Inquiry AB YSSINIA—MISSION OF M R. RASSAM. 7 Decembe r 1867
HC Deb 02 December 1867 vol 190 cc513-4
, in the absence of the hon. and gallant Member for Lichfield (Major Anson), asked the Secretary of State for War, "Whether the Stores for the Abyssinian Expedition are to be provided by the Indian Government; whether such Stores as may not be consumed or injured during the campaign are to be returned into store at Bombay, or whether they are to be kept by us, as was the case in China in 1860; and, if the latter is the arrangement come to, whether any officers have been sent out by the Treasury to watch the expenditure and protect our interests, so as to preclude our having to pay for Stores of an obsolete pattern?
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
The hon. Gentleman is aware that this expedition to Abyssinia is being principally organized at Bombay on behalf of the Imperial Government. I do not quite understand in what sense my hon. and gallant Friend, whose Question this is (Major Anson), uses the word "provided." If he means to ask whether the stores are to be provided at the cost of the Indian Government, I answer certainly not. The expense of providing the whole of these stores will be defrayed from Imperial sources; but the stores themselves will be supplied in a very large degree from Bombay, either furnished by the War Department on requisition from the Indian Government, or obtained by the Indian Government in open market. The answer to the second Question is, that I have no doubt that "such stores as may not be consumed or injured during the campaign" will be returned into store at Bombay, and will not be kept by us. This is an expedition fitted out by the Indian, and not by the Imperial Government, as the China expedition was. With regard to the last Question, a Treasury officer has been sent out to audit the general expenses, but no officers have been sent out with special reference to the stores supplied. When the campaign is over, British interests will receive ample protection. The probability is that the stores will be retained at Bombay; at all events, none of an obsolete pattern will be left on our hands.
HL Deb 02 December 1867 vol 190 c477
§ Message from the Commons communicating the following Resolution to which they desire the Concurrence of this House; viz., "That, Her Majesty having directed a Military Expedition to be despatched against Abyssinia, consisting mainly of Troops both European and Native at present maintained out of the Revenues of India, the ordinary Pay of such Troops as well as the ordinary Charges of any Vessels belonging to the Government of India that may be employed in the Expedition, which would have been charged upon the Revenues of India if such Troops or Vessels had remained in that Country or Seas adjacent, shall continue to be so chargeable; provided, that if it shall become necessary to replace the Troops or Vessels so withdrawn by other European or Native Forces or Vessels, the Expense of raising, maintaining, and providing such Forces or Vessels shall be repaid out of any Monies which may be provided by Parliament for the Purposes of the said Expedition."
§ The said Resolution to be considered on Thursday next.—(The Earl of Derby.)
HC Deb 02 December 1867 vol 190 cc520-1
§ MR. FINLAY
asked the Secretary of State for India, Whether the following statement in the morning newspapers was correct:— "Communication by the Indo-European telegraph lines is interrupted owing to a defect in the Persian Gulf cable;" also, whether there was any certainty of a land line of telegraph wires from Egypt to Massowah being completed before the rainy season commenced in Abyssinia?
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, it was true that the communications by the Indo-European telegraph lines had been partially interrupted, but it was not in consequence of any defect of the cable, but of a breakage which appeared to have taken place about 100 miles from Constantinople. That circumstance occasioned some small delay; but the communication was kept up over the injured part by means of messengers. He yesterday received separate telegraphic despatches from India which were rather behind their time, the earliest being dated the 25th and the last the 27th of November. He apprehended, therefore, that communications were still open, though messages were partially delayed in consequence of the break. With regard to the second Question, he was not aware precisely of the state of forwardness of the Egyptian land line telegraph; but he did not think there would be any means of telegraphic communication completed to Massowah before the commencement of the rainy season.
§ In reply to Lord JOHN HAY,
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, he presumed commercial messages were forwarded by messengers over the broken part of the line in the same manner as Government messages; but he had no information on the subject.
FOREIGN OFFICE AND THEIR AGENTS ABROAD.—QUESTION.
HC Deb 05 December 1867 vol 190 cc631-2
§ SIR PERCY BURRELL
asked the Foreign Secretary, Whether Her Majesty's Government will adopt effective measures to deter subordinate Agents from disobeying the orders which they receive from the Foreign Office, so that in future impunity might not confirm them in a course of disobedience such as in the case of Consul Cameron appeared likely to have been a main cause of involving this country in a war with Abyssinia?
Disobedience to instructions on the part of subordinate agents of the Foreign Office never ought to be, and, so far as my knowledge extends, never has been passed over. If such acts of disobedience were wilful, they would be followed by the recall of the person committing them. If they arose from an error of judgment or from a misconception of instructions given, probably an expression of disapproval would be sufficient. The decision in each case must depend upon the particular circumstances of the case—we cannot lay down any general or invariable rule. But with regard to the case of Mr. Consul Cameron, though I quite admit that he may have been more mixed up than was desirable in the politics of Abyssinia, yet if the reference of the hon. Baronet is, as I suppose it to be, to the order which Mr. Cameron received to return to his post, we have every reason to believe that that order did not reach Mr. Cameron until he was detained by King Theodore, and had therefore ceased to be a free agent. It would not therefore be just to punish a man for not obeying an order which it was physically impossible for him to obey.
ABYSSINIA—CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN DR. BEKE AND OTHERS AND THE FOREIGN OFFICE.—MOTION FOR PAPERS.
HC Deb 06 December 1867 vol 190 cc668-75
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
, who had given notice, said he would not persist in the Motion on this subject, which he had intended to make, inasmuch as it was included in that of which the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Layard) had given notice.
§ MR. LAYARD
said, it was with very deep regret that he felt it his duty to detain the House for a short time. He had already had occasion to mention that a very unusual course had been pursued in preparing the blue book on Abyssinia, which had been recently laid upon the table. In that blue book, letters which had appeared in the public papers containing reflections of a calumnious character had been reprinted on the authority of the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office, and, consequently, had gained from that authority an importance which would not have attached to them as mere newspaper correpondence. He more particularly referred to a letter from Dr. Beke to the Earl of Clarendon, dated June 11, 1866, which had been reproduced in the blue book, and contained reflections of a very calumnious nature upon himself and others. Why that letter had been published he did not know, for no explanation whatever had been given on the subject. The noble Lord said that evening that there had been a quarrel between certain persons—referring, he presumed, to himself (Mr. Layard) as one of the parties. But there had been no quarrel at all on his part. He had never taken notice of any communications from Dr. Beke, whether to the newspapers or otherwise, as long as those communications did not receive the sanction of the Foreign Office by publication. But the case was entirely altered by the degree of solemnity which was given to them by their publication in the blue book, and he felt that he owed it to himself to bring the matter before the House; especially after what had passed during the last week. The House would allow him to read part of this letter of Dr. Beke to the Earl of Clarendon. Dr. Beke said— "On my arrival in Alexandria last November, I heard openly repeated, in the presence of several English gentlemen (some of whom I believe to be now in England), matters affecting the personal character of two gentlemen who have unfortunately been named in connection with the subject, of which matters Mr. Palgrave was said to be the promulgator. …… With Mr. Palgrave's statements to me your Lordship has been made acquainted. Those relating to the two gentlemen alluded to were little more than an amplification of what I had previously heard in Alexandria. I therefore owe no apology to any one for repeating what was common talk in Egypt before my arrival in that country; but I do owe it to myself to say that I should not have condescended to advert to such a subject in my correspondence with Mr. Purday had it not been for the apprehension (entertained by others as well as myself) that the alleged ill-feeling towards Mr. Stern, on account of what had occurred in Mesopotamia, might have been carried over into Abyssinia." He then said that he had heard that Mr. Palgrave's instructions were to ask for the liberation of Consul Cameron alone, and that Mr. Stern was to be neglected because he (Mr. Layard) had a quarrel with him. This was a most serious charge; but he should have taken no notice of it had it not appeared in the blue book. That letter contained accusations against his personal character which were really so shocking and so odious that he would not venture to repeat them in public. There were also accusations against Mr. Rassam of a description which he could not do more than allude to. There were likewise distinct accusations against Mr. Palgrave's character as a gentleman and a public servant. He had ventured the other evening to refer to and refute the charges which had been made against Mr. Rassam; but he should have taken no further notice of the accusations against himself had they not appeared in an official form, and had he not been challenged by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) to move for the production of the correspondence. That challenge he could not but accept, though he did so with regret, not on his own account, but on account of Dr. Beke, whom the publication was calculated to injure. Those letters had been characterized by the noble Lord (Lord Stanley) as they deserved, and if they appeared publicly, it would be only Dr. Beke's character that would suffer. When, however, the noble Lord expressed his willingness to produce the papers on condition of omitting all that related to other persons, and giving only what related to himself, he could not for a moment agree to so unfair a proceeding. As regarded his personal character, indeed, he was quite willing to leave that to the public, for he trusted his reputation would not suffer from any accusation of this kind; but, in order to justify his conduct in the eyes of the House, it was of the utmost importance that it should be shown that Dr. Beke had made similar accusations against other persons—for instance, against Mr. Palgrave—every one of which accusations that gentleman characterized—he was sorry to have to quote the expression—as a "malicious lie." He trusted that the noble Lord, after what had happened in the House, would produce the whole correspondence, as this was only just and fair. If he refused all he could say was that he had done his best, and had invited the fullest publicity, in order to put himself right and justify what he said the other evening. If the whole was given, he should willingly accept it; but he thought the House would see that he was justified in objecting to a partial publication.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House a Copy of the Correspondence between Dr. Beke, Mr. Purday, Mr. Palgrave, and the Foreign Office, referred to in the Letter from Dr. Beke to Lord Clarendon, dated the 11th day of June 1866, published in a recent Blue Book.—(Mr. Layard.)"
I am sure the House will understand that in the personal part of this question the present Government are entirely disinterested. With regard to Dr. Beke, I have only seen him two or three times. I never saw him before I acceded to my present office, and I have no personal connection with him. I am not in the slightest degree his partizan, nor have I any wish to take his part in the matter. As to the insertion in the blue book of the despatch of which the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Layard) complains, the difficulty I felt as to excluding it was this—it formed a part of that series of transactions which has necessarily come under the notice of the House. When a personal and a public question are mixed up it is difficult to decide what to put in and what to leave out. Only three courses are practicable. If you suppress the whole correspondence because it has a personal and offensive tendency, you expose yourself to the charge of keeping back what it is material on public grounds the House should know. If you include a part only, you lay yourself open with equal plausibility to the charge of garbling the correspondence and producing only what serves your purpose. If, again, you publish the whole, you leave no room for accusations of that kind, but you give publicity to many things which it would be much better in the public interests to leave out. As to the appeal which the hon. Gentleman has made to me, my wish was to produce anything which was necessary to his defence against any personal attack, but not to publish more of these personal matters than was necessary for that purpose. At the same time, I cannot deny the force of the hon. Gentleman's argument that if accusations were made against him, and are also made by the same person against other individuals, the credibility of one set of accusations is very much affected by the credibility of any other set. On the whole—though I confess that on public grounds I feel some regret—I am bound to say that after the personal appeal of the hon. Member there is no option on my part but to publish the whole correspondence. I need hardly say that as far as the present Government are concerned they can have no motive for suppressing anything whatever.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that that being the noble Lord's conclusion, he rose to move, as a rider to the hon. Gentleman's proposition, for the production of portion of a letter addressed by Dr. Beke to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, dated the 14th day of October, 1867, relative to a conversation between him and Mr. Palgrave, at Cairo, in December, 1865. He was sure the House would believe that he would be the last man to thrust upon it documents which, as the hon. Gentleman's description of them had shown, were unfit for publication. ["Oh!"] There was no other interpretation to be placed upon his words. But though he (Mr. Newdegate) had not seen the letter for which he now moved, he knew there were parts of it which, in justice to Dr. Beke, it was essential to produce, if the Motion of the hon. Member for Southwark were acceded to. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Layard) had said that there was no ill-feeling on his part or on Mr. Rassam's towards Mr. Stern. Now, the hon. Gentleman's memory must surely have failed him, for he held in his hand a letter from Mr. Purday, brother of Mrs. Stern, which showed that the hon. Member had impressed Mr. and Mrs. Stern with the feeling that he was actuated by hostile feelings towards them. [Mr. LAYARD: Oh!] The hon. Member must excuse him; but after the remarks he had offered it was necessary that he should read a portion of the letter. [Mr. LAYARD: What is the date of it?] It was dated the 17th of January, 1866, and was addressed by Mr. C. H. Purday, from 24, Great Marlborough Street, to Mr. Stern. The hon. Member read a passage from the letter, to the effect that Mr. Stern knew both Mr. Layard and Mr. Rassam at Mossul; that a remonstrance he offered on some matter led to an open rupture with them; that on Mr. Stern seeing Mr. Layard some time afterwards, the latter behaved in a very disagreeable way, and that there was an old grudge on Mr. Layard's part against Mr. Stern. This letter proved that Mr. and Mrs. Stern were impressed with the opinion that the hon. Member did not feel kindly and had not acted kindly towards them. His sincere wish was that the hon. Gentleman would withdraw his Motion; but unless he did so, he (Mr. Newdegate) was bound, injustice to Dr. Beke, to press his Amendment. He would not, however, be a party to the production of anything which it was unbecoming to produce.
§ Amendment proposed, "At the end of the Question, to add the words "and such portions of a Letter, addressed by Dr. Beke to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, dated the 14th day of October 1867, relative to a conversation between him and Mr. Palgrave at Cairo, in December 1865, as bear upon the foregoing Correspondence."—(Mr. Newdegate.)"
§ MR. LAYARD
said, this was only an instance of the manner in which this miserable question had arisen. In the first place, he had never met with Mr. Palgrave in his life until he saw him for the first time three years ago in this country, and it is a pure invention that I met him at Mossul. That he ever had the slightest difference with Mr. Stern was also a pure invention. He knew him as a missionary at Bagdad, but he knew very little of him; and it was absurd to suppose that Mr. Stern, a captive, thousands of miles away, could have given Mr. Purday any information on the subject. The whole thing was utterly and completely without foundation. But suppose that he did quarrel with Mr. Stern twenty years ago at Bagdad, did the House imagine that he or any other English gentleman would allow him on that account to be left in captivity? He appealed to the sense of honour and justice of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire. He could not, and he would not, consent to the proposal of the hon. Member opposite that the letters should be mutilated and only those parts produced which suited the purpose of Dr. Beke. In his opinion, either the whole or none of the correspondence should be produced.
The circumstances have altered since the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) first put his Motion upon the Paper. I then understood that the intention of the hon. Member was merely to ask for such portions of the correspondence as would enable Dr. Beke to vindicate his character from certain charges that had been brought against him. Acting upon that belief, I urged on the hon. Member the propriety of omitting those portions of the correspondence which appeared to convey imputations upon other persons. As the matter now stands, however, the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Layard) having expressed a desire that the whole of the letters should be published, the responsibility would lie upon me were I to withhold any part of them. I regret very much that we should have got into these discussions at all. For my own part, I have never attached the slightest importance to the imputations that have been thrown out against the hon. Member for Southwark. I sincerely hope that the matter will now end, as the whole of the papers will be laid upon the table.
objected altogether to the country being put to the expense of printing and circulating a correspondence like that referred to, merely for the gratification of certain individuals. The whole thing appeared to him to be nothing more than malicious and ill-digested gossip. He objected altogether to the Motion of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire, or that we should mix ourselves up with the quarrels of parties of whom we know nothing, and in whom we have not the slightest interest.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
rose to address the House—
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Gentleman has no reply.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
I am aware I have no reply; I rose to explain. When an hon. Member has had words put into his mouth he is usually permitted by the Speaker to correct the misrepresentation. The hon. Member has stated that I did not desire the production of these papers.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member (Mr. Newdegate) has moved for these papers, and therefore it is to be presumed that he desires their production. He is out of order in endeavouring to address the House.
§ Question, "That those words be there added," put, and negatived.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
Not having spoken upon the original Question, I am now entitled to address the House.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member must wait until the original Question is put before he can speak.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is out of order. Having moved an Amendment upon the original Question, he cannot speak again upon that Question.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
What is the Motion before the House?
§ MR. SPEAKER
I have just stated what the original Question is. Upon that Question the hon. Member moved an Amendment, which has been negatived, and the House will now therefore proceed to divide on the original Question. In moving the Amendment the hon. Member spoke upon the original Question, and therefore he cannot speak again.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
Sir, I beg your pardon. I rise on a question of order. During this Session—["Order, order!"]—If the House will permit me for one moment—During this Session you have debated order with me four or five times. If I have transgressed order I can only express my regret, as I never intended to do so. You have on four occasions, when I have brought this subject before the House, interrupted me, and the House has afterwards on those occasions consented to hear me. I do therefore most humbly and most respectfully express a hope that you will show me more consideration hereafter.
§ MR. SPEAKER
It would be very fitting, if the hon. Member thinks he has been improperly interrupted by me, that he should state the occasions of which he complains. I have to state that on the present occasion I have felt myself bound to enforce the Rules of Order with more stringency than is my desire, in consequence of the hon. Member persisting in his desire to speak contrary to the Rules of the House. I have been compelled to state what the Rules of the House are, and that the hon. Member cannot make a second speech upon this Question.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to. "Resolved, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that she will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House, a Copy of the Correspondence between Dr. Beke, Mr. Purday, Mr. Palgrave, and the Foreign Office, referred to in the Letter from Dr. Beke to Lord Clarendon, dated the 11th day of June 1866, published in a recent Blue Book."
§ House adjourned at Seven o'clock.
PRIVILEGE—PRODUCTION OF PUBLIC DOCUMENTS.—OBSERVATIONS.
HC Deb 06 December 1867 vol 190 cc666-8
§ MR. DARBY GRIFFITH
, seeing the hon. Member for Southwark in his place, rose to call attention to a question of which he had given him public and also private notice, affecting the privileges of hon. Members and the rules of debate in this House. He said that in a debate which was brought on by Lord Cairns, then Sir Hugh Cairns, in June, 1865, on the subject of the proceedings of the late Government in respect to Abyssinia, the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Layard) quoted certain documents in the course of his speech, and when interrupted and asked several times by the hon. Member for Poole (Mr. Henry Seymour) and Sir Hugh Cairns whether those documents had been laid upon the table, the hon. Gentleman gave a promise that they should be produced. The papers, however, were not laid upon the table during the whole period in which the hon. Member held office. Late in the Session of 1866 a gentleman came to him (Mr. Darby Griffith), and said that the papers had not been laid upon the table. He accordingly moved for them, and they had been produced on his Motion. The rules of the House on this subject were very important. They required that no paper should be quoted by a Minister which had not been laid upon the table—otherwise a Minister might take advantage of quoting papers of which the House had no knowledge. The hon. Gentleman might represent in explanation of his conduct that, on examination, he found that those papers contained something affecting the character of individuals or injurious to the public, and therefore he did not produce them. But he (Mr. Darby Griffith) submitted that it was the business of the hon. Gentleman, before quoting from papers, to make himself acquainted with their nature.
§ MR. LAYARD
said, he had no reason to complain of the manner in which the hon. Gentleman had brought the subject before the House. No time had been specified for laying the papers on the table, and no Motion had been made for their production. He did not wish, however, to rest his defence on any technicalities. The simple facts of the case were these:—when he spoke on the occasion referred to, the papers were printed with the intention of laying them on the table. A very short time afterwards, however, it was decided that Mr. Rassam should be sent to Abyssinia, and it was thought most advisable by Mr. Rassam, the missionaries, Colonel Merewether, and other gentlemen best acquainted with the subject, that nothing should be allowed to transpire with respect to Mr. Rassam's mission. That was the reason the papers were not produced. They had now been laid upon the table, and hon. Gentlemen knew what they were. So far from containing anything injurious to the Government, their tendency was to justify the Foreign Office in the proceedings which had been taken, and he would have been only too glad to have produced them.
§ Motion, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," by leave, withdrawn.
§ Committee deferred till Friday, 14th of February.
ABYSSINIA—MISSION OF MR. RASSAM. OBSERVATIONS.
HC Deb 07 December 1867 vol 190 cc678-81
§ MR. SCHREIBER
rose, pursuant to notice, to call attention to the absence, in the papers laid before Parliament, of all official information respecting Mr. Rassam's Mission between the 28th of January and the 18th of April, 1866. He thought these letters necessary to throw further light on the Abyssinian question. He did not know who was responsible for the preparation of the Abyssinian blue book, but he complained of it as meagre and ill-arranged, and observed that, upon the face of the papers it contained, it would not be difficult to construct a more substantial defence of King Theodore than he liked to contemplate. Where, he asked, was the copy of the Queen's letter to King Theodore, which Mr. Rassam was sent to Abyssinia to deliver?
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, that on coming down to the House he had no intention of re-opening the Abyssinian discussion; but as the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Schreiber) had deemed it necessary to do so, he claimed the noble Lord's (Lord Stanley's) permission to call attention to a matter connected with it, which he had heard mentioned in some circles in London, as to the accuracy of which he was bound to say he was not prepared to vouch, his information depending on hearsay, but in reference to which the noble Lord might be enabled to give information. As he was informed, a French nobleman, the Comte de Buisson, who, before the period of the Neapolitan revolution, had been an officer in the service of the King of Naples, after the capitulation of Gaeta proceeded to Abyssinia, accompanied by some of his countrymen. It was stated that he became popular with some of the tribes in that country, and after a time had attained a position of consequence among them, having formed a kind of colony or small State of which, he was recognised the chief. The story went that, owing to the interference of the Egyptians on the frontier, his settlement had been broken up, and he had to remove into the interior, where he presented himself to the Emperor Theodore and established with him the most friendly relastions—to such an extent, he (Sir Patrick O'Brien) was informed, as to leave the country when he pleased, and to visit and return from Paris as occasion required; in short, that Theodore's conduct towards Comte de Buisson was civilized and indulgent rather than otherwise. A person standing in such a relation to that potentate might naturally be supposed to have considerable influence with him, and would be likely to effect more in the way of mediation than those gentlemen who, on the ground of military and adventurous qualifications, had tendered their services as described in the blue book, and had had them declined by the Government. He wished to ask, was it true that Comte de Buisson had so offered his assistance in obtaining the release of the prisoners?—for if he had, he could not imagine that any jealousy of French interference could for a moment affect the action of the Foreign Office in accepting it. The war was a serious matter: of the evils which might arise from it, one at least was certain, it would deeply affect the taxpayers of the kingdom. He (Sir Patrick O'Brien) had heard from a distinguished officer who had served in the war in Affghanistan, and who had the best means of forming a judgment upon the probable cost of the present expedition, that should our stay in Abyssinia be protracted till after April, not £2,000,000, but £10,000,000 or £12,000,000 would be most probably the sum we should have to pay; and he felt that in so serious a question every effort should be made to avert the necessity of an inglorious and costly war.
said, it might reasonably be hoped that the expedition would not cost us £10,000,000 or £12,000,000, as the last letter received from Mr. Flad stated that King Theodore had not above 8,000 men with him, and that they were chiefly peasants, who might be easily ridden over by a couple of squadrons of our cavalry. Theodore was also hardly pressed by the King of Shoa, who was at the head of considerable forces. This Prince was asking for aid from us, had sent presents to the Queen, and received in return a number of gifts, some of which were formerly intended for King Theodore.
§ GRIFFITH MR. DARBY
called attention to the proposed Conference on Italian affairs, pointing out that it was so far satisfactory that the Emperor of the French, though having Italy prostrate at his feet, felt bound to consult in a Conference the enlightened opinion of Europe.
I have stated more than once the position which Her Majesty's Government hold with respect to this proposal for a Conference, and I do not know that there is any necessity that I should repeat what I have said. Of course, if the question with which the Conference would have to deal could be settled in a satisfactory manner it would be a great gain to Europe; but so far from that being probable, there is no certainty that the Conference will meet at all. For my own part, I do not see how the opposite and conflicting claims of the Pope on the one hand, and the Italian Government on the other, can be adjusted. If any plan for the purpose can be proposed we shall be bound to consider it; but I have seen no such plan up to the present time. That is the situation of affairs just now, and I have nothing more to say on the subject. With regard to the appeal made to me by my hon. Friend (Mr. Schreiber) as to letters or despatches from Mr. Rassam, there is one dated the 12th of February, 1866 (enclosed in a letter from Colonel Merewether), not included in the blue book which has been moved for, and which will be laid on the table. There has been no other despatch from Mr. Rassam during the time that I have been in office of which I am aware. I believe the explanation of that is partly that the information sent home was to a great extent conveyed in private letters, and partly also that Mr. Rassam found considerable difficulty in communicating with the Foreign Office. I may, perhaps, take this opportunity of stating that it is my intention during the Recess to have all the papers relating to Abyssinia carefully examined; inasmuch as there may probably be in the archives of the Foreign Office some papers of importance of an earlier date than those published in the blue books. The House has already every information with respect to those which have been received since I came into office; but in the earlier stages of the proceedings there may have been papers which it was thought at the time it would be imprudent to publish, lest they might compromise the safety of the prisoners. At all events, I will have all the papers of the earlier years looked through, and I dare say there are some which may be considered worth, laying before the House. With regard to the French gentleman referred to by the hon. Member for the King's County, as being resident in Abyssinia, and the French colony established by him, I do not know anything. I am not aware that that gentleman's relations with King Theodore are or were very intimate, and I must say I doubt whether his mediation would be of any avail. I do not say that from any feeling of jealousy as to French influence or French intervention. We are on the best possible terms with the French Government, and I have no doubt that if it were in their power they would help us out of the difficulty.