§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL,
in rising to move—That the disaster sustained by General Burrows on the 26th July, far exceeding in magnitude any reverse which has befallen the British Arms for more than a quarter of a century, is mainly attributable to the want of foresight, military knowledge, and caution on the part of the Indian Executive,said, he hoped he should not be considered as taking too great a liberty if he ventured, on behalf of himself and his hon. Friends, to offer to the Prime Minister their humble and unpretending, but, at the same time, no less sincere, congratulations on what he hoped was his complete restoration to health. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that his progress towards recovery had been watched with as much interest on that side of the House as on the other; and he did not think there was any difference in the amount of satisfaction which had been felt on either side at the recovery of the right hon. Gentleman. He also thought it would be ungracious and ungenerous on the part of any Member of the Opposition intending to call into account the conduct of affairs in South Afghanistan if he omitted to allude to the great and brilliant victory just achieved by General Roberts. He would congratulate the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for India on the result of the famous march that had been made by General Roberts from Cabul to Candahar. He willingly recognized that the success of that march had proved the soundness of the calculations of the Indian Government, and had equally disproved the forebodings which had oppressed the minds of hon. Members on both sides of the House. It was intensely gratifying to reflect that 1283 in these curious times, when it was the fashion to sneer at and deride military renown and so-called prestige—when persons in the position of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright) lost no opportunity of informing the public that any amount of valour could be purchased at 1s. 6d. a-day—it was, he said, intensely gratifying to reflect that the country had still at its command skilful and intrepid generals, and could rely with confidence on its gallant soldiers; and the exploit of which the details had just been presented by the noble Marquess might well be a subject of legitimate pride. He could not help offering his warmest congratulations to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster on the curious fact that he, the apostle of peace, should have formed one of a Cabinet under whose auspices the most brilliant military exploit of modern times had been achieved. He hoped that what might be called the irony of fate might, perhaps, induce the right hon. Gentleman to feel and express in the future a higher admiration of the qualities of the English and Indian Armies than he had hitherto done. Some persons might think that at this moment of general rejoicing and universal relief—as well as of grief at the loss of brave men—any Motion of Censure on the Government was somewhat ill-timed; but he hardly thought that that remark would be made by hon. Gentlemen opposite. It must not be forgotten that if the discussion on these matters were to be postponed to next Session there would be no opportunity, in the meantime, of drawing public attention to them; and they lived so quickly now-a-days that it would be impossible to revive any interest in the details. It must not be forgotten, also, that the victory, brilliant as it was, was preceded by serious disaster and enormous losses, and that there would have been no necessity for such efforts if it had not been for the reverses before sustained. He could conceive nothing more disastrous to the public welfare, nothing more likely to make generals careless and high officials over confident, than that it should become the practice to pass over reverses which had arisen, possibly from culpable neglect, simply because a brilliant victory had been subsequently achieved. He thought it well that soldiers, officers, generals, 1284 and high officials should bear in mind that, on all occasions, their actions, in every part of the world, were watched with a critical eye, and that whatever their acts might be, whether successful or unsuccessful, they would be supported or condemned by the Representatives of the people. It was to be noted that the official Papers on the state of affairs in Afghanistan were not issued until just on the eve of the Prorogation, and very imperfect and incomplete they were; but he thought he should be able to show, from the facts he had gleaned therefrom, that every word of the Resolution was fully borne out. He would first call attention to the telegram from the Resident at Candahar, dated June 28, 1880, and addressed to the Foreign Secretary at Simla—9th June is day on which Regular troops known to have camped outside Herat. Actual start probably some days later. Nevertheless, I recommend despatch of brigade to Maiwand as quickly as possible, in order to confirm fidelity of Wali's troops, to overawe Zemindawur Tribes, and establish confidence here.He would point out that Colonel St. John had not asked for the presence of a British brigade to arrest the march of Ayoub Khan, but to confirm the fidelity of the Wali's troops. On the 27th of June the Viceroy telegraphed to the Secretary of State for India; and this telegram fixed the whole responsibility on the Government—Telegram from Thomson at Teheran says Ayoub Khan marching against Candahar with large force.He (Lord Randolph Churchill) would direct special attention to the adjective "large." The telegram went on—I think we should leave Shere Ali to defend himself beyond the Helmund: but it seems to mo, after communicating with Stewart, that it would be inconsistent with the security of our military position at Candahar to allow hostile forces to cross that river. I propose, therefore, to instruct Primrose, if Ayoub reaches Furrah, to advance towards Girishk with sufficient force to prevent passage of Helmund. This would necessitate moving up reinforcement from Phayre's reserve. No troops would be moved until necessity actually arose.This telegram evidently, on the face of it, asked for the official approval of the Cabinet at home. It was a telegram of an interrogatory character, and the Secretary of State for India had not communicated the answer he gave to it. Well, Lord Ripon had laid down as a fact that the military position of Can- 1285 dahar would be insecure if hostile troops should cross the Helmund; and in the telegram from the Foreign Secretary at Simla to Colonel St. John, at Candahar, it was stated—Orders are issuing for brigade to Mai-wand. Your political instructions are that no hostile troops must cross Helmund; and Wali must he supported, if necessary, in maintaining order this side river. Beyond Helmund he must rely on his own resources.On the 2nd of July Colonel St. John told Lord Ripon the accurate strength of Ayoub's force—that he had 2,500 cavalry, 5,000 infantry, and six batteries of artillery. Orders for the brigade to march to the Helmund had been issued on the 1st of July; and yet the Viceroy made no modification in his previous order not to cross the river, and took no steps to strengthen the forces at Candahar. The Secretary of State for India had said that Lord Lytton's Government had more or less involved the country in the disaster that had occurred, because they had made no preparations for reinforcing Candahar in case of a strong attack; but a reference to the telegrams would show that that charge could not justly be made, for it appeared that there was a reserve division already at Kurrachee, and in the diary of military events from the 3rd to the 6th July it was stated that that had been ordered to Candahar. The Governor General at Quettah, in a telegram of July 1 to Foreign Secretary at Simla, informed that officer of Ayoub's advance on the Helmund, and added that "one of Wali Shere Ali's regiments is said to have deserted." Then, on the 13th of July, the Viceroy was told that certain officers had gone over with a considerable following to Ayoub Khan, and yet the state of things remained as before, the Viceroy having despatched 2,000 men under imperative orders not to allow hostile troops to cross the Helmund. On the 13th of July he was told that the river was fordable everywhere, and presented no obstacle to Ayoub's force, and he had been previously made aware of the mutinous feeling among the Wali's troops. In spite of this knowledge, however, no change was made in the orders given to General Burrows. On the 13th of July Colonel St. John telegraphed that Ayoub was at Washir, not far from Candahar, and on the 14th of July the 1286 mutiny of the Wali's troops took place. The Wali had requested that the British troops might be sent over to his side of the river, as he felt by no means confident of the loyalty of his troops; and Colonel St. John, as his despatch showed, did not think it right to tell him that he was under strict orders not to cross the river, as he was in hopes that General Burrows on his arrival might bring other orders in which permission to cross might be given. What, he asked, did the House think of the state of things disclosed by the telegrams? What did they think of the fact that an officer who was 70 miles from Candahar, without any communications, and who was told to coerce the Wali's rebellious troops, and to oppose the large army of Ayoub Khan, had been imperatively commanded not to cross the Helmund? Had the force of General Burrows been allowed to cross that river on the 10th, 11th, 12th, or 13th of July a very slight effort would have sufficed to disarm the mutineers. Thus, through these fatal instructions that the British troops were not to cross the Helmund, the Wali's troops were able to mutiny, and to mutiny with impunity. On the 13th of July the situation was so desperate that General Burrows decided to break the Viceroy's orders, and he determined to cross the Helmund on the 14th, in order to disarm the rebellious troops; but it was then too late to do so—the troops had mutinied and escaped. But there was a still more serious matter behind. On the further side of the Helmund was the fort of Girishk, where the Wali had for a considerable time been accumulating stores for the support of the advance division of our troops. Now, fettered by the Viceroy's orders, neither Colonel St. John nor General Burrows were able to take any steps to protect this vast accumulation of stores, which were destroyed by the mutinous troops. Never, he maintained, was a more disastrous order given than the instruction from Lord Ripon to General Burrows not to cross the Helmund. To proceed. On the 15th or 16th of July the Viceroy knew that the Wali's troops had at last mutinied, that the stores collected for the British troops had been destroyed, that Ayoub Khan had 12,000 men, that the Helmund was an indefensible river, and that General Primrose had been obliged to retreat. 1287 Knowing all this, the Viceroy gave no orders whatever. General Burrows was left to act under the same instructions. After the mutiny of the troops and the destruction of the stores, he was compelled to fall back some 20 miles to Kuskh-i-Nakud, which, from the despatches, appeared to be a very advantageous position commanding all the approaches to Candahar, and he manœuvred in that neighbourhood for three days. What was the position of this brigade of 2,000 men? They had absolutely no communication with Cabul, no military posts on which they could retire in case of need; and one day the post-bag was robbed and lost, and yet no steps were taken by the Viceroy to strengthen the force at Candahar. All this time, while Ayoub Khan's force was confronting General Burrows and holding him in check, a portion moved round and surrounded him to such an extent that positively within 24 hours of the defeat of General Burrows communication between Candahar and Quettah was cut off, and all the outlying posts placed in the most imminent danger. It appeared to him that General Burrows, having received these peremptory orders, on which his military character depended, not to allow any hostile force to cross the Helmund, and knowing that Ayoub Khan had crossed the Helmund, grew desperate, forsook his advantageous position, and advanced to meet the force of Ayoub Khan as a forlorn hope; and they all know the consequences of that extraordinary military manœuvre. He would point out to the noble Marquess that in the despatch of the 17th July, which gave an account of the mutiny of the Wali's troops, Colonel St. John telegraphed these words—"On the brief engagements that ensued it is not my province to enlarge." But whose province was it then? Why had there been no despatches from the general in command or the Commander-in-Chief? More than six weeks had elapsed since the action with the mutineers, and the despatch of General Burrows must be in the hands of the Indian Government. The details of these engagements were being kept back from Parliament; and it was the greatest chance in the world that the accidental prolongation of Parliament would put them in possession of facts they would not otherwise have 1288 known. The Government believed that the details would arrive during the Recess, and would be forgotten by next Session, and the successes of General Roberts would have covered up the defeat. As for the defeat itself, he could find no parallel for it within the last quarter of a century. Twelve hundred and twenty effective soldiers were killed or missing; and among them one of the finest regiments in the British Army, composed of tried and picked soldiers, had been annihilated, as well as 19 officers, all of them men of great skill and reputation. Pour hundred Martini-Henry rifles, 700 Sniders, two guns, and every scrap of ammunition had been captured or destroyed. Then there were the camp followers—who were probably as numerous as the fighting force—of whom nothing was said, and nothing probably would ever be known as to how many of them were killed. That was the nature of the event on account of which he asked the House not to separate without extracting some explanation from the Government. Who was responsible for the defeat of General Burrows? In his opinion, not a single soul was responsible except Lord Ripon. Lord Ripon said, after consultation with General Stewart, that it would be inconsistent with the safety of our military position to allow a hostile force to cross the Helmund. He proposed, therefore, to General Primrose to defend the river. Lord Ripon knew the strength of the forces at Candahar and at Quettah. He knew that the force at Quettah was barely sufficient to keep up communications with Candahar; and, knowing all this, he deliberately diminished the garrison of Candahar by one-half, and sent off a force 60 or 70 miles from the base of British support. They were told to do an impossible duty—to defend a river which was indefensible—and they were given instructions which ultimately proved fatal to them. The noble Marquess told the House it would be intolerable that 4,000 British soldiers should remain inactive at Candahar; it was not necessary that they should do so; but the Viceroy ordered an operation which he must have known could not be carried out without a much larger force; and until General Burrows was defeated, in spite of all the information received from day to day, he absolutely took no step to 1289 cause General Burrows to fall back or General Phayre to advance. The noble Marquess had said the other day that it was easy to be wise after the event; but he (Lord Randolph Churchill) ventured to think that with the information possessed by Lord Ripon it might have been possible to be wise even before the event, and though the garrison at Candahar might not have remained inactive, it might have corrected the Wali's troops and checked the advance of Ayoub Khan without offering an action under circumstances in which a defeat was certain. The Viceroy knew perfectly well how serious would be the consequences, direct and indirect, of a disaster, and yet he had all but courted a misfortune for which he was in no way prepared. Telegrams had been sent asking for reinforcements, five troopships had been despatched, and the hazardous march of General Roberts had been found necessary. It should be always remembered that if Ayoub Khan had had any energy—and, of course, his inaction was not foreseen—in all human probability he would have taken Candahar and destroyed all the outlying posts, and the British would have been obliged to fall back on Quettah, and probably now would be on the other side of the Bolan Pass. Providentially, time was given for the march of General Roberts and the advance of General Phayre, and the bloody sacrifice was no doubt retrieved; but no success, however great, should blind the public to the real point at issue—the Ministerial mistake. A heavy responsibility rested on Lord Ripon, whose first important act as Viceroy had ended so disastrously, and had resulted in such a frightful blow to the British Army, that it would make people at home apprehensive as to the results which might arise from his future policy. He regretted, on the last day of the Session, to have to add to the cares and anxieties of the noble Marquess. Within the last few weeks, in the absence of the Prime Minister, his time had been taken up by arduous labours in relation to the conduct of the Business of the House, and he should admit that these labours had been rewarded with singular success; but, at the same time, he thought he noble Marquess himself would not it all regret that public attention had been called to this matter, particularly 1290 as the Secretary of State himself could now be absolved of responsibility for these events. The noble Marquess had been in daily communication with the Viceroy, and he was in as good position as the Viceroy for forming an opinion. One extremely remarkable feature in the Papers that had been laid before the House was that there was not in them, from beginning to end, a single despatch from the Secretary of State; and the noble Marquess was bound to take the earliest opportunity of giving the House his own views and the views of the Home Government on these disasters. The noble Lord concluded by moving the Resolution which stood in his name.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the disaster sustained by General Burrows on the 26th July, far exceeding in magnitude any reverse which has befallen the British Arms for more than a quarter of a century, is mainly attributable to the want of foresight, military knowledge, and caution on the part of the Indian Executive,"—(Lord Randolph Churchill,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
Sir, although the noble Lord has spoken with considerable severity with respect to the Government of India, I do not at all regret that he has brought forward this Motion, because he has given me an opportunity of making one or two explanations which I think ought to be made, both in justice to the Government of India and the officers engaged in these operations. First of all, I must revert to the remarks of the noble Lord as to the lateness of the production of these Papers. It is true that a considerable time has elapsed since these events had occurred, and that the Papers have only just been placed in the hands of hon. Members. I am more inclined to regret that these Papers have been placed so soon before Parliament than that they had not been produced before, and I regret it because upon giving more careful consideration to the Papers than I have hitherto been able to give I find that, late as they have been published, they are still extremely imperfect, both as to the Papers in our possession, and still more as to those Papers which have not 1291 yet reached this country. With regard to a Question asked by the hon. Member for Portsmouth (Sir H. Drummond Wolff) a few days ago, I said that no despatches whatever from Generals Burrows and Primrose had yet been received in this country in relation to these events. It is true that there are some extremely short and meagre diaries telegraphed from General Primrose in our possession; and it was my original intention to have included the whole of those telegrams in the Papers now be-fore the House. But, as I stated the other day, I have been so engaged that I have not been able personally to supervise the compilations of these Papers; and I regret very much to find that there are a considerable number of military telegrams left out, which, although they would not add to any considerable extent to the information of hon. Members, would show that the military authorities were not so completely superseded as the noble Lord seems to think. My first impression was to issue additional Papers; but I found on going over them that they wore extremely meagre, and that Lord Ripon himself had received scarcely any full despatches. I, therefore, thought it would be the fairest course to pursue, not only to the Viceroy, but to the generals concerned, that no Papers should be presented until we have a full account from the Viceroy, and the generals. If I owe an apology—and, perhaps, I do owe it—to the House, it is for presenting incomplete despatches that do not present the amount of responsibility which is duo to everyone concerned. Under the circumstances, I hope the House will be willing to postpone its final judgment as to the responsibility of the Indian Government, and of the generals commanding, until we are in possession of full details. I do not think the noble Lord need be under the slightest apprehension that the interest of Parliament or of the country in these events will flag. Without entirely endorsing the description given by the noble Lord of the disaster sustained by General Burrows, I am willing to admit it is a disaster—one of the most serious that has befallen our arms in recent years, and certainly reflects discredit on our military character. I do not think, however brilliant is the success by which that disaster has been retrieved, that the 1292 country will rest satisfied until they know, and know thoroughly, on whom the responsibility falls in regard to this matter. Under the circumstances, I do not propose to follow in detail the charges made by the noble Lord which he advances on these Papers, or which naturally occur to him on the face of these Papers, and which, in the absence of fuller information, it is not yet possible for me fully to rebut. But when the noble Lord refers to the first telegram in these Papers, and says that Lord Ripon has taken on himself the grave responsibility of issuing instructions in that telegram, I must ask the House what alternative was open to Lord Ripon. Lord Ripon had arrived at Simla about a fortnight, and he is informed that Ayoub's advance, which has been talked about for months, has actually occurred. "What is it possible for Lord Ripon to do, having recently arrived at Simla, but to summon his Council, and consult his military advisers; consult General Stewart, who had recently been in command at Candahar; take the best military advice at his disposal, and then act upon it? That Lord Ripon has done. I admit the responsibility rests upon the Home Government; and I regret that there is omitted from these Papers a telegram, in which, in reply to a telegram from the Viceroy, we gave him full authority to act as he proposed. There is no reply to this in the first Papers, and the delay of two or three days occurred from my not understanding that the telegram was of an interrogatory character. I considered it simply as information of what was intended under certain circumstances, and it did not appear to me to require an answer. But an answer was given a few days after. No doubt, the Government at home are responsible for the military conduct of the campaign; but I do not think I should be doing my duty in interfering by interposing my advice on military affairs. The Viceroy was amply provided with military advisers, and my authority was directed to the political aspect of the question, and not in the slightest degree to military details. Then the noble Lord goes on to say that there is nothing in these Papers to show that the reinforcements which were ordered were pushed forward. Now, I think there is a telegram—it is 1293 omitted from these Papers, but I have it in my possession—which would have shown that they were. But I do not wish to press the point; but I will state to the House with the utmost confidence that from the day the order was given no effort was spared by the Government at Simla, or the Governor of Bombay, or the Commander-in-Chief, to push forward those reinforcements, which were in excess of what General Primrose asked for. They were pushed forward to Candahar with all possible speed. Delay there was; but this was caused by the breaking of the railway communication, which did, for a considerable time retard the advance of the reinforcements; but no effort was spared, as the House will see when it gets full information, to push forward the reinforcements with all possible speed. But now to come to the chief charge of the noble Lord. He says everything was ruined by the order given to General Burrows not to cross the Helmund. That conclusion, I suppose, he draws from this diary of military events—
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
Well, he rests on the two grounds. We have the telegram which lays down the instruction that beyond the Helmund the Wali must rely on his own resources. Then, I presume, the authority he gets from the military diary of events is that instruction of July 3, in which an advance is said to be ordered to Girishk, but not across the Helmund.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord; but, if he will refer to page 14, he will see how Colonel St. John did not think it right to tell the Wali that the general in command had stringent orders not to cross the Helmund.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
This diary of events contains the barest summary of the instructions issued; but this does not in the least mean that these are the complete instructions issued to General Primrose. No doubt, the intention was that General Primrose should oppose the advance of Ayoub, and act in support of the Wali on this side of the Helmund, and it was intended not to extend those operations on the other side of the river; but I do not think that the entry in the diary justifies the impression that orders of so stringent 1294 a character were given to General Primrose that he could not even cross the Helmund from a difficulty which might arise in reference to his actual position. No doubt, Colonel St. John said that General Burrows felt fettered with the stringent instructions; but we are not in possession of anything to prove by whom those orders were given. It does not follow that they came from the Government of India. It is impossible to say whether they were given by the Government of India, or General Primrose, under whom General Burrows was immediately acting. These orders, I find, are not of such a stringent character afterwards, because General Burrows did within the next few days, when it was thought necessary, cross the river to take active measures against the Wali's troops who had deserted. I was asked the other day whether General Primrose had been consulted in regard to these movements. I am not able to point to any telegram received which distinctly proves that; but this I may urge as another reason why the House should suspend its judgment until fuller information is before us. But I may say that I have received from the Viceroy a telegram which leads me confidently to believe that before these operations were commenced General Primrose was consulted, and they were undertaken with his advice. I am not making anything like a reply to the charge of the noble Lord, for I have nothing in my possession that distinctly proves that; but I am only urging that we are not in a position to come to a conclusion as to the responsibility of these transactions. Further, I have every reason to believe that far greater discretion was given to General Primrose and to General Burrows than was supposed by the noble Lord. I have reason also to believe, after intelligence had been received at Simla of the desertion of the Wali's troops, that General Primrose was informed distinctly that he was entirely at liberty, under altered circumstances, to act on his own discretion, and the movements that afterwards took place were taken by General Burrows under the authority of General Primrose. I do not think it is possible for me, without going into full details from the Papers which are not yet before Parliament, to go more fully into the history of these matters. Without some- 1295 thing more than the House have in their possession, it would not be possible to enter into full justification of the Government without appearing to cast responsibility on the officers in command, which I am most unwilling to do without full information before the House. I can only promise that as soon as complete information is in our possession it shall be published without favour or partiality to any person concerned, whether it reflects upon the Government or anybody else. I believe that when that full information is laid before the House it will be found such as to show that the Government acted in consultation with the best responsible military advice, leaving sufficient freedom of action to the officers concerned. At the last moment there was no doubt of the wisdom of the measures adopted, and arrangements were pressed forward with all the energy possible; and the responsibility, when full explanation is known, would have to be divided, and I hope it will be impartially divided, between the Government of India and the officers acting in command as their subordinates. Though I am glad to have had this opportunity of making this present explanation, I trust the debate will not be very much prolonged, for I do not think it will tend to a very fair and unprejudiced issue without that full information which I had hoped to make public.
§ SIR H. DRUMMOND WOLFF
said, that while he did not consider a portion of the answer of the noble Marquess entirely satisfactory, at the same time he thought it fully justified his noble Friend in having brought forward his Motion. With respect to the Question he (Sir H. Drummond Wolff) had put on the previous day, he desired to explain that he had no wish whatever to be in the least degree discourteous to the noble Marquess, who invariably treated hon. Members on the Opposition side with courtesy and consideration. As to the imperfect state of the Papers, whether they were to be supplemented later on or not, as they stood at present they were not documents from which a case of argument in favour of the friends of the Government of India could be made out. In the first place, the House had fair reason to complain, because they had not got fuller information from the individual generals. He did not wish in any way to throw blame on Lord Ripon, especially after the answer of the The Marquess Hartington 1296 noble Lord; but he would point out to him that it was perfectly clear that the orders to General Primrose that there should be no crossing of the Helmund had been given, for they were referred to not only in the despatch of Colonel St. John, but also in his military diary. It was much to be regretted that so long a time would elapse before Parliament could judge of the supplementary despatches. Of course, as the noble Marquess had asked that judgment should be suspended they had no alternative but to do so. As far as the Papers were concerned they were not satisfactory. However, he thought the purpose of his noble Friend had been served by bringing these very remarkable Papers before the House. They had the admission of the noble Marquess that they were not satisfactory or complete; and, under the circumstances, he thought his noble Friend might withdraw his Motion.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
said, the reply of the noble Lord had precluded him from going further. The noble Lord's remarks rather tended to disarm further criticism at that moment. At the same time, he begged to say that he had taken these published Papers as the complete case for the Government, and had confined himself strictly to matters which were included in those Papers, and to facts which lay on the face of them. He had given public Notice of his Motion; but the noble Lord had not thought proper to request him not to bring the subject before the House on the ground that the Papers were not complete. He would, with the permission of the House, withdraw his Motion.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he thought the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock was, under the circumstances, wise in withdrawing the Motion. It was quite clear that it was the Government of Lord Lytton and not the Government of Lord Ripon that was responsible for the military position at Candahar. It was the former Government which maintained the force at Candahar and provided the reserves for that force, and did not provide carriage for that reserve. As to the political aspect of the matter, he saw throughout the most extraordinary ignorance or disregard of all our Afghan experience. The late Government seemed to have lived in a sort of fool's para- 1297 dise, considering every arrangement final, without taking into account the Afghan character. Experience ought to have shown that for England to support the claims of any aspirant to the authority of the Ameer was enough to set the country against our protégé Such had been the experience of 1840, and such had been the experience of 1880. The true cause of the difficulty and defeat was in setting up a puppet Prince at Candahar, supported by an insufficient British force, just as in the ease of Shah Shoojah in 1841.
§ SIR WILLIAM PALLISER
said, that he had not intended to speak, especially after the conciliatory speech of the noble Marquess, and after the friendly reception which the noble Marquess had given to a deputation of which he had formed a part. But when the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell) attempted to transfer all blame from Lord Ripon to Lord Lytton he was bound to remind hon. Members that the present Government had been in power since April, and that, since that time, Lord Lytton had been a servant of that Government. Lord Lytton had resigned long since, and had only remained to carry out the instructions of the present Government until Lord Ripon had arrived out. This was not the first time that the hon. Gentleman had got up and spoken in a manner which was hardly calculated to promote the harmony of the Assembly; and the first time he (Sir William Palliser) had spoken on the subject now before the House the hon. Gentleman had accused him of unpatriotic motives—
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
wished to explain that he did not attribute unpatriotic motives in the ordinary sense to the hon. and gallant Member. He had only represented his statement that General Roberts's march would not likely be entirely successful as an unpatriotic fear.
§ SIR WILLIAM PALLISER
wished to deny emphatically that he had ever stated that General Roberts would not arrive at Candahar. On the contrary, in order to prevent any possible misunderstanding, he had, on the day following the debate on this subject, written a letter to The Times, in which he had stated his complete confidence that General Roberts would surmount all his difficulties and come out triumphantly in the end; but he had maintained, at 1298 the same time, that such confidence was no reason why any means of precaution should be neglected, or why they should spare any pains to promote that end. His motive in raising that debate had been not to embarrass the Government, but to do good, and it was with that object that he had called attention to the great danger of advancing an army without the means of insuring proper supplies, and an example of the necessity of transport and supplies had been afforded by the compulsory inactivity and uselessness of General Phayre's army for two months.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.