§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
Sir, to make intelligible the question I am about to put to the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Control, I must state the fact that a gentleman of great ability (Mr. Kay) has written a work on the war in Cabool, and in that work it is stated, in the strongest language, that the 653 despatches of Sir Alexander Burnes were garbled and emasculated by the State anatomists—that the pith and marrow of the despatches were taken out of them—that lie upon lie was palmed upon the world, and that the characters of Dost Mahomed and Sir Alexander Burnes were lied away. He gives various extracts from the despatches of Sir Alexander Burnes, dated 26th January, 1838, which portions, if genuine, are not to be found in the despatches laid before Parliament on the 26th of March, 1839; and the question I have to ask of the right hon. Gentleman is, whether he will place on the table of the House copies of the entire despatches of Sir Alexander Burnes to William Henry Macnaghten, Esq., the secretary to the Governor General of India, from the 4th of October, 1837, to the 30th of April, 1838?
§ MR. FOX MAULE
Sir, in reply to the question of the hon. Gentleman, I can only state that I have looked into the subject to which his notice refers; and I must remind him, in the first instance, that those papers which were presented to the House of Commons to which he alludes, never pretended to be the entire despatches to which he has referred. They were laid upon the table of the House as the extracts which, at that time, it appeared to my noble Friend then at the head of the Board of Control, would be sufficient to inform the House of Commons with reference to the policy pursued in regard to Cabool, without producing papers which then would have been inconvenient for the public service. The House will, perhaps, recollect that this question has been twice discussed with reference to those despatches. The last discussion that took place was a full one, in 1842, on which occasion my noble Friend (Lord Broughton) justified himself and the Government of the day for not producing any more of those despatches. In reply to the direct question of my hon. Friend, I may state that it is not my intention to lay those despatches now, in extenso, before the House. I do not see why, by doing so, we should bring under discussion again the policy and conduct of the Affghanistan war and its misfortunes—questions that have altogether become matters of history—and I hope the House will not ask me to do so.