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passes in our immediate front. In my opinion such an idea is a dangerous delusion. Afghanistan is a country of mountains, and the Suliman range which forms our boundary is merely the first of a series of great ridges, running down south-westerly from the Hindoo-Koosh. “If we enter the country and merely hold the nearest passes, we shall at once find ourselves in a maze of mountains, with dozens of other passes and strong positions in our front. Not only that, but we shall become involved with other tribes; and as soon as our flag is seen flying within the Afghan mountains our influence will begin to extend; political and military complications will arise, and we shall inevitably be carried forward. In short, there is no tenable military position such as that imagined by Sir James Stephen. Afghanistan must be viewed as a whole; we cannot halt, nor can we tolerate that Russia or any other Power than ourselves shall exert military and political supremacy to the southward of the Hindoo-Koosh. If these military considerations are sound; if the mountains of Afghanistan are our real barriers against external attack, the broad outlines of our policy would appear to be defined by the very geographical features of the country. “For many years past that policy has been consistent, and may be described as one of conciliation, of mediation, and of subsidies. Acknowledging the strategical importance of Afghanistan, our object has been to gain the confidence and friendship of the Afghan . . . . Our defence should be prepared for by conciliating and not attacking our neighbours.” Lord Lawrence's answer to Sir James Stephen ended thus— “I do not believe that the object of Russia in her present relations with Shere Ali is purely commercial; doubtless in contracting the alliance with Turkey, in occupying Cyprus, and in telling the whole world that we were ready to bar the way of Russia on the Armenian border, we did a good deal to aggravate the Russians. They are now paying us off for this policy by irritating us in Afghanistan; indeed, we have heard as much in some of the Continental papers. But the point is, whether, by holding our own frontier, or by advancing into Afghanistan and breaking to pieces the Afghan Government, we shall improve or weaken our position. I hold to the latter view. “It is said that in cases where the honour of England and the safety of great interests belonging to it are concerned, neither the expenditure of the blood of our countrymen, nor, still less, that of large sums of money, must be considered. I admit there are such circumstances, but not in the present case. I hold, therefore, that it is not for the honour of England that we should go to war with the Afghans because they will not receive our Mission, and that such a war would be impolitic and unjust. “I have said little on the cost of such a war. We have been told that Englandwill certainly pay a considerable portion of it; but there seems no certainty on this point. Judging from the past, it seems more than probable that England will not pay such a portion of the charges as the policy of India renders it desirable that she should do. Moreover, though she might be willing to pay a portion of the extra charges of a campaign, she would probably demur to making good an adequate share of the cost of the occupation of Afghanistan; and to how long this may extend no man can foresee. But, whatever may be decided on the question of division of expense between the two countries, I should deplore, under present circumstances, the expenditure of any large sum on such a war. India is unable to bear the cost, and England is by no means in the condition to meet it. “In conclusion, I may add what I had almost forgotten to say, that the causes which have led to the ill-will of Ameer Shere Ali towards us are patent to most people who have watched the proceedings of the Government of India for the last two years and more. In the Daily News of October 19 there appears a letter signed “Englishman, which gives succinctly the causes that he considers sufficient to account for the Ameer's alleged feeling against us. These are the occupation of Quettah, the pressure put on the Ameer to receive English officers into different places in Afghanistan, the granting of large numbers of arms of precision to the Maharajah of Cashmere, with instructions to push forward troops for the occupation of the passes leading to Chitral, the embargo placed on the export of warlike stores and the like from India to Cabul, and also the aggressive tone of the Press in India towards the Ameer. On this subject I spoke strongly in the House of Lords in June of last year, but with very little result. At the same time I pressed on the Government the propriety of giving to the country a copy of the papers connected with Sir Lewis Pelly's conference with the Ameer's agent at Peshawur. These papers, I understand, were subsequently promised at the urgent request of some members of the House of Commons; but up to this time, as far as I can ascertain, that promise has not been fulfilled. If we are to wait for all the facts connected with these transactions until it may be the pleasure of the Government to grant them, we might in the interim invade Cabul, destroy the government of the Ameer, and then be told that the time was past for examining into the merits of the question. Thus, in one of the leading articles of the Times, we were lately told that it was no use inquiring into any of the circumstances connected with the present state of feeling at Cabul prior to September 21, the day on which our Mission was turned back at Ali Musjid. Lastly, I deliberately affirm that the friendly policy which was formerly observed by the Government of India towards the Afghans did bear most excellent fruit. We had in those days no intrigues between the Ameer and Russia, no rumours of passionate expressions of feeling against us on his part, and no accounts of attempts to get up a Jehad, or religious war, against the infidels.”
In another letter to the Daily News, Lord Lawrence protested against the war altogether. He believed that invasion must produce a violent and bloody struggle, which would end in the deposition of Shere Ali, and ultimately in permanent occupation. The number of troops required to garrison such a country would be large, and the proportion of Europeans very great, while the aid derived from the country itself would be very small. We should be distant from our railways, we should have the formidable Hill tribes in our rear, and if we could restrain these when in possession of Afghanistan, we could restrain them now. Lord Lawrence would ascertain precisely what the Ameer's desires are, and if they are reasonable gratify them, and if unreasonable defy him from within our own border, while he would endeavour to place our relations with Russia on an intelligible footing. If we have to fight Russia, it will be all over the world, and not in Central Asia alone, while she can do us little harm by intrigue. The belief that she can, arose during the Mutiny, without any evidence, from a desire to find a cause for that movement outside India, instead of studying the causes inside.
Lord Lawrence's letter seemed to have an effect even upon the Times, which began to waver. “We are ourselves in no sense committed,” it wrote, “to the course the Indian Government has followed. We have never concealed our preference for a wholly different course. We have protested against what we held, with Lord Lawrence, to be the errors of our Afghan policy. We did this, however, at a time when it was still open to the Government to change, and before it had taken what we must now look upon as a last irrevocable step. For the Mission which was lately turned back the Indian Government is responsible, and for all the consequences which have followed and which are yet to follow. We have no choice left but to acquiesce in what we were not asked either to approve or to disapprove beforehand. It will be for the Indian Government to justify itself to the country, but it is not at the present crisis of affairs that the case can usefully be opened.”
That war was upon us, whatever the policy which had led to it, was obvious now. All the papers received telegrams from India stating that the reply brought from Cabul by the British native envoy, Gholam Hussein Khan, was unsatisfactory and unconciliatory; and one, the Daily News, was informed that the Ameer bade us “do our worst and let God decide the issue.” Orders were issued on all hands. The army of 35,000 men would include at least 12,000 European infantry. Three regiments of light cavalry were to be sent from England; but it was at first stated that the advance would not be made before the spring. The Times’ correspondent with Sir Neville Chamberlain's Mission now described at length the interview between Major Cavagnari and the Afghan Commandant at Ali Musjid, and made it clear that no insult was offered. We did, however, grant a distinct pledge to the section
of the Afreedee sept whom we popularly call Khyberees. He says:—“Before leaving, Sir Neville summoned the headmen of the friendly Khyber tribes, and thanked them for their assistance. One of them said, “What are we to do if the Ameer attacks us?” Sir Neville replied, “I promise you this, not from myself only, but from the Government, which, as you know, always keeps its promises, that as long as a soldier remains in the ranks, and a rupee in the Treasury, you shall suffer no harm for the good service you have done.” The Times intimated that Sir Neville Chamberlain was wholly opposed to the advance of the Mission before Gholam Hussein Khan returned, but he was overruled. Meanwhile the naval and military Ministers, Mr. W. H. Smith and Colonel Stanley, made a personal visit to the island of Cyprus, and Sir Stafford Northcote made a tour of the midland counties. He made three speeches at Birmingham, two at Wolverhampton, and one at Dudley, in four days, and filled between thirteen and fourteen columns of the Times, where the orations may be discovered by the curious. “The substance of them,” said the Spectator, “might be telegraphed in a few lines. He is in favour of finely graduated schools for the children of the dangerous or potentially dangerous classes, from industrial schools down to reformatories; he thinks the taxation very moderate for a year of extreme military precaution, though not of actual war; he calculates that if we were to restore the high taxes of the last year of the Crimean war, we should be able to raise an extra 25,000,000l. beyond what we raise now; he thinks there is reason for “anxiety and watchfulness’ as to the execution of the Treaty of Berlin; he agrees with Mr. Cross that hitherto our policy has been to keep Afghanistan strong, independent, and friendly,–so long as we mean “truly strong, truly independent, and truly friendly, and not merely professing to be so; and he hopes the people of Great Britain will be content to trust the Indian policy to the Government. He thinks Cyprus will not cost us above 100,000l. a year, and that we may make of it a sort of model farm, for the Sultan to copy in the administration of Asia Minor; he thinks the Turkish Empire ought, by all means in our power, to be sustained; that Russian ambition ought, by all means in our power, to be repressed; and he has a great admiration for Lord Beaconsfield. Add to this that he takes all his positions doubtfully, and not confidently; that he qualifies all his hopes with a fear, and all his congratulations with a warning; that he is not quite pleased with the effect of the last Reform Bill on the quality of the House of Commons, though delighted with its recent effects on the balance of parties;–and you have a fair picture of those very mild inclinations towards belief, which occupy the foreground of Sir Stafford Northcote's political horizon.” In concluding his Dudley speech, he denied that he was “what the Americans term stumping the country.” We suppose that we must accept the denial.
The Ultimatum—Feeling in India–Earl Grey's Letter—Lord Lawrence and the Afghan Committee—Mr. Gladstone at Rhyl—Sir W. Harcourt at Scarborough—Mr. Chamberlain at Birmingham—The City of Glasgow Bank— Indian Affairs—Story of Sir Lewis Pelly's Mission—Rhodope Commission— Correspondence on the Eastern Question between France and England— Lord Carnarvon on “Imperialism *—Municipal Elections—Lord Beaconsfield's Guildhall Speech—Mr. Gladstone's Letter—Lord Northbrook at Winchester–Other Speeches—Shere Ali's Answer—Declaration of War— Lord Lytton's Proclamation—Lord Cranbrook's Despatch—The ninth paragraph—Correspondence of Lords Cranbrook and Northbrook—Speech of Mr. Childers—Letter of the Duke of Argyll—Parliament summoned—War begun in Afghanistan–Opening Operations—General Roberts's Victory—Press Opinions—Mr. Gladstone at Greenwich—Conservative Meetings—Mr. Butt's Letter-—Opening of Parliament—The Address—Debates on the Address.
THE Government decided that all preparations for the invasion of Afghanistan should be completed, but that the Ameer should have a term of grace. Gholam Hussein Khan was deputed to take an ultimatum to Shere Ali, warning him of the consequences of his acts, and making British demands more clear. The whole Press of England and India was saturated with leading articles and letters, turning first upon the question whether under any circumstances war with Afghanistan should be declared, and then upon the pressing consideration whether the campaign should be immediate or deferred ? Lord Lawrence, Sir James Stephen, and Earl Grey continued to sustain the newspaper controversy, and each fresh public speaker had much to say on the subject. From India the Simla correspondents of the Daily News and Standard reported that Indian society, civil and military, was disgusted and humiliated by the resolve to send the ultimatum before declaring war, and the former added that Lord Lytton remonstrated with the Cabinet in urgent terms. “The formal decision of the Viceregal Council” ran the report in the Daily News, “was made in full self-consciousness of bitter humiliation,” and it gave the following as the succinct story of “this blow to its prestige”:— “At the Cabinet Council on Friday, October 25, the formal decision was telegraphed to despatch an Ultimatum to the Ameer. At the Viceregal Council held here (Simla) on Saturday there was a unanimous agreement to urge the reconsideration of the matter on the Home Government. Representations were made with an earnestness seldom characterising official communications, the Viceroy throwing all his personal weight into the scale. A continuous interchange of telegrams followed, and yesterday there was good hope of a successful issue. The Viceregal Council assembled this morning to give effect to the final resolve of the Home Cabinet, which adheres meanwhile to its decision as telegraphed.