§ MR. HUTT
rose to move—For the Appointment of a Select Committee to consider the best Means which Great Britain can adopt for providing for the final Extinction of the Slave Trade.He said, it was now more than thirty years since the Government of Great Britain undertook to deter foreign nations from engaging in the African slave trade. Many persons had since thought that this was not a wise determination of the British Government; that the attempt was never likely to be successful; and that even if it were certain of success, the British Government had no call and no authority to enforce rules of conduct on other nations in matters with which it had no political concern, and in regions where, by the law of nations, it could exercise no jurisdiction. It was, however, a practical question that he had to lay before the House. He should call the attention of the House to the actual results of our policy in regard to the slave trade, and then ask the House to determine whether it was expedient to continue that policy. Whether this country was right or wrong in originally entering on a crusade against the foreign slave trade, it was not to be denied that they had pursued it for more than thirty years with unflinching spirit and expense: including the sums which they gave to Spain and Portugal, they had by this time probably spent more than 21,000,000l. in suppressing the traffic, and they were every year adding considerably to that large expenditure. In their solicitude for the welfare of the people of Africa, they had sacrificed in untold numbers the lives of their own countrymen, and they were every year, with the same object, offering up additional victims. The noble Lord, in adverting on Friday night to the subjects which might possibly disturb the harmony of civilised nations, did not mention their zeal about the slave trade; and yet in the course of the last few years that zeal had more than once brought them into angry collision with all the great maritime States of the world, and might any day put to hazard the peace and happiness and advancing civilisation of the age. Now, he could believe that all these risks and sacrifices were undertaken at the bidding of a very wise policy, if he 1092 could find out that they had derived from them any commensurate advantage. But after thirty years' vigorous enforcement of that policy, what were the practical results? What had they done? Had they suppressed the slave trade? He thought he could satisfy the House that the slave trade was more extensive now than before they undertook to suppress it. Well, had they lessened the atrocities, cruelties, and murders by which in times past the trade was accompanied? The papers last laid before Parliament, and every officer who had returned from the coast of Africa, declared that the world never saw such horrors as were being perpetrated in those regions in consequence of their interference. Could they see, however remotely, the ultimate triumph of their policy? There were not ten men out of Bedlam who believed in anything of the sort. Well, then, was this state of things to last for ever? Should they not at last pause in their career, and inquire whether they were really moving in the right direction?A conscientious man," said Mr. Burke, "will be cautious how he deals in blood. He will feel some apprehension at being called to a tremendous account for engaging in so deep a game.He was satisfied that if they would grant him an investigation of our preventive measures, he would convince most men whose heads were not turned with spurious philanthropy, that on the shores and seas of Africa they were pouring forth human blood like water, for an object which it was impossible for us to attain. He knew it was a favourite notion with some people, especially naval officers, that they did not succeed in suppressing the slave trade because they did not go to work with sufficient liberality and expense; and that if, they would only largely reinforce our squadrons on the west and east coast of Africa, and cover the shores of Cuba and Brazil with steam vessels—that, in fact, if they would only multiply their expenses—they would put down the slave trade. Now, he utterly distrusted any such opinion. He believed that if they would pour forth the whole Treasury of England on this wild crusade, not only would they not suppress the slave trade, but they would only aggravate its nature. How often had he heard it stated in that House, and in Committees of that House when engaged in commercial investigations, that whenever the profits on a contraband trade amounted to 30 per cent, to put it down was impossible? But in this case the profit exceeded 30 per cent, or even 300 per cent. 1,000 or 1,500 per 1093 cent profit was no exaggeration of the profits of the slave trade. It was stated the other day in the Court of Exchequer, that a man was bought on the coast of Africa for 4l., and they knew that he was often sold in Brazil for 80l. There was a smuggling trade which realised 2,000 per cent profit; and did they think that naval officers and men-of-war could put it down? It was not a question of men-of-war or steamboats. Tell him only the rate of profit to be realised by engaging in the trade, and he would tell them with certainty whether the trade were carried on or not. They always had been—they always must be—defeated by the enormous gains of the traffic. The hon. Member read a letter, addressed to the Secretary for Foreign Affairs by Mr. Gabriel, to the following effect:—It is much to be feared, that with such inducements and temptations as these, the slave trade will still be carried on in this part of Africa; at all events it will be obvious that nothing short of the most decided and strenuous measures on the part of Her Majesty's Government, by guarding the whole of this coast with an ample and efficient naval force, can hold out any prospects of complete success in the humane object which Great Britain has so long and so beneficently exerted herself to obtain. In proportion to the number of slave vessels captured and destroyed the value of slaves will increase in Brazil; and the same measures thus calculated to enhance the value of the slaves in the New World by preventing their exportation from Africa, leaves the market there overstocked, and produces a proportionate reduction in their first cost; thus the profits become so enormous as to induce unprincipled speculators to run any risk in the traffic; and I believe I may with truth assert, that at the present day, one successful trip out of six is attended with a fair return of capital to slave dealers.Another point to which he would direct the attention of the House was the perfect state of isolation in which the British Government was left. With the exception of the Government of the United States there was not a Government in the whole world that honestly and heartily co-operated with our own. There was the Government of France, with a fleet of twenty-six vessels on the west coast of Africa; but France was not provided with the necessary authority to act against slavetrading vessels, and not likely to acquire it in a hurry. The fleet might be useful for other purposes; but as for putting down the slave trade, it might as well be cruising in the British Channel. The treaty with the King of the French had done rather less towards extinguishing the slave trade than that with the Government of the Queen of Portugal. The abject condition of Portugal was a painful subject to approach. There 1094 was an age when Portugal was at the head of European civilisation—when the victorious arms of Portugal kept every shore of the ocean in awe, from Morocco to Japan—and when a hundred and seventy independent princes paid an annual tribute into the Treasury of Lisbon. Now, the State of Portugal was prostituted to the worst purposes of the slave trade; many of the officers were little better than stipendiaries of the slavetraders, for it had been shown that slaves had been introduced into the possessions of that Government—the Cape de Verd islands—in Portuguese men-of-war; a fact which was communicated by Mr. Rindall, the British Consul at those islands. Spain was not a whit behind Portugal in encouraging the slave trade. In the last paper from Cuba he had noticed the name of Queen Christina herself in connexion with some slave transactions. He trusted it was possible that that elevated and respected lady—that distinguished personage—was unacquainted with the source from which some of her revenues were swelled; he felt confident she would repudiate it. The Countess de Quassada, wife of the Captain General of Cuba, derived an income of something like 10,000l. a year from the countenance and protection afforded to the slavedealera. The Captain General himself, General O'Donnell, of course knew nothing of these matters; and when an indignant letter was sent to him by Mr. Kennedy, the Commissioner, pointing out the fact, he told the writer that he should be compelled to return his letters unopened if he persisted in corresponding upon such a disagreeable subject. Another high functionary, the Spanish Chief Judge of the Commission Court, derived a large income from the same cause; and he was not only the largest slaveowner in the island, but, together with the Colonial Secretary, he was the chief protector of the slave trade. The slave trade was the most thriving branch of the commerce of Brazil; everybody seemed to turn an honest penny by it; and it was prosperously carried on by means of well-organised joint-stock companies. One person, who a few years ago was walking in rags about the quays of Rio without a penny in his pocket, was now by slavetrading alone a man of immense wealth, and decorated with the highest order of knighthood in the Brazilian empire. While he was anxious to do justice to the people of the United States, and had admitted that their Government 1095 had been the only one to co-operate honestly with us, he was bound to add that that people appeared anxious to obtain distinction as shipbuilders to the slave trade. These vessels, as was known, were of a peculiar build, and were generally from the yards of the United States. One of these, the Agnes, was built expressly for the slave trade, and was said to be the property of a Quaker at New York. These vessels were generally consigned to some house at Rio, and by that house let on hire to one of those grandees who make their fortune and earn their nobility by the slave trade; they were then sent to the coast of Africa freighted, usually with British goods, which were placed in one of those depôts of which so much had been lately heard, and the cargo being landed, a bill of sale was given to the slavetrader's agent. The vessel then changed hands, hoisted Brazil colours, took in her cargo of slaves, and came home. Such was generally the history of one of those clippers. An active business was carried on in America in supplying these ships for the trade. But were the Americans the only people who, with humanity on their lips, did not hesitate to extract a profit from the slave trade? It would be in the recollection of the House, that in 1845 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth stated, that he was not prepared to deny the fact that British subjects were engaged in the slave trade. It would seem, then, that the people of England—setting up as the moral censors of the world—who passed Acts of Parliament making slavetrading in Portuguese and Brazilian subjects piracy by the municipal law of England—who seized with severity the vessels of other nations engaged in that traffic—did not come into court with clean hands. It was not meant that British subjects were directly concerned in slavetrading operations, although the blue book had some evidence on that point; but that British merchants at Rio, and even at Liverpool—that British merchants were in the habit of shipping cargoes of goods, provided and prepared for the great slave market on the coast of Africa; that those goods were sent through Cuba; and that there was no doubt they were sent with a guilty knowledge of their destination and purpose. It was meant, also, that the capital of respectable British merchants in Rio and the Havannah was extended to the slave trade. Unless such proceedings were stopped—and how they were to be stopped he knew not, un- 1096 less the communication of British subjects with the coast of Africa and Cuba and Brazil were to be altogether interdicted—foreign nations would attach no credit to the disinterestedness of our motives—it would be said by foreigners that we were carrying on a kind of lucrative humanity by forbidding to others the traffic for which we granted impunity to our own subjects for the sake of profit; and it would be believed that with humanity on our lips there was something far less honourable in our practice. He believed that the consideration which had been given to the subject—the knowledge of the perfect isolation of the British Government in this respect—had caused most persons to abandon the notion of putting it down by force. Mr. Clarkson and the Anti-Slavery Society had denounced putting down the slave trade by force, and it was that which had induced the noble Lord now at the head of the Government to state, in 1840, in a formal communication to the Lords of the Treasury, that any such attempt would be "scarcely possible if the whole British Navy could be employed for that purpose, and that it was an evil never to be adequately encountered by any system of mere prohibitions and penalties." Sir Fowell Buxton, whose name could never be mentioned in that House without expressions of respect and esteem, pronounced the system to be an error—observing, "that while we had been trying to extinguish the traffic it had actually doubled its amount." The plain fact was, that the number of slaves carried away from Africa had increased since we undertook to suppress it. In 1795 Mr. Pitt communicated to Parliament that the number of slaves dragged from Africa was 80,000 annually. In 1820 the African Society stated to the Duke of Wellington that the number was 70,000 annually. From that period our exertions to suppress the trade had been incessant; and yet, in 1839, Lord J. Russell, then Colonial Secretary, stated the number at not less than 100,000 slaves taken from the west coast of Africa alone. So much for the preventive measures of twenty-five years. The latest official accounts represented the number of slaves actually landed in America during the year 1847 at about 50,000. These accounts were necessarily defective; and Mr. Hesketh, the British Consul at Rio, stated, in 1846, that every kind of deception was resorted to, both by the authorities and the people, in order to conceal the extent of the slave trade from him. It 1097 appeared, however, that to effect the sale of 50,000 live negroes in America, to supply the place of those who were captured by our vigilant cruisers, who were destroyed in the middle passage, and who perished immediately after landing in America, double that number must be shipped from Africa, in consequence of the vigilance of our cruisers and the frequent captures made; so that the number would stand at 100,000 annually taken from the coast of Africa; thus giving the slave trade of 1847 an excess over that of 1820 of about 30 per cent. The British Commissioners at the Cape made the following report to Lord Palmerston in 1846 respecting the slave trade on the east coast of Africa:—We regret to learn that the traders resident in the Brazils have not relaxed in their undertakings; no less than twenty-five vessels, three of which were steam vessels, being reported as out on this nefarious pursuit from the port of Rio de Janeiro alone. These vessels, it appears, have been despatched in sets of five or six; and before the person through whom this statement reached us left Rio de Janeiro, three of them had returned and landed their slaves; and as only two have been brought in here for adjudication, it is to be feared that by far the larger number will ere this have been equally successful.We regret to state that we have no reason to alter the opinion we have already had the honour to lay before Her Majesty's Government that the slave trade continues to be carried on between the east coast of Africa and the Brazils to an extent which defies the exertions made for its suppression by the small number of cruisers at present employed on this station.Such was the state of the trade at the end of 1846. No later official intelligence was before Parliament; but in the Times of December 27, 1847, he found the following information from the coast. After enumerating a great number of captures which had been made of slavers the writer remarked—Notwithstanding these captures, and others sent in Sierra Leone, we learn by the latest advices that the slave trade was very brisk to the northward.But evidence of this kind was scarcely required. The truth was that the extent of the slave trade depended upon the price of sugar in Brazil. An occasional check might be given to its activity, but as long as the production of slave labour was in high demand the slave trade would be in successful operation. Neither laws nor arms could prevent it. The most horrible feature in the slave trade had always been the cruelties inflicted upon the victims, and it was hardly necessary to remark that these cruelties had been aggravated by our protective measures. When 1098 the traffic was lawful the slaves were carried to appointed stations on the coast at suitable seasons of the year, and embarked at leisure in vessels adapted in some degree for their reception. The chiefs who sold and the traders who bought, although men of lawless habits, were at least as merciful as their interest required; and it was their interest to keep slaves in health and vigour. But as soon as this country undertook to stop the trade by force, the whole system was changed. The slaves were now assembled for embarkation in a hurried and clandestine manner. The appearance of a man-of-war near the spot will often delay the shipment until they are wasted by privation and disease; and then as the sickly are unsaleable they are often ruthlessly and deliberately murdered. Captain Mansel, of Her Majesty's ship Actœon, informed the Secretary of the Admiralty by a letter dated "Ascension, Oct. 2, 1846," that the native chief of Lagos, finding he could not dispose of the numerous slaves on his hands, had caused upwards of 2,000 of them to be slaughtered, and their heads to be stuck on stakes round the town of Lagos; and he added, that in July last he was informed by the Governor of Sierra Leone that 300 slaves had met the same fate, under similar circumstances, in the neighbourhood of the Gallinas. Dr. Bryson, a surgeon in the Navy, in making a report last year to the Lords of the Admiralty on the climate and diseases on the African station, remarked, that since the increase of the squadron, and other measures, whole cargoes of slaves had been so long detained on the coast that the provisions became exhausted, and they were left to die of starvation or disease; sometimes they were hurriedly driven from place to place, as opportunities offered for their embarkation; and what between their sellers, their buyers and their protectors, their case was pitable indeed. Was it better when they got on board? The slavetraders were using smaller and smaller vessels. Mr. Goring, the Consul at Pernambuco, thus wrote to the Earl of Aberdeen in 1845—The mode in which the African slave trade was formerly conducted in this port, has now assumed a new feature. Instead of the larger classes of vessels, varying from 150 to 300 tons burden each, a smaller kind is now employed, of from 45 to 60 tons, namely, the Maria, 52 tons admeasurement; the Maraquinhas, 52; the Deliberacao, 54; the two Diligencias, 54 and 55, and the San Domingos, 56 tons burden. These insignificant looking craft, rigged with boom, main and fore-Bails only, sail fast, are of light draught of water, and built low, that they may more easily escape 1099 detection. Should the unfortunate victims be collected in sufficient numbers to fill the vessels, they are speedily transferred from the shore to the miserable den, sufficiently noxious with only a moderate number, but intolerable when from 150 to 300 beings are stowed in the hold of one of these small craft, without space to down or scarcely to stir.He had some striking descriptions of the state of things on board these slave ships, but would not read them, for the simple truth respecting it was so utterly incredible to minds not prepared for it by previous training, that such facts would appear gross exaggerations. One of these ships carrying away into everlasting slavery its closely packed cargo of men, who but the day before exulted in the wild freedom of the desert, represented a greater amount of human misery and human depravity than was permitted in any other guise to exist on the face of the earth. And for a large portion of this crime, and agony, and death, the Legislature of this country was responsible. Horrible as the middle passage proverbially was, we had augmented its horrors. Our darling but hopeless project of stopping the slave trade by coercion, required that from 26 to 30 men-of-war, and from 3,000 to 4,000 seamen and marines, should be employed on the African coast—the most pestilential region of the world. The annual destruction of life among these gallant fellows, ought, if our proceedings had no other drawbacks, to make us pause in our career of suppression. In 1827, the Eden lost in six months 110 men out of a ship's company of 160. In 1837, the Raven lost seventeen by death, and the Curlew twenty. The average deaths in that year, on the coast, were more than 13 per cent. No doubt these statements, and a recommendation of the entire withdrawal of our fleet, would provoke the indignation of certain gallant Gentlemen in that House; and when Lords of the Admiralty and naval officers heard proposals for the reduction of ships in commission, they had always some letter or despatch at hand to prove the change uncalled for and impossible. Thus, in 1845, a gallant Admiral, then a Lord of the Admiralty, and whose personal character, not less than his great professional services, entitled him to the utmost consideration—Sir C. Cockburn—met a similar statement, by denying that the waste of life and constitution among the crews were any longer formidable, and, after the manner of Lords and Secretaries of the Admiralty, he drew out of a blue box a despatch, which proved that the care and attention the Admiralty 1100 had paid to the subject had nearly neutralised the peculiar malignity of the African climate. Yet in that year the mortality among our cruisers on the African station was three times as great as it had been found on an average of twenty years in the West Indies; and on board one ship, the Eclair, not less than seventy gallant fellows fell a sacrifice to the fever. The same box and refutation, perhaps, awaited him now. The financial branch of the subject must not be overlooked, though it was difficult to state a result from returns which seemed compiled to conceal information. The ordinary expenses of the squadron on the west coast of Africa were stated in an official paper at 300,000l. per annum. The ordinary expenses incurred for other vessels on account of the slave trade, including the cruisers on the east coast of Africa, probably amounted to 150,000l. more. Then came the expenses at Sierra Leone, Fernando Po, Gambia, and the Gold Coast, 20,000l.; commission courts, including superannuation, 25,000l.; bounty on captured slaves, 50,000l.; bills drawn on account, 30,000l. 600,000l. was the sum which he sincerely believed would be annually spared to this country, if we would renounce a system condemned alike by reason and by experience. But he might be asked, how, then, he would deal with the slave trade? He would reply, without doubt or reservation, leave the slave trade to itself. If the miscreants of any nation chose to engage in it, let their guilt be on their own heads; leave to a higher tribunal than any you could erect the moral government of the world. The noble Lord had said that if we withdrew the preventive squadrons, the stream which had been so long restrained and pent up would burst forth like a torrent, and that for one man now dragged into slavery five would be carried off. Be it so. Better that five should be carried off without molestation, than that, as now, one should be carried off alive while four expired in agony, and their blood should be on our heads. But he denied the statement that five would be carried off. Would the people of Cuba and Brazil view with indifference some hundred thousand slaves suddenly added to their black population (already so disproportionate to the white), with the prospect of an unlimited addition every year? In the Foreign Office there was a copy of a petition agreed upon by the people of Cuba to the Government of Madrid, and signed by every proprietor in a vast district, praying the Imperial Government to take some steps to 1101 stop the slave trade, to prevent the island from being inundated by a slave population, and so to avert from them the otherwise inevitable horrors of a tremendous insurrection. Every one acquainted with the state of opinion in Brazil knew that the same kind of alarm (and not without ample reason) existed there. Effeminate as they were, and ignorant, the mere brutal instinct of self-preservation would warn them to shun the fate of St. Domingo, in 1795. Depend upon it, that when they saw that their own safety depended upon themselves, and that unless they stopped the importation of slaves, their own fate was inevitable, they would protect themselves by stopping it. That they could do so we had sufficient evidence in the fact that General Valdez, while Captain General of Cuba, by the influence of his own personal and honourable example, stopped the slave trade of Cuba. It was our blundering and ignorant humanity which alone sustained the slave trade. To extinguish it we should leave it alone. Such was his (Mr. Hutt's) case; and he hoped the House would think that he had made out a primâ facie case for a Committee.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, in rising for the first time to address the House, he should not be doing his duty if he did not state the practical knowledge which he had acquired during a period of sixteen years' traffic with almost every portion of the western coast of Africa, from the river at Sierra Leone down to the Cape of Good Hope. He should support the proposition of the hon. Member, because he had brought a grave though indirect charge against those British merchants who were engaged in the trade between this country and the coast of Africa. The hon. Gentleman seemed to lead the House to the inference that those British merchants had, to a certain extent, a guilty knowledge—that, directly or indirectly, they were engaged in the slave trade. Now, he on his own account, and in conjunction with his partners, had, as he had just intimated, carried on for sixteen years a trade between Liverpool and the western coast of Africa; he and they had had commercial transactions with every river along that extensive coast—he might say almost with every creek—from Sierra Leone, the River Bonny, the Galinas, the Gold Coast, the Bight of Benin, the Cameroons, and so on, down to the Cape of Good Hope; and, on their behalf and his own, he could assure the House they had never been parties to any transaction connected with slavery or the slave- 1102 trade. He might further be permitted to state that no persons in this country had done more to exterminate slavery and the slave trade from the west coast of Africa than the merchants engaged in the trade there; in proof of which he need state only a single fact. The house with which he was connected thought fit to embark in a speculation of this character, not, he admitted, as a matter of philanthropy, but of pounds, shillings, and pence—the object, he presumed, of every commercial transaction, whether in Africa or elsewhere. They had found that the slavers who had dealt with the chiefs upon the coast of Africa interfered, most directly, with their legitimate trade; and, with the view of counteracting them, his house sent out a vessel upon what really was a voyage of discovery. The vessel was placed under the command of a clever and experienced man, who was instructed to go into every river, creek, and bay along the whole coast, to ascertain, if possible, by what means the slavers purchased their slaves, what goods they exchanged for them, and to bring samples of them to England in order to see whether they could not, by direct commerce, induce the chiefs who sold their slaves to sell their labour instead, in the shape of the produce of the country in exchange for British manufactures. This was done; and what was the result? Why the result was, that the captain with his vessel trafficked from creek to creek, from river to river, and from bay to bay—he brought home samples of the goods with which the Brazilian and other slavers fed the slave trade—and it was found that seven-tenths of them were British manufactured goods. What did he and his partners then do? Why, they freighted a ship with the same articles—they sent her into the very nest of slavery—and they found that during the whole time the vessel had her hatches open, to dispose of her cargo in exchange for palm oil, the slave trade was suspended. This was the answer he returned to the allegation of the hon. Gentleman, that the merchants of Great Britain were, to a certain extent, encouraging the slave trade. He agreed, however, that there was a necessity for inquiry. He was satisfied we were going upon the wrong track to put down the slave trade. We were expending hundreds of thousands of pounds uselessly every year with that intention; and he regretted to say he was convinced, by his sixteen years' experience, that human nature had sustained more cruelty and 1103 suffering since they had attempted to abolish the slave trade, by the physical efforts to prevent it, than it had when there was no legal impediment to the traffic. This was a subject to which he had given great attention—almost his whole heart and soul; and he believed it was one upon which much good might be done in a profitable way. He felt that the manner in which our present relations with the coast of Africa were carried on was wrong. We were, to a certain extent, wrong in endeavouring to prevent the traffic which ought to exist between our West India colonies and the western coast of Africa; for he knew from experience that free labour to any amount could be obtained from those parts. He had never yet sent a ship to the coast of Africa, from which he had not heard that the Africans were willing to accept service without reference to time or place—indeed, twenty or thirty canoes, with twenty or thirty men in each, usually came off to offer their services—and he had no hesitation in saying, from having recently been in communication with men who had lately returned from the coast of Africa, that as much free labour could be procured there at 4l. 10s. per man as the West India islands could take; and men who were willing to work 12, 24, or 36 moons, and only asking that they might be sent back at the expiration of that period. As he had said before, this was a question of pounds, shillings, and pence. The price of a labouring man on the coast of Africa, as given by the slavedealers, was 41. per man; the price of transporting him as a free labourer to the West Indies would be 41. 10s. These men would willingly go to the West Indies as free labourers. They asked only to be protected by the British flag, and to be returned to their own country at the stipulated time. The cost of a slave, upon being landed in Brazil, was 1001. Let any hon. Gentleman compare the cost of the two—the free labourer at 4l. 10s. landed in the West Indies, and the slave at 100l. landed in Brazil—and then say which was the cheapest mode of raising sugar or coffee, and which would be most beneficial to us? He did not say it rashly, but on the authority of men who had been twenty-two, nineteen, twelve, five, and three years engaged in trade with the African coast, who were unanimous in the declaration that the amount of free labour which could be had from the coast of Africa was unlimited. If the House would do away with the foolish squadrons on preventive service there, and allow la- 1104 bour to be imported as freely as possible into the West India islands, there was abundance of it to be had at the smallest cost. The cost would be only one-twentieth of the expense of importing slave labour into Brazil; and it would amount to this, that the planter who had to pay 100l. for his labour could not compete with the West Indies, where the labour could be had for 4l. 10s. If, then, this free labour could be introduced, the result would be that every nation upon the coast of Africa would be ready to furnish a supply, and no person would attempt to export a slave, because the cost would be too great to enable him to compete with the free labourer. But these views were not supported as they ought to be; and he spoke now as a British merchant. He would only mention one instance. In 1839–40 the Government thought fit to send a squadron to the coast of Africa, under the command of Captain Tucker—a man highly respected, and against whose private character no one could say anything. That officer had instructions to the effect that he was to negotiate with the different chiefs of the native tribes upon the various rivers along the coast, in order to prevent an internal slave trade in their territories. It was with deep regret that he felt himself called upon to allude to a circumstance which was by no means creditable to the character of the British Government. Captain Tucker entered into a treaty with King Peppel, up the Bonny River, for the abolition of the slave trade in his dominions. The treaty was signed by the captain, and witnessed by seventeen masters of British merchantmen, who were trading on the spot for palm oil, being as complete a ratification as it was possible any treaty formed under such circumstances could receive. By that treaty it was stipulated that King Peppel should receive 10,000 dollars annually for three years in consideration of his abandoning the profits he derived from trafficking in slaves. The King drew for his first year's instalment bills drawn on the British Treasury, which he and his partners' agent discounted by giving him British goods to the amount; but when the bills were presented at the British Treasury, payment of them was refused. A precisely similar transaction, through another agent, occurred with respect to two other African princes; and if he and his partners had not felt more regard for the honour of the British name than the Government exhibited, they would have sent the bills into Africa, and demanded produce to their 1105 amount; and the British Government would have been held up to everlasting disgrace for violating an engagement entered into with one of its own representatives, and witnessed by seventeen captains of merchantmen, several of whom were now living, and prepared to prove the truth of the statement he had made. The dishonoured bills were in their possession still, for they were reluctant to injure the British character by returning them protested to the coast of Africa. When such conduct as this was exhibited by the British Government, how could they expect the native princes to aid them in suppressing the slave trade? He had said, that our merchants on the African coast were subjected to ill-treatment, and he would give an instance of it. He knew of a merchant's ship being seized under the pretence of being designed for a slaver, because she happened to have a few extra watercasks on board, which the captain had provided in consideration of the health of his crew. The owner of the vessel, now occupying the highest post his fellow-townsmen could confer on him—and no man's character as a British merchant stood higher—not only endured great pecuniary loss from the detention of his ship, but suffered much disturbance of mind from the imputation of being engaged in the slave trade, than which nothing could be more abhorrent to his feelings. He must confess, that ever since the Committee sat in 1842 a dead set had been made at the Liverpool merchants, in order to create an impression that they were directly or indirectly engaged in the slave trade. When first he entered into the African trade—it was in 1826—only 1,500 tuns of palm oil were imported into Liverpool; when he left off business the imports of that article amounted to 25,000 tuns. The House might believe him, that the trade with Africa was altogether undervalued—he might almost say, overlooked. Yet our imports from Africa amounted in value to near 1,000,000l., and they were all carried in British bottoms, manned by British seamen. More than this, too, they were chiefly exchanged for British manufactured goods. A more legitimate system of commerce never existed. If this commerce were fostered, instead of being discouraged, it would in itself put an end to the slave trade, because it would have the effect of making the blacks more valuable, as producers of articles of commerce, than they could be as exported slaves. The free labourers, also, on their return from the West Indies, would carry 1106 back with them some of the arts of civilisation. They would know how to till the ground—how to sow and to reap; and, by their means, the cotton plant would be cultivated on millions of acres, the produce of which we should obtain in exchange for our manufactured goods. He did not hesitate to say, that in a few years Africa would be able to take as many manufactured goods as we could conveniently supply. Instead of 1,000,000l. of exports, we might send 10,000,000l., and a more legitimate trade did not exist on the face of the earth. Gold as coin was not known in Africa; dollars were seldom heard of; all our trade was carried on by barter, in which we exchanged British manufactured goods for the produce of the country. He begged this House and the Government to direct their attention to the increase of commerce with the African coast, because he knew that it would prove a fund of wealth, whilst at the same time it would be attended with the great advantage of doing away with the curse of the slave trade, in the manner which he had already explained to the House. He spoke with confidence, because he spoke from experience. His experience, too, had been purchased by considerable sacrifices. Two of his brothers and a brother-in-law had been sacrificed by trading to the coast of Africa, and he had seen many friends depart for that place who had never returned. All his experience had not, however, been of the same melancholy character. He had seen some friends return; one recently had come back in health, after twelve years' residence in Africa. When his house was engaged in the African trade, they did not hesitate to carry out traffic into the interior of Africa. They had a trading station where Davison's dust lies, 300 miles up a river, and where they did not hesitate to plant a white man, who had no protection but the good faith of the black man. They had ever found the relations of the blacks with them, when based on good faith and honest intentions met in the same spirit. He assured the House that the black character was misunderstood. No race of men were more intelligent, more desirous of obtaining knowledge, or more anxious to extend commercial relations, and advance in the path of civilisation. He recollected that one of the first vessels they sent to Africa carried out 1,000 barrels of gunpowder, and 10,000 muskets; one of their last vessels contained not a single barrel of powder, nor one musket; but amongst its 1107 cargo was 1,500l. worth of household furniture. What, he should like to know, would tend, or had tended, to civilise Africa so much as the enterprise of British merchants? He and his partners had sent out house after house, and followed that up by sending out embellishments for the same. On the banks of the rivers where first they traded, they found the males and females in a state of nudity; but after the lapse of some time the women placed cloth over their loins, next covered their bosoms, and the men clothed themselves in jackets and trousers. [Laughter.] Although what he had stated might amuse the House, it must be allowed to be an interesting fact. He wanted the House to listen to these facts, in order that it might know that the efforts of the British merchants had not been altogether misdirected, but that, on the contrary, they had tended to civilisation. He was satisfied, that if they withdrew our cruisers from the coast of Africa, and permitted free trade in labour, we should not only benefit our own colonies in the first instance, but, by emancipating our commerce with the African coast from the restrictions which at present crippled its energies, that we should, ere long, give a deathblow to the slave trade by showing the African chiefs that it would be more profitable to employ Africans in raising produce, to be exchanged for British manufactures, than to sell them for slaves. He did not hesitate to say, that by adopting the means he recommended, they would more easily attain the great object which they had at heart, than by 10,000 ships manned by 1,000,000 of seamen.
§ SIR R. H. INGLIS
was sure that the speech which they had just heard had been listened to with the attention which it well deserved. It was certainly one of the most remarkably successful first efforts which he had witnessed for many Sessions. Yet he could not, in thus alluding to it, refrain from asking himself whether there were not some misconception on his own part, or some misstatement on the part of the hon. Gentleman, in one of his main propositions with regard to ridding Africa of its present native race for the benefit of the West Indies? The hon. Member seemed to state that the panacea for the wrongs of Africa on the one hand, and the present distress of the West Indies on the other, was the removal of a certain number of natives from Africa to the West Indies, who were to be purchased for 4l. in Africa, and were to cost 4l. 10s. each in 1108 sending to the West Indies, making his cost, when delivered in the West Indies, 8l. 10s. He understood that the hon. Gentleman's words were—persons who had recently been on the west coast of Africa and in the West Indies had said, that the price of an ablebodied man was 4l.; and that the expense of planting the same man in the West Indies was a further sum of 4l. 10s. Now, was not that, in fact, a slave trade? He understood that that was what the hon. Member said. If he misrepresented him, perhaps the hon. Member would set him right.
§ MR. JACKSON
What he said was, that in his own experience he had always found an abundance of free labour offered; for as soon as vessels appeared off the coast of Africa, and backed their foretop-sail, twenty or thirty canoes would put off, maimed each by twenty or thirty men, who were most anxious to be engaged at the pay of a dollar a month, and who were willing to be fed upon rice and such refuse as the seamen would not eat. He also said, that the time they were to be employed was no consideration with them, whether for one or for three moons was immaterial; their great desire was to be under the protection of the British flag. Those men he had always found faithful, industrious, willing to serve under all circumstances-faithful even to death; and if it were necessary to bring them to England, in consequence of desertion or death amongst the original crew, they never hesitated to come; all their desire was, after a certain service, to be planted again upon their own coast. What he meant to say was this, that he would, with the consent of the Government, undertake to plant on the West India islands, free of all other charges, at the rate of 4l. 10s. each, free men, men born free, and being free, and who should be paid at the rate of one dollar a month, the only stipulation being that at the end of two or three years, they should take the produce of their own savings, and be permitted to return to their own country.
§ SIR R. H. INGLIS
was not sorry he had given the hon. Member an opportunity of explaining his meaning; but he had certainly understood that the West India planter was to pay 8l. 10s. for a man delivered in the West Indies who had cost 4l. in Africa. It now appeared that the hon. Gentleman meant an exportation of free labourers. It was much to be regretted that the Committee which sat three or four years ago on the subject of free labour had not had the benefit of 1109 the hon. Member's knowledge and experience. When the hon. Member spoke of his commercial transactions with Africa, it was only fair to ask him whether he had not, in the prosecution of commerce, derived some advantage from the protection afforded by Her Majesty's fleet upon the African coast? The hon. Member denied that merchants were directly or indirectly concerned in the slave trade; but it was evident, from a passage in his speech, that British manufacturers made the cloth for which slaves were exchanged expressly for that purpose. As regarded the speech of the hon. Member for Hull, it was hardly necessary for him to refer to many of the topics which he had brought under the notice of the House. It must be admitted, however much pain the acknowledgment might cost, that all the efforts made to suppress the slave trade, had tended only to aggravate its horrors: inasmuch as we had converted an allowed trade in our own hands into a contraband and smuggling trade in the hands of others: we had done enough, indeed, to liberate ourselves from the actual guilt of the traffic, but not enough to extinguish its horrors as perpetrated by others. He admitted that it was the duty of this country in 1806 and 1807 to rid herself of the crime of partaking in the direct practice of the slave trade; and if the effect were nothing more than that they had freed themselves from the guilt of participating in that un-Christian traffic, he should still rejoice; for, though the practice was continued by other nations, the guilt and the shame were not ours. But while he had admitted that the sufferings of the slaves might have been increased since the time when the slave trade had become smuggling and piracy, he was not of opinion that the present system was in itself, and necessarily, a failure. It appeared, by all concurrent testimony, that by making their system of blockade more adequate to the occasion, they might effectually suppress the slave trade on the African coast. Several eminent naval officers, who had been employed on that service, had declared that the remedy was in our own hands. Captain Butterfield had said that the coast could be so blockaded as to prevent the slave trade; that it had decreased while he was there, and had increased again when there were fewer men-of-war. Hon. Gentlemen professed to be very scrupulous as to the loss of life, and to be stimulated by sentiments of humanity in seeking to put an end to our African squadron; but the moment the question of pounds, 1110 shillings, and pence, came under their consideration, and the thought that a colony was at stake, all value of human life was forgotten. He believed that in the course of the eight years between 1794 and 1802, not less than 100,000 lives were lost in the Army and Navy, in contending for the preservation of the colonies. Now, he did not profess to be indifferent to the loss of life; and yet he could not but say, with regard to the loss of a few brave men on the coast of Africa, though he most deeply regretted that loss, they were but units; and, considering the object for which they were employed, he thought the sacrifice was one to which they might conscientiously be reconciled. The object of the hon. Gentleman's Motion was substantially a most Christian one; but it was quite obvious that the hon. Gentleman would enter the Committee, should it be granted, with a foregone conclusion. It was quite clear that the object of the hon. Gentleman was to remove from the coast of Africa that protection for lawful commerce, and that impediment to illegal commerce, which the British squadron was intended to present. He (Sir R. Inglis) did not complain of the Motion; but when he knew that the general effect of the statements made by the hon. Member would be to increase the prejudices which had long been growing, if not in the country, at least in that House, he could not but regret the language in which that Motion had been introduced to their consideration. They had heard hon. Members advocating the recall of that squadron; but he could not believe that the people of England were so indifferent to the cause in which a few years ago they were united as one man—when they demanded the abolition of the slave trade—or that they were so ready to abandon the next great question on which they were equally unanimous—and to achieve which they willingly sacrificed twenty millions of money—the abolition of slavery; he could not believe that they had so far abandoned their former principles as to agree with the hon. Member for Gateshead in his proposition that we should let the slave trade take its course. It was not for that that the English people had exerted themselves, and made such great sacrifices. He was told, indeed, that a great change had taken place in the principles and feelings of the people of this country, and that they would not now unite, as in the days of Wilber-force, to do as he bade them do. Though this might be true, still he (Sir R. Inglis) indulged the belief that it was not for the 1111 sake of having sugar a penny or twopence a pound cheaper that they would knowingly protract the wrongs and sufferings of the people of Africa. Yet it was the fact that they were practically doing that, when they proposed, on the one hand, to encourage the slave-grown sugar of Cuba and Brazil, and, on the other, to withdraw from the colonies that protection which could alone enable them to grow sugar for home consumption.
§ MR. HUME
came down to the House prepared to support the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead. It was pleasing to him that he had given way to the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Jackson), because he might confidently say that within his recollection a more effective speech had never been made upon the subject in that House; and if that effect was given by a bare recital of facts it was all the more pertinent to the object they had in view. His hon. Friend, in bringing forward this Motion, had done great service to the whole community. His hon. Friend had been blamed for having again painted the horrors of the slave trade; but how was it possible to remove the prejudices of the people, and, unhappily, of Members in that House, on the subject, unless the real truth as to the dreadful nature of the traffic still carried on were made known? He could assure his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford that no man looked back with more satisfaction than he did to the labours of Mr. Wilberforce. The exertions of that eminent man were supported by the country, and the cause of humanity was promoted. But the question before the House was quite of another character. The question was, whether, by maintaining an armed force on the coast of Africa, this country could prevent other nations from carrying on the slave trade? Did not the hon. Member (Sir R. Inglis) recollect that Mr. Pitt declared war against France because France threw impediments in the way of British commerce? Suppose, when the slave trade was sanctioned by the law of this country, France had declared that the merchants of England should not purchase slaves, or cultivate their estates in the West Indies by slave labour, what would have been the course adopted by England? There could be no difficulty in answering that question. Well, then, were they, the English nation, at liberty to say to other countries—"Inasmuch as we have abolished the slave trade and slavery, we insist upon your abolishing 1112 them also?" But this was, in effect, the policy of the English Government; and to this policy he had always objected. By adopting that policy England had been placed in a very unsatisfactory position with regard to other nations. Finding that, notwithstanding, all the attempts that had been made on the coast of Africa to suppress the slave trade had failed, was it, he would ask, wise to persevere in that line of policy? They had sacrificed a large amount of money and many thousands of lives in that vain attempt; it was time, therefore, that they should now admit that they had adopted a wrong course, and endeavour to free themselves from the consequences. All their efforts had been unavailing. Why, the noble Lord at the head of the Government had himself said, that if the whole fleet of England were employed on the African coast to put an end to the slave trade, that trade could not be prevented. If they wished to put down slavery, they should adopt the remedy suggested by the hon. Gentleman who seconded the Motion of the hon. Member for Gateshead—they should make free labour cheaper than slave labour. If they allowed the British West India colonists to have as much free labour as they required to enable them to compete with the slaveholders—if they allowed those colonists to obtain free labour at 4l. 10s. a head, they would soon put an end to the system of slavery. The moment the planters in our West India colonies were enabled to reduce the cost of the sugar they produced below that of Cuba and Brazil, there would at once be a cessation of the slave trade; but until that was done, he (Mr. Hume) believed they would not be able to diminish the slave trade, and the atrocities with which it was attended, in the slightest degree. He was satisfied that his hon. Friend (Mr. Hutt) would be able to substantiate in Committee the assertions he had made, that all the efforts of this country for the suppression of the slave trade had hitherto been fruitless; for there was scarcely a single fact mentioned by the hon. Gentleman which he would not be able to substantiate by evidence quite distinct from that which had been quoted by his hon. Friend. He (Mr. Hume) considered that, on principles of humanity, this country ought at once to withdraw its squadron from the coast of Africa; and he was satisfied that if they applied one-fourth of the amount which was now wasted in the maintenance of that squadron to supplying our West India colonies with free labour, 1113 they would in a very few years do much more to effect the suppression of the slave trade than they had hitherto accomplished by all their efforts.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, that it was impossible not to concur with the spirit of many of the observations which had fallen from the hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Sir R. Inglis). He believed, that although the people of this country might feel that the system now in operation on the western coast of Africa was interfering with the natural trade of this country with that coast—was subjecting the country to very great expense in the matter of the Navy—and was sacrificing the lives of many excellent officers and men; and although they might feel, in addition, that it was exposing this country to many difficulties of a political and commercial nature, by creating uneasy relations between Great Britain and other nations with whom it was most important that we should maintain relations of amity and commerce, yet that with these feelings they might, from motives of humanity, be induced to overlook such weighty considerations. But if they happened to agree with the hon. Member for the University of Oxford, that by our exertions we had only aggravated the mischiefs we were attempting to prevent, then he was at a loss to conceive on what ground there could be any objection to go into the Committee which had been moved for. Surely, if there was one thing more clear than another, it was this—that on no possible ground—neither on the ground of treaties, nor on the ground of trade, nor on the ground of naval expenditure, nor on the ground of just consideration for their officers and men, nor on the great ground of humanity, which had led them to engage in this unsuccessful enterprise, was the status quo of the slavery question satisfactory to the House or to the country. Then, if this were admitted, and if, as was contended by the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir R. Inglis), they ought not to abandon the efforts they had been making for the suppression of the slave trade, surely they ought to inquire what course it was advisable they should pursue; and this was the proposal which had been made by the hon. Member for Gateshead, and which had been so ably seconded by the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Jackson). He supposed he might assume that the Government would not offer any objection to the appointment of a Committee for the purpose of inquiring how the hor- 1114 rors of the slave trade could best be mitigated; and he felt, therefore, that it would be impertinent in him at that hour to occupy the time of the House by any lengthened observations; but there was one part of the question which had not yet been prominently brought into notice, and upon which he was anxious to say a few words. The hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme had given the House a very graphic narrative of the manner in which the legitimate commerce between Great Britain and the western coast of Africa was carried on; and the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of Oxford had asked, "Have you, in carrying on this trade, derived no benefit from the system now in operation on that coast at the cost of this country?" He believed, that if his hon. Friend (Mr. Jackson) had had the opportunity of replying to that question, he would have told them, that during his sixteen years' experience, he had found that system rather disadvantageous than beneficial. The late Sir Fowell Buxton, towards the close of his life, recommended a mode which he thought would have a greater effect in suppressing the slave trade than the futile system they had before been pursuing; and what was the course he advised? The cultivation, as much as possible, of ordinary legitimate traffic with the chiefs of the western coast of Africa. The opinion of his friend, Captain Trotter, and of many other persons, founded upon experience, was, that the encouragement of legitimate trade with the natives on the western coast of Africa was the mode by which the slave trade might be gradually put down. Now, he wished to call the attention of the House to an example afforded in the papers recently laid upon the table, of the way in which the system they were at present carrying on, sometimes operated upon legitimate trade. It must be remembered that this country was engaged in treaties with other Powers for the suppression of the slave trade—that they had established Mixed Commissions—and that, by the comity of nations, they were bound to assume, when they had formed a treaty with a foreign Power, that such Power was as sincerely desirous as they were of carrying the objects of the treaty into effect. If they had a Mixed Commission, consisting partly of British subjects and partly of Portuguese, they were bound to consider that the Portuguese authorities were equally anxious with the British authorities to carry out the objects of such Commission. By the provisions of the treaties on the 1115 subject of the slave trade, certain facts were to be taken as constituting of themselves primâ facie evidence that a vessel apparently employed in legitimate trade, was actually engaged in that illegal traffic; for instance, the possession of a certain number of casks, and of a certain quantity of water. The casks might be intended to contain palm oil, and might be tainted with oil, but because they were capable of carrying water—though the water might not be fit to drink—their possession was primâ facie evidence that the ship was engaged in the slave trade. [Captain PECHELL: Security might be given before the ship sailed.] On the 4th of July, 1845, a vessel called the Lady Sale left Liverpool, with a lawful cargo, for the western coast of Africa. She had on board seven Kroomen, who were to receive 10s. a month each; she also took out a quantity of staves, which were necessary to make casks for containing palm oil, and an iron pot for boiling the oil. She went to the river Congo to carry on a lawful trade with the natives; and while there, a number of bamboo canes were brought on board, in order to form an awning over the deck to protect the crew from the heat of a tropical sun. Having landed a portion of her cargo, the ship was obliged to take in ballast, and she took what was most easily obtainable—the water of the Congo river. She had, therefore, a number of casks on board actually filled with water—flagrant primâ facie evidence of slavetrading under the provisions of the treaty. The Lady Sale was visited by the Alert, a British cruiser, on the 27th of September; by the Cygnet, another British cruiser, on the 9th of October; and by the Prometheus, also a British cruiser, on the 19th of October; and no circumstance of suspicion could be observed about her. On the 26th of October the Lady Sale was lying at anchor off Ambriz, when the captain was sent for on shore by the consignee of the cargo. During his absence the Portuguese cruiser Constituçao came up; and this was the statement of the commander of that vessel:—I went to examine the said brig, and they told me she was called the Lady Sale. On entering the gangway I saw on deck a boiler of very large size, which I afterwards found to contain nine Almades. On asking for the papers belonging to the ship they gave me no account of them, saying to me only that they were on shore; and, on my inquiring for the captain, they also told me he was on shore. All these circumstances induced me to suspect that the said brig was connected with the horrible and abominable slave trade; 1116 therefore, I went down into the hold, where I found an extraordinary number of casks full of fresh water, much more than necessary for the crew; also I found a large portion of sticks, some boards, and pieces of timber, with which a slave deck might very easily be formed, as the vessel has fixed beams. For all these reasons I still further suspected that the said vessel was a slaver.Under these circumstances, the vessel was brought before the Mixed Commission for their decision. It so happened that the gentleman who represented Her Majesty at Loando had not received from the Portuguese Government the formal acknowledgment of his credentials; and only one English Commissioner acted, Mr. Gabriel, who seemed to have taken the utmost pains with the case, and whose report would be found at p. 270 of the papers laid before the House. No second Englishman could be found; and it was therefore necessary to have a Portuguese arbitrator. He (Mr. Cardwell) held in his hand a letter written by a naval officer commanding one of the British cruisers to the gentlemen of the British factories, in which he said—The commander regrets to add, that the English brig Lady Sale was tried at Loando yesterday, and, the judges not having agreed, an arbitrator was appointed. This gentleman was a Portuguese, and no doubt was entertained at Loando that the Lady Sale would be condemned.He had before him the opinion of the English Commissioner upon the evidence, and the letter from the Foreign Office approving of the conduct of that gentleman. The Commissioner having gone over the whole history of the case with reference to the casks, the boiling-pot, the broken bamboos, and the stock of water, observed that he could not acquit the captain of a certain degree of imprudence, inasmuch as he was aware of the treaties, and also knew that at the time he filled the casks the water of the Congo was fresh. That water, therefore, although put into casks which had contained palm oil, was within the words of the treaty, which made the possession of a certain quantity of fresh water primâ facie evidence that a ship was intended for the slave trade. The Commissioner also stated that the captain had acted imprudently in not having an accurate account of all the rice he had shipped at Liverpool; but it had been proved that a portion of that rice was used for the food of the Kroomen, and that the remainder had been used for commercial purposes after the arrival of the Lady Sale on the coast of Africa. With reference to an observation which had been made by the hon. Member for Brighton (Captain Pechell), he 1117 might state, that it appeared that before the Lady Sale left Liverpool, sufficient security was given at the custom-house that the casks should only be used to contain palm oil, or for other purposes of lawful commerce. The Commissioner said—The number of planks is not greater than this vessel ought to have carried upon the voyage in which she was engaged. They are not fitted for being laid down as a second or move-able deck, or slave deck, being in a rough state, of different sizes, and would appear altogether only sufficient to cover a very small portion of the surface of the hold, if they could be appropriated to such a purpose."…. "The rough spars of the different dimensions specified in the report of the survey are such as merchant vessels engaged in licit commerce are generally supplied with, as ship stores, when proceeding on a distant voyage.The Commissioner then stated why the bamboos were used, observing that they were all broken for the purpose of making an awning, and he added—The Lady Sale is owned by Messrs. Horsfall and Son, a commercial firm of the first respectability in Liverpool, and who, during a series of many years' extensive engagement in the African lawful trade, have never, to my knowledge, been known to lend themselves in any way whatever to a breach of the severe laws of their country against aiding or abetting, either directly or indirectly, the inhuman and iniquitous slave trade.But he wished the House to pay particular attention to the following statement of our Commissioner with respect to the effect of this case on the legitimate trade:—It appears, then, to be demonstrated, and I think abundantly, both by the documentary and oral evidence in this case, that the end Messrs. Horsfall and Son had in view by preparing and despatching this ship on a voyage to the Congo, was to endeavour to open legitimate commerce with the natives in that river—a laudable undertaking, which it is to be lamented has signally failed in the inception, since it is by extending and promoting British commerce, and the penetration of British mercantile enterprise into these remote regions, that we can alone hope and expect effectually to supplant the odious and accursed traffic in slaves, which, from the earliest periods of its existence down to the present day, has been so notoriously and infamously carried on by the subjects of other States, despite the well-known laws and treaties of their countries, which the British nation has for so many years, and at such an unlimited expense, so ardently and humanely endeavoured to carry into effective execution.Such was the effect of this case, so far as the legitimate trade was concerned; but he trusted the House would bear with him while he carried the story to the conclusion, and showed what had been the fate of the unhappy British sailors so unlawfully condemned. In the first place, as he had before mentioned, the 1118 captain of the Lady Sale was on shore at the time of the seizure. A signal was made for the captain to come out, which he obeyed; but the captors did not allow time for him to reach the Lady Sale, but stood out to sea. The captain followed, and at a distance of nearly two miles from the shore his boat swamped. It was a coast where there were a great many sharks and a surf running high. The lives of the persons who had been in the boat were in jeopardy, and one of their comrades on board the Lady Sale implored the Portuguese captain to put out a boat to their assistance. This was refused; and it was only by the "send" of the sea assisting their swimming that the lives of the party were saved. The loss entailed on the merchants amounted to between 5,000l. and 6,000l.; and the men belonging to the Lady Sale were brought home to England on a charge of being engaged in the felony of slave trade. On the 24th of November they were given into custody, and until the 26th of February they continued prisoners. On the 26th of February they surrendered themselves at the Thames police office, when they were informed by Mr. Ballantine that there was no charge against them. One of the merchants wrote to the Foreign Office, demanding either to be prosecuted as a person charged with being engaged in the slave trade, or requiring that the imputation on his character should be withdrawn, and justice done him. It was not for the purpose of impeaching the conduct of the noble Lord opposite that he alluded to this case; but to show that if the proposed Committee should be appointed, they ought to go into the whole merits of this question, and not exclude from their inquiry the effect of what was now being done on the west coast of Africa on the legitimate trade between this country and Africa. He agreed with the hon. Member for Newcastle-under Lyme, and with Mr. Gabriel, our Commissioner, who was approved of by the Foreign Office, that the extension of the legitimate traffic was the way to suppress the slave trade; and, therefore, he hoped that the hon. Member for Gateshead, and those who might represent the Government in the proposed Committee, should it be appointed, would not overlook that important point. It was only with the view of bringing this particular part of the case more prominently before the House, that he had ventured to make these observations to the House. He did not wish to give any opinion as to the 1119 course that should be taken by the Committee, for he did not want the Committee to be appointed with any foregone conclusion; but he said, that with respect to the uneasy relations created with foreigners, with respect to the expense, and with respect to the health and the lives of our valuable officers and seamen, the present system was unsatisfactory; and with respect to the great object for which this country at first engaged in the great enterprise—namely, in regard to humanity as respected the negroes, the present system, according to the confession of all men, from Sir Fowell Buxton, in 1839, down to the hon. Member for Oxford University on this night of the discussion, was also unsatisfactory. If, then, in all these respects the present system was unsatisfactory, and if no one was prepared to recommend any conclusion to be practically acted upon, there only remained the course suggested by the hon. Member for Gates-head—namely, that the House should inquire on the subject; and in that inquiry he repeated his hope, that the whole effects of the system, including those which it had on legitimate trade, might be fairly examined.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
I have already, before this discussion began, informed the hon. Member for Gateshead that it is not my intention to oppose the appointment of the Committee for which he has moved. I quite agree with what seems to be the general opinion of the House, that it is fitting that an inquiry should take place into the system which is now pursued for the purpose of effecting the abolition of the slave trade. If there prevails among any portion of the public, or of this House, an opinion that the measures hitherto adopted have not succeeded in accomplishing the object, that, of itself, is a sufficient ground on which the House may be fairly and justly called on to institute an inquiry for the purpose of ascertaining what are the causes which prevent the success of the measures adopted, if success has not been attained; and what other measures are more likely to attain the object proposed. Therefore I entirely concur in the Motion of my hon. Friend. I cannot, however, say that I equally concur in the statements and arguments on which he has founded his Motion; for, with all deference to him, I must be allowed to say, that there appears to me to be great exaggeration in his statements and great fallacy in his arguments. It is said that we have not succeeded in putting down the slave 1120 trade. Undoubtedly we have not; but it is a great mistake to suppose that the methods hitherto pursued have not succeeded in diminishing that trade to a very great extent; and even the statements and arguments of my hon. Friend themselves tend manifestly and clearly to prove that, in that respect at least, the efforts of this country have not been unattended with considerable success. In the first place, my hon. Friend quotes numbers, and says the number of negroes stated to have been carried to America in former times amounted, according to Sir F. Buxton, from 50,000 to 70,000 yearly—it is now 100,000 a year—and adds, that according to reports on which our information goes, the amount imported last year into Brazil amounted only to 40,000 or 50,000. My hon. Friend, struck with the inconsistency of these numbers, endeavoured to reconcile it with his statement that the slave traffic is not diminished, by contending that the number of slaves lost in the passage is equal to the number landed. I never heard the loss by the passages stated at such an amount. The hon. Member for Evesham, at the close of the last Session, in bringing the question before the House, stated, that whereas in former times the loss in the passage was 12 per cent, it was now between 16 and 17 per cent. My hon. Friend the Member for Gates-head, however, puts the loss at 50 per cent, in order to make the number carried from Africa double the amount landed in America, for the purpose of showing that the slave trade was not diminished. There is another circumstance in my hon. Friend's argument worthy of attention. He says that the temptation to the slave trade is produced by the great price of the slaves when brought to America. What is that but a proof that the supply falls short of the demand? I believe my hon. Friend stated the profit in this illicit trade to be 2,000 per cent on the outlay. Does not that prove that the supply is infinitely less than the demand, and does it not follow, as a logical and mathematical inference, that if those restraints by which the supply is now limited were taken away, and the supply allowed to be equal to the demand, that supply would of course be multiplied to a most enormous extent. Therefore, I say that, my hon. Friend's statements prove that, though the slave trade is not put down, yet the means adopted greatly narrow and diminish the supply. And it must be recollected that it was only within the last few years that these methods now 1121 adopted have been really carried into full effect. Until 1839 the slave trade under the Portuguese flag was perfectly free on the south of the line, and vessels equipped for the slave trade, but having no slaves on board, were free on both sides of the line. It was only in 1839 that we obtained full powers with respect to the Portuguese flag on the north and south of the line; and it is only two or three years ago when the late Government proposed a Bill, which was afterwards passed into law, by which similar powers were obtained with respect to the slave trade under the Brazilian flag. Therefore, when hon. Members inquire what has been the effect of the measures hitherto adopted for the suppression of the slave trade, they must carry back their investigation to the time, not many years ago, when the cruisers of this country obtained those powers which are necessary to suppress the slave trade under the Portuguese and Brazilian flags, which, up to that time, had been accustomed to carry on the trade with impunity. However, I am quite ready to admit that the maritime police alone is not sufficient to put down the slave trade. I cannot admit, however, that which seems to be the opinion adopted by most Gentlemen who have spoken, namely, that the preventive means resorted to have aggravated the horrors of the slave trade. I know that this is the generally received opinion, which passes from mouth to mouth, and which is adopted without due examination of the grounds on which it rests; but I entreat any Gentleman who wishes to form a just opinion on the matter to look back to the debates before the slave trade was abolished by law by this country, and to the period when Fox and Wilberforce urged this House to pass laws to put that traffic down. Let them look to the pictures then drawn of the horrors of the middle passage, and I venture to say that these is nothing now occurring, however atrocious the sufferings of the negroes may still be, for which they will not find ample parallels in the accounts of the slave trade at that time. I am ready, then, to admit that a maritime police alone is not sufficient for the purpose we have in view. But I entirely deny the accuracy of the impression which seems to have been produced on the mind of the hon. Member for Montrose, that a maritime police is an interference with the power of other nations. This is a maritime police which is founded on treaty, and exercises no surveillance 1122 over the flags of any other Powers than those who have consented to its exercise. It is, therefore, not by any means a fair impression to create, that we are doing that of which other nations have a right to complain; and when other nations have expressed a wish to withdraw from their engagements with this country, we have abstained from enforcing an authority which did not belong to us, and have only exercised power where it has been authorised by treaty. With regard to the effect of this system of maritime police, I should say, that from the last accounts which we have received from Cuba, it does appear that for the last two years, 1846 and 1847, there has been scarcely any importation of slaves whatever. We cannot discover, from the sources of information which we possess, that more than 2,000 slaves have been imported into Cuba in each of these two years. I do not mean to say that we can implicitly rely on the accuracy of these statements; but the sources from which these statements are derived are the same as those from which in former times we learned that there was a larger importation, and therefore, when, with the same sources of information, we learn that a diminution of importation has taken place, we are justified, not, perhaps, in accepting the precise amount returned, but in assuming that the diminution is very great. And we are confirmed in believing this, because it is known that there is going on in Cuba a transference of slave labour from one kind of produce to another, namely, from coffee to sugar, and therefore the increase in the number of slaves employed in making sugar may have taken place without causing any great importation of slaves. With regard to Brazil, the number of slaves imported there is still great, but considerably less than in former times. My hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead stated in his speech that no law could be effectually passed to prevent a contraband trade, when so great a profit is made by carrying it on. I differ from him in that respect. I believe that the diminution of importation into Cuba has arisen greatly from the fact that the Governor of Cuba has been called upon by the Government of Spain to enforce the law which forbids the importation of slaves. I believe that if the Government of Brazil would act with equally good faith, in order to prevent its subjects engaging in any manner in the slave trade, the law would be equally effective. How comes it that 1123 no slaves are imported into the British islands? Why, because the law is enforced which forbids their being brought there; and if the law is sufficient to prevent the introduction of slaves into the British islands, why should it not be enough to prevent their importation into the colonies of Spain or Brazil? But I admit that a maritime police alone is not sufficient to accomplish our purpose. We must look for assistance to the good faith of those Governments which have entered into treaties with us to prevent the commission of the crime of slavedealing. At present there are but two Powers which pursue the slave trade—but two territories into which slaves are imported; one of these is Spain, the other is Brazil. I quite agree with the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Line (Mr. Jackson) in most of the arguments which he made use of in that most interesting speech which he delivered this evening. I quite agree with him that legitimate commerce is one mode of destroying the trade in slaves. But I differ from him in one thing. He said he was led to believe that the introduction of legitimate commerce would expel the slave trade from Africa. Now, I regret to say that all the reports we get from time to time lead me to the opposite conclusion, namely, that legitimate commerce cannot live in competition with the slave trade; that wherever the slave trade flourishes legitimate commerce must be destroyed; and that therefore it is only by putting an end to the slave trade that we can hope to plant legitimate commerce on the shores of Africa. And I do not think that even the experience of my hon. Friend, which has led him to an opposite conclusion, warrants the conclusion which he has derived from it. As has been correctly stated by the hon. Member for the University of Oxford, the hon. Member for Newcastle has been enjoying the advantage which the British cruisers on the coast have afforded him; and, though the hon. Member does not acknowledge the benefit of that protection under which his commerce has thriven, yet without it he would hardly have had the opportunity of carrying on that legitimate traffic, the beneficial results of which he has so well described. If this system of prevention of the slave trade were given up, I should like to know what would become of those legitimate traders, and those casks of palm oil, ivory, and other products of the country. I mean to say they would be driven off the 1124 coast altogether; the whole coast of Africa would swarm with slavetraders and pirates of every description, The natives would go back to their trade in slaves, and trade would become too dangerous for the legitimate trader to carry it on. The negroes would strip off their jackets and trousers, and go back to the state of nudity in which they were before. All the labours which benevolent men have bestowed on the civilisation of Africa would be spent in vain; and we should have the disgrace of being the authors of the crimes and barbarities which the people of this country would shudder to behold, if they could be ever placed before their eyes. Sir, we have endeavoured to promote the diffusion of legitimate traffic on the coast of Africa. One of the methods which for some time past has been pursued with considerable success is to conclude treaties with the native chiefs, binding them to abstain themselves from the slave trade—binding them to prevent any one else from carrying it on within their territories—and giving power to the British and French cruisers to land their men, and to destroy any barracoons which may be erected for the purpose of forming a depot for slaves. I am happy to say—although the hon. Member for Gateshead does not give the French Government credit for acting with sincerity in this matter—I am happy to say that there is no ground for this imputation. It will be the object of the two Governments, who have acted in strict and cordial concurrence, to multiply these treaties; and I hope that we shall encircle the coast of Africa with a chain of these engagements, and that we shall induce the chiefs to pursue legitimate commerce, instead of sending into slavery those men who ought to be engaged in producing the elements of commercial barter. This system of treaties, coupled with repressive means, affords, I think, the best system that can be adopted for putting an end to the slave trade; and every year that passes will render it less likely and more difficult that it should be renewed again. It has been said that the employment of our squadron on the African coast has been attended with great mortality to our officers and sailors. That undoubtedly has been the case; but I am happy to hear from Sir Charles Hotham that the crews at present are in as healthy a condition as, to use his words, the crews on almost any other station on which ships are employed. I should hope that when this Committee meets, it may perhaps happen that my hon. Friend 1125 the Member for Gateshead may think he would have taken a more prudent and politic course by not making the speech which we heard this evening. I confess I did not think it likely that we should, this evening, have heard from the hon. Member for Gateshead a statement in the House which might have been much better made in the Committee. I do, however, hope that when the matter does come there to be considered, that it will be considered calmly and dispassionately, and that methods by which a sound policy can be carried out will not prove so insufficient as some hon. Members have seemed to suppose. If any other methods than those on which we have hitherto acted be suggested, I can assure the hon. Member that I shall receive that information with the greatest satisfaction. Still there is one result which I hope will not ensue from the inquiries of the Committee. I do hope that no Committee will recommend a course the reverse of that which we have been pursuing. I hope that no one will be found to say that we ought to retrace our steps. This evening we have been told that this country was the first to engage in the slave trade. That is quite true; it is also true that we have been the most guilty, both in originating and encouraging the slave trade; but let it not be forgotten that we were the first to retrace our steps, and to make atonement for that enormous crime. All the great statesmen who have ever been eminent in this country—all the political parties that have ever been intrusted with the powers of the Crown, have laboured by treaties, by measures, and by every method which human ingenuity could devise, to induce other nations to co-operate with England in the attempt to extinguish this cruel and detestable traffic. To a great extent we have persuaded France to join us in discouraging the slave trade; we have also not been unsuccessful in our attempts to induce the Government of the Netherlands to discontinue the slave trade in the Dutch colonies; I trust, too, that we have succeeded in reducing the amount of this trade carried on in the Spanish colonies; and that we have been still more successful with the Portuguese authorities. Almost the only country that remains is Brazil; there, certainly, the trade continues. Brazil is the main offender, and I fully believe that if we only persevere in the course which we have been pursuing, we shall eventually be successful. I do not hesitate to say, that the result will reflect immortal 1126 honour upon this country; we shall, at least, enjoy all the honour that belongs to having succeeded in a great object; and, looking back through a long course of years—though many years form but a short period in the history of a nation—looking back through a long course of years, we shall find nothing in history to show that any nation had accomplished a more honourable purpose. If nations be responsible, as individuals are, for the character of their actions—if they are bound to avoid evil and pursue good—then I should say, as a mere matter of arithmetical computation, that the profit and loss can be calculated; and I have no doubt it could be shown that England would be no loser by the achievement of so great and good a deed.
§ LORD GEORGE BENTINCK
If my hon. Friend calls the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs as a witness, he will come to a different conclusion from that which he has already arrived at from the statement which my hon. Friend has made to-night, because I think if my hon. Friend examines my noble Friend opposite, he may tell him that on an average of the last two years, about 20,000 slaves have been imported into the island of Cuba; and he will be obliged to tell him that whilst we have had squadrons on the coast of Africa, they have only succeeded, upon the average, in capturing from 2,800 to 3,000 slaves a year, for the last six years, and that in the year just past no less than 60,000 slaves were imported into Brazil. Now I think that when the House perceives that with an expenditure of 700,000l. a year at the least, we have only effected the capture of one slave in twenty imported from the coast of Africa, the House will come to the conclusion, and the country will come to the conclusion, that our humanity, such as it is, is very dearly bought. My noble Friend, if he were called as a witness, would admit that 60,000 slaves have been imported within the last three years. But I think if the Committee examine those witnesses connected with the slave trade between the coast of Africa and Brazil, and who are well acquainted with what is passing now in Brazil, they will have a darker picture still of the character of the slave trade. They will hear through those witnesses, not that 60,000, but a hundred thousand negroes had been exported in the course of last year from the coast of Africa to Brazil. The horrors that will be described to them are past all 1127 imagination. They will be told that the great want of water constitutes the greater part of the horrors on board a slaver. The slaves are considered to be well off if they get one drink a day. But if they are becalmed, as they are very apt to be in the neighbourhood of the coast of Africa, the voyage is so prolonged that the wretched slaves, crowded sometimes as many as 450 in a vessel of less than one hundred tons—the slaves being packed in shelves, as we are told, three deep, and between decks not six feet apart—get only one drink of water in three days. This is the picture that will be shown. Out of 72,000 slaves, it is supposed that not more than sixty or sixty-five thousand lived to be entered for sale. The Committee will hear in the evidence of one witness, speaking of a vessel which he had an interest in himself, that out of 140 slaves of one cargo about 10 only lived to be sold. Now I think, such being the state of the case, and having heard from my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford to-night how greatly the horrors of the slave trade have been aggravated by our interference, the House will be unanimous in agreeing with him in his recommendation; and if it should be shown, however good our intention, that the practical result is that the horrors of the slave trade are greatly aggravated, and that the interests of humanity are very much prejudiced instead of being assisted by the blockade on the coast of Africa, the country will not be contented any longer to waste an annual expenditure of between 600,000l. and 1,000,000l., and the lives of some of our bravest seamen, in order to aggravate the horrors of the slave trade. As far as the practical result goes, there is little chance of success by our interference, as by the evidence of my hon. Friend only 1,000 negroes out of 20,000 are saved; and according to other evidence, for every 1,000 slaves rescued from slavery, 35,000 were subjected to the aggravated horrors of the slave trade. I could not permit the observations of my noble Friend to pass without this comment upon it.
§ CAPTAIN PECHELL
said, that the obstacles and difficulties which had been thrown in the way of the noble Lord had been innumerable. It was only within a few years that the cruisers on the coast of Africa had been in a position to carry out the wishes of that House. When he recollected that in 1838 it was proposed to send out more cruisers, he was surprised that no one had risen on this occasion to support 1128 the noble Lord. The hon. Member for Gateshead had tried to enlist their sympathies by alluding to the mortality on the coast of Africa. Why, he might have done the same with respect to Hong-Kong, Chusan, and Antigua. He doubted the sincerity of America with respect to the suppression of the slave trade, for he found that most of the vessels engaged in the slave trade were built in the United States. Since he had been a Member of this House, now some fifteen years, he had directed himself to improve the condition of the officers and seamen whose duty called them to the coast of Africa. In former days they were cheated of their prize-money, and the Government participated in the robberies. ["Order!"] Well, then, the Government participated in the abstraction of the money from them. The Secretary of State had most handsomely supported him against the Government and the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the day in doing away with this injustice, and at last he had succeeded in recovering the payment of five per cent, which was formerly deducted from all prize-money. The squadron on the coast, in spite of the Act of 1845, and in spite of French co-operation, which crippled them in all their exertions, were performing wonders, and doing honour to themselves and to the service.
§ LORD C. HAMILTON
was surprised to hear any one who had paid attention to the subject for such a length of time as the hon. Member, attribute all the evils he had enumerated to the operation of the Act of 1845, when he did not once allude to that of 1846. The omission appeared very remarkable; but as the hon. and gallant Member had referred to the former Act in this spirit, he might be excused if he turned to the report of the Commissioners at the Havannah in 1846, wherein they stated that no vessel had arrived there from any slave port during the month previous to their despatch, and that nothing had transpired to occasion any belief that slaves bad been imported. The Commissioners of Loango, in the same year, informed the Government that the slave trade there was quite destroyed. The House would observe, that these statements were made in 1846, so that the Act of 1845, which had then been in operation for a year, could not have had the effect ascribed to it by the hon. and gallant Member. How then could he, or any one, attribute to the treaty with the French, in 1845, any of those difficulties with which the emanci- 1129 pators of the slaves had to struggle, and which threatened to render futile all the magnificent sacrifices made by this country in the cause of freedom? The noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston), at the conclusion of his most manly address, with that spirit which had always animated the British statesman, declared that he would not diminish the number of our cruisers employed in the suppression of that dreadful trade. In that sentiment he thoroughly agreed with the noble Lord; but he wished that the course of previous legislation on the subject would enable him, while complimenting the officers and men on their zeal and activity, to allude with equal force to the success of the example set by this country in the emancipation of her colonies. He feared, however, that in spite of the immense sacrifices we had made, and of the length of time we had devoted to legislating on the subject, we were regarded, not as a shining light to lead other nations into the track of humanity, but rather as a beacon to warn them lest they should suffer the shipwreck of those colonial interests which we had ruined under the influence of of high-sounding theories.
§ LORD HOTHAM
could not but express the gratification he felt at finding that however the House might be disposed to condemn the system itself, or to hold contending opinions on the merits of our legislation, there was no hon. Gentleman who found fault with the mode in which it was carried out, or attempted to find fault with the officers and men employed on the service. He had been fearful, considering how much had been said, more particularly by one hon. Member opposite, of the idleness of Her Majesty's ships, that it might be supposed by the House that the officers and men of the ships on the west coast of Africa were liable to the same imputation; but as no one, notwithstanding this language, seemed to be of this opinion, he would not take up the time of the House by giving any explanation of the numerous and arduous duties which fell to the officers and men on that station. Indeed, no one could be well aware how arduous, difficult, and responsible they were. As regarded the task which devolved upon his relative who had the honour to fill a high trust on that station, it would be difficult to give any idea of its harassing nature to both body and mind; but he could not sit down without stating that his labour and responsibility, great as they were, had been and were mitigated by the 1130 constant support he received from the noble Lord at the head of the Admiralty, and from the noble Lord at the head of Foreign Affairs. With both of them his relative was in constant communication, and from them had received the warmest approval. They put the kindest construction on his acts, and adopted any suggestions he made. Having no political relation with the Government, he was the more ready to avail himself of that opportunity to return his acknowledgments. With respect to the question itself, he hoped means would be found to mitigate the many evils to which the victims of the slave trade were necessarily exposed.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
said, that, as the noble Lord had stated that the number of slaves imported into Cuba for the last two years did not exceed 2,000 annually, he wished to ask him to what period his reports reached; and, if it were from the latest accounts he derived his information?
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
, in reply, said that the accounts to which he referred were from the end of the year 1845 to the end of 1847, and that only 2,000 slaves were known to have been imported in 1846. He did not recollect the precise date of the latest accounts in 1847; but they came down to a later period of the year, and it was supposed that the same number of slaves had been imported into Cuba as in the preceding year.
§ MR. WARD
hoped the House would allow him to corroborate the statement of the noble Lord opposite (Lord Hotham) as to the sense entertained by the Government of the distinguished services of his gallant relative (Sir C. Hotham), in carrying out the responsible duty confided to his charge. In everything connected with the discipline of the squadron, which had been before his arrival in rather a lax state, he had introduced changes of the most valuable and wholesome character; and in consequence of his sanitary regulations the health of the men had been fully restored during the last two years, so that the squadron was comparatively free of those fevers which had been so fatal before we served our apprenticeship in the service of the coast. In fact there never was a squadron which had been brought to a higher state of discipline, or the health of which had suffered less from the viccissitudes of climate. The statements which had been given forth as to the fevers and ill health necessarily consequent on long service on 1131 the coast, had been extremely exaggerated; and the last returns would prove that service there was perfectly compatible with the enjoyment of good health. By recent regulations, officers, instead of serving four years, were allowed to change after two years; and he did not believe the country would any longer be guilty of taking part in the horrors of which the hon. Member drew such a frightful picture. Without touching on general or political considerations, he hoped he might be permitted to state that during the last twelve months, the success of the squadron had been commensurate with its efforts. The number of captures had been most remarkable; and though the number of slaves carried into Brazil might have been 50,000 during the last year, yet it was evident when there were captures of eight, ten, or even thirteen slavers within a month, as appeared by the reports received by Government, that a trade subject to such chances must be most materially discouraged. There was one consideration, with regard to which this success was particularly important. They were trying as he feared too tardily, and for the first time, the experiment of free emigration to the West Indies; and from the accounts which had been laid before them, he believed the only hope of redeeming those colonies depended on its fortunate result. It was plain, if Cuba and the Brazils found no other check to the slave trade than that which the salutary but tardy sense of their own danger might prescribe, and slaves were poured into these countries till it was no longer safe to import them for fear of a revolution, that the prospect for our West Indies must be looked upon as very bad indeed, and that the last chance of retrieving their condition would be utterly lost.
§ MR. HUTT
replied: He did not think as the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) appeared to imagine, 600,000l. or 700,000l. was a large sum for a great country like this to spend in such a noble object as the suppression of slavery; but he did think it was too great a sum to be lavished and squandered away without any return.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ House adjourned at a quarter past Twelve o'clock.