§ Viscount Palmerston
*—Sir, In rising to move for the Returns connected with the Slave Trade, of which I have given notice, and to the production of which I presume that no objection will be offered, I wish to make some observations upon the Slave Trade itself; a subject of great interest and importance, not indeed new to this House, but which has now, for nearly half a century engaged the attention of the Parliament and people of this country. Almost all the men who, during that period of time, have been most eminent and distinguished in this country, whether on one side or on the other of this House, whether within or without these walls; have exerted the best energies of their minds to put an end to this abominable crime. And their labours have not been vain. They succeeded in rescuing this country from the foul stain of Slave Trade, and as a natural and necessary consequence soon followed the abolition of the condition of Slavery itself, throughout the dominions of the British Crown. These great results, however, were not accomplished without much labour, and a long lapse of time; the* From a Pamphlet published by Hatchard.923 descent to evil is rapid and easy; the return to good is hard and slow; and if there are nations who are still imitating our downward course, and who have not yet resolved to follow our upward footsteps, we should look upon their errors with more indulgence than we might otherwise feel, when we remember what long and painful efforts it cost us, to wean ourselves from these detestable practices. But, on the other hand, if there be nations, and many there are, who have entered with us, by the stipulations of treaties, into engagements, having for their object the putting down of this crime, we should be making ourselves again partakers in this guilt, if we were to release any of those nations from the smallest particle of their engagements. Many years have now passed away since those investigations took place, which, by laying bare in all their hideous deformity the disgusting atrocities connected with the prosecution of the Slave Trade, brought round the minds of men in this country to resolve that England at least should cease to be polluted with this crime. Those details are now well nigh forgotten; and though most men have a general knowledge that Slave Trade is a cruel thing, and that it is barbarous to tear men by violence from their homes, their families, and their country; to transport them by force across the Atlantic; and to doom them to pass the remainder of their shortened lives in painful toil, under the lash of a foreign tyrant;—though these things are known and felt by all, yet few can form to themselves any adequate conception how intense is the degree, and how extensive the range, of the cruelties of which the Slave Trade is the cause. It is difficult to ascertain, with any approach to certainty, the cumber of negroes who are annually landed on the islands and continent of America, to be there consigned to slavery. The Returns for which I am about to move will furnish the best information that can be obtained on this subject; but that information can only be acquired through our consular agents, our Slave Trade Commissioners, and our naval officers. The governments of the countries in which those negroes are landed, publish no returns; bat, on the contrary, endeavour to throw the veil of secrecy over such transactions. These Governments are those of Spain and 924 Brazil, for it is to Cuba and to Brazil that these importations take place. But both Spain and Brazil are bound by treaties concluded with us, to prohibit all their subjects from engaging in, or being concerned with the Slave Trade in any manner whatsoever, and they have, in pursuance of those treaties, promulgated laws denouncing severe punishments upon such of their subjects as may have anything to do with the Trade. But these Governments notoriously set at nought their engagements, and systematically disregard them, while they permit their own laws to be daily and openly violated with impunity. They endeavour, therefore, to conceal the importations which they connive at, and the information which we obtain about them must be necessarily imperfect. One thing, therefore, is certain, that the Returns which we receive must fall short of the truth; they cannot exceed it. Now, what is the number of negroes supposed to be annually landed in America? Mr. Bandinell, of the Foreign Office, in his able and valuable work on the Slave Trade, compiled from official documents, and comprising, in a small compass, more useful and authentic information than almost any work that has yet been published, calculates the number at something between 120,000 and 130,000. Sir Fowell Buxton, in his most interesting work on the Slave Trade, states the number at 150,000; but whether the one or the other number be assumed to be correct, what an enormous amount of human misery and of human crime does this single statement involve. When we look at an abstract statement on paper, conveyed in arithmetical figures, the mind is scarcely able to embrace within its grasp all the details and the full extent of the facts of which the knowledge may be so communicated. But let any man consider for a moment what an enormous mass of people 150,000 men amount to, and what an extent of ground they would cover. Many men have seen large armies; but few have seen an army of 150,000 men assembled in one spot, and at once within the reach of the eye. But let any one imagine that he saw 150,000 human beings drawn up on a great plain, and that he was told as they marched past him that they were all travelling to the same doom; that this vast living mass of fellow-creatures was driven on to suffer painful and premature death, under every variety 925 of bodily and mental torture. Let him further fancy himself told that this was not a single or an accidental calamity, but that every succeeding year the same ground would again be trodden by the same number of victims hurried forward to the same melancholy fate. What would be the just indignation that would burn within his bosom, and what would be the fervour with which he would call down the vengeance of Heaven, not only upon the authors of such enormities, but upon those who having the power to prevent such crimes, had culpably neglected to do so! But any man would be much deceived who should suppose that the number of negroes annually landed on the coast of America, could be taken as a full measure of the number of human victims annually sacrificed to the avarice and cruelty, I will not say of Christian men, for Christians they deserve not to be called, but of men belonging to Christian nations. It is calculated, and I believe not without good reason, that for every negro thus landed in America, two others have perished in the preceding stages of the slave-making process; so that we must multiply by three the number actually landed, to arrive at the total number annually swept away by the Slave Trade from the population of America. It is well known that the negroes are not in general collected from the immediate neighbourhood of the place where they are embarked. They come from the interior, and are marched down great distances to the coast. Some are captives taken in wars; in wars often waged for the express purpose of acquiring the gain to be made by the sale of prisoners. But the greatest number are obtained by the system of slave-hunting and man-stealing, which for the supply of the Slave Trade prevails all over the interior of Africa. The way in which that system is carried on, is this: when the time of year comes round for sending down the slave caravan to the coast; at the dead of night, some peaceful African village, whose unsuspecting inhabitants are buried in that repose, which nature has kindly bestowed upon man to fit him again for the useful occupations and for the innocent enjoyments of the succeeding day; at the dead of the night, some such African village is suddenly surrounded by the armed ruffians of some neighbouring chief. The huts of which the village consists are set on fire; 926 the inhabitants, roused from their sleep by the flames by which they are enveloped, rush forth; see their assailants and endeavour to escape capture, some by flight, others by resistance; but all equally in vain. The fugitives are intercepted and caught. Those who resist are over-powered, and either slain or made prisoners. Sometimes a hill village is attacked; there the intricacies of the ground afford greater facilities for escape, and some make good their flight to neighbouring caverns, or to hiding-places on the summit. The caverns are besieged, fires are lighted at their mouths, and those who have sought shelter there, are forced to choose between suffocation within and captivity without. The wells and springs upon which the people depend for their supply of water, are occupied; and those who have found a temporary safety in the higher grounds, are compelled by the unendurable torments of thirst to come down, and barter their liberty for a few drops of water. Then comes the selection. The hale and healthy of either sex, and children above six or seven years old, are set apart for the slave caravan. The aged and the infirm, the infant torn from its mother's breast, the child wrenched from its parent's grasp, are murdered. To march these down to the coast would be impossible, and if possible, profitless; to maintain them would be costly; and to leave them to die of hunger when deprived of those by whose labour they had been supported, would be too cruel even for slave-hunters. They are, therefore, at once despatched, and they are the least to be pitied. Their sufferings are over, those of their surviving friends and relations are only about to begin. When a sufficient number have thus been selected, the caravan sets out. Men, women, children, half naked, barefooted; the weak urged on by the goad and the lash, the strong restrained from escape by yokes and chains, are driven hundreds and hundreds of miles across the burning sands of the plain, and over the stony passes of the mountain to the place of embarkation. Hunger, thirst, fatigue, despair, disease of body, and agony of mind, make dreadful havoc in the caravan. Some drop down dead as they go; others, unable to keep up, are left behind to die the lingering death of hunger and of thirst, or to become the prey of the wild beasts of the desert; others, more mercifully 927 treated, when sinking under their fatigue, are knocked on the head and put out of their pain at once. Multitudes thus perish, and travellers who have visited the interior of the country tell you, that you may trace the march of these slave caravans across the pathless desert, and find your way to the wells that make their halting places, by the hundreds and thousands of human skeletons that lie bleaching and mouldering on the ground. At last the caravan reaches the place of embarkation, but it often happens that the slave ship is not arrived, and the negroes have to wait many days, and perhaps weeks, for its arrival. In the interval they are cooped up in crowded huts called barracoons, imperfectly clothed, fed, and medically cared for. The fatigue of the march begins to tell even upon those whose strength had held on to the end of it; diseases break out, and many deaths ensue. At length the slave ship arrives; the captain lands, and inspects the negroes. He picks out those whose apparent health and strength give promise that they will outlive the voyage, and be saleable at the market; the weak and sickly he rejects. Those whom he selects are embarked; those whom he rejects are either put out of the way at once, or left to perish on the coast by disease and want. It is reckoned that whatever may be the number of negroes thus embarked, at least an equal number have previously perished, in the seizure, the march, and the detention; and thus, if 500 are put on board the slave ship, 500 others have already been sacrificed in the preceding stages of the process. Then comes the voyage; and then begins a scene of suffering and of horrors, greater than anything that has gone before, and greater than any man who has not been an eye-witness, can either imagine, or attempt to describe. Whatever the size of the slave ship may be, whether great or small, whether fifty tons or five hundred, the slave captain takes on board a fourth or a third more negroes than the vessel can properly contain. Such is, and such always has been the practice. It is founded upon a dry arithmetical calculation. It is done on the same principle according to which a man who sends a pipe of wine from Madeira to England to go round by the East Indies, sends a quarter cask with it, in order that the waste by leakage and evaporation may be filled up, and that the 928 pipe may still be full when it reaches its destination. The slave captain knows, that however careful he may be in choosing his negroes, some, who are apparently healthy, will yet have imbibed the seeds of diseases which will break out and prove fatal during the voyage; and that others who are quite sound when they embark, will yet, from change of food, of habits, and of temperature, sicken during the passage, and die before they reach the port. He, therefore, takes on board a number of supernumeraries, to fall into the vacancies to be created by these casualties, so that he may still have a full cargo on arriving at his market. But this very arrangement aggravates the evils, against the effects of which it is intended to provide. The crowded state of the vessel makes all the causes of disease act with infinitely greater force; sea-sickness, ophthalmia, fever, dysentery, small-pox, make ravages among the negroes, and hardly a day passes but that bodies are thrown overboard. But is it dead bodies only that are thrown overboard? I am sorry to say not. The living as well as the dead are often consigned to the bosom of the deep. Sometimes the progress of disease is rapid. The negro who is well to-day, sickens at night, and is a corpse to-morrow, and in such cases the course is plain. But it often happens that the disease is of a more lingering kind; and then the keen and experienced eye of the slave captain foresees in the early stage of the malady that the poor negro, though he may struggle on for a week or a fortnight, must inevitably die before the ship reaches the port, or if he should live till then, would be unsaleable in the market. But he also knows that during the remaining days of his suffering the negro will go on consuming provisions which are valuable, and money's worth; he will at all events lose the price he has paid for the negro and the cost of his subsistence up to that time; why should he needlessly increase that loss? He resolves not to do so; he determines to save his provisions; and overboard goes the living negro. This is by no means an uncommon occurrence; it was not uncommon, I am ashamed to say, even in ships of this country, before our slave-trade was abolished. There is on record the case of the ship Zong, commanded by a man of the name of Collingwood, which sailed for Jamaica in 1781, on board of which it 929 was proved in a Court of Justice, that a transaction of this kind took place. The ship had a large cargo of negroes; she missed her course; her water ran short, and her negroes grew sickly. The captain reflected that the negroes who died would be a loss to the owners; but he thought that if he could make it appear, that a certain number were necessarily thrown overboard for the safety of the ship, their value might be recovered from the insurers; accordingly, he resolved to throw overboard those who were the most sickly, and the least likely to live to reach the port; and in three nights 132 of the negroes were thrown overboard alive. Many negroes are lost by shipwreck, and a remarkable instance of this kind happened in 1819. I have stated that the ophthalmia often breaks out in the slave ships. In 1819, this disorder raged on board the French slave ship, the Rodeur, bound with a cargo of negroes to Guadaloupe; the disease was so virulent, that only one man in the ship's company retained his eyesight sufficiently to be able to steer the ship. In this condition the Rodeur fell in with another large vessel, full of people, but apparently drifting at the mercy of the winds and waves. The vessels came within hail; the strange ship was St. Leon, a Spanish slaver, full of negroes; the people on board said that the ophthalmia had broken out also among them, and that there was not a single man on board who could see well enough to steer or work the ship. They begged for assistance, but none could be given them. The ships parted; the Rodeur reached Guadaloupe; the St. Leon was never heard of more. Sometimes calamities of a different kind occur. I have already stated how small and inconvenient the places are, in which the negroes on board these slave ships are confined. The bottom of the hold is filled with the casks, which contain the water and provisions for the people on board; over these casks is spread a platform, composed of rough unplaned boards, laid loosely together, and upon this rough and splintery surface the naked negroes are obliged to lie. Sometimes even this poor accommodation is denied them, and nothing but a few mats are spread over the uneven surface of the casks, and the negroes are to fit themselves to the inequalities of the surface as they can. The distance between this platform and the 930 upper deck of the vessel, varies according to the size of the ship; it is scarcely ever more than three feet and a half, and sometimes it is barely two feet, and a half. Into this black hole the negroes are thrust like so many bales of goods; linked two by two, with fetters, to prevent them from crushing each other by moving about; and so crowded together, that, as stated by a witness examined before a Committee of this House, in 1791, the negro in the hold of a slave ship has not as much room as a man has in his coffin. It may well be imagined how vitiated must be the air breathed by so many lungs; how intense must be the heat created by such an aggregation of living bodies in so small a space, under the vertical rays of a tropical sun; and how pestilential the effluvia occasioned by the circumstances of their confinement and condition. In order to mitigate these inconveniences, by admitting as much air as possible below, the hatch-ways of slave-ships are made larger than those of merchantmen, and are covered by open gratings, instead of with close hatches, and some have air-ports beside. In fine and even in moderate weather, these arrangements, to a certain degree, answer their purpose; but the slave-ships sometimes encounter a violent storm, the sea runs high and breaks over the vessel, and then the hatchways must be nearly closed, or the ship would fill and go down. Then ensues a scene of horror, of struggle, of agony, of death, which I will not attempt to describe. The results of such a calamity are related by the rev. Mr. Hill, in his pamphlet, called "Fifty Days in a Slaver." The captured slave-ship he was on board of, was overtaken by a storm; the hatchways were closed, and fifty-two negroes out of about four hundred died in one night, suffocated by want of air, or strangled in their struggle to get near to the small opening still left for the admission of air. Mr. Hill imagines that this was a singular instance, and that the misfortune arose from the inexperience of the prize crew, who were not accustomed to deal with such emergencies. But I fear be is mistaken. The loss of life was, indeed, greater, in consequence of the negroes having been released from their fetters, which would have prevented them from struggling so much with each other; but when slave-ships meet with storms, which not unfrequently happens, the 931 hatchways must be partially closed up, and many negroes die by suffocation. It is calculated, that from all these causes, about a third of the negroes that are embarked die during the passage; and if this third of the 500 embarked be added to the 500 assumed to have died in the seizure, the march, and the detention, it will be seen that for every negro landed, two others will have perished in the previous stages of the slave-making process; and thus, if 130, or 150,000 negroes have been landed annually in America, the yearly ravage committed on the African nations must amount to something like 400,000; and if this has been going on for the last century, how many millions must during that period have been swept away from the population of Africa. Why I will venture to say, that if all the other crimes which the human race has committed, from the creation down to the present day, were added together in one vast aggregate, they would scarcely equal, I am sure they could not exceed, the amount of guilt which has been incurred by mankind, in connexion with this diabolical Slave Trade. And is it not, then, the duty of every government, and of every nation on whom Providence has bestowed the means of putting an end to this crime, to employ those means to the greatest possible extent? And if there is any government and any nation upon whom that duty is more especially incumbent, is not that government the government of England, and are we not that nation? Political influence and naval power are the two great instruments by which the Slave Trade may be abolished; our political influence, if properly exerted, is great, our naval power is pre-eminent. Much, certainly, has been done in this matter in former times; and the British nation may look back with just satisfaction at the perseverance with which the efforts of Great Britain on this subject have been made, and at the partial success with which those efforts have been attended. The late Government did its duty in this respect. When we came into office in 1830, we inherited the fruits of the labours of those who had gone before us. We found Slave Trade under the British flag entirely abolished; we found it prohibited by law under the flag of France, and the traffic to the French colonies nearly extinguished; but a most extensive use of the French flag was still 932 made for carrying on the Slave Trade of other countries, and the French government had never consented to a treaty for that mutual right of search, which would have enabled our cruizers to put an end to that abuse of the flag of France. We found Spain, Portugal, and Brazil bound to us by treaty, to prevent their subjects from engaging in any way in the slave-trade; but Spain only, out of the three, had, by a law which was proclaimed in 1817, prohibited the traffic, and that law was openly violated. Portugal and Brazil had not even gone through the form of publishing any law against the traffic. We found treaties for the suppression of the Slave Trade, and for a mutual right of search for that purpose, in force with the Netherlands, with Sweden, and with Denmark; those treaties had been perfectly effectual, and no slave-trade was carried on under the flag of either of those three powers. A short time before we came into office, very important events had happened in France. A sovereign had ascended the throne, who owed his crown to the free choice of a free people, and the government was administered by men deeply embued with the spirit and principles of liberty; we thought that we might confidently appeal to such a sovereign and to such a government to co-operate with us in putting down this detestable slave-trade; and we did not appeal in vain. The French government of that day cheerfully and readily acceded to the proposals which we made them, and a treaty was concluded, by which the two countries gave to each other a mutual right of search, under specified restrictions, any merchant-vessels of either country, suspected of being engaged in the Slave Trade. That treaty was immediately successful, as far as regarded Slave Trade under the flag of France, and from that moment the French flag was rescued from the disgrace of being a cover for that crime. Let it not be imagined that this Treaty was not attended by a sacrifice of national feeling on both sides. Let it not be supposed, as some have endeavoured to represent, that the sacrifice was entirely on the side of France, and that France made on that occasion some concession to England. I respect national feeling, and the strong national feeling of the French is a very honourable part of their character; but I trust we have national feeling as well as they; and any man is greatly mis- 933 taken, who fancies that it was not quite as great a sacrifice on our part to permit our merchantmen to be searched by the ships of war of France, as it could possibly be on the part of the French, to allow their merchantmen to be searched by the ships of war of England; and I am certain that we never should have thought of consenting to render our merchantmen liable to be searched by the ships of war of any foreign power, except for the accomplishment of so great and generous an object as the suppression of the Slave Trade. But to the great honour of the two countries, they laid aside, on that occasion, all petty feelings of mutual jealousy, and joyfully concurred in the pursuit of a noble object, which both governments had equally at heart. In Spain, events had occurred of a character somewhat similar to those which had happened in France. Ferdinand died in 1833; and upon his death a change look place, in what for a century before had been the usual course of succession to the throne; and a contest arose between a princess, representing the principles of constitutional government on the one hand, and a prince identified with despotism on the other. The British Government, sympathising with a great nation in their efforts to obtain rational freedom, threw the weight of England into the scale of the Queen and the Constitution; and by the support thus given, they enabled the constitutional cause to triumph. We thought the Spanish Government owed us a debt of gratitude, which we might justly call upon them to pay. And how did we demand payment? Not by taking advantage of the weakness of Spain to extort from her any sordid or mercenary advantages for England, political or commercial; we demanded a better treaty for the suppression of the Slave Trade. We called upon those who were engaged in a glorious struggle for their own emancipation from political servitude, to join us in endeavouring to rescue the unoffending people of Africa from slavery infinitely more dreadful. My noble Friend, Lord Clarendon, then British Minister at Madrid, exerted on that occasion those talents and that zeal for which he is well known to be remarkable, and he succeeded in obtaining a treaty, which was concluded in 1835. That treaty gave us all the powers of search, which by treaty we could acquire for the suppression of that 934 Slave Trade under the flag of Spain, which had been prohibited and rendered penal by the law proclaimed by the sovereign of Spain, in December 1817. This treaty was a great discouragement to the Slave Trade, and gave it an immediate check; and whereas, in 1835, 40,000 negroes had been imported into Cuba; the importation, in 1838, fell down to 28,000. The course of events in Portugal was similar to what was happening in Spain. In Portugal also there was a disputed succession; there also the contest lay between a queen and constitutional government on the one side, and an usurping uncle and despotism on the other. There, as in Spain, our influence was exerted on the side of liberty; and there, as in Spain, the party attached to liberty prevailed through our assistance. We made the same appeal as to Spain, but not with the same success. The slave-traders were stronger in Lisbon than they had been in Madrid. But perhaps it is fair to say, that if our negotiation for a Slave Trade treaty had been carried on in Cuba, instead of in Spain, we might have been as unsuccessful as we unfortunately were in Portugal. Having failed in all our endeavours, we came to Parliament and stated our case; we showed that by existing treaties Portugal was bound to do what we asked, and we proved that she refused compliance. Parliament saw that the case was good; and gave us by law those powers which Portugal had declined to give us by treaty. That was a great step towards the suppression of the Slave Trade, which became no longer safe under the Portuguese flag. Another thing tended much to discourage the slave-traders. These people establish their barracoons, or slave-dépôts, upon the territories of the native chiefs along the coast of Africa. Some disputes with the people belonging to some of these barracoons, had led some of our naval officers on the coast to land, and destroy some of these barracoons, leaving the goods contained in them to the native chiefs, and carrying off the negroes for emancipation to Sierra Leone. We sanctioned what had been done, and ordered it to be repeated under similar circumstances. Nothing ever struck more dismay into the slave-traders, and many of them were preparing to withdraw their capital from an employment which was becoming too dangerous, and to transfer it to some safer investment. 935 By these various means we did effect, as far as can be judged of from official returns, a great diminution in the number of negroes annually landed in Cuba and Brazil. The number reported as having been landed in 1838, was, in Brazil, 94,000, and in Cuba, 28,000; making a total of 122,000. But the numbers so landed in 1840 were, in Brazil, 14,470, and in Cuba, 14,244, making in all 28,000, and being 83,286 less than the number which had been landed only two years before. Nor was this a single or an accidental diminution; for in respect to Brazil, it is stated by Mr. Bandinell, that the number imported into that empire, in 1838, was 94,000; that in 1839 the number fell to 56,000; and that in 1840 it was reduced to 14,244; while the number imported into Cuba, which in 1835 was 40,000, fell, in 1838, to 28,000; in 1839 to 25,000; in 1840 to 14,470; and by other accounts it seems to have further sunk, in 1841, to 11,857; and in 1842 to the comparatively trifling amount of 3,150. Thus it appears, that as far as the information in the possession of Parliament can be relied upon, the measures which we took did effect a great reduction in the number of slaves annually transported from Africa to Cuba and Brazil. But, besides all this, we laboured with great zeal, and with much success, in increasing the number of Christian Powers engaged in the general league against the Slave Trade. We obtained mutual Right of Search Treaties from almost every American state, except the United States of North America. We added Naples, Tuscany, and Sardinia to the European confederacy, and we intended to have gone farther. The Slave Trade treaty, which we concluded with France, in 1838, contained an article by which the two Powers engaged to invite all the other maritime states to accede to it; and, accordingly, England and France applied to Austria, Russia, and Prussia, Powers who had been parties to the declarations made against Slave Trade at the Congresses of Vienna in 1815, of Aix-la-Chapelle, in 1818 and of Verona in 1822, but who had not as yet actually concluded any treaty for the suppression of that trade. Not that the subjects of either of those three Powers were ever suspected of being engaged in Slave Trade; but the slave-traders of other nations, when deprived of the protection of 936 other flags, might fraudulently find shelter under theirs. Those three Powers replied that they adhered entirely to the declarations which they had signed; that they approved of the treaty which had been concluded between England and France; and would willingly sign a treaty, word for word the same. But as a matter of diplomatic etiquette, they wished to be originally contracting parties to a new treaty, instead of being merely acceding parties to a treaty already concluded between two other powers. England and France cordially accepted their co-operation on the condition so specified, and we set to work to draw up a new treaty. But the British Government thought that this afforded them a proper opportunity for correcting an imperfection in the French treaty, which, though it did not diminish the efficiency of that treaty, for the purpose of putting down the Slave Trade under the French flag, would have in some degree rendered it less effectual in regard to the Slave Trade of other nations. The geographical limits within which the mutual Right of Search is to be exercised under the French treaty, are zones of sixty miles radius round the coasts of Cuba and Porto Rico; along the coast of Brazil; all round the coast of Madagascar, and along the western coast of Africa, from fifteen degrees north of the equator, to ten degrees south. These limits exclude a considerable portion of the western coast of Africa south of the equator, where the Slave Trade is carried on for the supply of Brazil; and they do not include any portion of the eastern coast of Africa, where the Slave Trade extensively prevails. We therefore proposed to the French Government, to adopt in the new treaty, which was to be signed by the Five Powers, the larger limits mentioned in the treaties with Spain and with the Netherlands, and which included the whole of the eastern and western coasts of Africa, and the whole of the West Indies and of the eastern coast of South America. The French Government consented, and I, on the part of Great Britain, in conjunction with the French plenipotentiary, proposed a treaty so drawn up, to Austria, Russia and Prussia. After a good deal of negotiation about matters of detail, this treaty had been substantially agreed to by all the Five Powers, at the time when we were going out of office, and it might 937 then have been signed within the number of days necessary for writing it out in proper form. On two trifling points exemptions were asked for by Prussia and Russia, in regard to their timber ships, and to the Russian vessels engaged in she North American trade. I should not have refused to yield, if necessary, on those points; and that done, there was no other difficulty in regard to that Treaty. Now, that Treaty was calculated to be productive of important advantage: first, as associating with the league against Slave Trade the three great Powers, Austria, Russia, and Prussia, whose flag might have been fraudulently assumed by slave traders, though their own subjects never had engaged in the trade; and, secondly, as forming the foundation of a great European league against Slave Trade. It was our intention, when that Treaty should have been concluded, (and indeed an article was inserted for the purpose,) to have invited all the other powers and states of Europe to accede to it; and when it had thus been converted into a general European League, we should have proposed to our allies, the powers and states whose feelings and opinions on Slave Trade would have been embodied in that Treaty, that confederated Europe should have presented itself to the United States Government, entreating it to accede also to the league which we had formed. I will not presume to affirm what would have been the result of such an entreaty, but I think it fair to assume that it must have produced some effect. When the Government and people of the United States saw all the powers of Europe banishing from their minds all jealousy of each other in the pursuit of a generous object; when they saw England, France, and Russia, the three great maritime Powers of Europe, giving each other freely and without suspicion a mutual Right of Search; when they saw Austria and Prussia, two great commercial Powers, but destitute of any navy of their own, permitting, without fear or hesitation, their ships of commerce to be searched by the ships of war of their great maritime neighbours; when they saw all the smaller states of Europe engaging without the slightest apprehension of abuse, to submit their flags to be searched for this great end; when we, the states of Europe, should have exhibited to the Americans such a spectacle of mutual confidence, 938 and such an abandonment of selfish feelings for the attainment of a noble purpose, is it not fair to assume that the United States, who had themselves, in 1823, proposed to all Europe and to the rest of America a Treaty very nearly identical with ours, though they afterwards changed their mind, must have been induced to do something effectual to assist in suppressing the Slave Trade, and especially to prevent the yearly increasing abuse of their flag for the protection of slave traders. Such was the state of things when we went out of office in the first days of September, 1841. I am concerned to say that from that time to this, as far as my knowledge, and that of the public extends, these matters, instead of advancing, have gone rapidly backwards; and great strides have been made by the present Government, not towards the suppression of the Slave Trade, but towards its revival and encouragement. First of all there was that Treaty between the Five Powers which was on the point of being signed, and the signature of which we were given to understand was delayed by the French Government, only that it might be reserved as a compliment, for those who were about to succeed us in power. Now, if that Treaty had been signed within a fortnight, three weeks, or a month of the time when the present Government came into office, the two months allowed for the exchange of ratifications would have elapsed before the meeting of the French Chambers, those ratifications would have been exchanged as a matter of course, and the Treaty would now have been in full vigour. But great was my surprise when Parliament met, and when the Treaty was laid on the Table, to find that it had not been signed till the latter end of December, 1841, nearly, four months after the present Government came into power. I will not impute blame where I cannot show that blame is due; and this long delay may have arisen from causes beyond the control of the British Government; it is for them to show that it did; and hitherto no explanation on this point has been given. But the delay was peculiarly unfortunate in its consequences. The French Chambers met before the two months allowed for the exchange of the ratifications had elapsed; and General Cass, the American minister at Paris, foreseeing probably the embarrassment which that Treaty might eventually create for his 939 own Government, and thinking, no doubt, that it was his duty to avert that embarrassment, set to work and put every engine in motion to prevent that Treaty from being ratified by France. Pamphlets were industriously circulated; the press was excited; debates were got up in the Chambers; national jealousy was roused; ancient enmities were revived; the war party was called into action; the slave traders of Nantes were brought into play, and an address was voted to the Crown. But what was that address? Was it an address praying the Crown not to ratify the Treaty? By no means. That address assumed that the Treaty was to be ratified, for it prayed the Crown that in the execution of that Treaty, due care might be taken of the honour and interest of France. But a Treaty cannot be executed until it is ratified; and therefore that address assumed that the ratifications of that Treaty would be exchanged. The French Government, however, thought that this address, and the debate by which it was preceded, justified them in refusing to ratify the Treaty. Now I will venture to say that this refusal of theirs was the most signal departure from a diplomatic engagement that has happened in Europe for a great number of years. It is an established principle of diplomatic intercourse, that a Government is bound to ratify the engagements contracted in its name by a duly accredited Plenipotentiary unless it can show that such Plenipotentiary has acted without instructions or against instructions; the formality of a ratification being expressly established to protect Governments from being entrapped into engagements which they had disapproved or had not authorised. In this case, however, neither of these reasons could be alleged. The Treaty had been signed by the French Ambassador in London, in pursuance of specific instructions to do so; and the French Government had itself been a consenting party to all the previous steps of the negociation. But they justified their refusal by quoting an analogous case stated to have then lately happened between the King of Prussia and the King of the Netherlands, in regard to a commercial Treaty relating to Luxembourg and the German Customs Union; and as to the ratification of which, the King of the Netherlands, in consequence of remonstrances from his Luxembourg subjects, had demurred. But the 940 King of the Netherlands, upon further consideration, did ratify that Treaty, and that example, therefore, does not bear the French Government out. Now, I am far from saying that this refusal of the French Government to ratify their Treaty ought to have been a cause for estrangement or even for coldness between the two Governments. There were other and more pressing interests at stake, which required that the cordiality existing between the two Governments should not be interrupted by that event. But at the same time I do think that it was the duty of the British Government to record by some formal diplomatic note their protest against this entire departure from the established usage of diplomatic intercourse between European nations. But no such protest was made. We have it on the authority of a statement from the French minister himself in the Chambers, that the British Government made no complaint or remonstrance on the subject. I think, that looking at this transaction merely as a precedent for the future, I am entitled to say that the British Government did not do its duty when it abstained from placing such a protest upon record. The moment the French ratification of that Treaty was refused, of course there was an end of all idea of a European League; and accordingly, although the Treaty was ratified by Austria, Prussia, Russia, and England, the British Government has never yet thought of inviting Belgium, Hanover and Greece, to accede to it, although those States have flags which might be made use of by slave traders; and as to making any joint application to the United States of America, the refusal of France to ratify, put such a thing entirely out of the question. Surely this was a great step backwards. It may have been no fault of the Government, but only their misfortune; it is for them to show this; but there is no denying that this was a retrograde stride made during their management of public affairs. Then came a letter written by the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office to the Board of Admiralty, in May, 1842; and which by some means or other found its way to the public. It was a letter on the subject of those proceedings which we had sanctioned and encouraged on the coast of Africa against the slave barracoons. The letter really, and in fact, says little, but it appears to imply a great deal, and 941 it produced a very injurious effect. The letter does not, indeed, distinctly affirm that the proceedings which we had authorised and directed, were against the law of nations, but any man who reads it loosely must believe that such was the impression which it was intended to convey. That letter did not, indeed, direct the Board of Admiralty to forbid our naval officers from continuing the proceedings which we had directed them to undertake, but it was well calculated to create a belief that such proceedings would not in future be allowed. The only thing that is positively stated in that letter is, that the Lords of the Admiralty are to forbid naval officers from applying in their despatches the term "blockade" to the operations carried on in Africa for the suppression of the Slave Trade; and that one and only thing which the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office positively forbids our naval officers from doing, has nevertheless been since done by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, who announced to us in the beginning of the Session that he was going to establish a rigid and complete blockade for the suppression of the Slave Trade, along the whole of the coast of Africa. This letter produced a great sensation among the slave dealers. We had woried and harassed them, and fairly worn their hearts out by the measures which we had adopted. I heard from various sources of information that they were universally dejected, dispirited, and dismayed, and were withdrawing their capital from their old pursuits. That letter, written at such a crisis, must have greatly encouraged them, and must have made them believe that the present Government intended to leave them alone in peace and quiet, and not to imitate our meddling policy, by which the slave-traders had been so much annoyed. I look upon this as a great misfortune. Then again there came the Ashburton capitulation, by which we not only surrenrendered a great extent of territory which rightfully belonged to us, but gave up of our own accord all claim to demand from the American Government a faithful execution of that Article of the Treaty of Ghent, by which the United States bound themselves to use their best efforts in conjunction with us for the extinction of the Slave Trade. I do not mean to say that the next Administration would not be at 942 liberty to repudiate that interpretation of the Washington Treaty; but towards the present Government, the United States would have a good answer to any demand for anything further in regard to the Slave Trade. Well, then, I may safely say that the present Government has at least been most unfortunate in their proceedings on these matters, and that things have happened under them which have fended to raise the drooping spirits of the slave-traders; and I much fear it will be found that the number of negroes imported into Cuba and Brazil, in 1843, has greatly exceeded the number imported in either of the two preceding years. The Returns which I am about to move for, will show how that matter stands. It is very likely that we may be told to-night, as we have been on former occasions, that Her Majesty's Government are most sincerely anxious to put this Slave Trade down, and intend to use every possible degree of activity for that purpose. I have an entire belief of their sincerity; but I wholly doubt their activity. I am sure they are sincere on this matter, because every Englishman must be so, but I put no trust whatever in their energy and exertions. They are going it seems, to blockade the whole coast of Africa; our cruisers are to be withdrawn from the West Indies and Brazil, and our whole force is to be concentrated on the African station. I have no doubt this may be thought a good plan by officers who have been employed on the coast of Africa: they have there seen the evil in its origin, and think chiefly of the means of preventing it there; it is quite natural that they should think, that the best thing that can be done, is to station the whole of our watching force on the coast of Africa. But I should like to know the opinion of officers who have served in the West Indies, and on the coast of Brazil; and if the right hon. Baronet can tell me that those officers concur in the expediency of transferring the whole of our force from thence to the coast of Africa, I could not well set up my opinion against that of such practical men. But, as at present informed, it does not appear to me to be folly to lose one chance out of two of intercepting the slave-ships. As to really blockading the whole extent of the coast of Africa with the force which the British Government, even united with that of France, can command, aye, even if assisted 943 by the eighty guns which the United States have promised to send, such a notion is quite absurd. To talk, indeed, of effectually blockading such a vast range of coast as that which extends from the northernmost point on the west, where the Slave Trade begins, round to the northernmost point on the east, where that traffic ends, is to promise a physical impossibility. That which can be done is to increase the number of our cruisers, to give them smaller ranges of space to work upon, and thus to render their vigilance more effectual. But the difficulties they have to contend with are great, and some parts of the coast are so studded with islands, with good anchorage within them, that a cruiser running along the coast, may go within a mile of a slaver lying in one of these nooks, and taking slaves in, without being able to see her. In fact, the number of places where negroes may be embarked is so great, that to establish along the whole coast a blockade in the sense in which we are accustomed to speak of the naval blockade of sea-ports would be impossible; and if, in order to attempt this impossibility, all our cruisers are withdrawn from Brazil and from the West Indies, a slaver who could escape the watching squadron on the coast of Africa would have a fair run for it across the Atlantic, and would go in perfect security to the port of her destination. But have Her Majesty's Government considered the difficulty which will arise in regard to this arrangement from the narrowness of the geographical limits for the mutual Right of Search in the Treaty with France? These limits, in respect to the coast of Africa, are, that part of the western coast which lies between latitude fifteen degrees north, and latitude ten degrees south. But there are nearly fifteen degrees of latitude further south of the line on the western coast, and I know not what extent on the eastern coast, where the Slave Trade is much carried on but where we have no mutual Right of Search with France. This does not much signify as long as we have cruisers in the West Indies and on the coast of Brazil; because if a French ship were to attempt to carry on the Slave Trade from these parts of the coast of Africa, she could not indeed be meddled with in the beginning of her voyage, but on her arrival on the coast of Brazil, or in the West Indies, where we can exercise the Right of Search, she would be in dan- 944 ger of falling in with our cruisers; and of being searched, detained, and delivered up for punishment to the tribunals of her own country. The fear of this deters French ships from engaging in this trade. But if our cruisers are withdrawn from the West Indies and Brazil, while, by the refusal of France to ratify the Treaty of 1841, there remains a large portion of the African coast to which the mutual Right of Search does not apply, it is highly probable that the greater part of the Slave Trade of Brazil will be carried on in French ships, and we shall be entirely unable to meddle with or to stop it. I think this point deserves the attention of Her Majesty's Government; and it will be no answer to me to say, that the parts of the African coast to which the mutual Right of Search, given by the French Treaty, does not extend, will be watched by French cruisers; because, with every respect for the naval service of France, knowing as I do, that there is not in the French nation the same feeling about Slave Trade which happily prevails in England, I cannot for this purpose place the same reliance on French cruisers that I should upon our own. I shall not now discuss again the notable project of the Government for putting down the Slave Trade by an adjustment of the duty on sugar; by prohibiting the importation of slave-grown sugar into this country, while we are to raise the price of that sugar in the market of the rest of the world, by taking a large quantity of free-labour sugar out of that market. That matter has been sufficiently discussed already, and if that scheme is to be our main dependence, I fear there is but a small prospect of any diminution of the Slave Trade. We have heard much of late about the cordial understanding and perfect agreement which subsist between the Governments of England and of France. No man can rejoice more than I shall ever do at seeing the best understanding, the most intimate friendship, and the closest alliance established between England and France. I know well that a real and sincere friendship between these two great Powers must, if properly applied, be productive of great advantage to them, and of infinite benefit to the rest of the world. But as yet, I am concerned to say, I do not think the fruit has been worthy of the tree. The only practical result which has hitherto arisen from this Union has been, that po- 945 pular institutions in Spain have been for a time put down, and that a military despotism has there been erected upon the ruins of constitutional freedom. Now, I would have the union of England and France directed to nobler and more generous ends—I would have them unite to set free the slave, instead of combining to enslave the free. England and France, when united for a lawful and just purpose, have a power which is irresistible. Who are the offending parties in this matter? Spain and Brazil. Portugal is only an aider and abettor. She does not import slaves, she conveys them, and indeed the export of negroes is one of the chief branches of trade carried on from some of her African possessions. But Spain and Brazil are the principal offenders. These two Powers have contracted with us engagements in the most solemn form, of the most stringent character, binding them to prevent their subjects from carrying on directly or indirectly this infamous traffic: they have both of them promulgated severe laws against Slave Trade, in pursuance of those engagements, and we have a right to insist that those laws shall be carried into execution. Let England and France, if they are united, as I wish them to be, address themselves to Spain and to Brazil, and employ the whole weight of their united influence to obtain from those two Powers a true and complete fulfilment of the engagements which we are entitled to require them to keep. A blockade of the whole coast of Africa is a chimerical attempt, but if the Government are so bent on blockading, I could suggest a better application of that measure; and I will venture to say, that if they were only to try it for a short time upon the Havannah, and on Rio Janeiro, they would find it produce the most satisfactory results. But if England and France are really united, and choose to exert in unison that powerful influence which they can wield, it is impossible that they should not accomplish some great and immediate result. In the way of laws, Spain and Brazil have done almost all that can be necessary, if those laws were only put into effect. Ferdinand of Spain, in December, 1817, in pursuance of the Treaty which he had signed with this country in September of the same year, promulgated a law by which all his subjects, whether in Europe or America, were forbidden from going to the coast of Africa to buy slaves under pain of the fol- 946 lowing penalties:—That every negro so purchased should be taken from the purchaser, and should be declared free at the first Spanish port at which the vessel conveying such negroes might arrive; that the ship and her remaining cargo should be confiscated; and that the purchaser, the master, and some of the other parties on board, should be condemned to ten years imprisonment in some fortress in the Philippic islands; and this law is still in force. The Emperor Don Pedro, of Brazil, promulgated in November, 1831, a law very similar in effect, and Brazil is bound by treaty to treat and punish Slave Trade as piracy. If these laws were enforced, the Cuba and Brazil Slave Trade would soon be at an end. I do hope then that the union of England and France, of which we have heard so much, will be directed to the accomplishment of an object which will redound to the glory of all Christendom. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government stated on a former occasion that one of the great motives which led him and his Colleagues to undergo the toils, and vexations, and harassments of office, (and they who have been themselves in office know that burthen is not light,) was the desire and hope of obtaining thereby posthumous fame. I am sure the right hon. Baronet did not by that expression exclude from his view the desire and the hope also of that approval of a satisfied conscience, which is the certain reward for duties well performed; I am sure he did not mean to exclude that higher sanction, in comparison with which all human approbation sinks into utter insignificance; but the right hon. Baronet stated, that, one of his objects, and a fair and honorable one it is, was the hope of acquiring fame in after ages. They, however, who are charged with the Government of a great nation, can obtain fame only by conferring some great benefits on their own country, or on the rest of mankind. Now the peculiar position in which the present Government stands renders it difficult for them to do the first. They cannot emancipate the commercial industry of the country, nor open to us that full career of prosperity on which we might be able to enter; they are prevented from doing that, by the prejudices of the great body of their supporters. They cannot lay the foundations of any large and liberal system of education for the great numbers who are every year rising up in the manu- 947 facturing districts in the darkest ignorance, intellectual, moral, and religious; they are prevented from doing that by prejudices which they themselves partake. They cannot give contentment to the six millions of Catholics who inhabit Ireland: they are prevented from doing that by obstacles which they themselves in former times have contributed to create. They cannot take a leading part in the settlement of any great European question, if any such should arise in their time, because, dissatisfied apparently with the front rank position in which they found the country when they took the helm, they thought it more consistent with the modesty of our national character that Great Britain, under their command, should drop quietly astern, and take up her berth in the wake of all the great Foreign Powers. But there is one field still open in which they may gather unfading laurels; they may abolish the Slave Trade. In their efforts to accomplish that great end they will be thwarted by no resentful supporters, by no disapproving opponents. They will have the country unanimously with them, and the will of this great nation, when unanimously expressed for a noble cause, is able to accomplish great results. If the present Government shall have to say that they succeeded, in their time, in extinguishing a foul traffic, for the suppression of which those who had gone before them had laboured for many years, and with only partial success, they will bequeath to posterity a name that will live in the grateful remembrance of the most distant ages. But if it shall justly be laid to their charge, that whereas the Slave Trade had been much checked, and nearly extinguished by the efforts of those who preceded them, it had in their time acquired fresh life, and had again reared aloft its hideous and gigantic head, they will indeed attain an everlasting fame, but it will be a fame in comparison with which the most perfect and entire oblivion would be deemed an enviable lot. The noble Viscount concluded by moving an Address for—Return, showing the total number of African Negroes landed for the purposes of Slavery on the Islands and on the Continent of America, from the year 1815 to the year 1843, both inclusive; distinguishing the number so landed in each of those years, and distinguishing also the number landed in each year on the territory of each separate State or Power, so far as the same 948 can be made up from Documents in the possession of Her Majesty's Government, also, Cases adjudged under Slave Trade Treaties, and number of Slaves emancipated in consequence at Sierra Leone, Rio de Janeiro, Havannah, Surinam, and other places respectively, from the year 1829 to the year 1844.
§ Sir R. Peel
Sir, I could hardly have inferred from the modest terms in which the Notice of the noble Lord who has just sat down is worded, that it would have afforded him an opportunity for making the rhetorical display in which he has just indulged—a more harmless Motion than that which I read on the notices of this day I can hardly conceive. The noble Lord calls for, "A Return, &c." [The right hon. Baronet read the Motion.] Why, really, Sir, a more innocuous Motion never yet was made in this House, and it reminds me of the course pursued by the noble Lord in former Sessions, when, after a period of comparative inactivity, he was wont to come down to this House not for the purpose of stimulating or inviting Ministers to activity, but in order to deliver a factious speech in making a Motion to which the most captious Minister could not raise the slightest objection. I recollect that at the early part of the Session the noble Lord exhibited some inclination to deliver the speech which the House has just heard. I give him credit for the extent and fidelity of his memory. Having, so long ago as the 11th of March, entertained this intention, the noble Lord has, notwithstanding the multitude and variety of public business that has intervened been the present time and that period, not only retained the recollection of his Motion, but also the very words in which it was put forward. The noble Lord had, at the date I have referred to, a Motion on the Paper, which was of importance. On the 11th of March, I find a Notice of Motion—That an humble Address to be presented to Her Majesty, representing that this House, sharing the deep abhorrence with which the people of this Country regard the Slave Trade, most earnestly beseech Her Majesty not to consent to any alteration or modification of any of the Treaties now in force between Her Majesty and Foreign States, for the suppression of the Slave Trade, which by weakening the means which those Treaties now afford for the prevention of that piratical offence, might tend to render more easy the perpetration of that detestable crime.Now, the object which this Motion was framed to effect was, I admit, most im- 949 portant; it was nothing less than to ask the House of Commons to request Her Majesty to reject all proposals for the modification of the Treaty relative to the Slave Trade between this country and France. The noble Lord wished the House of Commons, by the expression of its opinion, to restrain the exercise of the Queen's Prerogative; but the noble Lord had met with very little sanction to such an attempt on the part of those who generally act with him. The noble Lord himself seemed to shrink from his own attempt. Week after week of the Session passed over and the noble Lord postponed his Motion as they passed, always promising to bring it forward, but as often shrinking from the fulfilment of his promise, as he observed amongst those around him symptoms of the disapprobation with which his course was viewed. The noble Lord persevered in renewing his Notice, till at length the noble Lord was fortunately relieved from his Notice by the House being counted out on the night when he was to have brought it forward, that very circumstance being sufficiently indicative of the opinion which his own immediate Friends and supporters entertained of the Motion. The noble Lord, I must confess, appeared to me to be greatly relieved when he was thus extricated from the dilemma in which he had placed himself; for, notwithstanding the perseverance with which he constantly renewed the Notice of his Motion, he had the good sense to abstain from bringing it forward at last. At the same time the noble Lord was unwilling to lose the speech which he had prepared for the occasion; and he has now, in my opinion, pursued a much wiser course by not provoking the opinion of the House in opposition to the Royal Prerogative, while we have reaped all the advantages which we should then have derived from listening to the noble Lord. I shall, in dealing with this question, separate all those parts of the noble Lord's speech in which he refers to the Slave Trade, from those parts of it in which he has indulged in reflections on Her Majesty's Government. It is most important that upon those points on which men of all parties cordially concur we should express that concurrence in a way that cannot be mistaken, and that we should not permit our party or political differences to affect the weight and authority which we may 950 carry when there is a common concurrence upon such a question as that of the abolition of slavery and the Slave Trade. In all the first part of the speech of the noble Lord, I most cordially concur. I do believe that this is the most iniquitous traffic that was ever carried on; that it engenders more misery—that it stimulates more crime—than any public act ever committed by any nation, however regardless of the laws of God or man. I do not believe that the noble Lord has the slightest wish to exaggerate; but I think the noble Lord has perhaps rather over-rated the number of slaves landed upon the coast of America at the different periods to which he has referred. Possibly I may differ from him on the point that the number of slaves amounted to 150,000. Perhaps it might rather be estimated at 100,000. But, however that might be, if my estimate be more correct than that of the noble Lord, I still fully concur with him that the number landed is no test whatsoever of the misery inflicted upon the people of Africa by the continuance of the Slave Trade. I do not believe that the noble Lord overrates the number sacrificed in the attempt to gain property in the blood and sinews of these unfortunate men. In what light I ask must we exhibit ourselves to these savage nations—what must they conceive of the doctrines and precepts of that common religion which we profess, when Europeans descend to become parties in this iniquitous traffic. And that I consider to be one of the great evils attendant upon the Slave Trade, that it is an impediment to the diffusion and spread of Christianity, for surely savage people never can believe those men to be really impressed with the truths of the religion they profess, when they can be parties to the infliction of so much human misery as that which is the consequence of the perpetration of these crimes. I say too, with the noble Lord, and it ought to be known, that there are two countries and two only, which are now mainly responsible for the continuance of those crimes. There is on the part of every civilized country, with the exception of these two, a desire to co-operate in the suppression of the trade in man. If Spain and Brazil would zealously apply themselves to the suppression of the Slave Trade in those parts of the world within which they can exercise jurisdiction, my opinion is that the Slave Trade might be, and would be suppressed. France, 951 Portugal, and also Denmark—to her honour be it spoken, she led the way; she set the example—the United States, this country, Russia, Prussia, Austria, every power is ready to co-operate in the suppression of the Slave Trade. But whilst these two countries oppose themselves to the abrogation of that traffic, no effectual progress can be made in abolishing it. The public guilt is upon their heads, who derive a profit from this trade, and who are therefore unwilling to suppress it. It can be shown that these two, Spain and Brazil, are the only countries which lend their sanction to the trade, and are the only two who derive a profit from it. They have the power of suppressing the trade, and without their assistance it will be almost impossible to suppress it. Whatever the exertions we may make, whatever the zeal and gallantry of our officers and men, whatever the sacrifices we may impose upon the people of this country for the accomplishment of the object, it is almost impossible for us, nearly unaided as we are in active exertions, to suppress the trade on the coasts of Brazil and Cuba. But we can do much, we have done much, though perfect success we cannot hope for without the co-operation of Spain and Brazil. Whatever may be the public burthens we are willing to incur, we are constantly counteracted and defeated by the connivance and evasions of the local authorities. It would be easy to show that Spain and Brazil might, if they chose, suppress the trade. Brazil made the effort in 1840 and 1841, and the effect was immediate during the period that the Government of Brazil and the authorities acting under the direction of that Government did actively interfere, and did discourage this traffic. During that period there was a great diminution in the number of slaves imported into Brazil. With respect to Cuba, the experience of the last two years proved conclusively that if an honest and active Governor were in earnest to set his face against the Slave Trade, he would, notwithstanding all the incitement to its encouragement which avarice and love of gain interpose, be successful in its ultimate abolition. I do think that the gallant officer who recently administered the affairs of Spain, I mean General Espartero deserves, together with the Government of which he was so distinguished a member, the utmost credit for the efforts which were made to 952 carry the law against the Slave Trade into effect. He appointed an officer, who proved to be a most honourable man, to take the command of the Island of Cuba—General Valdez—who refused to participate in the gains which his predecessors had shared with the slave traders, and who also called all the planters and merchants before him, in order to acquaint them with the orders of his Government, and of his determination to discourage the continuance of that trade. General Valdez adhered most strictly to this determination as long as he administered the Government of Cuba, and the result, I am informed upon the highest authority, was most extraordinary and satisfactory. During the year 1842, when that officer was at Cuba, the importation of slaves did not exceed 3,100, it having been 14,000, in the first year that General Valdez was Governor of the Island. In the second year of his Government the number was reduced 8,000, and in the year 1842 it had fallen, as I before stated, to 3,100. I have thus shewn that when the Government of the Brazils in 1841 acted honestly and exerted itself to suppress the Slave Trade the effort was successful; and that when the same determination was manifested by the Spanish Government, an honest Governor acting on its instructions was able to suppress it most effectually in Cuba. These instances furnish in my opinion decisive proofs that without the authority of those Governments being interposed for the purpose of putting an end to this traffic success is totally impossible, and that with their concurrence the trade may be speedily and effectually put down. I, therefore, without hesitation, charge the Governments of Spain and of the Brazils with being the sole abettors and encouragers of this crime among all the Christian Powers of the world, and with being exclusively responsible for the sufferings it causes. I do most earnestly hope that the Governments and people of those two countries will, with that regard which is due to their professions of Christianity, feel the grievous responsibility that now rests upon them: that they will consider themselves to be under the eyes of all Europe, and that they are now the only nations calling themselves Christians amongst whom this crime still prevails. But, if higher considerations will not sway them, and if by such motives as those which I have urged 953 the people of Spain and the Brazils will not abstain from this inhuman traffic; if, I repeat, motives of gain are found to prevail over the dictates of justice and humanity amongst them; then let me warn those who persist in this course of the crimes which they are committing, and of the retribution which is certain to follow upon such offences against God and man. Let me remind them of the examples which have been recently afforded of slaves rising in insurrection, let me warn the Government of Spain of the condition of Cuba, where the tenure of power over slaves is more than precarious—where those unhappy beings have been known to declare that death even was preferable to the intolerable evils of slavery—where the application of torture to those who had rebelled had only elicited the confession that slavery itself was the state to which they were irrevocably opposed. The feelings which prompted them to rebel were not those of dissatisfaction at any particular law, or at being obliged to perform a certain amount of labour, or at having to move from one place to another, but the total denial on their part of the right of one man to hold another in slavery, a sentiment which it is stated is now spreading throughout a slave population that exceeds in number those who hold them in slavery. They are animated it is said, by a determination to emancipate themselves, and the most determined amongst them, and the most active are, those who have been most recently brought from Africa, and who, though entirely uneducated, and unable to form a general combination are smarting under the pangs which they had endured in being torn from their homes and their families. They have communicated the sentiments which I have described to their fellow-sufferers, a great impulse has been given to the negroe mind, and if higher and purer motives fail to influence the Governments of Spain or the Brazils, those of interest and policy must force themselves on consideration. What I am now stating is the truth and nothing but the truth, with respect to the state of the slave population in Cuba, and the feelings which I have described to exist there, are only repressed by the military, and by the extreme rigour of the law, which is enforced and sustained in a manner, which I shall not here stop to detail, but which only confirms my impression with respect to the future. I therefore, 954 viewing all these circumstances, think it right to make this appeal, in the face of the British Parliament, to those two nations who are now alone responsible for the continuance of the traffic, and I make this appeal, but more on consideration of duty and of submission to the declared will of that Great Being, whom they in common with ourselves forget to worship, than on considerations of sound policy and enlightened self-interest. I trust I have said enough to show that public men in this country are not disunited when they approach this great question, but that on both sides of this House we are alike the organs of public opinion in England. That public opinion reacts upon other parts of the world, and being thus expressed, must add to the difficulty and danger that attend the prosecution of the traffic in slaves. I now approach the consideration of the very invidious contrast which the noble Lord has thought proper to draw between the conduct of the present Government and of the Cabinet of which he was a member. Whatever difference there may ultimately be proved to exist between the lines of conduct respectively pursued by us with regard to this important subject, there is none to be found in our principles; and, whatever may be the accusations against me of the noble Lord, I shall certainly not deny him the credit which is due to the efforts made by him to induce other countries to join this in making an attempt to suppress the Slave Trade. I am, however, fully prepared to defend the acts of Government in this respect also. The great ground upon which the noble Lord's strictures were based was, the conduct of the Government in regard to the last treaty entered into with France in 1841 for the suppression of the Slave Trade. In the year 1838, France concurred with this country as to the policy of inviting the other European states to unite in suppressing the Slave Trade, and of inducing them to join in a common league for this purpose. France was, at that time, willing to concede the Right of Search. No objection was offered by her on the score of national honour. We called upon France to make no sacrifice, in this respect, which we were not prepared as a nation to concede to a much greater extent. France must admit we had no motive in suppressing the Slave Trade except a sense of public duty, and that 955 no country could suffer more, if considerations of national dignity were to interpose, on account of the extent of our marine, and consequently the greater frequency of the visits to which we must be subjected. France, therefore, did give, not a reluctant, but a cordial assent to the proposal to enter into a common league, and for the right of search. The noble Lord said the treaty was made ready for signature, and was signed on the part of the French Government by the representative of that Government having full authority; there was no allegation that that representative had exceeded his power; and certainly, under the ordinary rules which governed transactions of this description, we had a fair right to expect that a treaty so signed would have been ratified. So far as the King of the French and the Government of France were concerned, I believe every honest effort was made to fulfil that expectation. But certain feelings of national pride did oppose themselves to the ratification of that treaty, and for raising those feelings I hold the noble Lord responsible. Before the ratification of that treaty, that important event occurred which interrupted for a time the cordial and friendly relations between France and this country. I will not enter into the policy of the treaty of July, 1840—it is beside the present question; nor will I enter into the policy of the campaign in Syria. But engagements were entered into between this country and three others, to the exclusion of France, with respect to Syria. Whether that were a politic treaty, or whether it were not, I have merely to state the fact, that it was the sole cause of the representatives of France having placed obstacles in the way of Ratifying the Slave Trade Treaty, and I must here declare that those obstructions did not proceed from the Government or the Court there, but were bonâ fide the effect of popular sentiment, which the King of the French could not restrain or suppress. Can the noble Lord have forgotten the debate which took place in the French Chamber relative to this matter. Can he have forgotten the speech of M. Thiers on this subject? M. Thiers said,He was not the Minister, either in 1838 or 1839, when this arrangement was first in contemplation. He was however informed by their Ambassador at London that the protocol was signed and everything arranged for the 956 signature of reciprocal engagements relating to the Slave Trade. But (said he) I wrote to the Ambassador of France that I was about to examine this matter,—that I had a long time neglected and but little understood it; but, for myself, I had the greatest reluctance to sign a treaty with a Government which had so conducted itself as that Government had done with respect to the treaty of the 15th July.In the same speech M. Thiers also added,He was quite ready to admit that from 1831 to 1838 might have been notice sufficient to justify the concession then made; but he did not understand how, in 1841 and 1842, after the treaty of the 15th July, the enormous concessions contained in the treaty relative to the Right of Search would be justifiable.That was the opinion of the Minister of France, speaking in the year 1842, respecting events which occurred during his Government. The language of M. Berryer and other heads of parties was of the same tenor. Then, I say, if we could not get a ratification of the Treaty signed in December, 1841, the noble Lord is the cause of its non-ratification. The Treaty of the 15th July, 1840, which interrupted our friendly relations with France, was the cause of that excitement in the public mind which, being represented and having its effect in the Chamber, prevented the Government from ratifying the Treaty. The noble Lord said he would not call upon us to go to war on account of the non-ratification of the Treaty. If the noble Lord admits that, I must say I doubt the policy of further remonstrance if we are not ready to follow it up with something more decisive. The noble Lord may pride himself on the Syrian campaign, and the Treaty of the 15th of July, but he is the last person who ought to taunt the present Government with difficulties which have arisen on account of the hostile feelings which the noble Lord's measure occasioned in France. Year after year in the Queen's Speeches the noble Lord took credit to himself, and congratulated the country on the maintenance of a good understanding with France. It is for the noble Lord therefore to state, and I have never yet heard it fully stated, what were the reasons which interrupted the understanding of which for many years the noble Lord was so justly proud. The next point which the noble Lord urged as a proof that we had not made those advances towards effectually suppressing the 957 Slave Trade, which he considers we were bound to do, is the fact of our not having taken the same view that he did with respect to the barracoons on the coast of Africa. The noble Lord described his proceedings very summarily, by stating that he gave the officers in command of the cruising vessels stationed there orders to seize the barracoons, carry off the negroes they found in them, and to destroy those receptacles without regard to the strict letter of the Law of Nations, or being too nice in that respect. No doubt we are a powerful country, and it is possible to land on the coast of Africa and destroy these places, but it is important for us to ascertain whether the Laws of Nations or Conventions justify such acts as these. They may be savage nations, and may make no demands on us, but there are European interests on the coasts of Africa; and if we choose to disregard the laws which govern the intercourse between nations, we may have to decide whether we will persevere in the acts we have committed, resolved to sanction or defend them at all hazards, or on complaint acknowledge that we are wrong and make compensation. The ordinary course in such points is to take the opinion of the legal authority who is the adviser of the Crown in civil matters. This very question was referred to the Queen's Advocate. He was told that we were most anxious to exercise every power we possessed for the purpose of destroying these barracoons; that it was said that no law gave us a right to do this; that if lives were lost, and we could be amenable to any tribunal, we should be chargeable as murderers; and he was asked whether the Law of Nations justified us in destroying these barracoons. His opinion was to this effect; "Unless you have a convention with the native African princes, you are not entitled to destroy the barracoons; this is not an act of piracy which the Law of Nations would take notice of, and if a murder be committed, you will be responsible for the Act." Under these circumstances, we did think it right to give information to our naval officers that if they did destroy these barracoons they would do it without sufficient legal authority, and we did advise them to abstain from it until they were justified in it by the circumstance mentioned by the Queen's Advocate, as it was the opinion of that authority that unless we had a treaty with the native princes, such an act was not justify- 958 able. But, at the same time, we informed them, that "Wherever you can make such a treaty—with the free will and consent of the native princes—in that case the destruction of the barracoons is justifiable." Now I ask, under these circumstances, whether there is good grounds for the noble Lord's imputations on the Government? I say ours is the wiser course. The noble Lord might perhaps liberate here and there a thousand slaves, and alarm the slave-traders of Cuba by exercising powers beyond the law. But, in my opinion, it is better to exhibit ourselves to the native African princes as bound by the same rules with other Powers, and that whatever may be the extent of our power, we will not effect even good and laudable objects except in the spirit of law and justice. The next point to which the noble Lord referred, was a measure which he appeared to think was eminently absurd—and that was, the increase of the naval force on the coast of Africa, to prevent the departure of vessels laden with slaves. The noble Lord may be able to form a very competent opinion on that point, but, I can only say, that if he denounces this as an ineffectual measure, his opinion varies from the opinion of various distinguished naval officers, who have served on the coast of Africa, and who concur in representing to the Government, that the most effectual measure that can be adopted for the suppression of the Slave Trade, is to have a force stationed on the coast of Africa, whose efforts should be directed to prevent the departure of slave ships. That is the opinion of Captain Matson, who I believe is a most distinguished naval officer, and most competent to form a judgment upon this point. The noble Lord seemed to think it disqualified that gentleman that he had served on the coast of Africa; but I cannot conceive any better means of qualifying a man to form a good opinion on the subject than such a service. Captain Matson says the present arrangements on the coast of Africa are most inefficient. You appoint separate commands, he then explains, but the Slave Trade is carried on; that there is a constant communication over the whole coast of Africa between the confederates of the Slave Trade; that they just watch an opportunity when our vessels are at a particular part of the coast; that they convey their information by means of signals, and then carry on 959 the Slave Trade: but, says Captain Matson,—If a greater force than there now is were placed there under a superintending control, no notice given of the particular station to which they were allotted, but to occupy various positions, and to watch the whole coast, he would undertake to say that in two years you would do more to suppress the Slave Trade than if five times the same force were sent out to the coasts of Brazil and Cuba.Captain Denman gives his opinion in the very same terms; he is an officer equally distinguished, having great experience on that coast, and he details the mode in which the Slave Trade is carried on, in which these wretched beings are brought to the coast for the purpose of being shipped to Cuba or Brazil, and he gives the same opinion as Captain Matson. Captain Tucker speaks in the same way. These three distinguished officers then, without any concert between them, but each giving their own spontaneous views of the policy to be adopted, come to the same conclusion, and say that it is in vain to have large vessels with masts that can be seen at a great distance, advise smaller vessels to be employed, and ask for permission to purchase the Portuguese vessels which were condemned there; that was the only mode in which they thought an effectual check could be put to the Slave Trade. Acting then upon that authority, and knowing how great the line of the coast is, we have felt it to be our duty to make this experiment, and in a rigorous manner; in order to suppress the Slave Trade. But this was not the opinion alone upon which the Government acted—we did not take it for granted that this opinion must be correct—the authority to which we referred this point was the honoured authority of my right hon. Friend, Sir George Cockburn, and who, I believe, having seen the statements of these naval officers, took time, as his habit is, to consider the subject, and not to give a precipitate opinion, and upon that opinion we came to the conclusion, not that we should inevitably suppress the Slave Trade, but that there would be a greater chance of doing it by an increase of ships on the coast of Africa than on the coast of Cuba or Brazil. I appeal then to the House, whether or no the imputations which the noble Lord has thrown upon the Government are not without foundation, and whether the unfavourable con- 960 trast which he has drawn between the acts of the present Government and their predecessors is not founded in error? I am not aware there is any other point which the noble Lord mentioned in connexion with the suppression of the Slave Trade, but at the same time I must observe that the noble Lord is wrong in supposing that it follows as a matter of course, that because we are to have a larger force on the coast of Africa, we must withdraw all precautions from the coasts of Cuba and Brazil. There is this great advantage in having a large force on the African coast,—that if you are acting on the coast of Brazil or Cuba, there is a constant demand upon you for the application of your power to other purposes—with every wish to make a great sacrifice to suppress the Slave Trade, yet upon those coasts some demands will be made connected with the protection of the lives and property of Her Majesty's subjects, to which you cannot but pay attention. There is a war between Buenos Ayres and Montevideo, the lives and property of Her Majesty's subjects are in danger. The force destined to take precautions against the Slave Trade in Brazil is suddenly required to leave the station to which it is appointed, and so far to interfere as to prevent any injury to Her Majesty's subjects. You may say they ought not to attend to these requisitions, but I am afraid that according to the ordinary course of affairs there would be a temporary withdrawal of any force you might station off Cuba or Brazil; and, therefore, you would have a greater chance of continued action in Africa from its local position than you could have from Brazil or Cuba. It does not follow that we should give up all precautionary measures in Cuba or Brazil; but I agree with the noble Lord, that if we entirely withdrew our force from these places and trusted altogether to precautionary measures in Africa, there would be a great fear of evasion, and that ships might be laden with slaves. I should, therefore, by no means advocate an immediate cessation of precautionary measures in Cuba or Brazil. But considering at what great cost and sacrifice this country has undertaken this duty of police, a feeling of honour, duty, and independence ought to induce Brazil and Spain to undertake for themselves their share of it, with a view to the positive prohibition of the Slave 961 Trade. The noble Lord referred in the course of his speech to the good understanding that exists between France and this country, and the noble Lord says, he is always glad that a good understanding should prevail; but he spoke in terms which seemed hardly calculated to improve or strengthen it. I also entertain the same opinion on that point, and I am sure that it cannot be forwarded by any compromise dishonourable to this country. But at the same time, if with regard to their mutual interests that good understanding between France and England can subsist, it is essential to the interests of civilization, of peace, and of the welfare of the whole civilized world. I believe that it is the earnest wish of the great body of the people of this country to maintain that good understanding so long as they can do so without any sacrifice of honour, or the essential interests of the country. I believe that that is the predominant feeling of this country, and although it may be subject to occasional taunts of making concessions here and concessions there, yet I believe that the feeling of this House and the country is to support the Government in the maintenance of that good understanding, subject to the conditions I before stated. But the House must be aware to what each of these two parties, the Government of France and that of England, is exposed in pursuing that steady, and I think honourable course. In this country we used to be taunted for concessions which we made to France—in France they were taunted for concessions which she made to England; and there are parties who seem to have their own peace of mind disturbed by any such good understanding, and desirous to do everything in their power to inflame and to taunt, forgetting the honour of their own country, and throwing every impediment they can in the way of that course which leads to an honourable peace and the preservation of mutual interests. Then, says the noble Lord, it is a great misfortune we did not unite for the purpose of inviting Brazil and Spain to abolish the Slave Trade. I give credit to France for desiring that abolition. I believe she had as sincere a desire for promoting the abolition of the Slave Trade as this country. I am quite sure that her interest is not opposed to that abolition. I believe the wishes of her enlightened Government are in fa- 962 vour of it, and were France united with us in inculcating on Spain and Brazil the necessity of their observing treaties, I assure the noble Lord that it would not be neglected by us. We have brought before the Spanish Government the conduct of the present governor of Cuba in dishonourable contrast with the conduct of General Valdez, and we have told the Governments of Spain and Brazil that we must insist on the fulfilment of the treaties we have made with those two countries, which imposed upon them a duty, not merely a moral duty, but a duty which they have contracted with us to perform, and for which we have given an equivalent, a duty imposed upon them, not by a moral consideration merely, but the obligation of a Treaty, to adopt such measures as would lead to the abolition of the Slave Trade. Then the noble Lord says he wishes we had combined with France to release the oppressed from their fetters, but not to enslave the free. Where can the noble Lord find any ground for that imputation that there was any combination between France and this country to enslave the free? Does he think it can be for the interest of France or of this country, governed as they are by free institutions, to see a despotic Government established in Spain? For my part, I wish that Spain may be governed by free institutions. I believe that such institutions under the superintendence of a limited monarchy is the best guarantee of peace of Spain with other countries, and of her restoration to that high position which she once occupied amongst the nations of the world; and France, I think, can have no other advantage with respect to those institutions than this country has. But does the noble Lord think it would have been right for us to have interfered actively for the maintenance of General Espartero in Spain? I hold the character and services of General Espartero in high respect. I think he was an honourable man—that he was doing his duty towards Spain, and being determined to obtain for it a constitutional government, he would not assume to himself powers at the time of a political crisis which the constitution forbad him to assume. Probably his forbearance and moderation, unsuited to Spain, may have led to the termination of his rule; but whatever our grateful acknowledgments to General Espartero may be for the friendly feelings he manifested to this 963 country—whatever our respect for his forbearance and determination to govern according to the Constitution, and for his intention to place the power in the hands of the infant Sovereign when she was entitled to exercise it, and to abdicate for himself all the powers he held, with all these acknowledgments — if the noble Lord means to say that we should have actively interfered to maintain General Espartero in Spain,—that we should have actively interposed there, I totally differ from the noble Lord upon that point. I think that no country should resort to that kind of domestic intermeddling. I conceive then that the imputation thrown out by the noble Lord upon the Government, that they have combined with France to enslave the free, so far as it applies to Spain was as groundless as his other charges. We have always held the opinion that the people of Spain are the proper judges of the domestic government they will have, but that we will support the Government so long as we can by advice when called for, and they manifest a friendly disposition towards us, but I protest against the doctrine of the noble Lord, that it is the duty of England actively to interfere, for the purpose of dictating any form of Government to Spain. If I have mistaken what the noble Lord meant by the expression, which was very strong, of our combining with France to enslave the free, I am sorry for it; but that is the inference I draw from the observation of the noble Lord. I do not recollect that there was any other point referred to by the noble Lord which I have omitted to notice, except the noble Lord's peroration, which I think was the main object of the noble Lord in making his speech. I think the noble Lord admires it very much, because he would have hardly made such a trumpery Motion as this for Papers, which I assure the noble Lord I gave directions to be furnished as soon as I saw his Motion, were it not for that peroration. Perhaps the noble Lord would wish to add to the Papers an account of the condemnations at Sierra Leone and the other courts; for, seeing the noble Lord's motives, and concurring with him as to the horrors of the Slave Trade, I was considering in which way I could give effect to his Motion. But what ground has he for his accusations against the Government? I will go through them all. First, there is the French Treaty of 1831; secondly, the 964 destruction of the Barracoons; and, thirdly, the increase of the force on the coast of Africa. I really think I have shown that the noble Lord has not one single ground for his accusations against the Government; but then the noble Lord had only that ground for the peroration of the speech he intended to have made in March. He had prepared it at that time, and had since been repeating it to himself, and did not wish to lose the opportunity of making it; and then the noble Lord took for the foundation of his peroration something which I said two years ago, that those who consented to make the sacrifice which office imposed, and who had to undergo the toils of it, looked not to the power which they exercised, or the pecuniary reward they might receive, but to the hope of establishing a claim to the gratitude of their country by their services; and the noble Lord then says that I did not mean merely that fame which rests upon human opinion, but that I must have had regard to those higher considerations which are connected with a sense of duty. I believe that permanent fame can only be acquired by performing the obligations of public duty. I think all that sort of fame which depends on temporary popularity is exceedingly evanescent. I believe the only way in which it can be gained is by pursuing that course to which the noble Lord referred, and regardless of temporary popularity. Therefore, when I said that I and other public men looked for a permanent reputation as a reward for public labour, I meant to imply that their labour should be conducive to the welfare of their country, and prompted by that high sense of duty to which the noble Lord alluded. But then, said the noble Lord, "You have cut off, by proceeding in your present path, many of the avenues to fame, for," he said, "as to increasing the commerce of the country, or to loosing commercial enterprise from the shackles that bound it, it was impossible for me to do it, on account of the parties with whom I am connected." But we have, at any rate, done a great deal more than the noble Lord, or than he ever contemplated until his expiring moments, when it was necessary to make a desperate effort to secure a reputation by becoming a free trader, and "releasing commerce from the shackles that bound it." But in 1841, when the noble Lord's Ministerial ex- 965 istence was in the greatest peril, it was hardly till then that we heard of these magnificent declarations of commercial liberty which the noble Lord tells me we cannot obtain. But I repeat it again, that we have done more without destroying any existing interests, though they were frightened at first—we have done more for the relaxation of commerce, and contributed more to the restoration of commercial prosperity, than any Government that has preceded us. Then the noble Lord says we cannot do justice to Ireland. He referred to the emancipation of the Roman Catholics from the civil disabilities under which they laboured, and says we cannot do them justice. The noble Lord should scarcely have addressed that to me, for without claiming credit for differing from the course I had previously taken, so far as the measure for removing those disabilities was concerned, and encountering the hazard of such a step, I think the noble Lord had no great right to taunt me with not doing justice to Ireland. The noble Lord then made reference to the Motion respecting the Irish Church last year. I recollect the speech of the noble Lord on that Occasion, in which he stated distinctly that he was perfectly ready to maintain the Church as he found it. The noble Lord thought there would be no advantage from any such measure as that which the hon. Member for Sheffield proposed; and he made a very stout speech on the maintenance of the Church in its present state. I therefore cannot well understand the taunt of the noble Lord upon that subject. Then he says the opposition of the parties by whom I am surrounded prevented my suggesting any measure of education for the people. We made the attempt last year, and I cannot say we were defeated by any hon. Members on this side of the House. We made the attempt last year to establish a system of education on a great scale—there were obstacles in the way of the measure, but it was not opposed on this side. However, the attempt we did make, and, if it were so very limited, the greater the misfortune that it was so opposed. [Lord Palmerston: Our objection was to the principle.] Oh! the principle; but I do not wish to revive that debate. We proposed an extensive measure, it was opposed by the noble Lord and other Gentlemen on his side of the House; but it was not on account of any opposition from Gentlemen on this side 966 that it was defeated. But the noble Lord said there were four great avenues leading to fame which were open to us. The first was the removal of the grievances under which the Roman Catholics laboured; the second was the Irish Church; the third was loosing the shackles that bound commercial enterprise; and the fourth was some plan of general education. But, said the noble Lord, all these avenues are closed to you,—but there is still an avenue open to permanent distinction—an effectual measure for the suppression of the Slave Trade. I assure the noble Lord that the Government are resolved, if that be the only avenue by which they can hope to acquire lasting reputation and permanent honour, that they will not neglect to enter it. They feel deeply impressed with the importance of the subject—not from any narrow, exclusive interests of this country—not from the absurd imputation that, having abolished slavery in our own dominions, we have some interest in the Slave Trade being carried on by other countries—not from those imputations which ignorant and unjust persons may throw upon this country,—for they have a right to refer to the efforts this country has made to abolish the Slave Trade in our own dominions, and to overlook all such imputations,—but our position as to the Slave Trade is peculiar. In any attempt we make to suppress the Slave Trade we must endeavour to suppress it by means recognized and sanctioned by the Law of Nations. We must not in a hasty and inconsiderate attempt to suppress the Slave Trade unduly and unjustly hazard the maintenance of amicable relations with other Powers. To injure those relations by any injustice on our part will only impede the attainment of the objects we have in view. We must keep ourselves in the right, and impress on others the necessity of observing moral engagements for the suppression of this trade; but with the reservation that we should proceed temperately and justly, that we should act upon the Law of Nations, and ask for nothing more than positive engagements give us a right to obtain, that we should observe the principles of justice towards the weak as well as the strong—with this reservation, I assure the noble Lord and the House that the Government are deeply impressed with both the duty and policy, from the highest considerations of the public welfare of 967 suppressing the Slave Trade, and if that be the avenue to fame, it will be open to us so far as constant and persevering exertions can insure the means of securing it.
§ Sir C. Napier
wished to ask what instructions had been given to British cruisers on the American coast, and whether if an English vessel saw a vessel hoisting the American flag, she would have any right to board her—not to search her, but to ascertain whether she was bonâ fide an American vessel? He regretted, as much as did the noble Lord, the failure of the treaty between this country and France; but he did not think it fair on the part of the right hon. Baronet to taunt his noble Friend with being the cause of that failure. France had carried on for a considerable time, in concert with this country, what he might term a "promenade" in the Levant; the most amicable feeling subsisted between the squadrons of the two countries; but France thought fit to refuse to ratify this treaty. He regretted that; but he did not think the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) was justified in attributing that failure to the noble Lord (Lord Palmerston). One would suppose, from the speech of the right hon. Baronet, that England had broken with France, whereas it was quite the contrary, France having broken with England. With respect to the prevention of the Slave Trade, he hoped the right hon. and gallant Member opposite would inform the House on the subject of the instructions given to the British cruizers.
§ Sir R. Peel
trusted his right hon. Friend would not give the required explanation. We had received no particulars of the instructions furnished by the American Government to their cruisers, and he did not see the expediency of giving such an answer as was sought for by the hon. and gallant Member. The last accounts which had been received were of a satisfactory nature. Captain Foot's letter to the American commodore, offering his cordial co-operation to prevent slavery, had been met in a friendly spirit, and Her Majesty's Government had been assured that every hope existed of a continuance of the friendly understanding which at present existed with the cruisers of the United States. As he could not give the hon. and gallant Officer the particulars of the instructions, so he hoped his right hon. 968 Friend who had been appealed to would follow this example.
§ Mr. Borthwick
thought it was of the utmost importance that the plan of the noble Lord and the right hon. Baronet, since they appeared agreed on the same plan, should be immediately adopted against Spain and Brazils, which were the only two outstanding powers who did not join to put an end to the odious traffic. He was glad to see that the speech of the right hon. Baronet displayed equal firmness and caution, for it appeared to him that the want of due caution had been mainly the cause of the evils and impediments which had occurred. It had been said that Spain was under peculiar obligations to join this country and other Powers in putting an end to the Slave Trade; but the noble Lord had for the first time made an admission that it was the influence of this country brought to bear on one of two conflicting parties in Spain, which had led to the triumph of the Queen and liberty. He did not think, however, that either the noble Lord or the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) had any right to say that Don Carlos was more the representative of despotism than Queen Isabella. The one talked about the Inquisition: the other established it.
§ Captain Pechell
said, the right hon. Baronet had, with his usual caution, prevented the First Naval Lord of the Admiralty giving a reply to the question of his hon. and gallant Friend. He was most anxious to have an explanation of this part of the question, of how the officers on service were to conduct themselves on this difficult question? He concurred in the plan for increasing the force on the coast of Africa, and he approved of the determination not to leave the coasts of Brazil and Cuba unwatched. He was very glad to find American vessels co-operating with ours, and he hoped this good feeling would continue. With respect to the exertions of the noble Lord (Lord Palmerston) to suppress slavery, he thought the thanks of the whole of civilised Europe were due to that noble Lord for putting down the detestable traffic.
§ Viscount Palmerston
thought the right hon. Baronet at the beginning of his speech, did injustice to himself in complaining that the notice of the Motion did not afford him an opportunity of preparing himself for all the subjects adverted to in his speech; for every one who knew 969 the resources and great powers of the right hon. Baronet must be aware that it was next to impossible to take him at a disadvantage on any matter connected with his public office, even though no previous notice was given to him. But the right hon. Baronet had also done him an injustice, for upwards of a week ago he had stated to the right hon. Baronet his intention, when the Motion came on, to discuss the whole question of the Slave Trade. He was very unwilling to let the Session go by without referring to this important subject; and he wished to bring it forward because he thought the present Government had not shown the same energy as their predecessors, and had not done so much to accomplish the extinction of slavery. In bringing forward the subject he should have felt greater pleasure in receiving a complete answer to any insinuations or accusations against the Government which he might have thrown out, than in gaining a party triumph. He assured the right hon. Baronet it would have been the source of far greater satisfaction to him to hear the Government vindicate themselves from the charge of supineness and want of energy, than to find that his charges were established. With regard to the topics which had been referred to, the right hon. Baronet had answered some satisfactorily, others not quite so in some respects. He alluded to the explanation in regard to the refusal of the French Government to ratify the Treaty after it was signed. He readily admitted it was not proper for this refusal to make any difference in the friendly relations between the two countries; but he did think it would have been proper to have put a friendly protestation on record to prevent the proceeding from being drawn into a precedent. The right hon. Baronet said he was responsible for the non-fulfilment of that Treaty. He could not consent to admit that this was correct. As to the relations between France and England, he would venture to assert there was no man living who attached greater importance to the maintenance of cordial relations between the two countries than himself, and for a great number of years the right hon. Baronet admitted that this cordial union did exist. The right hon. Baronet, however, had asserted, it was his fault that this cordiality ceased, and that it was owing to some act of his that the cordiality between the two countries was put an end 970 to. He did not admit the accuracy of that assertion. What was the history of the negotiation? He would not go into the details of the Syrain negotiation, but it was well known that at the commenceent of the negotiations between England and France, each country had the same objects in view. He would remind the House, that at the beginning the proposition of the French government was, with other powers, to sign a declaration to maintain the integrity of the Turkish empire. Would the right hon. Baronet venture to question the policy which led the late Government to the resolution to maintain the integrity of the Turkish empire? No one who sat on the other side of the House would say he disapproved of the policy which had for its object the maintenance of the Turkish empire, and the conservation of the peace of Europe. It was admitted in the French chamber that not England but France had abandoned her original policy, He did not say this by way of reproach; he alluded to it merely as a fact, that France was the power which had abandoned the course of policy on which she first embarked. He admitted that the change that afterwards took place did create irritation in the mind of the French nation. No one man regretted the circumstance at the time nice than he did; but, because irritation arose, that was no reason why England should have desisted from the course of policy which she had entered upon. The change of policy did irritate the French nation to a certain extent, and this he was not disposed to deny; but this was not the reason why the Treaty was not ratified. Had the present Government signed the Treaty soon after they came into office, the Treaty would have been in force. It was this delay which caused the Treaty eventually not to be ratified. He had heard with pleasure the intention of Government to reinforce the squadron off the coast of Africa; and it was because he was under the impression that an intention existed of withdrawing the cruizers from the coast of Cuba and Brazil, that he made some observations in his opening speech. He quite agreed with the statement, that it was most important to guard the African coast, and to take the slave ships before they got the slaves on board, as by this means the horrors of the passage would be prevented. But what he also contended for was, that it would be un- 971 wise to withdraw the cruisers from the coasts of Cuba and Brazil; and he was now glad to find that with respect to this proceeding he had misconstrued the intentions of Government. As to the application of the force, there could be but one opinion on hearing the name of the distinguished officer. The right hon. Baronet had said that uncivilised tribes on the coast of Africa must observe the international laws which were consecrated by the usages of Europe; but in the course of the present Session, in a discussion on the affairs of India, when the matter treated of was the mode in which we were to conduct ourselves towards the Ameers of Scinde, the right hon. Baronet had said that the Laws of Nations applicable to Europe could not be applied in all their vigour to such half-civilised people as the people of Scinde. He was glad to find that he and the right hon. Baronet were not likely to differ as to the question of barracoons. It was useful that slave-traders should know that it was the intention of the Government to avail themselves of the power which the convention with the native chiefs gave, of rooting out those nests of pirates which infested that part of the African coast. He was exceedingly glad to hear a confirmation of the good effects of the distinguished administration of General Valdez in Cuba. If the Spanish governors were honestly disposed to do their duty, the task of the British Government in the suppression of the Slave Trade would be light indeed. He trusted that the course of friendly representation and strong remonstrance which the Government intended to pursue towards the governments of Spain and Brazil would produce the effect of awakening those governments to a sense of the obligations which they owed, not merely to us, but to themselves and to the faith of treaties. In allusion to what he had stated in his peroration, the right hon. Baronet had said, with regard to our commerce, that his Government had abolished more restrictions than their predecessors. Without disputing the arithmetical correctness of that statement, who was it that prevented them? He would say to the right hon. Baronet, "Is it not too bad, that persons who, when we were in office, prevented us from removing those restrictions, should now boast that the same majority which enabled them to tie our hands enabled them to pursue the course we wished to 972 adopt." To be sure they were aided by unexpected assistance from other quarters which was not only necessary, but acceptable. He hoped, however, that the leaders of the Government would be encouraged by the success which had hitherto attended their efforts to carry out the views they professed; and that next year at this time, they would have greater reason to boast of their achievements. Then, with regard to the question of education, the right hon. Baronet had stated that the Government proposed a scheme of education which was defeated by an opposition not emanating from their own immediate supporters. He contended that that scheme of education was so clogged by restrictions that those persons, of all creeds, who wished for a large and enlightened system of education, were unable to give it their concurrence. That scheme of education did not meet the views of the liberal party, and they therefore felt it their duty to oppose it. But he repeated the assertion he had before made, that the prejudices existing amongst the Government themselves, prevented them from proposing a scheme of education on large and comprehensive principles; and it would be remembered, that the right hon. Home Secretary (Sir J. Graham) had distinctly said that he would not go one step further in the way of relaxation with regard to that measure. The right hon. Gentleman had also referred to his observations with respect to Ireland. He had stated that the Government was unable, in consequence of the obstacles they had themselves contributed to raise, to induce contentment amongst the Catholics of Ireland. The right hon. Baronet had reminded the House, that it was mainly owing to him that the Catholics received the great boon of Emancipation. No man could be more sensible of the merit of the right hon. Baronet in that respect than he was; he had always contended that there was a sacrifice, on his part, of private feeling and personal advantage to public duty, which did him the highest and greatest credit; but was it enough to emancipate a great body of men, if you did not practically give them access to those situations to which by law you rendered them eligible. The complaint he made against the Government was, that whatever might be their personal wishes and feelings, they were compelled, owing to the peculiar situation in which 973 they stood, to exclude from all share in the Government 6,000,000 of the people. He had heard with the greatest pleasure, the concluding part of the right hon. Baronet's speech. He was glad that the Motion which he had made, be it too long or too short, had afforded the Government the means of stating those intentions, and feelings, and opinions on the subject of the Slave Trade with which the right hon. Baronet had concluded. He hoped that all nations in the world would see that in England there were not two parties upon this subject—that, however people might differ on domestic questions,—that whatever might be their opinion on foreign questions on this question of the Slave Trade, they were united as one man — that let who would be in power, there would be no change of policy—that it was the fixed and settled determination of the British Government that this odious and detestable Slave Trade should be brought to an end. When that was well known—and the speech of the right hon. Baronet, which did him great honour, would have the effect of making it well known—when foreign Governments knew that such was the settled determination of every British Government, and that it would receive the unanimous support of the British Parliament and nation, the resistance which private interests, local prejudices, corrupt feelings of all kinds, had hitherto opposed to the entire suppression of this trade might at length give way; and he could assure the right hon. Baronet, that if his Government should have the merit and the glory of putting a crowning hand to this great work, and should be able to state that by their measure the Slave Trade was either extinguished or brought to an almost imperceptible degree of resistance, no party feelings or personal considerations would diminish the pleasure with which he should receive the announcement or his readiness to give every credit to the Government which made it.
§ Motion with Amendment agreed to.