles on the coast of the Red Sea—in which some of those who reported the action spoke of the fellaheen as being men who were destitute of the natural instinct which all other men possessed of defending their own country and their own lives. They were said to lay down their arms and submit themselves to be slaughtered without resistance. Whatever the justification for that particular report may be, I agree that this despatch to which my noble Friend refers, and the intelligence we generally receive, justifies us in believing that that is not a fair description of the labouring population of Egypt; that they have as much courage in the defence of their own homes and their own interests, if they are allowed by good government to gain an affection for those homes and interests, as any other race of men; and that under the guidance of British officers and with proper discipline they will make very good, reliable, honest, and brave troops. The more I think that our officers are acquainted with the people of Egypt, the more highly do 1254 they value the qualities which those I people possess; but unfortunately many years—I may almost say many centuries—of misgovernment have condemned them to obscurity.
§ Motion, (by leave of the House) withdrawn.