rose to move, pursant to notice, for
He lamented the indifference of the House to subjects which involved the interest of 100,000,000 of human beings placed under their guardianship. But Providence had interposed, and for want of common sense and foresight a great calamity had occurred—a calamity great even as regarded the actual amount of the loss sustained by this country, but still greater if we contemplated its moral, effects. It was a remarkable fact, as bearing upon those moral effects, that three great powers of Europe were at the present time engaged in a contest of a similar character. In each case, there had been a similar wrong; in each case that wrong had been followed by similar results. It were difficult to say which nation had committed the greatest amount of folly and injustice—the Russians in Circassia, the French at Algiers, or the English in Affghanistan. Each was reaping bitter fruits, and suffering a severe but just retribution. The stern valour of the Russions had been defeated by the rude tribes of the Caucasus; the military power of the French had been equally defied and resisted by the fierce and fanatic Arabs of the Desert; and now, the resources of our Indian empire were being wasted in the vain attempt to subdue a race of men no less fierce and valiant, a country no less fitted by nature for defence, and so remote by its position as to render war on a large scale almost a hopeless under is king. In such a state of things, he that he was not doing too much to ask for information as to the circumstances under which such a war was undertaken. He had reason to know, that a great military authority in India interfered before the commencement of the war, upon which, as a military man, he was called upon to give his opinion, and he did give the Government the best and the soundest advice. He told the Governor-general, that the war which he was about to undertake was both impolitic and unjust—impolitic in a political point of view as regarded Dost Mahomed Khan, and still more so in a military point of view, as placing the British army in a position so distant and remote from the resources which must form the basis of its operations as to increase the possibility of defeat, and the impossibility of retreat. That high military authority then urged the principle of making the Indus the boundary of our empire in India, and he also embodied his opinions in a protest when the Indian army assembled at Bukkur, in January, 1839, prior to its entering Affghanistan. He should have thought, that before undertaking an expedition of so important a character the opinion of some great military authority at home might have been consulted—the present Commander-in-Chief, or, a higher authority still, the Duke of Wellington. If either of those two high authorities had been appealed to, there was every reason to believe, that their opinion would have coincided with that delivered by the Commander-in-Chief of the army in India. On the other hand, what were the reasons of the Governor-general of India for adopting the course he did with regard to Affghanistan, a course by which it must be admitted that our empire in India was rather weakened than strengthened? Those reasons of the Governor-general were stated in a manifesto published by him before the troops went to Afghanistan. It was dated Simla, October I, 1838, and contained this passage:—"Copies of the correspondence of Sir Alexander Burnes with the Governor-general of India during his mission to Cabul in the years 1837 and 1838; also copies of the correspondence of the Governor-general of India with the President of the Board of Control, and with the secret committee of the East-India Company, from the 1st day of September, 1837, to the 1st day of October, 1839, relative to the expedition to Affghanistan."
Now, this was contrary to the information received from other quarters. Speak- ing of Dost Mahomed Khan, Captain (subsequently Sir Alexander) Burnes in his travels, said,"It has been clearly ascertained from the information furnished by the various officers who have visited Affghanistan, that the Barukzye chiefs, from their disunion and unpopularity, were unfitted, under any circumstances, to be useful allies of the British Government, and to aid us in our just and necessary measures of national defence."
Again:—"The reputation of Dost Mahomed Khan is made known to a traveller long before he enters his country, and no one better merits the high character he has attained."
From another English traveller in Affghanistan, and the Punjaub, Mr. Vigne, we learned,"The justice of this chief affords a constant theme of praise to all classes; the peasant rejoices at the absence of tyranny, the citizen at the safety of his home and the strict municipal regulations regarding weights and measures, the merchant at the equity of the decisions and the protection of his property, and the soldiers at the regular manner in which their arrears are discharged—a man in power can have no higher praise."
But there was another English gentleman who also resided long in Affghanistan, and who had been considered as a very great authority by the Indian Government—he meant Mr. Charles Masson, whose opinions he would read to the House. That gentleman, in the papers published by the Bombay Geographical Society, writes as follows:—"That Dost Mahomed was renowned for his justice; so much so, that when anything even seemingly arbitrary occurred, it was not unusual to exclaim,' What! is Dost Mahomed dead, that there is no justice?'"
He goes on to say, that—"We now arrive at the flourishing state of Cabul under the government of the brave and popular Dost Mahomed Khan, emphatically designated one of the swords of Khorasan, by his brother, Visiz Futteh Khan. It is cheering for the traveller in these generally misgoverned regions to reach some spot where order and security prevail, and to be able to range over the wildest scenes, where, although the ruffian inhabitants possess every desire to plunder, they are restrained by the vigilance of their ruler from its exercise."
And this was the man whom the Governor-general described as unfitted by his unpopularity to be an ally of the British Government, and these were opinions of the only persons who visited Cabul previous to the marching of our expedition, with the exception of those who had accompanied Captain Burnes! Lord Auckland, in his manifesto, goes on to state,—"Whether his energies are to be displayed in the defence of his country against the ambition of the Sikhs, or exercised to extend his sway, is matter of argument; but he is universally regarded as the only chief capable of restoring the Dooranee fortunes. He is beloved by all classes of his subjects."
Now, he had no hesitation in asserting that this statement was equally unfounded with the preceding; that it was contrary to all the information furnished by Captain Burnes, and contrary to all the facts and circumstances that had come to our knowledge. If Schah Soojah had been so popular as he was here described, why were not our troops withdrawn from Affghanistan after they had achieved the object which was in view? Why were they not withdrawn unless it was found impossible to maintain Schah Soojah upon the throne without the presence and the aid of British troops? The object of the war was to depose Dost Mahomed, who had been gained over by a Russian agent. But the Governor-general, in pursuing that object, seemed not 'to have calculated the feelings, wishes or opinions of the people, or to have imagined, that by the very conquest which should place Schah Soojah on the throne we should produce in the minds of a great and an independent people the most in veterate hatred and animosity towards this country. Such, at least, appeared to have been the natural consequences of our interference; and, come what might now, we could never calculate that the people of Affghanistan would entertain any other feelings towards us but those of hatred and animosity. They would be prepared at all times to join either Russia or Persia, or any other armed force that might be brought into Central Asia against us. It might be argued, in justification of the course pursued by the Governor-general, that he had mistaken the feelings and wishes of the people; but upon military grounds such a justification was wholly inadmissible, and such a course wholly indefensible, and he was convinced, that no military man of reputation would ever have ventured to recommend it. In bringing forward this motion, he wished it to be distinctly understood, that it was not his object to make charges against the late Governor-general of India, or against the right hon. Gentleman, the late President of the Board of Control. They might be able to justify themselves by the production of papers, but what he asserted was, that sufficient information had not been laid before the House to enable them to arrive at any fair or just conclusion. The papers relating to India already before the House were meagre and insufficient, and contained such garbled extracts of letters, that it would be impossible to arrive at any fair or just conclusion by their aid alone. The only justification which they offered of the course pursued by the Governor-general of India was, that it was impossible for him, at that particular period in question, to have made any satisfactory treaty with the former chiefs of Affghanistan. Now, Captain Burnes, whose mission was nominally commercial, but really political, said, that he found Dost Mahomed Khan not only well-disposed towards the British Government, but so eager to form a treaty with us, that he at once broke off' negotiations he had entered into with Persia for that purpose. His offers, however, had been rejected by the British Government. The House would naturally desire to know what those offers of Dost Mahomed were at that time. The offers and terms which he proposed were precisely laid down by Captain Burnes in one of his despatches to the Governor-general. It was dated Cabul, the 25th of April, 1838, and addressed to Mr. (subsequently Sir) W. H. M'Naghten:"After serious and mature deliberation, the Governor-general was satisfied that a pressing necessity, as well as every consideration of policy and justice, warranting us in espousing the cause of Schah Soojah-ool-Moolk, whose popularity throughout Affghanistan had been proved to his Lordship by the strong and unanimous testimony of the best authorities."
Now, was it possible to make more fair, more just, or more advantageous proposals? And yet the answer of the British Government was a positive and direct refusal. They desired, certainly, that the moral influence of British power should be exercised to induce compliance with the demands; but the House should observe, that Dost Mahomed did not understand the meaning of moral influence. Captain Burnes, addressing Mr. W. H. M'Naghten, Jellalabad, April 30, 1838, said—"On the 25th I received another visit from Sirdar Mahir Dil Khan, who was accompanied by the Newab Jubbar Khan, Mirza Samee Khan, and the Naibs of Candahar and Cabul; the deputation was a formal one from both branches of the family. The Sirdar now informed me that the Ameer had agreed to write to the Maharajah through the Governor-general to dismiss Captain Vicovitch, to hold no further communication with other powers, and to write to the Schah of Persia that he had done with his majesty for ever. The Sirdars of Candahar, on their part, agreed to address the Schah, recall Ullahdar, the agent who had accompanied Kumber Ali, and to place themselves along with their brother, the Ameer, entirely under the protection of the British Government, in return for which they claimed at its hands two things—first, a direct promise of its good offices to establish peace at Peshawur and an amelioration in the condition of Sultan Mahomed Khan; and, second, a promise equally direct to afford them protection from Persia in whatever way the British judged it best for their interests, it being clearly understood that Candahar was not to be allowed to suffer injury."
He went on to say—"It is, however, useless to dwell further on what were either the hopes or expectations of the Ameer and his family; no arguments drawn from my presence, or that of Mr. Leech, at Candahar, being proofs of our sympathy, would satisfy them, nor would they view the cessation of hostilities at Peshawur, the clear result of such presence, in that light, but they demanded of me a clear, explicit, pledge of protection from Persia, or money to raise troops to protect themselves, which I could not grant."
Dost Mahomed was certainly accused of having listened to the proposals of a Russian agent, and the fact could not be denied; but he had not done so until after the Governor-general had refused to make a treaty with him, at a time too, let the House observe, when he did not insist upon the restoration of Candahar. In order to show the House that Dost Mahomed had acted with perfect good feeling and good faith at the commencement of his negotiation with Captain Burnes, he would read an extract from one of the suppressed despatches, some of which were now in course of publication:—"An Affghan cannot be disposed to understand the moral influence of British power, and arguments unsupported by acts have no weight in Cabul, and it is to be remembered that the menacing attitude of Persia sharpens the apprehensions of the Affghan chiefs."
CAPTAIN BURNES TO MR. W. H. M'NAGHTEN.
Now, he asked if it were possible to show greater goodwill or devotion to the British Government than was here described? As some doubts were entertained about Captain Burnes's own opinions, he would read another extract from one of his suppressed despatches, in order to let the House see what course Captain Burnes conceived the British Government ought to have adopted on that occasion:—"Cabul, Dec. 20,1837." On the morning of the 19th, (that is, yesterday), the Ameer came over from the Bala Hissar early in the rooming with a letter from his son,, the Governor of Ghuznee, reporting that the Russian agent had arrived at that city on his way to Cabul. Dost Mahomed Khan said that he had come for my counsel on the occasion, that he wished to have nothing to do with any other power than the British, that he did not wish to receive any agent of any power whatever so long as he had a hope of sympathy from us, and that he would order the Russian agent to be turned out, detained on the road, or act in any way I desired him. I asked the Ameer if he knew on what business the agent had come, and if he were really an agent from Russia? He replied, ' that I had read all his letters from Candahar, and that he knew nothing more.' I then stated that it was a sacred rule among civilized nations not to refuse to receive emissaries in time of peace, and that I could not take upon myself to advise him to refuse any one who declared himself duly accredited, but that the Ameer had it in his power to show his feelings on the occasion by making a full disclosure to the British Government of the errand on which the individual had come, to which he most readily assented."
"Cabul, January 26,1838.
Something had been said of the intrigues of Russia, but the expedition to Affghanistan was not undertaken until after the siege of Herat was abandoned, and until explanations had been demanded and received from the Russian Government. There was but one more extract, with which he would trouble the House. It was from Ameer Dost Mahomed Khan to Lord Auckland, received at Jugdaluck, April 28, 1838, by Captain Burnes:—"I have not hesitated, while reporting on a question of this magnitude, to give expression to sentiments which have been adopted after much reflection on the scene of these distractions. Since arriving here I have seen an agent of Persia, with alluring promises, after penetrating as far as Candahar, compelled to quit the country because no one was sent to invite him to Cabul; following him, an agent of Russia, with letters highly complimentary, and promises more than substantial, has experienced no more civility than is due by the laws of hospitality and nations: it may be urged by some that the offers of one or both were fallacious, but such a dictum is certainly premature. The Ameer of Cabul has sought no aid in his arguments from such offers, but declared that his interests are bound up in an alliance with the British Government, which he never will desert as long as there is a hope of securing one. It is evident, therefore, that in this chief we have one who is ready to meet us, and from what is passing in Central Asia at this moment, it is anything but desirable to exhibit indifference to the solicitations of one whose position makes him courted, and whom aid may render powerful for or against us."
After hearing the evidence contained in these papers, he thought the House would agree with him that it was manifestly in the power of the Governor-general, had he pleased, to form a satisfactory treaty with the rulers of Affghanistan—a treaty which would have superseded the necessity for war, and which might have laid the foundation of a lasting friendship, equally honourable and useful to both nations. Such a course was strongly urged on the Governor-general by Sir Alexander Burnes; indeed, it was stated, although the fact did not appear in the papers before the House, that that individual had absolutely made a treaty on his own responsibility, which treaty the Governor-general refused to ratify, and reprimanded him for making without authority. That the Governor-general was induced to take such a course was a subject of deep regret, and he could only attribute such diplomacy to the warlike spirit which marked the councils and influenced the conduct of the Government in India. But (here was another part of this subject well deserving their consideration. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had, on introducing his financial scheme to the notice of the House, called their attention to the state of Indian finances, to the amount of money already, and likely to be hereafter expended, and to the necessity of providing against any failure in the legitimate means of meeting the extraordinary demand. It was always desirable to know what they had to pay, and especially so where the payment was likely to be so heavy. He held in his hand an account of the expenditure of the Indian Government, both before and after the War, and with the permission of the Mouse he would shortly state the results he Collected from it. The expenditure for the three years previous to the war was as follows;—"Since Captain Burnes's arrival we have done everything according to his advice. The Sirdars of Candahar prevented their son going to the Schah by his letters, and none of us have hitherto contracted friendship with any other power. It is well known to your Lordship that the Affghans expected very much from the English from the day Mr. Elphinstone came to Afghanistan, for that gentleman made a treaty with the Affghans of the following nature:—1st, that the Affghans should not allow the united powers (French and Persians) to pass through Affghanistan for an invasion of the British possessions in India, but must oppose those powers on the part of the English; 2nd, that when the French and Persians come to subdue Affghanistan, the British will give them pecuniary assistance. The time has now arrived that the Affghans should be done by according to the second article of the above treaty; but, alas! the whole of this nation is disappointed in what they were so long expecting. The British Government has given to us aid of no kind, notwithstanding our abstaining from friendship with other powers. I have really done so, and intended to do so, but your agent (Captain Burnes) not having the power, neither gave us happy news of the restoration of Peshawur, nor of protection from the Persians. Since Captain Burnes discovered that the Affghans were quite disappointed, and he has no powers from your Lordship to satisfy this nation, he is now returning to India with my permission. When Captain Burnes reaches India he will minutely speak to your Lordship on all the circumstances of this place. There are many individuals who have enjoyed the favour of the British, but our disappointment is to be attributed to our misfortune, and not to the want of the British Government—what is worthy of the good name of the British Government, it I hope will come to pass in future."
begged to second the motion of his hon. Friend, and he did so for this reason, that it was the first step to an inquiry into transactions perhaps the most important since the peace, transactions which were involved in mystery, and which had led to disaster. He could not conceive a more legitimate subject for Parliamentary inquiry than public acts attended with such circumstances. His hon. Friend had placed before the house, with great clearness and accuracy, the rationale of the warlike operations beyond the Indus; he had demonstrated, in a manner he thought complete and unquestionable, that if it had been necessary for us to have interfered in those regions, there were prepared for us the elements of influence and the ready agents for our purposes; that we might have exercised any control we had desired without recourse to war, and by means of the native and established and popular authorities of the country. But the question which he (Mr. D'Israeli) wished to raise was this,—was there any necessity for any interference of any kind on our part in those countries? He wished, in short, to know the origin of this war, the object of this war, and, above all, he wished to know who was to pay for this war. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury had come down to the House this Session to impose a very obnoxious, but he (Mr. D'Israeli) believed necessary tax, and he (Sir R. Peel) mainly upheld its necessity by the state of Indian finance. By the newspapers of that morning, he (Mr. D'Israeli) observed that no less an authority than the chairman of the East India Company had conveyed to the court of proprietors a very unequivocal intimation, that he looked to her Majesty's Government to defray the expences of the invasion of Affghanistan. These were significant expressions of opinion, and rendered it incumbent on the House and the country clearly to comprehend the character of a war of which the origin and object were alike obscure, and yet for which, as it appeared, they were to be called upon to pay. Under any other circumstances, it would not perhaps be difficult to ascertain the cause of a war in which the country had been engaged for years. They might, under other and usual circumstances, refer to a message from the Crown announcing the fact of war being declared, and to the consequent exposition of the Minister explaining and vindicating its policy and necessity. But in the present instance there was nothing of the kind. In old days the prerogative of declaring war and concluding peace had been entrusted, not without reason, to the Fast India Company. It was a great trust necessary for the formation and consolidation of their empire, and which it could never be their interest to exercise with any other view, or for any other object. But when the Government of India was virtually transferred from Leadenhall-street to Downing-street, it was clear that there was every chance of Asiatic wars being carried on for European purposes; if carried on for European purposes, paid for by European revenues; and therefore the Parliamentary control which attended all similar operations should have accompanied these. He knew it might be urged that Parliamentary control might be an inconvenient adjunct to affairs so distant as those of India, and springing out of events with which Parliament might be little familiar; he knew he might be referred to the splendid administration of Lord Wellesley, that it might be urged that that great statesman would never have been able to baffle the combinations in Mysore and the Mahratta confederacy, had he been subject to the control and preliminary approbation of a British Parliament. But the House would find on reflection that there really was no analogy between the instance of Lord Wellesley's operations and those at present under discussion. At that time England was at war with France in Europe, and the East India Company was at war with France in Asia. All was consistent, intelligible, and politic. But in the present case, England was at peace in Europe, and we really are totally unacquainted with whom the East India Company is at war in Asia. The enemy is not to be discovered in the manifesto of the Governor-general. That was rather an order for the assembly of troops than a declaration of war. War indeed had never been declared, and for an obvious reason, we had no apparent foe. But although neither from that document, nor by a message from the Crown, nor the exposition of the Minister, the House had been informed the cause of these extensive and now disastrous operations; still, on the only occasion when any reference had been made to the war in this House, and when it was distinctly agreed that the political merits of the question should not be alluded to, he meant when they voted, in the last Parliament their thanks to the army, by a strange inconsistency two Members of the then Cabinet, and both connected with India, lost in the intoxication of success, and carried away by the excitement of their triumph, apologised for deviating from the course which they had themselves laid down, and all had agreed to, and could not refrain from congratulating the House and the country on the great results obtained. These results thus obtained must have been the causes that impelled. What were they? It appeared, then, from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the late President of the Board of Control, that this war was undertaken to prevent an invasion of our Indian empire by Birmah; to control the menacing attitude of Nepaul; to tranquillize the interior of India, and check the intrigues of native princes. With respect to Birmah, it would seem a somewhat singular remedy to prevent the invasion of our south-eastern frontier, that we should ourselves invade countries beyond our north-western. If Napoleon had given as his reason for the invasion of Moscow, his desire to prevent an insurrection in Madrid, he would have offered a reason as german to the occasion as the first reason offered by the right hon. Baronet for the war in which he has involved us. As to the menacing attitude of Nepaul, it is a state with which we have already waged a successful war—we have despoiled Nepaul of its richest provinces and its strongest holds—we have reduced its inhabitants to a population of 2,000,000 of mountain clans, a warlike population it is true, but to march over the Punjaub and to invade the centre of Asia in order to check Nepaul, is as if George the 2nd had fought the battle of Minden to check the Highlanders of Scotland. Some frigates at Rangoon and some extra regiments on the Nepaulese frontier would have been more efficient and more logical engines to prevent invasions from Birmah and Nepaul than marching large armies in an exactly contrary direction. But then, said the right hon. Gentleman, there were symptoms of insurrection at home, and the mode which the Ministers of the Crown took for suppressing it, was to march all the troops abroad. A rising is apprehended in the centre of Hindostan, and the Indian army is consequently marched across the Indus. The right hon. Gentleman was followed on that occasion by one of his Colleagues, an individual entitled to the attention on this occasion not merely from his official station and the splendour of his abilities, but from the circumstance that he had a local acquaintance with India, and had been himself a member of the Council of Calcutta. What were the reasons for the invasion given by this right hon. Gentleman? He added the sanction of his authority to the statement of the late President of the Board of Control, that it was necessary to invade the centre of Asia to prevent an invasion from Birmah and an assault from Nepaul—he reiterated their statements. But he gave an additional reason for these wars, and coming from such a quarter, it will of course command attention. According to the right hon. Gentleman, the internal state of India previous to the invasion of Affghanistan was of a very peculiar kind. According to him there was an indefinable restlessness in the public mind, a strange uneasiness, a singular and alarming looking forward to something they knew not what, an apprehension of something unknown, a mysterious conviction founded on no facts, authorised by no events, that "the star of England was no longer in the ascendant," and it was necessary, the right hon. Gentleman assured us, that this expedition should be undertaken in order to re-establish the confidence of the people of India in our "star." He told us it had quite succeeded in producing the desired effect. It had been produced, he said, by our glorious triumph at Ghuznee. That was the event, he assured us from his local knowledge, which had reestablished the confidence in our star. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman may inform us to-night how the "confidence in our star," which according to him is the foundation of our Indian empire, stands since the re-capture of Ghuznee. He really did hope that in these hard, dry, matter-of-fact, Income-tax days, statesmen would be prepared to offer some more substantial reasons for their policy, than the expediency of restoring "confidence in our star." They all recollected that once a great master of rhetoric, superior even to the right hon. Gentleman, had declared that our empire in India was an empire of opinion. But the India of Mr. Burke was not the India of the present day; and if, when he indulged in that celebrated aphorism, Mr. Burke wished to convey that our authority in Hindostan was the result of a superstitious conviction of our supremacy in arts and arms, he must remind the House that the relations between England and India since that period had much changed. If we had become more powerful, the population of India had become more enlightened as to the elements of our power. He believed there was no country in which those elements were more minutely scanned, or subjected to a severer scrutiny than India itself. If he believed that "confidence in our star" alone, or principally, constituted the tenure by which we held India, he should despair of holding that country for any considerable period. In calculating the relative power of England over that country we were too apt to commit the fallacy of estimating our own strength in one balance, and placing in the other the resources of 150,000,000 of inhabitants. We were too apt to forget that India was a region which consisted of no less than thirty distinct nations, differing in race, in creed, in manners, laws and customs, and above all in language; many of them unacquainted with each other, or knowing each other only by traditionary enmity or prejudice; a greater number of nations, indeed, than constituted the continent of Europe, and affording a greater contrast in their qualities and their ideas than the Greek and the Scotchman, the Spaniard and the Hollander. In relation to any one of these single states, races or nations, England could exercise irresistible power, and to suppose that they could combine against England, was far more improbable than to suppose that all Europe would combine for the same purpose. He could not, therefore, taking all this into consideration, allow himself for a moment to believe that our disasters in Asia, terrible as they had been, were capable of producing any permanently injurious effect upon our eastern empire. He remembered that we had before suffered great defeats in India itself. He did not forget that we had led two armies routed or cut to pieces in Mysore. He remembered that the ablest of our eastern generals, Lord Lake himself was thrice repulsed before Bhurtpore, and that 3,000 British soldiers had been left in its breach. He had not forgotten Mon son. And he believed that all these were occurrences, which at that time, and under these circumstances, were calculated to exercise a much more injurious influence over Indian opinion, than any disaster which had taken place in Cabool. So far from being of opinion that our empire in India was one easily to be shaken, he believed on the contrary, it was one maintained by a power not inferior to that by which any existing authority maintained its rule. He would take the liberty of mentioning to the House, what in his opinion were the elements of our Indian tenure. He did not believe, that we should be deprived of that empire either by internal insurrection or by the foreign invader. If ever we lost India, it would be from financial convulsion. It would be lost by the pressure of circumstances, which events like the war in Affghanistan, were calculated to bring about by exhausting the resources of the country in military expeditions, and by our consequent inability to maintain those great establishments which were necessary to the political system that we had formed and settled in Hindostan. And in the first place, we held India by a civil service, the most intelligent and the best organised that ever belonged to any country; secondly, we held India by an army very numerous and highly disciplined, and so peculiarly constituted, that there are no troops where fidelity can be more surely reckoned on. The third element of our tenure was the landed settlement which we had so wisely instituted and guaranteed in the richest provinces of the country, and by which the proprietary interests of 40,000,000 of the population were bound up with our political existence, and the power that possessed the valley of the Ganges would always command India. In the next place, we possessed the sympathies of the mercantile and monied class, naturally attached to a Government who places above all considerations a reverence for public credit. But the most important element of the tenure by which we held India could only be understood by looking at the map. There we might remark what he might be allowed to call the diplomatic geography of India, by which the territories of every native prince were isolated; surrounded in every instance by the dominions of the company, and unable therefore to carry on any military communication with each other. The population, too, of these separated states by difference of creed and caste, were prevented from combining and communicating with each other. It was, therefore, in the isolation of the native states, and what he might be allowed to style the segregation of their subjects, that he found the fifth and not the least influential element of our Indian tenure. He could not believe, that an empire thus constituted could be endangered by a single military disaster in a distant land. It was not one, nor three such defeats, that could endanger our In dian empire. He felt assured that such disasters in Asia would not exercise a greater influence over our power in that quarter of the globe, than similar defeats in Europe might produce on our European character and influence. The defeat at Cabool might have the same effect on our authority in reference to opinion, as the defeat at Walcheren or Buenos Ayres, but nothing more. It would, to a certain extent, perhaps, sully the character of our arms; but if our empire in India could be shaken, or even endangered, by such a defeat, he must conclude that we held our sway by a very feeble and fragile tenure. He believed, however, there were causes at work in India which had produced great evil, and which, if unchecked, might occasion great catastrophes. He did not allude to those intrigues of native princes, which appeared to disturb the dreams of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir J. Hobhouse). We knew something of the intrigues of native princes. There was the Rajah of Satiara for example, who, it was alleged, had engaged with the governor of Goa, that Lisbon should invade India with 30,000 Portuguese troops, and the right hon. Gentleman believed it, the only man in England who did. But the Rajah was dethroned in consequence. These were not the casualties that alarmed him, any more than the proud boasts of Ara, or the dark designs of Nepaul; but seeing that we had reared in India a structure of society, of a very complicated nature, which was upheld by great civil and military services, and that was beyond our frontiers, were draining and diverting the revenue, which was necessary for the support of these establishments. Here was the danger; hence might be the catastrophe. His hon. Friend, who introduced this motion to the House, had dwelt on the inability so often experienced, of inducing the House to listen to discussions on Indian affairs. But his hon. Friend should recollect, that matters in this respect had of late much changed. We had an Income-tax now. That tax, which, to use the words of Lord Bacon, "came home to every man's business and bosom," would make hon. Gentlemen attend to the affairs of India, whose embarrassed finances, according to the first Minister of the Crown, were a principal reason for the infliction of this impost. And, indeed, however severe might be the pressure of that tax, if it had the effect of inducing the merchants and manufacturers of England, and those who represented them, to examine into the cause why there had been of late so many markets lost, or disturbed, it would not be without its countervailing advantages. In 1837, the Indian market for English manufactured goods was prosperous and expanding. India, in its commercial character, had begun to attract considerable attention in England. Some alleviation of the prohibitory system, which had been so long extended to its native products, had already been carried into effect; and that cry for commercial justice to India, which, in 1840, obtained still more important ameliorations had already been heard and listened to with sympathy and consideration. British capital began to transfer itself to Hindostan; and the sugar and coffee of our Indian possessions were competing in our home and colonial markets. All these concurrent causes had occasioned a considerable increase in our exports to India in 1837 and 1838; and these transactions were of a strictly legitimate and healthy character, occasioned by the demand of the native population, and not impelled by the mere speculation of the home manufacturers. The House should be aware of this, that there was in those years, previous to the commencement of the war in central Asia, a rapidly increasing demand in India for our products. Our Indian market indeed had never been in a more satisfactory condition. It was to the war, and to the war alone, that he (Mr. D'Israeli) imputed the disastrous reduction in price that had since occurred in every article of British produce, not to over-production, not to the markets being glutted, because he could prove in a manner incontestable, that the native demand had fully warranted the supply. No, it was to the drain of the precious metals, occasioned by the Affghan war, and the action of that monetary subtraction on the currency of India, that the paralysis of our Indian commerce was solely to be attributed. The fall of prices had borne an exact ratio with the withdrawal of specie. It had been gradual, regular, unbroken by a single interval of exception. On this respect they had the best evidence in the world; testimony untainted with party or prejudice, unimpeachable. He meant the price currents of the Indian markets. They would prove, that the Affghan war had afforded its ample quota to the present prevailing distress. He would, aware of the natural dislike of the House to listen to the details of such documents, only refer to these sources of proof. Yet he might perhaps be permitted to refer to one article of paramount interest in that House, as illustrative of the conclusion which he was anxious to impress on them; he meant the article of cotton twist.
|COTTON TWIST (NO. 20).|
|1838||9 per lb.|
|1839||7 per lb.|
|1840||6¾ per lb.|
|1841||6¾ per lb.|
|1842||5¼ per lb.|
|1838||4 per lb.|
|1839||3¾ per lb.|
|1840||3¼ per lb.|
|1841||2⅛ per lb.|
|1842||1¾ per lb.|
Mr. Speaker, after the speeches of the two hon. Gentlemen, the mover and seconder of the proposition before the House, it will naturally be expected that I should reply to the charges which have been brought against the measures which I, in conjunction with my Colleagues, have advised. In reference to one remark which has fallen from the hon. Member who spoke last, I beg leave to say that I do not consider that our Indian affairs have ever been neglected in this House, from any indifference to that great and important part of our empire. The reason why Indian affairs have not been so frequently adverted to as those of the other parts of the empire, has been from a very natural diffidence which Members have felt with respect to their knowledge of those affairs. That I believe to be the reason why such discussions have not been more frequent, and why that important subject has been left, in a greater degree than other departments, to the care of the executive Government: and, certainly, from all I can judge—though I do not wish what I am going to say should be construed to mean anything personally disrespectful to either of the hon. Members who have spoken—unless Indian affairs are more fairly dealt with, more deeply studied, and more impartially discussed than they have been by those hon. Gentlemen, I will take the liberty of saying, from some personal knowledge of those matters, that the time of the House would be worse than wasted by entering on such, discussions. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Shrewsbury has referred to various parts of my conduct at the Board of Control, in a manner to show that he is totally unacquainted with the subject, and which has only the semblance of foundation in fact. For example, the hon. Member has accused me of dethroning the Rajah of Sattara, a charge almost too absurd to require contradiction—I did not dethrone the Rajah of Sattara. The hon. Member hug also accused me of believing that the Rajah of Sattara was about to bring 30,000 Portuguese from Goa to invade British India. Where the hon. Member learned that I know not; I have seen some trumpery statement in a newspaper to that effect, but there is not a word of truth in it. As President of the Board of Control I know that those charges were brought against the Rajah of Sattara, but to say that I believed them, is what the hon. Gentleman has not the slightest foundation for saying. Mr. Hume: "Hear."] I know well enough to what the hon. Member for Montrose alludes. It is quite true that I sanctioned the acts of the Indian government upon a due review of the circumstances which led to the deposition of that prince, a measure which I am prepared, on a fitting occasion, to defend. The hon. Gentleman said I maltreated the agents of the ex-Rajah. I did no such thing. I defy the hon. Member to prove it. The charge has been made, but it is calumnious and in every respect unfounded. And if the hon. Member knows so little of what passes in London, how can he know what has passed in India? With respect to the accusation brought by the hon. Members, against the Governor-general of India, they are of the most grave and serious nature, and if the hon. Members can substantiate them—as I feel confident they cannot—they would subject that noble Lord to the greatest penalty that the Crown or the country could inflict upon him. The hon. Gentleman who introduced the motion charged the Governor-general with aggression and injustice, and with having issued a manifesto to the people of India and England which was put forward in order to mislead. I beg leave to tell the hon. Gentlemen, that is not true. [Lord J. Russell: "It is quite false."] It is quite false. The late Governor-general of India is incapable of setting his hand to a document put forward for the sake of misleading in any case, far more in a case of such great importance as that to which the hon. Gentleman alluded; he is as incapable of what I will not call the indiscretion, but the crime of acting in this way, as any public man who has ever placed his name to a paper. These are charges which no Member of Parliament should make slightly, which no Member of Parliament has a right to make, unless he can adduce such proof as would carry conviction with it to any and every which impartial mind. The document has been so characterized, so far from attempting to mislead, stated nothing but what was true, and, I might add, understated it. The then Governor-general of India, if he had wished to make out a case—not by anything like exaggeration or amplification, but in justification of his policy—might have issued a document couched in much stronger language than that which he sent out from Simla. This I beg to say in behalf of as honourable a man as ever administered the affairs of any country, as I am confident that noble Lord is, not only from having observed his public conduct, but also from many years' private intercourse with him; and I will take the liberty of saying, let his successor be whom he may, Lord Auckland will not he surpassed in the excellence of his administration. The hon. Gentleman seemed to consider himself, besides possessing great powers of statesmanship, a great soldier also; for he said that in this expedition to Affghanistan a military fault was committed which any schoolboy at Sandhurst could have pointed out. That is certainly a very new discovery. The Duke of Wellington, in his place in the House of Lords, passed a high eulogium on the manner in which the operations were conducted, and the preparations for the expedition made, declaring that he spoke not only from public documents, but also from private sources, with the nature of which I happen to be acquainted. The House must feel, that this is not a fit time for making these charges. They come either too early or too late. If they were not made when the facts were first known in this country when the expedition to the west of the Indus became a matter of notoriety, and when the proceedings of the first campaign were under discussion, then I say, they ought not to be made until they can he discussed more dispassionately than is likely to be the case at the present moment. I speak, lam well aware, under the greatest possible disadvantages—under the disadvantages of what I call the prejudice, which the hon. Gentleman says is so general, that there is no difference of opinion as to the policy which has led to the disasters we all deplore—and which, I may be excused for saying, that I deplore, perhaps, more than any man in this House. Sir, I well knew all the distinguished men who have recently fallen—I had watched their career with anxiety and affection—I had recommended them for the honours with which they had been dignified, and I looked forward to the days when they would render to their country still greater services, and receive still higher reward. To me it must be a source of unceasing regret that they have died so suddenly, so prematurely—and under circumstances which prevent a due and fair consideration of their character and their merit. In looking at this question, it is of importance to call to mind how often Parliament has had an opportunity of giving an opinion upon that policy and those events which the two hon. Gentlemen attack so bitterly—and how often Parliament has either pronounced favourably, or has refrained from any condemnation. The proclamation of Lord Auckland, dated from Simla, October 1, 1838, was known in this country before the meeting of Parliament in February, 1839, and a paragraph was inserted in the Speech from the Throne, stating that a British army would be employed in active operations to the westward of the Indus. What then occurred? Was there any hostile proceeding in either House of Parliament? One. of the hon. Members was then in Parliament, and that was the case also with a great number of the leading Members I have now the honour of seeing before me. The Duke of Wellington on that occasion said, he should wish to see the papers relating to the subject, and should give no opinion till they were produced. A noble Friend of mine (Lord Brougham) was rather facetious, but there was not an attempt at hostility in the speech of that or of any noble Lord. The right hon. Baronet now the First Lord of the Treasury, made use of expressions than which nothing could be more guarded, or more worthy the great position he then held, and now holds. The right hon. Baronet said,—
But if the course thus pursued was so pernicious as it had been described by the two hon. Gentlemen, was it not surprising that no condemnation of it should have been pronounced in either House of Parliament, or, I would venture to say, in the country? Shortly after the meeting of Parliament, on the 8th of March, 1839, I took occasion to state, in presenting certain papers to the House, that measures were in progress for augmenting the Indian army—here was an opportunity for censure—here was the time for saying, "you shall not augment your army—we disapprove of your policy—we detest your war—it is unjust—it is dangerous—we will give you no troops, no aid for an enterprise, so mad and so wicked."—But no, not a word of objection, either then, or when I presented the other five of the six sets of Indian papers. The right hon. Baronet now the Home Secretary, did indeed give notice of a motion on the subject, which was fixed for the 2nd of April, but was postponed until after Easter, in the first instance, and was then abandoned altogether, without any reason assigned. The right hon. Baronet said the other day, that his reason was, that it appeared certain treaties had been entered into by the Indian Government, which might hamper the discussion of the question.—Be it so: I think he exercised a sound discretion in not bringing forward his threatened motion—but at any rate, the impression produced, I believe, generally, but most certainly in the mind of Lord Auckland, was, that the papers produced had made out such a case for the Indian government, and had been so far satisfactory, as to make it appear that it was not a matter of indispensable necessity that Parliament should discuss the subject. In the Queen's Speech at the opening of the Session of 1840, the attention of Parliament was directly called to the question, by an allusion to the victorious campaign which had just concluded by the capture of Ghuznee, and the occupation of Caubool. The subject was scarcely noticed in the House of Commons, except by the mover and seconder of the address, and in the Lords it was hardly remarked upon, except by Lord Brougham, who, however, confined himself to saying he would wait for events. Not one single word of condemnation was heard in either House of Parliament on that occasion, no, nor on the opportunity which occurred immediately afterwards, when I moved the thanks of the House to the Governor-general and the Commander-in-chief, and the officers and troops employed on the expedition. This vote of thanks was seconded by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir Robert Peel), and though it is quite true that he guarded himself. from giving any approval of the policy, yet it is equally true, that neither he, nor any one else, in either House of Parliament, uttered one word against it, which, if they were against it, I contend it was their bounden duty to have done. Again, not long after this, came the motion of Sir John Yarde Buller, declaring a want of confidence in Ministers, and even then one only condemnatory sentence was hazarded by our accusers in regard to the Affghan war. Lord Stanley did certainly condemn it, but, I recollect well, that he did so in consequence of a taunt from Sir George Grey, that no one had dared to assail us in that respect. The invitation was too strong to be refused by the noble Lord, and accordingly he did add that offence to the catalogue of our other sins, but not a word dropt from any other of our antagonists, by which we could collect that public opinion had declared against that portion of our policy. I say our policy.—I believe it was on that occasion a noble Lord (Lord Claude Hamilton), denied that we had any right to claim a share of the praise due to the proceedings in Affghanistan. Sir, we did not claim a share of the praise then, but we will not shrink from partaking the blame now, with the laboer Governor-general. For I repeat, the policy was ours no less than it was his. The despatch which I wrote in the name of the secret committee, with consent of the Cabinet, addressed to Lord Auckland, at the end of October, 1838, instructed his Lordship in Council to pursue very nearly the same course, which it afterwards appeared he had adopted without knowing our opinions. His letters to the secret committee, conveying to us his declaration of October 1st, 1838, from Simla, crossed our letter on the way, and this fact of a similarity of opinion between two parties considering the same subject from the same documents, but separated many thousand miles from each other, will, I think, protect that opinion from the character of wildness and extravagance which has been attached to it by the Gentlemen opposite. Lord Auckland and the Cabinet came, without previous concert, to the same conclusion, that a movement across the Indus was indispensable for the very safety of our Eastern Empire—and what we thought then we think now. At the opening of the Session of 1841, not one word was said against an Affghan policy, although the mover and seconder of the address in this House had alluded to the sub- ject in terms of praise. On the granting of Lord Keane's pension, a remarkable debate took place. Was any opinion against the policy of the Affghan expedition expressed on that occasion? Just the contrary. In February, 1841, the subject of Lord Keane's annuity came twice under the consideration of the House; and on the 26th of that month the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. Peel) paid a merited compliment to the noble Lord. The right hon. Baronet said,—"I only trust that such information may be afforded by her Majesty's Ministers, as will produce satisfaction on the public mind in this country. I will not now state my opinion with respect to the course pursued by the Governor-general of India or by her Majesty's Government. I will not utter one word at present in condemnation of that course; but I must say, I view this proceeding with the deepest anxiety."
It was in this manner that the right hon. Gentleman manfully came forward to speak of those services. He would not misrepresent the right hon. Gentleman by saying that he stated any thing with respect to the policy of the war; but he did talk, and justly, of the great consequences and important results of this campaign; and he did not hint—for how could he?—at the possibility of disaster. No suspicion of such a nature appeared to have entered his mind; but a pleasing struggle afterwards took place as to who should pay the money. The right hon. Gentleman thought the East India Company ought to contend for the honour of paying one-half; and, then, what did the hon. Member for Beverley observe?—"In viewing the services of Lord Keane, they ought not to consider merely the taking of a particular fortress, but to bear in mind also the important consequences which attached to and followed his success. For himself, had Lord Keane performed no other services than those he performed in India, he should have been prepared to agree to this reward."
Here the challenge was thrown down, not by me, (I was at that time a Minister), but by an hon. East India director, who gave his opinion as to the campaign, in so far as it affected our Persian and-Russian relations; and no man then got up in the House and said that the war was unjust, dangerous, and impolitic, and that it might be ruinous to our Indian possessions. No man said this, because, as I will take the liberty of saying, no man believed it. No man, when the hon. Member for Beverley (Mr. Hogg) made that speech, could conceive in his own mind, however prophetic it might be, the probability, not to say the possibility, of those reverses which have since taken place. It was also a very remarkable circumstance that this approving opinion, that these observations, which were far from implying anything like condemnation, fell from an hon. Gentleman whose authority upon this subject was the less equivocal, because he happens to be the very gentleman who, when the Chinese expedition was attempted to be censured by the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham), seconded the motion. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hogg) did think that the Chinese expedition called for a condemnatory opinion from Parliament: he did think, although that work was begun, it was one with which Parliament ought to interfere for the purpose of stopping; and in a speech of great ability and detail, he seconded the motion of the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham). What, then, was I to infer from the course taken by the hon. Gentleman with reference to these two expeditions? I was bound to conclude that the hon. Gentleman looked at them with different eyes. Against one the hon. Gentleman uttered not one word of condemnation, while in respect to the other he proposed a vote of censure against the Government. But there was another more appropriate occasion for attacking our Affghan policy during the last year. The right hon. Baronet made his "want of confidence" motion, and gained that victory which dissolved the Parliament and overturned the Government. But to the best of my recollection, neither he nor any one of his friends made our Affghan war an article of an impeachment, although Lord John Russell did allude to our successes in that part of the world as a matter for just exultation. I have done with Parliament; but now let me read the testimony of a body of men, who are entitled to be listened to on this occasion, as in old times they were much listened to—I allude to the Courts of Directors and Proprietors of the East India Company. The Court of Directors, on December the 11th, 1839, and the Court of Proprietors, on Decem- ber the 18th, 1839, resolved as follows, nemine contradicente:—"Was there any man in this House," said that hon. Member, "who would say that the capture of Ghuznee and the campaign of Affghanistan were purely Indian? What! had they no reference to, and no bearing upon, European policy? Had they not been notoriously mixed up with our Persian relations, and our apprehensions of Russian intrigue and aggression? With these considerations present to his mind, he contended that instead of the East India Company being called upon to pay this pension, they might fairly call upon this House to defray half the expenses of the campaign in Affghanistan."
Where, then, is this schoolboy at Sandhurst who could point out the faults of this expedition? The Court of Directors were men who knew something of the mode in which an army ought to be prepared for the field and an expedition conducted; and such a document as I have read in praise of Lord Auckland's sagacity, both politically and militarily, would not have been agreed to nemine contradicente by the Court of Directors, if there were any reality in the discovery which the hon. Gentlemen opposite have made this evening, viz. that the expedition was prepared in such a manner that even a cadet at Sandhurst would have been ashamed of it. This is sagesse apreés coup; it is wisdom come a little too late, and the hon. Gentleman ought to have been more cautious in the application of such language, not only to principles but to persons, not only to deeds but to the men who had been concerned in them. Now let me ask what has occasioned this change of opinion in this House and in the country, supposing that a change has taken place? But I trust no change has taken place among the great majority of persons either in this House or the country; for I must be permitted to say that if the policy was questionable, the success which occurred did not alter the nature of that policy. If it was wrong to move a large body of troops into Affghanistan (not leaving naked, as the hon. Gentleman opposite has, in ignorance of the fact, stated, other parts of India which ought to have been in a state of defence. for reinforcements were sent to every part of the frontier where they were required), if there was anything wrong in this proceeding, it was not made better by the successes of the campaign, by the fall of Ghuznee and the capture of Cabul; and it was the duty of those who looked far forward to have warned the country against the consequences of this expedition. The hon. Gentleman said that I was excited by the brilliancy of the successes which had taken place. That is not the fact the hon. Gentleman has never been accurate in one of his statements. I stated the circumstances calmly to the House, and no one stood forward to warn the House of disastrous consequences. If I was excited—if I showed any intemperate joy on that occasion, why did not the hon. Gentleman notice it at the time? why keep his censure back for two years and more? I confess a great disaster has occurred, and I need not say how deeply I deplore it—but it is a military defeat—nothing more. It has nothing to do with the policy of the proceeding, unless it can be proved to be the inevitable consequence of our position in Affghanistan, which I am sure it cannot be proved. I deny the inference which the hon. Gentleman seems to have drawn that the disaster is not recoverable, and that it will shake our Indian empire to its foundation. I deny most positively that any such result or anything like the shadow of such dire events is likely to come over us; and whilst I am now addressing you, I indulge strong hopes that the calamity is in great part repaired. The hon. Gentleman opposite has very justly remarked that this is not the first great disaster recorded in Indian history, and he has alluded to Colonel Monson's retreat,—a reverse which, at the time, was thought of a most serious nature, and filled the minds of men with consternation. But what was the language of Lord Wellesley when he wrote to Lord Lake on the subject? Did he make use of the language of despair, or of obloquy against the parties concerned in that affair? No ! He said:—"Resolved, nemine contradicente, that this Court, taking into consideration the despatches relative to the late brilliant successes in the expedition to Affghanistan, the thanks of this Court be given to the right hon. Lord Aucland, Governor-general, for the sagacity and promptitude with which he planned that expedition, and for the zeal and vigour which he displayed in preparing the troops to take the field, to which may be attributed, in a great measure, the rapid and signal triumphs with which the British arms have been crowned by the result of the military operations in Affghanistan."
The hon. Gentleman has alluded to another defeat, of which he might have talked in more pointed terms, namely, our successive failures before Bhurtpore. Lord Lake failed three times before Bhurtpore, and General Monson once. There fell in the attacks, one lieut. colonel, two majors, twenty captains, one captain-lieutenant, forty-five lieutenants, one adjutant, one cornet, two ensigns, and 2,205 non-commissioned officers and privates. Lord Lake, in answer to a communication from Lord Wellesley, informing him that a peerage had been conferred on him, said that those disasters had taken off much of the pleasure of his newly obtained honours. There was then in India one of the great est men, perhaps, that country has ever produced; and with respect to these defeats before Bhurtpore he wrote as follows:—"Grievous and disastrous as the events are, the extent of the calamity does not exceed my expectation. From the first hour of Colonel Monson's retreat I have always augured the ruin of that detachment. I fear my poor friend Monson is gone. Whatever may be his fate, or whatever the result of his misfortune to my own fame, I will endeavour to shield his character from obloquy; nor will I attempt the mean purpose of sacrificing his reputation to save mine. His former services and his zeal entitle him to indulgence, and, however I may lament or suffer from his errors, 1 will not reproach his memory if he be lost, nor his character if he survive. I admit no doubt in my mind, of your complete and early triumph; but it is necessary on all great occasions to look to the utmost possible, or rather imaginable degree of misfortune distinctly in front."
The writer of this letter was no less a person than Sir Thomas Munro; and I may add that when at last Bhurtpore was subdued, many years afterwards, 20,000 men, and more than 100 pieces of cannon were employed against it, but it did fall, and it is now only a name in the map of India. Then what was the case with respect to the Burmese war. Was that attended with uniform success? Did no loss, no great loss of men, and of treasure, occur during the two years of that struggle? Why both the war, and the peace that followed it, were much complained of at the time, and left a debt of 13,000,000l. to the Indian government. Let us advert, for a moment, to the Nepal war. It lasted nearly two years, beginning in August 1814, and ending in March 1816. The death of the gallant Gillespie, the untimely prudence of General Martindale, the mistakes of General Wood, the misconduct of General Marley, the latter of whom was censured in general orders by the Commander-in-Chief, are matters now recorded in the common text book of Indian history. There was a complete failure in the first campaign—and it was not until the close of the second year that peace was obtained—and a more unsatisfactory work than that peace is hard to be conceived. The time, as it appears to me, must come, when we shall have to complete that unfinished task, with perils and at an ex-pence much greater than would have been incurred, had we accomplished our whole design by a continuance of the contest, and driven back the Goorkhas to their native mountains. And now, Sir, having dwelt upon topics, either introduced by the two Gentlemen opposite, or incidental to the discussion, I would wish to come to the main point in question—I mean the policy of the expedition into Affghanistan. That policy has been arraigned by the two hon. Gentlemen, as it has been arraigned in other quarters, with little or no attention to the full and comprehensive view which ought to be taken of all the facts on which the Government of India and the Cabinet at home were called upon to decide. The hon. Gentlemen have picked out a bit here, and a bit there, from documents to which they are pleased to attach credit—but let these documents be ever so authentic, I say, that is not the way to judge of any great political movement. The way is to regard the question in all its bearings, with a view to all the facts which are positively known, and all the consequences which may fairly be counted upon. For my own part, I repeat, that I consider the papers laid before Parliament in 1839, do afford a full and fair view of, and a complete justification for, the expedition to the westward of the Indus. I say, Sir, that the letters of Lord Auckland to the secret committee, dated from Simla, on the 22nd of May, 1838, and on the 13th of August of that year, with their inclosures, and his declaration of the 1st of October, to say nothing of the other documents presented to Parliament, afford a full exposition of Lord Auck- land's policy, and account satisfactorily for his undertaking this enterprise. The real question which Lord Auckland and the Cabinet at home had to consider, was, whether the intermediate country between the confines of Persia and the Indus, or rather our own frontier on the Sutledge, was to be in possession of a friendly power, or one manifestly hostile, that was the real question. If this region, far more important by its position than its resources, could have been in hands perfectly neutral, then, indeed, no man could have thought of occupying territories so far from our frontiers, and the heart of our own empire. But political events of recent occurrence, had decided, that the neutrality of these countries was out of the question. It was manifest, that Affghanistan must inevitably be in possession of a power, either friendly to us, and prepared to act with us, or the instruments of mischief and alarm to our Indian empire. With that alternative presented to the Governor-general and to the British Cabinet, I saw no choice left for Lord Auckland—no choice left for us. The hon. Gentleman asked, whether Lord Auckland had undertaken the war after full consideration, and on just grounds—I answer, after the fullest consideration; as for the justice of the grounds, I say, yes, also; but that, of course, is the matter at issue between us, and on which the House and the country will have to decide. The hon Gentleman has asked, whether proper authorities were consulted, I beg to answer that question in the affirmative, proper authorities were consulted. With regard to Sir Henry Fane, the then Commander-in-Chief, the hon. Gentleman has read part of the document. [Mr. H. J. Baillie had read no document on the point.] The hon. Gentleman, however, said he had reason to believe, that Sir Henry Fane had recorded an opinion decidedly adverse to the Aff-ghan expedition. This might have been so: indeed I have heard it was so; but supposing it to have been the case, the question being one of state policy, it did not follow, that one authority alone was to be consulted or followed. The truth, however, is, that the retirement of Sir Henry Fane from the command of the army of the Indus, had nothing whatever to do, so far as I am acquainted with the facts, with any disapprobation of the policy of the war. What I understand to be the cause of his retirement was this, that after the news of the raising of the siege of Herat, the intended army was so reduced in number, and the importance of the undertaking apparently so diminished, that the command was no longer considered adequate for a general of his rank and character. [It was so stated in general orders, dated Camp Ferozpore, 30th November, 1838, and Lord Auckland added, "The Governor-general has on this occasion to record his grateful sense of the readiness with which his excellency has been, as he is yet, prepared, to postpone all personal consideration to the service of his country."] All the information I recollect to have had on the subject is to that effect; as to any recorded opinion given officially against the expedition itself, I think I may safely say I never saw it. So much for Sir Henry Fane's retirement from the command of the army of the Indus. [A Member: He was in ill health.] Yes, he was in ill health, and it may be remembered, died not very long afterwards. But, to return to the policy and the causes of the expedition. Gentlemen are aware, that in 1835, a complimentary mission was sent by my noble Friend (Lord Palmerston), on the part of his late Majesty, to congratulate the Schah of Persia on his accession to the throne, an event which had been mainly brought about by the assistance of the British envoy, aided, no doubt, by Russian influence; Mr. Ellis was charged with that mission. The hon. Gentleman is aware, that that Gentleman is not connected politically, certainly not at the present time, nor was at that time, with the late Government. Shortly after Mr. Ellis's arrival, he wrote to my noble Friend near me an account of an interview which he had had with two of the ministers of the Schah of Persia, in consequence of his having been instructed by my noble Friend to inform those ministers and the Schah that we could not encourage the Schah in his pretensions to extend his dominions beyond his own confines; that the Affghans were an independent state—that we were, to a certain extent, as the hon. Gentleman very justly stated, the guarantees of their independence—and that we could not allow, without a remonstrance at least, the Persian monarch to make advances to the eastward. At that interview, strange to say, the two ministers of Persia held language that I will now read to the House. It was to this effect, and will be found in the papers presented to Parliament—the letter is dated the 30lh of December, 183.5:—"I admire the gallantry and perseverance with which both the Europeans and Bengal army have so often returned to the assault of Bhurtpore; even if the report of the Europeans being dispirited is well founded, it is not to be wondered at, for I do not believe that any troops in Europe would have preserved their spirit, under so many discouraging repulses as they have sustained. Their despondency will soon vanish. I hope that the general will persevere in the siege and if he is deficient in military stores, convert it into a blockade until he gets a supply. I see nothing gloomy in your situation, but, on the contrary, everything that ought to inspire hope and confidence. The repulses at Bhurtpore give me a higher opinion of the Bengal army than all their victories. We cannot expect that we are to carry on war without meeting with any disaster, and that it should be quite a holiday work in which everything is to go on as we wish."
That was given in Mr. Ellis's letter of the 30th of December, 1835, and commenting upon it in his letter of February, 1836, he wrote thus to my noble Friend:—"The two Ministers, the one being Prime Minister of Persia, and the other the Minister for Foreign Affairs, protested against considering the Affghans as a government, or a consolidated state with whom relations of peace or equality were to be maintained; they declared, that a large portion of Affghanistan belonged to the Schah of Persia, and that he was at liberty to decide how he would deal with the Affghans, they being his own subjects. Wishing to ascertain the exact pretensions of the Persian monarch in Affghanistan, rather than discuss the question of right, I inquired how far they considered the dominions of the Schah to extend; their reply was to Ghuznee. On a former occasion, the Hajee had mentioned the occupation of Herat as a proximate enterprise, and that of Candahar, as one not far distant."
He had not the same enlightened views as the hon. Gentleman."I feel quite assured that the British Government cannot permit the extension of the Persian monarchy in the direction of Affghanistan, with a due regard to the tranquillity of India."
Could there be a more decided opinion than that of the necessity of a movement to compel the Schah of Persia to understand that the British Government would not submit to his movement eastward; and that they considered that movement as pregnant with the worst consequences to the safety and tranquillity of our Indian Empire? But did we make any movement until every effort of the most friendly kind had been made on the part of the Ministers from England to the Court of Persia to persuade her to give up her pretensions, and to convince her that she had mistaken her best interests in having those projects in view? We did not. I must take the liberty of saying, that I have not invited this discussion, but as it has been embarked in, I am compelled to state what made Lord Auckland and the British Government most seriously regard these advances of Persia eastward. It was not Persia alone. No; the hon. Gentleman is right in that opinion. The unassisted efforts of Persia, perhaps, might have been resisted by the unassisted arms of Affghanistan. But Persia did not stand alone. Unfortunately from the first elevation of the young Schah of Persia, that young sovereign seems to have been inflamed by passion for conquest, quite incompatible, I think, with his best interests, and the Schah has since discovered it. That passion was inflamed by advice tendered to him in a fatal hour by some to whom he looked as his best friends, because they flattered his worst passions, I am sorry to say that that advice came from the Russian minister at the court of Persia. It came from the representative of that most powerful state, who had hitherto acted in the most friendly way with the British Minister, but who gave advice to the Schah totally contrary to the advice that was tendered by the British Minister, and carried his advice afterwards into effect by the intervention which I must more particularly allude to hereafter—an intervention on the part of the representative of the cabinet of St. Peters-burgh, which was totally incompatible—I say, was totally incompatible with the very safety of India. Count Simonich advised the advance upon Herat. Hon. Gentleman are now so familiar with the importance of that city and state, from its position in Central Asia, that it is unnecessary for me to dwell upon it. This, however, I must state, that the best authorities had laid it down as an indisputable fact that that city and its immediate dependencies are the most important of all the cities and states of Central Asia, and that the master of Herat is in a position, both with reference to Persia and to the Affghan states, to hold the balance, if he has any considerable power, between the parties who might contend for empire much further and with much greater proximity to India. But Count Simonich did not confine himself to giving advice. At the very time that the English Minister, in consequence of instruction from Lord Palmeston, retired, after fruitless endeavours to prevail upon the Schah to relinquish his pretensions, Count Simonich remained in the neighbourhood, and actually, it might be said, superintended the siege, and an officer of distinction, who bad been in the Russian service, assisted-at the siege, and I think, I recollect, was killed there. But it did not stop there. The intervention of Russia did not stop with the mere appearance of the Russian ambassador at the siege of Herat. Forsooth, a treaty was entered into—it will be found in the papers before the House—by which, in the most summary way, the lawful sovereign of Herat (the real representative of the ancient dynasty) was to be dethroned, and his dominions were given to one of the princes of Candahar, a brother of Dost Mahomed. By that treaty an entire change was to occur in the whole of that important part of Central Asia; and who does the House of Commons think was the guarantee of that treaty? No less a person than the Russian ambassador, and I hold a proof of it in my hand. Was the Governor-general of India, or the Minister at home charged with the Indian department, or my noble Friend, the then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, or the Cabinet at large, to permit such a state of things for a moment? Was Lord Auckland to look on tamely when this transaction was taking place, I might say, at the very gates of India? But there was a person who has gained an unhappy notoriety by the publication of these papers, deputed also, I am sorry to say, by the Russian ambassador—a renegade Pole he was said to have been—a Captain Vicovitch, whose exploits, no doubt, hon. Members have read of in this history. That individual was deputed by Count Simonich to go—whither? To the ex-chief of Cabul—and he went there accordingly. But, not contented with that, there was to be another mission, a sort of branch mission to the Ameers of Scinde, and another to the court of Lahore; and was Lord Auckland to consider those things as nothing but a trumpery effort made by the Schah of Persia, which the very shadow of the British bayonet from beyond the Sutledge would at once put down? No ! Lord Auckland considered, with the Cabinet at home, that the time was come for resistance. My noble Friend (Lord Palmerston) directed a remonstrance to be made to Count Nesselrode, and an answer was given to it. The hon. Gentleman said, that my noble Friend, in his reply, considered the answer satisfactory; that was not the word. My noble Friend said be considered the assurances were satisfactory, and so they were, for they were carried into effect. For what occurred? Count Simonich was recalled; and, moreover, the unhappy man, Captain Vicovitch, who was a tool in these intrigues, was also recalled, and has been heard of no more. The rumour was, that he put an end to his own existence; but he has been heard of no more. An effect, however, a very serious and dangerous effect, had been produced by these intrigues. It did not signify to those barbarous states whether or not that ambassador, Count Simonich, or that envoy, Captain Vicovitch, had exceeded their orders, or not, as Count Nesselrode said they had. What did Dost Mahomed know of that? How could he judge? There was a letter said to be from the Emperor of Russia, accompanied by presents, by which, as is well known, all matters of importance are transacted in those countries, in the most friendly terms, and at the same time he received another letter from Count Simonich most directly opening a correspondence with the Court of Cabul. What, then, was the natural conclusion of Lord Auckland? The natural conclusion was, that the time so often foretold was at last approaching, and that the mighty power of the North was now at last menacing our eastern dominions. Sir, we were called upon to act in regard to Russia as we found her at the time. Hon. Gentlemen need not be reminded in how few years her vast authority has been pushed to the south-eastward not less than 400 miles; nor that she has a sea, almost her own, at no great distance from the regions of which we are now speaking. Was it the duty of the Governor-general of India to treat that as a mere childish manœuvre, that a mere explanation was sufficient? Was it for my noble Friend, or the Governor-general, or the Cabinet, to treat them as things to be trifled with? No. The time was come when they were called upon to show the Shah of Persia that the performances of England were at least as valid as the promises of Russia. They did show that, and the effect was seen at once. Reference has been made by the hon. Gentleman to Sir A. Burnes. There is no man who ought to speak of Sir A. Burnes with greater knowledge of his character than myself. I had an intimate correspondence with him through other parties, and I consider him as an ornament to British India, and in many respects, an irreparable loss. But suppose he had given an opinion contrary to that upon which Lord Auckland afterwards acted. Was that a charge against Lord Auckland? Was the Governor-general to act uniformly upon all that was told him by one British agent? Was he not to consider others too? And was he not to put together what he considered, upon the whole, to be the best of the opinions that were given to him, and to act upon them? It has been said that all the documents were not laid upon the Table, and that parts had been omitted. That is true: but there has been no garbling of the papers. Various parts were withheld, and very reasonably so; and if I were still the Minister, and those papers were called for, I should do the like again. To have published all that Sir A. Burnes said, would have answered no good purpose. The only object required to be shewn was, what was the cause of the war. I do not mean to say that Sir A. Burnes did not maintain opinions different from Lord Auckland; and, as I stated the other night, the late Government published three of Sir A. Barnes's letters, in which he gave a decided opinion in preference of Dost Mahomed against the pretensions of any other person; we had no objection, nor did we make any attempt to conceal Sir A. Burnes's opinion. I am, however, happy to say, that the charge of unfairly garbling the documents in our offices, merely to make out our own case, has been completely disposed of by the now President of the Board of Control, who, having access to all the papers in question, has, with a manliness and candour, which might well be counted upon from him, declared the other day, in the House of Lords, that we are not in any way liable to that imputation. I proceed now, in reference to the opinions of Sir A. Burnes, to remark that the choice of the chief with whom we were to co-operate in Affghanistan, although a matter of much importance, was not the most important question which Lord Auckland was called upon to decide. No, the real question was, whether the state of affairs in the regions between Persia and India was such as to require direct British intervention. Now, upon this point, hear the opinion of Sir A. Burnes. In a letter, dated the 23rd of December, 1837, Sir A. Burnes said:—"That extension will at once bring Russian influence to the very threshold of our Empire, and as Persia will not or dare not, place herself in a condition of close alliance with Great Britain, our policy must be to consider her as no longer an outwork for the defence of India, but as the first parallel from which the attack may be commenced or threatened."
And on the 5th of March, 1838, in a letter that is also published, he said, in warning the Government of their proceedings:—"Having thus laid before your Lordship the strong demonstrations on the part of Russia to interest herself in the affairs of this country, it will not, I feel satisfied, be presumptuous to state my most deliberate conviction, that much more vigorous proceedings than the Government may wish or contemplate are necessary to counteract Russian or Persian intrigues in this quarter."
If Lord Auckland had any great reliance on Sir A. Burnes, and he had the greatest, the extracts I have just read from the letters of Sir A. Burnes, as far as his opinion was regarded, would be a complete justification of the movement. I am not treating of the choice of a chief, but of the enterprise itself. I am now going to quote a letter which was not in the published papers, but which was completely confirmatory of those opinions of Sir A. Burnes. It was a letter sent to me by Lord Auckland which Sir A. Burnes, after his retirement from Cabul, wrote to Sir W. M'Naghten. It was in these terms:—"In the beginning of these proceedings it was the expressed wish of his Lordship, that the differences between the Sikhs and the Aff-ghans should be healed without an ostensible intervention on our part. I had little hope, from the excitation that reigns in this country, that this plan would be feasible. After nearly six months residence in this city I am con-strained to pronounce it perfectly hopeless."
"June 3, 1838.
A remonstrance was made accordingly, as I have stated, by my noble Friend."It is clear, that the British Government cannot, with any credit or justice to itself, permit the present state of affairs at Cabul to continue. The counteraction applied, must, however extend beyond Dost Mahomed Khan, and to both Persia and Russia. A demand of explanation from the Cabinet of St. Peters-burgh would, I conceive, be met by an evasive answer, and gain for us no end; besides, the policy of Russia is now fairly developed, and requires no explanation, for it explains itself, since that government is clearly resolved upon using the influence she possesses in Persia (which is as great there as what the British command in India) to extend her power eastward. It had better, therefore, be assumed at once, that such are her plans, and remonstrate accordingly."
And this was also tried."If we can do but little with Russia, the case is widely different with Persia. She should at once be warned off Affghanistan, and our continuance of an alliance with her should depend upon her compliance. I believe, that a letter from the Governor-general of India sent to the Schah of Persia at Herat would gain our end,"
"And, this effected, there is nothing to fear from the proceedings of Dost Mahomed Khan, or any other of the Affghan chiefs. If this be left undone, they will succumb to Persia and Russia, and become the instruments for whatever those powers desire. I, therefore, distinctly slate, that the evil lies beyond Affghanistan itself, and must be dealt with accordingly. If it is the object of Government to destroy the power of the present chief of Cabul, it may be effected by the agency of his brother, Sultan Mahomed Khan, or of Soojah-ool-Moolk; but to insure complete success to the plan, the British Government must ppear directly in it; that is, it must not be left to the Sikhs themselves.
"Of Sultan Mahomed Khan, the first instrument at command, you will remember that his brother, Dost Mahomed, plainly confessed his dread of him if guided by Sikh gold, and with such aid the ruler of Cabul may be readily destroyed; but Sultan Mahomed has not the ability to rule Cabul—he is a very good man, but incapable of acting for himself; and, though fit as an instrument in getting rid of a present evil, he would still leave affairs as unsettled as ever when fixed in Cabul, and he is consequently a very questionable agent to be used at all.
So much for the advice tendered by Sir Alexander Burnes to Lord Auckland, who, when he transmitted this extract of his letter to me, remarked,—"As for Soojah-ool-Moolk personally, the British Government have only to send him to Peshawur with an agent and two of his own regiments as an honorary escort, and an avowal to the Affghans that we have taken up his cause, to ensure his being fixed for ever on his throne. The present time is perhaps better than any previous to it, for the Affghans as a nation detest Persia, and Dost Mahomed having gone over to the Court of Teheran, though he believes it to be from dire necessity, converts many a doubting Affghan into an enemy."
I ask the House could any thing possibly be more fair, more candid, than Lord Auckland's mode of dealing with the authority of Sir Alexander Burnes, when he sent me these opinions?—and I would also ask, whether what I have read is not quite conclusive as to the opinions of Sir Alexander Burnes in favour of direct in- tervention, and more than that, of the facility with which Schah Soojah would be replaced on the throne of Cabool—and of his permanence when seated thereon? There is no mistaking his words—two of our regiments as an honorary escort, a British agent, and an avowal to the Aff-ghans that we had taken up his cause, would ensure his being fixed for ever on his throne—and this is the authority which Lord Auckland is charged with having disregarded. In fact, Lord Auckland sent for Sir Alexander Burnes to Simla, consulted him—and afterwards employed him in carrying out some of the most difficult and delicate preparations for the ensuing enterprise. 1 now come to another authority, which, it seems, the hon. Gentleman has much relied upon, and which, to my infinite surprise, he has quoted as unfavourable to the policy and plans of Lord Auckland—I mean Mr. Masson. [Mr. Baillie had merely referred to printed papers.] Exactly so, but in looking at the printed papers the hon. Gentleman has somehow or the other overlooked the opinion of this very Mr. Masson, as quoted by Captain, now Sir Claude Wade, in a letter dated the 1 st of January, 1838, from Loodhiana. In this letter, Sir Claude Wade endeavoured to impress upon Lord Auckland that Schah Soojah ought to be preferred to Dost Mahomed, and stated why he differed from Sir Alexander Burnes on that point. Gentlemen would do well to peruse that important document, the facts stated in which, and the inferences drawn from them, are directly at variance with everything said by the hon. Gentlemen opposite. In one place, Sir Claude Wade says,—"He is a good witness on this occasion, for his inclination is in favour, notwithstanding all that has passed, of Dost Mahomed."
In another place of the same letter, Sir Claude Wade says:—"My own sources of information which have been repeatedly authenticated, both by Natives and Europeans, who have visited Cabool, lead me to believe, that the authority of the Ameer, (Dost Mahomed) is by no means popular with his subjects, and many instances in confirmation of the fact might be adduced from the reports of Mr. Masson, even when that individual has been willing to render every justice to Dost Mahomed Khan's abilities."
Sir Claude Wade continues:—"At a subsequent period when describing the retreat of Dost Mahomed from his fruitless enterprise against the Sikhs in 1835, and the discontent which then prevailed at Cabool, Mr. Masson made the following re- marks:—The failure of Schah Soojah is now most sincerely lamented. I myself rejoiced at it at the time, but the course of events seems to prove, that his success would have been felicitous to these countries. The wishes of all classes turn to his restoration."
Mr. Masson says:—"After the late encounter with the Sikhs, the disputes of parties ran so high, that had the Schah (Soojah) appeared in the country, he might, I am informed, have became master of Cabool and Candahar in two months; and Dost Mahomed Khan is not to be trusted; an opinion for which I have not only the authority of Mr. Masson, but of his countrymen who knew him best."
So says Mr. Masson, as quoted by Sir Claude Wade, who sums up his advice by these words:—"I must confess, I am not very sanguine as to any very favourable result from negociations with the Barukzyes, (that is Dost Mahomed and his brothers.) They are indeed their own enemies; but their eternal and unholy dissensions and enmities, have brought them to be considered as pests to the country, and the likelihood is, that affairs will become worse not better. The British Government could employ interference without offending half a dozen individuals. Schah Soojah, under their auspices, would not even encounter opposition; and the Ameer and his friends, if he have any, must yield to his terms, or become fugitives. No slight advantage, were Schah Soojah at the head of the Government here, would be, that from his residence amongst Europeans, he would view their intercourse in these countries without jealousy, which cannot be expected from the present rulers, but after a long period, and until better acquaintance may remove their distrust."
Yet, with these opinions of Mr. Masson's, with these opinions of Sir Claude Wade's, as set forth in a Parliamentary document, the hon. Gentleman has had the courage to quote Mr. Masson, as unfavourable to Lord Auckland's proceedings, and has had the still greater boldness, to say, that not a single authority could be found for the course which his Lordship adopted in restoring Schah Soojah to the throne of Cabool. Sir, I know that this letter of Sir Claude Wade was before Lord Auckland when he resolved upon the expedition, and that it was one of the authorities which determined his course of action. Lord Auckland had the opinions of other trustworthy men, such as the late Dr. Lord, Lieutenant Wood, and Major Todd, which I would quote, were I not afraid of wearying the House, all to the same effect. They are contained in the letter from the Governor-general to the Secret Committee of the 13th of August, 1837. I will now advert to the view taken by Lord Auckland of the circumstances thus presented to his notice by his confidential agents. Much has been said of the precipitancy, the blind precipitancy with which the late Governor-general rushed, as it were head-long, into this perilous, this gigantic enterprize. But the truth is, that Lord Auckland, maturely considered all the perils, and the whole magnitude of the undertaking, and deliberately weighing the probable results of it, entered upon it with a due sense of the awful responsibility incurred by it. He took a calm and cautious view of events as they arose, and did not suffer himself to be frightened by the first appearance of any danger, however novel and alarming. Even the Russian mission to the Affghan chiefs did not, in the first instance, induce him to change his course. In his letter, of the 20th of January, 1838, given in the Parliamentary papers, we find him saying of this mission, "I attach but little importance to it." But when the intrigues of the parties employed began to develope themselves, and were forced upon his attention by Sir Alexander Burnes, he was compelled to view that new interference in a very different light. In his minute of the 12th of May, 1838, inclosed in the letter of the 22nd of May to the secret committee, we find him writing thus:—"I submit my opinions with every deference to the wisdom of his Lordship's decision; but it occurs to me, that less violence would be done to the prejudices of the people, and to the safety and well being of our relations with other powers, by facilitating the restoration of Schah Soojah, than by forcing the Affghans to submit to the sovereignty of the Ameer."
As the danger increased, and after Lord Auckland had come to the conclusion that it could only be met by direct inter, vention, he wrote thus to the secret committee on the 13th of August, 1838."Circumstances have occurred which may materially modify my views; the Russian agents have now put themselves prominently forward in aid of the designs of Persia, and we could scarcely with prudence, allow this new and more formidable element of disorder and intrigue to be established without opposition on our frontiers. The extraordinary excitement which has been produced in the public mind, as well in the Punjaub as in Affghanistan, in consequence of the approach of the Persian power, is also a signal to us of the mischief which might arise, were that power to acquire a settled authority or influence over all the Affghan countries."
His Lordship did not anticipate that any man, at a future time, would use the language held by the Gentlemen opposite this night. He little thought any one would be bold enough to affirm the directly contrary proposition and declare that "of the injustice of the proceeding there could be no doubt." No, Lord Auckland with all his knowledge of the facts, with the pressure of all the circumstances immediately acting upon his mind, with the advice of every agent and councillor within his reach, with a full sense of his personal and official responsibility, Lord Auckland 1 say, declared,"Of the justice of the course about to be pursued, there cannot exist a reasonable doubt."
What 1 have read will be found in the letter of Lord Auckland, to the secret committee, contained in the papers presented to Parliament, but I will now take the liberty of reading to the House extracts from two private letters addressed by Lord Auckland to myself, which strongly confirm all I have said in regard to his opinions and feelings at this crisis. Writing tome from Simla, on the 12th of July, 1838, he says,"Of the justice of the course about to be pursued, there cannot be a reasonable doubt. We owe it to our own safety, to assist the lawful sovereign of Affghanistan, in the recovery of his throne. The welfare of our possessions in the East, requires that we should in the present crisis of our affairs, have a decidedly friendly power on our frontiers, and that we should have an ally who is interested in resisting aggression, and establishing tranquillity in place of a chief seeking to identify himself with those whose schemes of aggrandisement and conquest are not to be disguised."
Again, on the 23rd of August, 1838, Lord Auckland thus addressed me,"I give you the copy of a letter, which has just reached me from Major Todd. I gather from it that all I am doing or preparing to do is well justified by the avowed policy of the Persian Court, and by the hostile proceedings of the Russian agents—and you may assume it for next to certain that I shall go onwards, with many a deep feeling of regret, that I am not allowed to prosecute measures of peace and of peaceful improvement; but with a perfect conviction, that it is only by a bold front, and by strong exertions, that the aggressions and dangers with which we are threatened, can be warded off."
The hon. Gentlemen opposite have affected to despise the influence of these rumours on the native states—indeed, they have appeared to attach but little weight to the native states themselves. Sir, these Gentlemen may have some acquaintance with the subjects, but surely not more than Lord Auckland, and not more than the distinguished Indian servants, on whose authority he relied, and who did not think it beneath their dignity to pay attention to, and to report these rumours to the head of their government. I cannot persuade myself that Lord Auckland would have acted in accordance either with wisdom or duty if he had followed the course which the Gentlemen opposite would have advised—if he had disregarded all these symptoms of feverish restlessness and despised them, to use a familiar phrase, as mere matter of moonshine, incapable of affecting an empire fixed, so the hon. Gentleman says, on a foundation which neither foreign aggression nor domestic treason can endanger or destroy. If this indeed were true—if our dominion in India were past all the perils, which, I have always supposed, must more or less environ every great colony at a vast distance from the parent state—than, indeed the alarms of Lord Auckland and of his advisers, would have been without cause and without excuse. But 1 believe every man of sober judgment will think Lord Auckland fully justified in taking the ordinary and opposite view. And I hope that, so far as authorities have any weight, I have toleraby well settled the question of intervention, and have established the necessity for Lord Auckland following the advice given to him, and "warning Persia off Affghanistan," and saying to that power, "So far you shall go, but no farther." "Your claims on Herat—your pretensions to Ghuznee—founded on the old conquests of Nadir Schah, cannot, will not, be listened to for a moment." Suppose the question of intervention to be decided, I cannot help thinking that the mass of authority, as well as subsequent experience, justified the choice of the chief in whose name we conducted our enterprise. It would be unjust to mix up the late misfortunes with any supposed defects in the character of Schah Soojah. Differences of opinion were entertained in that respect by the public functionaries more immediately attached to his court; and, on the whole, I should say, from a perusal of those documents to which I had access when at the India Board, that those who had the best opportunities of observing that prince were the most inclined to view him favourably. 1 have heard, since I quitted office, upon something like good authority, that at the time when Sir W. M'Naghten and Sir A. Burnes were totally unaware of the mine which was about to explode beneath them, they received a warning of their danger, and that warning came from no other person than Schah Soojah himself. I will now notice one or two topics touched upon by the hon. Gentleman opposite—one of the charges brought against the intervention was, that it was an infringement of the treaty of Teheran. It is quite true that, by that treaty, we did stipulate to take no part, unless requested by both states, in any quarrels which might arise between the Persians and the Affghans. But, then, that treaty always was based on the supposition that the Affghans were an independent nation, and Mr. Elphin-stone's treaty of 1809 dealt with them as such. When, therefore, the present Schah of Persia put forward pretensions to the sovereignty of that country, and engaged in hostilities, confessedly to obtain that sovereignty, he struck at the very root of the treaty, and released us from all obligation to perform our part of the engagement. Besides, what was the avowed object of our treaty with Persia? The pro- tection of India, the assistance of Persia to prevent any hostile movement, through Central Asia, upon our eastern dominions; this was the object of the treaty of Teheran, just as it was of the treaty, proposed by Mr. Elphinstone, with the Aff-ghans. But the conduct pursued by the present Schah, menaced us with the very danger which the two treaties were intended to avert, that is to say, an aggressive movement towards our western frontiers. It mattered not to us whether the danger arose from one powerful ally of Persia or another; what France was in 1809, Russia might be in 1838; and we had a clear right to interpose, to prevent the alarm and excitement which must necessarily have been caused by the near approach of such a power to our frontier, even supposing there were no fears of their hostile project being carried into full effect. The Zhon. Gentleman seems to think it mighty ridiculous to attempt to avert an attack upon ourselves by carrying the war to a distance, and providing means for assailing our antagonist in their own quarters. What did Lord Wellesley do in 1799, when Schah Zemana contemplated an attack on India. He sent an agent, Captain Malcolm, to Persia, with instructions to form a treaty with Persia, for the purpose of attacking the Affghans, and thus diverting them from their projected invasion of Hindostan. Again, in 1809, when Napoleon sent General Gardanne to Teheran, with a mission on a large scale, to secure the assistance of the Schah, in a combined attack upon India, the British authorities of that day imitated the example of Lord Wellesley though making use of different instruments to effect the same purpose. Then it was that Mr. Elphinstone undertook his celebrated journey, to persuade the Affghans, to make common cause with us against Persia; then also a mission was sent for the same object to the Ameers of Sinde, and then preparations were made for despatching a naval force to attack Bussorah, just as Lord Auckland has occupied Karah. These measures and the judicious diplomacy of one of our agents at Teheran, produced the desired effect. The French mission was baffled, defeated, and dismissed, there was no appeal to arms in the case, but neither Lord Wellesley nor Lord Minto waited quietly for their enemies, at home, but prepared a movement against them in their own dominions. Such was their policy, and it succeeded—such was our policy and it has succeeded too. The hon. Gentleman not only despised any danger, which may arise from native states, within our own territories, but has talked with some contempt of our neighbours of Birmah and Nepaul. This is to me quite a novel mode of viewing and speaking of those powers. When I was at the India Board, I found all those who knew anything of the matter, regarded them with much anxiety, and unless I am much mistaken, those now in authority regard them in the same light at this time; and I must beg to tell the Gentlemen opposite, that when I mentioned amongst the happy results of our first Affghan campaign, that the Nepaulese and Birmese had begun to assume a less hostile attitude towards us, I mentioned what was a subject of just congratulation, nor did I at all exaggerate the beneficial change produced throughout India, by our first triumphs in Affghanistan. Sir, much has been said in Parliament, and more still out of doors, as to the dismay produced in British India by the late disasters; but unless I am much misinformed, there has been not a little exaggeration on this subject. My decided belief is that they have not produced so serious an impression in India, as they have in England. I have, this day, conversed with a highly respectable person of rank and influence, a Hindoo gentleman of Calcutta, who spoke to me on this point without the slightest reserve. Of course that gentleman did not underrate the losses we had sustained; he deplored as every one must, the destruction of human life and the fall of many valuable men—but he treated as absurd the idea that these disasters, great as they were, could produce any serious effect on the stability of our Indian Empire, and was astonished to hear them spoken of, as being unparalleled in their nature and extent. For my own part, so far as I can presume to form a judgment, I have no faith in the gloomy prophecies of the gentlemen opposite; so far from being likely to be fulfilled, my firm persuasion is, that, in all probability, they will be speedily falsified. Hopes have been expressed on more than one occasion in this House and elsewhere, that the present advisers of her Majesty will adopt a totally different policy in regard to Central Asia, from that pursued by Lord Auckland and the late Government. I need scarcely say that my hopes, I will add my expectations, take an entirely different direction. Unless circumstances should change to a degree, and in a manner which none of the information I received at the India Board will permit me to contemplate as at all probable, I cannot but think Lord Auckland's policy will be, in its main objects, followed out by his successor. I trust, indeed, that no Minister will be timid enough, or I ought to say bold enough, to depart altogether from the course marked out by the late hon. Governor-General. I do not think that any Minister will incur the responsibility of departing from the principles which formed the basis of Lord Auckland's administration. To say that some disasters, and those of a serious character, have happened, is saying no more than what might be said of every great war; but such disasters do not justify despondency, far less will any wise government alter its course because of, and at the time of those sinister events. On the contrary, I expect to find that the immediate result will be to stimulate the Government and the country to renewed and more strenuous exertions. Was our policy or our perseverance in the Spanish war the least affected by the retreat from Burgos? Many and many great calamities befel the country in the course of her long and sanguinary struggle with France. Those calamities gave occasion and pretext for repeated attacks on the Ministers of the day—the failures were condemned as proofs of the impolicy of the measures—but the Government did not give way. It yielded to no remonstrance, no attacks within or out of Parliament—the nation rose superior to every disaster—triumphs succeeded to reverses—and the war was brought to a glorious and triumphant termination. Let but the present Government follow that example, and they will be crowned, I doubt not, with like success. Hon. Members have talked as if nothing could hereafter be done to reestablish our influence in Central Asia, as if anything that has happened could destroy or seriously impair the strength and resources of our Indian Empire. It is impossible to listen to remarks of that nature, without lamenting the imperfect knowledge upon which they must be founded. I have, indeed, witnessed, in debates on this matter, such strange instances ignorance in respect even to the acknowledged limits of British India, that I almost distrusted my own recollections on the subject. For example, I heard one hon. Member, in opposing the Ministerial address of last August, accuse the late Government of having wished to extend British power beyond the natural recognised boundary of the Indus. As if the Indus ever had been the boundary of British India !! Those who have looked at the map know, that between the Sut-ledge and the Indus lies a territory that even yet has not come within our control—indeed belonging to a most important state—and that whatever direct influence we possess to the sonthward of the Pun-jaub, in Scinde, has been acquired during the late war. Not very many years ago, no Englishman dared show his face at Hyderabad in Scinde—what is the case new? The Ameers are our friends—our tributary friends—the country is in our military possession—and what is of the utmost importance and significance, the great Indus is now navigated by British steam-boats, and carries our commerce and our arms into the heart of countries where they were before almost unknown. Now, perhaps, we may call the Indus the natural boundary of British India, but it is the first time we have had a right to do so. One of the hon. Gentlemen has said, that our commerce with the countries beyond the Indus has been annihilated by this war. He has mentioned the number of camels that have perished, and the general difficulties of transit for commodities caused by the late disasters. Who denies it? who denies that a country which is the seat of war does not afford facilities for commercial intercourse? 1 admit, that since the insurrection of November, 1841, our commerce with the countries watered by the Indus, has received a great check, and naturally so, but the hon. Gentleman seems to know nothing of the fact, that a great impulse was given to that very commerce by Lord Auckland's Affghan policy. Compare the exports from British India to the Indus for the years 1839–1840, and 1840– 1841, and what is the result? I will tell you. The value of those exports for the first period amounted to five lacs of rupees, or about 50,000l. The value of those exports for the last official year, as reported to me, privately, by Lord Auckland, was 43 lacs, or 430,000l., of which 300,000l. in value consisted of goods of British manufacture. The hon. Gentleman has given a most deplorable account of Indian trade and commerce, all, as he says, occasioned by the Affghan war. He has read a statement shewing that there is a falling off in the import of cotton twist. That may be so—but I have an abstract from the Commercial Annual of 1841, published at Calcutta, and compiled from official sources, by which it appears, that both the exports and imports at the port of Calcutta for the last official year have considerably improved. The imports to the amount of 801,500l., and the exports 1,333,000l. [Mr. D'Israeli: Have you any returns from Bombay?"] No, I have not. I have told you that my statement refers to the external commerce of Bengal. But, to return to this part of the charge against Lord Auckland, to be sure the war has produced pernicious effects—when has any war not done so in regard to financial resources? It is of the nature of war to cause exertions which inevitably increase expenditure. But even in this respect, I think the hon. Gentleman has been mistaken, and overcharged the picture. I have got the official return in my hand, presented to Parliament during the last autumn, and my figures do not agree with his—the hon. Member has stated the charges of the Indian government as amounting to not less than 20,000,000l. in the last year—by which I suppose, he means the last estimated year, and he stated, that, during the two preceding years, the charges were, 19,000,000l. and 18,000,000l. sterling. I repeat I find no such figures in this official statement—the actual charges are given at 17,357,130l., that is to say, the charges partly estimated for the year 1839–1840. I quote them as I find them in number 10 of the Indian accounts. [Mr. Baillie: My information was derived from private sources.] Very likely—but the hon. Gentleman should be told that such sources are not very safe, and that a sketch estimate in Indian finance, must, of necessity, be a very uncertain document. Sir, the deficiency of the Indian revenue, to meet the charges of Government, has arisen mainly from the increased establishments and other expenditures inseparable from war. I find, that the average charge of the three years ending with 1838, amounted to about 14,631,825l., and that the estimated charge for 1839–1840, is 17,357,130l. as I have before mentioned—making an increase of 2,725,305l. But the falling off in the revenue—I mean the net revenue, as given in the Parliamentary return, does not on an average of the same three years compared with the estimate for 1839–1840, amount to 500,0002.—the figures are, I believe—"The siege of Herat, has much occupied the minds of the public in India, and speculations upon the progress of the kings of Iran, and the Rooswalla, [Persia and Russia], have given life to the news-writers in every court, and our shrewdest, and calmest observers, Skinner, Cubbon, and Sutherland, in Hansi, Mysore, and Gwalior, have concurred in describing the fever of restlessness, as beyond every thing which for many years they had witnessed. From the military strength of the Persians, there has been actually nothing to fear, but religion and circumstance, and historical associations, and the character of ignotum and magnificum, which is attached to the Russian name, have been at work on men's minds, and it may be a fatal mistake if the Persians and Russians were allowed to plant their standard or fix their influence in advance."
|Average net revenue for three years ending 1839||£15,215,028|
|Estimate for years 1839 and 1840||14.746,470|
|Shewing a falling off of||£468,558|
energies with greater exertion and effect, and I do say now, that Lord Auckland's general policy produced a great moral effect, not only in Asia, but in Europe. It shewed the capabilities of our great colony; it shewed that India was a source, not of weakness, as some ignorant men have said, but of strength. The hon. Gentleman told us, that, by a singular coincidence, Russia, France, and England found themselves in the same dilemma, by pursuing the same ambitious schemes of conquest, at Khiva, in Algeria, and Affghanistan. I confess, I cannot, see any similarity in the three cases, but if there be, it only shows that we have had imitators. For myself, I hope I may be permitted to say, that I am not at all discouraged by recent calamities, which, to my mind, prove nothing against Lord Auckland's policy. I am confident that if that policy be persevered in, they will be fully repaired. The Affghans will be our friends, and Persia will be, as she was heretofore, a parallel not of attack, but of defence. I will presume to add, that if Ministers pursue this course, they will receive the most cordial support, not only from the Parliament, but the people. Moreover, they will surmount their present difficulties. There is in our Indian empire an elasticity which has never yet failed us, and on which I now most confidently rely. Those who have administered that empire have, from the beginning, had to contend with these "prophets of evil," who have from time to time repeated the same cuckoo-note, and foretold the downfall of our dominion. There have never been wanting, either in Parliament or amongst the home authorities, politicians who have so spoken and so written, that if they had been listened to, we should have bad no Indian empire at all. Governors-general have had to contend even with the prudence of their employers, and the jealousy of the public, and without going back to the times of Clive or of Hastings, I will mention one remarkale instance. In vol. v., page 302, of Lord Wellesley's Despatches, it will be seen that Lord Castlereagh, then President of the India Board, wrote a long memorandum to the Governor-general on his Mahratta policy, and the probable results of the treaty of Bassein. In this letter he disputed "the abstract policy of what had been aimed at," and contended that it had not been judiciously pursued; and he ended the paper—a Very long one—with these words:—*Natives, 41,952; Queen's Troops, 5,000; Company's European, 3,570; Company's Officers, 304;—Total, 50, 826.
Oh no! of course, extension of territory was no purpose in view—reduction of debt was the only view worth considering. So thought and so wrote Lord Castlereagh: but what did Lord Wellesley do? Why, he sent the paper anonymously, that is, without telling who wrote it, to different public functionaries for their opinion; amongst others to his brother, Sir Arthur Wellesley. It is not easy to condense anything said or written by that great man: suffice it to say, that in his observations on Lord Castlereagh's Notes he showed—"The object, however, of most importance will be, to bring the war to an end as early as is consistent with our good honour and good faith. Extension of territory not being our purpose, we have nothing to gain from the contest, whilst it suspends all our views to the reduction of the debt."
We well know whose advice Lord Wellesley followed, in spite of the repeated attacks made upon him in this House, and elsewhere; attacks which ended in the signal discomfiture of his assailants; and we also know how much has been added to British India since Lord Castlereagh, in March, 1804, declared "extension of territory was not the purpose" of the Government. As a proof how differently this purpose was looked upon in India, and in England, I will venture to read an extract of a letter from the Duke of Wellington to Lieut.-general Stuart, dated 20th December, 1803: it will be found in page 398, of volume iii. of the Duke's despatches."Much of the anonymous author's reason. ing might be attributed to the erroneous views of the political state of India at the time the treaty of Bassein was made."
So it appears that whilst the Home authorities thought not of extension of territory, the commanders in India were conquering and acquiring—and felt no embarrassment, except from not knowing what and how many countries they were to add to the British empire. With reference also to the mode of carrying on these wars, I will, with the permission of the House, read an extract of a letter written by the Duke of Wellington to Colonel Wallace on the 27th of March, 1804. It runs thus:—"I have no doubt," says he, "that the Rajah (of Berar) will ratify his treaty, and that Scindiah will make his peace as soon as he can. Indeed his Vakeel and I are agreed upon the principal points, and we should have concluded a treaty some days ago, if I had received from Bengal any information whatever of even the names of the countries the Governor-general wished to have. I was therefore obliged to acknowledge my ignorance, and to ask the Vakeel for information of the state of the countries in Hindostan;"
Now these things, if looked at nakedly, might easily be made to present no very pleasing view of our Indian conquests—and in fact, these conquests have been made, as it would appear, very much to the dissatisfaction of the Court of Directors, the Parliament and the people, that is of all who have been gainers by them. Whilst we were adding province after province, and kingdom after kingdom to our dominions abroad, we were at home declaiming and resolving, and protesting against the fatal ambition—nay, we were so moderate as even to legislate—or rather to declare by act of Parliament in 1784,"I received last night your letter of the 23rd. You must have no scruple in acting at once for the benefit and safety of your corps, whenever you are fully convinced, from the evidence given to the persons appointed to inquire into the circumstances of any robbery, that those attached to your camp have been plundered or ill-treated. In this instance I have no doubt but that Carribul and Many-gee were both guilty of the murder. Accordingly I request that they may be hanged; and let the cause of their punishment be published in the bazaar by beat of tom-tom, or by any other mode by which it may be supposed that it will be rendered more public. The patel of Batculgaum, in the style of a Mah-ratta patel, keeps a band of plunderers for his own profit and advantage. You will inform him, that if he does not pay for the horses, bullocks, and articles plundered, he shall be hanged also. You will acquaint his village with this determination, and allow time for the answer to return: and you will hang him if he does not pay the money at the time fixed upon. It is impossible to get on without these punishments, in the Mahratta country."
In defiance, however, of this moderation, our empire has fulfilled its great and glorious destinies—temporary checks have served only to give fresh impulse to its energies—the fall or failure of one man has only made way for the activity and zeal of others. I had the honour of proposing the vote of thanks for the successes of the first Affghan campaign—too happy shall I be if events shall permit me to second a similar proposal, in honour of some commander and his gallant associates, who may be fortunate enough, under the auspices of the present Government to retrieve the melancholy but partial disasters which have lately overtaken the British arms. Sir, I sit down impressed with the deep conviction with which I arose to address the House that Lord Auckland was not only justified in the course he pursued, but that had he pursued any other he would have rendered himself amenable to the censure, and more than to the censure, of the British Parliament and British public."That to pursue schemes of conquest and extension of dominion in India, are measures repugnant to the wish, the honour, and the policy of the nation."
Sir, I trust the intrusion of so young a Member upon the attention of the House will be excused. The deep interest I feel in the subject to which the motion of the hon. Member for Inverness refers, makes me anxious to take a part in this debate, to point out a few facts which have fallen under my own observation, while serving on the frontier of India, and to state opinions, which I am aware alone deserve attention, as being gathered from men holding high civil and military appointments in that country. I have great pleasure in bearing testimony to the vigorous measures of her Majesty's Government in despatching within the last few months large reinforcements to India; I fear they will be required to repair the late disasters on our north western frontier, disasters, which might have occurred under any government, but which, I firmly believe, would have been averted, had proper military precautions been taken, and had the same skill and energy which has characterized British operations in other parts of India, been brought to bear upon the war in Affghanistan. Not that any measure of success would have justified a war, which has always appeared to me unjust, arbitrary, and impolitic in the extreme. With the permission of the House I will state concisely the reasons alleged in India for the necessity of the expedition, a few of the difficulties encountered in its prosecution, and the results obtained, and I would then leave it to this House, and to the country at large to decide, whether a continuance in the same line of policy, is likely, either in a financial, political, or moral point of view, to uphold the credit of England, or advance the interests of the people of India. Sir, I would first state, that differing as I do with my noble Friend, the late Governor-general of India, and with the right hon. Baronet, on the opposite side of the House, whose friendship, I trust, I may likewise claim, I beg to assure them that there are none of the warmest admirers of their policy more ready than myself to acknowledge the energy they displayed in carrying out the measures they considered necessary to support the honour of the British name, and the stability of the British dominions in India, and I will further add, that in my humble opinion, had the noble Lord numbered amongst his political functionaries, a Close, a Malcolm, or a Munro, although the policy would have been the same, we should not now have to deplore a course of events unparalleled in the history of our Indian empire. It is with deep regret, Sir, that I perceive, that many who formerly deprecated the invasion of Affghanistan, contend now, that our reverses leave us no option as to the line of policy to be pursued, and that we must persevere in this unjust and arbitrary warfare. Sir, I am wholly unacquainted with the intentions of her Majesty's Government, and I am fully alive to the difficulty of forming an opinion at such a distance from the scene of action, but I cannot refrain from saying, that I do sincerely hope, we shall not prosecute a war for the purpose of vengeance or conquest. We are called upon, no doubt, to succour the remnant of our scattered army, to provide for the release of our countrymen and countrywomen now in the hands of the Affghan chiefs, and to relieve our troops, who still hold positions in various parts of that country, we may demand with justice the punishment of those individuals who are said to have behaved with such treachery in the late negociations, but I deem it my duty to protest in the most solemn manner against any proposition for entering on a new series of operations to wreak our vengeance on the Affghan nation, or for taking measures for the permanent occupation of Affghanistan. Sir, the British people have confidence not only in the ability of the right hon. Baronet at the head of her Majesty's Government, but also in his integrity, and I trust the present Government will never be a party to measures which would cast such a stigma on the British name. Let me call to the recollection of this House that the late advance across the Indus was undertaken contrary to the opinions of our wisest Indian statesmen, but at the head of the army of the Indus was paraded one of the legitimate descendants of the kings of Cabool, and an acknowledged claimant of the Affghan throne. It was notorious that a portion of the population was in his favour, and we had a semblance of justice in espousing his cause, but this delusion has faded away, no one will now pretend that Schah Soojah is the chosen monarch of the Affghan people, no one will be bold enough to maintain that in the prosecution of a sanguinary and revengeful war we shall benefit the Affghan nation. It is urged by the defenders of this policy, that it was expedient to raise up a barrier on our north western frontier, to arrest the progress of European intrigue. Another argument was, the alleged necessity of supporting the prestige of British superiority, which it was said the native population of India believed to be on the wane. Now, if an hon. Member of this House lately connected with the civil administration of India, spoke the sentiments of his party, when he declared it to be a vulgar error, that our empire in India was based upon opinion, and that we held India by the sword and the bayonet; where was the necessity of establishing a barrier on our frontier, or of entering on an unjust and sanguinary war to support a prestige allowed to be useless and of no importance. I would here for a few moments direct the attention of the House to the commencement of the operations beyond the Indus. On the 1st of October, 1838, the Simla declaration was issued; allusion is there made to the commercial mission of Captain Burnes to Cabool in 1836,—a mission to which I cannot but trace our unfortunate direct interference in the political affairs of Central Asia. It matters little whether Captain Burnes recommended the espousal of the cause of Dost Mahomed, or of Schah Soojah, I believe he can be quoted as an authority on all sides of the question; but it is quite clear that he gave it as his opinion that the time had come for more direct interference in some shape, and there never was a more fatal error. For a long series of years the Seiks and Affghans had been at war. The hardy Affghans could make no permanent impression on the disciplined Seiks nor could the troops of Runjeet Singh venture within the Khybar passes to attack the people of Affghanistan. In their alternate successes, and never ending feuds and jealousies the British frontier remained unmolested, and combined with the physical difficulties of those countries, no more effectual barrier for the security of our possessions could have been devised or desired. With respect to the justice of the case, that lay on the side of the Affghans. Runjeet Singh had treacherously seized on Peshawur, and the British Government steps forward to support his claim. The Simla declaration states, "we feared that the flames of war would be kindled," and therefore we attempt to subjugate the Affghans, a nation whose characteristic is a proud independence, and who, as Mr. Elphinstone states, are content with discord, are content with war, but never with a master. We profess, that we are full of peaceful and beneficial purposes, and therefore the British nation joins with the Seiks, the hereditary foes of this brave people, to carry fire and sword through the length and breadth of Affghanistan. That British nation, whose character (thanks to Mr. Elphinstone, and other noble names,) stood so high amongst the Affghans, and commanded the respect of all the tribes of Central Asia. And what was the only tangible reason?—to counteract the intrigues of Russia. A candid enquiry into the history of these intrigues would show upon what slight foundation many of the reports were based. A mendicant Jew is transformed by Dr. Lord into a Russian spy, and at a later period, Mr. Massen, one of the most active labourers in the field of scientific discovery in Affghanistan, is, under the same pretence, most unjustly seized, and imprisoned by the political agent at Quettah. But I do not deny that Russia may have had her emissaries in Affghanistan, it appears from the papers submitted to this House, that the ambassador of Russia in Persia was instrumental in urging the Schah to prosecute the siege of Herat, and Russian agency may have been at work there, as in other parts of the world. But, allowing all this to be true, have we not fallen into the trap laid for us by Russia? Have we not played her game politically and financially? We have exhausted our own resources in raising up a party against us in the very countries where there was a strong feeling in our favour; and if there be any truth in the ambitious designs of Russia, we have done more to pave the way for her advance within the last three years than she herself could have done in fifty years. Granting that Russia has the will to injure us in that quarter of the globe, I deny her power, and I point to her late disastrous expedition to Khiva to bear out my statement. But, Sir, it was thought otherwise by the late Government, and it was determined to place Schah Soojah-ool-Moolk on the throne of Cabool. In 1836, the British Government sends an accredited agent to form a treaty with Dost Mahomed; in 1838, the British Government denounces Dost Mahomed as an usurper, and a traitor to his lawful sovereign. And, Sir, I will ask this question, If this lawful sovereign, the unfortunate Schah Soojah-ool-Moolk reigned in the hearts of his people, where was the necessity of lavishing millions of British money to surround him with thousands of British bayonets? And, even if all this was deemed requisite, why should not Runjeet Singh, who was to reap the chief benefit, have borne his portion of the expenditure. Sir, if these proceedings are analysed, they appear more extraordinary at every step. I would just call the attention of the House to the tripartite treaty concluded between the British Government, Schah Soojah-ool-Moolk, and Runjeet Singh. A masterpiece of Eastern diplomacy. It is wonderful to see how the British envoy is outwitted by the wily Seik. We pay all the expense, Runjeet Singh and Schah Soojah gain all the advantages. But Runjeet takes the lion's share. His recent conquests are guaranteed, he exacts a yearly tribute from the Schah's scanty revenues, he pours into his own treasury the larger portion of the money exacted from the Ameers of Scinde, and what does he do in return. Is it to be believed that he will not even give permission to the British army to pass through his territories, the nearest route to gain the object in view. Instead of crossing the rich and fertile Punjaub, where there would have been an easy line of communication, where proper bases for military operations and depôts of grain could have been formed, we find the British army obliged to take a long and circuitous route, through countries thinly inhabited, and destitute of supplies. I am sure that all who read this tripartite treaty with attention, will agree with General Allard, one of Runjeet's French officers, who, when it was shown to him, signed and sealed, exclaimed, "Mais c'est Le Maharaja qui a dicté." Forbidden by the terms of this remarkable treaty to take the nearest and most eligible route through the Punjaub. We find the Bengal division of the army consisting of about ten thousand men marching down the eastern bank of the Indus from Ferozepore to Bukkur, and during the months of November and December the Bombay division of5,600 men under Sir John Keane landed in Scinde. As far as Bukkur few difficulties were experienced, but the Indus once crossed, and water carriage no longer being available, we find the most deplorable accounts of the progress of the army, scrambling on as it were by detachments, suffering the greatest privations, from scarcity of forage, and want of water, and liable to be cut up in detail, had the smallest opposition been offered. Sir, I will not take up the time of the House with lengthened statements; but I wish to direct attention to a few facts connected with the horrors of this war, and the lavish expenditure incurred. On the 6th of April Major Outram states,—
Again, he writes,—"The combined troops of the Schah, and Bengal column have been obliged to push on to Pisheen with only ten days half rations per man, and none for the cattle."
Even at Candahar we find the troops on the verge of starvation; two pounds of flour costing one rupee. I ask, how was it possible for the wretched followers to purchase grain at that price. Indeed, their sufferings in all the narratives I have read are frightful to contemplate. Exhausted by hunger and toil hundreds sunk on the wayside, and fell victims to the swords of the ruthless marauders who hovered on the flanks and rear of the advancing army. Nor must we overlook the Sepoys themselves, whose gallantry and fidelity so many glorious fields attest. Have we a right, without some dire necessity, to expose them to climates so adverse to their natural constitutions,—to drag them to such a distance from their families,—and force them in small bands to contend at a disadvantage with hosts of fierce and warlike enemies? Sir, it is my belief that the safety of our Indian empire depends upon our native army, and we must beware lest we sow the seeds of disaffection in their ranks which may bring forth the bitterest fruits of sorrow and repentance. But if such were the privations of human beings, what was the state of the cattle? Their mouldering carcases strewed the road; between Shik-arpore and Candahar 20,000 camels are said to have perished. In one day it was requisite to shoot fifty-three horses, and we find in Major Hough's narrative, that on reaching Candahar the cavalry and artillery horses were so exhausted as to be scarcely able to move from their pickets. I myself had the pleasure of welcoming the 16th Lancers back to Hindostan; and I can state as a fact, that on their return to Meerut, three-fourths of their horses having become unfit for service during the campaign, were obliged to be drafted from the regiment. I will not enter into the financial part of the question, which so many other Members are more competent to discuss; but I would in connection with the above facts, remind the House that in 1837, according to the documents before Parliament, there were ten millions of money in the Bengal treasury, a permanent and increasing balance I beg to observe, and that within the last year the East India Company has been compelled to open a loan, and, as far as I can understand, other loans must be resorted to to relieve their financial embarrassments. That before the commencement of this ill-judged crusade there was a surplus revenue in India, and that the estimated deficit for 1842 is upwards of two millions of money. Sir, the burden of this wild and wanton expenditure falls on the people of India. If one tithe of the money squandered in aggressive warfare were devoted to internal improvements, how incalculable would be the benefit, in developing the dormant resources of that noble country, in diminishing the present excessive taxation, in abolishing oppressive and grinding monopolies, and in promoting objects of the highest national importance. Sir, it was remarked that there is a freemasonry of Islamism extending from Morocco to Coromandel, I believe that there is a freemasonry of enquiry spreading silently throughout our Indian empire, which will ere long lead the people to look more narrowly into the acts of their legislators, and question their right to drain India of its wealth, and expend the best blood of its inhabitants in distant and unnecessary enterprises. Sir, I would ask the military man who has traversed the north western frontier, whether in his opinion any line could be more adapted for a chain of military positions, than the line marked out by nature along the banks of the Indus and Sutlege. I would ask the man of commerce, whether he will maintain, that the obtaining or retaining any trade is an object for which men may justly spill each other's blood, or whether the profits of any trade can be equal to the expense of compelling, or of holding it by means of armies, and whether it is not far more probable that the commerce of Central Asia will find its way to the banks of the Indus in times of peace. I would put it to those accustomed to consider political matters, whether it is wise to enlarge our political relations and responsibilities, whether we ought not to husband our resources, and keep our troops prepared, within our own frontier, for any external or internal emergency, and whether the separate interests of a number of warlike tribes do not form a safer barrier than if united under one head, when at any moment the weight of their influence might be cast into the scale most likely to benefit the individual interests of one powerful ruler. Sir, 1 have stated my opinion of the policy of this war, I have entered my protest against its continuance,—but before 1 sit down I cannot refrain from raising my voice against those, who, I believe, to have been the chief authors of this expedition, those servants of the British Government who went forth on their political missions, in the spirit of the dark ages, as if there was no other country in the world to be considered but England, and as if all enlarged and enlightened views must bow before the shrine of her interests, who,' regarding every thing with the jaundiced eye of prejudice, exaggerated trivial circumstances, construed every movement into an encroachment on our rights, and blinded by a mean, petty, selfish policy, endeavoured to blow into a flame the embers of discord in all parts of the world. Sir, such a policy cannot be too strongly deprecated. When we hear of single travellers falling victims to this low system in intrigue and espionage, and meeting wosre treatment at the hands of our po-liical agents than from the wildest tribes of Central Asia. Sir, I repeat such proceedings degrade the British name, and argue a want of confidence in our power to the last degree undignified. If the rights of England are infringed, she can defend herself. The meteor flag of victory which has waved triumphantly for so many hundred years, will again do so in a just cause. I, for one, do not attach that weight to our late reverses which some are inclined to do, deprecating as I do the continuance of the war I feel no anxiety about the result. I do not consider that these disasters are irreparable, or have in any way affected the stability of our Indian empire; on the contrary, they have shown how firmly it is based. But we should beware of exciting strife by pursuing a system of all-grasping policy. We should act on higher principles. Why should not England and Russia meet on the plains of Central Asia, as on neutral ground, not to embitter still more the feuds and jealousies that distract those unhappy countries, not to afford an example of European nations, blinded by selfishness and prejudice ready to shed each other's blood in fierce and sanguinary warfare. But stirred by a noble emulation to advance the best interests of'mankind, to create the feelings of peace and amity, by mutual accomodation, and mutual benefits, and to prepare the way for that which would be the most glorious result of all our successes and conquests, the diffusion of the blessings of civilisation and Christianity."The followers of the army were compelled to eke out their subsistence by picking up weeds."
said, that it had not been his intention to take any part in the debate, disapproving, as he did, of the motion of his hon. Friend, the Member for Inver-nessshire. But, as he had been so pointedly alluded to by his right hon. Friend, the late President of the Board of Control, who had drawn a most erroneous inference from expressions used by him in a former debate, he thought it desirable to avail himself of the earliest opportunity of setting himself right with the House. He was the more anxious to do so, as he should be sorry to have it supposed that he had expressed in that House opinions diametrically opposite to those which he had stated in the Court of Directors and elsewhere. His right hon. Friend (Sir J. C. Hobhouse) had. alluded to the discus sion which took place upon the occasion of granting a pension to Lord Keane, and had read, and he believed correctly, what fell from him (Mr. Hogg) on that occasion. He had taken no part in that discussion until some hon. Member threw out a suggestion that the pension granted to Lord Keane should be paid from the revenues of India, and that suggestion seemed to meet with so favourable a reception from the House, that he confessed he felt some little alarm. He had felt it his duty to oppose such a proposition, and to protect the revenues of India from a burden to which they could not be justly subjected. And what was the line of argument he adopted as shewn by the very passages which had been read by his right hon. Friend. He never even adverted to the policy of the war, except to shew that it had not been undertaken for Indian purposes. He contended that the pension of Lord Keane ought not to be paid from the revenues of India. He went further, and asked why the resources of India should be saddled with the whole of the expenses of the Affghan campaign, when that war was of European origin, and had been undertaken for European purposes? When it had been concocted in this country by the Cabinet of St. James, and had been carried out, not entirely perhaps, but chiefly for objects of European policy. Upon that ground he had contended, and was prepared again to contend, that not only the pension of Lord Keane, but a proportion, and a considerable proportion too, of the expenses of that war ought to be defrayed from the resources of this country. And however great might be the reluctance of the House to add to the public expenditure in the present state of financial embarrassment, still he felt satisfied that a sense of justice would be paramount to such considerations, and that they never would declare that expenses which ought to be borne by this country should be inflicted on the people of India. Such was the object with which he had addressed to the House the observations which had been quoted by his right hon. Friend, and from which his right hon. Friend had most strangely drawn the conclusion that he was favourable to the policy of the Affghan war. It was against such an interpretation of what had fallen from him, that he now felt it his duty to protest. Again, his right hon. Friend had read a resolution of the Court of Directors which had been adopted by the Court of Proprietors conveying a vote of thanks to Lord Auckland. In that resolution there occurs the word "sagacity," from which the right hon. Baronet attempted to draw the inference that the Court were favourable to the policy of the war. Now to that very word he had objected, when he heard it read in the Court. He suggested that "sagacity" implied forethought—implied consideration—that it might seem to indicate, not only approbation of the manner in which the operations had been executed, but of the policy on which they were undertaken. "Not at all," said the chairman, "the resolution is not intended to convey any opinion as to the policy of the war, and. cannot bear any such interpretation" He would tell his right hon. Friend that if he appealed to the Court of Directors, he would appeal to twenty-four gentlemen, who regarded him with every feeling of kind consideration and love, in grateful recollection of the many measures he introduced for the advancement of the interests of India, but who would constitute a most unfavourable tribunal if required to express an opinion as to the policy which dictated the Affghan war. He repeated his regret that he had been called upon to address the House that evening. He had determined to remain silent, because he disapproved entirely of the motion which had been made, and he felt all the embarrassment resulting from the time and the occasion upon which the discussion was raised. However strong might be his opinion as to the impolicy of the war, be did not feel himself in a position to urge that impolicy now, for the purpose of casting a stigma on the late Government. He could not but bear in mind that an army had crossed the Indus in 1838, and that up to that night the policy of the war had never been arraigned or even discussed in that House. He would ask, if it was becoming the character of that House, to remain silent while the horrors of war were carried into a neighbouring country without any adequate provocation, and never to express their disapprobation or evince their sympathy till calamity and disaster had overtaken our troops. Let it not appear as if their opinions were the mere creatures of results. He contended that the policy of the war was not proved by the success at Ghuznee, and was in no wise affected by the disaster at cabool. He admitted it might be difficult to select the precise moment when it might be fitting and consistent with the public weal to discuss in that House the policy of pending hostilities; but of this he was certain, that the period of failure and defeat was the time when such a discussion could not take place without compromising the character and the honour of the country. True it was that upwards of 7,000 fighting men, and perhaps twice that number of camp followers, had perished in the snows of Affghanistan, or been butchered by a treacherous foe; but was that the moment to be selected for debate and discussion? Was the British House of Commons to be occupied in idle declamation at a time when action, and energy, and retribution ought to engross every thought and to nerve every arm? It mattered not what might have been the policy of the war, or who might have been its authors. Perfidy, without parallel, must be punished—murder, the most atrocious, must be avenged—and the national honour must be redeemed and asserted. It was true, as had been said by his right hon. Friend (Sir J. Hobhouse), that when Ghuznee fell, and pensions and honours were lavished, no voice was heard in reprobation of the policy of the war. He (Mr. Hogg) did not agree with his right hon. Friend in the inference which he drew from that silence, but now, when compelled to surrender that fortress, he would not incur the risk of paralyzing the energies of his country by vainly wailing over their calamities, instead of applying himself energetically to redress them. In refusing his assent to the motion, he could not avoid being influenced by the recollection that his right hon. Friend the Secretary for the Home Department had given a notice upon this subject which he afterwards abandoned. He did not know the reasons which had influenced his right hon. Friend in abandoning that motion, but he believed that he did so because he thought that the discussion might be injurious to the public interests, and not from any forcible impression made upon his mind by the perusal of the papers laid upon the Table of the House; and that consideration suggested to him the main objection he had to the form and terms of the motion of his hon. Friend (Mr. Baillie). That motion assumes that further papers and information are necessary to enable the House to form an opinion. His hon. Friend says, "Give me more papers; I want to form an opinion—the public want to form an opinion, as to the policy and justice of this war." He did not want any more papers. A careful perusal of those upon the Table of the House enabled him to come to a clear, positive, distinct, and satisfactory conclusion that the war was both impolitic and unjust. It had been complained, not only that all the papers had not been produced, but that parts of those which had been produced were suppressed. He did not think there was any reasonable ground for that complaint, as he believed it was fully understood that public documents were never given in extenso He thought no man could peruse the papers before the House without coming to the conclusion that there must be other and stronger documents which the late Government felt it their duty to withhold, and which most probably could never be produced, if they were of the nature and character which he supposed. But he thought that his hon. Friend (Mr. Baillie) had no reason to complain that such papers were withheld; and he further thought that the late Government had no reason to complain that the discussion was taken in the absence of such papers. They had chosen to rest their case upon the papers which they had laid before the House, by those papers they must Stand or fall, and they had no right to urge that there were others, which if produced, would greatly fortify that case. Besides, he was ready to admit that the papers before the House made out to demonstration the case of the late Government as far as regarded Russian aggression and intrigue. While he made that concession, he must repeat his opinion as to the impolicy of the war. That opinion was strong and decided, but he was disposed to express it with becoming hesitation and humility, knowing how many competent authorities had come to a contrary conclusion. It was his desire, as far as he could, to place the case fairly before the House, and he admitted that contemporaneous with the appearance of a Persian army before Herat, there were other circumstances tending to place the government of India in a situation of great difficulty. Runjeet Singh was then said, and he believed truly, to be contemplating further aggressions on Affghanistan, while his eagle eye was also directed towards the territories of the Ameers of Scinde, and however friendly our relations with that prince, we could not have regarded without alarm, any further extension of his power. The Nepaulese, one of the most formidable powers in the East, with the best disciplined army, was watching an opportunity to descend upon our territory. And here he could not avoid expressing his surprise at the terms in which his hon. Friend (Mr. D'Israeli) had spoken of the military power of Nepaul. The Birmese had repudiated their treaty, rejected our ambassador, and were assembling an army to regain the provinces we had wrested from them in the war in which we had unfortunately been engaged in with them. It was true also, as had been stated by the right hon. Baronet, that there was at the same time a vague indefinite feeling of apprehension pervading the whole of India, that English power was on the wane, and that Russian influence and power were in the ascendant. He admitted all these facts, and admitting them, he could not refuse to own that they placed before every man circumstances of difficulty where the wisest might err, and where none ought to be rashly condemned. It had been declared that the policy of the Affghan war had been approved of by the late cabinet, but he presumed that it chiefly originated with the right hon. Baronet the late President of the Board of Control, the noble Lord the late Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and Lord Auckland, then at the head of the government of India; and he believed that each and all of them were influenced solely by a desire to advance the interests of this country, and protect and strengthen our empire in the East. He believed they were not actuated by any ambitious desire to extend our territory, and that the sole object they had in view might thus be expressed: "we will show to the world that we are not afraid boldly to march forth and encounter the danger which threatens us, and it may be that by a demonstration of strength in the Indus, we may avert commotion and bloodshed on the Ganges and in the heart of our own territories." Such he believed to have been the opinion and the governing motive of the authorities to whom he had alluded. He differed widely from them, and as he had already stated believed their policy to be most unwise as regarded our own interests, and most unjust as regarded Affghanistan. With respect to the powers that were threatening us was he to be told that the Nepaulese and Birmese were less likely to invade our territory when our army was in the west of the Indus than when it was assembled near their own frontier? He would withhold nothing within his knowledge. He believed that the first results of the Affghan campaign did create alarm in the minds of the Nepaulese and the Birmese. But for how long; and had we been relieved from the necessity of precautionary measures? Had we not been compelled to continue an army of observation to watch the movements of Nepaul? and had not Tharra-waddie come down from his capital with an army or a rabble of 50,000 or 60,000 men and settled at Rangoon, thus compelling Lord Auckland to assemble a formidable force to keep him in awe? His right hon. Friend (Sir J. Hobhouse) had dwelt on the advantages resulting from the Affghan campaign. As far as he (Mr. Hogg) knew them, he had candidly stated them. He admitted they had a temporary effect in allaying the feeling of doubt and apprehension which had been growing up with respect to the stability of British power in the East. But while he admitted this, he must call the attention of the House to the cost of life, of treasure, and of character, at which these transient and partial advantages had been purchased. Estimates had been submitted of the cost of the war, and his hon. Friend (Mr. Baillie) had stated the amount at 11,000,000l. As far as he had the means of judging, he believed that this ill-fated campaign had already cost the country upwards of 8,000,000l., which was in accordance with what had been stated by his right hon. Friend (Sir J. Hob-house). And here he must say that although he agreed with his hon. Friend who introduced this motion as to the impolicy of the war, he differed very widely from the line of argument they had adopted. His hon. Friend who brought forward the motion deprecated an interference in Affghanistan, and yet the greater part of his speech was occupied, not in maintaining inviolate the great and intelligible principle of non-interference, which he wished to see prevailing both in the east and the west, but in contending that our treaty ought to have been with Dost Mahomed, thus conceding that interference was politic and expedient, and urging an argument which demolished his own principle. What both his hon. Friends had insisted upon was this, not that we should not have interfered at all, but that we interfered at the wrong time, in the wrong way, in the wrong place, and with the wrong chief. He (Mr. Hogg) was relieved from the necessity of entering into the details of the statement made by his hon. Friend (Mr. Baillie), nor was it necessary for him to institute any comparison between the advantages of treating with the chiefs of Cabool, Candahar, or Herat. His argument was that we ought not to have interfered at all in the politics of that country, and that we ought to have limited ourselves to forming such friendly relations as would tend to facilitate our commercial intercourse, and considering how miserably poor and unproductive Affghanistan was, he would rather have abandoned any contemplated commercial advantages, than have incurred the risk of involving ourselves in any political relations with that distracted country. The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Hobhouse) said, interference is unavoidable, "If you don't interfere in Affghanistan, Russia or Persia will." He assumed that if we had not interfered, that country would have fallen under the dominion of Persia nominally, but virtually of Russia. Now, he entertained no fears as to the safety or tranquillity of India from the intrigues in Affghanistan of any Persian or Russian emissaries. But if aggression had proceeded further, and Persia or Russia had ventured on a hostile invasion of Affghanistan, they would have experienced failure and disaster that would have taught them a salutary lesson, while we should have remained within our own territory free from the calamities that have befallen us, and the ruinous cost that has attended them. Suppose that the strongest and clearest case of Russian aggression was made out, and that it was incumbent on us not only to remonstrate but to act against that power, why, he asked, should we do so indirectly, and thus betray our fears? If England felt it incumbent upon her to call Russia to account by some hostile demonstration, it ought to have been done by a fleet in the Baltic, not by an army on the Indus. Why shrink from the responsibility of our own acts? Why do indirectly, through the instrumentality of the Indian government, and at the expense of the natives of India, what ought to be done openly, in Europe, by the Cabinet of St. James, and from the resources of this country? He admitted that the right hon. Baronet opposite had made a most able and powerful statement in support of the policy of the war as far as that policy could be proved by adducing authorities in its favour. But on authority alone had the right hon. Baronet relied. Not a word in support of the justice and scarcely an argument in favour of the policy of the war. The right hon. Baronet had said to his hon. Friend who made this motion:—
But what had the right hon. Baronet done himself? He rested his whole case on the authorities he cited, and subjected himself to the very imputation he had urged against his hon. Friend who opened the debate. He believed that it was almost unnecessary for him to state that the Court of Directors had never been consulted as to the war. Not a member ef that court knew that hostilities were even in contemplation, until it appeared in the public papers that an army had been assembled on the Indus. [Lord J. Russell: " The secret committee knew of it."} In making that statement, of course he did not mean to include the secret committee. He spoke of the court, not of the committee. The chairman, the deputy chairman, and the senior director were members of that committee, and must have been aware of the intended measures, but as those gentlemen were sworn to secresy, he could not know what opinions they had expressed as to the policy or justice of the war. He wished now to offer a few words in reference to the attack made by his hon. Friend near him (Mr. D'Israeli) on the right hon. Baronet opposite with regard to his treatment of the ambassadors or agents who came to this country from the late rajah of Sattarah. So far as he had the means of judging, he must say that towards these individuals, and towards every person connected with India, the right hon. Baronet had always behaved with marked courtesy and kindness. It was not the right hon. Baronet who had dethroned the Rajah of Sattarah. It was the Indian government, with the sanction and approbation of the right hon. Baronet and the Court of Directors: and here he must tell the hon. Member for Montrose, that whether that measure was right or wrong, it had been approved of by two successive Governors of Bombay—by the Governor-general—by the Council of India—by the President of the Board of Control, and by the Court of Directors. He thought this ought to be sufficient to protect any of those authorities from any hasty imputation of having been guilty of any act of injustice towards the late Rajah. Allusion had been made that night, and on a preceding evening, when he had not the good fortune to be present, to the subject of Indian finances: they had been represented as most flourishing by his hon. Friend the Member for Guilford, while his hon. Friend the Member for Shrewsbury had stated them to be in a state of the most alarming depression, and that the Home Treasury was almost empty. He was glad to see his hon. Friend (Mr. Mangles) in the House, though seated on the opposite benches. He knew that his hon. Friend took a warm interest in the welfare of the natives of India, and was fully informed in all that related to that country, and he must confess his surprise at the opinions he had expressed. But his hon. Friend was rather of an ardent temperament; and enough of the influence of an eastern sun still lingered around him to shed a rosy hue on every object presented to his view; and vivid indeed must be the imagination that could contemplate the treasury of India as overflowing. Nor could he allow it to go forth that the East India Company were on the confines of bankruptcy, that their Home Treasury was empty, and that they had been compelled to apply to the right hon. Baronet at the head of her Majesty's Government for assistance and support. He begged to assure his hon. Friend (Mr. D'Israeli) and the House, that the Court of Directors had made no such application, and had received no such assistance. They had only asked the Government to give them a little of what was their own. They asked for nothing else, and they received nothing else. To shew the folly of making such rash statements, he begged to call the attention of the House to a paper lately laid on the Table shewing the cash balance of the East India Company in this country to exceed 1,600,000l. If such were his hon. Friend's (Mr. D'lsraeli's) ideas of bankruptcy, they were indeed most eastern. With respect to what occurred on the vote of thanks to Lord Keane and the army, he thought that the right hon. Baronet had been a little unfair in the inference which he attempted to draw from the unanimity which then prevailed, and he must call to the recollection of the House what passed upon that occasion. The right hon. Baronet must have forgotten that he himself introduced the discussion by expressly excluding from consideration the policy of the campaign. He expressly stated that, no individual, by agreeing to the vote of thanks to the gallant army who had so triumphantly accomplished the object to which their energies had been directed, should be in any manner compromised as approving of the policy of the preceding. Upon such an occasion, and after such an assurance, could any man have been, he was almost going to say, base enough, to have introduced any topic likely to disturb the unanimity that prevailed. The right hon. Baronet who seconded the motion (Sir Robert Peel) was equally guarded in his expressions, so as to protect himself and the House from being in any manner committed as to the policy of the war. Under these circumstances, he would ask if it was fair or candid in the right hon. Baronet to draw the conclusion he had done from what had passed on that debate? Upon every occasion when the Affghan war had been alluded to, either in that House or in the Court of Directors, he had always seen the greatest anxiety manifested by all present not to be implicated in its policy. He had always heard it said:—"In whatever vote we may be called upon to give, be it distinctly understood that we express no approval of the policy of that war." So far as he had the means of judging, he scarcely knew an individual connected with India who approves of that policy, except the late Government and their adherents. These opinions had not been only expressed since the recent disasters. From the time when that ill-fated expedition was first announced, public opinion, both in this country and in India, condemned and reprobated it as most impolitic and unjust. The right hon. Baronet had stated that Lord Auckland could have made out a much stronger case than appeared in his manifesto, issued from Simla. He (Mr. Hogg) hoped that such was the case, for he must declare that he had never in his life read so weak a public document. There was nothing stated in that manifesto to justify the hostile invasion of a neighbour- ing country—nothing to show the policy of the war, even if its justice could be maintained. It declares that it is desirable to open Affghanistan to British manufactures; that the chiefs had indicated an indisposition to meet, our views, and had presumed to enter into friendly relations with Persia, contrary to his Lordship's wishes and orders, and therefore is this unhappy country to be devastated by the horrors of war, and its rulers to be driven from their seats. It is true Lord Auckland talks of establishing a barrier against western aggression; but he must call the attention of the House to the condition of Affghanistan, moral, physical, and political. We might deplore that condition, but the very evils we might lament contributed to render it the best possible barrier between our Indian possessions and the western powers. The climate was subject to the extremes of heat and cold. The soil was barren and unproductive. The country was intersected by stupendous mountains, only to be traversed by passes and defiles, where an invading army must be exposed to absolute annihilation. The people were proverbially faithless, and the political power was divided among various chiefs with conflicting interests. Here, then, were all the elements combined that could render that country absolutely impassable as a barrier, if we had abstained from interference. The only circumstances under which an invading army could traverse it, would be, if the whole country was subjected to the absolute control of one ruler, with whom arrangements might be entered into for its maintenance. While the authority was divided, we were safe—no danger could ever threaten us, unless the country was subjected to the absolute dominion of one chief, and that was precisely the state of things which Lord Auckland wished to introduce. He would not have intruded on the time of the House had he not been connected with the Government of India, and distinctly alluded to by his right hon. Friend (Sir J. Hobhouse); and he begged to thank the House for the attention with which they had been pleased to honour him."You rest all your argument on the authority and opinion of Sir Alexander Burnes.—Why rest entirely on authority? Why not reason on the principle and expediency of the question?"
had paid some attention to this question, and it appeared to him that, whatever opinion might be formed as to the policy of the war in Affghanistan, or as to the expediency of their crossing the Indus, to support the pretensions of Schah Soojah, there could be no diversity of opinion as to the fact that the affairs of the East had, in 1838, arrived at a crisis, when it was absolutely necessary that some other policy than that on which they formerly relied should be adopted for the protection of the north-western frontier. He believed, that no one could examine the papers on the Table without coming to the conclusion which his hon. Friend had arrived at, that Russia was actively engaged in measures which, if permitted to be carried out to their fullest extent, would prove fatal to the ascendancy of British power in the East. Under these circumstances, he believed it was the opinion of every individual interested in the management of affairs in India that the time had arrived when some new policy should be resorted to. They had Mr. Ellis, the late Sir A. Burnes, Lord Auckland, the Secret Committee of the East-India Directors, and the late Government, all concurring in the opinion, that unless some new, vigorous, and decided policy was resorted to the power of this country in India would be endangered. His hon. Friend opposite said, if they wished to counteract the designs of Russia, they ought to send a fleet to the Baltic and attack Russia itself. But would such a course prevent Russia's intriguing in Asia, and he begged to remind his hon. Friend that, in advising this, he was counselling nothing less than an European war. So long as there were other means of effecting their object, he trusted that no Government would ever think of incurring all the horrors of an European war. It had been said, that it was the duty of this country rather to support Dost Mahomed than Schah Soojah. But all parties had come to the resolution that it was absolutely necessary for the security of their Indian possessions that they should place on the north-western frontier a power disposed to peace, and to the maintaining undisturbed the integrity of the eastern empire. It was impossible to make choice of Dost Mahomed, because he was opposed to those conditions. He was described by Sir A. Burnes as a man devoted to war—he was enterprising, engaged in the ranks of the enemy, and to have made choice of him would not have been dealing fairly towards their best ally, Runjeet Singh. Under these circumstances, they were justified in displacing Dost Mahomed from the throne of Cabool. The recommendations in favour of Schah Soojah were not, perhaps, of the strongest kind, but any one who heard the speech of the right hon. Ba- ronet near him must feel, that in restoring Shah Soojah to the throne of his ancestors, they were restoring a man who had a large and powerful party, who was in his habits almost an European, and who was interested in preserving friendly relations with this country. His hon. Friend had adverted to the expense of the war, and to the loss of life caused by it. Unquestionably, this was a great calamity, a calamity which could only he justified by a case of absolute necessity. He believed such a necessity had occurred in the present case, and he believed that, the having carried the war into Affghanistan, had been the means 6f preventing wars in other parts of India.
The question upon which the House is now called upon to decide is, whether, in the present circumstances of this country, and of our relations with Affghanistan and India, it is desirable that the papers for which the hon. Gentleman has moved should be produced. I form my judgment on this subject solely with reference to the consideration of what is best for the public interests. I forget all party considerations, all political differences; and the single consideration which influences me is this—what in the present position of Indian affairs is the wisest course for this House to pursue? I come to the conclusion, that it will not, under present circumstances, promote the public interests to produce the papers for which the hon. Gentleman has moved. As an illustration of my meaning, I will direct the attention of the House to our present relations with that great power whose conduct has excited considerable apprehension—I allude to Russia. Full explanations were demanded by her Majesty's late Government with regard to certain transactions on the part of Russian agents, and those explanations were frankly afforded by the government of Russia. The papers containing those explanations have been laid on the Table of the House; and I may observe that, however suspicious may have been the conduct of Russian agents, and I admit that that conduct warranted some suspicion, and that it required explanation—there has been, on the part of the Russian government, a distinct disavowal of that conduct; one of the agents has been recalled, and a positive assurance has been given, on the part of the Emperor, that he has no wish to disturb British supremacy in India, and that he desires to maintain with us a good under- standing with regard to the affairs of Persia. These sentiments, on the part of the Emperor of Russia, were conveyed to us by Count Nesselrode and Count Pozzo di Borgo. The noble Lord opposite, in a letter, dated December 20, 1838, referring to the communications made by Count Nesselrode on the part of the Russian Government, said, that the despatch communicated by that nobleman expressed the desire of the Russian government to co operate with the Government of this country in reference to Persian affairs. The despatch contains the most full and complete assurance on this point; and the papers produced by the noble Lord state, that her Majesty's Government accept as entirely satisfactory the declarations of the imperial government that it does not harbour any design hostile to the interests of Great Britain and Ireland. When the noble Lord stated, that her Majesty's Government accepted as satisfactory the declaration of the imperial cabinet, it must be inferred, that the noble Lord placed confidence in that declaration. As far as I can bear testimony to the conduct of that great power, its acts have been in entire conformity with the declarations to which I have referred. No act has been done by Russia, with reference to her relations with Persia, and especially with reference to our relations with Affghanistan, since the reception of the recent disastrous accounts, which I have not every reason to believe is in strict and precise conformity with the delarations of her Majesty's Government. Whatever may be the conduct of Russia, I believe that the Governments of England and of India are sufficiently powerful to protect themselves. I do not think, that we are, as a nation, dependent on the co-operation and good faith of Russia or of any other power; but it is right to bear testimony to the facilities we have enjoyed in consequence of the good faith observed by Russia, and to declare publicly in the face of Europe, that it is impossible that any power could have acted with more strict good faith and more friendly feeling than have been evinced by Russia with reference to Persia and Affghanistan. A most cordial understanding subsists at this moment between the Government of this country and the Government of Russia. With reference to this subject, and founding my opinion on practical evidence, I will venture to say, that Russia is prepared to give proof of her good wishes, and of her desire to promote the maintenance of British supremacy in India. This being the case, can I reconcile it with the public interests to bring forward papers which might have reference to a different state of things? If there be such evidence of good faith—such proof of cordial good-will—would it be wise in us to disturb this good feeling by producing documents which might intimate the existence at a former period of a different state of things? I do not think, that in the present state of our relations with A Afghanistan, the production of the papers for which the hon. Gentleman has moved would promote the public interests; and, looking solely and singly to public interests, I must oppose the motion. The same principle upon which I have acted with regard to the production of these papers must also regulate my course with regard to this discussion. I stand in a position very different from that of the hon. Gentleman who proposed this motion. I am an actor in these scenes, charged with great responsibility, and desirous to bring the matter to a satisfactory conclusion; and I think, as the representative of her Majesty's Government in this House, that it would not be advisable to enter fully and unreservedly into a discussion on this question. What are the circumstances under which I should address the House? We are acquainted with the misfortunes which have befallen our troops at Ghuznee, but we are uncertain as to the fate of the garrison of that fort. We are also in a state of uncertainty as to the position of our troops in Candahar. Is this then a time at which a Minister of the Crown can enter into a full and unreserved statement on these subjects? I may at the same time observe, avoiding all discussion as to matters on which caution is necessary, that I cannot entirely concur with the hon. Gentleman in his views of Indian affairs. Whatever Lord Castlereagh may have said in 1820—whatever may have been the embarrassments of the finances in India at former periods, which it has been able to recover, I cannot but think that the question of Indian finance is a subject of the utmost importance. Sir, I made no exaggerated statement with respect to India; I am afraid I said nothing more than is strictly borne out. I look at the last official account which has been made up, and which I believe rests on the highest authority; and I find that in 1835 the Indian Government had a surplus revenue of 1,500,000l., which was reduced in 1836 to 1,100,000l.; that was reduced to 650,000l. in 1837 and 1838; to 238,000l. in 1838 and 1839; and in 1839 and 1840 the change was from a surplus revenue to a deficit of 2,414,000l.; in 1840 and 1841 to a deficit of 2,324,000l. The expense of the annual charge, including the interest of the debt, was in 1835, 15,766,000l. I believe the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mangles) will find that the total charges, including the interest of the debt, in 1839 and 1840, amounted to 18,615,000l., and in 1841 to 19,339,000l. I am afraid that my right hon. Friend will find, that that is the state of Indian finance; and, considering the importance of equalising the income with the expenditure in a state of general peace, recollecting that in India there is no Income-tax to resort to, and from what sources taxation must there be derived, how hardly it must press upon the cultivators of the soil, and what effect it must have on your hold of Indian opinion, I cannot help thinking, that Indian finance at the present time—whatever may be the case at other times—is a matter of the utmost interest. And when I see a gradual advance in expenditure from 15,700,000l.; to 19,300,000l.; and within the period of seven years a surplus of 1,500,000l. converted into a deficit of 2,400,000l., notwithstanding the strong views of the hon. Gentleman, I still adhere to my opinion, that Indian finance is not in that satisfactory state he described. Now, with respect to the advance of our power in India. I don't understand the hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Baillie's) argument. He speaks of the valour and success of our forces, at the same time he leaves the policy of our advancing untouched. The right hon. Gentleman refers to the policy of hanging some persons. I don't understand the application of this circumstance to the subject under discussion. From the known humanity of my noble Friend, I am certain that such rigorous examples were perfectly justifiable; but the bearing of that argument, and what it has to do with the policy of our advancing across the Indus I don't see. And with respect to the tendency of the Indian empire to extend itself, I am afraid there is much truth in the observation, that between civilised nations and nations very much their inferiors, there is a great tendency in the former to extend their empire in order to give security to what they possess. But still you cannot push that argument indefinitely; you must always inquire whether the policy of any war is advisable. I presume you cannot push that argument so far as to justify the expedition against Khiva, or the occupation of Bokhara. The policy of each particular war must always rest on its own special grounds; and the policy to which the right hon. Gentleman refers won't vindicate the general principle of the universal extension of our dominion. On a former occasion, I deprecated the declaration of the hon. Gentleman that he would not vote a single shilling to push the war in Affghanistan. I deprecated that as too hasty a decision. On the other hand, I don't wish to pledge myself that Lord Auckland's policy must be strictly adhered to—that must have reference to the experience we acquire in the intervening period, and on the change of circumstances that have occurred, I wish to give no opinion whatever. Considering the distance we are from that country, and the uncertainty we labour under as to events, it is unwise to pledge ourselves to any particular course respecting the policy to be pursued in Affghanistan. I trust, that in any course that her Majesty's Government may pursue, they will not forget to insure that the honour of the British arms shall be fully maintained, and that no instances of gross treachery and perjury shall pass altogether unpunished. With respect to this disaster—I will not conceal my opinion, it is a great military disaster; but we are strong enough to repair it. It is not a disaster to shake our dominion in India. It is impossible to see the examples of valour and fortitude which this disaster has called forth, and permit ourselves to despair. Is it possible to think of the persevering valour and endurance of Sir R. Sale, and I must say, to witness the heroism of that lady of whom we have heard so much, and to think of the effect of that example, and permit ourselves for one moment to be cast down and dispirited? Our reverses are great, but they are not worse than reverses we have met with before; and I have the greatest confidence in the proved valour and fortitude of the British arms that these disasters will be so far repaired that they will not, in the slightest degree, shake the confidence of the people of England in our supremacy, in which I trust their confidence will never be shaken. As I said, I proposed to avoid the expression of any opinion; but I cannot but acquiesce in the fairness of the quotation which the hon. Gentleman has made of my former statement. The right hon. Gentleman, referring to my declaration on the Queen's Speech, in 1839, observed, that all I said on that occasion was, "I viewed the proceedings in India with great anxiety." I don't think any public man speaking on such a declaration—considering, of course, that subsequent events were quite unknown—ever showed more foreboding as to the consequences of the policy then pursued. I am afraid, I did not limit myself to expressions of anxiety. On this, the first intimation of the policy of Affghanistan, the words I made use of were—
That was on the policy of this war. I said, referring to part of the statement of the Governor-general, that"He would next advert to a subject of far deeper interest, to a question which had for too long a time escaped the attention of that House—to the subject of the British empire, and the British interests in India. When they considered the immense importance of diverting the attention of the inhabitants of India from war, and of teaching them the acts of peace, and when they contemplated the evil consequences of a great financial expenditure, imposing the necessity for an additional taxation, he was bound to say, that he could not consider this question without the greatest anxiety."
This was what I stated in 1839. I think I can hardly be charged with having expressed perfect satisfaction with the proceedings which had taken place. At least, I think that in 1839, before the events which have since occurred were known, I sufficiently showed, that I had great misgivings, not to say more, of what might be the event of the policy which was then under consideration. The right hon. Gentleman says that, after giving notice of a motion on this subject, I abstained from pressing it; but I don't think that fact is quite conclusive against me, or that it justifies the right hon. Gentleman in saying that I then approved of the policy of the late Government in this matter. After you had decided finally on the course you would adopt—after you had determined to support Schah Soojah on the throne of Affghanistan, and after a considerable time had elapsed—and considering that this determination had been taken with respect to a policy to be pursued at a distance of so many thousand miles from this country—1 think it will be apparent to every unprejudiced person that there might have been reasons for not pressing that motion which would not apply to the case of measures carrying on nearer home and under other circumstances. The right hon. Gentleman says, also, that I seconded a vote of thanks from this House to Lord Keane. I certainly did second that motion; but nothing could be more distinct from approbation of the policy of the war than the terms I then used. The moment of success was not at a time at which it would have been fitting to have gone into the question of that policy; but even in the moment of success I was careful not to say anything to imply our approbation of the military policy of the Indian government. Then, with respect to the present time, I quite admit that this is not the moment to make positive expressions of opinion with respect to that policy. Even now, I have not expressed a more strong opinion than I expressed then. I should think that I violated my duty as a Minister of the Crown if I had not at once stated to the House that, looking to considerations of public policy, and whilst a treaty is pending, I had determined not to produce the papers for which the hon. Gentleman has moved. The same considerations of public policy also prevent me from entering upon the discussion of the general question, and oblige me to confine myself strictly to the limits which I have marked out."The Governor-general confidently hopes, that the Schah will be speedily replaced on his throne by his own subjects and adherents, and when once he shall be secured in power, and the independence and integrity of Affghanistan established, the British army will be withdrawn. Now, he should require that the fullest information should be laid before the House on this subject. Here was a sort of guarantee given by the Governor-general, that the British army would not be withdrawn until Schah Soojah-ool-Moolk should be restored. That prince was deposed from his throne in 1809, and had been kept out of it ever since, though on one occasion he had endeavoured to recover his authority, at the head of an army of 20,000 men, and failed. Yet this was the prince whom the British Government in India was about to restore by the aid of an immense and most expensive military force, and when restored, no doubt another British force would be required to keep him on the throne. The principle was the same in the attempted restoration of the Schah Soojah as it would be in the attempt to restore Charles 10th to the throne of France, with this difference, that the Schah had been thirty years dispossessed of his throne."
I quite agree with the right hon. Baronet, that it is inexpedient that the papers should be produced, and I agree with him also in the reasons he has stated for not producing them. It must be inexpedient, when England has been for some time on terms of perfect good understanding and cordiality with Russia, that we should go back to transactions which occurred under different circumstances and when we were on a very different footing. I am happy to hear the right hon. Baronet state that the friendly feeling which was happily established at the time when we retired from office, has been continued to the present moment. I am glad also to learn, that the government of Russia has shown, in regard to the events in Persia and A Affghanistan, the same amicable disposition, perfect honour, and unimpeached good faith, which, I am bound to say was shown by that power from the moment when mutual confidence was established in the later period while we had the honour to hold office. I think the right hon. Baronet fully justified by the reasons he assigns for not producing the papers, and I think he has acted with judgment in refraining from being led into a detailed discussion; though he did not express it in so many words, he implied, I think, some slight degree of disapprobation of the discretion evinced by the two hon. Members who brought forward and supported the motion, and even of the particular moment when they introduced these transactions to the notice of the House. The hon. Member for Shrewsbury accused the late Government, and myself especially, of having in the conduct of our foreign affairs, exhibited at one time a blameable supine-ness, and at another what he had pleased to call a terrible energy. With regard to the matter of debate, I must say that one of the hon. Members seems to me, during the last three years, to have himself exhibited if not blameable, very extraordinary supineness, though I cannot accuse him of having followed it up on the present occasion with any very terrible energy. I am not aware whether the other hon. Member was in Parliament during that period; but if they formerly entertained the same opinion of the policy of these great transactions which they have this night expressed, it is somewhat singular that during the last three years, they have not found an opportunity of giving vent to their censure and indignation. They never called upon Parliament to declare its disapprobation until the present moment. Was it that, when public attention was engrossed by the brilliancy of success, and the tide of opinion was setting strong in our favour, that they had not the moral courage to step forward. Was it that they waited until temporary disaster, unconnected with the policy of the war, had excited public feeling, before they ventured to pronounce those opinions which, it seems they have all along entertained. If such has been their course, and such their motive, I must say that it does display a want of moral courage, and a shrinking from the discharge of a public duty, which they will find some difficulty in justifying to the country. Let it be recollected that opportunities were not wanting; my right hon. Friend has enumerated various occasions on which the notice of the House might have been directed to the question. We are not indeed entitled to say that those who remained silent therefore approved; that would be to strain the inference from silence beyond its legitimate extent, but I may say that the silence of the hon. Members showed that they did not think that there existed such a case against the Government as would enable them to carry public opinion with them. At least, they despaired of persuading the House of Commons to express its disapprobation on the subject. On the various occasions of speeches from the throne, and of votes of the House, why did not the hon. Members who have this night stood forward to bring the matter under discussion, invite Parliament to express its opinion? The right hon. Baronet stated, that while operations were going on at a distance of many thousand miles, and when a treaty had been concluded, was not the fit time, with a view to the public interests, for introducing the subject; but as to the treaty, every man must know that it would not have been the first time that Parliament has been called upon to express its disapprobation of an engagement injurious to the public interests. There was nothing in the mere fact of a treaty which should prevent its being brought under the consideration of the House; and as to the distance of the operations, the much greater remoteness of those in China did not prevent the right hon. Baronet from bringing recent events in China before the House. I am, therefore, entitled to infer that the right hon. Baronet was not influenced, by treaty or by distance, either in the notice which he dropped, or in that which he introduced: he did not think the case in which he abstained was one in which he had a fair prospect of inducing the House to come to a vote in opposition to the policy of the Government. The present time, I contend, is not that which, as the right hon. Baronet remarked, could be judiciously chosen for a motion like that before the House; because the discussion relates to a period when our relations with a great power, now established on the most friendly footing, were of a very different character. The hon. Members are necessarily driven to advert more particularly to transactions which were connected with the discordance which then existed between the Governments of England and Russia; at the same time, I really feel that there is no difficulty in the matter, because, for argument's sake, I will take the ground laid down by the right hon. Baronet. I will assume, that which we are bound to assume, that the statements made by the Russian government are perfectly correct. Their agents, knowing that a bad feeling prevailed between the two powers, exceeded their instructions, and without authority, entered into those communications and intrigues which excited jealousy and uneasiness on the part of the Indian Government. But we will take a different case—we will suppose, that the two governments had been in actual and deliberate hospitality; if the agents, acting without authority, were able to produce such effects, how much more powerful would their influence have been in disturbing our Indian possessions, if they had acted under the full sanction of Russia—with all the weight and power which that empire might have put forth in the places where its agents were located? Therefore, even in the case which we are bound to take, we see the absolutely necescessity of establishing a defensive barrier, which was the object this country had in view. We are told, that this question is to be decided very much by authority, and great stress has been laid upon the unfavourable opinions of persons of competent local knowledge. It has been said, that Sir Alexander Burnes was adverse to our policy; that Sir Henry Fane was also adverse to it. The last has been introduced to us as a great military authority, as he undoubtedly was, but his military qualifications do not seem necessarily to show that he was equally competent to decide on a question of policy. The hon. Member did not quote any opinion of Sir H. Fane as to the impracticability of the operations, but as to the impolicy of the plan. [Mr, Baillie: I used Sir H. Fane's au thority in a military point of view.] So be it; but if there ever was a case in which the current of authority ran one way, it is this case. As my right hon. Friend stated, you have the Government at home acting upon its own view of all the circumstances connected with the foreign relations of the country; and you have the Governor-general of India acting upon his view, and with his local knowledge exactly in accordance with the Government at home. Without the slightest communication or concert they both arrived at the same conclusion, and at the same moment. They agreed, that this course was necessary for the defence of our Indian possessions. I say for the defence of our Indian possessions, be. cause, when we are told that the war was undertaken with a view to European interests, I utterly deny the position. If we had no empire in India, we might have been perfectly indifferent whether Persia succeeded, or did not succeed, against Affghanistan. The course we pursued was entirely with a view to the security of our Indian empire; and it was not a European, but entirely an Indian question. First, in 1836, we had the opinion of Mr. Ellis, a man of great sagacity and acquaintance with Eastern affairs, who had been in Persia, and, I believe, in India. His opinion was most unequivocally, that it was attended with the utmost danger, that Persia should exercise such power and influence in Affghanistan. Next to Mr. Ellis comes Sir John M'Neil, who at first did not think the danger so great as he afterwards believed it, when he had concluded his negotiation with Persia. He then discovered that the Persian government had not a shadow of justice on its side, and that the mere object of the war was aggrandizement, full of peril to our Indian possessions. My right hon. Friend also produced the authority of several other distinguished men, and in the papers before the House we find the most decided opinion by Sir A. Burnes, in favour of the movement which was undertaken. In opposition to that opinion, we are told to set the private communications of the same gallant officer. Perhaps I also could quote private communications from SirA. Burnes, in direct confirmation of his opinion, as expressed in the printed papers. I have in my hand two private letters from him, one dated the 4th, and the other the 26th of August, 1838, from which I am permitted to read two passages. Sir A. Burnes is represented as thinking that we were enter- ing upon a dangerous system, by advancing too far from our frontiers and resources, and this is what I find under his hand, in a letter of the 4th of August:—
In his letter of the 26th of August, Sir A. Burnes uses the following expressions:—"I have great hopes that our army will march from Candahar to Herat, and think the Ameer will evacuate Cabool, which will enable us to do so."
I beg to direct the attention of the hon. Member for Shrewsbury to what I am about to read; he treated with the greatest contempt and ridicule the apprehensions about the Birman empire and Nepaul, in consequence of the movements in Affghanistan, but what says Sir Alexander Burnes?—"We shall probably get Sultan Mahomed Khan out to Shikapour, to assist in securing Candahar, but he will not be listened to in his objections to Shoojah-ool-Moolk—they are untenable. I have seen such papers since I arrived here that I could even prove to you how critical is this crisis."
This from a person supposed to disapprove that policy; and what does Sir Alexander Burnes add:—"If it only concerned Barukzies and Saduz-zies, we might hesitate in ejecting the former; but affairs in Ava, in Nepaul, and in the Dec-can, demand that we should set our house in order quickly, and hence the change from a tame to an active policy."
I say, therefore, that all persons who were qualified to form a sound opinion, thought that immediate measures were necessary, with a view to secure Affghanistan for British interests. The fact is, that for a great number of years we regarded Persia as a barrier for our Indian possessions; but of late her policy has changed, and since the accession of the present Shah the relations between England and Persia have altered, and we have seen Persia disposed to extend her frontier. For a long time we refrained from interference, but at length it became necessary, from the determination on the part of Persia to incorporate Affghanistan in her system of government. It was then the obvious duty of those who had the charge of affairs, to take vigorous measures that Affghanistan might be secured in our favour, instead of being hostile to our interests. Now, Sir, it was thought by many to be an adven- turous attempt, and, in a military point of view, it was looked upon as extremely difficult. But, Sir, there never was a military operation carried on in a part of this country in which there were so many difficulties which have been followed by such easy and complete success. Three years had nearly elapsed since that expedition was undertaken; during those three years no disaster happened. At last a great disaster did happen, no doubt. Into the causes of that disaster I will not now enter. They are matters of inquiry before competent parties elsewhere, and it would be unjust and unfair in me to fix blame upon any one. But I may say that this disaster had no more to do with the original policy of these measures, than the wreck of a line-of-battle ship, if we had sent out an expedition three years before, and the line-of-battle ship should be lost unexpectedly in a gale of wind. It would be no proof that the policy of the expedition was not sound and judicious. I agree, Sir, with the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. Peel), and with those who have spoken on this side of the House, that there is no reason to imagine we shall not be able to recover in Affghanistan the same position as we occupied before the disaster happened. To allow any thing like a feeling of despondency to take possession of our minds on account of this temporary misfortune, will be to show ourselves not only unfit to deal with great national concerns, but also with human affairs. I am satisfied, Sir that the measures taken by the Indian Government will soon place Affghanistan in the situation in which it was last year. It has been said that we ought to go there only for the purpose of punishing perfidy, or for the sake of revenge. I hope that no such feeling will actuate us in our march to regain our station in Affghanistan. I trust that possession will not be taken for that purpose. I should be sorry to see the British arms proceeding to injure the innocent, for the guilty will be certain to escape, marking our advance by the effusion of blood, which will track the course of an army of retribution. I can understand that this is a great disaster, to which the country cannot submit; that it is necessary to re-establish a commanding position. I can conceive that for this purpose great ex-pence will be justified, and great efforts required. I can conceive a Government saying that this was necessary for our empire in India, to regain our position; but, if we do regain it, I hope it will not be, as has been recommended by some hon. Members, merely to abandon it again. The right hon. Baronet has very properly abstained from saying any thing from which the House can infer what the future policy of the Government in Affghanistan will be. I concur, however, with my right hon. Friend in saying, that the Ministers will be bold, indeed, who having in charge the interests of the nation, and having the defence of our great Indian empire entrusted to their hands, shall dare to take any steps to endanger that empire, or to deprive it of those defences and barriers which their predecessors established in the east. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, seems to think that these are matters to be treated with great levity. He is only looking, probably, to his financial arrangements, and is perfectly indifferent to what may happen in the colonies, or in our eastern empire. I recommend the right hon. Gentleman to consult the map, and to make himself a little acquainted with the nature of the country. Let him bear in mind the graphic description made by the hon. Member for Beverley (Mr. Hogg) of the barrier which, in our hands, would make us unassailable, and which, in the hands of an enemy, would expose us to attacks which it will be difficult to resist. I think that, if the right hon. Gentleman would study under his own Friend, he would find that there is something like a barrier in Affghanistan to our Indian position. And here, Sir, I should have concluded what I have to say upon the present occasion, for, after the able and convincing speech of my right hon. Friend, there remains nothing to add to the statement which he made, if it were not for two or three of the concluding sentences in the speech of the hon. Member for Shrewsbury (Mr. D'Israeli). Not content with the wide range which Indian affairs might have afforded to his fancy, the hon. Member finished by a sweeping condemnation of the conduct and policy of the late Government. He declared it to be unattended with success, and he declared it to be a system which was at one time too servile and at another time too active. It had, therefore, incurred the misfortune of his displeasure. I will not, Sir, at this late hour of the night detain the House by going into a defence of the policy of the late Government. At least during the ten years in which we had the honour to con duct the affairs of this country, we were able to maintain that European peace which all parties—no, not all, but which most desired. I will not say all, because the hon. Gentleman thinks we ought to have gone to war with Russia to preserve Persia from attack. We maintained a European peace without any sacrifice of British interests, without any derogation from British honour; and I think that the consideration in which England was held was, at least, as high when we left as when we succeeded to office. We maintained a European peace, although we were engaged in great and important transactions. In all these transactions England took a prominent and active, nay, I may say, a leading part, and almost all were concluded in accordance with the view which the English Government had taken when they first entered upon them. With regard to Belgium, with regard to Portugal, with regard to Spain, and with regard to eastern affairs generally, the hon. Gentleman may or may not have thought our views to be right; but this at least he cannot deny, that we took a leading part in all those transactions, and that the views we took were the views into which these transactions ultimately directed themselves. Therefore, whether in the opinion of the hon. Gentleman we exercised too much forbearance at one time, and were too active at another, he may approve or disapprove of our policy, yet he cannot deny that it was attended by almost invariable success. The hon. Gentleman may think that it was not expedient that Belgium should be erected into an independent kingdom. He may concur in the opinions of a noble Friend of his, who is not now in the House, and who treated with much ridicule what he called the little experimental monarchy of Belgium. A more prosperous and more happy country does not exist in Europe. The hon. Gentleman may think it better that Portugal should be under the government of Don Miguel and an arbitrary sovereign, than under Donna Maria and a free constitution. Yet that is not the way in which the people of Portugal think or speak. The hon. Gentleman may think that Spain should be ruled by Don Carlos and the Inquisition, rather than by Isabella and the Constitution. Even the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth bore testimony to the rapid advance in industry, tranquillity, and civilization in that country. The hon. Gentleman may think that the peace of Europe should be exposed to almost daily danger from the state of affairs in Syria, rather than be placed in a situation in which the Government boasted that the five powers were agreed, being determined to preserve its integrity. All this may be the opinion of the hon. Gentleman but I am inclined to believe that the country at large does not participate in his opinion; and I believe on the contrary that the way in which we conducted the foreign affairs of this country has given satisfaction to the public at large. I do not mean to refer to those instances in which not only did we preserve peace ourselves, but in which we interposed and arranged the quarrels of other countries; but I must recall to the hon. Gentleman's knowledge one instance which he noticed himself, and in which he considered that we had fully established peace. The particulars were told by the hon. Gentleman, not in these very words; but this is the result of his statement. He said that such was the feeling of the justice of the British Government, and such the opinion of our desire to promote peace and to be the party to conciliate others who were disputants; such was our desire that peace should abound throughout the world that no sooner had our consul reached New Grenada, one of the states in South America, the capital of which was 500 miles from the sea-shore, than the ship was boarded by two impatient deputies, who, having opposed themselves in a quarrel, found they had no chance of settling their disputes, and came to ask the mediation of the British consul to restore peace between them. I feel obliged for the good opinion entertained by the hon. Member of the Government after he heard that that negotiation was altogether successful, and that that was a case in which the Government was able to preserve peace, and to prevent the calamities of war. Whether the present Government do or do not adopt the course which the hon. Member fears they will, of saying that they will follow more or less the path of their predecessors, I know not; but of this I am sure, that the whole of the country, all the other nations and governments of Europe, and an impartial posterity, will do us the justice which he seems disposed to deny us. As I have already said, I think the production of these papers unnecessary. We rest our defence on the papers which we presented to the House; we think that they contain a case which fully justifies the measures which the Government here on the one hand, and the Governor-general on the other hand, simultaneously determined to adopt. That we did not give all the papers which we received from our different agents I never attempted to deny: no Government ever does or ever can give in extenso the despatches of their agents; and if they did so, the agents would cease to write despatches which would be worth receiving. We gave those which we were content to make public, and by those papers of course we are prepared to stand. But I must say that it is rather ungrateful for hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House to reproach us for having been niggardly of our diplomatic correspondence: for I believe that there never was a government which laid so many diplomatic papers before Parliament. Some they volunteered to produce—some they were asked to lay on the Table, and the complaints were, not that we laid too few papers before Parliament, for the right hon.. Baronet will remember the sad complaints and heavy lamentations which he made at the mass of papers which were produced but too many. We kid more papers before Parliament on these subjects than any other Government ever did, and we displayed no disposition to withhold from Parliament any diplomatic correspondence which might be produced. I do not think that the present Government feel disposed to follow our example—they may be stronger in their means of resistance than we were, but I can only say that I hope they will follow our example; that they can produce for all the things which they do, or do not do, such good reasons as I think we have produced for all the things which we did; and when they go out of office some few years hence, I trust that I shall be able to congratulate them upon going out with minds as light and as easy, with regard to their past conduct, as I can assure them ours are."Lord Auckland hesitates a little in the first move, but I predict that his hesitation will be of short duration."
said, that he should hardly have been disposed to trouble the House at this late hour, but for the observations of the noble Lord at the conclusion of his speech; but he could not help thinking that no foreign minister had ever meddled with so many things with which he had nothing to do. His complaint was, that so far from the noble Lord having produced too much, he had laid nothing on the Table. The noble Lord said, "We have made out our case." This was true, no doubt; and with the power of selecting from the correspondence such matters only as the noble Lord felt disposed to produce, that was an easy task. He said, however, let him have a committee to inquire into the nature of the correspondence, and he would leave the House to see how far the noble Lord had in reality given the country the information to which they were entitled. It was his intention to support this motion. He agreed with the right hon. Baronet that this was not a time to discuss Lord Auckland's policy, for that they ought not now to do any thing which should tend to check the energies of the Government. He believed that the expedition had been carried on contrary to public opinion in India, and he believed also that when the first step was taken in this affair, the Government of India had had no intention whatever of increasing its territory. A noble Lord, not now in his place, had accused the Government of promoting war. Captain Burnes, however, had gone to Affghanistan commissioned to promote the interests of British commerce; and it was only in consequence of the new state of things, produced by the breaking out of war in Cabool on the, day before his arrival, when Russian interference was brought under his notice, that his position was altered. With that circumstance before them, it was highly important that the House should see what had been his real opinion upon this matter. He complained that Captain Burnes's despatches had not been fully laid before the House; that when he had written, expressing an opinion unfavourable to the proceedings of the Government, his opinions had been suppressed, and that portions only of his correspondence had been produced. All the details were omitted, and that the suppression was unfair to the House. Every thing which told in favour of Captain Burnes, or which disclosed his real opinion, was omitted; and he thought that circumstance a sufficient reason for acceding to this motion.
begged to assure the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, that so far as the late Government were concerned, they had no objection to the production of any of these papers. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had made an objection to their production, because differences existed with Russia at the time those communications took place. Those differences had been since adjusted. A union and concurrence of sentiment now existed with the court of Russia, and therefore the Government considered it not expedient to produce the whole of the papers. He agreed in the general reasoning of the right hon. Gentleman, and therefore he was quite willing to concur that the papers should not be produced. But he repeated, so far as the late Government was concerned, they had no objection to the production of the papers. The hon. Member for Montrose charged the late Ministers with suppression; but the hon. Member could hardly desire that a mass of papers of a public nature should be produced without selection or consideration of what were likely to throw light upon the subject. Produced in that way, hon. Members would find it very difficult to make use of them. The hon. Member complained that some of the opinions of Sir Alexander Burnes were not given, and seemed to imply that the suppression was all of passages which related to one view. He forgot to mention that a long answer of Sir William M'Naghten's was also suppressed, though containing arguments which might appear as sound to others as those of Sir A. Burnes did to the hon. Member. After the speeches of his right hon. and noble Friends, it was not necessary for him to go at any length into the question. With respect to the conduct of the Governor-general towards Dost Mahomed Khan, its grounds appeared to him to be very clearly stated in a minute of the 12th of May, 1838. One hon. Member opposite said, that they ought to have selected Dost Mahomed instead of Schah Soojah for their ally, but the hon. and learned Director (Mr. Hogg) said, that they ought not to have allied themselves with either, that they ought not to have interfered at all. That was a large question of policy, and he would not discuss it now, but he referred to this, to show what different opinions were entertained with respect to what ought to have been the proceedings. For his part he, with regard to the whole affair, never imagined that in this country he could be so capable of forming an opinion as Lord Auckland, who had under his view full information relative to all the affairs of India. But the reason which Lord Auckland gave for the alliance which he preferred, appeared to him perfectly correct. With regard to the proposal of the hon. Director, the Member for Beverley, not to interfere at all, he thought the consequences of that policy would have been, that before long, we should have seen the whole of Afghanistan united with Persia, and ready to join any enemy who might appear against the British territory in India. The hon. Gentleman left it to be inferred, that the Court of Directors were opposed to the war in Affghanistan. But he should recollect, that the foreign policy was managed by the secret committee, who were the best judges of such matters, having full information before them. Questions of finance, of commerce, or legislation, might very properly come before the Court of Directors; but the secret committee was specially appointed for watching questions of foreign policy, and that secret committee entirely agreed with his right hon. Friend, the late President of the Board of Control, with Lord Auckland, and with the late Cabinet, with respect to the policy to be pursued. With respect to Russia, she had disavowed the proceedings of her agents, and had agreed with us with respect to the policy to be pursued towards Persia. Such being the case, it seemed to him strange, that any one who thought that they ought not to have defended themselves when menaced—that they ought not to have protected their possessions—should afterwards unite them, as it seemed to have been intimated on the other side, to engage in an European war with Russia, just when complete satisfaction had been given, and past misunderstandings set at rest. He would only say, in conclusion, that he was glad, after all they had heard—after hon. Gentlemen had waited to make an attack till a cloud of misfortune had darkened our triumphs in India—after they had abstained from opposition during the time of prosperity, and taken all the advantage which must attend reverses—after they had seized such an opportunity of attack, like a vulture assaulting a fallen and wounded soldier—he was glad to find that the case they had made was so utterly weak, and he thought its failure must convince the House of the policy of the proceedings that had been adopted.
shortly replied. He would not press his motion to a division, as the right hon. Baronet objected to produce the papers on the ground that their production would be detrimental to the public service.
objected to the motion being withdrawn, and the House divided:—Ayes 9; Noes 75:—Majority 66.
List of the
|Bernal, Capt.||Brotherton, J.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Cobden, R|
|Duncan, G.||Wallace, R.|
|Ewart, W.||Baillie, H. J.|
|Hume, J.||Disraeli, B.|
List of the
|Ainsworth, P.||Herbert, hon. S.|
|Allix, J. P.||Hobhouse, rt. hn. SirJ.|
|Baring, hon. W. B.||Hogg, J. W.|
|Baring, rt. hon. F. T.||Hornby, J.|
|Baskerville, T. B. M.||Hussey, T.|
|Bateson, Sir R.||Hutt, W.|
|Blackburne, J.I.||Jackson, J. D.|
|Blake, M. J.||Jocelyn, Visct.|
|Broadley, H.||Jones, Capt.|
|Brodie, W. B.||Layard, Capt.|
|Buller, E.||Legh, G. C.|
|Busfeild, W.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Campbell, A.||Litton, E.|
|Colborne, hn. W. N. R.||Lockhart, W.|
|Corry, rt. hn. H.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|Craig, W. G.||Maclean, D.|
|Cripps, W.||M'Geachy, F. A.|
|Darby, G.||Morris, D.|
|Dawnay, hon. W. H.||Mundy, E. M.|
|Denison, E. B.||Niclioll, rt. hn. J.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||O'Brien, J.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Easthope, Sir J.||Ogle, S. C. H.|
|Eastnor, Visct.||Owen, Sir J.|
|Eliot, Lord||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Elphinstone, H.||Peel, rt. hn. Sir R.|
|Ffolliott, J.||Philips, M.|
|Forbes, W.||Protheroe, E.|
|Forster, M.||Rashleigh, W.|
|Fuller, A. E.||Rushbrooke, Col.|
|Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.||Sheil, rt. hn. R. L.|
|Gordon, hon. Capt.||Smith, rt. hn. R. V.|
|Goulburn, rt. hn. H.||Sutton, hon. H. M.|
|Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.||Thornely, T.|
|Greene, T.||Wawn, J T.|
|Grogan, E.||Wortley, hon. J. S.|
|Hamilton, W. J.|
|Heathcoat, J.||Fremantle, Sir T.|
|Henley, J. W.||Pringle, A.|