§ MR. E. STANHOPE
said, before proceeding with the actual subject before, the House, he desired to enter a protest against the course taken by the Government in springing a mine upon the House on the very eve of the debate by the circulation of Papers of immense importance. He did not refer to the Minutes to which the noble Lord the Secretary of State for India alluded that day; on the contrary, he thought as to those Minutes the noble Lord had done his utmost to place them before the House at the earliest possible moment. He re- 1832 ferred to the despatch which left India on the 2nd of February last, and which contained an important change of policy. He did think he was entitled to complain of, at least, some want of courtesy. When he said that the despatches must have been three weeks in the possession of the Government, he thought it was not too much to expect that they might have been privately communicated to one who at half-past 4 that evening had to refer to the subject. The subject which it became his duty to lay before the House admitted of being stated in a very simple form. At the present moment British garrisons were occupying certain positions in Beloochistan and Afghanistan, in the former case entirely, and in the latter partially, with the free consent of the inhabitants of the country. When Her Majesty's Government had been in power about three weeks, they arrived at the momentous conclusion that their first object should be to effect the ultimate withdrawal of all Her Majesty's Forces to the old Frontier. But that had been explained by subsequent declarations, and by the despatch which he had seen for the first time a few minutes ago to mean this—the Government intended to withdraw, if they could, immediately from Candahar; they intended to withdraw from the districts of Pishin and Sibi, but at the request of the Government of India that was not to be done immediately; and they intended also to withdraw ultimately from Quetta and Beloochistan, although that had been for the present postponed. Now, the question which the House had to consider was whether these withdrawals, looking to all the circumstances of the case at the present time, would be to the interest of India or not. Fortunately, the responsibility of anyone who brought before the House a subject hardly second to any other in importance at the present time was, to some extent, diminished by the very able and exhaustive discussion which had recently arisen in "another place;" and which would render it unnecessary to re-open several questions that might be taken to have been sufficiently disposed of on that occasion. Take, for instance, the question of their right to remain in Candahar. Remembering the general assent which was given to the speech of his noble Friend, Lord Derby, on this point, he did not deem it necessary to touch into 1833 it. Nor would it be advantageous to discuss now questions which had entered into the region of Party. He supposed that no amount of discussion now would enable the two sides of that House to arrive at an agreement as to the origin and causes of the late Afghan War, or as to the state of mind of the late Ameer, Shore Ali, at any particular moment of his eventful career. He desired to bring forward this question solely because they believed a hasty and dangerous course was about to be adopted which might possibly hereafter be calamitous to our Indian Empire. Nor was it his intention to adopt what was happily called the historical method of arguing the question by referring at any length to the numerous opinions that had been expressed by many eminent men on the one side or the other in the course of the last 40 years. It was no disrespect to those statesmen and other distinguished persons to say that since they considered the subject circumstances had altogether changed. Let him point out two considerations which appeared to justify that view. The question submitted to and considered by them was whether there were any paramount considerations of a military or a political character which required an advance of the existing Frontier. Now, they had Candahar, they had Pishin, and they had other stations the subject of so much dispute, and they were there under circumstances in relation to the population of that country and Russia which were totally different from what they were previously. Again, the whole conditions of the problem had been completely altered by the construction of a network of railways and telegraphs throughout India. Our scheme of Frontier defence, nay, more, the whole conditions of our military occupation of India had been completely revolutionized. He supposed it would be much easier and quicker to send an army to Candahar from London now than it was in the time of Lord Canning to march an army from one side of India to the other. Although he took this view of the opinions of these eminent personages, at the same time it appeared to him to be possible to draw from them one principle which was common to all schools of political opinion upon the subject, and it was this—the one underlying principle which everyone admitted ought to govern our relations with Af- 1834 ghanistan was the exclusion of foreign influence, and the assertion of paramount British influence in that country. That had been assorted by Indian statesmen of every school; it had been adopted by both political Parties in this country; and it had been ratified, over and over again, by the public opinion of this country. If that was so, was the necessity for a firm adherence to this policy weakened in the sight of recent events? Hardly anyone would venture to doubt that that question must be answered in the negative. It had, on the contrary, been immensely strengthened. It had been proved repeatedly that if any difficulty should arise between Russia and England, Russia had comparatively easy means of paralyzing the action of England. They must all hope that the occasion might never arise. If ever anyone spoke with a sense of responsibility, and desired to avoid the use of any language of hostility towards Russia, he did. A recent calamity had placed upon the Throne of Russia one united to England by family ties; and they must all hope that the result of the reign of Alexander III. might be not only to bring closer together those ties of friendship which they were happy to see now characterizing the relations between the two countries, but to remove, if possible, any causes of suspicion or complaint. But that hope, however strongly they might entertain it, did not relieve them from the necessity of examining the recent action of the Russian officials in Central Asia; because if there was one lesson more than another brought home to us it was this—that, however much the Central Government of Russia might desire to control that action, it was practically out of its power to do so. The course of events was pushing Russia forward in a manner which she herself found it very difficult to check, and which the action of her generals did a very great deal to encourage. He asked the House, therefore, to allow him very briefly to trace the course of the relations between Afghanistan and Russia during recent years, in order to show how by degrees they had become closer and more intimate. Now, the Correspondence between Russia and Afghanistan, at first intermittent, was undoubtedly, also, at that time, confined to simple messages of courtesy; and the only complaint that appeared then to have been 1835 made by the Cabul Dunbar was when it seemed to them that they could detect an intention on the part of the Russian Government to make that Correspondence regular and more frequent. At that time the letters sent by the Russian Governors General of Turkestan were always submitted to the Government of India., and their advice was asked as to the answer which should be returned. That course—for reasons into which he would not now enter, as they raised matter of controversy—ceased in the year 1873. In the year 1875, a further change occurred. For the first time, General Kaufmann sent an Envoy or a messenger to Cabul; and the result of that change was immediately apparent, because the Ameer of Afghanistan, instead of deprecating those communications, as he had previously done, expressed a hope that they might be continued. In June, 1878, the Viceroy of India telegraphed home the rumour which had reached him that the Ameer had been informed that an Envoy sent by the Russian Emperor would shortly visit Cabul as Ambassador. Accordingly, Lord Augustus Loftus was directed to make inquiries at St. Petersburg, and the result was as follows. He reported—At an interview I had yesterday (July 2) with M. de Giers, I inquired of his Excellency whether any Russian Representative was instructed, either by the Imperial Government at St. Petersburg or by the Governor General of Turkestan, to proceed to Cabul. M. de Giers replied that no such Mission had been, or was intended to be, sent to Cahill, either by the Imperial Government or by General Kaufmann."—[Central Asia, No. 1 (1878), p. 132.]It was a remarkable commentary upon these assurances, or a curious illustration of the want of control which he had already dwelt upon, that we now knew that General Stolieteff, on June 14, 1878—that was, 18 days before that statement made by the Russian Government—had left Samarcand on a mission to Cabul from General Kaufmann. On that same day the Conference assembled at Berlin, which resulted in the signature of the Berlin Treaty on the 13th of July. A month later, on the 14th of August, 1878, M. de Giers gave these further explanations—It was not true that any Russian Emissary had proceeded to Cabul with any letter from the Emperor to the Ameer. Possibly there might have been a letter from General Kaufmann.1836 And he added—Everything has been stopped. The political as well as the military precautions which we thought ourselves justified in taking against you—everything has been stopped."—[Central Asia, No. 1 (1878), p. 148.]Nevertheless, as we now knew, General Stolieteff remained at Cabul until some time in September, and negotiated the definite Treaty with the Ameer, the rough draft of which had been published. He left behind him General Rozgonoff and the Staff of the Embassy, who remained at Cabul until the 13th of December, exactly five months after the Berlin Treaty, and then left it only when Shore Ali himself fled before the advancing British troops. Now, the conclusion which might, he thought, be drawn from these facts was that the diplomatic approaches of Russia, though they undoubtedly culminated at a time when the relations between that country and England were somewhat strained, yet commenced before and continued after that period; and that, unless some action had been taken by the English or by the Indian Government, they would have resulted in a complete alliance between Russia and Afghanistan. But, if that were so, was it not also perfectly obvious that these intrigues would be immensely facilitated, and their danger proportionately increased, by the near approach of the Russian troops to the Afghan Frontier? To what extent these advances might proceed in Central Asia they could not tell; time alone would show. They were informed by Her Majesty's Government that they believed it was not the intention of Russia to advance to Merv. They were glad to hear it, although he could not help recollecting that the last time any such assurance as that was given it was immediately qualified at St. Petersburg by the statement that circumstances might arise which might make it very necessary indeed for the Russian Government to proceed to Merv. But, of course, it might be possible that, in order to roach Herat, there would be no necessity for the Russian Government to proceed through Merv. The route to Herat did not necessarily lie through Merv. Nor did he wish to exaggerate the importance of Merv. Its importance was first asserted in an authoritative manner by the Government of Lord Northbrook, who, in 1875, pointed out that if Russia 1837 should think of advancing in the direction of Merv, it would be necessary for the Government of India to take certain steps, one of which was the conclusion of a definite Treaty of Alliance between England and the Ameer of Afghanistan, and the second was the establishment of a British Resident at Herat. Those were very serious steps; but, in fact, no Governor General of India had ever ventured to assert that any such advance by Russia on the Frontier of Afghanistan would not require corresponding action on our part. The late Lord Lawrence himself had told them that, if any such advance was made by Russia, it would require to be met by one of two things; either an arrangement with Russia, or a war with Russia in all parts of the world. Those were most serious steps. But let them not be unjust in what they said about Russia. In advancing in Central Asia she might be acting from motives which they had no right to question. But the moment she advanced to Afghanistan, she could only be doing it—and these were the words of Sir Richard Temple—with the intention of obtaining a vantage ground from which she would be able to embarrass us in India. Many hon. Members might think that the best way of meeting the difficulty was by an arrangement with Russia. Well, they had made such arrangements, and they had always broken down. Nothing could be more conclusive than the manner in which the Duke of Argyll pointed out the other day that such arrangements must always break down at the very time when they were most necessary. They were made for a time of peace, and when trouble broke out they were immediately thrown to the winds. It was upon these facts that he ventured to assert that the policy of excluding Russian influence from Afghanistan, and of maintaining a paramount British influence, was not only as essential to the interests of India as it had been during the last 40 years, but that at no time during that period was it nearly so necessary to consider what steps had been taken, and ought to be taken, to give it practical effect. Let them, first of all, examine the manner in which the late Government proposed to deal with it. The taunt had been more than once levelled at them—and it was the chief argument in the November despatch of the noble Lord the Secretary 1838 of State for India—that they did not, in the arrangements which the late Government thought it necessary for the security of their Frontier to make in the Treaty of Gandamak, recommend the retention of Candahar. That was quite true, and the explanation was simple enough. While Afghanistan remained united under one Ruler in whom they had confidence, who had negotiated a friendly Treaty with them and had undertaken to conduct his foreign relations in accordance with their advice, it was not only unnecessary to maintain so advanced a position in addition to the Pishin, Khyber, and Kuram Valleys, but it was, on political grounds, undesirable. But when, unfortunately, after the massacre of Sir Louis Cavagnari, the light of subsequent events conclusively demonstrated to the Government of India that it was necessary to revert to the former condition of affairs in Afghanistan, because no one Ruler could be found at once suitable and strong—a very different state of things had to be dealt with. It could no longer be hoped that British influence could be maintained in that country by the community of interests which it was the object of the Treaty of Gandamak to establish; and it became necessary, in the opinion of the Government of India, to establish a British garrison in Southern Afghanistan, where it could exercise a paramount influence. Now, that there were objections to such a proposal no candid man wished to deny. But so there were to the occupation of the Punjaub. And so there are objections to the retention of a large British garrison at Peshawar. But it was felt that a strategical position of that character, connected with their Frontier and with the sea by an efficient railway running through a belt of territory under British administration, would give them military security, and enable them, to a great extent, to disregard the scares which for 40 years had at short intervals caused so much anxiety to the Government of India. Let him quote the words of one who had been constantly mentioned in their discussions, and never mentioned without being admitted to be our greatest authority upon strategical questions—he meant Sir Edmund Hamley. Sir Edmund Hamley said—With a garrison strongly posted in its lines at Candahar, with all the routes and stages by 1839 which our forces might be assembled on that point, all sources of supply, and all arrangements for transport, laid down, as our trained staff officers are certainly capable of laying them down, we might view calmly any possible complications before us, whether arising from the augmented military power of Russia in the East, from the success of her intrigues, or from her open hostility. The grounds of our assurance would be manifest and easily understood, our Native subjects would soon learn to appreciate them, and what would be security for us would be tranquillity for India.Well, that was their plan. Hon. Gentlemen might say that it was too large or too small, or what they liked; but the late Government claimed for it that it was an honest and (as they believed) a statesmanlike attempt at a settlement of this very difficult question. And now he would say to Her Majesty's Government—"As you do not like our plan—as you are going to abandon it—will you kindly tell us the details of yours, and how you propose to exclude Russian influence from Afghanistan? You agree that it ought to be done, and we have a right to ask how you propose to do it." The only answer, as far as he could at present find, that had been given to this question was this—"Withdraw your troops. Let Afghanistan entirely alone, and you will find that they will be just as ready to resist the Russians as they have ever been to resist the English." [Ministerial cheers.] He was glad to hear that cheer, because it showed that he had stated the case fairly. But, as a matter of fact, Afghanistan could not be altogether let alone. She must lean to the one side or to the other. The late Ameer, Shore Ali, told them so over and over again. If they created a vacuum, it must be filled up, and that speedily. At one time Shore Ali certainly desired to be English; but he always frankly told them that if he was not English he must be Russian. And yet, by their new policy, they were going to give to Russia that special opportunity of interference, of which it was really very difficult to deny the justice, or perhaps the necessity, which was afforded by leaving Afghanistan in an unsettled condition, likely soon to degenerate into anarchy. His general objection to this policy of withdrawal was that it was being adopted at the most unsuitable time possible, in defiance of the pledges into which we had entered, and that it was opposed to the great weight of authority on the subject. Let him ask the House first to 1840 consider the time that had been chosen for commencing this retreat. It was when confidence in our arms, rudely shaken by the defeat at Maiwand, had only been partially restored by the victory of Sir Frederick Roberts; when a Russian Army was advancing from the West with a rapidity easily exaggerated by the rumours of the bazaars; when a critical state of affairs existed in Afghanistan; when our protégé Abdurrahman was tottering on one Throne, and not yet placed on another; when his rival Ayoob Khan was re-organizing for a fresh advance; and when, he was sorry to say, the power of British troops had not been asserted in another very different quarter of the world. Could they say honestly that any one of our Indian fellow-subjects would not be fully justified in calling a withdrawal in these circumstances by the more undignified name of a retreat in the face of the enemy. He was not so presumptuous as to put himself forward as an exponent of Native feeling; but there was one point upon which all impartial observers were agreed, and that was as to the bewilderment with which the Natives of India regarded a rapid change of policy. The late war in Afghanistan—whether wise or unwise—they thoroughly understood. That had been conclusively demonstrated. He would refer hon. Gentlemen to the Native Press of India on that point. The objects and the alleged necessity of that war were clear. It was an assertion of British influence in accordance with all previous declarations. But what would they think of a policy which at one time induced the British Government to send troops victoriously through the country to assert British influence, and then immediately withdraw them without taking any steps to exclude Russian influence. It was all very well to talk of the effect which would be produced upon the Native mind by retiring to our old Frontier, conscious of our own strength. But the Native mind required the outward expression of that consciousness; and a retirement now would only lead the Natives to the conclusion that the long struggle for supremacy between Russia and England, which they had long watched with the most intense interest, was over, and that we had thrown up the game. They would think that the Englishman differed from the Russian 1841 in this important respect—that while he lacked the wisdom of the serpent he had attained to the harmlessness of the dove. The opinion he ventured to put forward was greatly strengthened by many passages of the Minutes they had received. But he would quote to the House the remarks of another authority, which seemed to have an important bearing on the point. This was the manner in which the very well-informed Correspondent of The Times described the immediate future not long ago—It is most doubtful whether the British Government, its troops once withdrawn, can make any arrangements for the peaceful settlement of the country. Now that Gook Tepe has fallen and the road to Merv is practically opened, Russian influence will have taken the place of ours; and, in all probability, next summer will see us helpless spectators of a state of anarchy in Afghanistan, with both the contending parties looking to our great rival for help and not to us. It is difficult to over-estimate the effect which this will have on the British prestige, not in Central Asia only, but also in every Native Court and bazaar in India.And that effect would, in his opinion, be very much aggravated when they remembered the pledges into which we had entered, and the manner in which we were keeping them. Let them take first the case of the Candaharis. On the 15th of March, 1880, Sir Donald Stewart received the principal headmen of Candahar and the surrounding district in Durban In the course of his remarks, which, he said, it was necessary to make, as there was an erroneous impression abroad as to the future of the Candahar state—in the light of our new intentions this sounded almost like irony—he promised the support of the British Government to Shore Ali; and he added that "there was no chance of Candahar falling under the authority of a supreme Ruler in Cabul." Here, then, was a distinct pledge, not to Shore Ali, but to the people of the country, that the British Government would never again allow them to fall under the hated rule of Cabal. And this was further confirmed by the address of Colonel St. John on the 19th of May. It seemed from the despatch of the noble Lord in November last that, since circumstances had proved the weakness of the Wall, he considered that we were relieved from the pledges into which we entered regarding him. Quite so; but let us be quite fair to that Ruler. He never professed to be able to maintain himself by 1842 his own unassisted efforts; but it was the opinion of Sir Donald Stewart, and of the Government of India, at the time that under our protection he would have been a Chief well suited to the requirements of the people he had to govern. But what happened? No sooner did the present Government come into power than the telegraph flashed to Candahar the inpression—as it turned out the well-founded impression—derived from the public declarations of the Government, that British troops were to be withdrawn from Candahar. From that moment, as he had been told by officers actually upon the spot, the authority of the Wali was at an end, as he himself always said it would be; and the people over whom he ruled, whether well-disposed to us or not, ceased to be able to afford us that assistance which they had previously extended to us. Therefore, he declined to allow that we were released from the pledges which we gave to the whole people of the Province. They had received the absolute undertaking of the Government, in the name of the Queen, that they never again should fall under the rule of Cabul. In consequence of that pledge, many of them irrevocably cast in their lot with us, and we were bound to provide for their safety. The honour of the British Government, nay, much more, the honour of the British nation was pledged to them. And yet the Duke of Argyll coolly told them, with this solemn promise ringing in his ears, that "Some Ruler"—observe the word—"some Ruler will establish himself in Candahar by the process of natural selection," which, he supposed, in plain English, meant cutting each other's throats. But that very expression of the Duke of Argyll showed how little faith he, at any rate, had in the arrangement which was then maturing, and was announced the other day by the noble Lord—namely, the transfer of the Province of Candahar to Abdurrahman. As to that they had very little information. He had been selected by the British Government; it remained to be seen whether natural selection would ratify the choice. Whether he was strong enough to hold even Cabul, not to speak of an extended territory, they did not know. How he had treated those who had befriended us in Cabul they had not been told, although there was an ugly rumour, which he hoped 1843 the Government would be able to contradict, that he had confiscated all their property. However, he was now to have Candahar. The question had been asked when his troops would arrive there, and all the noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington) had said in reply was that they were not likely to be resisted. It was to be hoped not, while the British forces were there. But the fact appeared to be that the Government cared very little what arrangements could be made. All they thought of was to get away from Candahar. But it was impossible to discuss these arrangements in the absence of complete information. All he was concerned to urge now was that we were going to do with. these unfortunate people the very thing we had promised them we would not do—namely, to hand them over to a Ruler to whom they objected; and, he was afraid, most probably to anarchy, and perhaps to bloodshed. But if the hurried abandonment of Candahar constituted a breach of faith towards the people, the case of Pishin was also worthy of attention. He might remind the House that the districts of Pishin and Sibi, originally in Afghan territory, were assigned to us under the Treaty of Gandamak. We accordingly undertook the administration of the Province. British officers governed it, with the cordial and loyal co-operation of the inhabitants; and from that time its prosperity had increased in a marked degree. Trade had extended itself, and the people, confident in the promises of a British Government, had been faithful servants of the Queen. Now, it was one thing to evacuate Provinces which our military forces had occupied; it was a very different thing to abandon a district, once under our direct administration, to anarchy and to bloodshed. If the policy of the Government was carried out, we were going to do with these people also what we were virtually pledged not to do. Having shown their friendliness to us, having in every way assisted us in the administration of the district, we proposed to hand them over, also, to the process of "natural selection." The logical result of this interesting scientific experiment would be that our friends—or such of them as survived it—would dislike us as much as our enemies had ever done. It was not, therefore, very surprising that the Government of India 1844 objected to this proposal, and intended (as they were that day informed for the first time) to remain for some time longer in possession of these districts. Nor was it surprising that in other respects also there should have been considerable difficulty in discovering any great weight of authority to recommend an immediate withdrawal. The evidence put before them was more remarkable for its omissions than for its contents. Of course, the most remarkable of all was the absence of any opinion from the Government of India. The noble Lord the Secretary of State told them in that House on the 26th of July last that—It is a subject which Lord Ripon has been instructed to consider separately and independently; and as soon as he has formed his judgment upon the policy of the occupation of Candahar, or of the district of the new Frontier, Her Majesty's Government will form their opinion upon it."—[3 Hansard, ccliv. 1344.]He would not think of suggesting that the noble Lord had not attempted to fulfil a pledge which he had given to the House. But as they did not know that even at that time it had been decided to abandon Candahar, they were justified in believing, after that statement, that the Government of India had been consulted. Well, perhaps it had been consulted; but it had never been allowed to express any opinion. And why? Well, everybody knew the reason. Because the Council of the Viceroy was utterly opposed to withdrawing from Pishin, and was also, for the present, at any rate, in favour of retaining Candahar. The noble Lord told them that certain Minutes of the Council were on the way, and two of them he had laid on the Table. But consider what that meant; it meant that nearly a year after the matter had been finally decided, the Council of the Governor General were to be allowed to enter an empty protest or to express a barren approval. If the opinion of the Government of India had been unfavourable to the Government at home, they might have overruled it; but at least they were bound to hear what was said by those who were charged with the interests of India, who would consider this matter with regard to the true and permanent interests of that country, and without anything like what could be described as Patty feeling. The noble Lord the Secretary of State for India, in an effective address which 1845 he delivered to the electors of Manchester in 1880, condemned what he described as the initiation of a policy in this country, afterwards carried out by the Viceroy without the concurrence of his Council, and he called that reducing the position of the Governor General to that of a puppet. This was exactly what had happened on the present occasion; in the hands of the noble Lord the Governor General and his Council were nothing but a row of ciphers. In the evidence before them there were plenty of other omissions. We knew that Mr. Lyall, the able Foreign Secretary in India, had gone to Candahar for the special purpose of making a Report on the state of affairs; and it would have been interesting to have had that Report. Sir Robert Sandeman, our Agent in Beloochistan, was more intimately acquainted with the condition of the intervening country and the opinions of its inhabitants than any other living Englishman; and they ought to have had his opinion. He gathered from the Papers now laid before them that Sir Robert Sandeman had expressed in India a strong opinion of what he called—The fatuity of the proposal to violate obligations publicly and officially assumed, and to abandon to anarchy and confusion the whole tract of country between Pishin and Sibi, which had begun to enjoy prosperity under our rule.Again, why was there nothing from Colonel St. John, our chief political officer in Candahar? In fact, there was nothing more remarkable than the entire absence of any opinions based on political grounds and on recent experience in favour of withdrawal. The Government, indeed, made the most of what they had. His distinguished friend, Sir Erskine Perry, appeared no less than three times—first as a jurist, then as a politician, and, thirdly, in some capacity which he did not more particularly describe. Then there was Sir Robert Montgomery, now and always a faithful disciple of Lord Lawrence. But it was no disrespect to them to say that no one single political officer of recent experience in Afghanistan itself, or upon the Frontier, had been found to say a word in favour of the policy of abandonment at the present time. At any rate, it would naturally have been expected that the Government would attach great 1846 weight to military authority. That, no doubt, was divided in opinion; but upon one thing it was easy to show that it was all but unanimous, and that was in disagreeing with the policy now being adopted. Look at the list of military authorities of eminence who were known to have expressed opinions on the subject. There were those who were strongly of opinion that Candahar must be held, at any rate at the present time. The list included four officers who had been Commanders-in-Chief in India; it included all those officers who were personally best acquainted with the locality itself; and whose names were already familiar to the House. Then there were those who did not advocate remaining at Candahar; but believed that the post which we ought to retain was the Valley of Pishin. These were mainly the officers of the Intelligence Department of the War Office, with the addition of Sir Donald Stewart, who, however, on political as distinguished from military considerations, declared finally, as Lord Granville informed us, for the retention of Candahar. And, lastly, there was the class of soldiers who desired to abandon Beloochistan and Afghanistan altogether. But anyone who examined the Blue Book carefully would find the name of only one soldier of authority in this class, that of his distinguished friend, Sir Henry Norman—that was to say, they were asked to overrule the opinion of all the most eminent soldiers of the day upon the sole authority of Sir Henry Norman. The bare statement of that fact was amply sufficient without a word of comment. That, no doubt, was what the Under Secretary of State for the Home Department meant by "magnificent courage." Well, he thought it did require some courage. It was a quality for which Englishmen had happily been conspicuous; but if it was to be exhibited by retreating in the face of difficulty, and against the weight of authority, without securing the objects of our policy, some of them were old-fashioned enough to prefer courage without magnificence. Then they were told that even if all the advantages of holding any of these positions were conceded, a conclusive ground for resisting them was to be found in their excessive cost. Of course, if there were any evidence before them that such a step would paralyze the finances of India, the boldest among 1847 them might well hesitate unless the necessity were absolutely proved. But there was no such evidence. The information before them was that, at the present moment, India had been able to pay the whole cost of an exhausting war with hardly any addition to her debt. There were very few nations in the world that could say as much. And, indeed, if it were proved that India was unequal to the strain of providing for her own necessary external security, one might begin to look with apprehension upon the prospects of our Empire. But as to the cost itself. They had, in fact, no real Estimate before them. It would have been easy during the last nine months to have called upon the Government of India to furnish a detailed Estimate, based upon the opinions of its best authorities. But they had only before them an Estimate prepared by an eminent soldier, who had never been at Candahar, Sir Henry Norman, and another by a distinguished Indian financier, Sir George Kellner, with the advice of the highest military authorities. Well, before they proceeded to compare these Estimates, let them ask this question—Was it necessary to assume that, for the purpose of the military occupation of Candahar or Pishin, the forces required must be in addition to the existing military establishment? Sir Henry Norman said so; but upon that point the evidence was against him. The re-distribution of our military strength in India, under the new conditions prescribed by our extended railway system and our knowledge of modern strategy, had become a matter of pressing importance. It was well known that the Simla Army Commission devoted special consideration to this subject; and, though its Report was not yet published, it had been announced that the upshot of its recommendations was that, without calling for one additional man from England, a re-arrangement of our garrisons would enable us to place in the field for service beyond the Frontier a force of 50,000 men. And, indeed, it had always been recognized by English statesmen that there must be in India a large margin of troops over and above what was indispensable for safety. In November, 1867, when a discussion arose in that House about sending troops to Abyssinia, and after Sir Henry Rawlinson had expressed an opinion to that effect, the present Prime 1848 Minister, in continuing the debate, said—It will withdraw from India for a time a portion of her available force. ["Oh!"] Yes; but my hon. and gallant Friend behind me gave, in my opinion, a perfect answer to any objection that might arise out of that circumstance when he said that the army in India is not regulated by an exclusive regard to what may be required for the purposes of the garrison. There is in India a necessary margin of disposable force. That force may be applied here or there, with reference to circumstances."—[3 Hansard, exc. 393–4.]But, of course, where troops, instead of being maintained at their old stations in India, were placed at Candahar, some considerable additional cost must necessarily be incurred, especially if it were decided not to complete the railway. Sir Henry Norman placed that excess roughly at £750,000 a-year, or 100 per cent. Sir George Kellner placed it at £350,000, or 50 per cent. He should be tempted by sad experience to adopt the higher scale as the safest, if it appeared that there were no other grounds for questioning it. But on carefully looking into this matter he found that in 1867, when the absence of a system of railroads would have much increased the expense, and when the question at issue was a garrison, not for Candahar, but for Herat, 350 miles more distant from our Frontier, the Estimate submitted to Lord Lawrence's Government stated that to the ordinary expense of the force required for that purpose—We might fairly add 50 per cent as the additional cost of such a force in Afghanistan; for not only would the cost of all stores, &c., be much higher than in India, but the expense of moving recruits and invalids over such a long distance would be great, and the pay of the Native soldiers would have to be largely augmented.And he found that that Estimate was signed by no less an authority than Sir Henry Norman. The conclusion from which appeared to him to be that Sir George Kellner's Estimate of 50 per cent was supported by very high authority. But really it was quite unnecessary to go more into the matter at present. If the occupation of Candahar was to be temporary only, then the exact amount of the expenditure was of comparatively small consequence. If it was decided that it should be permanent, then he admitted that it would be necessary to get a very careful Estimate of the annual cost and compare it with the 1849 much larger charge to which they would be exposed if, retiring now, they were compelled very shortly to go back again. Then the alleged objection of Native troops to serve beyond the Frontier had been urged. That objection had been undoubtedly exaggerated. It was perfectly true that last year there was great difficulty in obtaining recruits, and it was also true that Native soldiers had always shown a great dislike to serve for any lengthened time beyond the Frontier; but special inducements were offered to them, and the Service became popular, and when Sir Frederick Roberts marched for Candahar he had with him many Native regiments; but he was told on the very highest authority that the regiments were full, and that recruiting for them had for some time been stopped in India. But, of course, they ought not to be kept too long across the Frontier. That difficulty, and the cost of the troops, would, in fact, be materially affected by the completion of the railway beyond Sibi. There was no feature of the policy of the Government which was to be regarded with such regret as the abandonment of the railway. There was nothing which had so civilizing an effect as a railway. It had been shown by more than one Frontier officer that even a common road formed in the midst of tribes had an instant and remarkable effect upon them. For political and military purposes the railway was most important; but he alluded to it now on account of the great importance attaching to it for the purposes of trade. At this moment the trade of Central Asia was simply a Russian monopoly. Nothing was more striking to our officers who went to Candahar than the fact that everything in the bazaar they wanted to buy was Russian, and nothing English. The Russian Government was fully alive to the importance of extending their commerce, not only for its own sake, but also for the sake of its political influence. The English were now, however, going, in circumstances most favourable to them, to throw away the means in their possession of establishing fair and legitimate rivalry in trade. It was all very well to try and diminish the importance of the commerce of that district by stating what had happened while the fate of the country was in a state of uncertainty; but he should prefer to rely upon gentle- 1850 men who were entitled to speak with authority on the subject, and who were able to state what was likely to happen independently of the present temporary condition of affairs. Here was a very remarkable extract from a letter of an officer of great experience—We hear that the Government has decided to abandon Candahar. Nine people out of every 10 in India think this a mistake. But to those up here there can be no doubt about it. The country may be said to be basking in the light of peace, rest, and a strong Ruler, and would under us, and with a railway, soon be the garden of the world, paying the cost of its military occupation, and affording us, at the same time, a true and strong base of operations against all comers. Our leaving Candahar will reduce the country to anarchy, and will cause the destruction of all our friends up here.He should have liked to have quoted others. He would have given to the House the opinion of Sir Douglas Forsyth, who was more intimately acquainted with Central Asia than anyone, and who gave them four years ago a wonderful picture of its commerce, and the possibility of its extension. He would have told them the views of Mr. W. P. Andrew, the Chairman of the Scinde Railway Company, and be would have called as a witness Sir Robert Sandeman, who described the trade of one district as doubling since our occupation of Quetta. But he had already occupied the attention of the House too long. It had not certainly been his intention or desire to underrate the difficulties of the position in which we were now placed; but, on the other hand, if any fair and statesmanlike manner of meeting those difficulties had been proposed, likely to lead to a permanent settlement of them, it ought to receive the candid and fair consideration of the House. There were objections to all schemes; but to his mind the objections to retiring from Candahar, and still more from Pishin, at the present moment were absolutely unanswerable. They were going to leave Afghanistan in a critical state, with Russia advancing day by day, and retire to a point where our influence could not be felt. Could anyone, even the boldest adherent of what was called the policy of "masterly inactivity," dare to say that he thought it certain that within a very limited period we would not have to go back to Candahar? It was all very well to say it was easy enough to do so; but if we abandoned 1851 the legitimate influence we possessed in that country, he doubted whether it would be found so easy as was imagined. How about our pledges to Abdurrahman? The House would recollect that the English Government was absolutely pledged, under certain conditions, that it would protect Abdurrahman against foreign invaders. How were they going to fulfil that engagement? Did they mean to fulfil it at all? A pledge, which was prudent and easily fulfilled while we retained our troops in a position of commanding influence, became, when they were withdrawn from it, imprudent, dangerous, and impossible to carry out. Nothing was more melancholy to those who held the opinions which he ventured to express than to hear in the recent debate speaker after speaker declare that it was, in his opinion, inevitable that we should have to go back to Candahar some day, but that he hoped it might be postponed until the necessity became apparent. If they held that view, let it not be forgotten that we now held a position of observation from which we could safely, accurately, and without delay gather information as to what passed in Afghanistan. Withdraw the troops, and a black veil would be thrown over the country. They would not know what went on there, and yet no human being would venture to say that circumstances might not arise in the next few months which would require them to go back to Candahar at any risk, and at any cost. God forbid that any such necessity should arise. May history never have to record that any British Government, in spite of repeated warnings, and in defiance of its own pledged word, abandoned a confiding population first to anarchy, then to the influence, and lastly to the sway of Russia, and thereby entailed upon its successors sacrifices to insure the safety of India, which bid fair to convulse the Empire, but which ordinary foresight might have averted. They, at any rate, would have done their duty if, in the name of that civilization which, at first, perhaps, by the sword, but ultimately by the spread of commerce and good government, England had so often extended to countries traversed by her armies; aye, and yet much more in the name of the internal peace and the external security of India, they protested once more against this policy of masterly surrender.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, in the opinion of this House, the withdrawal of British troops from Southern Afghanistan in the present critical state of affairs in that country will not be conducive to the true and permanent interests of India."—(Mr. E. Stanhope.)
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, the hon. Member who had just sat down had laid before the House with great skill, if he would allow him to say so, the arguments for the retention of Candahar; but he made one or two remarks which needed some correction as regarded facts, with which he (Sir Charles W. Dilke) would deal before he came to the main argument of his speech. The hon. Gentleman spoke, if he understood him rightly, of the intention of the Government to abandon Quetta and Beloochistan. Quetta and Beloochistan were not included in the statement of the Government as to their intention of retiring.
§ MR. E. STANHOPE
said, the original announcement of Her Majesty's Government in May last was that they intended to withdraw their troops from all positions beyond the present Frontier. He understood that to include Quetta and Beloochistan.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
replied, that that declaration had reference only to Afghanistan, and as Quetta was not a position in Afghanistan, Quetta and Beloochistan were, of course, not included in it. The hon. Member quoted to the House an opinion of the Calcutta Correspondent of The Times. He could hardly think that the hon. Member supposed the views of the Calcutta Correspondent of The Times would have much influence upon those who sat on the Ministerial side of the House. That Correspondent had not succeeded in converting the great journal of which he was a representative. The hon. Member asked whether the present, when Russia was advancing her arms in Asia, was the moment to quit Candahar; and whether we were prepared to abandon Afghanistan to the sway of Russia? Now, the hon. Member knew that those who sat on the Ministerial side of the House were distinctly committed by the statement, made over and over again, that in their view Afghanistan was outside the sphere of Russian influence. And when the hon. Member spoke of the moment at which Russia was advancing in Asia he was able to 1853 make this statement—that the very first act of the new Emperor upon ascending the Throne was to recall General Scobeleff to St. Petersburg, and to put a stop to all operations which that General had been conducting in Asia. The hon. Member asked whether we had any compact with Russia. He (Sir Charles Dilke) did not believe in compacts with Russia. The Government had recently assured the House that we had no compact with Russia with regard to our arrangements in Central Asia. The Government certainly would never dream of making any such compacts and withholding them from the House of Commons. It was not the habit of the Government to make secret agreements with Russia or with any other Power. And he dwelt upon that fact, not as a matter of Party recrimination, but because there was one agreement, which was of a secret kind, which was referred to in the Correspondence before the House, and which bore very closely upon this subject of Afghanistan. But although the Government had no compact, and although they had carried on no negotiations with the Government of Russia upon this subject, yet the policies of those two Great Powers in Central Asia undoubtedly did act and re-act upon each other. The arguments which were used on both sides were the same. The arguments used by the Russian military authorities tallied exactly with those used by the English. Just as among us military men tried to show us that we ought to retain Candahar because Russia was trying to get Merv, so the Russian military authorities urged on their Government that they should seize upon Mery because England remained at Candahar. The policy of these two Great Powers could not be discussed in the abstract—the proceedings of each must bear on the other. They had always done so, and would till the end of time. The hon. Member had also referred to Indian opinion on this matter. The hon. Member, who did not seem to attach much importance to Indian opinion, except, of course, the opinion of the Calcutta Correspondent of The Times, made reference to Indian opinion. This opinion was of two kinds—military and official. The military opinion in India, as in any other country, was in favour of advancing and the retention of advanced 1854 positions. It would be strange if this were not so, in view of the fact that it was always the duty of soldiers to fight; and in his view, if the military opinion of India were taken, it would be found to be in favour of conquering and holding Burmah, China, and Persia, and organizing an expedition against the Grand Lama of Thibet. All honours, decorations, and rewards were connected with advancing. It was the same in Russia. Military opinion there was always in favour of an advance. He had noticed in the speech of the hon. Gentleman a marked difference from the line of argument pursued a short time back on the same subject in "another place," in support of the view taken by the Conservative Party. On that occasion Lord Salisbury expressed his disbelief in the statement that it was the desire of the Russian Government to keep a check upon their generals in Central Asia; but to-night it had been said by the hon. Gentleman opposite that there was such a desire, and that the generals had gone beyond their orders. This was his own view; and it was shared by one of the most distinguished Russian statesmen who, speaking to him, said that if he had his way, when sending a Russian general to Central Asia, he should be glad to confer upon him all the honours and decorations that were possible within the Empire, taking one step from him for each victory he won and each mile he progressed in a southerly direction. He sympathized with the hon. Member who had preceded him rather than with Lord Salisbury upon this matter. The hon. Member represented a Party who had themselves had much experience of subordinates who refused to obey the instructions of their Governments. Sir Bartle Frere's conduct was a case in point, as was, indeed, according to the late Prime Minister, that of Lord Lytton in despatching a Mission to the Khyber Pass against the opinion of the Cabinet. The hon. Member had referred to Indian Native opinion; but some of this Indian opinion which had been quoted was about as valuable as that portion of English opinion that had to-night been laid before the House in the shape of Petitions favourable to the Motion of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire. Most of those Petitions were presented by the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett), and it was not matter for 1855 surprise that this should be so, inasmuch as the hon. Member seemed to have constituted himself a kind of itinerant purveyor of Petitions. The hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir Robert Carden) also presented to the House a Petition in favour of the Motion signed by certain members of the Stock Exchange; but he could not see that any special value attached to the document, inasmuch as it was not likely to be backed by any proposal emanating from the Stock Exchange for a scheme to create Candahar consols. The hon. Member, in moving his Resolution, had, as the House knew, referred largely to Indian opinion as expressed by the newspapers, and on this point he (Sir Charles W. Mike) wished to make a few remarks. The hon. Member, who had had experience in the Government of India, must be well aware of the comparative unimportance of the Press in India; and it was, therefore, a mistake to lay too great a stress upon it. It had, however, been said that the opinion of the Native Press in India was in favour of the retention of Candahar. He might, therefore, on this point inform the House that there were 61 newspapers whose opinions were officially recorded in this country. These had a circulation of 27,700, and they were as 43 to 18 against the retention of Candahar; while as to the subscribers to these papers, they were as 21 to 6 against the retention of Candahar. He did not desire to lay too much stress on this, and he thought it would be a great mistake to attach too much importance to their opinion; but when they found that the supposed opinion of the Native Press was being used at meetings up and down the country it became necessary to make this matter clear to the House. When the hon. Gentleman told them that the disaster at Maiwand had not been sufficiently vindicated, he could not think that that statement was believed either by the House or the country. On the contrary, the House would be of opinion that Sir Frederick Roberts' march achieved a result which had the effect of wiping out that disaster. When the hon. Member told them that their retirement from Candahar would detract from their importance in the eyes of the Natives of India, he would ask him whether the retirement from Cabul ordered by the late Government was not, in itself; cal- 1856 culated to have that effect? He could not see what there was about the abandonment of Candahar that did not also apply to the abandonment of Cabul, or which could not have been equally applied to Russia herself in her abandonment of the Khanates of Bokhara and Khiva, and her giving up a portion of China which she had administered for 12 or 13 years. He thought Russia would rather gain than lose in actual power by the giving up of that territory. He could not say why England should be accused of losing prestige by giving up Candahar, and why nothing should be said about Russia, who was supposed by hon. Gentlemen opposite to be far too wise to do such things, and who had given up a much larger district. The hon. Gentleman had said that our pledges alone ought to make us keep Candahar. But to whom were those pledges given? The pledges to the Wali were removed by our arrangement with him. By "pledges given to the population of Candahar," was it meant that we had given pledges to persons seven-eighths of whom detested our presence, to the people, who fired from every doorway on our defeated troops, and who murdered our wounded after Kushk-i-Nakhud, who rose against us almost to a man, and who had to be expelled from the town while we stood the siege? There were not many who threw in their lot with us who had not since been removed to India; and as to the Hindoo merchants, they had not suffered when the late Government abandoned a far larger number of their class at Cabul; and there was no reason to fear that they would not remain unmolested at Candahar. In the Candahar diary, which had not yet been laid upon the Table, under date of February 26, 1880, there was an account of an interview which threw great light upon the supposed intention of the late Government to remain at Candahar, which the hon. Member opposite had assumed as a matter of course, but of which there existed no evidence whatever.Sir Donald Stewart informed the Sirdar that for many months to come a British force would be stationed at Candahar.…. The intention of the Government was, however, to render the Sirdar as speedily independent as possible. The cordial relations at present existing laid for their end and object the enabling him as speedily as possible to exercise independent rule without the assistance of a British force.1857 The hon. Member had assumed throughout his speech—he did not prove it, because he could not do so—that there was an intention on the part of the late Government to remain permanently at Candahar. The statement lie had just read showed that it was not their intention to do so; and that the only question was one as to the time when that place should be abandoned. The hon. Member in one portion of his speech had himself dwelt upon the time when Candahar should be abandoned, and had asserted that this was an unfavourable moment for abandoning it. It was well known that when you did not want people to do any particular act that the best thing to do was to assert that the present was the wrong time at which to do it. Having thus disposed of the side issues raised by the hon. Member, he came now to the real point which was before the House. He would not dwell upon the subject of the Afghan War, because the hon. Member had carefully avoided all reference to it; and, in so doing, he had acted wisely. The hon. Member was very wise in not following the line taken by Lord Lytton in "another place," and in not making in that House, where the atmosphere was sometimes more heated, the assertions which were the foundation of Lord Lytton's statements, because the policy of the late Government in bringing about that war had failed in every part. The policy of the late Government was to establish an independent, friendly, and strong Kingdom of Afghanistan; and they had only succeeded in destroying the cohesion that had previously existed in that country. All the difficulties of the present Government with regard to that country had arisen from the policy of the late Government. When the present Government came into Office this question of the time for the abandonment of Candahar was left an open one. The late Government had not decided the point for themselves; and they were content merely to drift along without forming any definite conclusion on the subject. At the first settlement of Afghanistan the late Administration left Candahar under the Government of the Ammer. But at the second settlement they determined to set up a local government at Candahar, which had entirely broken down, it being hated by the people, since it was set up by the British Government. The Motion of the hon. 1858 Member protested against our withdrawal from Candahar at this particular time; but the case of the Government was that they had made as satisfactory an arrangement as was possible under the present circumstances of Afghanistan. He, however, would go further, and say that in following the successful precedent which the late Government themselves had set by retiring from Cabul, the present Government had adopted the only possible plan if we were ever to leave Candahar at all. If they had again set up a puppet in that city he must have fallen on the removal of our bayonets. The him. Member had asked what would happen when our troops left Candahar? In reply to that question he wished to point out that Sir Donald Stewart had stated that Abdurrahman Khan only needed a small force to take over Candahar, and that if Ayoob Khan started to attack it Abdurrahman Khan could bring down large forces to defend it in 16 days. If Abdurrahman Khan did not take possession, full discretion was left to the Government of India; but Sir Donald Stewart, whose experience was unrivalled, advised that we could safely withdraw our troops in April. The hon. Member appeared to have a rooted distrust of Abdurrahman Khan; and he had spoken of him as "your protégé," looking across the House in a significant manner. Abdurrahman Khan, however, had been selected by the late Government to be the Ruler of Cabul. Were the late Government prepared to trust him implicitly as the Ruler of Cabal, and were they afraid to trust him as the Ruler of Candahar? The hon. Member had said that a vast change had taken place since the Treaty of Gandamak, when we had set up an Ameer in whom we had confidence. It was said that we could place no faith in Abdurrahman because he had been a Russian pensioner, and would probably be a Russian tool. We had heard a good deal lately about Russian tools. Lord Salisbury, a few days since, had said that Persia was the tool of Russia, yet that did not prevent the late Government from intending to hand over Herat to Persia. In the Afghan Blue Book No. 1, Lord Lytton, in recommending the policy of creating a strong and independent Afghanistan, said that—"If Persia should occupy Herat, we ought to 1859 go to war with Persia to turn her out of it;" but although the late Government apparently agreed to that view at that time, within a year after they planned a division of Afghanistan, and that was by an apparently secret arrangement to hand over Herat to Persia. Now, however they were so afraid of Russian influence, that within a year again they had been converted the other way. All this showed that the late Government were groping about in search of a policy; but they were never consistent with themselves, and they never had any clear or definite intention as to the future of Afghanistan. The main argument of the hon. Member opposite was that the state of things had completely changed during the past year, and that that change was to be found in the advance of Russia and in the discovery of the Papers at Cabul.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
remarked, that, according to his recollection, the hon. Gentleman certainly quoted from those Papers. [Mr. E. STANHOPE: No, no.] If the hon. Gentleman did not quote the Papers, he did not know where he formed his argument for the change which was said to have occurred since the Treaty of Gandamak. At all events, he had referred in detail to the discovery of the Papers. Those Papers were in the hands of the late Government long before they went out of Office. They had a summary of them by telegraph in October, 1879, and they had the documents themselves by the end of November or the beginning of December. But, having these Papers in their hands, they nevertheless did not decide permanently to retain or annex Candahar. If the change of the last year was only to be found in the advance of Russia, that advance—so far as any advance had taken place within that period—had been long foreseen. In the Memoranda written 12 or 13 years ago, and when Lord Lawrence himself was Viceroy, and in the Memoranda of Sir Richard Temple, that advance, and a much greater advance, of Russia were foreseen by those statesmen. Moreover, he had shown to the House that, while we had no compact or agreement with Russia, we had reason to believe that Russia was not advancing at this moment. On the contrary, 1860 General Skobeleff had been recalled and the advance of the Russians appeared to have entirely ceased. The Papers quoted by the hon. Member, on which he wished to avoid just now laying any stress although he quoted them, might be dismissed in a single word. Those Papers were generally calculated to raise in the mind of any Afghans great doubt as to whether much attention ought to be paid to any promises which might be made to them. If Abdurrahman had read them with care, they must have raised as much suspicion in his mind as to General Kaufmann as would exist in the mind of the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Ashmead Bartlett) himself. Where lay the change on which so much stress had been laid? The Government failed to see the evidence of this complete change in the state of things which was said to have occurred in Afghanistan. The hon. Member had told them that all the weight of authority was against them in regard to the withdrawal from Candahar. [Mr. E. STANHOPE: From Candahar and Pishin.] With regard to Candahar they had the statement of Sir Garnet Wolseley, who said that he could see no possible strategical advantage in the present occupation, and that we secured no military advantage by the retention of Candahar. That was also the opinion at that moment of Sir Donald Stewart, who likewise thought there was no military advantage in the retention of Candahar. [Mr. E. STANHOPE: Political?] He would come to that directly. At all events, soldiers gave their military opinions on the side of the present Government, although some of them went on to tell us that for commercial or political reasons they were on the other side. Sir Garnet Wolseley said that the sooner we withdrew from Candahar the better for the interests of our Indian Empire, and that he believed would be the opinion of the majority of that House. Sir Donald Stewart had not changed his opinion that Candahar would be valueless in a military point of view. He thought the best way to defend India against possible invasion was not by locking up 15,000 men to be blockaded in Candahar, and 5,000 each in Farah and Khelat-i-Ghilzai, but by meeting the forces of the enemy when they attempted to deploy from the passes on to the plains of Hindostan. In short, our military case 1861 was that we could go to Candahar when we liked. He believed that in time of war we should have to send just as large an expedition to Candahar if we had a garrison there as if we had not a garrison. The result of the war had shown that as regards an Afghan enemy we could traverse the country without danger, and Candahar was not likely to be reached more rapidly by a foreigner than by England. The opinion he had expressed was completely confirmed by the opinion of Lord Lytton himself, who said that as long as we kept Quetta we could at any moment descend upon the plains of Candadar or advance to meet our adversary in the field Thus even Lord Lytton was of opinion that it was unnecessary, from a military point of view, to retain Candadar if we retained Quetta. He was told that to retain Candahar in time of peace with a view to its possible military utility in time of war would cost £1,500,000 a-year. The hon. Gentleman opposite had given several calculations on this point, and seemed to know Sir Henry Norman's figures better than Sir Henry Norman knew them himself. The hon. Member mentioned £750,000, whereas Sir Henry Norman said the cost would be £1,500,000.
§ Mr. E. STANHOPE
, interposing, observed, that Sir Henry Norman said the excess of cost over and above the ordinary cost of the troops in India would be £750,000.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, that Sir Henry Norman was distinctly of opinion that there must be an increase of troops. Hon. Members opposite ought to know something about the cost. They were authorities on the subject of cost in the sense in which a spendthrift was an authority on the subject of extravagance. They knew that their own Estimates were exceeded. The hon. Gentleman himself estimated in April, 1880, that the cost of the Afghan War would be £5,500,000. It now appeared that it would be £19,500,000, including the railroads, or £15,500,000 net. Even supposing that the cost of retaining Candahar should be only £1,500,000, the drain caused by the occupation would year by year be almost as great a drain upon the resources of India as the war had been which the late Government commenced. No one knew better than the hon. Member the capa- 1862 bilities of the finances of India. He was not disposed to throw this new burden upon them while he was in Office; but now that he no longer had any responsibility in the matter he had changed his views. The hon. Member conveyed an impression that the finances of India were not in an unsatisfactory condition; but that was the fact. The net Revenue of India was only some £40,000,000 a-year, of which from £15,000,000 to £18,000,000 was swallowed up by the Military Establishment. Now, of that Revenue, £8,500,000 was derived from the precarious source of the opium traffic, and a large portion from the salt duty, of which the least said would be the soonest mended. Things were paid for by the creation of Debt which, in this country, would be paid out of Revenue. ["No!"] Well, things were paid for by the creation of debt which it would be better, if possible, to pay for otherwise. Periodical famines occurred, entailing a large expenditure; very necessary public works could not be proceeded with for want of funds; and retrenchment had been carried as far as it could go without touching the Army. To add to the anxieties of the case, the highest authorities had pronounced all addition to the taxation of India impossible. It was in these circumstances that the hon. Member proposed to throw upon India the additional burden entailed by the permanent occupation of Candahar. Even if additional taxation were possible, which it was not, it could not be imposed without creating great discontent, which meant the creation of a field in which foreign intrigue, of which so much had been said, could work. Nothing but direst necessity could justify the imposition of an additional burden upon India at the present moment; and he trusted he had shown that the permanent occupation of Candahar was not only not a dire necessity, but that, apart from the question of cost altogether, it was undesirable. The House, would, perhaps, be glad to hear some interesting words on this subject from a statesman whose opinion had been quoted against the Government—namely, Sir Richard Temple. They were written 13 years ago, in the days of Sir Richard Temple's better judgment, and placed the present question in a striking light from the point of view of the 1863 finances of India. Prophesying an advance on the part of Russia greater than what had actually taken place, Sir Richard Temple, dealing with the question whether we ought to retain a position in Afghanistan, wrote—There would be a cruel drain on our resources. The cost.…would, of course, have to be defrayed from the revenues of British India. But it is a serious thing to expend large sums of money, drawn from the people of India, beyond the borders of India.…How many millions of Indian money were sunk in Afghanistan,…and with what return to the people of India? If, unfortunately, we were ever induced to dissipate our treasure in such a country as Afghanistan,…by retarding the progress of India, and by impoverishing our exchequer to a level of that of our enemies, we should be just playing their game for them.…. If we engage ourselves in Afghanistan, Russia will find us in the hour of trial impoverished and embarrassed. If we keep out of Afghanistan, Russia will find us in the hour of trial strong, rich, and prosperous in India. If she really wishes us ill, she must naturally desire that we may be so infatuated as to pursue the former course. But it is for us to avoid that course which our enemies, if we have any, would desire us to follow."—[Afghanistan (No. 1.), 1878. pp. 68–9.]To impoverish India by expending our money on Afghanistan would clearly be to play our enemies' game. Candahar, it should be remembered, was not merely a town. The occupation of Candahar meant the occupation of a district as large as Great Britain, extending from the Helmand on the one hand to Khelat-i-Ghilzai on the other. On this point they had a very clear opinion from Sir Henry Norman. Financially, the possession of that Province would be to India a "running sore;" and from the military point of view, so far from being a gain, it would seriously weaken our general position on the Indian Frontier. The hon. Member had carefully avoided urging the arguments used by speakers at Patriotic Association meetings—namely, that Candahar was a convenient étape in our race with the Russians to Herat. Regarded even in that light, however, the whole Province, and not merely the town, would have to be occupied. It was said that the trade of Candahar would enormously increase, and the hon. Member had read a letter to that effect—without, however, committing himself to its opinions—from a military officer; a circumstance, by the way, which confirmed his statement that in urging the retention of Candahar military men always gave commercial reasons. The 1864 same thing was said of Peshawur, which, it was thought by the military authorities, would become the garden of India. But Peshawar, though an important military station, had never been a garden, never would be, and had never, in a commercial sense, paid the costs of its occupation. It was to be feared that if we remained at Candahar, we should repeat our experience of Peshawur in that respect. With regard to this question of trade, it should be remembered that it depended wholly upon whether the roads on all sides were open. It did not depend upon our occupation of Candahar, but upon circumstances which were beyond our control; and much more trade was to be expected from a united than from a divided Afghanistan. But it was not for trade reasons that the Patriotic Association wanted them to keep Candahar, or that the hon. Member for Eye (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett) brought bundles of Petitions to that House. It was not even trade reasons, he believed, which dictated the Petitions from the Stock Exchange. Our retention of Candahar was urged, as a rule, for military reasons. The hon. Member, however, who was by no means a woolly-minded person, did not, for his part, make it quite clear whether he wished to retain Candahar as a military position, or as a bulwark against intrigue. So far as intrigue went, it was tolerably certain that if the Afghans continued to hate us as much as they had done, we should gain very little knowledge indeed of their proceedings by remaining at Candahar. We had, during our present occupation of Candahar no knowledge whatever of what was really going on at Cabul, except that which was derived from such information as the Afghans themselves voluntarily conveyed. The late Government, too, knew very little during the occupation of Candahar of what was passing at Cabul. It was difficult in the East to obtain information with regard to an intrigue, even in the very town in which it was taking place. The experience of the Indian Mutiny proved that intrigue might exist side by side with English garrisons of the greatest strength. It appeared to him, therefore, childish to suppose that by remaining at Candahar we should be in a better position to undermine political intrigues at Cabul. The hon. Gentleman did not go into the question of what would 1865 probably be the result with regard to Afghanistan itself of our continuance at Candahar. He had a right, however, to ask whether we should not be likely to find ourselves as a consequence involved in every tribal war which broke out in that country, and in endless complications with respect to our future Afghan policy? Was it not but too probable that if once forced to take sides in those quarrels we should create for ourselves more enemies than friends? There was, he was aware, in the minds of a large number of people in this country a rooted belief that Russia was going at no distant period to attack our Indian Empire. He was glad, however, to perceive that the hon. Gentleman knew too much about the facts to dwell very much upon that point in his speech. The hon. Gentleman had been responsible for the finances of India in that House. The hon. Gentleman knew India better than he did, although he had spent some months in that country, and conversed with people who were well acquainted with its position. He, however, knew Russia, perhaps, even better than the hon. Gentleman, for he had visited it five or six times; and he would ask him whether he did not agree with him in the opinion that India was at the present moment the stronger of the two countries? It might not he so in the future; but, if not, it would be because we had been imprudent in our management of the finances of India; and we should, therefore, hesitate before we imposed on those finances in their present state the further drain which would be caused by the occupation of Candahar. He had, he might add, risen on the part of the Government to say that it was their intention to meet the Motion with a direct negative. When a Vote of Censure on the Government was proposed, they thought that the most manly course for them to pursue was to meet it in that way. They might have supported the Amendment of the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. A. Arnold), in every word of which they agreed; but a direct negative was, in their opinion, the proper mode of meeting the Motion. In thus meeting it, they were not disregarding the future of India or its connection with this country. On those points they were animated by the same principles which guided hon. Gentlemen opposite; but they believed in the eloquent words of the late Prime 1866 Minister—that the key of India was here in London. It was, in their opinion, by prudence in debate, by the wise management here of the finances of India, by the wise control of our Indian policy, by consulting our own dignity, and by avoiding any scare of Russia or of any other Power that we should best protect our Indian Empire at the present time. If at a future time actual danger should come and invasion menace our Dominions in India, then, as he had endeavoured to show the House, our best defence would be to be able to rely on the contentment and prosperity of the people of India, marshalled in the field by the courage of the English race, who, fighting for civilization, and with right on their side, would, he believed, overwhelm their foes.
said, the question now before the House was part of one of the chief questions on which the last General Election turned. Throughout England, with no uncertain sound, the verdict was given at the time of the Election that the late policy had been weighed in the balance and found wanting. Notwithstanding all this, they were again asked to give up much valuable time in re-opening the question whether we should or should not annex a portion—the richest portion—of our neighbour's territory. It would be argued from the other side of the House that the question involved in the Resolution under discussion was not one of annexation; but he maintained that if we held Candahar with a large military force for another year—as we must if we do not withdraw at once—we should so weaken the prestige of Sirdar Abdurrahman, and thereby his chances of ever being strong enough to hold Candahar himself; we should rouse such hostile feelings against ourselves or any nominee of our own; and we should incur such risks of again being drawn into the turmoil and strife of the internal politics of Afghanistan, that we must face the probability, and almost the certainty, of our stay at Candahar becoming permanent. Therefore, he believed that, by not withdrawing at once, we should involve ourselves in a policy of annexation. But such a policy had been distinctly repudiated by hon. Members opposite. He would not quote the words of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer or of the late Under Secretary of State for India; but he would simply refer to 1867 their own Treaty of Gandamak, which Lord Salisbury, on June 5, 1879, considered "would secure all that is necessary to our own security and repose." In the 9th Article of that Treaty were these words—In consideration of the renewal of a friendly alliance between the two States, the British Government restores to his Highness the Amir of Afghanistan and its dependencies the towns of Candahar and Jellalabad, with all the territory now in possession of the British armies, excepting the districts of Kurram, Pishin, and Sibi."—[Afghanistan, No. 6, (1879), pp. 4–5.]The circumstances then were the same as now; but the policy of the late Government had succeeded in rousing the hatred of that Afghanistan which they wished to see strong, friendly, and independent. His special object in quoting the Treaty of Gandamak was to show that at that time, at least, the Government did not contemplate annexation. Neither did Lord Beaconsfield, when, on November 5, 1880, he said—Ours is a policy opposed to annexation; a policy in favour of the people of Afghanistan being governed by their own Chief or Chiefs.He thought, to return to the wider question, that the permanent occupation of Candahar must involve us in a heavy expense and in dangerous risks. The annual expense had been estimated by Sir Henry Norman at about £1,500,000, and by the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. E. Stanhope) at a much lower figure. He did not know on what facts they relied in arriving at that Estimate; but he hoped they were more trustworthy than the data by which they under-estimated the cost of the Afghan War by about £10,000,000. But whatever the burden might be, it would necessarily fall, partially or entirely, on India; and he could not believe that the House would readily add to the burden of that already overtaxed population of India to obtain an extension of our boundary, as to which there was undeniably a great difference of opinion both political and military. As to that opinion, he was glad to see how much consideration had been shown to the opinion of the late Lord Lawrence. It had been his happiness to have been intimate with that great Statesman during the last few years of his life; and some doubt having been expressed lately as to what policy he would have advised in the present juncture, he would say that he was convinced that he would have been strongly in favour of an immediate 1868 withdrawal from Candahar. There were, of course, no written memoranda of his on the present circumstances; but they had a full record of his opinion as to the events connected with the adoption of the forward policy by Lord Lytton. It was not denied that he was the leader of the opposition to that policy; and the only question to be considered was whether he would still have advised the withdrawal of the troops. As to this, he would venture to quote from a letter of his on the subject of the advance to Quetta, the first stage on the march to Candahar, written on January 10, 1878. [The hon. Member then read a passage from the letter referred to, in which Lord Lawrence said that the advance of Russia would be checked more effectually by strengthening our present Frontier than by extending it still further.] That was also the opinion of many other great men, who were soldiers, and not civilians, as was Lord Lawrence. Sir James Outram was ready to meet not only Russia, but Russia allied with a friendly Afghanistan and already in possession of Candahar, at the mouths of the passes leading down to the Indus, rather than involve himself in the deserts and mountains of that wild country. General Roberts had been quoted in favour of the retention; but he, at least, said this—Should Russia in future years attempt to conquer Afghanistan or invade India through it, we should have a better chance of attaching the Afghans to our interest if we avoid all interference with them in the meantime.By remaining at Candahar we did interfere with them; we kept open the wound which had been inflicted; and we tempted Russia to reduce that distance of 1,000 miles which at present separated us from her. But by withdrawing our troops we should gratify the Afghans, reduce expenditure, lessen our responsibilities, and, best of all, we should be reverting to our old policy—"Be just, and fear not."
submitted that it was quite competent for hon. Members opposite to support the Motion of his hon. Friend (Mr. E. Stanhope), even although they might disapprove of the policy, the end of which had been the unfortunate war in Afghanistan. Notwithstanding the Motion was in the nature of a Vote of Censure on the present Government, the real gist of the debate was whether or not the policy of 1869 the late Advisers of Her Majesty was one which was capable of vindication. The question was commonly argued as though it had arisen in 1873 or 1876; but what he contended was that, when they were discussing a matter of this kind, they must go a little further back, and take the whole Afghan question, as far as it was capable of being taken, en bloc, and, therefore, they must go back to the starting point, which was 1869. The reason he took that year was that it was then that negotiations were undertaken between the Government, of which the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury was the head, and the Russian Government for the establishment of a neutral zone in Central Asia. The Foreign Secretary of the time (Lord Clarendon) saw the real danger, and, in a despatch which he wrote to Sir Andrew Buchanan, called attention to the apprehensions entertained in this country as to Russian encroachments. He recommended, as a security against possible intrigues, the establishment of a neutral zone. Well, the Russian Government received that communication in a very proper spirit by stating that Afghanistan was entirely out of the sphere in which Russia could be called upon to interfere. There was some doubt as to whether Afghanistan supplied the requisite geographical boundary, and there was a long controversy on the subject. On the 2nd of June, Mr. Rumbold reported that in a conversation with Prince Gortchakoff that statesman considered that, in our relations with Shore Ali, it was to be hoped that we should use our influence to keep him within bounds. Next came the interview which Lord Clarendon had with Prince Gortchakoff at Baden, in which the former stated that he did not apprehend an attack from a regular Russian Army; but the nearer approach of the Russians and possible intrigues with Native Chiefs might entail much anxiety and expense, all of which would be avoided by a clear understanding, by which a neutral ground might be established. At that time he proposed the Oxus. Prince Gortchakoff objected, and suggested that Afghanistan should be the neutral zone. During the next year or so the great point in dispute between our Government and that of Russia was, not as to whether the Government was to exercise any special influence over Af- 1870 ghanistan, because that was taken for granted—the only point was what precise limits Afghanistan should have, and to whom the Provinces of Wakhan and Badakshan should belong. What he contended was that that correspondence showed that the influence of England was made an acknowledged fact in Afghanistan, and that the very struggle made by the Government to secure certain Provinces for Afghanistan was a tacit admission by the Government of their responsibility, to a certain extent, for the affairs of Afghanistan. If that were granted, what was the corollary? All through the negotiations the Russian Government expressed some jealousy, not as to the possible conduct of Her Majesty's Home Government, but as to the possible conduct of the Indian Government; and the jealousy was lest the Indian Government should stir up the Ameer to some strife with his neighbours at Bokhara or elsewhere; and when the arrangement ultimately came about, the Russian Government pinned us down to the admission that we should use all the influence in our power to ensure that the Ameer should remain on friendly terms with his neighbours at Bokhara. Therefore, if in spite of this the Ameer had made war, he ventured to think that the Russian Government would not have been slow to complain of the conduct of the British Government in not acting up to the spirit of their engagement in keeping him within decent bounds. These negotiations had for their object the establishment of a neutral zone, and Russia made herself very specially responsible for the good behaviour of the Ameer of Bokhara. They, however, made it a pretext for refusing certain propositions of the English Government by saying that they could not undertake that they would never cross such and such a geographical limit, because they reserved to themselves a kind of parental right to chastise, if necessary, the Ameer of Bokhara and others who might dispute their authority; and the inference to be drawn is that Russia considered that England, standing sponsor for Afghanistan as they did for Bokhara, might have the same parental right over Afghanistan. If that were admitted, then the charge against the late Administration fell to the ground. There were one or two questions connected with the subject to which he need not 1871 refer at length. The first was that of cost. Well, he thought it was impossible to form any trustworthy Estimate of the cost until we had by experience the means of ascertaining how far the increased Revenue of the Province might go to defray the expenses incidental on occupation. With regard to the Treaty of Gandamak, he might say that it had been made under a mistaken supposition that the late Ameer had a sufficiently established authority to be able to conclude a Treaty on behalf of the whole of Afghanistan; and therefore, the whole circumstances were turned upside down. He did not agree with the argument that Candahar would prove a source of weakness in consequence of the Natives being warlike, because he could not forget the great assistance which had been rendered to us by the Sikhs and other warlike races. It was often made a matter of reproach that Lord Lytton had annexed Afghan territory, whilst professing to only make war on the Ameer, and not upon the people of Afghanistan; but he would remind the House that the Emperor of Germany, when his troops crossed the French Frontier in 1870, issued a similar proclamation, which did not, however, deter him from annexing two of France's most fertile Provinces. He contended that the argument of the Liberal journals, that if the Liberals had been in power there would have been no trouble with Russia, was averse to experience, because, after the negotiations of 1869, it was said that the understanding with Russia was entirely complete. What was the consequence, however? In 1870 came the Khiva Expedition, which was utterly contrary to the assurances of the Russian Government; and immediately afterwards came the renunciation of the Black Sea Treaty, so soon followed by the intrigues at Cabul. Some hon. Gentlemen said if Russia did get into Afghanistan, they would have the undying hostility of the population of Afghanistan; but he must say to that, there was a great deal of difference between an English and a Russian conquest. They could not drew a fair contrast between a country conquered by England and one conquered by Russia. He did not desire another acre to our present possessions; but he did desire to protect those lands which we at present held, and he cordially accepted the policy of the late Government on this subject.
§ MR. H. GLADSTONE
said, that he felt some diffidence in having to address the House after the able and exhaustive speech of the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. It was very difficult to add anything to his clear and complete statement of the case; and, in the few remarks he had to make, he must be pardoned if he repeated some points already mentioned. In considering the evidence which had been so clearly put before the House, it seemed to him that the military considerations were all-important. It was evident that those who advocated the retention of Candahar did so because of their fear of the advance of Russia. But he wished to point out that, unless they could demonstrate both the intention and the power of Russia to invade India, or to intrigue with a view to an ultimate invasion of India, those military considerations almost entirely fell to the ground. He would endeavour to estimate the probability of a Russian advance against India. What were the motives which would restrain Russia from attacking India? Hon. Gentlemen opposite might laugh when he mentioned, in the first place, the respect which Russia had for public opinion. He was not now saying that Russia acted from a high moral point of view; but he said that her Government, whether good or bad, had to pay some attention to public opinion, which would not, he thought, sanction any wilful aggression for the sake of conquest on our Indian Empire. But he now came to a more powerful restraining motive. It was not the interest of Russia to attack India; and although she might endeavour to keep up the impression that, sooner or later, she meant to attack our Indian Empire, he did not believe that she herself thought for a moment that there was the remotest possibility of success if she were to try. The historical method had been mentioned, and he wished to point out that if hon. Members read history with a full understanding they must admit its lesson to be that it was not in the power of Russia, even if she willed it, to remove us from our Indian Empire. It had been said by hon. Gentlemen opposite, that India was the goal of all conquerors, and that Russia, being a nation bent on conquest, must inevitably go there as a matter of course. That was a true statement to a certain extent. India had attracted conquering nations, both from the East 1873 and from the West, and why? Because they had a totally wrong impression of the wealth of India. Their imagination had been excited by fabulous tales of the riches of that country; for centuries conquerors had made inroads upon India, and Western nations had also vied with each other in obtaining a foothold there. They had done so because India was absolutely disintegrated. There was no dominant Power there, and parts of the country fell an easy prey to any aggressive race which set foot in it. It was not correct, however, to say that India had been repeatedly conquered. It had never been really conquered, except by the English. He admitted that the Mahommedan Power had been dominant there; but the Moguls had never held India in the sense in which we now held it. It was argued, however, that history—and especially recent history—showed clearly the design of Russia upon the conquest of India. He admitted that Russia must continue to conquer; but why should she attempt to invade India, when she had a field of more honourable conquest open to her in Central Asia? The invasion of India offered obstacles to Russia which were practically insuperable. The difficulties were so great as to involve the necessity of enormous preparations, and any failure in the undertaking must prove ruinous to her position and influence in Central Asia. Our own sad experience in the past had proved only too clearly how difficult was campaigning in Afghanistan; and surely reasons such as those ought to lead us to believe that Russia had formed no intentions of invasion. But, at the same time, he did not mean to say that she might not wish to conquer India, if such a scheme were practicable. They must also remember, in considering the probability of a Russian invasion, the probable changes in the Russian policy; and the statement of the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs that General Skobeleff had already been recalled from Central Asia might be taken as an indication that a new state of things had dawned in the Russian Empire. There was one more motive which would prevent Russia, on the ground of self-interest, from attacking India. Was it not perfectly plain that no country could hope to hold India without the command of the sea? With the command of the sea, England had ousted the Dutch, the Portuguese, and the 1874 French successively from India. Was it possible that Russia, without the command of the sea, could oust us, who were far more firmly established than any other Power ever had been, from that Empire? From the historical point of view, therefore, he submitted that Russia must know that there would be no chance of success in an invasion of India. But then they were told by travellers that Russian officers made no secret of the intentions of their Government to invade India, and that the Russian Press was continually saying that sooner or later India must fall a prey to Russia. Was it not perfectly natural that Russia should wish to keep up that impression? She wished to get some hold over us, and if she saw that we were afraid, she would do her best to keep up the notion that she seriously intended to invade our Indian Empire. It was a curious fact that hon. Gentlemen opposite who, as a rule, refused to trust the word of Russia, seemed, when she said she was going to advance against India, to place implicit confidence in the statement. The Cabul Papers were pointed to as conclusive evidence of it; but he submitted that there was nothing in those Papers which Lord Beaconsfield did not not know before they were discovered, judging from his own declarations with regard to the movements of Russia in Central Asia, in February, 1879. Neither from the historical nor from the political point of view was there anything to justify the retention of Candahar. The intention of Russia to invade India could not be proved to exist, so that we could not give that consideration to the military arguments which we must have given if it had been demonstrated that Russia had designs on India. He then came to the positive drawbacks of the retention. The Indian Frontier would be increased by 400 miles, and one would think that by this time we had enough "Frontier." The financial difficulty had been exhaustively dealt with before; but, in consequence of something which fell from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope), he would make one remark. He believed that General Napier was strongly adverse to reducing the number of the troops we had now in India; and he believed that a continued occupation would involve the establishment of an entirely extra force of about 16,060 men. The retention of Candahar 1875 would preserve a memento of one of the most unhappy wars ever undertaken by this country. It would involve service for long periods to our Native troops; and what was the result after two years' service of Native troops in Afghanistan? Why, that recruits could not be got in India without giving a bounty of £5 to each man, and hence General Roberts and other distinguished officers made very strong points against sending our Native troops on foreign service for a long period. A retention of Candahar obviously involved still further advances, because all the arguments which could be given for retaining Candahar could be brought forward for our advancing yet further. And where were we to stop? Apparently there were several gates to India. Lord Beaconsfield said the scientific Frontier included the gate of India, and that if we gained that Frontier we should be entirely protected against Russia; but only the other day his Lordship had told us that the key of the gate of India was in London. He (Mr. H. Gladstone) did not know what relation existed between the key and the gate. Again General Roberts and other military authorities were most emphatic in asserting that it was all-important that the Afghans should see as little of us as possible. These same authorities told us that Cabul was dominated by Candahar, and if we occupied Candahar, which dominated Cabul, the Cabulis must always be extremely conscious of our presence; therefore, it seemed to him that we should get out of the place as speedily as we could. The point on which Lord Cranbrook dwelt so strongly in "another place," and which was also strongly brought out by the hon. Gentleman opposite, was the pledge given by General Stewart. We knew that the men to whom that promise was given had to be turned out for being rebels. It was said this was a disgraceful retreat from Afghanistan; but if we carried that argument to its logical conclusion, we ought at the present time to be in possession of Abyssinia, Coomassie, Cetewayo's kraal, and also Pekin. Why should there be any disgrace in withdrawing from a city which formed no part of the original objects of the war in Afghanistan? As to the argument that Candahar should be retained in order to preserve our prestige in India, he believed that if any doubt existed in the minds of the Indians as to our power 1876 to chastise the Afghans, if they deserved chastisement, that doubt had been removed from their minds by the brilliant deeds of our troops in Afghanistan. Then he had seen it stated, coming to the vote in the House of Lords, that the Government had to face a large hostile majority in the House of Lords. He, of course, had a great respect for the House of Lords; but in December, 1878, in a debate in the House upon the policy of the Government, the then Government obtained a majority of 136; and now their Afghan policy was only supported by 84, and a difference of 52 in the House of Lords meant a great deal in his humble opinion. It showed that a good many noble Lords had learned experience by the discipline of facts. Then the weight of authoritative opinion was said to be against the policy of the Government; but the House must not forget that the very authorities who now declared in favour of the retention of Candahar were the men who urged on the Government of India to a warlike policy against Afghanistan, and who told us that we should gain a Frontier by an expenditure of £2,000,000 which could be defended by 5,000 men. We could not help remembering how completely their prophecies had been falsified when it turned out that the Frontier which was to be maintained by 5,000 men could not be maintained by 70,000; and that, instead of £2,000,000, we were called upon to expend £15,000,000. Lord Palmerston, he believed, was exceedingly angry when the French occupied Algeria, and he had advocated a system of national defence against France, on the ground that the French hated us as a nation at the bottom of their hearts. It seemed to him that hon. Gentlemen opposite viewed Russia now pretty much as Lord Palmerston regarded France 18 years ago. He could only hope that 20 years hence, after 20 years of Liberal Government, the nation would discover the groundless nature of their fear of Russia. For his part, he objected to the policy of political insurance all over the world. The British Navy was not insured, because the sum we should have to pay would be so great that it would more than cover the losses that every now and then we must suffer. If we went on with this system of political insurance all over the world, we should never be able to stop. He thought Her Majesty's Go- 1877 vernment would fail in their duty to the country if, by occupying a place like Candahar, they sent a virtual challenge to a nation that it was our interest and our duty to conciliate. In conclusion, he would urge the House to recollect the true causes of the decline and fall of Rome, a Power which offered a nearly exact parallel to our own Empire. Rome fell, not through luxury, not through corruption, not from want of bravery in its soldiers or ability in its leaders, but from want of men. In close accordance with our own experience in Afghanistan, Rome found it easy to conquer, but difficult to maintain her conquests. By her policy of conquest and annexation she forced her enemies into continual combinations against her, and by contact with them she taught them the art of war and the use of arms; and, as their numbers and their displine increased, the strain on the Imperial city grew greater and greater, till the supply of fighting men fell short. Then came the end, and Rome was over-whelmed in the storm she herself had raised. He should vote against the Motion, with the absolute conviction that the evacuation of Candahar was in the best and highest interests of our Indian Empire. We had in India great duties to perform, and doubtless we should perform them. We ought, therefore, always to hold our own, but not to adopt a policy which rested wholly on conjecture, which formed part of no settled plan, and which it was the duty of the country to reject as reckless and altogether dangerous.
§ MR. GIBSON
I must sincerely congratulate the hon. Member (Mr. Herbert Gladstone) on the success with which he has acquitted himself in his first address to this House; and I only express the feelings of hon. Members on both sides when I say that we recognize with pleasure in him the possession of qualities that will secure for him a creditable and distinguished position. The question raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lincolnshire is so large and so grave, that it is desirable to keep it clearly and distinctly in view—to divest it, as far as may be, of all unnecessary topics—and to prevent it from being obscured by the introduction of reminiscences, which are only brought forward for the purpose of producing Party bitterness. The Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in a speech 1878 of much skill, began by protesting that he had no intention of referring to the Afghan War or its causes, or of saying anything that could suggest angry Party differences; but he at once applied himself to rake up the past, to attribute everything disastrous to the Party opposite him, and to say that my hon. Friend showed great wisdom in not wading through the incidents of the Afghan War, because they all told against him. I do not pretend to imitate the address of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and I will not follow him through all those topics. My object shall rather be to avoid all matters that are not closely connected with the question under discussion. And that question is, is it wise at this juncture of affairs, which was two nights ago described by the noble Lord the Secretary of State for India as "a situation of critical importance," to withdraw from Candahar? Would it not be more prudent for us to remain till affairs in Afghanistan are more settled, and till we can have some assurance that the Ameer then will be able to sustain his power, and to sustain it with a guarantee of friendliness to the English Government? This question is divested of all suggestion of annexation. My hon. Friend urged no topics connected with annexation, and did not argue the question as though it necessarily involved the permanent occupation of Candahar. Nor, from the beginning to the end of his speech, did he put forward a single proposition which could be relied on as exposing him to the charge of advocating a forward policy. He confined himself strictly to the question of the Paper, whether it is wise or prudent at the present juncture to withdraw from Candahar? The Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs passed by that matter in one sentence of his speech, though he discovered many arguments against a permanent or prolonged occupation of the city. He said—"If Candahar is to be occupied for two or three years, it should be occupied for all time;" and he forthwith treated the question as involving a permanent occupation. But that is not the question; and the hon. Gentleman passed by, not only the real question, but many other topics to which his attention was specifically directed. Now, what is Candahar? Anyone would think, from listening to the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, that Can- 1879 dahar was a terra incognita, and that we ought to listen to his suggestions as though we were totally unacquainted with the case. Why, Candahar is the great citadel of Central Asia—it has been called the granary of Central Asia; and besides being a place of great military and strategical importance, it is a great trading capital, and might be made greater still, if you permitted it to be occupied for a sufficient and reasonable time. If this great city of Candahar were occupied by us, or by some person with whom we had friendly relations, and in whom our Government might have confidence, we might regard with perfect indifference the possession by Russia of Merv, or even of Herat. And more than that, we might view with entire indifference any intrigues that might be carried on in the capital of Cabul. The Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs asked very triumphantly—"What would your garrisons and agents in Candahar know about what was going on in Cabul?" But I answer at once that we should be independent of such knowledge, and that it would be unnecessary to us. If in 1878, at the time of the unfortunate outbreak of the war, we had been in possession of Candahar, and if the present condition of thing had then existed, that war might have been obviated, and it would not have been necessary either for us to go to war, or for Russia to send a Mission to Cabul. We are now in possession of Candahar. We are asked by the Government to give up what we are in possession of without having, anything in the shape of a guarantee or of safeguard to replace it, and to retire, not upon another Candahar, but upon a Frontier which, in the circumstances, is no protection at all. What is the reason alleged for a course which requires a good deal of argument to satisfy those to whom it is addressed? I am glad that the hon. Member for Leeds has not put forward to-night any suggestion as to the immorality of remaining at Candahar. Well, then, it may be taken to be moral. I may take it, as far as the debate has gone as yet, that the idea that the occupation of Candahar is immoral has not been suggested. What are the circumstances? When Abdurrahman was made Ameer of Cabal, he was distinctly and clearly told that he would not be given possession of Candahar; and, more than that, the people of Candahar 1880 were told that never again would they be asked to be united to Cabul. The Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs read a document which is not on the Table of the House, but which is dated, I think, February of last year, to show that no such guarantee was given at that time. But I find from a Paper on the Table of the House, page 20, dated a month later—in the month of March—that at a Durbar the people of Candahar were distinctly and plainly told Candahar would not be again joined to Cabul. From all I have heard in the debate, as far as it has hitherto proceeded, and from anything I have seen in the Papers, there is nothing to shake my belief that if a vote were taken in Candahar as to how the people would like their future to be disposed of—if the question were put as between England and Abdurrahman—the vote would be altogether for England; and if another vote were taken as between Ayoob Khan and Abdurrahman, it would be almost unanimous against Abdurrahman and in favour of Ayoob Khan. So, then, you are going to give Candahar to a man against whom Native opinion in Candahar would be nearly unanimous, and in favour of either England or of Ayoob. Putting aside military and other considerations, this question has been mainly argued as a question of finance and expense. The statement of Sir Henry Norman, one of the ablest Members of the Viceroy's Council, of whom I desire to speak with all the respect to which he is entitled, appears calculated on rather exaggerated views, and it must be remembered that he is a strong advocate of our retirement. But he does not go into the matter with exactness and thoroughness. Probably £500,000 would be nearer the mark than £750,000, or any larger sum. It may be said, indeed, that £500,000 is a considerable sum, and that India could hardly bear it. The Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs talked a great deal about opium, salt, debt, and other things, but did not say that India could not thoroughly well pay for the occupation of Candahar. I he had said so, I would meet him with another Paper distributed at 5 o'clock, in which Major Baring says that the financial condition of India is prosperous. I would also meet him with the statement of the Prime Minister the other day in proposing that £5,000,000 should be given to India, when he said 1881 it was not given in consequence of any financial necessity on the part of India, but from considerations of policy. And when we are asked—"Can we afford to stay in Candahar?" I meet the question by another—Can we, with regard to the past, and looking to the future, can we, looking at the question broadly, afford to leave Candahar? The Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs was a little disposed to sneer at the commercial advantages that might be gained. But we must look at the question as a whole. If the railway now completed from Kurrachee to Sibi were completed, as was intended, to Candahar, does anyone doubt that it would have the most tremendous effect on the commercial position of Central Asia and Candahar? Would it not effect a commercial revolution, open up perfectly new trade routes, and instead of these countries being supplied from Russia and Persia, would they not be supplied from England and Kurrachee? It would have another effect. We are told of the difficulties of replacing the reliefs. But if the railway which was part of the plan were completed to Candahar the difficulty of reliefs for the troops would vanish altogether, because the service beyond the Frontier could be rapidly and easily provided for. Russia does not take the commercial question so easily as the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Russia has never forgotten in all the marches she has made, in all her extensions of Frontier, the vast commercial advantages which might accrue from her progress. Russia, now connected by steam and rail with Askabad, has got the entire trade of Central Asia. 1n 1873, making a new Treaty with Bokhara she took care that English goods should be excluded with the exception of indigo and muslin. So that Russia makes in her progress commercial Treaties in favour of herself and against England. Is it not for us, therefore, to consider the commercial advantages which would obviously result to England and India? Another argument in favour of withdrawal from Candahar is that we could in case of need re-take it. But upon what conditions could we re-take it? Would the friends we are now forsaking be then our friends? How much blood would be shed and treasure spent before we could be back again in our 1882 present position? If the Afghans were drilled by Russian officers—a probably contingency—should we find the march from Quetta to Candahar so easy? Yes, we might take Candahar, and if we abandoned Gibraltar we might take it too; but it might be at the cost of great and serious sacrifices. Then it is said we have nothing to fear from Russia. The Secretary of State for India, in the despatch of the 11th of November, which is certainly a very vigorous and powerfully written document, said that in relation to Russia there is no danger or apprehension of danger. Danger of what? If he means danger of invasion, I am not disposed to differ from him. But if he means danger of Russia advancing and acquiring a commanding influence, which is the real question, I differ from him entirely. Then he says the Russian advance in Central Asia has added nothing to her resources. Never have I heard a more astounding assertion. Does it not give her a new base for her operations, and the most magnificent troops in the whole world for her purposes? There are the Turkomans conquered this year, who will give Russia the most splendid irregular Cavalry in the world. Then it is said that General Skobeleff has been commanded to withdraw. Is it that which has decided our withdrawal? What do we at present know of its reason or significance? Until the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs stated it tonight, I venture to say there was not a single person in England who knew anything about it. It is a matter which may not seriously one way or the other affect the question. We find that Russia steadily, and sometimes very rapidly, advancing through arid plains, and in hospitable deserts, towards the richer country of Herat, the far more prolific country of Candahar, and the richer country still that make the Empire of India. It cannot be for the purpose of invading and conquering the Eastern Afghanistan; we know that part of the country bears only stones and armed men. But still we find Russia steadily making this progress; and certainly, without making any ill-natured suggestion, it is a reasonable thing to put a reasonable construction on a progress so steadily directed. Only a few weeks ago, even The Golos said— 1883In face of the recent successes of Russia, England would be mad to evacuate Candahar, unless they were convinced that Russia had no design of marching on India.Is not that a rather strong conviction to ask this country to have in relation to a great Empire, steadily marching towards India for 50 years, and now marching upon Merv and Herat? Can you rely upon Russian diplomacy and your own understanding of Russian diplomacy? I do not like to say anything in the least degree offensive in regard to a country with which we are at amity; but the discovery of the Cabul Correspondence is instructive and suggestive. I keep rigidly within the limits of politeness when I say that when you find a Treaty completed in July, and when you find one of the Emissaries of Russia on the following 8th of October writing that very remarkable Letter found at Cabul—which I commend to the attentive perusal of all who have not read it—these are matters, at all events, suggesting a good deal of caution in relying upon Russian diplomacy; and if we had not at the Foreign Office a gentleman of the acuteness of the Under Secretary of State, I should be rather nervous at the prospect. If Merv and Herat were occupied by Russia, what would be your policy with regard to Candahar? Is there any real difference between the present position of Russia and the actual occupation of Merv? It is surrounding it, it is almost absolutely in possession of it, it can possess it without the slightest difficulty very soon. What was the opinion of Lord Derby in 1877. He said—The impression which the occupation of Merv by Russia would make on the inhabitants of the neighbouring regions of Asia would impose on Her Majesty's Government the necessity of making a corresponding advance in order to allay apprehension and to remove misconception from the minds of the people of those countries."—[Central Asia, No. 1, (1878) p. 112.]You find Russia now close to Merv, and almost in possession of it. If Lord Derby thought that event would require an outward movement, is it now our duty to make not an onward movement, but a decidedly backward movement? What is the settled policy of England in reference to Afghanistan? I am glad to learn to-night there is no change in it. The settled policy of this country, 1884 then, is to be exclusive English influence in Afghanistan. Why? Not from any fear of Afghanistan itself. Not from any fear of the Turkomans or of the Persians. Our influence is to be exclusive in order to prevent the possibility of the introduction of Russian influence. How is it you propose to secure this settled policy? What is your guarantee? With Candahar we abandon complete guarantee not only for exclusive influence, but for ample knowledge of anything calculated to interfere with it. With it you give up any safeguard whatever, except the supreme safeguard which exists in your power of going to war. The Under Secretary of State accuses the late Government of having at one time proposed to have a single Ruler for Afghanistan, and of having changed their minds. The grounds for the change are obvious. At the close of the late war it was thought possible that Yakoob Khan, son of the late Ameer, would be able to govern the whole country, and we readily fell in with the view that there might be a united, friendly, and independent country. Then occurred the crime of the murder of Cavagnari and the Embassy; and with the necessary departure of Yakoob Khan there came an altered condition of affairs. We are told, with a little boldness, by the Under Secretary of State, of the amount of authority he could appeal to in support of the proposition he advanced. That was rather a startling statement. The House must accept the responsibility for the important decision involved; we cannot devolve our responsibility upon any authority, however high or distinguished; still, it is rather startling to find anyone suggesting that the weight of authority can be urged in favour of the policy of the Government. All the leading statesmen and soldiers, with an actual personal knowledge of the localities in question, are one and all against the withdrawal now from Candahar. Not a single general officer who ever commanded in that region has given an opinion other than most unfavourable to the present proposal of the Government—some on one ground and some on another. I do not believe there is a single political officer, who has had actual experience in the district, who has given an opinion in favour of the proposal of the Government. Roberts, Stewart, Green, Frere, Rawlinson, Ham- 1885 ley, and others—all men of great mark—have, on various grounds, given opinions against the views of the Government. What is the array of opinion on the other side? Sir Erskine Perry wrote three Minutes; but it is no disparagement of his ability or high character to say that he has not set foot in India since he was a Judge in Bombay, 30 years ago. I do not think his authority can be placed in the balance against those I have named. Of course, the opinion of Sir Garnet Wolseley is entitled to the greatest possible respect. He has had experience in many parts of the world, notably in Africa; but he has not had the experience of the other authorities in this part of Asia. Sir Garnet Wolseley does support partially the proposal of the Government; but he does not propose to withdraw within the old boundary; he is in favour of retiring to Pishin, which is a very different thing. And a similar view is held by Major East and the officers of the Intelligence Department, who would retain Pishin, while having some kind of a garrison elsewhere. The only high authority in favour of the Government is that of Sir Henry Norman. Major Baring has given an opinion in a clear and uncompromising way; but I am not disposed to attach supreme weight to it. Before he went out, in order to got into a thoroughly judicial frame of mind, he read the Duke of Argyll's book, and the despatch of the noble Lord the Secretary of State, and having, as he says, arrived at the conclusion that they were safe guides for the future, he appears to have rapidly decided that anyone who differed from them should not be much listened to. One class of persons it might have been as well if the Under Secretary of State had told us something about—I refer to the Viceroy and his Council. What is their opinion? The dates on this subject are extraordinary and eminently instructive. It is clear as any proposition in Euclid that the policy of the Government is directly and distinctly opposed to the opinion of Lord Ripon and his Council, always excepting Major Baring. [Mr. GLADSTONE dissented.] I notice an expression of dissent from the Prime Minister; but, at all events, there is not a single line from Lord Ripon expressing even a qualified approval of 1886 what the Government are about to do. On the 21st of May the Secretary of State wrote a despatch of great clearness and vigour to Lord Ripon, and presented the views of his Party with great force. That despatch expresses, in a way that could not be mistaken, what were the opinions of the Government with reference to the retention of Candahar. Months after, on the 14th of September, the Viceroy writes a letter in answer, and passes by in absolute to silence all the suggestions in favour of the abandonment of Candahar; but added, at the end, that there were enclosed important opinions from leading statesmen and generals, absolutely opposed to the views expressed in the despatch of the 21st of May. Then the noble Lord the Secretary of State, having found that the Viceroy and Council did not adopt his views in any way, not even by silence, on the 11th of November writes a despatch, which was certainly arbitrary and bold, as addressed to the Viceroy in Council. The last paragraphs expresses as strong an opinion as ever was given to a Viceroy in Council that they were to have no opinions of their own. It says—I have felt it my duty to place on record, for the information of your Excellency, in the plainest and the strongest terms, the opinions which they entertain on the important question at issue, and the expression of the disapprobation with which they would view any measure involving the permanent occupation of Candahar by British troops."—[Afghanistan, No. 1, (1881) p. 93.]I venture to say that Lord Ripon and his Council, when they received that passage, felt that they were not invited to offer any further opinion. But the dates do not end there. Lord Ripon and his Council did offer what was next door to an opinion of the strongest possible kind. On the 26th of January, 1881, Lord Ripon and his Council "enclose for the information of the Secretary of State a Minute by the Commander-in-Chief in India," utterly destroying in argument the proposition for the abandonment of Candahar. It is idle to say that these, the only documents we have to guide us, suggest that Lord Ripon and his Council, always excepting Major Baring, have expressed any view except one—a distinct disapproval of the action of the Government. So far as I can see, Lord Ripon is in a very uncomfortable and false position. Either he was 1887 or was not consulted on this important question. If he was, his opinion has been ignored. If he was not, he has been treated almost contemptuously, as he was about the advance of the £5,000,000, as to which the noble Marquess opposite said the Viceroy had not been asked his opinion, and that there had been no official consultation with him on the subject. Well, if you neglect the opinion of the Viceroy and ids Council, if you put aside the opinions of all those whose duty it is to have a strong opinion upon Indian matters, and if you remove the safeguards which they think should be maintained, and it then turns out that they are right and that you are wrong, are you going to ask India to pay the costs of a war which they would not have to fight if their advice had been taken? What is the real secret of the policy of the Government? It was adopted about three weeks after they came into power, and afterwards they cast about for reasons. The policy was based simply upon a desire for reversal. The late Government had indicated an opinion against, at all events, a precipitate abandonment of Candahar, and that was enough to make the present Government suspicious of its prudence and policy. But there was another point left untouched by the Under Secretary of State. What position are you going to leave Afghanistan in? What is likely to be the action of Ayoob Khan? Here is the opinion expressed by Mr. Rivers Thompson, a very high authority—I regret, therefore, the precipitancy of Her Majesty's Government, because even if our negotiations with Abdurrahman succeed, they expose us, in the attitude of Russia and with Abdurrahman's undisguised leanings towards that Power, to a very perilous future; and if, as is almost certain, Abdurrahman after accepting Candahar from us is unable to hold it, the whole of Afghanistan will become the scene of prolonged hostilities, with the result (very discreditable to ourselves) of Ayoob Khan's acquisition not only of Candahar but of Cabul.Should you not rather leave behind you a strong Afghanistan? If you Leave Abdurrahman to face with Ayoob Khan, and if he is attacked, if you refuse him help, must he not seek aid front Russia? And if, as Mr. Rivers Thompson puts it, Ayoob Khan should succeed, will he be friendly to you? He will not. In his hands the country would be a united, an independent, and a hostile Afghan- 1888 istan. Again, what obligations have you undertaken in reference to Afghanistan by its Ameer? The late Government commenced the negotiations with him; but it rested with the present Government to complete them. What, then, was the obligation incurred to Abdurrahman? There was an obligation in writing signed by your Agent and Representative. That obligation is just as binding upon you as any Treaty can possibly be. What are the words of that obligation? They are very short, but very important. I need not remind the House of what occurred in 1873, in those unfortunate conferences at Simla, when Lord Northbrook said, and unsaid, and re-unsaid, as he was instructed by the Home Government, the result of which was to drive the Ameer into the arms of Russia. Since 1873 you have been unable, in the slightest degree, to elicit any expression of good feeling towards you on the part of Afghanistan. The result of the conference was that, as far as the Ameer was concerned, he expressed himself in terms of undisguised contempt and unconcealed sarcasm. However, I must return to the Memorandum of obligation to Abdurrahman. The words of that obligation are these—If any foreign Power should attempt to interfere in Afghanistan, and if such interference should lead to unprovoked aggression on the dominions of your Highness, in that event the British Government would be prepared to aid you, to such extent and in such a manner as may appear to the British Government necessary, in repelling it, provided that your Highness follows unreservedly the advice of the British Government in regard to your external relations."—[Afghanistan, (1881), No. 1, p. 47.]As to that we have not heard a word from the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. That is a very grave document. You enter into a Memorandum of obligation, winch is to prevent all foreign interference in Afghanistan, and to assist in actually repelling aggression. I will mention another point—which is, your undertaking to protect your friends. I do not say that all the people are our friends; but some of them are. Some of the Afghan tribes are good friends of ours, and we are bound to protect them, as was, indeed, admitted by the noble Lord the Secretary of State, who writes in his despatch— 1889To take every precaution that the tribes and chiefs who have assisted us shall not be exposed to injury in consequence of their friendly conduct"—[Afghanistan (1881), No. 1, p. 31.]Suppose they are exposed to injury? What is then the position of England and India? I do not attach any undue importance to prestige. It is an argument which may be pressed too far. But, unquestionably, the way in which our power in India is regarded is a matter which the simplest prudence requires us to attend to. How will the Afghan mind be affected by what we are doing? How will the Indian mind be affected? What will they think when they come to balance, in the words of Lord Salisbury—The conflicting pressures of two great military empires, one of which expostulates and remains passive, whilst the other apologizes and continues to move forward."—[Afghanistan (1878), No. 1, p. 157.]Must not the inevitable result be damage to your reputation and prestige? I ask the question—Is this a time in which England can well afford to disregard the opinion of the Native races of India? Is there not a grave danger that the victory of Ayoob Khan over General Burrows will live longer in the memory of the Afghans than Roberts' march? Do you think that the Indian people have not read what has been going on in South Africa? Do you think they do not know that an army of farmers have inflicted defeats on your soldiers? Do you not think they have become acquainted with the terms of the peace you are about to make? They will find nothing there to elevate the position of England in the Indian mind. Do you not think that their quick Eastern intelligence will not put this dilemma—that England was either willing or unwilling at the outset of the war to accept the terms now proposed? If willing, she has sacrificed many precious lives to no purpose; if unwilling, she now offers these terms because she has suffered defeat. It may be that in the division which will take place the Motion of my hon. Friend will be rejected. But I venture to think that such a result, although it may attest the allegiance of a great political Party, will not record the convictions of the nation. I believe that a great feeling of sympathy will accompany those who regard with doubt and anxiety the policy which the Go- 1890 vernment have adopted in reference to this question. I shall, for myself, vote for the Motion of my hon. Friend, believing that the policy which it indicates is that which is most consistent with real and far-sighted economy, most calculated to spread our influence and develop our commerce, and which is most conducive to an honourable peace and to the true and permanent interests of England and India.
§ MR. P. J. SMYTH
The right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Gibson) seems to think he establishes his case for the retention of Candahar if he can only succeed in showing that it is expedient in the interest of our Empire in India that it should be retained, and that the question of right and wrong, just and unjust, is practically an unimportant matter unworthy of serious consideration. I grant that from the beginning our policy towards India has been guided by expediency only, and that in no single instance has a consideration of right and wrong interposed to avert the overthrow of an obnoxious dynasty or the appropriation of a coveted treasure. I grant, too, that from the material point of view the success of this policy has been marvellous beyond example. And yet the soul of the British nation is troubled for India, for the moral law will assert its power, and soldiers and statesmen will be made to feel that justice is the only solid foundation of Empire, and that one which rests on expediency is no more than a glittering pagoda, arrayed in all the splendour of Eastern magnificence, without a pillar to support it. Unconsciously, the national conscience spoke when a witty publication made Napier announce his brilliant victory on the Indus, which gave Scinde to the Indian Empire, in a despatch of unexampled brevity and more than soldierly candour—Peccavi. "Magnificent Tipperary," exclaimed the old warrior, as the 22nd scattered the multitudinous foe; and now, in the name of the same Tipperary, I repeat, in its literal sense, the penitential word, "Peccavi!" The phrase, the retention of Candahar, sounds sweetly; but, if we had no right to seize, we have no right to retain—if we had no lawful business going there, we have no business remaining there. It is a misleading phrase; but what does it imply? I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to 1891 say candidly if the retention of Candahar does not imply a new invasion of Afghanistan, with a view of a final subjugation of that Kingdom? It means that or nothing; and, meaning that, it involves, as a matter of course, another Afghan War. The Afghans may be divided among themselves. They may be unable to agree in the choice of a Ruler; but they are all of them passionately attached to the independence of their nation, and to maintain it they will fight, and desperately fight. Our former enterprizes were fruitful in disaster and barren in glory (if I except the light that shines for ever on that never to be forgotten Proclamation in which Lord Ellenborough presented to the Princes and Chiefs of India the Sandal-wood Oates of Somnauth); and what guarantee have we that another war against Afghanistan will not involve us in new disasters? I hear it said that Afghanistan is now disintegrated and weak; but, if that be so, it is we who are responsible for the disintegration and the weakness. The Ameer, Shore Ali, was as strong a Ruler as any the country had had since Dost Mahomed, and he had not shown himself to be, as regards us, an unfriendly Ruler. He had done us no wrong. There was no evidence that he meditated wrong against us. I do not say that Lord Lytton went to India commissioned to force a quarrel on the Ameer; but it is notorious that all the pens of all his attorneys in Calcutta were employed in drafting insulting and minatory letters, and here at home a distinguished lawyer, now, I believe, an eminent Judge upon the Bench, came forward and boldly proclaimed the doctrine that the rules of International Law were not applicable to an Asiatic Ruler like Shore Ali. He was the lawful Ruler of Afghanistan; as such we had recognized him, and met him as an equal; but a scientific Frontier was required, and we proclaimed that Treaty, faith, and solemn pledge, and that moral law, which is the bond of society and the shield of States, might be cast to the winds, and that Shore Ali's Kingdom might be devastated, because he was only an Asiatic Ruler, and we a civilized and a Christian nation. This theory of a scientific Frontier is a delusion, if not a pretence. It may lead us anywhere, from Candahar to Herat, from Herat to Merv, away into the 1892 deserts of Central Asia, away up to the North Pole. I heard an American orator once describe the boundaries of his country. The United States, he said, are bounded on the North by the aurora borealis, on the East by the rising of the sun, on the West by the going down thereof, and on the South wherever we please. These are highly scientific Frontiers, and no doubt, when we shall have acquired the same, our Indian Empire will be secure. If, with an unfordable river, and the command of the mouths of the Afghan Passes, we have not already an impregnable Frontier on the North-West, we may rest assured that it is not the science of the military engineer that is at fault, but that of the British statesman and administrator. Frontier or no Frontier, there is no security for Empire in India, and there ought to be none, save in the happiness and contentment of the people of India. What Frontier could avail an Empire which trembles for its security so long as the flag of a single independent State can be descried from the summit of the Himalayas? Better surely that the curtain should fall on the terrible tragedy of British India—for, from Clive and Warren Hastings to Dalhousie and Lytton, an unvarying tragedy it has been—than that an adherence to the old policy of aggression and spoliation should seem to falsify the Proclamation of the Empress of India, our gracious Queen. The bugbear is Russia. Alexander II. fell, the victim of a cowardly and barbarous conspiracy; and there is no enlightened man in this country who really believes that he, the liberator of Bulgaria, and the restorer of the nationalities of South-Eastern Europe, ever dreamt of planning or conniving aught against the integrity either of Afghanistan or India. He sent the Mission to Cabal with no other intent than that of a defensive demonstration. The force of circumstances necessitates the advance of Russia in Central Asia, and while her advance is southwards ours has been northwards. But the conditions of the advances are widely different. She presses on through sterile regions where civilization never left a foot-print, and where the foes to be subdued are the nomad tribes of the desert, without a government and without laws. We have carried our flag from Cape Comorin to the Hindoo Koosh, through fertile lands 1893 and historic cities, over the ruins of proud dynasties and ancient civilizations. I am no admirer of Russia or the Russian system, but much less am I an admirer of the insular prejudice that would misrepresent or pretend to ignore the great work of civilization that is being carried out by Russia in Central Asia, the abolition of slavery, the suppression of brigandage, and the opening of trade routes. An undignified use, I conceive, has been made of the Cabul Correspondence. After all that has been said about it, there remain these two salient facts—1st. That General Stolieteff persistently counselled the Ameer to come to terms with us. 2nd. That the request for armed assistance was specifically declined. The correspondence, I know, continued for some time after the ratification of the Berlin Treaty. True; but had Jingoism ceased then, satisfied with its peace with honour? And what was our action at Berlin? Was it to give practical effect to the principle of nationality triumphant from the Danube to the Ægean and from the Black Sea to the Adriatic? No; but to annihilate as far as we could the logical results of the war. To that end we persuaded Turkey to accept the Anglo-Turkish Convention, carried the Ghoorkas through the Suez Canal, and told Greece that she could not have Crete because we wanted Cyprus for ourselves. Was it a very unnatural thing that, mindful of all these courtesies, the Czar should have given to Shore Ali, whose Kingdom we unjustly invaded, the assurances of his friendship and sympathy? Forty years ago, the Corporation of Dublin, with the emphatic approval of Mr. O'Connell, rejected a Vote of Thanks to the victorious generals of the Afghan War, though two of them, I believe, were Irishmen, on the ground that the war was in its origin unjustifiable. If the war of 1842 was unjustifiable, what would be said of a war entered upon now on the absurd pretext of a scientific Frontier or an imaginary Russian invasion? I charge that the Resolution of the hon. Gentleman means war or it means nothing, except perhaps a Party experiment, and war for the most indefensible of objects—the destruction of the independence of an ancient and unoffending nation. The dearest treasure a people can possess is independence. When that is lost all is lost. The House 1894 of Commons will reject this Resolution, not, I hope, on Party grounds, but on grounds of political morality, common honesty, and common sense; and may the day never arrive when a reformed House of Commons will be found to give its sanction to the murder of independence, even in the very cradle of the human race.
§ MR. S. LEIGHTON
presumed that when the Government published the Blue Book they had some lurking idea that we ought to pay some attention to the advice of the experienced; but he found that they had entirely ignored it. The noble Lord transposed the Virgilian motto, and appeared to prefer to read it Experto ne credite. He had used the old argument, which was styled by logicians the argumentum ad ignorantiam—Where ignorance is bliss'Tis folly to be wise.When the preference of ignorance to knowledge meant ability to sit on the Treasury Bench it would, no doubt, have plenty of advocates. He would refer to two Papers in the Blue Book, the first by Sir Erskine Perry, an old gentleman who went out to India 40 years ago, and who left India 30 years ago, before the Crimean War and before the Indian Mutiny. He belonged wholly to a past generation. He had hawked his Paper about from one Indian Minister to another, till at last the noble Lord opposite took pity upon him, accepted his "Rejected Address," and printed it for him. How did Sir Erskine Perry place himself in a position to judge the matter? His own words were—"When generals disagree the question must be settled by statesmen on political grounds." He presumed that, in Sir Erskine Perry's opinion, statesmen and lawyers were convertible terms; and if doctors disagreed he would probably call in the family attorney to perform a difficult surgical operation. But, as a matter of fact, in this case three Commanders-in-Chief in India were all unanimous for the retention of Candahar. Sir Erskine Perry, however, backed up his argument with this singular statement—No one who studies the temper of the times can fail to see that the sentiment of public morality is strengthening from day to day."—[Afghanistan (1881), No. 2, p. 60]Had Sir Erskine Perry read the Reports of the Election Commissioners, and did he still believe that the majority of that 1895 House was a perfect ideal of public virtue? It was too absurd. What, again, was the value of Major Baring's testimony? All that that gentleman knew about India was what he had learnt as Private Secretary to the Viceroy; and having been asked for an opinion of his own, he did nothing more than collate the opinions of others, including one from the Prime Minister. It was, perhaps, rather unkind of him to include the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman was there to speak for himself, and probably would not wish to be bound by anything he had already said. Lord Lawrence was supposed to have been against the retention of Candahar; but the value of his opinion was considerably impaired by the fact that at the great crisis of the Indian Mutiny he was only prevented by the resolute attitude of the men around him from retreating behind the Indus. The hinge upon which every opinion in favour of retirement turned was the assumption that Russia was not advancing, and that her goal was not India. Her publicly declared policy and action for half a century belied that assumption. She made no secret of her intentions except in her diplomatic communications with England. No one was deceived except the English Government. Retreat from Candahar might be the prelude to a new war, and might lead the Natives of India to suppose that we could not hold our own because we were too weak or too poor. We had only 65,000 troops with which to govern 200,000,000 of people. It was by moral influence we governed India, therefore our prestige was precious. It was said that Candahar would not pay. But did fortresses or ships ever pay? It was also said that we could re-take Candahar whenever we chose. In his opinion, however, we should not be able to do so without great sacrifices. There was at one time in this country a Government of All the Talents—that Government, whose principles, like those of the present Administration, were those of Peace, Retrenchment, and Reform, dragged us into the Crimean War, and involved us in millions of debt. In that Government the Prime Minister of to-day was a conspicuous figure. No one would be likely to libel the present Government by styling it a Government of "All the Talents." But there were repetitions in the lives of men and of Ministries, and 1896 as then, so now, we were drifting towards preventible trouble in the East, drawn by the self-same currents and beckoned by the self-same hand.
said, he was reluctant to take part in the debate, and he should not have ventured to do so if it were not for the feeling that he ought not to leave unchallenged some of the remarks which had fallen from the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson). The right hon. and learned Gentleman said—and he was loudly cheered by hon. Members sitting behind him—that the result of the Conference at Simla in 1873 was to drive the Ameer into the arms of Russia. The right hon. and learned Gentleman made that assertion; but he had given no evidence whatever in support of it. Indeed, it was impossible to give any evidence in support of it, because whatever documentary evidence there was in connection with the matter went to prove exactly the reverse of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's statement. What light did the Correspondence found at Cabul throw on the question? It showed that the whole of the Correspondence between Russia and Shore Ali that took place during the Viceroyalty of Lord Northbrook—every letter sent by Russian generals to Shore Ali, and Shore Ali's replies, were all submitted, in the usual course, to Lord Northbrook. In the event of a rupture occurring in 1873 it was not probable that the subsequent Correspondence would be submitted for the approval of the Government of India; and it was a significant fact that shortly after Lord Northbrook left India Shore Ali ceased to submit to the Government of India the letters which he had always been in the habit of submitting before. There was another fact that would bear upon the matter, and it was this—The Conference took place in 1873, and the change of Government in this country occurred in 1874; but it was not until 1876 that Lord Northbrook left India, and not a single hint was given to Lord Northbrook by the Conservative Government that they disapproved of the assurances he had offered, or that they thought the assurances which had been offered were not sufficient. Surely, if they thought the assurances were not sufficient, as soon as they entered upon Office they would have 1897 sent out instructions to Lord Northbrook to give such assurances to Shore Ali as they deemed to be requisite. Another very significant fact was that it was not until 1878 that this country ever heard that the ill-feeling and ill-will between Shore Ali and the British Government originated in 1873. The inference which he thought he might justly draw from this was, that when the war broke out the Government looked out for some excuse to justify it, and they found it necessary to go back to the Conference of 1873. Certainly, up to that time, no mention was made of any rupture having taken place. It was quite impossible for the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin to prove from any documentary evidence that Shore Ali was disaffected after 1873. If there was anything clearly proved by the despatches, it was this—that if the Government of Lord Beaconsfield had followed the advice given to them by the Government of India in 1875 and 1876 there would have been no Afghan War, and there would probably have been now a united and friendly Afghanistan. If he might be permitted to add a few words on the general question, he would say that he thought no arguments had been used which showed that it was necessary for us to annex Candahar as a strategic position against a Russian invasion of India. Our Indian Empire had a magnificent natural boundary. Our supremacy on the sea made us safe in the South; on the East we need fear no invasion, and the Northern and Western Frontiers were guarded, not only by ranges of the highest mountains in the world, but by a wide tract of barren country with few roads, no supplies, very few cities, and inhabited by hostile and independent tribes. Moreover, on the Western Frontier, this mountain barrier was supplemented by a broad, unfordable, unbridged river, skirted by rough tracts of desert country. Roughly speaking, there were only two lines by which an army could come into India—through the Khyber Pass, or through the Bolan Pass. It was admitted on all sides that it was impossible for an army to invade India through the Khyber Pass and by the Bolan Pass; as the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin said, the road 1898 to Candahar bristled with natural obstacles. Our natural Frontier of India, in fact, was stronger than any Frontier that could be devised by the ingenuity of man, even though dignified by the name of a "scientific Frontier." Hon. Members talked as if the idea of the invasion of India, in support of the power of Russia in Central Asia, was quite a new story. He had no wish to take up the time of the House; but he must remind them that, as far back as 1847, the whole question was discussed, and the Duke of Wellington gave it as his opinion that we had nothing to fear from Russia on our Indian Frontier. In the same year Lord Hardinge declared that the dread of a Russian invasion of India was a political nightmare. People might say that this happened a long time ago; that matters had very much changed since then, and that Russia had made great progress. But it must also be borne in mind that our power of defence in India had also progressed, and was much stronger now than it was then. No doubt Russia was nearer to India; but there still lay many great natural obstacles between Russia and India, and our own position was much strengthened by the fact that we had a stronger hold on our Indian Empire, a more efficient Army, a stronger Frontier than we had then, and facilities for moving troops which gave to the defence an immense advantage over the power of attack. Coming down to more recent years, in the year 1877, when the subject of a possible Russian aggression was discussed in "another place," Lord Salisbury dismissed the idea of a Russian invasion of India as a question that could possibly become a matter of interest to a future generation of statesmen. In the very next year Lord Beaconsfield informed the Lord Mayor and his guests that by the Anglo-Turkish Convention he had secured our North- Western Frontier. Why, this very year, in "another place," the late Viceroy, and an ex-Secretary of State for India, scouted the idea that we should keep Candahar against possible invasion or attack. The late Viceroy of India went so far as to say that the imminent invasion of India by an armed Russian force was a bugbear. In the face of these opinions, it could not be doubted that it was inexpedient, that it would be rash, 1899 and that it would be courting unnecessary risks for us to hold Candahar as a strategical position against Russia. Then, if not against an armed attack, was it against intrigue that we were to hold Candahar? To put the proposition plainly, was it to guard against possible Russian intrigue at Cabul that we were to annex a country as large as the whole of Great Britain? Could we occupy a barren and mountainous country, inhabited by a hostile population, without running a great risk of being engaged in petty wars? And it was to cost us certainly £1,000,000 a-year, with the possibility of its costing us a great deal more. He ventured to assert that, being at Candahar, we should have no power whatever of influencing affairs in Cabul. He did not say this on his own authority, but on the authority of Sir Neville Chamberlain. Our Frontier town of Peshawur was 100 miles nearer Cabul than Candahar. Under those circumstances, we should have no more power, and probably even less, of controlling affairs at Cabul from Candahar than we should have from Peshawur. In fact, so far from guarding against Russian intrigue by the annexation of Candahar, we were playing exactly into the hands of Russia. How could Russia have a more favourable opportunity of working an intrigue at Cabul than to have us at Candahar? We knew that the Afghans hated us. We knew that they would regard us with deadly hatred if we occupied any part of their territory. What would be more natural than that they should lend willing ears to any proposition Russia might make with the view of turning us out of their country. The only other argument for retaining Candahar, if it was not to guard against direct invasion from Russia, or to prevent Russian intrigue, was the old argument of maintaining our prestige. Now, prestige was a word very difficult to define. He agreed with what was said by Lord Salisbury, when he was an ornament of the House of Commons. Speaking of prestige, the noble Lord said he would be very glad to see it abolished by common consent from the political vocabulary. It would be more in accordance with British ideas to do what we believed to be right than to be guided by the opinions of other nations. He would only say, in conclusion, that the key of India was not Merv, was not 1900 Herat, was not Candahar, was not London; but it was to be found in a well-equipped, a well-disciplined, and a sufficient army, kept ready within our own borders in India; in a well-governed and prosperous country, and in the contentment of our Native population.
§ MR. R. N. FOWLER
said, the noble Lord who had just sat down had made a statement which struck him (Mr. Fowler) as somewhat extraordinary. He told them that in 1873 Shore Ali ceased to hold any communication with the Government of India. Now, it struck him that in that statement the noble Lord gave up the whole case. The statement showed that the course then taken by the Indian Government, who were represented in England by the Duke of Argyll and in India by Lord Northbrook, was a course which induced Shore Ali to hold no further intercourse with England. It showed that the Government of that day alienated Shore Ali and threw him into the arms of Russia; and that seemed to him to be the point they were now discussing. It was quite evident that the late Ameer and the Afghan Government were alienated by the Duke of Argyll, who was a Member of the present Government; and the noble Lord who was now representing this country in India was also a Member of the same Government, while the present First Lord of the Admiralty was their Viceroy. It was, therefore, after those who practically composed the present Government made that great mistake in 1873, that the distrust of this country arose among the Afghans. But the reason why he had been anxious to say a word in the course of the debate was this. The constituency he had the honour to represent took a very great interest in this question. They were deeply anxious for the retention of Candahar. One question which had been raised in the course of the debate, and might be further alluded to, was what the cost of retaining Candahar would be. It had been differently estimated. It had been put as high as £2,000,000 a-year. Lord Granville, he believed, had placed the expense at that figure; but, on the other hand, it had been placed by a very distinguished authority, the Marquess of Salisbury, as low as £300,000 a-year. These were two widely different estimates, and he believed that another great authority on such questions—Sir 1901 Henry Norman—put it at £1,300,000 a-year. As a compromise between these different Estimates he would put it at £1,000,000 a-year; and it certainly seemed to him that £1,000,000 a-year would be a very cheap expenditure on the part of a great country like England for such a purpose. He ventured to say—and he believed that he would fully carry with him the constituency he represented—that they would much rather this sum of £1,000,000 a-year was paid out of the Imperial Exchequer than that we should abandon the great position of Candahar. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson) had made a powerful appeal in regard to what the feeling would be in the minds of the people of India. To him (Mr. Fowler) it appeared that the question resolved itself into one of how the vote they were about to give would affect the opinion of the people of India. He could not help feeling that if the House of Commons resolved to give up Candahar—if they supported Her Majesty's Government in the decision to which they had unfortunately arrived, of retiring from Candahar, it would produce a most unfavourable effect in India. Believing this—believing that it would have a most prejudicial effect upon the position which this country held in India, believing that it was of vital importance to this country to maintain its hold upon the people of India, and believing that it was not only a national question, but that it was for the interests of the world that England should continue to govern India, he could not but view with the deepest apprehension the conclusion to which Her Majesty's Government appeared to have arrived. On these grounds, and in the full belief that the retention of Candahar was of the greatest importance to the interests of the Empire, he intended to give his hearty support to the Resolution moved by his hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope).
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Arthur Arnold.)
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
I hope that it may be possible to continue the debate. I believe there are a number of Gentlemen who are still anxious to speak, and some are quite willing to 1902 address the House even at this late hour (20 minutes after 12). I hope, therefore, that the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arnold), who has moved the adjournment of the debate, will allow it to be continued for a little longer.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Question again proposed,
That, in the opinion of this House, the withdrawal of British troops from Southern Afghanistan in the present critical state of affairs in that country will not be conducive to the true and permanent interests of India.—(Mr. E. Stanhope.)
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
said, in the remarks he was about to make, he should refer only in a few words to the policy of past years; but, in discussing questions connected with Western and Southern Afghanistan, it was impossible wholly to avoid reference to the Viceroyalty of Lord Lytton. In fact, the Afghan Question might be said to have had a new departure with the appointment of that noble Lord to the place of Lord Northbrook. He was crossing the mountains of a country adjoining Afghanistan, and had taken refuge at one of the cabins of the Indo-European Telegraph, which in that desolate region were 100 miles apart, when the clerk in charge tapped the wire for his information, and from it came the news of the appointment of Lord Lytton. Remembering that Lord Lytton had proclaimed in his poems the peculiar law governing men of genius, he was prepared for a policy of novelty; and in foreign politics novelty was rarely unattended with danger. We had not long to wait. That first and fatal error of the late Government—the resolution to place British Agents in Afghanistan—which had been communicated to the Governor General by Lord Salisbury on 1903 the 22nd of January, 1875; which had caused the Russian Mission to be welcomed in Cabul; which led to war; which led to the flight, and probably to the death, of Shore Ali; that dire mistake which culminated in the massacre of Cavagnari and his suite in Cabul, with all the consequences of that great crime—that terrible error which caused the expenditure of thousands of lives and millions of treasure—was so thoroughly admitted and acknowledged that there was no one found ready to advise the readoption of that policy. That most unhappy and least pardonable error had done the first part of its baneful work when, in October, 1879, Lord Lytton wrote that discursive—he would not call it sinister—Minute, in which he examined "the problem of our future in Asia." Lord Lytton objected to the Frontier on the ground that it had been found by the Sikhs to be a suitable Frontier; and, because in annexing the Punjaub we adopted generally the Sikh Frontier, he called it a chance Frontier. This Minute fell into the hands of the noble Lord the late Prime Minister with extraordinary effect upon his geographical ideas. It was important to note that this Minute was closely connected with that wonderful speech delivered at Guildhall on the 9th of November, 1878, in which Lord Lytton's "chance" Frontier was translated "hap-hazard," in which the "scientific Frontier" was foreshadowed by a voice which proclaimed itself to be a voice of sense and truth, and in which the Prime Minister expounded some geographical ideas of his own, the result, as he should show in a word, of a most extraordinary confusion of the Anglo-Turkish Convention with the Minute of Lord Lytton. It was important that the House should take note of these circumstances, because they had direct contact with the question of retaining Candahar. At the Guildhall, in 1879, Lord Beaconsfield said—Her Majesty's Government are by no means apprehensive of any invasion of India by our North-West Frontier. The base of operations of any possible foe is so remote, the circumstances are so difficult, the aspect of the country is so forbidding, that we do not believe, under these circumstances, any invasion of our North-West Frontier is practicable. But our North-West Frontier is a hap-hazard and not a scientific Frontier.Then followed the noble Lord's idea of the policy he was about to pursue by 1904 the medium of the Viceroy. The noble Lord said—I do not wish, my Lord Mayor, in making these remarks, that you should understand that the Government are of opinion that an invasion of India is impossible or impracticable. On the contrary, if Asia Minor and the Valley of the Euphrates were in the possession of a very weak or a very powerful State, it would be by no means impossible for an adequate army to march through the Passes of Asia Minor, and through Persia, and absolutely menace the Dominions of the Queen; but Her Majesty's Government have contemplated such a result, and we have provided means to prevent its occurrence by our Convention with Turkey and the occupation of the Isle of Cyprus.This wild absurdity, that Russia should begin a march towards India in a most difficult country, 800 miles to the westward of her secure and convenient base upon the Caspian, and should indulge in this impossible folly, with no other apparent object than to adapt herself to the noble Lord's colouring of his own Anglo-Turkish Convention, was, to his mind, among the most fearful, because it was among the least informed of the promptings which led to the Afghan troubles of the past three years. Throwing that aside, and, in fact, after it had served the purposes of festivity, this geographical delusion was never revived, they found it admitted by everyone entitled to speak with authority, that Asia Minor had no connection with the matter, and that Russia's base of operation in Central Asia was upon the Caspian. He could not conceive a more Unassailable position than that of the Russian Arsenal of Baku on the Caspian. There was a probability that if Russia designed a movement upon India she would make an advance from the Oxus as well as from the Caspian. Now, he proposed to consider this question of Candahar first with reference to the Afghans and to Russia. No one in that House was more ready than he should be to resist with all the might of the Empire the invasion of India by Russia, nor did he think any Ministers would deserve, or would obtain, the confidence of the country, who neglected to take due precaution and security against any such contingency. They were quite free to consider this question for themselves. There was no such agreement of military or political authority on the subject as should cause any politician to feel embarrassed in declaring upon which side 1905 lay, in his judgment, the superior weight of argument. But of this there was no doubt that it was against Russia, and against nobody and nothing else, that the precaution, if precaution were needful, was to be taken. He was convinced that Russia did not design the invasion of India, and that it would be impossible for her to make a successful attempt in that direction. But in matters of State it was safe to assume that an Empire which we had gained by conquest would be subject to menace, if it should appear to be the temporary interest of any Power to assail our Indian Dominions; and, therefore, he was quite willing to argue the question before the House upon the broad issue of the security and welfare of Hindostan as against any possible foe. But, in passing, he must say he saw with some surprise how little consideration was given to what he might call the maritime character of India. He had heard, however, with pleasure the allusion made to this subject by the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Herbert Gladstone). He would almost venture to say that India was the natural possession of the greatest Naval Power of Europe. When we ceased from being the first Naval Power of the world—which he trusted might never happen, and which no efforts and no sacrifice on the part of the British people should be wanting to avert—then our Indian Empire would indeed be in great and serious peril. If possession of India were ever obtained by a Power which was inferior at sea, that hold would be of little worth and of short duration, for India, with its vast seaboard and its rugged uninviting Frontier on the North, economically resembled an island rather than a peninsula. But having thus glanced at a consideration which he thought ought not to be omitted, he would endeavour to concentrate attention upon that Northern Frontier, and have regard, in the first place, to the barrier which our conquest reached in the annexation of the Punjaub, and which nature had interposed between the waters of the Indus and those of the Oxus. He made no pretension to originality when he spoke of Afghanistan as the Switzerland of Asia. There was a volume of truth in that comparison. The diversities of the human race were mainly caused by conditions of food and climate. Where the struggle for existence was most diffi- 1906 cult there would the vigour and the love of independence of a people be most remarkable. The conquest of countries was usually difficult in a ratio inverse to their wealth. The Afghans were a people who had acquired a reputation for fanaticism and ferocity, which was not wholly unmerited, but which were, more or less, the qualities of every people living under similar circumstances. He did not care to investigate the niceties of origin. They had been told that the people of the Province of Candahar were not Afghans. There was, however, in the Papers presented to Parliament evidence that three-fourths of the population of the district of Candahar were Durani Afghans. He attached the least possible importance to what had been said about the desire of the people of the town that we should remain the local guardians of Candahar. Hon. Members must be utterly devoid of Oriental experience who imagined that the politics of Afghanistan were ruled by the traffickers of the bazaars. In countries like Afghanistan the ruling class, the class with which we had to reckon, was the more vigorous people of the mountains, and these were always enlisted in the Service of the Government, and were of themselves a controlling power over the rest of the population. It was not a technical question of race; the conditions of life in Afghanistan had made, and would continue to make, the people what they were. No doubt, these conditions obtained with less force at Candahar than in other parts of the country; that was natural. But that element of the Candahar population which our commanders thought it best to turn from the city because it was most Afghan was the strongest and the most vital element. The House must not be deceived for a moment by the assertion that our rule in Candahar was popular. It was our expenditure which was popular. It was the same everywhere; it was the same at Corfu. When England wisely abandoned her barren protectorate of the Ionian Islands, the late Sir Henry Storks, who was at the time he thought Lord High Commissioner, told him all that was said about the popularity of British rule in that Island was true only of those who made profit from the British garrison. So it was at Candahar; so it would be if British forces were to occupy 1907 Ispahan. Lord Lytton, it might be said, knew little of India when he wrote the Minute of 1878; but it was interesting to note what was then his view of such a proceeding as the permanent occupation of Candahar. He said—No invasion and subjugation of Afghanistan is contemplated. Such a measure would at once re-kindle the animosities of that fanatical people, and probably destroy any party we may now have there, uniting the whole nation against us."—[Afghanistan (1881), No. 2, p. 18.]The opinion of General Roberts had great popular weight. He should not quote him as a political, or even as a strategic authority; but he should think he was a competent witness as to the characteristics of the Afghan people. He said—I feel sure I am right when I say that the less the Afghans see of us the less they will dislike us.And he added—Should Russia in future years attempt to conquer Afghanistan, or invade India through it, we should have a better chance of attaching the Afghans to our interests if we, avoid all interference with them in the meantime."—[Afghanistan (1881), No. 1, p. 71.]The Afghans—that is, the governing people of Candahar as well as Cabul—disliked us if we interfered with their country. They did not dislike us when they dissociated us from connection with conquest. The opinion of the ferocity of Afghans was not confined to the people of this country. He had heard a Belooch quote in his native country the significant proverb—"If you meet a cobra and an Afghan, kill the Afghan." By the Persians, the Afghans were not less feared; and we had lately heard their own proverb, that "Force and money were the only powers in Afghanistan." But this reputation meant nothing more than that they fought as mountaineers always fought; they would be faithful to those whom they must respect, but whom they neither feared nor hated. He knew but one unofficial person who had seen much of the Afghan people, and he was a clergyman of the Church of England, a brave and noble man, who had devoted his life mainly to education in the city of Ispahan. That gentleman, the Rev. Robert Bruce, had often told him of the kindness with which the Afghan people received him as an unarmed traveller. If we desired that the Government of this country should be strong in Afghanistan, we 1908 must prove, by our retirement, that we did not intend the permanent occupation of any part of that country. No opinion was really more hostile to that policy than that of the late Commander-in-Chief in India, Sir Frederick Haines. He said—I cannot pretend to believe that the ruler of Cabul, be he who he may, even our own nominee, will calmly and for ever accept the partition of the country which involves the alienation of Candahar from Cabul."—[Afghanistan (1881), No. 2, p. 82.]That was a tribute from a most unwilling witness to the patriotism of the people of Afghanistan. He would now refer to the evidence of another soldier unfavourable to the policy of the Government. He had been impressed with the high ability of the Minute by Colonel East. He said—The establishment of an independent province of Candahar means, in fact, the dismemberment of Afghanistan."—[Ibid., p. 45.]Further, he had only, as to this part of the argument, to refer to the innocent reference, which General Merewether made, to the opinion of the Ameer Abdurrahman, that he would rather not have Candahar. He should, indeed, have been astonished if an Oriental Prince had said anything else until the city was placed by the conquerors in his hands. He thought he had shown that, so far as the disposition of the Afghans towards the British power was concerned, we should be strengthened by a retirement from Candahar. He proposed now to refer to the external consequences of the policy of Her Majesty's Government, and especially to our relations with Russia and with Persia. He did not think there was much utility in any examination of the Correspondence found at Cabul. The events to which that Correspondence had reference must have burnt into the minds of the Sirdars of Afghanistan the fact that, by mistaken confidence in Russia, Shere Ali Khan died a fugitive; they had taught us that while we were or were likely to be at war with Russia in Europe, we must expect that Russia would attempt a diversion of our forces in Asia; and they had, he thought, effectually taught both the Afghans and the Russians that our claim to superior influence in Afghanistan was not a nominal claim, but a real claim, and one which we should maintain. The retention of Candahar would 1909 be a modification of the understanding which was communicated in 1876 to Russia. He did not make much of this, because in 1875 Prince Gortchakoff informed Lord Derby that the Russian Government would not object to the annexation of the whole of Afghanistan to British India. But, reviewing all that had taken place since that time, he was not disposed to differ from Colonel East in the opinion that while Russia admitted that our influence must be paramount in Afghanistan she had the understanding that the country remained united and independent. However that might be, if he thought the retention of Candahar necessary to the security of India, or that the retention would even promote that security, he should be among the partizans of that policy. The first consideration bearing on the retention was that by none of the active advocates of that policy had the line been drawn at Candahar. Candahar was outside what was now known as "Lord Beaconsfield's Frontier;" but Candahar was comparatively nowhere with other professors of the forward policy. That brave man, who lately met a soldier's death in South Africa, inspired Lord Lytton with the belief that British forces must not only secure the Passes leading into Afghanistan, but also those leading out from Afghanistan into the Valley of the Oxus; he would have had us occupy "the whole mountain mass of Afghanistan." Then there was Sir Henry Rawlinson, who was the author of what might be called the "key" policy. Years ago, Sir Henry Rawlinson proclaimed that Herat was "the key of India;" and, later, the same authority declared that Maimana was "the key of Herat." Some other authority, perhaps, would say that Karki on the Oxus was the key of Maimana; that Bokhara was the key of Karki, and so on to Siberia. He thought many hon. Members, and he should fancy the illustrious Duke (the Duke of Cambridge) also, who had written a confident Minute concerning Candahar, would be filled with amazement if in Herat they were told they had their feet upon "the key of India." The colour and material of the city was that of mud. Some minarets of sundried bricks rose above the mud-built hovels. There was nothing to be seen but walls and roofs of mud. Jackals 1910 howled at night in the crumbling ruins of the mud-built houses. There was no trace of grandeur or splendour. A writer of repute lately commenced a book on Herat with the Persian saying—"Khorassan is the oyster-shell of the world, and Herat is its pearl." Those gentlemen of the keys told us that the possession of Herat was the possession of a gold mine; but, for the most part, they were the dupes of the magnificence of the Persian language. It was the same with the Bala-Hissar of Cabul. Ten years ago a volume ten times as thick as the Blue Book he held in his hand relative to Candahar might have been filled with illustrious military and political opinions upon the tremendous importance of the Bala-Hissar of Cabul. However, fact rather than fiction had proved the superiority of the position at Sherpur. The position of Asiatic cities was generally such as rather to favour assault by modern artillery. Herat was a position of importance with reference to Central Asia, rather than with regard to India. The House must remember that nine out of ten of those who favoured the retention of Candahar were either committed to the support of Persia in the occupation of Herat, or, what was virtually the same thing, a British occupation of Herat. At Candahar there was no boundary. Sir Donald Stewart said—Circumstances would necessitate further movements at no distant date, until some natural boundary has been reached; indeed, the most fatal of the objections to Candahar as a frontier is its want of defined and defensible boundaries."—[Ibid., p. 28.]The opinion of Sir Henry Norman on this point was very decisive. He said—Our occupation of Candahar, or its being held by a ruler under our guarantee, would infallibly land us, and speedily land us, in renewed difficulties, such as our recent experience should lead us to avoid."—[Ibid., p. 34.]He thought that when we looked to the character of the Afghan people, when we remembered the intimate connection between Herat and Candahar, everyone would condemn the advocacy of the forward policy, and would be inclined to say, in the words of General Roberts, that—The longer and more difficult the line of communication is, the more numerous and greater the obstacles which Russia would have to overcome; and, so far from shortening one mile of the road, I would let the web of difficulties extend to the very mouth of the Khyber Pass."—[Afghanistan (1881), No. 1, p. 69.]1911 He agreed with the high military authority referred to by Sir Henry Norman that if we were to oppose Russia we ought not to advance to Herat to do so. We had the opinion of Sir Garnet Wolseley that whenever Russia advanced upon Herat we must occupy Candahar. He agreed with Lord Lytton, who had recorded his view, that—Though we could never allow Candahar to fall into the hands of a rival Power, he did not consider that such occupation would actually strengthen our Western Frontier.But he said, while every authority declared the dislike of the Afghan people to our presence in their country, we had not yet tried their temper, as we must if we were to undertake permanent occupation. Permanent occupation meant that we must raise a revenue, or supervise the raising of a revenue, and that implied the collection of taxation. Now, Afghanistan was even a poorer country than India; but if it were true that Candahar was one of the richest parts of Afghanistan, even then, while the difficulty and unpopularity of obtaining a revenue would be such as we had never yet faced, there would be, in addition, the grievance felt throughout the whole of Afghanistan that we had abstracted the milch cow from the country. Our rule would be expensive, because it was, in a sort, an absentee rule; the pay and the supplies of the officers and troops being, to so large an extent, remitted to and provided from other places than the territory we should occupy in Afghanistan. On grounds of economy, as well as on grounds of security, the retention of Candahar was an unadvisable policy. The late wars, he did not deny, had had results. The first was, to dispel for ever the illusion which struck the fancy of Lord Auckland in defence of the first Afghan War, of the existence in Afghanistan of a "strong, friendly, and independent Power." We had accomplished the disintegration, the destitution, and the dependence of Afghanistan. There was only one strong and independent Power, beside that of Her Majesty, in Central Asia, and that Power was a Power which he trusted would be friendly—he meant the Power of Russia. The results of this war had been the repudiation by ourselves of the object for which it was undertaken—namely, the placing of British Agents in the cities of Afghanistan, and the assumption by this 1912 country of unreserved control of the foreign relations of Afghanistan. Those foreign relations had a tendency to increase in the direction of Persia, and he hoped he might be permitted to say a word or two upon that important branch of the subject. In 1880, Lord Lytton recorded in a Minute, dated the 7th of January, his concurrence in the decision of Lord Beaconsfield's Administration, on grounds of Imperial policy, whereby Persia was to beProvisionally permitted to occupy Herat, under sufficient guarantees for the good administration of it, and for her adequate protection of British and Indian interests at that point, and with a special reservation of our right to occupy the place with British forces in certain eventualities."—[Afghanistan (1881), No 1, p.6.]He had reason to believe that the policy indicated in that Minute was embodied in a draft Convention, which, most fortunately for the interests of this country and of India, was never executed. Perhaps we were saved from that most fatal error by the failure of a Water Bill, which might have precipitated an appeal to the country upon the foreign policy of Her Majesty's late Government. He defied anyone who possessed any real acquaintance with the territory and politics of Persia to justify that Convention. He knew that Sir Henry Rawlinson was its partizan, and he could fancy the interest with which his article in The Nineteenth, Century of February, 1880, was studied in Teheran. There was some, though slight, recovery of prudence discernible in Sir Henry Rawlinson's Memorandum on the relations of Candahar, written seven months afterwards. What an escape had that been for England—from the defensive alliance with Persia! Was Persia to be defended in Herat, and not in Astrabad, or in Tabriz? A British Cabinet might as well promise to swallow the Pyramids of Egypt at a single meal as guarantee the Persian shores of the Caspian. What was the meaning of this Persian policy? It was the survival, in another form, of the old delusion about a "strong, friendly, and independent" Afghanistan. The dream was to replace that shattered ideal by a "strong, friendly, and independent" Persia. The Empire of Persia could not be strong nor friendly, nor independent, in the exclusive sense in which it was desired by those who wished to place the Shah in Herat. 1913 In the Papers before the House, Sir Henry Rawlinson stated that—Our staunch supporter, the late Prime Minister of Persia, has been driven from office, to be replaced by a notorious Russian partizan."—[Afghanistan (1881), No. 2, p. 62.]He (Mr. Arnold) had had the honour of intercourse in Teheran with the Persian statesman referred to, who was, undoubtedly, the best informed of his class in Persia. Why was he driven from office? Because of the blunder of Her Majesty's late Government, because he was beguiled into a foolish Convention, which he (Mr. Arnold) hoped to see laid upon the Table of the House. If Persia was in Herat, Persia was also in Tabriz. The most important and the most populous city in Persia, was Tabriz, and he did not know a city in the world of similar importance which was so utterly without the range of British power. The strength of England in Persia was founded on the conviction that it was not the intention or the interest of England to follow a policy of annexation at the expense of Persia. When we were told that the influence of England at Teheran was inferior to the influence of Russia, it meant nothing more than that Russia was in proximity to Teheran; and that might be illustrated by another fact—namely, that Russian gold imperials were the most advantageous money for travelling expenses in Northern Persia, which was comparatively the richest part of Persia. In the Southern Provinces, equally of course, British money was current, and British influence was paramount. If we wanted to facilitate the entry of Russia into Herat, the best way would be to enter into some fast-and-loose arrangement with Persia. The wars in Afghanistan had caused widespread ruin in Persia, by draining that country of mules, and thus rendering the cost of the only form of carriage almost prohibitive. Passing to Candahar, he had given much attention to the subject of trade and trade routes in Central and Western Asia. It was Cobden, he believed, who had said that an Ambassador should be the commercial traveller of his country; but he (Mr. Arnold) never heard that that function pertained to the Commander-in-Chief; and he ventured to say, with great respect, that the Duke of Cambridge was not a first-rate authority upon this important mttaer. He would even ques- 1914 tion the commercial geography of those who wrote of the trade of Persia coming to us through Candahar. The evidence on the subject was really very curious and contradictory. There was the statement of General Merewether that Russia's most strenuous efforts had been devoted to keeping the trade of Central Asia in her own hands; that British goods from India had been completely debarred from the Khanates; that assistance, and with no sparing hand, was given to merchants by the Russian Government. But how was it possible to reconcile those statements with the argument of the illustrious Duke that by the retention of Candahar we should bring the trade of Central Asia to Kurrachee, or with the random assertion of Lord Napier of Magdala that by holding Candahar we should deliver British manufactures to Central Asia? His constituents were interested in this question of exports to Asia, the major part of which were such as they manufactured. The trade of Candahar, both export and import, would naturally continue to pass by the Valley of the Indus. He could not see any probability that our exports would be increased by a single piece of cotton goods in consequence of the retention of Candahar; while it was very evident that by increasing the financial burdens of the Government of India, that long promised act of justice and advantage to our trade, the removal of the import duties on cotton goods, would be deferred, if not abandoned. The lines of Persian trade tended to the Persian Gulf; and he was hopeful that before long the Governments of Great Britain and Persia would enter into arrangements to insure development of commerce by way of Ispahan to the Persian Gulf. All these considerations could, he thought, leave no doubt upon the mind of the House that the retention of Candahar would place us in a position of permanent hostility to the Afghan people. In lieu of a strong and friendly and independent Afghanistan, which was a vanished dream, we should have, in consequence of the retention of Candahar, an Afghanistan ever inimical to the British power, and full of suspicion and hatred against us; ready at all times, and in any manner, to be the friends of our enemies, and the enemies of our friends. No other conclusion was possible from an impartial study of 1915 the evidence submitted to the House. Then, as to Russia, not only should we be weakening ourselves by this unprofitable charge upon the Revenues of India; but, by giving the rein in this case to the forward party, not one of whom had a fixed boundary to propose, and some of whom did not stop short even at the Oxus, we should be fanning the passions of rivalry and of belligerency between the two great Powers, which it was so greatly to our interest to pacify and subdue. As to Persia, in regard to Herat, we could do nothing that would not, directly or indirectly, imply a guarantee of her Empire, and to do that we must deliberately descend to that which was described by the Prime Minister last Session as the lowest depth of immorality, to enter into political pledges which we were powerless to fulfil. Last, but not least, there was to be considered the effect of the retention of Candahar upon Native opinion in India. It was of the greatest importance to our security in India that we should avoid wars of annexation. Native opinion would conclude, and rightly conclude, upon the abandonment of Candahar, that we did not expect or fear a Russian invasion of India. It was well said by an authority, in one of the Blue Books, that—The Princes and Chiefs of India watch closely all we do. It will be a relief to them when they find we are not resuming the policy of annexation. It is what they dread, naturally feeling that their time may come next.Sir Henry Norman says—I feel certain that the real political effect of such annexation will be injurious to us in India, as it will impress upon the Chiefs and people the notion that a mere cry that we should be better for possessing certain territory is sufficient to justify us in seizing it."—[Afghanistan (1881), No. 2, p. 52.]And all that might be said for withdrawal from Candahar, and more might be said for withdrawing from Pishin. The House of Commons, which was trustee for the millions of India, especially must not disregard that which it was in duty bound to follow—the opinion of the people of the United Kingdom. Speaking, as was, at least, his right, for the not insignificant section of that population which he represented, he believed that the policy of the Government in this matter had established a new claim to their confidence. There could be no doubt that those pages of 1916 the world's history were most exciting, and, perhaps, most interesting, which recorded the consequences of the errors of Sovereigns and statesmen. Red with the blood and fires of war, pitiful with the waste and the ruin which followed in its train, dark with intrigue, joyous in triumph, and bitter in failure were those pages. But while many, if not most, of those chapters had had their origin in acts of annexation, he doubted if the best student of history in Parliament could point to an instance in which a great Power had committed, even from the lowest point of view, an error in self-interest by an act of renunciation; and he had a firm and confident assurance that when the policy of the Government, in the surrender of Candahar, came to be reviewed, it would be found to be true and faithful to the welfare of India and to the lasting interests of this Empire, which, by the free suffrages of the people of the United Kingdom had been committed to the charge of the Government.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Lord George Hamilton.)
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow.