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Beauchamp Seymour; but allow me to say in passing that, if my poor pencil could be employed, it would be drawn in nothing but the most flattering colors.
I think if we can imagine anything so impossible as the orator of 1880 having to describe and comment on the events of 1882, that he would have noticed one of the most remarkable coincidences which the history of this country furnishes. It is a very curious fact that we have only had one member of the Society of Friends - commonly called on the Statute-book “ Quakers so that I may use the name without offence in the Cabinet, we have only had one Quaker; and only once in the history of the world, so far at least as this hemisphere is concerned, if I am not mistaken, has a great commercial city of the first class been subject to bombardment.
It is a remarkable fact that when the order was given to bombard that commercial city that Quaker was in the Cabinet. At any rate, grave as these events have been, I think they will furnish some good fruit at least for the future. I hope we have taken a new departure in Liberal politics. I trust that for the future any minister who cares about British interests, and thinks it right to go to war in their defence, will not be subject to denunciation on the part of the Liberal party for doing so.
I am quite aware British interests were treated with scant respect in 1880. I am quite aware Mr. Gladstone denounced as monstrous the idea that we could claim to control a country simply because it lay on our route to India. But if ever there was a war I do not know what to call it I believe it was not a war; but if ever there were sanguinary operations undertaken for the sake of British interests, undoubtodly these recent operations in Egypt have deserved the baracter.
After this precedent it will be impossible for any Liberal government to limit, as they have done in the past, the rights of national self-defence. With respect to the end of that war we have yet to wait. We do not know what the present negotiations may bring forth. We must suspend our judgment until we see what the result will be. I confess that I should be inclined to look on all these circumstances to which I have alluded with a very indulgent eye if the result of the negotiations which are pending should be to extend the strength, the power, and the predominant influence of Great Britain, for I am old-fashioned enough to believe in that empire and believe in its greatness.
I believe that wherever it has been extended it has conferred unnumbered benefits upon those who have been brought within its sway, and that the extension of the empire, so far from being the desire of selfishness or acquisitiveness, as it has been represented to be — deserving to be compared to acts of plunder in private life – is in reality a desire not only to extend the commerce and to strengthen the power of the government here at home, but to give to others those blessings of freedom and order which we have always prized among ourselves.
Let us therefore in the negotiations which are before us not be ashamed of our empire. We are now the predominant power in Egypt. The valor of our troops has made us so. Let us observe with rigid fidelity every engagement we have made with the amiable and respectable prince who rules in Egypt; but as regards the other powers of Europe, let us follow our position to its logical result. We are the predominant power. Why should we cease to be so? Why should we allow diplomacy to fritter away what the valor of our soldiers has won?
A BURNING QUESTION
DELIVERED DURING DEBATE ON THE QUEEN'S SPEECH IN THE
HOUSE OF LORDS, FEBRUARY 15, 1883
E learn from the speech that her Majesty's gov
ernment have suppressed with rapidity and com
pleteness a formidable rebellion in Egypt. Then we are told that "the withdrawal of the British troops is proceeding as expeditiously as a prudent consideration of the circumstances will admit.”
But the great anxiety of the world is to know whether the British troops are to be withdrawn altogether, and when; and upon neither of those questions does the speech give us the slightest hint as to the intentions of her Majesty's government. The government are able to say that they have submitted to the friendly consideration of the powers the mysterious arrangement by which the stability of the Khedive and the prosperity and happiness of the Egyptian people are to be secured. But we have not a hint that any one of those powers has expressed its approval of the arrangement proposed. .. Hitherto we have spoken of the announcements of the Queen's speech. If the present practice is followed we shall have to drop the phrase and speak of the innuendoes of the Queen's speech. ... The policy of dealing by innuendoes with unimportant measures might be passed over without remark; but with respect to the burning questions of the day, I cannot help thinking that it is singularly misplaced. First take Egypt.
With respect to that country we have undoubtedly, since Parliament met last year, witnessed a great transformation
scene. For the first six months the policy of the government was instinct with the doctrines connected with the name of that distinguished gentleman, Mr. Bright, who has left the government. For the last six months they have returned to an earlier and a sounder model; but their repentance does not entirely wash away their sin.
It does not efface the effects of their temporary concession to the policy of weakness, vacillation, and self-effacement. The result of their action, or want of action at the proper time, has been that the mechanism has been destroyed by which the results they now look for should be attained. Had they interfered in time, the Khedive's government would have remained upright, and the future conduct of Egypt might not have been difficult. But all the powers that the Khedive's government possessed of itself have been swept away, and for the future all the power of Egypt must be derived from the protective influence of the British government. . . . But if we rightly understand the policy of her Majesty's government — at present we have it only from nonofficial sources they intend to rely for the future predominance of England in Egypt only on the prestige derived from the success of the arms of my noble and gallant friend [Lord Wolseley].
I do not dispute the greatness of that prestige. I do not dispute that our army has dealt a good lesson to Egypt and the eastern world, but the recollection of the power of it will speedily fade away. Remember this, that you failed before in your endeavor to maintain the government of Egypt, whether by your own fault or not, though you had not only your own military prestige, proved in every quarter of the world, to sustain you, but the prestige of France as well. . .
The time is come when it would be of great diplomatic importance, and of great assistance to the conduct of England in the future, that her position with respect to Egypt should be fully and rigidly defined. We hear from one member of the government that the troops are not to stay in Egypt. We hear from another member that they are to stay until certain objects are achieved, which we know cannot be achieved at an early period. We hear from Mr. Chamberlain that, considering the interests it has, it is impossible for England to look with apathy on anarchy in Egypt; and from Mr. Courtney we hear an inspired panegyric on anarchy, which he appears to regard as the highest blessing that can be bestowed upon a nation. That seems to show that you have no definite policy; and those who look forward to the time when their own influence and power will be restored again, are encouraged to make their preparations for that period, and to keep alive every source of discontent and disturbance that may be at their command.
SPEECH ON THE ABANDONMENT OF GENERAL GORDON
DELIVERED FEBRUARY 26, 1885
[The words of Lord Salisbury's motion of censure were, "That this House, having taken into consideration the statements that have been made on behalf of her Majesty's government, is of opinion that the deplorable failure of the Soudan expedition to obtain its object has been due to the undecided councils of the government and to the culpable delay attending the commencement of operations; that the policy of abandoning the whole of the Soudan after the conclusion of military operations will be dangerous to Egypt and inconsistent with the interests of the empire."]
HE motion which I have the honor to lay before your
lordships has a double aspect — it passes judgment
on the past, and expresses an opinion with regard to the policy of the future. Some people receive with considerable impatience the idea that, at the present crisis of