ADDRESS FOR PAPERS.
in rising to call the attention of the House to the occupation by Russia of the Khanate of Khokand; and to move an Address for Copies of all Correspondence between Her Majesty's Government and the Russian Government respecting this occupation; and, of any Reports of Captain Napier or other Officers on the frontier states, said, that on one point there would be a cordial agreement—that the interests of India and the interests of England were identical, and that anything which tended to weaken us in India ought to be carefully watched. The House would agree with him that there was only one Power we had to consider when the question of India was discussed. Germany, France, and Italy had no interests in India, while Persia and Afghanistan were only of importance by relation to ourselves. There was but one Power to which we had to look, and that was Russia. The wild nomad tribes of Turkestan and the adjoining provinces looked to the North and saw a colossal military Power sweeping down, conquering their independence—sometimes advancing slowly, as in 1836, and sometimes with great rapidity, as in 1875 and 1876, but always continuously. If they looked to the South they saw another great Power, not so much distinguished for its military strength, but which was mistress of the seas. That great Power had marched on until she had arrived at the Indus and reached the foot of the Himalayas, while the wild tribes of Turkestan looked forward with the greatest interest and anxiety to a time when these two great Powers should be in presence of each other. No one would dispute the progress of Russia in Central Asia, but that progress was differently regarded by two schools of thought in England. One of those schools was represented by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell), and included men of the greatest ability and knowledge of India. They viewed the progress of Russia without alarm, and looked forward to a time when Russia should advance her frontier to the foot of the Himalayas. They regarded Russia as a civilizing Power, and thought it better that the wild tribes of Turkestan should be conquered by Russia, and that there was less chance of disagreement when these two great Powers joined their frontiers than at present. There was, however, another school who thought very differently, and he would endeavour to represent their views. They regarded with the greatest anxiety the progress of Russia in Central Asia, and, without anticipating a time when Russia should either conquer India or attempt to do so, saw the danger of this constant approach towards our Indian frontier. When the frontiers of two great Powers like Russia and England were contiguous, great armaments must be kept up, because that very contiguity necessarily led to an increase in the means of defence by both. The great desert which formerly separated Russia from our Indian possessions was the greatest possible protection to us. It represented the Channel between England and the Continent, and enabled 60,000 troops in India to govern and control 200,000,000 people. This class of politicians anticipated a time when, if Russia advanced any further, we should be compelled to keep three times our present Force in order to occupy the position we now hold. That must be admitted to be at least a plausible view. He did not imagine that a great Power like Russia would come down upon our Indian Empire without notice; but in the event of a European war, the contiguity of the two frontiers would render it necessary to keep an enormous force in that country. Had anything changed since 1869? Russia had advanced since that time 1,000 miles towards our Indian frontier, yet her advances had attracted so much attention in Europe that Lord Clarendon wrote, on the 27th of March, 1869, to Sir Andrew Buchanan—
Lord Clarendon, subsequently writing to Mr. Rumbold, said—"Unless stringent precautions were adopted, we should find before long that some aspiring Russian general had entered into communication with some restless or malcontent Indian Prince, and that intrigues were rife, and disturbing the Indian population on the frontiers, against which Her Majesty's Government would have a right to remonstrate with Russia; and it was in order to prevent such a state of things, which might endanger the good understanding which now existed, not only on this but on all other questions, between England and Russia, that I earnestly recommend the recognition of some territory as neutral between the possessions of England and Russia, which should be the limit of those possessions, and be scrupulously respected by both Powers. Baron Brunnow appeared to think that this would be a desirable arrangement, and promised to make a report of my suggestion to his Government. His Excellency called upon me this morning, and had the goodness to leave in my hands the copy, herewith enclosed, of a letter from Prince Gortchakoff, giving a positive assurance that Afghanistan would be considered as entirely beyond the sphere in which Russia might be called upon to exercise her influence. Prince Gortchakoff replies,—'The idea expressed by Lord Clarendon of keeping a zone between the possessions of the two Empires in Asia, to preserve them from any contact, has always been shared by our august Master.'"
Sir Andrew Buchanan, writing in July, 1869, and giving an account of his interview with the Emperor,represented to His Majesty that while India and Russia remained as they were the good understanding which happily existed between the two countries would not be disturbed; but that the number of persons in England who were interested in the prosperity and tranquillity of India was very great, and that in the event of a conflict between Russia and Afghanistan, or of the entrance of Russian troops into provinces bordering on India, public opinion might be so excited that Her Majesty's Government might be obliged to take measures to satisfy it entirely inconsistent with the views they at present entertained."It was thought advisable to propose that the Upper Oxus, which was south of Bokhara, should be the boundary line which neither Power should permit their forces to cross. This, I said, would leave a large tract of country apparently desert, and marked on the map before us as belonging to the Khan of Khiva, between Afghanistan and the territory already acquired by Russia, and, if agreed to, would, it might be hoped, remove all fear of future dissension."
Writing to Sir Andrew Buchanan on the 3rd of September, 1869, Lord Clarendon said—"The Emperor answered that he quite understood this, and it was only natural, but there was no probability of any event occurring to create such a state of feeling as that to which I had alluded, for I must know that he had no ambitious views, and that he had been drawn by circumstances ('que nous avons été entraînés') further than he had wished into Central Asia."
They had, therefore, to do not only with the Emperor of Russia, but also with the Army, and throughout the Correspondence they would find that the Emperor said he was against advance and annexation. But then the generals advanced in spite of the Emperor and without any apparent authority to do so; and it was found that when those generals returned to St. Petersburg they were invariably received with respect and honour; they were decorated, and every approval was apparently given to their conduct. That was a fact which ought not to be lost sight of in considering this subject. The Emperor was most pacific in his tendencies, but they knew what had happened since 1869, notwithstanding those pacific tendencies. Lord Clarendon in the same letter continued—"'Prince Gortchakoff said the Emperor considered, and he entirely shared His Majesty's opinion, that extension of territory was extension of weakness, and that Russia had no intention of going further south. It was satisfactory, I replied, to learn that the Emperor had arrived at such a sound conclusion respecting the interests of Russia, but that when I considered the rapid advances of Russia and her great organization of territory within the last five years, it was impossible to doubt that her army had been impelled forward either by direct orders from St. Petersburg, or by the ambition of generals in disregard of the pacific intentions of the Emperor."
Now, let the House consider what had been the proceedings of Russia since 1869. In that year General Forsyth, an officer of distinction, was sent to Russia, and the most positive assurances were given to him that no further advances would be made by Russia in Central Asia. But two years subsequently, when Samarkand was occupied, it was distinctly stated that Russia preferred to give it up. Again, in 1873, the present Russian Ambassador was sent on a special mission, and it was stated that there was no intention of occupying Khiva, that the object in view was to punish certain troublesome tribes, but what was the result? Khiva was occupied then, and was occupied still, and this very year they found that Russia occupied the Khanate of Khokand, and incorporated it with its own territory. So much for promises and pledges, so much, too, for a neutral zone. He would ask the House whether they did not consider that our rule in India was one of prestige? In the admirable biography of Lord Macaulay which had recently appeared, it was stated that the first observation Macaulay made when he landed in India was that he had arrived in a country where he found that our power depended upon our prestige of being anation of warriors. Was it or was it not the case that we had lost prestige in India? He ventured to say, and he had heard from those who had recently come from Central Asia, that the opinion was gaining ground that England was losing influence and power, and that the only Power certain to advance was Russia. What said a high authority, Lord Napier and Ettrick, in "another place?" He said—"I pointed out the various acquisitions of Russia, and the dates at which they were made, adding that, Russia being now in possession of Samarkand, Bokhara was completely in her power, to which his Excellency assented; and that the next step onwards would probably be to Balkh, which could be of no use to Russia except for purposes of aggression; and that on the Hindoo Koosh the British possessions might be viewed as a traveller on the summit of the Simplon might survey the plains of Italy. The only apprehension we had was, I continued, that the nearer approach of the Russians and intrigues with Native Chiefs might keep the Indian mind in a ferment and entail upon us much trouble and expense, all of which would be avoided by a clear understanding with the Russian Government, by which a neutral ground between the possessions of the two countries might be established. Prince Gortchakoff replied that he could take no exception to anything I had said, and particularly with regard to the military commanders, who had all exceeded their instructions in the hope of gaining distinction. To this he added, that they had one after the other been recalled, and that nothing was to be feared on the part of General Kaufman, who had gained every honour that a Russian general could aspire to, and who had received special instructions from his Government."
He could quote from many Russian newspapers and other documents to show the hostile feeling which existed towards England, but he would content himself with a few extracts. One Russian paper said that Central Asia was a poor, unpopulated country, which would never pay its expenses, but that it furnished the Russians with a splendid station, where they could take breath and collect their forces. In a number of The Moscow Gazette it was stated that Gassar and the countries on the southern side of the hills, forming the southern frontier of Khokand, were subject to the suzerainty of Khokand. M. Terentyeff said—"He should never forget the painful impression with which he once heard the expression of a Russian diplomatist and statesman upon that subject. In conversation with him upon certain political eventualities which seemed to be impending, he (Lord Napier and Ettrick) said that in such eventualities the resistance of the English Government might be expected. The Russian statesman replied in deprecation and surprise—'Resistance, my Lord, is a word which has no longer a place in the political vocabulary of England.'If such an impression existed in the mind of a Russian statesman might it not exist in the minds of other persons in Europe much less well informed, and in a still higher degree in the minds of the ill-informed and easily-deluded classes of our Indian fellow-subjects?—[3 Hansard, ccxxviii. 836.]
M. Ferrier wrote—"Our Central Asia possessions serve only as an étape on the road to further advance, and as a halting-place where we can rest and gatherfresh strength.…. Russia has been permitted to make vast headway, and is likely not to miss profiting by the opportunity."
They saw what strides Russia had made within four years. Did they think she would be content with those advances? Were they or were they not prepared to allow Russia to occupy Bokhara and Khokand?Even now an expedition was preparing to occupy Merv. On this subject M. Frederick von Hellward, who had written on the subject of Russia in Central Asia, said—"Herat and Kandahar once in the hands of the Russians, they could become the arbiters of the various and conflicting interests of Central Asia, and could unite them all in her own favour. The very presence of the Russians in that country would of itself immediately create a hostile feeling among the native population."
Again, Vambéry said—"The circumstance that the influence of Russia is daily increasing, while that of England is declining, and that England is thus quietly being lifted out of the saddle, appears to us fraught with serious consequences in the proximatefuture. The British statesman ought to have foreseen this peril and nipped it in the bud, and to have placed in the very beginning a veto on the extension of Russian power in the East."
In Clouds in the East, a work written by the same author, he found recorded a conversation with Alayer Khan, who said—"If the Russian diplomatists can persuade the English that the possession of Khiva is only provisory, it will be an easy thing for a Russian army to march on Afghanistan at a time when Great Britain is standing unprepared. I do not mean to say that Russia designs any surprise, and that England has generally to fear such an attack. No, the result of this chess move will only be that Russia will arrive sooner in the true arena of subsequent events, and this precedence must not be allowed on the part of England. And, again, it is no longer asserted that the two great European Powers in Asia are only rivals in the field of geographical discovery, commerce, and Western culture. It is now confessed that a contest for supremacy is here involved, and, indeed, that a vital question is at stake."
It was important to bear in mind that from Merv to Herat there was water carriage, and also that between the two points there was a mail road, along which troops could make the journey from place to place in not more than four days. If once therefore the Russians were permitted to go to Merv, it was perfectly certain they would go on to Herat. It was not long since a traveller had a conversation with the Khan of Khiva on this very subject, and the Khan, referring to the advances that were being made in the direction of the British frontier, expressed his wonder at the apathy of the British Government, and also his conviction that whether it was or was not distasteful to the English people, they would speedily have to fight if the existing state of things was allowed to continue. The opinion of Lord Palmerston on a question of this kind would be received with consideration by the House, and he would therefore read an extract from a letter which in 1847 the noble Lord addressed to Lord Russell—"Ten years ago the Russians were a long way off; where are they now? They are at Samarcand, they are at Khokand, and Bokhara is really theirs whenever they like to take it. The English told them they were not to take Khiva and they took it. Now they are on the Oxus. They will come to Merv, they will be at Herat. And do you think the people you have conquered in Hindostan will be asquiet as they are now with the Russians at Herat?"
The hon. Gentleman the Member for the Elgin Burghs (Mr. Grant Duff) was one of those who formerly took a view much like that of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell), though he believed that since then he had spent some time in travel and had taken the pessimist view that it would not matter even if Russia advanced to our frontier. He had, in a very interesting book of travels which had just appeared, expressed different views from those which he formerly entertained. He said—"A Russian force in occupation of Afghanistan might not be able to march on Calcutta, but it might convert Afghanistan into the advanced post of Russia, and whatever Hardinge may say of the security of the rest of our frontier, you would find in such a case a very restless spirit displayed by the Burmese, by the Nepaulese, and by all the unincorporated States scattered about the surface of our Indian possessions. These things would lead to great expense, require great efforts, and might create considerable damage. It is as well that we should be able to defend India in Asia, as well as in Europe."
On the same subject Lord Derby addressed a speech to the House of Lords in 1874, in which he said—"Unless diplomacy keeps the Russians away from Merv, we can take up no attitude in those countries, except one;" and, he added, "any aggression on the dominions recognized as those of Shere Ali means war with England."
It was not wished by any one that disturbances or misunderstandings should arise between this and any other country on the subject he was bringing before the House, and it was in order to diminish the possibility of any such event that he wished the country to inform itself upon the question. The Russian Government had always said the more we discussed the question the more we should understand it. He, however, thought the people of this country ought to mate up their minds one way or other on this question. If we said to the Russian Government—"We don't believe you want to take India; we believe in your mission of civilization; but if you approach our frontier, for which there is no necessity, it will involve us in expense, and we ask you, in the interests of peace, to advance no further, to stop the expedition you are sending to occupy Kashgar, and, above all, not to cross the Oxus in order to occupy Merv," he could not help thinking there would be a satisfactory result. If, however, something of that kind were not done he felt convinced there would be trouble in the future. He had recently read an amusing article in a Russian paper, in which the writer said—"What is all this discussion about the advance of Russia? Let us advance and shake hands with you across the frontier?"That was certainly putting the question in a peculiar way, and simply meant that Russia would occupy all the country and all the important posts which England looked upon as a protection to her Indian Empire. If that course con- tinued, we should be forced to have a very large force kept in India. He did not say it was the ultimate intention of Russia to attack us; but it was the general feeling that it was with such an intention Russia was making her advances in the East, and he therefore thought it highly important that such advances in the direction of British India should be resisted. He knew how difficult it was to create in the House an interest in any foreign question; but there might come a day when we should regret that we had not taken more care, and that we had allowed ourselves to be deceived year after year upon various pretences. He thought that the subject was one which was well worthy of the attention of the country and of the Government; and therefore he had ventured to introduce it. Thanking the House for the patient hearing it had accorded him on a not very interesting subject, in conclusion, he must say he believed that we should meet the Russian approaches as we should an encroaching and rapidly rising tide upon our shore; or, at all events, that we should be fully prepared to argue this great question. He begged to move for the Papers of which he had given Notice."To maintain the integrity and the territorial independence of Afghanistan, in our judgment,…. is, and ought to be, a most important object of English policy, and that any interference with the national independence of Afghanistan would be regarded by Her Majesty's Government as a very grave matter, requiring their most serious and careful consideration, and as one which might involve considerable danger to the peace of India. I think if such an interference occurred, to put the matter mildly, it is highly probable that this country would interpose."—[3 Hansard, ccxviii. 1916.]
I rise to second the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Baillie Cochrane). But in doing so it is not necessary for me to agree in all his views. This is a Motion for the production of Papers, and with the same object in view different speakers may have different opinions. I disclaim altogether any intention of attacking the policy, or blaming the conduct of Russia in making advances in Central Asia. Unless she occupies positions that threaten the British Empire in India, and create a feeling of insecurity, we have no right to interfere. It will be admitted that the advance of civilization upon barbarism, and the substitution of laws securing life and property against the rapine and violence of savage tribes, must necessarily benefit mankind. It must not be forgotten, however, that Russia is a semi-Oriental Power. She was an Asiatic Power before England had any possessions south of the Himalayas, and she has been forced, almost in fulfilment of her destiny, to make further encroachments towards the East. The policy of Russia in Central Asia was well explained by the language used by Prince Gortchakoff in his Circular dated November, 1864, addressed to Russian Agents abroad, which was to the effect that the position of Russia in Central Asia was that of all civilized States brought into contact with half-civilized and nomadic populations; in such cases the more civilized State was forced, for the security of its frontier, to exercise an ascendancy over those which were less civilized. For my own part, I believe that it was not the wish of Russia to advance further into Central Asia, but that she was compelled to do so in self-defence. In a conversation that occurred between the Emperor of Russia and a near relative of my own—my brother, Sir Douglas Forsyth—in 1869, the Emperor stated that there was no intention to extend the Russian dominions in Asia, but that it was well known that it was impossible to stop when and where the Russian Government wished. I may admit that the conduct of Russia with regard to Khiva is open to question; because, notwithstanding the fact that Count Schouvaloff was reported to have stated at the commencement of the war with that country that there was no intention on the part of Russia to occupy Khiva, the entire half of the country situated on the right bank of the Oxus is now annexed to Russia. Therefore, if Count Schouvaloff ever gave that promise, beyond all doubt it has been broken. But even admitting that there was deception in the assurance given by the Russian Ambassador with regard to the intention of not retaining possession of Khiva, I do not know that we have much cause to complain. Russia had as much right to invade Khiva to release Russian captives, as we had to go to war with Abyssinia. Let me illustrate the case by a strong example. We know that Kashgaria stands in the way of a further advance of Russia to the East. It is a thriving, prosperous country, governed by an energetic Ruler, who has shown an anxious desire to be on the most friendly terms with England, and sets a high value, on her support. I know from the best authority that he has a mortal dread of Russia, believing that she will before long attempt to swallow up his dominions in her advancing tide of conquest. Well, we have no treaty of defensive alliance with the Ameer of Kashgar, and if Russia were, with or without a plausible pretext, to pick a quarrel with him, and march her troops into his territory, what right should we have to interfere? Kashgaria is too far from our frontier, separated from India by deserts and almost impassable mountains; and it would be impossible to say that the possession of Kashgaria would threaten the security of our Indian Empire. Russia has just annexed Khokand to her dominions, but by that she has not advanced her southern frontier a mile nearer to India than it was before; for Samarcand, which she has for some years possessed, is further south than Khokand. Moreover, it is not on the North of the Himalayas, that we need have any fear of the progress of Russia in the East. To reachIndia directly from the North an army would have to march across stupendous mountains by one of three passes—either the Karakorum, the Chang-nemmo, or the Baroghil Pass. By the Karakorum it must cross 11 mountains, each 18,000 feet high, with no sustenance for man or beast, beyond what the commissariat carried with it could supply, and exposed to piercing cold. The Chang-nemmo Pass has an easier gradient; but the elevation is still higher, and it is, I believe, a worse route than even the Karakorum. The Baroghil Pass crosses a belt of mountains from 100 to 150 miles broad. It is at the head of the Chitral Valley in Kafiristan, and is 500 feet higher than the Simplon. To suppose that a Russian army, after encountering the almost insuperable difficulties of these passes, and marching through Kashmere upon the Punjab, to be met there by our military force in India, could hope to conquer us, is an idle and chimerical idea. No! Sir, it is not from the North, but from the West and North-West that the real danger to India lies—if there be any danger—and it is to that part of the question that I wish to direct the attention of the House. There are two lines of advance upon the Punjab, and both lie in Afghanistan. The one to the South is by Kandahar and the Bolan Pass—the other, to the North, by Kabul and the Khyber Pass. No doubt, if Afghanistan were friendly to the invading force, and the enemy were able to march unopposed through either of these passes, the danger to us would be for- midable, and it seems to me that our policy ought to be to strengthen as much as possible our influence in Afghanistan, and be able to rely upon that country as an impassable barrier against the aggression of Russia. She can approach Afghanistan either from the north from Tashkend, which is now the Russian capital of Western Turkestan, and the place from which one of the two expeditions marched which invaded Khiva. Tashkend is between 300 and and 400 miles from Merv, and is connected with Oxenburg by a long line of forts; and Merv is 250 miles from Herat, which has always been considered the key of the position. Merv is now practically independent, although I believe that Persia sets up some kind of claim of sovereignty. It is an oasis in the desert with a circumference of about 100 miles, and really belongs to the Turcomans who rove along the desert that separates it from Khiva. The other line of approach to Afghanistan which Russia might take is from the south-east corner of the Caspian Seaby the Attreck Valley and Meshed to Herat; but to do this she must count on the support or overcome the resistance of Persia. All this points to Persia and Afghanistan as the outer bulwarks of our Indian Empire, and our policy ought to be directed to cultivate the most friendly relations with them, and be able to rely upon their alliance and support in the hour of danger. Of Persia I need say nothing; she is our ally, and we have a Minister at Teheran. But what is our position with respect to Afghanistan? There is hardly any country about which we know so little. We have at various times subsidized Shere Ali, the Ruler of the country, and I believe, supplied him with arms; but our Commissioner at Peshawar says that Afghanistan is a sealed book to him. We have a Native agent at Cabul, but no trustworthy information is supplied by him. Whatever he has to tell us is first submitted to the Ameer, and comes to us coloured by the complexion he chooses to put upon it. No Englishman is allowed to set his foot in the territory. British merchandize entering the country is heavily taxed. There is on the Oxus to the north of Afghanistan a place called Hassar-Imam, where there is a large annual bazaar—I believe, one of the largest in the East. Russian merchants find their way there from Tashkend in the north, and Russian goods go from it by way of the Pamir Steppe to Yarkand in Kashgaria; but our traders are entirely excluded, partly by the insecurity of life in travelling through Afghanistan to reach it, and partly by the heavy duties imposed by the Ameer. Moreover, the Oxus is navigable for small vessels, and the Russians are gradually creeping up the river, so that they have a double access to the bazaar from which we are practically excluded. Surely such a state of things ought not to be allowed to exist. We have a right to insist that Afghanistan should be open to our commerce, and we ought to establish direct relations with the Ameer by having an envoy either at Cabul or at Herat. I am assured that the country in the Khorassan frontier of Persia west of Herat has never yet been even surveyed, so that we really know nothing about it. There are three schools of politicians who propose to deal with the question of Afghanistan in different ways. The first propose a policy of masterly inactivity—that of doing nothing at all. The second propose that we should establish a sort of military Protectorate over Afghanistan. The third that we should exercise our influence on Afghanistan by establishing an Envoy at Cabul or Herat; that we should insist that Afghanistan should not be as a sealed book or closed country, and that we should be enabled to ascertain what are its resources and to explore its frontier. We ought, I repeat, to establish friendly relations with Afghanistan and Persia, and feel assured that in time of danger Afghanistan will rally to our side. When thus fully protected on the West, we may laugh to scorn the fears of Russian conquest, and contemplate with serene indifference the progress of Russia in Central Asia. And we shall then no longer be exposed to periodical panics because Russia happens to take possession of a piece of country north of the Himalayas.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "an humble Address he presented to Her Majesty, that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House, Copies of all Correspondence between Her Majesty's Government and the Russian Government respecting the occupation by Russia of the Khanate of Khokand; and of any Re- ports of Captain Napier or other Officers on the frontier states,"—(Mr. Baillie Cochrane,)
said, the position the question had as-assumed had very materially changed since the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had, in such a distinct, emphatic, and he (Sir George Campbell) had almost said ostentatious manner, declared himself to be a Russophobist. So long as the matter was the peculiar patrimony of the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Baillie Cochrane), it was not of so much consequence; but since the right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government declared that it was necessary to stop the progress of Russiain Asia it must be admitted that the question was one of the utmost seriousness and importance. The right hon. Gentleman might perhaps have used the expressions to which he referred in furtherance of his policy in regard to what he (Sir George Campbell) might call, comparatively speaking, a trumpery Titles Bill; but he had reason to fear that the declaration of the right hon. Gentleman did not stop there. From all he could learn, he believed that behind that declaration there was an important change of policy on the part of the Government in regard to the North-West frontier of India. He believed Her Majesty's Government were now adopting what he might call a forward policy with reference to that frontier. If he were mistaken, no doubt he would be corrected; he had no particular sources of information, for he believed that all that was done was done in the secret department of the India Office or of the Foreign Office. From what he gathered, however, in this country and in India he believed, as he had said, that Her Majesty's Government at present, in accordance with the view expressed by the Prime Minister, were attempting to adopt a forward policy, and what made the matter more important was this—that the views of Her Majesty's Government were in a great degree opposed to those of the Government of India. The Nobleman who for some years had held the office of Viceroy of India, and his Council, and those local officers who dealt with the subject under the Go- vernment of India, were, from little things he had noticed, opposed to the views of the Government in England, and Her Majesty's Government were pressing unwilling officials in India to a forward policy in regard to the frontier question. He was confident in that belief. It was the fact that the most experienced men in India were of the opinion that he himself held—namely, that it was better not to press forward on the North-Western frontier of India. If that policy were adopted it would change the whole features of the case, and he hoped that evening an expression of opinion would emanate from the House of Commons which would show that the policy of advance was not approved, and serve as a warning to the Government that they had better be cautious in the matter, and leave the question to those intimately acquainted with the frontiers of India. He believed the Government were to a too great extent guided in this matter by a very able man, Sir Henry Rawlinson, who held very decided views on the question, which views, however, were not in accordance with those entertained by men of equal experience in India. There was another matter which, as he understood it, indicated a risky policy of the Government. Her Majesty had recently appointed a new Viceroy, a man of great ability and diplomatic experience, and he understood that on the eve of the noble Lord's departure from this country a gentleman favourable to a go-ahead and forward policy—Sir Lewis Pelly—was suddenly summoned to accompany Lord Lytton to India. He believed it was generally understood that Sir Lewis Pelly proceeded to India as the adviser of the Viceroy on frontier matters. That was a serious subject at the present, and he hoped the House would treat it in that light, for the result would probably be that a dangerous policy with regard to the frontiers of India would be adopted. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of Her Majesty's Government on the occasion when he made the declaration to which reference had already been made, described the position of Russia in the East as now being within a few marches of our own frontier in India. It was a great latitude of speech on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to describe the territory intervening between the two positions as "a few marches." The hon. Member who brought forward the Motion (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) had been good enough to accompany his statement with a map, which was all very good as far as it went; but it did not give the physical features of this intervening country, though among them were the greatest mountains in the world. The hon. Member had given them figures also, and he stated the distance between the frontiers, the Russian at Samarcand and ours at the Indus, at 1,260 miles, which was over one of the most difficult countries in the world. That was only the distance between the frontiers. That of the seats of government was considerably greater.
That was the distance to the Indus, not to the frontier of Afghanistan.
Quite so—to the frontier of India. Her Majesty was now Empress of India, and the Rajah of Cashmere, who was an ambitious man, exercised a vague sort of feudal right over the country beyond, to which he had endeavoured to extend his territory. On the side of Russia, also, there were Protectorate claims, which, in one sense, might be assumed to bring the two frontiers closer. It was by counting distant tributary tribes in this way, their country lying beyond the ordinary range of the frontier, that the right hon. Gentleman might justify the estimate of the distance which he had given to the House, when he described the two frontiers as being only "a few marches"apart. For all practical purposes, however, that was not the case. The country which separated the frontiers contained the vast mountain range which Asiatics aptly named "the Roof of the World,"and which, rising to an average height of 18,000 or 19,000 feet, in some places had a height of as much as 29,000 feet. The country was absolutely impassable for troops, and in that view he quite concurred with the hon. and learned Member who had just spoken. It was utterly impossible for an army to travel; even a traveller bent on a peaceful journey had extreme difficulty. Probably when aerial machines were constructed, that would cross mountains, they might not be deemed serious obstacles to military operations; but until that day came the mountains of which he was speaking would prove an impassable barrier to the advance of any considerable number of men and quantity of material. He (Sir George Campbell) believed that we had no reason to apprehend danger because Russia had advanced to Khokand, and that Khokand was not one inch nearer to our frontier in India than the place formerly occupied by Russia. In advancing to Khokand Russia had followed the route, not to India, but to China. Beyond Samarcand, and reaching to Orenburg, they had another stretch of impracticable country, 1,500 miles in extent. The hon. and learned Member said that the Russians had commenced their railways from Orenburg to Samarcand. He (Sir George Campbell) was not aware of the fact, but even assuming that it was so, there were still 3,000 miles of impracticable and unproductive country interposed between the two seats of power. When that distance was bridged over by a series of railways, Russia might make herself troublesome to India, but not before. The hon. Member for the Isle of Wight said, although it was true Russia was not so near our frontier as to be able to throw any large body of troops into our Indian Empire, yet apprehension on this subject was unsettling and disturbing the minds of our subjects in India. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister said the other evening that—
"The population of India is not the population it was when we carried the Bill of 1858. There has teen a great change in the habits of the people. That which the Press could not do, that which our influence had failed in doing, the introduction of railroads has done, and the people of India move about in a manner which never could have been anticipated, and are influenced by ideas and knowledge which before never reached or touched them. What was the gossip of bazaars is now the conversation of villages."
rose to Order. The hon. Gentleman was quoting speeches made in a debate during the present Session.
It is certainly out of Order to quote Speeches made in a debate during the present Session.
hoped the House would forgive him on the ground of his want of experience. He should be sorry to infringe the Orders of the House; but he might be allowed to quote the substance, though not the terms, of the right hon. Gentleman's observations. This was a matter on which he had great personal knowledge, and, presumptuous as it might appear, he must take on himself to contradict the statement of the right hon. Gentleman in the most absolute manner. The minds of the villagers of India were in no degree disturbed by the advance of Russia; nor had they any considerable knowledge of the fact. The Central Asian question did not hold in India the same position that the Eastern question did in Europe. The Indian villagers did not concern themselves about it. Whatever knowledge they had of it was almost entirely derived from our own newspapers. The people of India in general were wholly without excitement on the subject. The right hon. Gentleman also said that the title of the Emperor of Russia was well known to the people of India. That again he must contradict. He believed that the Emperor was merely spoken of, where he was known at all, as "Shah Russ,"or King of Russia. The alarms, in short, that were spread abroad were very ill-founded, and he believed we occupied a very strong position in India, which would be greatly strengthened by the force of habit and by custom, if by nothing else. The people were not inclined to welcome invaders from Central Asia, but from tradition and recollection they had a fear and a terror of an advance on the North-West frontier. They were rather inclined to look to that quarter as associated with the most terrible onslaughts of bloodshed and plunder. Then the House was told of the 40,000,000 Mahomedans in India, but there was a great deal of misapprehension on this subject. As regarded religion, there was a great gulf between the Mahomedans of Southern Asia and the Turks. Between the Arabs and Persians, and Afghans, and the Turks there was no feeling in common. All their sources of religion and civilization were not Turkish, but the very opposite. It was supposed in this country that the Sultan of Constantinople was a great power in India. There never was a greater delusion. Not a man in India looked to him as either his religious or political chief. The Indian Mahomedans had no concern whatever with the Sultan of Constantinople. Of the 40,000,000 of Mahomedans in India, 20,000,000 were in Bengal, chiefly in the Eastern districts. They were among the quietest and best of our subjects; they were comparatively wealthy and well-to-do, and we had ruled them for 100 years with a garrison of only one Native regiment. What were called Mahomedan Puritans, no doubt, were not unknown in Eastern Bengal; and if we pressed landlordism too much upon them, they might possibly rise some day against us; but if there should be a rebellion among them, it would not be a political, but an agrarian rebellion. At the other extreme of India, in the Punjab, there were other 10,000,000 of Mahomedans, or one-half of the inhabitants, but they were people whom we had rescued from the tyranny of Sikh rule; they were quiet and industrious, making our best cultivators and best soldiers.; and they had reason to be—and they were—grateful to us. The remainder of the 40,000,000 of Mahomedans were scattered throughout India, and if we only gave fair justice to that population in regard to their agrarian affairs, in regard to a share of Government employment, and in regard to education, there was no reason to think they would be troublesome subjects. Well, though he was opposed to "Russophobia,"he admitted that he was by no means without apprehension of the approach of the Russians to India. Some day or other they might be very troublesome neighbours to us; but supposing it was so, how were we to stop them? He agreed with the suggestion of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Seconder of that Motion (Mr. Forsyth) as to our not being able to deal with advantage with the Russians, because they did not adhere to their Treaties. The engagements they had made in respect to their advance in Central Asia they had not kept; and beyond that, the experience gained from the way in which they had thrown the Treaty respecting the Black Sea, made after the Crimean War, to the winds, showed that understandings entered into with them would last just as long as it suited them to maintain them, but not a moment longer. The Russians were now conquering and crushing the Mahomedan Powers of Central Asia; and it was much better for us, by a "masterly inactivity,"to leave things in their present position, with those Mahomedan Powers looking with apprehension on the Russians, rather than looking with apprehension on us. In seeking to have an understanding with us, the Russians had their own ends in view; they wanted our moral support in gaining hold of Central Asia. InSamarkand and other parts of Central Asia the English name was great as well as the Russian. In 1842 we made an unfortunate advance upon Afghanistan; and the Russians were now in much the same position in Turkestan. They wished to have the moral power which would be given them by the belief that they had come to an understanding with the English. We should not extend to them our moral support, but should hold ourselves aloof. We had already gone far enough in the direction of an understanding with Russia, and the present understanding with her he took to be this—that Afghanistan was reserved from Russian influence and interference. If that understanding was broken, the time would come when we must consider what we should do next; but, above all things, we must avoid the folly of making the Afghans our enemies, or of leading them to dread an advance from ourselves. We had better make them feel that we would have nothing to do with Afghanistan. We had burnt our hands already there, and let us not attempt the thing again. We ought to go no further than protecting the Afghans against the advance of the Russians if the necessity should arise. As a military question, then, the danger to our power in India from Russia was, he believed, now unreal, and would be unreal for the next 20 or 30 years. But it was real in a financial point of view. The state of our finances, and of our army also, in India was such that, if we entered into a military rivalry with Russia, those finances would be ruined and our position in India thereby made untenable. Great wars in future would depend on money above all things, and let us not waste our resources by going to meet the Russians before the time came. Our true policy was to make the most of the productive powers of India, to husband her revenues, and to keep our powder dry. Then he hoped that when we might meet the Russians, our meeting with them would be friendly; but in any case we could then meet them at the best advantage. He would conclude by expressing an earnest hope that for the reasons he had assigned Her Majesty's Government would not press upon the Government of India a too forward policy.
said, that if several of the statements of the last speaker were correct, we were indeed in a bad way. The hon. Gentleman (Sir George Campbell) looked with apprehension on our condition, yet he had no policy but a do-nothing policy; and he would advise us to wait until Russian railways were completed, and our danger was immediate. If that view were to be accepted, the best thing we could do would be to begin packing up our traps in India, so as to be ready at any time to forsake that Empire. If there was present danger in the Russian advance and nothing was done, the time would come when that danger would be destructive. The hon. Gentleman had further assumed what the policy of Her Majesty's Government would be relative to Afghan. For himself, he (Mr. Butler-Johnstone) inferred that no Government would assume towards the Afghans an offensive policy, for it was obvious that it would be wise to put between us and Russia a well-disposed people. When it was assumed that the policy of the Government at home was distinct from that of the Government of India, it was implied that there was a consensus of opinion in India which did not exist; and, after all, it was the Government at home which was responsible, and which would have to act if there were real danger, for power and responsibility must go together. It was, therefore, satisfactory to know that there was at home a Government which would accept the responsibility and meet the danger. Until the policy of Her Majesty's Government was known, it was impossible to criticize it. There was a general opinion as to our Indian Empire being in danger, and, in his opinion, that danger was two-fold: First, England was not, and he thought it never would be, a military Power; and when we had a military Power on our frontier, we must meet it in a military manner, or there would be danger to the Commonwealth. But our danger was not simply the danger of the invasion of our Indian Empire. The second element of danger here came in, for it was obvious that there must be scattered masses of disaffection, whether Mahomedan or otherwise, in a country where 60,000 or 70,000 governed 200,000,000, and our danger would be enhanced by the concentration of any of these scattered masses, and increased by the knowledge of there being a European nation, and some day possibly a hostile one, at the back of those who were disaffected. He agreed with the hon. Gentleman who moved and the hon. and learned Gentleman who seconded the Motion that we had no right to say to Russia—"You shall not go to central Asia," because the world, and even Central Asia, was large enough for Russia and for England. No doubt, it would diminish anxiety if our Indian Empire were surrounded by water and the desert; but, Russia being in our neighbourhood, we must deal with the fact. There was great cordiality between us, and he hoped it would long continue, for nothing could be more terrible to contemplate than a death struggle between two such Powers; and he believed no calamity of the kind would befal us during the life-time of the present Emperor; but the life of a man was short, as compared with the life of a nation, and we could not tell what our relations might be when the Russian railways were completed. Seeing that great danger, he said it was not a satisfactory thing to know that we could not put 100,000 into the field to put down another Mutiny or rebellion in India; but that number of men was not required. What it was necessary to do could be done by a scratch of the pen by the Prime Minister. What had two great men and authorities on India said? Sir John M'Neil said the "right of search" was a providential weapon placed in the hands of England for the defence of India. When the free city of Cracow lost its freedom, Lord Palmerston said it was a pity that the Vistula could not float men-of-war. But it was unnecessary that should be the case. England's maritime power could have saved Cracow if it had chosen. Lord Palmerston said the Empire of England was to be saved or defended not only in Europe, but in Asia. He (Mr. Butler-Johnstone) would adopt the converse of the phrase, and say that the great Empire of India was to be defended not only in Asia, but in Europe. If the Ministers of the Crown cared to do what the country would some day demand—namely, revert to the maritime rights of England, there would be no fear for India at the hands of Russia.
said, he concurred to a great extent with the last speaker, but he had heard a great part of the preceding speech with considerable apprehension. There was no man who could speak with more authority and accuracy in reference to the country and the feelings of the Indian population towards England than his hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell), but if he (Sir Henry Havelock) could accept the views of his hon. Friend in their entirety that would not make him feel more comfortable. His hon. Friend spoke of waiting 30 years; but, having studied the question for himself with the advantages of, as it were, hereditary knowledge, he should be surprised if we had to wait for five years before we were called upon to take action. He was no Russophobist; he had no fear of Russia, nor any other country. He did not believe that the interests of Russia and England were by any means so antagonistic as some supposed; but he believed that by prudent and friendly action, mutual conciliation, cordiality, and agreement, all possibility of a hostile collision might be avoided, and it might be shown that the world was large enough for the interests of both. It was generally supposed that the danger from the advances of Russia was to be looked for on the North-Western frontier, but people had too much neglected to look at the other line, in the direction of the West, in which the progress of Russia in Asia and Europe had been most marked. The situation of Russia had been totally changed during the last few years. During the Crimean War she had only one practicable railway. During the last 20 years, however, Russia, with the money we had lent her, had built 12 different lines of railway, not intended for commercial but purely for military and strategical purposes, and some of them extending themselves to Central Asia. The essential point was, that Russia had not only lines directed upon every country in Europe, but a partial railway communication with Asia, which was improving day by day. At the time of the Crimean War the Caucasus was a thorn in the side of Russia; now it was the stronghold of her power, and she would soon be able to carry her troops from the Baltic to the Caspian. Here she had a considerable flotilla, which, by traversing 250 miles by sea, would enable her to land troops on the south-east corner of the Caspian Sea. Hence she had a direct, easy, and open road by 20 days' marches to Teheran. It was not on the North-West or Northern frontier that Russia was most formidable, but she was established on the Oxus, and from that point to Merv was 180 miles, and thence to Herat was only 250 miles, or, as his hon. Friend suggested, 13 days' march. He was no alarmist. Looking at the policy of Russia in the matter of finance, he regarded heras almost in the same state of bankruptcy as Turkey. With an immense population, Russia had devoted her resources not to the development of her commerce, but mainly and chiefly to the development of her military power. An easy access to some sea was a commercial necessity with Russia, and it was one with which England could not help sympathizing. There were, however, two directions in which this aspiration might be fulfilled. One was in a south-easterly direction to the head of the Persian Gulf, and the other through the Black Sea and the Dardanelles to the Mediterranean. The advance of Russia was upon two lines, and might be compared to the antennæ of a crab, with one point on Khokand and the other in the neighbourhood of the Black Sea. She would thus be able to act on a double line, and upon neither were we prepared to meet her. He hoped that peace might be preserved, that the interests of England and Russia might coincide; but it was right that they should look at eventualities. These eventualities might come in this shape. Russia might say—"I have some views as regards Turkey and as regards access to the Mediterranean; I should regret if you have any objection, if so, we must take our own line." Should she do that, it would be difficult for us to meet her. The matter was one to which the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) did well to draw attention. Very few people understood the question, and in one sense this was fortunate, because it would otherwise excite a greater degree of apprehension and alarm than would be altogether comfortable. The hon. Member only moved for certain Papers, and he (Sir Henry Havelock) did not see how the Government could decline to grant them, seeing that the question had reached a stage in which the facts ought to be in the hands of almost every Eng- lishman. As the Mahomedan population of India had been referred to, he might claim to have some knowledge also of them, and he could fully endorse what had been said by his hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell). We had made India more our own than it had ever been before by the justice, humanity, and evident unselfishness of our rule. But there were other Mahomedan populations than those subject to us in India, and they sympathized with each other. It was the natural destiny of Russia to become a still greater military Power, and we could not complain because, instead of being able, as formerly, to place 600,000 or 700,000 men in the field, Russia would soon put under arms 1,500,000 men. If her military organization went on, that number, vast as it was, might be increased before long by one-third. That was a contingency which ought not to be left out of the calculation. The Army of India would always be faithful to us, and there was no reason to doubt its efficiency for purposes of defence. But the House ought to be told that the Native Army system of India was at the present moment rotten from head to foot. He spoke of the Native Army, and he said it was never in a more critical position. [Sir George Campbell:No, no!] The House had, no doubt, seen that the Prince of Wales, in the course of his progress through India, had written a letter stating that the Army in India was in the highest state of efficiency and discipline, and this might appear to be in contradiction to what he had just said. The two things, however, might and did coexist. The Army of India might for ordinary peace purposes, for show and parade, appear to be a remarkably fine Army, and yet it might be radically defective in its organization so that it could not stand the test of war. The Native Army was, in fact, officered on entirely false principles. This was a matter which had never been sufficiently adverted to. It consisted of 140 battalions of infantry and 40 regiments of cavalry, all officered on the false principle of containing only five European officers each. [An hon. Member:And native officers.] If the hon. Gentleman supposed that the Native officers would supply the place of European officers he differed from him. A Native Army officered on these false principles was in great danger, when the critical moment arrived, of becoming a disorganized and rabble mass. It was of the highest importance that we should come to an understanding with Afghanistan. It had been said that Sir Lewis Pelly would not be sent as Envoy to Cabul; but he hoped there would shortly be such a friendship between ourselves and Afghanistan, and that the Afghans would accept him or whomever we might send as their best and warmest friend. The fact was, that we were labouring under that insane terror of Afghanistan and its passes which was brought about by the Afghan War of 1838–9. But the state of things at that period had now ceased to exist, and if we should ever be in a position of hostility to Afghanistan, the passes would present to us no difficulty whatever, as we could now carry rifled artillery of small weight over the most difficult heights. It was possible that if we continued to treat Afghanistan as we had done up to the present time by adopting an indefinite policy which she could not understand, she might throw herself into the arms of Russia, instead of depending upon us. In conclusion, he would say that his view of our position was this, that we should hail and foster by every means in our power any extension of Russian civilization and commerce in Asia which would lead her East and North, but that as regarded any advance to the South and South-West, we should be in a position to say—"Thus far shall you come, and no farther." He supported the Motion for the production of Papers, and hoped there would be no objection to that proceeding.
Sir, my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) has brought forward one of those interesting annual Motions upon the state of our Indian Empire which always receive the attention of the House, and of which it may be said that almost every year some new incident occurs which adds, of course, increased interest to my hon. Friend's statements and speculations. Our attention is called to this question of our Indian Empire to-night in consequence of the conquest recently by Russia of the Khanate of Khokand. Now, that is not an event which was not anticipated, I think, by those who have given much attention to this subject. I think that from the period of the con- quest of Tashkend, some 10 years ago, everyone must have felt that it was almost inevitable that all these Khanates would be conquered by Russia, and that it was a question of time, which greatly depended of course on the conduct of the inhabitants of those countries themselves. I think that in the present instance they precipitated their fate by constant attempts to struggle against Russia—attempts which I am far from wishing in any way to discredit, as they probably add much to their honour and patriotism—but which, unfortunately brought about the termination of their political independence, which might otherwise have lasted some time. This event after all is one which was anticipated and is in a direction of country that is not peculiarly menacing to those Imperial interests which engage our attention. My hon. Friend has called our consideration to what he conceives to be the serious consequences of this event and of others of a similar character which may follow upon our position in India. My hon. Friend has substantiated his views by quoting from several individuals, some of them known, and men, no doubt, of talent and experience, but all utterly irresponsible in the opinions which they have given. One of them is anonymous, and that I think was the opinion on which my hon. Friend seemed to lay the greatest stress. That was the opinion of the gentleman who thought that this advance of Russia into Central Asia ought to be nipped in the bud. Now nipping in the bud means that the English power should have proceeded beyond our Indian boundary, should have crossed some deserts with which we have since become familiar, and should have entered upon one of the most hazardous, and I should say, one of the most unwise struggles that could well be conceived. Well, then, my hon. Friend says that we ought to come to some "understanding" with Russia. That is a very vague word, and I do not know that our "understandings" with Russia, which have sometimes upon these subjects assumed the character of promises which it seems were never given, have ever been realized. My hon. Friend in his speech seemed to me to treat the scheme of a neutral zone as one which had been brought into practice and had been sanctioned by the two great Powers of Russia and Great Britain. But the fact is that the neutral zone was a speculation in a diplomatic despatch, nothing more. It never was accepted at any Conference or Congress, nor was it ever expressed in any Protocol or Treaty. The idea that Great Britain and Russia agreed to establish a neutral zone between their respective Empires, and that Russia has all this time sytematically violated the neutral zone that was agreed upon, is one of those delusions which, having once got possession of the public mind, it is very difficult to terminate. The fact is that no neutral zone was ever agreed upon by the statesmen of the different Powers. With regard to understandings, there was an understanding aboutKhiva;but we must all admit that that was a most unfortunate understanding, because no two persons ever agreed as to what that understanding was. Therefore I am far from wishing to enter into any understanding with Russia to prevent those fears and apprehensions of which we have heard so much, and on which I may make a remark. The hon. and learned Gentleman who made an interesting speech in seconding the Motion of my hon. Friend certainly contributed much to the debate, but he did not enforce particularly the views of my hon. Friend. I must say that, although I should be proud on a fitting occasion to have the hon. and learned Member for Marylebone for a seconder, if he made as good a speech as he has delivered to night, still I would rather that he should support the policy I was recommending to the House instead of laying down that the conquest of Khokand was perfectly justifiable, and not in the least injurious, and stating that he should look forward with satisfaction to the conquest of Kashgar. That was not the kind of support which my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Wight might fairly have expected. The hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down (Sir Henry Havelock) presses upon us the importance of establishing a substantial boundary to the great frontier State of Afghanistan. I believe that Her Majesty's Government are perfectly conscious of the importance of establishing the best relations with Afghanistan and of cherishing those relations; but although we are most anxious for the prosperity, the peace, and the power of Afghanistan, still we cannot be blind to the very unsatisfactory state of its present Government. We know that there are many who wish to be masters—which is very much to be deprecated—and that there are many aspirants to power. But that is not a state of affairs which can, in our opinion, be remedied by force. It is by cultivating friendly relations; it is by cherishing communications, which have been rarer than we could wish, but which, I hope, are increasing; and it is by commercial influence to a great degree that we must gradually obtain that position in Afghanistan which, I believe, would be a natural position for us if both countries were equally conscious of the independence, the security, and the peace that are involved in that relation. My hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Wight asks me whether I am prepared to grant the Papers which he requires. Now these Papers are of two kinds. He wants Copies of all Correspondence between Her Majesty's Government and the Russian Government respecting this occupation of Khokand. Well, there are none. Then he wants the Reports of Captain Napier or other officers on the frontier States. Well, these are confidential Reports to the Indian Government. It is unusual, and I think it would be unwise to produce Papers of this kind, and I therefore hope my hon. Friend will not be offended or suppose that we consider the subject which he has brought under our consideration is not one of interest and importance, if I request him not to press his Motion for documents, the greater part of which have no existence, and which as respects those we have could not be laid on the Table of the House without great indiscretion. I would not trouble the House to-night with the few remarks which I have made and which might have been made much better by my hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, had it not been for the speech which was made in the early part of the debate by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell), to whom on this subject I listened with attention, even when, as to-night, he made some statements which appear to me to be quite unfounded. The hon. Gentleman seems to me to look upon the present Motion as being in itself of no importance, and I am not sure that he would have condescended to take part in this discussion had it not been for the portentous declaration which he says has teen made by myself. It appears from the hon. Gentleman's view of the case that I am a Russophobist, and that I took in the House the other day the opportunity of hurling a menace at Russia. Now, what I said the other day I will advert to in a moment; but I was not aware at the time that the remarks which I then made would be the subject of such contrary interpretations, for they have been described on the one hand as being extremely indiscreet, and prompted only by the exigency of the moment, while to-night I come down to the House of Commons, and hear a high authority on such matters refer to them as observations which, instead of being indiscreet, and prompted by the exigency of the moment, indicated a change in our policy. Our future policy in the East was, according to the hon. Gentleman, shadowed forth by the observations which I made on the occasion to which he referred. The hon. Gentleman even alluded to certain proceedings which recently occurred at Khelat, as demonstrating the great change and revolution in our Indian policy to which he called the attention of the House. I can only assure the hon. Gentleman that what has taken place at Khelat is, as I believe, a wise and proper step, and one for which Lord Northbrook is as perfectly responsible, as he is for any act of his Administration; and if the hon. Gentleman wishes to obtain proof of this vast and dangerous change in our Indian policy, which he has not merely intimated, but announced this evening, but of which there is no evidence, he must not trust to the incidents which have taken place recently at Khelat. I take so very different a view of the relations between Russia and England, especially with reference to India, from those which the hon. Gentleman has imputed to me, that I must say I listened with considerable astonishment to his remarks. What I said the other night was, generally speaking, quite in accordance with all my previous declarations on the subject. I believe, Mr. Speaker, it is by courtesy allowed to a Member of the House to quote from a speech he has made in the Session, and I therefore quote this sentence—
Now, it seems to me to be somewhat curious that a man should be called a Russophobist for making a declaration of that kind. I went on to say—what I before stated in this House—"I am not of that school who view the advances of Russia into Asia with those deep misgivings some do. I think that Asia is large enough for the destinies of both Russia and England."
These may be considered indiscreet observations; they may be construed into a menace to Russia by the hon. Gentleman, who has not been very long in the House, though we are all glad that he is amongst us; but I may be allowed to say that ever since I have had any control over public affairs—which has been for now nearly a quarter of a century—so far as regards Foreign Affairs, and as representing a large Party, these are the opinions which I have invariably expressed. They are no secret to the Russian Government, which has heard them over and over again, not merely in Parliament, but in our offices and our drawing-rooms, and the Russian Government have always put upon them an interpretation perfectly different from that which the hon. Gentleman put upon. them. The Russian Government has not looked upon them as a menace, but, on the contrary, has regarded the language used as taking a common-sense view of the position of the two countries—that there was room enough in Asia for Russia and England, and that there was no reason whatever why there should not exist between us a clear understanding—not the understanding founded on a neutral zone, but an understanding the result of frankness and firmness. Russia knows full well there is no reason why we should view the natural development of her Empire in Asia with jealousy so long as it is clearly made aware by the Government of this country that we are resolved to maintain and strengthen both materially and morally our Indian Empire, and not merely do that, but also uphold our legitimate influence in the East. Russia, so far as I have had any influence in the conduct of our affairs, has been made perfectly aware of those views, and not only that, but they have thought them consistent with a good understanding between the two countries. I believe, indeed, that at no time has there been a better understanding between the Courts of St. James and St. Petersburg than at the present moment; and there is this good understanding because our policy is a clear and a frank policy. The observations which I made the other night some wise men of Gotham described as singularly indiscreet, and a wiser man this evening says he regards them as a direct menace to Russia; but those observations express the unanimous opinions of an united Cabinet, and those opinions have been some time ago conveyed in clear language by my noble Friend the Secretary of State to the Representative of Russia in this country, and I say without hesitation that it is only by that frank expression of our views that a good understanding between the two Empires can be maintained. But there is another way in which our affairs may be conducted. There is another way of viewing everything which is done by Russia in Asia. We may look upon it with silent suspicion; and if a circumstance occurs which is disagreeable to us, there may be a good deal of growling and grumbling without ever acting. The country may be suddenly surprised at finding that Russia has taken a course which it thinks dangerous and unprecedented because there has been no frank explanation between the two Empires as to the temper and mode in which their mutual relations are to be carried on. Now, far from looking forward with alarm to the development of the power of Russia in Central Asia, I see no reason why she should not conquer Tartary any more than why England should not have conquered India. I only wish that the people of Tartary may gain as much advantage by being conquered by Russia as the people of India from being conquered by this country. I must take this opportunity, therefore, of telling the hon. Gentleman who made this elaborate attack on the Government, because of the observations which fell from me the other day, once for all that he has totally misconceived my views, and, indeed, has I think done violence to them. There was nothing in my remarks on the occasion to which he referred which I had not said before. They are remarks which I believe accurately describe the feeling of the present Government towards Russia in relation to India, and which I believe are calculated to preserve the good and honest understanding that exists between the two countries. As to what the hon. Gentleman said about the occasion when I made those remarks as being a trumpery occasion, I beg to inform him that is an observation which I think he had no right to make. I could quote from books written by the hon. Gentleman himself passages which show that he is deeply impressed, with all his experience, with the importance of the title which Her Majesty should assume in India, and he must be aware, though it is convenient to talk of the absurdity of putting up against the Emperor of Russia, to withstand his invasion of India, the mere empty title of the Sovereign, that human nature is influenced by associations which are connected with titles, especially in the East; and if ever there was a moment on which an apt occasion should be seized of announcing to all the races of India the deep interest which this country takes in that Empire it was that of which we availed ourselves; and that when we were speaking of Russia with that cordiality and candour which we have always addressed to Russia since we have been responsible for the conduct of affairs, we were equally resolved to maintain our Indian Empire."Whatever may be my confidence in the destiny of England, I know that Empires are only maintained by vigilance, by firmness, by courage, by understanding the temper of the times, and by watching those significant indications that may easily be observed."
said, that when his Friends who sat near him occupied the opposite bench, he had on more than one occasion stated in the fullest detail their opinions and his own upon the whole question of the Russian advance in Central Asia. That being so, and their and his opinions remaining precisely the same, he thought it would be unpardonable in him to detain the House at that particular hour of the evening by going into a discussion of the general subject; but he had listened with so much astonishment to the remarks which had been made by his hon. and gallant Friend (Sir Henry Havelock), about the state of the Indian Army that he could not allow the discussion to close without putting a question on the subject to the noble Lord opposite, the Under Secretary of State for India. When he (Mr. Grant Duff) and his Friends left office some two years ago, the Indian Army was in a state to do any duty of any kind that could possibly be thrown upon it, as well or better than at any previous period of its history. He had no means of knowing other than by the usual channels of information whether any extraordinary change had recently occurred, and he wished to ask the noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for India, whether any despatches or other information had been received at the India Office, which could lend any colour whatever to the truly alarming and astonishing account of the Indian Army which had been given by his hon. and gallant Friend? He would be extremely surprised to learn that such was the case, believing, as he did, that his hon. and gallant Friend had merely been led by a burning zeal against certain arrangements of which he disapproved to use the very strong language which he had used.
said, that after the remarks made by the hon. Member for Elgin and lately Under Secretary of State for India, he could not refrain from stating that he concurred entirely with the remarks of the hon. and gallant Member for Sunderland (Sir Henry Havelock) as to the state of our Native Army in India. He had no doubt that as the Native Army was at present officered, it would, in time of peace, be found highly efficient. But in case of war the number of officers at present attached to Native infantry battalions would be quite insufficient to bear those drains which must be expected, thereby leaving the battalions without the number of officers which all our war experience proved to be essential for the efficiency of Native soldiers in the field. He wished to avail himself of the opportunity of asking when it would be made known to the Secretary of State that there were many officers who entertained grave doubts as to the efficiency of the Indian Army, so far as the number of European officers in it was concerned? It was the leading of European officers that rendered the Native soldier efficient in war. In the campaigns during the Mutiny one regiment in India was three times officered. Happily they had officers in reserve, or that Mutiny would have risen to a height that might have proved dangerous to our Indian Empire. With regard to the classes of Natives serving as soldiers to our Native Armies, he believed that their fitness for soldiers depended mainly on the good quality and on the number of European officers. In Bengal there were often loud praises bestowed on the class of Natives serving. Before the Mutiny, the Bengal Pandy class was lauded beyond measure, now it was the Sikh who was praised. For his own part, he believed that the Sikh Army of the Punjab was as much alarmed when attacked by the Bengal soldier led by European officers, as the Mutinied soldiers were alarmed when attacked by Sikhs led by European officers. With the experience they had had in the past, it appeared to be suicidal for them to risk the safety of India by officering the Native troops with so few officers as at present allowed to the Native Army. Indeed, the whole scheme of organization was one of their greatest blunders connected with India. He (Sir George Balfour) regretted that neither the hon. Gentleman who brought forward this Motion nor any other speaker had referred to one part of the Russian aggression, and that was the dangerous aggressions by Russia into China. It was upon China that the aggression of Russia, he believed, would be made, and it was in China Russia would find the wealth which would make her dangerous to our Indian Empire; and eventually by her encroachments round the seaboard of Tartary up to the Corean, Peninsula, Russia would obtain such a commanding influence over Japan and the sea coast of China as to be able to threaten and even destroy their commerce in those seas.
said, he had listened with regret to the observations of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, opposite (Sir Henry Havelock), in which he stated that the Indian Native Army was utterly rotten, and he was much surprised to find that statement endorsed by the hon. and gallant Member for Kincardineshire (Sir George Balfour), for that hon. and gallant Gentleman had been one of a Commission upon whose report the new organization had been mainly based.
explained. He denied all responsibility for the changes in the Indian Army of 1861; that those changes were ordered by Sir Charles Wood, then Secretary of State for India, on the advice of Major, now Major-General, Norman; and that all the responsibility borne by himself (Sir George Balfour) was for aiding to draw out the regulations and plans to get a practical effect to Sir Charles Woods' instructions.
Any statement coming from the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Sir Henry Havelock) in that House would naturally be much considered by people in India as well as the people of England. He was happy to say that during the last few weeks a large mass of Papers had been received from India, and they did not in any way confirm, but flatly contradicted, the statement of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. The fact was this—there were two classes of officers, who differed as to the best mode of officering Native Indian regiments. Some thought it could only be done by having a large number of European officers, and there were others who thought there ought to be a certain number of European officers, to be supplemented by Native officers. This was the system which had been adopted, and, so far as they knew, with great success. The state of the Indian Army had been under the consideration of the Government; Lord Northbrook had the advantage of the advice of Lord Napier on the subject, and they came to the conclusion that no organic changes were necessary. He would conclude by quoting the words of one who was an authority on the condition of the Native Army, and those words were—"The Native regiments, in appearance, equipment, and esprit de corps, are simply magnificent."
explained, in order to avoid future misapprehension of the purport of what he had said, that he did not in any degree intend to cast any imputation upon the officers or the Indian Army as to their professional reputation or efficiency. That reputation was as dear to him as his own. He had already stated that he believed the Native Army was efficient for all requisite purposes in a time of peace, but was not equal to the strain of a time of war, and he held that what the noble Lord had said confirmed his assertion, and in no way contradicted it.
said, after the straightforward reply which had fallen from the Prime Minister, he was ready to withdraw his Motion.
Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.
Main Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."