§ On the question that the Speaker leave the chair, to go into Committee of Supply,
§ MR. CHRISTY
rose to call the attention of the House to the proposed grant of Vancouver's Island to the Hudson's Bay Company. He had taken up this subject, not from any interested motives, but because he believed that the complaints of the settlers were just and well founded. Those complaints had been laid at the foot of the Throne, and he considered that before Vancouver's Island was granted to the Hudson's Bay Company, they should be carefully and thoroughly investigated. In 1670 the Hudson's Bay Company obtained a Charter from Charles II., granting them all the trade and territory east of the Rocky Mountains, and extending to the Oregon boundary on the south. In 1690 they applied for a confirmation of their charter, and an Act of Parliament was passed extending the powers of the charter for seven years. That Act expired in 1697, and, although a Bill for again renewing the charter was submitted to Parliament, so numerous were the petitions against its extension, that the measure was ultimately abandoned. In 1748, petitions were presented to this House against the grasping policy of the Hudson's Bay Company, and they obtained no fresh privileges then. The next stage was when Lord Selkirk, a proprietor in the Company, was desirous of founding a colony of European settlers in that dis- 264 trict; and the colony established by him, now numbering some 10,000 persons, was the only colony existing in this territory. There had been various opinions with respect to the validity of the charter; but he would more particularly call attention to the complaints of these settlers, as forming a ground for withholding any further grant of land to the Company until those complaints had been inquired into. It appeared that these settlers were not allowed to hold land except under certain stipulations; that they were obliged to perform military service; that they had no means of communicating with Great Britain, or importing goods thence, except through the Company, in whose vessels they imported goods to the amount of 30,000l. a year, but whose policy drove them to buy of the United States; that the money of the colony was entirely paper money, the bills of the Company; that the settlers were not allowed to deal in spirits with the Indians. Now, Vancouver's Island, of a grant of which the Crown had held out hopes to the Company, was a place of importance, not only from its coal, but also from the security of the harbours there; while the system of the Company had been utterly opposed to colonisation, as unfavourable to the fur trade. It was not his intention to move an address to the Crown; but he submitted that the grant ought not to be made until Parliament had had on opportunity of expressing its opinion on the subject.
§ MR. HAWES
would not make any reference to what had been said with respect to doubts regarding the validity of the charter, because that was a question to be decided elsewhere; but he could satisfy the House that the arrangement made by the Colonial Secretary was beneficial to the public. Soon after he entered the Colonial Office, many parties manifested a desire to colonise Vancouver's Island. They were invited to send in their plans; but not one of those sent in was accompanied with any thing like a show of security that the parties would be able to carry out the object in view. Several gentlemen continued still in correspondence with the Colonial Office upon the subject; in every instance there was a desire to meet their views; but until the Hudson's Bay Company made their offer, the communications all ended in this—that the parties thought the island might be colonised with great advantage, but that they had not the means of carrying that 265 object into effect. Nor was it surprising; this was one of the most remote spots from this country, considering the route by which alone it could be reached. But a powerful Company, with capital, with ships, with large adjacent possessions, applied to the Colonial Office for a grant of what the called the North West Territory including Vancouver's Island; this was declined; subsequently they sought for a grant of that island. What were the objections to such a grant? Charges had been made against the general administration of the affairs of the Hudson's Bay Company—charges which were brought to the notice of the Colonial Office by a resident who was dissatisfied with that administration. The charges and the Company's defence were carefully considered, and the noble Earl (Earl Grey) came to the conclusion that, though the Company had satisfactorily met the charges, yet, looking at all that had been disclosed in those charges and that defence, the subject deserved further investigation, and a communication was consequently made to the Governor General of Canada to inquire accordingly. Now, let it be remembered that the Company had the exclusive right of trading with the natives of these regions; that they had, at this moment, a very flourishing settlement on Vancouver's Island; that it was not likely to be colonised by private enterprise, not because of its climate and soil being less attractive than those of other colonies, but because the cost of conveying an emigrant to it would be three or four times the cost of conveyance to other colonies. Moreover, the grant was simply a territorial grant; the government of the colony would be a perfectly free one; there would be a governor and an assembly, and the making of laws, and the collection and application of revenue would be altogether in the hands of the assembly, and not of the Hudson's Bay Company. Few, probably, would advocate a considerable grant of public money at this moment to colonise the island. Yet there were strong reasons for taking means to occupy it. Unless occupied speedily by British settlers, and under British auspices and British authority, it would be occupied irregularly. It possessed a considerable mass of good coal, which it was of great importance to have raised without delay. But to open and work mines was a very expensive thing; it was not likely to be done by private individuals. Under these circumstances it 266 was thought desirable to occupy the island by the aid and assistance of the Hudson's Bay Company, who possessed capital, and were inclined to proceed with the undertaking. But the hon. Member said that this grant ought not to have been made until the complaints against the Company had been inquired into. Now, that would have taken considerable time; the district with regard to which they arose was of great extent; it was not thought desirable to leave the island unoccupied pending such inquiries. What, too, were the charges? They were made by an individual; they were very imperfectly sustained by evidence entitled to weight; they were answered completely by the Governor, and still more by documents to which he (Mr. Hawes) would refer. He had alluded to a reference made to the Governor General of Canada. Lord Elgin, on June 6th of the present year, referring to these complaints, relating to the Red River settlement—hundreds of miles from Vancouver's Island—had written thus:—I am bound, however, to state, that the result of the inquiries I have made is highly favourable to the Company, and has left on my mind the impression that the authority which they exercise over the vast and inhospitable region subject to their jurisdiction is, on the whole, very advantageous to the Indians. From Colonel Crofton, who resided for a considerable period at Red River, in command of a detachment of troops, I derived much valuable information with respect to their system of administration. More especially, it would appear to be a settled principle of their policy to discountenance the use of ardent spirits. It is indeed possible that the progress of the Indians towards civilisation may not correspond with the expectations of some of those who are interested in their welfare. But disappointments of this nature are experienced, I fear, in other quarters as well as the territories of the Hudson's Bay Company; and persons to whom the trading privileges of the Company are obnoxious may be tempted to ascribe to their rule the existence of evils which it is altogether beyond their power to remedy. There is too much reason to fear that if the trade were thrown open, and the Indians left to the mercy of the adventurers who might chance to engage in it, their condition would be greatly deteriorated.Lord Elgin referred to information which he had received from Colonel Crofton, who had been resident in the Company's territory for a considerable time, and who said, writing on the 12th of February, 1848—I unhesitatingly assert that the government of the Hudson's Bay Company is mild and protective, and admirably adapted, in my opinion, for the state of society existing in Prince Rupert's Land, where Indians, half-breeds, and Europeans are happily governed, and live protected by laws 267 which I know were mercifully and impartially administered by the recorder and magistrates.The American Government appointed an exploring expedition, which visited these parts; they described the Red River settlement as advancing in civilisation, and flourishing—they visited Vancouver's Island—they travelled through portions of the North West territory—and they bore uniform testimony throughout to the good government by the Hudson's Bay Company of this vast district. The hon. Member spoke of the settlement of the Red River as a failure, said that the Company had not settled or colonised successfully there, and intimated that a company whose object was profit in furs was not a company to whom colonisation ought to be intrusted. At the Red River settlement, with a population of about 5,000, there were to be found four Protestant churches, nine Protestant schools, attended by 500 scholars, four Roman Catholic schools, a Roman Catholic bishop, and several Roman Catholic priests; there had been no backwardness in providing religious instruction. The Company had the island granted to them only upon condition that they formed a settlement or settlements within five years. Past experience in regard to colonics must satisfy any one that the sale of land would not produce funds to carry on the general government and establishment of the colony; and if it was said that they might obtain great advantages by the sale of coal, he would ask why had no private individuals in this ago of enterprise come forward to work it? Why, the cost would probably far exceed what any private individuals would embark for the sake of the small sale likely to take place for years to the vessels trading there; the trade had to be formed; there was no existing demand. If it were said that the grant of the land was of such extreme value, he would point to the conditions—the settlement to be formed, the emigrants to be sent out, the capital necessary to work the coal. If it was supposed that the Company would acquire any great influence by the grant, his answer was that the legislative assembly elected by the inhabitants would hold all the real power of government in its hands. If still objection was made, he trusted he should hear of some other plan of colonising this island; it was of great importance to occupy it; and for a year and a half he had been in communication with parties, and most anxious to promote every attempt to form a free and indepen- 268 dent colony there; but it had not teen his good fortune to meet one single individual possessing the requisite capital or support, and willing to embark in this undertaking. It was thought right, therefore, to accept the offer of this Company to colonise, on condition that they had a territorial grant, stipulating on the other hand for a perfectly free government by a governor, council, and assembly. With regard to the charges made against the Hudson's Bay Company, though he thought they had made a good defence, he still considered that the whole question should be investigated by an impartial party. A gentleman holding the Queen's commission, appointed governor of the settlement of Red River, had been instructed to inquire into these charges and report upon them. Technically, no doubt, he was governor under the Company; but he was an officer in the Queen's Army, and a gentleman of his rank would not be likely to conduct the investigation otherwise than fairly and impartially. To appoint a Commission from this country to inquire, would consume both time and expense. For the satisfaction of parties, and for throwing light upon the condition of that vast and remote district, it seemed desirable to have further inquiry; but, after considering the charges and the evidence in support of them, it had not been thought that they were of such a serious nature as to form a ground on which to refuse the grant of Vancouver's Island.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
said, that nothing but the profound conviction which he entertained that the question before the House involved great public interests, could induce him to delay the Speaker leaving the chair to enable the House to go into a Committee of Supply. He would state at the outset that, although in his opinion the noble Lord at the head of the Colonial Office had committed a most gross error with reference to this matter, yet be believed he had acted only on public grounds, and was uninfluenced by any improper motive. Nevertheless the noble Lord had, with reference to this question, erred in a manner more signal than any person who had ever been intrusted with the administration of colonial affairs had before done in any other instance. The House had heard the speech of the Under Secretary for the Colonies, the organ of the Government upon this occasion, and what did it consist of? Partly of an endeavour to make good the character of the Hudson's Bay Company, and partly of a 269 plea that it was necessary to speedily occupy Vancouver's Island—that the Hudson's Bay Company was the only instrument available for that purpose—and that therefore we ought to avail ourselves of it. If, however, it could be shown that there were valid objections to committing this charge to the Hudson's Bay Company, the House would be justified in calling upon the Government to pause before it completed the arrangement which had been agreed upon. Better act slowly and well, than rashly and mischievously. This was not a question of a day, or year, or a generation; it was a question regarding the fate of an island in which, probably, at some future period, the world might see a powerful State commanding a great portion of the trade between the archipelago of the Pacific and the continent of North America. Without wishing to cry up Vancouver's Island, he felt justified in saying that it was a most valuable possession. Its climate was temperate, and assimilated to that of Great Britain—its soil had not been sufficiently explored to enable any one to determine its character as a whole; but it had been ascertained that a large quantity of it was very fertile, and a considerable portion was ready for immediate use—it abounded in a most valuable mineral—the Pacific afforded the most favourable opportunities for steam navigation, whilst its harbours were of the finest description. The Under Secretary for the Colonies might ask how it happened that if Vancouver's Island offered all these advantages, it had not yet attracted British capital and enterprise to its shores. But it must be borne in mind that it was not determined that the island was subject to British rule until 1846, and since then the domestic circumstances of this country had not been of a nature to encourage the diversion of capital to a distant possession. The Under Secretary for the Colonies let slip an observation which showed the opinion he entertained of the value of Vancouver's Island—the hon. Gentleman said it was necessary to occupy it immediately, otherwise it would be occupied by others. He would now raise the general question as to whether the Hudson's Bay Company were capable of fitly discharging the functions with which the Government was about to intrust them. The world had already had experience in the matter of colonisation by companies. A few nights ago the Under Secretary for the Colonies descanted eloquently on the miserable condition 270 in which South Australia continued, as long as it was subjected to the control of a company. As regarded Vancouver's Island, the Hudson's Bay Company was at once a trading company and a land company. It was an exclusive company in the narrowest and tightest sense in which the word could be applied; and a high authority had said, "Of all expedients which could be found for stunting the trade of a new colony, that of an exclusive company is the most effectual." A land company had an interest in colonisation, but a trading company compelled the colonists to compete with a powerful monopolising body. Upon that ground, the Legislature had deprived the East India Company of its trading powers. The experiment of managing colonies by trading companies had been tried and failed in the old North American colonies; and he might particucularly refer to the cases of Virginia and Massachusetts. The objection to a trading company under such circumstances applied with tenfold force to the Hudson's Bay Company. There never was a case in which the evils of monopoly acquired a more rank development than in the instance of that Company. In the case of the Hudson's Bay Company, the monopoly of land and trade was aggravated by absolutism in politics covered by the cloak of impenetrable secrecy. In the vast British empire all imperial concerns were made public, and particulars relating to all the Queen's subjects were placed upon the tables of both Houses of Parliament, for the information of their Members. But what did any of those whom he was now addressing know, by moans of Parliamentary information, of the Hudson's Bay Company, and the condition of the country—as large as the continent of Europe—which they held under their rule? Absolutely nothing. We knew that they had a charter, and a license to trade; but with respect to the government they had established, the power they exercised, the sanctions by which they enforced that power, the condition of the people, and the laws by which they were regulated—with respect to all these points we knew absolutely nothing. Those who wished to obtain information upon these interesting points, must hunt through the works published by travellers, American exploring expeditions, and missionaries: none could be had in an official shape. The charter granted to the Hudson's Bay Company by Charles II., in 1670, conferred enormous 271 powers upon them on condition that they should present two elks or beavers to the Sovereign of Great Britain whenever he thought proper to visit that portion of his dominions. In 1690 the Company applied to Parliament for a Bill to confirm their powers for ever; but the trading interest of England having got wind of the matter, prevailed upon the Legislature to pass a Bill confirming the Company's powers for seven years only. In 1697 another Bill was introduced for continuing the Company's governing powers, which for some reason not apparent Parliament refused to pass; and from that moment to this the Company possessed no Parliamentary sanction for their governing powers, and the House of Commons was now as free to question them as if no Act had ever been passed on the subject. They had never ventured to maintain their title in a court of law, and they had never occupied more than some portion of the coasts of the territory to which they laid claim; the interior was explored by the French fur traders. When the North West Company established themselves, the Hudson's Bay Company did not dare to go to law with them; but after some bickering the two companies coalesced, and then the Hudson's Company felt themselves again at liberty to carry on the system of absolutism in which they had revelled from the first. He was not speaking without book with respect to this part of the subject, for when the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company were at variance, the latter company took the opinion of Mr. Bearcroft, which was given in these terms:—I am of opinion that the King, without the assent of Parliament, cannot legally grant to any company, or to any individual, an exclusive trade for ever, together with a right to seize the persons and goods of subjects, without process of law; and that such a grant, if made, is illegal and void, and without effect.Sir Vicary Gibbs also gave his opinion as follows:—Such a charter may certainly be good in some cases, but I am of opinion that the charter in question was originally void, because it purports to confer on the Company exclusive privileges of trading, which I think the Crown would not grant without the authority of Parliament.Next came the joint opinion of Sir A. Pigot, Mr. Serjeant Spankie, and Mr. Brougham. Those lawyers declined to touch the question whether the Crown had the power to make a grant of land to the Company, but they go on to say:—Besides that this charter seems to create, or 272 attempt to create, a joint-stock company, and to grant an exclusive right of trading, there are various clauses in the charter, particularly those empowering the company to impose fines and penalties, to seize or confiscate goods and ships, and seize or arrest the persons of interlopers, and compel them to give security in l,000l., Ac, which are altogether illegal, and were always so admitted to be, and among other times, even at the time when the extent of the prerogative in this matter was maintained at its height, to grant an exclusive right to trade abroad; and even if by virtue of their charter they could maintain an exclusive right to trade, we are clearly of opinion that they and their officers, agents, or servants, could not justify any seizure of goods, imposition of fine or penalty, or arrest or imprisonment of the persons of any of His Majesty's subjects. Probably the Company would have some difficulty in finding a legal mode of proceeding against any of those who infringe their alleged exclusive right of trading, or violate their claimed territory; for we hold it to be clear that the methods pointed out by the charter would be illegal, and could not be supported.He would now read to the House an extract of a letter addressed to the then Under Secretary of the Colonies by Messrs. M' Tavish, fraser, and Co., and Messrs. Inglis, Ellice, and Co., on the 1st of February, 1846:—The legal opinions we have taken upon the whole subject in this country are quite decided as to most of the powers granted by the charter to the Hudson's Bay Company, and especially those under which the Company claim to seize persons and confiscate property; they also leave no doubt as to the invalidity of the grant to Lord Selkirk, or to the extension of any grant or power purporting to be made by the charter beyond the immediate confines of the Bay.As far as the Hudson's Bay Company was a trading company, the circumstance was an essential objection to employing them for colonisation purposes. It was of necessity an anti-colonising company, and there could not be grosser folly than to commit the foundation and care of an infant settlement to a body who had interests directly at variance with the prosperity of the colony. What was the object which a fur-trading company had in view? Could it be their wish that the country in which they carried on their operations should be reclaimed and cultivated? On the contrary, it must be kept like a desert. They must, to be sure, cultivate a few spots in order to obtain corn for the support of their cattle and their agents—but as respected the country at large, their interest required that it should be kept just as nature had left it. What was the object of such a company as regarded the native inhabitants of the country? Was it desirable for them that the benevolent purposes of Christianity should be carried out 273 with respect to the roving Indian tribes—that they should be weaned from their erratic habits, comfortably clothed, located in fixed habitations, and made tillers of the soil? On the contrary, it was their interest that the natives should be kept as closely as possible to the barbarous and savage state, because in that condition they were the best hunters. What was the class of men whom the Hudson's Bay Company employed for the transaction of their affairs? What were the habits of mind in which they were trained? They had been educated under an absolute and unmitigated despotism. The noble Lord at the head of the Government laughed at that. The noble Lord seemed to think that a trifling matter. But he thought it was one of serious moment, and the noble Lord ought to regard it in the same light. Surely it was no laughing matter that despotic power should have been exercised for centuries by a company which dared not let the question of their title go into a court of law. When the servants of the Company were to be employed as the agents of colonisation, it was important to know the manner in which they had been trained. Now, it was notorious that they had been subjected to a state of thraldom as nearly approaching slavery as it was possible to make Englishmen submit to. They were even subjected to corporal punishment. It was the practice of the Company to get young men from the Orkneys, and pay them at the rate of 17l. per annum. The Under Secretary for the Colonies had referred to what he called the impartial evidence of Captain Wilkes, the leader of an exploring expedition. Well, the House should hear the evidence of that gentleman as to the fitness of the agents of the Hudson's Bay Company to form a body of free settlers in Vancouver's Island. Captain Wilkes states, that these agents received 17l. a year wages, out of which they have to buy clothing at 80 per cent advance on English prices, together with a considerable portion of their food; and at page 329, vol. iv., of his work, the captain says—They are engaged for five years, and after their time has expired the Company are obliged to send them back to England or Canada, if they desire it. Generally, however, when their time expires, they find themselves in debt, and are obliged to serve an extra time to pay it; and not unfrequently, at the expiration of their engagement, they have become attached or married to some Indian woman, or half-breed, and have children, on which account they find themselves unable to leave, and continue attached to the 274 Company's service, and in all respects under the same engagements as before. If they desire to remain and cultivate land, they are assigned a certain portion, but are still dependent on the Company for many of the necessaries of life, clothing, life. This causes them to become a sort of vassals, and compels them to execute the will of the Company. This is favourable to order and steadiness.That was the evidence of the witness whom the Under Secretary for the Colonies had called in support of his case. It might be supposed that he was unreasonable in saying that a fur-trading company could not be a colonising company; but upon that point he would quote a passage from the memorial of the Hudson Bay proprietors against the Red River settlement. The memorial said—Because, in the event of a settlement of the said territory under the control of any other power than that of the Company, private traffic would be carried on between the settlers and the Indians, and clandestinely with traders from the United States and the Canadas, which no ordinance of the Company would prevent. Besides, it has been found that colonisation is at all times un-favourable to the fur trade.That memorial was signed by William Thwaits, Robert Whitehead, John Inglis, John Fish, Alexander Mackenzie, and Edward Ellice. A fundamental error pervaded the speech of the Under Secretary for the Colonies. The hon. Gentleman seemed to think that those who objected to the Government proposition did so because they begrudged the enormous profits which it was supposed the Hudson's Bay Company would derive from it, and he accordingly applied himself to show that they could not release such great profits. The point was granted at once. The Company would make the colonisation of Vancouver's Island subservient to their main object, the pursuit of the fur trade—the minor interest would be sacrificed to the major. The Company must be, as it had been, anti-colonising. From the first the Company exhibited none of the fair commercial spirit of Englishmen. Reference had been made to the discoveries which the Hudson's Bay Company had been instrumental in making. It is true that, in 1837, they sent out Mr. Simpson, who had been called the discoverer of the North West Passage; but, mark the date. The Company had at that time the exclusive trade, and it was not altogether inexpedient that they should be able to attend to that expedition; but he did not think that they had very generously redeemed the pledge they had given on receiving the charter in the reign of 275 Charles II. Why was that charter given to them? Mainly for the discovery of the North Western Passage. But they had made few efforts for that purpose. He thought they sent out a certain Captain Barlow and a Captain Knight to explore the north of the Bay; and they did so, because the parties threatened that if it were not done they would fit out vessels in England and send them out on their own account. But the discovery of that passage was made the subject of private subscription in the middle of the last century. In 1746 and 1747, two ships, the Dog and the California, were fitted out at the expense of private persons in this country to discover the passage; and it was a matter of great complaint then that, although the Hudson's Bay Company were pledged to it, they had not made efforts to discover whether it were practicable or not. But their endeavour had been to repress the spirit of discovery and prevent the development of the resources of the country. They had heard of the Hudson's Bay Company as a fur-trading company, and the Company would have it appear that there was nothing but fur in that part of America; but Messrs. Robson and Umfreville had written that Hudson's Bay afforded most valuable whale fisheries if the Company would work them. They did not, nor would they' allow others to work them. If the House referred to the writings of those who had visited that country, they would see that there were great mineral resources on the whole on what was called the East Main, and the west coast of America. What had the Company done to develop those resources? They were also told that to the south of the Bay there was abundant opportunity for agricultural settlements. The Company had done nothing for that. For nearly 130 years they had slept on the shores of that great gulf, whilst Frenchmen were exploring the whole of North America beyond them, and had much the larger share of the fur trade with the Indians. Such was the commercial spirit of the Hudson's Bay Company. But he granted there had been a very considerable improvement since the junction with the North Western Company. Almost all knowledge of the interior of North America had been gained and all communications established by that company, and therefore there had been more energy in their proceedings since their partnership with that company and the able persons connected with it, including the right hon. 276 Member for Coventry; but they had acquired no colonising energy. Their interest was against it. It might be said there were two exceptions—the Puget Sound Association, and the Red River Settlement. As to the first he had no authorised means of knowledge, and had not such full information of the state of the settlement, the number of settlers, and quantity of property there, as he could wish. [Mr. HAWES: Very large.] Did the hen. Gentleman suppose that the whole population consisted of 1,000 Europeans? He considered that a very sanguine estimate. But there was a cause for the growth of the Puget Sound establishment. It did not arise out of the general spirit of the Company. It was on the extremity of their territory, and in the next place it was necessary to have a certain quantity of agricultural produce to feed the traders; but, besides that, he believed that the Puget Sound Association was formed in consequence of an arrangement between the Hudson's Bay Company and a Russian settlement. That settlement, being in a climate in which they could find no means of disposing of their produce, made an arrangement with the Hudson's Bay Company to feed them, taking-, he imagined, their furs and other Arctic produce in exchange. Puget Sound Association, therefore, was no exception to the rule. Now as to the Red River settlement. Who founded it? Not the Hudson's Bay Company. When the Company were brought into vigorous competition with the North Western Company, and were able for years to make no dividend, Lord Selkirk brought a large portion of the stock of the Company at a depreciated rate, to the amount of nearly 40,000l. out of 100,000l., and in that manner got a commanding and overpowering interest in the Company. He then made the Company sell him 116,000 square miles of what they considered their territory in North America, with all the powers they could grant; and then he founded the Red River settlement. But what said the Company? Did they favour that colony? No; on the contrary, all the independent members of the Company protested against it. Did the North Western Company favour that colony? He would not refer to the melancholy and tragical scenes that took place when a large portion of the settlers of that colony were cut off in bloody conflict with the Company; but, seeing that the attempt to colonise the Red River was in its origin opposed to the fur trade—they did not 277 deny that—but, after ascertaining the real object which the plans of Lord Selkirk were intended to cover, they did all in their power to render those schemes abortive. Every one who represented the spirit of those Companies, now combined into one, acted on the same principle. And did not the fur-trade interest subside in Vancouver's Island; and yet the Government were determined to give the colonisation of that island to a fur-trading company? What were the terms upon which that Company held their territory? Had they ever sent out a single independent emigrant? Was there anything but a population of their own retired servants, who were so much in debt that they were obliged to remain there in a state of servitude, and could hardly escape from it? He was afraid there was no such thing as a free colonist under the Hudson's Bay Company, and he could show the reason of it. He held in his hand the deed by which, up to the present moment, the settlers of the Company held their land. They paid for the land 12s. 6d. an acre, the land being let to them on a lease for 1,000 years at a peppercorn rent. But upon what conditions? Upon pain of forfeiture of their land if they should not submit to all and every the exclusive trading privileges of the Company—to all the rules and regulations they should make, and to such taxation as the Company imposed. He did not hesitate to say that they surrendered virtually every right and liberty of Englishmen as the condition of holding land under the Company. Was that right or was it wrong? Was it right upon anything less than the clearest declaration of law that such powers should be exercised? Could a tax be levied except upon the clearest evidence of the intention of the highest authority? Was there such evidence here? The charter of Charles II. made no reference whatever to taxation. But the Company received from their settlers the surrender of their constitutional liberties as the price of the laud, having already paid for it sufficiently in money. He trusted that some information would be given upon that point, or they might be asked whether in that part of Her Majesty's dominions they had not slidden back from liberty into those illegal exactions which some years ago had raised so fatal a resistance to the Royal authority of this empire. Need he point to any evidence to show the spirit and intention with which the Hudson's Bay Company were going to 278 enter into this proposed colonisation—it was to be found in the papers which were laid on the table of the House last week. The Company entered upon it with what was vulgarly called a wry face. They did not ask the Government for Vancouver's Island to colonise it. They went to Earl Grey and said they had establishments upon the southern side of the island, which they were annually increasing, and they were anxious to know whether they could be confirmed in the possession of those lands which they wished to add to those they already possessed. That was a moderate request; but Earl Grey suggested it was right that Vancouver's Island should be colonised. Thus thought the Company—he presumed to read their thoughts, for he believed they were sufficiently shown by their proceedings—"Colonisation is undoubtedly a great evil; but if it is to be, it will be better in our hands than in the hands of anybody else, so we shall be able to keep it down to the minimum." What did they do? Suddenly, from asking nothing but to be confirmed in the lands already in their possession, they asked for the whole of the Queen's dominions to the west of the Rocky Mountains. Did they want to colonise the whole at once? No! Why then did they ask for such an extent of territory? To keep out others. That was the purpose of the Hudson's Bay Company. To continue the present system, to make a dividend as in the good old times, to lead an easy and a quiet life—that was their object; and he would show that out of the mouth of Sir John Pelly himself, and that it was not from any sympathy on his part for systematic colonisation. Why, systematic colonisation would become a by-word and a farce in this country if colonisation were to be conducted by such instruments as those which, in the present unhappy instance, had been selected. On the 4th of March, 1848, Sir J. Pelly, in a letter to Earl Grey, said—All that the Hudson's Bay Company required would be the very limited grant of lands which I had in view in my letter to your Lordship of the 7th of September, 1846;"—and, after referring to some conversation which he had with Earl Grey, he saidWhen I understood that you were desirous that a part or the whole of the country recently confirmed to Great Britain, should be colonised, I was induced to propose that the whole should be included in a grant to the Hudson's Bay Company; because I was persuaded that the colonisation would be much more successfully conducted under the auspices of the Company than it could 279 be in any other manner, as I foresaw serious difficulties, should different parts of the territory be colonised under different authorities.And now he could not help observing on the warm imagination with which the Company always contemplated the beauty of monopoly. They always saw great difficulty in colonisation, but absolutism in no other hands than their own was perfect. They saw great danger in free trade; it caused drunkenness; but monopoly secured sobriety—competition and intoxication were in direct alliance. However, when the able and astute negotiator for the Company saw that colonisation was in the wind, he made up his mind with a rapidity that was beyond all praise, and said—"Then give us the whole of the dominions beyond the Rocky Mountains for that purpose." The hon. Gentleman referred to what he thought was a superabundant ground for, he would not say refusing, but postponing this grant to the Hudson's Bay Company—he meant the charges against the Company. He touched that part of the subject with reluctance, because he was not in possession of all the results of the inquiry into the case; but the results, as far as he was possessed of them, he was sorry to say, produced a very different effect upon his mind from that of the hon. Gentleman. He had no suspicion of Earl Grey, or of the hon. Gentleman, on this question. About nine months ago, the person who brought these charges to England, applied to him (Mr. Gladstone), and he said—If you will place them in the hands of Lord Grey, I am persuaded he will submit them to a thorough and sifting investigation.He could not say he was satisfied with the investigation that had taken place, or with the appointment of the Governor of the Red River, although an officer in the British service, to make a report on the validity or invalidity of those serious charges against the Company. He did not think that that gentleman should have been placed in such a position—to send him there as a servant of the Hudson's Bay Company, and at the same time to say to him, "You are to investigate ail these difficult charges "—difficult on account of there being so little communication" and make a report on the merits or demerits of your employers." He believed that the hon. Gentleman had misstated the case. The hon. Gentleman said that Mr. Isbister was the complainant. Now, he 280 held in his hand a printed copy of a memorial signed by five persons, who had come home as the representatives of others at the Red River settlement; and who were they? The hon. Gentleman said, that that settlement contained a population of 5,000 persons. He understood that out of that number there were 571 Indian and half-breed families; and that the complainants were almost exclusively Indians and half-breeds, out of whom 1,000 persons had signed the petition of which Mr. Isbister was the organ; and their allegation was, that in that 1,000 persons were included a large portion of Christian Indians, who had been converted by the missionaries in that country. To say, then, that the petition was the complaint of Mr. Isbister was a statement as wide of the fact as could be conceived. If the statement was false that those persons had sent the petition, then the hon. Gentleman was light; but the representation made to him was to the contrary. But he would not confine himself exclusively to what these complainants said, but would point out a number of those charges against the Company which he met with in different works and publications. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman did not think it important that the Company inflicted capital punishment without authority. Had that been investigated—was it worth investigation—was it important that the Company should suddenly chop off a man's head or not? [Mr. HAWES: Is it true?] The statement made to him was, that in 1845 capital punishment had been inflicted by the Company upon an Indian. Had that been investigated? [Mr. HAWES: It will be.] Then was not that a reason why this matter should be postponed? Was it right or decent to give this colonising operation to an anti-colonising company which exercised absolute powers, which was exempted from the Act of Parliament which did give certain judicial powers, without investigating the truth of that sharge? [Mr. HAWES: It might be under the Act of Parliament.] But if the hon. Gentleman referred to the Act of Parliament, he would find that the marginal note of the 12th section was this:—The power of the Court not to extend to capital offences, nor to civil actions where the amount in issue exceeds 200l.He had shown that it was alleged that capital punishment was inflicted, and the hon. Gentleman said the charge was now in the hands of the Government, and 281 therefore there was no flinching from investigation; but the investigation was not yet made, and yet the Company were to be the objects of this extraordinary grant. The charge of capital punishment without trial was upon the statement of Mr. Simpson. He said—Kindness and conciliation in the intercourse of its officers and servants with Indians of every tribe; an absence of interference in the quarrels of individuals, in the internal disputes of tribes, and in the wars which they may wage with one another; and an invariable rule of avenging the murder by Indians of any of its servants, blood for blood, without trial of any kind—are the three and only principles followed out by the Hudson's Bay Company in its transactions with the numerous inhabitants of the extensive territory under its control; and its sole aim is to derive the greatest possible revenue from that territory.That was a subject of the most serious responsibility. It violated the real equality of right that ought to prevail between man and man, if a company through their agents were able without investigation to put a period to the life of a brother; and that was stated, not in a paragraph inculpatory of the Company, but in a paragraph intended to be laudatory of it. And what were they to say if to those powers was added that of taxation without authority? A company of angels and archangels alone was the only company that could be entrusted with such enormous powers, without risk. Then the wages of the servants of the Company were paid in notes of the Company—convertible not on the banks of the Red River, but in London sixty days after sight. It was also charged against the Company, that whilst they took great care of the fur-bearing animals, they were quite indifferent as to those upon which the roving Indians subsisted; and that there was, in consequence, such a scarcity of food, that cases of starvation were common, and that even sometimes the Indians were driven to cannibalism, not from habit, but from necessity. There might be countries of such hopeless poverty that that might come upon them; but were the wares of the Indians of such little value, that that was a necessary consequence? Was it not a monstrous hardship that we should go into that country, inhabited by a people who had the means of bringing to us commodities the most valuable in our markets, and say to them, "You shall deal with us, and with us alone. England is a country of capital and enterprise, but if we allow competition to enter into the field, you will get the true value of your furs;" and, then, tak- 282 ing advantage of the difference between the market of the Indian and our markets here, should suffer them to starve? Mr. Robson, in his work published about 1750, said that the Company received 2,000 per cent on the beaver skins they purchased from the Indians, and that the consequence was that very few furs were brought to the Company, and the Indians carried them to the Frenchmen in Canada. Umfreville, in 1790, said that a gallon of spirits, which in London cost 20d., purchased furs which fetched here 6l. or 8l.; that a fourpenny comb bought a beaver worth 2l.; a gun that cost 22s., twenty heaver skins worth 32l. 10s.; and other trifling articles in the same proportion. Was it fair, then, to the Indians, whom nature and Providence had placed in possession of those wild districts, and who brought us the fruits and products of them, that they should be compelled to deal with one customer without receiving some compensation for it? Ought they not to have some security against the danger of starvation, or being driven to cannibalism? It was a subject for Parliamentary investigation whether the fur trade required a monopoly; and, he did not now scruple to say, whether the extraordinary powers of the Hudson's Bay Company ought to be left in their hands. He would now refer to the subject of ardent spirits. The Hudson's Bay Company dwelt very much on their efforts to diminish the use of ardent spirits among the occupants of their territory; and they seemed to have impressed Lord Elgin with the opinion that they bad greatly exerted themselves to do so. He was very much disposed to pay great respect to Lord Elgin's opinion, but it seemed to have been formed at second hand; and Members of that House had perhaps better opportunities of obtaining information on this question than Lord Elgin possessed. The statement made by Mr. Isbister was, that in 1837 the quantity of ardent spirits introduced into the territories of the Company was 3,800 gallons, while in 1845 the quantity was 9,000 gallons. If it were true that this increase had taken place within the last few years, he must say that this was a most ugly fact as regarded the dealings of the Hudson's Bay Company, particularly when it was borne in mind that the year 1837 was the year before the renewal of their license was asked for and obtained. He should like to have that fact inquired into. He should like also to know what kind of settlers the 283 Company were likely to send to Vancouver's Island. It was the men who made the colony. What was it that planted the colonies of New England, but the pith and stuff of which their founders were made? If men were sent out there with the feelings and habits of Englishmen—men who were accustomed to act in the light of day—it might be expected that something like a colony would be founded. But what was the system adopted by the Hudson's Bay Company? He had told the House how the memorialists had stated their grievances. He had told them also that five out of the six had actually signed the memorial, the sixth, Mr. Sinclair, having gone hack to America. He must now inform the House that the Company had established in their territory a system of remitting the duties on the articles imported. The occupants of the territory were allowed to import so many pounds worth of British manufactures in the course of the year, and the duty leviable upon them at York Castle was remitted. This was placing in the hands of the Company a power over the action of the settlers which, he must say, was most odious to the ears of Englishmen. The remission or enforcement of these duties was made the means of exercising an influence over the settlers, and of piecing up the holes in a questionable charter. Mr. Sinclair took a part in bringing forward the charges which had been made against the Company. Of course, the Hudson's Bay Company could see nothing but what was outrageous and disreputable in these complaints, and regarded those from whom they proceeded as the scum of the earth. The consequence was, that Mr. Sinclair received the following letter:—Fort Garry, Red River Settlement,August 25, 1845.Mr. JAMES SINCLAIR,Sir—I beg to state, that in a private letter from Mr. Secretary Smith, dated the 18th of April last, and received on the 25th inst., I am requested to acquaint you that no goods will he shipped in your name on hoard the Hudson Bay Company's ship for York factory this season.—I remain. Sir, your most obedient humble servant,ALEXANDER CHRISTIE.The House would understand what the effect of that would be, as the only ships allowed to go to the country were the ships belonging to the Company. He would not say that these matters were proved as facts, but they were allegations of a most serious kind, which ought at once to put an end to any intention on 284 the part of Her Majesty's Government of intrusting these powers to the Hudson's Bay Company until these charges were inquired into, if the Company, instead of being the worst instruments, were the best instruments on the face of the earth for the promotion of colonisation. Another point which he could not pass over was the state of morals which prevailed in the territories of the Hudson's Bay Company; for which he would refer hon. Members to the testimony of Captain Wilkes, an American, who visited the country when engaged on a surveying expedition. He thought that no man could read that gentleman's statement without seeing that the system of the Hudson's Bay Company was most unfavourable to the growth of a healthy moral character. Another person to whose testimony he might refer on this point was Mr. Thomas Simpson, a servant of the Company, whoso observations on the general morality of the country under the sway of the Company would be found at page 81 of his Life. It was said, however, that the Company had made great efforts to spread the growth of Christianity, and improve the morality of the people committed to their charge; and that Lord Elgin had been induced to believe that this was the case. The Company was founded in 1607, and for a short time afterwards efforts were really made to inculcate the principles of Christianity in dealings with the natives. But this Company had now become an enormously extended establishment, and he thought that they had been extremely neglectful of their duties with regard to the religious care of their own officers, and with regard to the religious instruction of those with whom they came in contact. He would just read a short passage from a letter written in 1815 by Governor Semple, who was shortly afterwards slain in a conflict with the North Western Company:—I have trodden the burnt ruins of houses, barns, a mill, a fort, and sharpened stockades, but none of a place of worship oven upon the smallest scale. I blush to say, that over the whole extent of the Hudson's Bay territories, no such building exists. It is surely high time that this foul reproach should be done away from among men belonging to a Christian nation.Now, considering that the Company had divided 70 per cent on a capital augmented nine times, surely it was too much to claim a great deal of credit for them, on account of what they had done in extending religious knowledge up to 1815. But the 285 hon. Gentleman stood on what had been done since 1815; and he said that there were now nine places of worship in their territory, and four schools. The House, however, should be informed that the voluntary societies established and supported by the people of this country for the diffusion of religious knowledge, had found their way into the Hudson's Bay Company's territories, and that a missionary who had been sent out by the Church Missionary Society was dignified at the settlement of the Red River with the name of the "Company's Chaplain." He did not doubt that the Company made him some allowance; but the House would find that this missionary was rated on the books of the Church Missionary Society He did not mean to say that the Company had done nothing for the diffusion of religious information; but the bulk of what had been done was done by the public of this country, and not by the Hudson's Bay Company. He would read the evidence furnished on this point by an extract from the Bishop of Montreal's journal, which was written in 1844. The bishop had just been visiting the Red River settlement, and was on the best terms with the Company and its officers, and the whole book was pervaded by a tone of gentleness and mildness. He said—There is not one clergyman of the Church of England on the farther side of the Rocky Mountains. The Hudson's Bay Company did at one time maintain a chaplain at Fort Vancouver—they have ceased to do so. Within their own proper territories they have one, namely, at the Red River; so that in Hudson's Bay itself there is none.Perhaps, however, the hon. Gentleman would say that there were ministers of other religious denominations established in the Company's territories. He could not do better, therefore, than quote to the House a private and confidential letter from Mr. Thomas Simpson, written in 1840, to his brother Alexander Simpson, which would be found at page 350 of his Life:—Three Wesleyan missionaries have come in from Lac la Pluie and the Sashatchewan; and furs have fallen from 15 to 20 per cent. Ominous signs these—saying plainly, 'make hay while the sun shines.'He held in his hand also an extract of a letter from a Roman Catholic clergyman; and when he had read that, he thought he should have pretty well gone round the compass. The letter was written by Mr. Belcourt Picton, a Roman Catholic mis- 286 sionary, and was dated the 22nd of March, 1848, from the archbishop's palace at Quebec. In his postcript, he said—About the opposition of the Company to the Christianising of the Indians, I can give, after seventeen years of missions amongst them, a number of characteristic instances of this truth. Intoxicating liquors given in abundance, rewards to those who would not listen to the missionaries' invitations, refusal to build a chapel amongst them, menaces of burning it after its erection, &c.—are all things that I can bear witness to.Now, he understood that this gentleman was a man of respectable character, and he had no reason to suppose that there was any exaggeration in his statements. He was far from saying that all these charges were true; but be had shown the House that they were not destitute of all probability. Another point to which he wished to advert was the settlement of the Indians. In 1821, the terms of the Company's license bound them to adopt measures for diminishing and ultimately preventing the sale of intoxicating liquors, and for promoting their moral and religious improvement. It was not, however, till 1832 that a piece of ground was selected in order to try an experiment of what might be done for the civilisation of the Indians; and this attempt was made by Mr. Cochrane, who was sent out by the Church Missionary Society. The Wesleyans also made a similar effort; and this was the only agency which had been employed for that purpose; and the Hudson's Bay Company had only contributed a portion of the funds which had been expended in carrying out the object. He thought he had shown that the Hudson's Bay Company was the worst instrument that could be selected for colonising purposes; and to talk of the waste of time, because, in the desperate circumstances in which the country had been recently placed, there had not been a rush to the colonies, was really playing with the subject. The Colonial Office had not done so much as they might in this matter; and had it been made known to the London public that, under certain terms, a company might be formed, there would have been no want of merchants and capitalists to embark in the enterprise; at all events, till that had been done, it should not be said that every effort had been made. The hon. Gentleman said he would have regarded such an enterprise with good will. But who knew it? And when the hon. Gentleman spoke of the enormous difficulty of access to Vancouver's Island, let it be remembered that 287 the Americans were about to establish steam communication between Panama and the Columbia River. They would want coal for that purpose, and there was plenty of coal in Vancouver's Island. But did the hon. Gentleman believe that nobody but the Hudson's Bay Company could dig coal there? Was the operation of opening a coal pit so gigantic an undertaking as to require the combined efforts of a vast community? On the contrary, it required a very moderate capital. Better postpone colonisation, if that were necessary, than shut out, at this early day, so important a field from the generations of succeeding centuries. He did not believe that any one of the Gentlemen who had held the office of Colonial Secretary for the last twenty years, would have been bold enough to take this step, with the exception of the noble Lord now at the head of that department. The Hudson's Bay Company were distinctly informed, both in 1821 and 1838, that it was quite necessary that a provision should be introduced into their license to trade, to the effect that if a colony should be founded at any time within their territory, the privileges of the Hudson's Bay Company should at once cease to operate within the boundaries of that colony. He must also object to the grant on another ground. On no account ought it to have been made; but, if made at all, it ought to have been made in a different manner. It was true that Lord Grey provided for what he called a free government; but quid leges sine moribus? What did the letter of a constitution avail among men who were not trained to make use of it? If men were sent to hold land, not according to the provisions of public law in England, but according to the views of the Hudson's Bay Company, what was the use of this paper constitution? Did the Hudson's Bay Company regard a free government as necessary? On the contrary. Sir J. Pelly expressed his opinion that they had no need of legislation. He knew that with an honest intention Earl Grey reserved this power; but he contended that a free government was useless, unless the materials were supplied with which a free government was to be worked. What had become of Mr. Wakefield and his plan of selling land at a sufficient price, and importing emigrants with the produce of the sales? This plan was dispensed with in favour of the Hudson's Bay Company, and no other party. The people of New South Wales kicked against 288 the regulation, but the collar and the yoke were pressed down upon them. The Hudson's Bay Company, also, were not obliged to account for a farthing of the money which they received. They knew very well with whom they had to deal, and, refusing to pay any royalty, and making no stipulation to carry out colonists, they only undertook that in five years' time there should be something that should be called a settlement. The hon. Gentleman said, that they had already a thriving and flourishing settlement there. But suppose they carried over some of the men from Puget's Sound, or the men at the Red River, would that be a colony worthy of England, or one such as the noble Lord, of all men, would desire to see established? Was that the mode in which these most important affairs were to be administered? A rumour had reached him that a very considerable number of people at the Red River had determined to move over to the American border, and that in order to escape from the sway of the Hudson's Bay Company, they were ready to surrender the privilege of being subjects of the British Crown. What was the British Crown to them? They knew nothing of judicial security, nothing of rights of property, except within the limit of the regulations imposed by the Hudson's Bay Company. Was it not the duty of the House to see that this state of things was amended? Was it not their duty to go to the bottom of these matters, and to inquire into the whole system which prevailed in the territories of the Hudson's Bay Company, which, without meaning any reproach to the persons who composed the Company, he maintained was of so arbitrary a character as to require restriction and modification? This was a great subject; the gift of the island was a small beginning; and it was the business of statesmen to watch beginnings, and provide for the future while it was yet remote. There was now in Vancouver's Island a magnificent field for colonisation. As Wordsworth, our greatest modern poet, said, "The boy is father to the man;" and in the same manner these settlements, from the form they took in the very first days of infancy, became the fathers either of great nations, in which the healthy constitution of the patient was developed, or of sickly, stunted, puny communities, which were likely to grow beneath the poisoned shade of a monopolising company. He regretted that the form in which the Motion was made, 289 rendered it impossible to come to a vote upon it. After all, Lord Grey had done the Company only a left-handed kindness. He believed that the Hudson's Bay Company had overshot the mark. When Sir John Pelly was driven to play the hold game which he attempted to win, and even the limited game of taking the whole of Vancouver's Island, he took a step which he (Mr. Gladstone) believed would draw and fasten the attention of Parliament on the whole of that important district which was connected with the territory of the Company. Let there be a general expression of opinion on the part of the House in favour of free colonisation, and then let a reasonable time elapse before they were told to despair of colonising Vancouver's Island. Above all, let not the Hudson's Bay Company be expected to rear that to the very life and substance of which it was opposed, and let not the House forget that there was now a great and worthy opportunity of planting a society of Englishmen, which if it did not afford a precise copy of our institutions, might still present a reflex of that truth, integrity, and independence, which constituted at this moment the ornament and glory of this country.
§ MR. C. BULLER
, after having heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, could not help asking the House, however proper it might be that this subject should be brought under their consideration, whether it were worth while to stop the Committee of Supply for the purpose of discussing the particular question introduced by the right hon. Gentleman? It appeared to him that another opportunity might have been taken for that purpose; and he objected to the period at which the discussion had taken place, as well as to the mode in which it had been brought forward, seeing that no opportunity was given of testing the sense of the House upon it. The right hon. Gentleman had very inadequately treated the question of Vancouver's Island; indeed, he might say he had almost put it out of sight, and that the greater part of his speech related to anything but to the case of that island. The great question with which the right hon. Gentleman started was one of which neither the House, the Government, nor the public, had received any notice. It did not relate to the propriety or impropriety of giving Vancouver's Island to the Hudson's Bay Company, but to the question of the general administration of the 290 trust which had been confided to that Company by the country. Now, that question was one which ought to have been brought forward in a distinct and separate shape, seeing it involved the grave and important question whether the Hudson's Bay Company were entitled to exercise power, not in Vancouver's Island only, but at all. He confessed he was a little surprised that if the administration of the Hudson's Bay Company had been so unsuccessful as the right hon. Gentleman had described it; if for a period of 150 years it had done so little good, and had actively exerted itself only for evil; hanging without trial, taxing people without right, and robbing and fleecing them in every possible way; and when a charge was brought forward directly impugning the Government of this country for intrusting its territories to that Company, he was surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should have adopted the method he had done for bringing the matter under the notice of the House; and he must add that he thought it would only have been fair to give that Company an opportunity of defending itself. The charges were such that a Committee might well have been asked for and appointed to investigate their truth; for certainly nothing could be more unsatisfactory than that a statement implying great and grave charges against a public company, everywhere and at all times, should be brought forward without seeing in the vista either a proposal for the abrogation of the powers of the Company, or the appointment of a Committee. [Mr. GLADSTONE: It was a subject for inquiry.] If the right hon. Gentleman thought the conduct of the Company a fair subject for inquiry, why did he not bring before the House a proposal for entering upon that inquiry? The House must see that the administration of the Hudson's Bay Company was a question by far too large to enter upon on such an occasion as the present. But they could limit their inquiries to the one fact, whether there was anything in the constitution of the Company which rendered improper the specific grant made to the Company on the conditions on which alone that grant was made. The right hon. Gentleman had inveighed against the monopoly of trade possessed by the Company. He was himself, some years ago, at the head of the Board of Trade, and was afterwards in the Colonial Office; yet he never uttered one word then as to the monopoly of the Hud- 291 son's Bay Company, though he, and the Government with which he was connected, were dealing with almost every other monopoly that existed. This monopoly of the fur trade by the Hudson's Bay Company was as much opposed to free trade, of which the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues were the successful advocates, as the monopoly of sugar in the West Indies, or any other article to which they directed their attention; yet they never extended their views to this abominable monopoly of the fur trade when in power. He was no advocate for absolute government in our colonics. He had constantly taken that view; and as it was a long time since he had taken any part in debates on colonisation, he must beg the House to understand that not one single opinion which he had ever advanced on that question had been shaken by experience. He still believed a great and extensive system of colonisation to be a source of comfort and wellbeing to all classes of the people of this country, as well as a means of increasing the prosperity and extent of our empire; and he must reiterate now the opinion he had often expressed in former times, that he saw nothing in the circumstances of our empire that should prevent the Government from organising a wise system of colonisation; so that all the advantages which the United States of America derived from their annual colonisation of the far West, might be derived by us from our annual and constant colonisation of the vast and fertile colonies belonging to the Crown. He believed the right hon. Gentleman had underrated or misunderstood the particular circumstances of Vancouver's Island, and that the course taken with regard to that island was the wisest that could have been adopted. The right hon. Gentleman talked of absolute government and its abuses; but what had all this to do with the question? Was the Government about to give a monopoly of trade to the Hudson's Bay Company? Why, it had got it already. It had the exclusive right of trading all over that country, and had enjoyed that right for many years. Then as to the absolute government of the Company, and its chopping off heads without trial, and taxing without power; was it proposed to place any body of the English people under such absolute government? On the contrary, they were proceeding on the principle that all who settled in the island were to be under a perfectly free and representative govern- 292 ment. But the right hon. Gentleman said the proposed arrangement would have the effect of destroying future empires and great States, and that it was disposing for ever of the fortunes of the colony. Now the arrangement was merely a limited disposal, upon certain conditions, of the lands of this colony to the Hudson's Bay Company for eleven years. [Mr. HUME: It is a grant in perpetuity.] He would show that it was a conditional grant for only eleven years. In the mean time, he would advert to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that the colony was to be put under absolute government. [Mr. GLADSTONE: I did not say so.] The right hon. Gentleman said, these people were to be under a mockery of a Government foreign to their wants, feelings, and habits. He said, it was a farce giving representative institutions to these people, who, from their dependence on the Company, and from the character of their minds, and the state of their education, were unfit to maintain their rights. Now, he differed from that view. He thought that if they gave them representative institutions, they would make these servants of the Company its masters. His confidence in representative government would be entirely shaken if he did not think that the establishment of it in Vancouver's Island would be incompatible with the exercise of absolute government. The right hon. Gentleman next said the Company was an anti-colonising company. Now, the object of Government was to make colonisation one of the conditions of the grant. He admitted that the grant was stated in the charter to be given to the Company, their heirs, and their successors, "for ever;" but then this was clogged with a condition—That tills present grant is made to the intent that the said Governor and Company shall establish upon the said island a settlement or settlements of resident colonists, emigrants from our kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, or from other our dominions, and shall dispose of the land there as may be necessary for the purpose of promoting settlements, and for the actual purposes of colonisation, and shall, once in every two years at the least, certify, under the seal of the said Governor and Company, to one of our principal Secretaries of State what colonists shall have been from time to time settled in the said colony, and what lands shall have been disposed of.The charter, however, went on to say—And we further declare, that this present grant is made upon this condition, that if the said Governor and Company shall not, within the term of five years from the date of these presents, have 293 established upon the said island a settlement of resident colonists, emigrants from the united kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, or from other our dominions, and it shall, at any time after the expiration of such term of five years, be certified to us, our heirs or successors, by any person who shall he appointed by us, our heirs or successors, to inquire into the condition of such island, that such settlement has not been established according to the intent of this our grant, it shall be lawful for us, our heirs and successors, to revoke this present grant, and to enter upon and resume the said island and premises hereby granted.But were all these provisions insufficient? If so, there was another great provision that overrode them all. It was provided that—And we hereby declare, that this present grant is, and shall be, deemed and taken to be made upon this further condition, that we, our heirs and successors, shall have, and we accordingly reserve unto us and them, full power, at the expiration of the said Governor and Company's grant or license of, or for the exclusive privilege of trading with the Indians, to repurchase and take of and from the said Governor and Company the said Vancouver's Island and premises hereby granted, in consideration of payment being made by us, our heirs or successors, to the said Governor and Company, of the sum or sums of money theretofore laid out and expended by them, in and upon the said island and premises.[Mr. HUME: But we are also to take their establishments at a valuation.] No doubt it was provided that we were to pay them "the value of the establishments, property, and effects, then being" on the island. Any Government would be robbers, if they attempted to take the island without paying the value. So the government of this colony was to be carried on with a representative assembly; a settlement must have been made at the end of five years to the satisfaction of the Home Government; and at the end of eleven years the Crown was to have the right of re-entering on possession of the island upon payment of the money actually expended. One of two things must happen; either the Company would have expended nothing at all, in which case there would be nothing to pay, or they would have made perhaps valuable establishments, and there would then be no reason to interfere, because, as he ventured to say, the Company would be doing the work of colonisation much bettor than the Government could do it. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of the Red River settlement as a great reproach to this country, and an impenetrable shade, he said, rested on all their proceedings. The great accusation appeared to be, that the Company had not established agricul- 294 tural settlements. What an extraordinary accusation was that in the case of a colony which lay far to the north of Quebec, and where wheat could not be expected to ripen! The Company had not, it appeared, made agricultural settlements in the inaccessible regions bordering on Hudson's Bay. Was that really a charge which should be brought against them by sane men? In the very heart of North America the Company had planted a thriving settlement of 5,000 people, hundreds of miles beyond any other English or American settlement. He must say that that was a marvellous effort of colonisation, and it never would have been accomplished by the spontaneous energies of any people; it required the artificial action of a company like this to ensure success. He thought the great error into which hon. Gentlemen had fallen, was that of considering this island a noble field for colonisation. Strong-advocate as he was for colonisation, he did not wish to see the settlement of a large body of Englishmen in Vancouver's Island. It was the last spot in Her Majesty's dominions to which the stream of colonisation was likely to be directed. This island was the very farthest from this country of all Her Majesty's possessions. There was no spot in the world, except the icy country of which Russia had possession, which it would take so much time or cost so much money to reach. A hundred years hence Vancouver's Island would form a considerable settlement; but the idea of its being an extensive field for emigration was quite inconsistent with its position. What could a great colony do there? Let a ship be freighted in imagination with persons who had a sufficient capital, and who consisted of the fittest classes, and let them take with them institutions which would make the colony a reflex of society in the mother country. The colonists would either have to go round by Cape Horn, or by the way of the Cape of Good Hope; and the expense would be about 50l.; and the voyage would last six months. Lord Grey had to consider the capabilities of the colony, and act accordingly. The Colonial Office had never heard of any proposition for colonisation on the part of individuals. It was on the part of Earl Grey only a matter of prudence to accept the condition with respect to the settlement for eleven years. Was any better offer heard of? His belief was, that until the Cape, New South Wales, and New Zealand, were comparatively fully settled, emigration would not 295 tend towards Vancouver's Island. They had heard a great deal from the right hon. Gentleman respecting the coal mines in Vancouver's Island; and he cheered the right hon. Gentleman, when he said they could be worked at such a small expense. Was not the Company competent to work them? What was the trade of the Pacific at present, which they were told they would drive away? There was a prospect of trade in the Pacific, between the harbour in Vancouver's Island and Hong-Kong and other settlements; but were we on this account to abandon the natural fields of colonisation so as to force it to this island? Were they, because they might have some trade between Vancouver's Island and Hong-Kong, to resort to such an extraordinary course? He believed that the right hon. Gentleman had given a correct description of the climate of Vancouver's Island. He believed that colony possessed one of the finest climates in the world. He was bound to add, that in the island there was very little land available for cultivation; the quantity of timber also which was readily accessible was not large. He asked, therefore, whether it would be wise at present to adopt a general colonisation to this place? He did not say that this might not be done at some future time; but that must be when our possessions which occupied the intervening space between the mother country and this island were filled. They must make up their minds that Vancouver's Island would remain with comparatively few inhabitants for the next fifty years; and when the tide of population flowed over the Rocky Mountains, and when California was occupied, then Vancouver's Island might be turned to advantage. When they talked of the colonial empire of England, and of its being made so little available as a field for colonisation, he was bound to say that he wished he could see the adoption of some great scheme of colonisation. He wished he could see the resources of these possessions turned to account. The tide of emigration had largely turned to the British colonies in North America, and he did not despair of seeing an extensive emigration to the Cape, which contained one of the finest climates in the world. That colony contained land capable of cultivation, which would require double the population of England to occupy it. He wished also, that he could see New Holland, with its vast sea-coast and its numerous harbours, turned to account; he wished to see New Zealand with fifty for every 296 settler such as now existed there; then it might be said to be turned to account. Under such circumstances, how could they make Vancouver's Island available? It would be 40 or 50, or 100 years before they could expect to do so. At the end, however, of eleven years, Vancouver's Island, in the words of the charter, was to be taken from the Hudson's Bay Company—On consideration of payments being made by us, our heirs, and successors, to the said Government and Company, of the sum or sums of money theretofore laid out and expended by them in and upon the said island and premises, and of the value of their establishments, property, and effects then being thereon.
§ MR. HUME
said, when all the other colonies were filled, then they might expect to colonise Vancouver's Island. This was most unreasonable. His hon. Friend had also complained of the time at which the Motion had been brought forward; but the noble Earl (the Earl of Lincoln) had given notice on the subject, which was placed on the books five weeks ago, and the Government alone had prevented him from bringing it forward. Was it fair then to complain that the matter had not been brought forward at the proper time? He was bound also to state that he had Intended six months ago to have brought forward the subject. Other matters turned his attention from the subject. The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Christy) had written to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and got from him an answer in writing, which he felt bound to read to the House. It was dated Downing-street, April the 11th, and stated—Sir—In reply to your note of the 4th instant, in which you request to be informed as to whether the Government have not come to a decision as to the requisition of the Hudson's Bay Company, and whether it was intended to give Parliament an opportunity before any fresh proceedings were taken to express its opinion on the subject, I beg to say that you understood correctly that Government had not come to any decision as to the differences existing between the settlers on the Red River and the Company; and, also, before any fresh decision is come to, Lord Grey will give ample notice to the parties.This had reference to the settlement of Vancouver's Island. [Mr. HAWES: The note had nothing at all to do with the colony.] It had reference to the conduct of the Hudson's Bay Company. It came to the knowledge of some gentlemen in the City that something was about to be done in the shape of a grant of this island to the Hudson's Bay Company, and some 297 suspected that the grant had been already signed. They came to him and requested him to bring the matter before Parliament. He replied that he was surprised to hear them state that such a negotiation had been carried on, which he could hardly believe, for he was sure no Secretary of State, after the letter which he had written, would do anything until the whole matter was laid before Parliament. After this promise of the Colonial Secretary, it was not the fault of the noble Lord, or the right hon. Gentleman, or himself, that this matter had been postponed. He complained that in this as well as in other instances, the Colonial Minister had taken upon himself the exercise of powers before Parliament knew anything about it. His hon. Friend who spoke last said there was a mistake as to the character of this island. Surely his hon. Friend must have forgotten the document which he held in his hand, as to the state of that island. This paper was not drawn up by a stranger, but by an officer of the Hudson's Bay Company. Mr. Douglas, their agent says:—[The hon. Member quoted the paper and a letter from Sir G. Simpson, describing the island as fertile, and the harbour as good.] By our absurd laws (he continued) we had lost the whale fisheries in the Pacific; but with these ports it might still be carried on to a great extent. Sir G. Simpson says—Three American whaling ships entered the Straits of Fuca last autumn, for the purposes of obtaining supplies; and I think it likely an advantageous branch of business may be formed at Victoria, by supplying the ships engaged in the whale fishery with clothing, marine stores, refreshments, &c, being much nearer the fishing grounds than cither California or the Sandwich Islands, the dangerous bar of the Columbia river interdicting frequent intercourse with that quarter.Here, then, it was clear, that they were handing over to this monopolising Company this rich territory, which might be made such a valuable settlement. It was impossible for colonisation to be extended under a company having such powers. It was notorious that British capitalists were anxious to find fields for the employment of their capital. What ample scope existed here? He did not look so much to the soil, as to the extensive commerce which might be carried on. He believed the real object of the Company was to keep out all settlers, as they feared the extension of colonisation would interfere with and impede their fur trade. The right hon. 298 Gentleman had made out a complete case against the Government; and even now the House should interfere to prevent this plan being carried out. It was clear that a considerable portion of the trade to the Pacific might be secured to this island, as a bar existed at the mouth of the Columbia, which materially impeded the navigation of that river, and almost altogether prevented the passage of large ships. Was the House aware that the voyage from Vancouver's Island to the coast of China occupied only eighteen days? Such were the natural advantages of this island, that he was sure, if it was left open to settlers, many capitalists would go out there and take with them a number of emigrants. The coal fields of this island extended over sixty square miles, and coals could be raised at 2s, 6d. the ton. It was clear from the words of Sir John Pelly, in one of his letters, that the Company only accepted the present grant as a step to a permanent grant. As for the promises of the Company to carry out so many settlers every year, he did not believe that anything of the kind would take place. They had been told that this colony might have a free government at last; but how this could be effected when there was no power of obtaining land, he could not see. If the charge had been still at 10s. an acre, he should not object; but under this charter they could not compel the Company to sell an acre of land in the island for 50l. an acre, or even at 150l. He should certainly take the sense of the House on the question by proposing the following resolution:—That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that She will be pleased not to grant, as is proposed, to the Hudson's Bay Company, Vancouver's Island, until full inquiry shall be instituted into the complaints against that Company from the Settlers at the Red River, and also until the capabilities and peculiar situation of the Island shall be fully ascertained;"—unless the Government promised to give an assurance to stop all proceedings until they had received the report from the Earl of Elgin, as to the treatment of the inhabitants of the colony.
§ MR. P. HOWARD
seconded the Amendment. He believed that it would be most unwise to confer the proposed extensive powers on a fur-trading Company, whose object was manifestly not the promotion of colonisation, but the furtherance of their own interests. California had lately been ceded to the United States; and it appeared to him a matter of the highest national importance that we should establish 299 a flourishing colony on the western coast of America, in order to balance the increased maritime strength of those States.
§ MR. WYLD
complained that in the remarks of the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen (Mr. Hawes and Mr. Buller) who had defended this grant, they had been contented to argue this question not on its own intrinsic merits, but on the principle of depreciating Vancouver's Island. They ought not to deal with this matter simply as a grant to a certain company, but as one which vitally concerned the safety of our vast colonies. Vancouver's Island was a central position in the Pacific Ocean. It was calculated to form a grand and important emporium. It must one day become the mistress of those seas. It possessed harbours which no other portion of the coast possessed. In the time of Mr. Pitt it was considered to be of vast importance—it must command the whole of the trade with China. The question had not been discussed in an agricultural point of view. The right hon. Member for Liskeard seemed to think that in that respect the island was utterly worthless. [Mr. BULLER: No, no!] Both the right hon. Gentleman and the Under Secretary for the Colonies had spoken very disparagingly of it. [Mr. HAWES: No. no!] The truth was that, as the hon. Member for Montrose said, it possessed great agricultural resources; but the Hudson's Bay Company had withheld all information respecting it. But this country must look upon it as the great commercial entrepôt which would combine with its facilities of trading with China the place of exchange of productions of all the colonies in the Pacific Ocean, and thus form a counterbalance to the power of the North American nations, who had manifested great anxiety to obtain a footing upon the shores of this island. With respect to shipping, the Hudson's Bay Company were perfectly stationary, and the result was, that the English had to be supplied with goods surreptitiously by the Americans across the frontier. With reference to the objection to the time of the Session at which this subject had been brought forward, he begged the House to hear in mind that the subject was of such vast importance to this country and to our colonies that it was impossible to postpone it any longer.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
This question appears to me to have been brought forward in rather a singular manner. The notice which the hon. Member has given is to call 300 the attention of the House to the proposed grant of Vancouver's Island to the Hudson's Bay Company. It is always understood that the object of that notice is to state the circumstances, and not to propose any specific Motion on the subject. The hon. Gentleman took that course, as he had given notice. The right hon. Gentleman followed, and though he entered at great length and with great ability into the merits of the question, he did not think fit to bring forward or support any specific Motion on the subject. Then the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose rises and proposes that the House shall agree to an address to the Crown that no grant shall be made till full inquiry has taken place into the charges which have been brought against the Hudson's Bay Company. I believe the consequence of postponing to the year after the next any proceeding on this subject, as between the Hudson's Bay Company and the mother country, would be, that the Americans would settle Vancouver's Island, and that you would find them established there. That, I believe, would be the sole and entire effect of the hon. Gentleman's success. I admit that it would be very desirable if, as some hon. Gentlemen seem to suppose, there should be a company who would undertake the colonising of Vancouver's Island immediately, if they had means to do it. But, as my hon. Friend (Mr. Hawes) has stated, though several propositions have been made by parties expressing readiness to colonise it, the only one affording any prospect of colonisation is that which has been made by the Hudson's Bay Company. The right hon. Gentleman opposite has made two objections to the Hudson's Bay Company having any privilege at this time; one, that it is a monopolising company, and the other that it is a despotic government. I do not think there is much in these objections; because, though the right hon. Gentleman stated them with great ability, and dilated on them with great force and eloquence, they seem to me to have no relation to the subject. The exclusive privileges of the Hudson's Bay Company are already granted, and you cannot take them away without a breach of every principle which is held sacred or binding. Those exclusive privileges have been granted until the expiration of the year 1849. They hold their lands by a grant of the Crown, dated the 13th of May, 1838, which confirms their possession for 301 twenty-one years from that date. I conceive that is a grant which cannot he taken from them. It is not proposed now to give them any exclusive powers. The hon. Gentleman complains of the despotic authority of the Company. The present proposal is to make a government on the basis of a free constitution. The hon. Gentleman can hardly be dissatisfied with a constitution which proposes that every inhabitant shall have a vote for a representative assembly, and that that representative assembly, with a governor and council, shall govern the colony. There is nothing to prevent the sale of land by the Company. There are no insurances or impediments such as have been alluded to; and, after all, it appears that the proposal is not to grant the Company any exclusive right, or to confer upon them any despotic authority. The argument of the hon. Gentleman might be very good for showing that in future the powers of the Hudson's Bay Company should be disallowed, in the same method that you might make an argument against the East India Company, by showing that they were a despotic and monopolising body, to whom further encouragement should not be given. But this has nothing to do with the immediate question. The question is whether the Crown, seeing no prospect of colonisation, is acting wisely in proposing to grant the possession of the lands for a limited period to a Company desirous of carrying out the experiment of colonisation, remembering that it would be prejudicial to this country if it were to lose the possession of this island. My right hon. Friend near me showed clearly that that would be the case—no answer has been made, no answer can be made, to that proposition. I do not say, however, that this House might, by an adverse vote, stop colonisation altogether, and enable the Americans to become possessors of the island. I own, for my part, I estimate the authority of Lord Elgin upon this point more than I do that of the hon. Gentleman. Lord Elgin stated that he has not made specific inquiries, but that he felt himself bound to say that the result of the inquiries which he had made were highly favourable to the Hudson's Bay Company, and left upon his mind the impression that their authority was exorcised in a manner which, on the whole, was advantageous to England.
§ MR. GOULBURN
said, the objection which they made to the grant was this— 302 that it had been improvidently made, because the Company had not the capacity, nor were they in a condition, to form a colony; and bow could they prove that objection was rightly made, unless they showed from the condition of the Company that they were incapacitated? and from their conduct over a vast extent of territory, it was impossible to infer a beneficial result from their rule. The noble Lord, in vindication of this grant, told the House that if they did not immediately take possession of the country, the Americans, knowing the value of Vancouver's Island, would seize the opportunity of possessing it for themselves. But if the island was so valuable to the Americans, surely it was valuable to us; and it became the Government to see that they placed it upon such a footing as would render it more valuable. He, for his part, had no fear that by a temporary suspension of operations, which, if carried on, would cripple the colony for ever, any disadvantage could accrue; he had no fear that America would occupy the colony: especially when he remembered that there was a fine harbour in the island capable of holding their fleet, and when he reflected that Great Britain maintained a squadron in the Pacific capable of protecting her possessions. He believed that the Hudson's Bay Company had a small settlement in the island which would enable them to retain possession, in the name of the Queen of England, and in defiance of all the force of the American States. Lord Glenelg saw the great disadvantages which would accrue to this country if the whole of the territory was to be submitted to the control of the Hudson's Bay Company, so far as regarded the exclusive privileges of trade. He made a stipulation in the grant, that when any colony was founded within those limits by the British Government, from that moment the exclusive privileges should be abolished; so that if the Government established to-morrow any colony within those limits, the privileges of the Company were at an end, so far as that colony was concerned. Now, by the grant of the whole of the territory, which you are about to make, you abrogate that cautious provision which Lord Glenelg made in 1838. But, say the noble Lord and the hon. Member for Liskeard, we are going to give them a perfectly free constitution. What are the terms by which it is suggested to carry out this plan? You give the whole of the land in Vancouver to the Company. You have a representative assembly—you estab- 303 lish a governor and council—you promise free institutions and universal suffrage—[Mr. BULLER: I said that the inhabitants should have a vote.] He thought that the right hon. Gentleman was on the point of assuring him that they should have vote by ballot; and if ever there was a case when men were to exercise that privilege it would be in this, where it would be under the inspection of the Hudson's Bay Company. The grant vests the whole territory in the disposal of the Hudson's Bay Company, They have the disposal of land to all settlers. The House had heard that night what were the terms on which they disposed of land which was their property. The land would be forfeited instantly, if the purchaser did not obey all the rules and ordinances of the Hudson's Bay Company—if he did not perform all those duties for the regulation of the peace which they desired—and, above all, if he did not pay such taxes as might be imposed by the Hudson's Bay Company. Would any man tell him that men holding their lands upon such a tenure as that were able to form a free Parliament, or to exercise an unbiassed judgment as to what was best for the interests of the colony? And this was what the right hon. Member for Liskeard told the House was a free constitution! He thought that he had sufficiently shown to the House that whatever the other advantages of the measure might he, the colonists would not he likely to derive any advantage from the freedom of institutions about to be conferred upon them. He now came to the last point, in which they were told that a remedy had been provided by which they were positively to secure the settlement in Vancouver's Island. At the end of eleven years the people of England were to have the satisfaction of paying a long bill to the Hudson's Bay Company for all the expenses incurred during previous years, and that price should be paid, unless they were prepared to sacrifice the possession of the colony. He thought that he had said enough to show this was an improvident arrangement which had been entered into; and that the Government had not pursued that course which would most promote the prosperity of that particular portion of the empire. He was anxious that this valuable island should not be left in the hands of those who, without imputing evil dispositions, had not the capacity to form a settlement which would be advantageous to the country. The period was not very far 304 distant when the knowledge of the advantage conferred on this island would induce settlers to proceed thither. Upon the grounds which he had stated, he did hope that the Government would give the subject a consideration.
§ The House divided on the question, that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question:—Ayes 76; Noes 58: Majority 18.
|List of the AYES.|
|Abdy, T. N.||Lewis, G. C.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Locke, J.|
|Adair, R. A. S.||M'Gregor, J.|
|Anson, hon. Col.||Martin, C. W.|
|Bagshaw, J.||Masterman, J.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Matheson, A.|
|Berkeley, hon. Capt.||Maule, rt. hon. F.|
|Berkeley, hon. C. F.||Melgund, Visct.|
|Bernal, R.||Morpeth, Visct.|
|Birch, Sir T. B.||Morris, D.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Ogle, S. C. H.|
|Brotherton, J.||Paget, Lord A.|
|Buller, C.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Bunbury, E. H.||Parker, J.|
|Clay, J.||Perfect, R.|
|Clements, hon. C. S.||Power, Dr.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Raphael, A.|
|Craig, W. G.||Reynolds, J.|
|Dundas, Adm.||Rich, H.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Romilly, Sir J.|
|Elliot, hon. J. E.||Rumbold, C. E.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Foley, J. H. H.||Rutherfurd, A.|
|Fortescue, hon. J. W.||Scrope, G. P.|
|Freestun, Col.||Seymour, Lord|
|Glyn, G. C.||Shelburne, Earl of|
|Grenfell, C. W.||Sheridan, R. B.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.|
|Grey, R. W.||Spearman, H. J.|
|Grosvenor, Earl||Talfourd, Serjt.|
|Hawes, B.||Thicknesse, R. A.|
|Hayter, W. G.||Thornely, T.|
|Headlam, T. E.||Tollemache, J.|
|Hobhouse, rt. hon. Sir J.||Willcox, B. M.|
|Hobhouse, T. B.||Wilson, M.|
|Howard, Sir R.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Jervis, Sir J.||TELLERS.|
|Labouchere, rt. hon. H.||Hill, Lord M.|
|Lennard, T. B.||Bellow, R. M.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Adair, H. E.||Fox, W. J.|
|Anderson, A.||Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.|
|Anstey, T. C.||Goulburn, rt. hon. H.|
|Bankes, G.||Greene, J.|
|Bennet, P.||Gwyn, H.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Hamilton, G. A.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Henley, J. W.|
|Broadley, H.||Herbert, H. A.|
|Brown, W.||Hood, Sir A.|
|Cabbell, B. B.||Jones, Capt.|
|Campbell, hon. W. F.||Keogh, W.|
|Christy, S.||Kershaw, J.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H. L.||Lacy, H. C.|
|Drummond, H.||Lushington, C.|
|Duncan, G.||Martin, J.|
|Ewart, W.||Miles, W.|
|Milner, W. M. E.||Tenison, E. K.|
|Moore, G. H.||Thompson, Col.|
|Napier, J.||Thompson, G.|
|O'Brien, Sir L.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|O'Brien, T.||Urquhart, D.|
|Osborne, R.||Verner, Sir W.|
|Pearson, C.||Vivian, J. E.|
|Repton, G. W. J.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Salwey, Col.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Scholefleld, W.||Wood, W. P.|
|Scott, hon. F.||Wyld, J.|
|Stuart, Lord D.||Hume, J.|
|Sturt, H. G.||Howard, P.|
§ House in Committee of Supply.
§ On the question that 2,006l. be granted for the salaries of certain professors in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge,
§ MR. OSBORNE
said, he should divide the Committee on this vote. It might be very well to provide education for the poor, but it was doubtful policy to pay for the education of the rich.
§ SIR R. H. INGLIS
said, a much larger sum was given to the University of St. Andrew's. This House gave 953l. to Oxford, and 1,053l. to the university of Cambridge; and they took away, in the shape of stamps and degrees, a sum twice as large as the pittance which they doled out.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, that he should be very sorry if the Committee were to reduce the vote for professors; at the same time he thought it was a matter for consideration and inquiry whether, in future, they should not endeavour to make some condition by which these professorships might be made useful. There was another subject upon which he would take the liberty of saying a few words, namely, as to the admission of Dissenters to our Universities. He thought that the statutes of the Universities, and the constitution of the Universities, as they at present stood, did prevent Dissenters from being inmates of the colleges in one instance, and in the other instance taking degrees; but it was well known that at Cambridge both Roman Catholics and Protestant Dissenters had been educated, and had continued their education at the University until they came to the point of receiving their degrees. It had been suggested by some persons holding office in the university of London, whether certificates which were given by other colleges should not be given by the University of Cambridge to Roman Catholics and Protestant Dissenters, to enable them to take a degree at the University of London, certifying that they had obtained an efficiency entitling them to receive the degree. Some arrangement of that sort 306 might do away with the objection to altering the constitution of the Universities. It did not require any essential alteration in the constitution of the Universities to adopt this system, and he hoped, in the course of next year to state that the alteration had been made.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
said, that this vote certainly stood on a different footing from the gratuitous vote originally taken out of the finances of the country. It was connected with the patronage of the Crown, and the just influence the Crown ought to have with the Universities. As a matter of money, no great value was to be attached to a vote like this—the tax on degrees greatly outweighed this vote. If it were unworthy of wealthy institutions, like the Universities, to receive this 900l. a year, he did not think that the tax on degrees was one which the Exchequer ought to have. It was insignificant in its amount, and ungenerous in its character, and the sooner it was got rid of the better. He cordially concurred with the noble Lord in thinking that, as they were stewards of this vote, they were perfectly entitled to see that the duties were adequately performed. As to what the noble Lord had said as to the arrangement between Cambridge and London, he could not help thanking the noble Lord for that proposition in this sense, that it showed a real and practical view of the question, and a real desire to consult the various interests that were concerned. He assured hon. Gentlemen that there were many men in the University of Oxford, holding high office there, who had given their attention to the means of greatly extending the reception of the less wealthy class into the University. He trusted that no long time would elapse before they would be able to realise their intentions.
said, he was un-willing to let the debate pass over without stating that he apprehended the Dissenters would not accept the proposal, that after keeping their terms at Cambridge they should be allowed to take their degrees at the London University. He knew no reason why they should consent to being thus rejected as unworthy. The only ground urged for excluding Dissenters was, that there would be difficulties in their attending in the college chapels. The way to obviate these would be for the Dissenters to have a college in the University with a chapel of their own. If there were still difficulties on the subject of their admission 307 to the academic senate, on the ground that religious subjects might be debated there, it would be for the Dissenters to consider whether they would stand upon the point.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 96; Noes 20: Majority 76.
|List of the NOES.|
|Anderson, A.||Peto, S. M.|
|Berkeley, hon. C. F.||Power, Dr.|
|Bowring, Dr.||Reynolds, J.|
|Fortescue, hon. J. W.||Salwey, Col.|
|Fox, W. J.||Scholefield, W.|
|Greene, J.||Thompson, Col.|
|Kershaw, J.||Thompson, G.|
|Locke, J.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|O'Brien, T.||Osborne, B.|
|Pearson, G.||Williams, J.|
§ House resumed. Committee to sit again.