Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the grievances complained of in the Crown Colonies of Ceylon and British Guiana, and to report to the House whether any measures can be adopted for the better Administration and Government of those Dependencies.
§ MR. BAILLIE
said, he did not think it was necessary to offer any apology for bringing forward the present Motion, for he believed that a general feeling had long prevailed in the public mind of this country, that the Colonial Office was incapable to discharge with advantage the great and important duties which were entrusted to it. The public would not fail to perceive that for a series of years there had been a succession of Colonial Ministers appointed in this country—men of the greatest talent and ability—no one of whom had succeeded in gaining the confidence of the inhabitants of the colonies, in giving satisfaction to this country, or in gaining credit for himself or for the Government with which he was connected. And assuredly after the painful exposures which took place last Session of Parliament, it would not be contended that the present Secretary of State for the Colonies had been more fortunate than his predecessors, notwithstanding the high expectations which were formed in the breasts of our colonial fellow-subjects, in consequence of his previous declarations with respect to our colonial 939 government. Mr. Montgomery Martin, in his History of the British Colonies, remarked that within the short space of two years, four Secretaries of the Colonies had been appointed in Downing-street. Four Under Secretaries of State had been appointed in the same time; and Mr. Montgomery Martin very sensibly added—"I ask any unprejudiced man how the colonies can he well governed under such a system?" But it was not his (Mr. Baillie's) intention to enter into any discussion with reference to the management or the details of the Colonial Office. He had no wish to make any comment either on their remissness, or on their neglect of the performance of those duties which have been committed to them. He had a more serious and important accusation to bring before the House, for he charged the Colonial Office with tyranny and oppression—tyranny towards those colonies and dependencies which, having no constitutional form of government or system of representation, were wholly at the mercy of the Colonial Office, and totally dependent on the will and pleasure of its chief. He (Mr. Baillie) charged the Colonial Office with a wasteful and extravagant expenditure of the colonial resources, rendering it necessary to impose burdens upon the colonies, which, in the altered circumstances of those colonies, were now become altogether intolerable, and were the fruitful sources of that discontent which now so unhappily prevailed. There could not be a doubt that much of the discontent which existed in the colonies had arisen from the extravagant notions which were entertained at home, that colonial government ought to be a model of our own; and those persons formed their opinions from the costly and expensive institutions of the mother country, being totally ignorant of the wants and necessities, as well as of the feelings and opinions, of the colonists. How would they apply a remedy to this state of things, till they conceded to the colonies the complete control of their own expenditure, and the entire management of their own affairs? An hon. Gentleman who was examined before a Committee of the House of Commons during the last Session of Parliament, and who was eminently qualified to form an opinion upon the subject, for he had been fifteen years Colonial Secretary at Ceylon (Mr. Philip Anstruther), was examined before the Committee on Coffee and Sugar Plantations, with respect to the financial situation of Ceylon, and 940 the question being put to him as to the possible reduction of expenditure in that colony, Mr. Anstruther says:—It is impossible to say to what extent the expenditure may not he reduced, if you are determined to cut your coat according to your cloth. There is hardly a limit; I do not know that the colony would be worse administered at half the cost: but the fault of all our colonies, as far as we know, is, that every colony is a miniature of the Imperial Government—we must have a treasury, and we must have an audit office, and all these are highly paid; indeed it is a mere caricature, it is very much so; but the Colonial Office might change its system entirely.He (Mr. Baillie) quite agreed with this gentleman, that the Colonial Office might change its system entirely; but he (Mr. Baillie) went farther, and said the Colonial Office must change its system entirely. He (Mr. Baillie) said, "You Gentlemen of the Colonial Office, by the impedients you have thrown in the way of colonial progress, you have reduced the colonies to a state of poverty and ruin, and you must not now be astonished if the colonies are determined to cut their coat according to their cloth, and to appear in the habiliments of paupers." Before proceeding farther, perhaps it would be well that he (Mr. Baillie) should quote the opinion of another gentleman, who ought to be considered of high authority, especially by Her Majesty's Government, for they had promoted him to a place of high responsibility. He alluded to Mr. Herman Merivale, the permanent Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, and the gentleman who, he presumed, was the chief manager in the Colonial Office. He was formerly Professor of Political Economy in the University of Oxford, and he was promoted to his present position in consequence of the able views which he had published on colonial government. He (Mr. Baillie) found in that gentleman's lectures on colonisation the views which he (Mr. Merivale) entertained with respect to the present management of the colonies and the whole colonial system. He says—Our own times are probably the first in which the governing body, in large States, has sought to acquire strength by multiplying dependants on the public purse; a matter of state-craft now well understood in some great European kingdoms. Under our old colonial system, no temptation whatever was held out to self-interest, assuming the mask of patriotism—the commonest form of hypocrisy in these days. The expense of the civil establishment in Massachusetts' Bay, before the commencement of the American war, was estimated by Adam Smith at about 18,000l. a year; that of New Hampshire and Rhode Island, 3,500l. each; that of Connecticut, 4,000l.; that of New 941 York and Pennsylvania, 4,500l. each; that of New Jersey, 1,200l.; that of Virginia and South Carolina, 8,000l. each: total, 55,200l.He then compared the civil expenditure of the colonies in 1836 with the revenue, and went on to observe—an ever memorable example at how small an expense 3,000,000 of people may not only he governed, but well governed.He then stated the civil expenditure of our North American colonies in 1836, and continued—If this enormous difference were compensated by superior government, I, for one, should be little disposed to cavil at the amount of the sums which the people of the colonies are called on to advance for the purchase of so inestimable a blessing. But I might safely ask those who entertain the highest notions of government and its duties, whether any of its functions, moral or material, are better fulfilled in our colonies of the present day than they were in the ancient American provinces?Such were the opinions of the political economist. He (Mr. Baillie) knew not what might be the opinion of the now Member of the Government (Mr. Merivale), He knew not whether that gentleman was subject to that weakness of human nature which seemed always to besot those who became Members of Government; but this he would say, that the sensitive feelings of the gentleman must have been rudely shocked, if, believing as he did that 3,000,000 of people could be not only governed, but well governed, at a cost of 55,200l. a year, he found upon his introduction to the Colonial Office that the colony of British Guiana, with 120,000 inhabitants, cost 273,000l. a year for its civil administration, being an amount equal to 2l. 6s. a head for every living soul in the colony, or one-sixth more than the cost per head to the people of the mother country. It should be borne in mind, too, that the people of this country are the most heavily taxed people upon the face of the earth. But here were people who, without the cost of an army or a navy, were taxed one-sixth more as colonists than the people of the mother country. Such, then, were the grounds upon which he (Mr. Baillie) should venture to pray for the indulgence of the House whilst he proceeded to detail the case which he had to bring forward; and it would be then for the House to decide whether be had made out a sufficient one for the Committee he sought for. It was well known that the British colonies were subject to various forms of government. Some were provided with legislative assemblies, and a form of popular representation; 942 some with only a slight approach to a representative system; and there were others, fewer still, who were governed by a pure and simple despotism, subject only to the supreme will and pleasure—or caprice would be probably the most fitting word—of an individual who, as the force of party might prevail in this country, should find himself placed in the position of Secretary of State for the Colonies. It was to this latter class of colonies that he (Mr. Baillie) wished to direct the attention of the House; and amongst that class which were subjected to pure and simple despotism they might place the important colony of Ceylon. He placed it in that category, its legislative administration being confided to a governor and council, every member of which council was named either by the governor himself, or by the Secretary of State for the Colonies in this country. They therefore had a form of government without any pretence of representation; and in consequence of alleged abuses arising therefrom, very great discontent had prevailed in the colony. That discontent existed not only amongst the native, but amongst the European population, and had lately manifested itself amongst the native population in the only way in which an uneducated and ignorant people were accustomed to make remonstrances to a Government, namely, in the shape of an open demonstration of rebellion. It had also shown itself amongst the European population; but in the more civilised form of memorials to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and petitions to that House. He would read a few passages from one of the petitions addressed to that House, in order that the House might know what were the grievances of which the colonists complained. The petitioners were merchants, planters, and traders of the island of Ceylon, and they stated—That your petitioners are deeply interested in the welfare of this island, in which their property is invested, their means of living procured, and now address your honourable House under a sense of suffering no ordinary hardship and injustice. Your petitioners are labouring under a burden of excessive taxation disproportionate to their means of payment, and consider that the revenues of the island are diverted to many objects with which they should not properly be burdened. That the administration of the law is tortuous and uncertain; the delays unavoidable in civil suits amount in many cases to a denial of justice, and the appointment of judges at the principal towns who have never studied or practised the law, from other branches of the public service, to seats in our first courts of civil jurisdiction. 943 though often complained of by your petitioners, still continues. That the constitution of the Council of this island does not lead your petitioners to hope for any amelioration through their means. The unpaid unofficial members, who are the nominees of the Governor, are powerless to originate any measure; and, judging from the past, your petitioners have no hope in them for the future, as they do not enjoy the confidence of the community. That many of your petitioners have invested large sums in the cultivation of coffee and the purchase of real property, and they now find their attempts to develop the resources of the island have turned out most disastrously: more than one-third of the estates in the island have lately changed owners by forced sales, at, in most instances, not a tithe of their cost. The best household properties in the Fort of Colombo and other largo towns have been depreciated 40 or 50 per cent, and rents have fallen in proportion. Whilst these circumstances have caused great loss and suffering to your petitioners, they observe, with deep regret, an increase in the expenditure of the colony, the maintenance of useless sinecure offices, and the institution of new offices, whilst many already in existence have no adequate duties to perform. To bring the expenditure within the income, public works of the first necessity, such as the repair of roads, have been entirely suspended; expenditure being nearly confined to the payment of salaries. That the price of ordinary Ceylon coffee in the London market has fallen from 100s. per cwt. in 1839 and 184:0, to 28s. per cwt. at the date of the last advices which your petitioners have received. That the great bulk of the plantation kinds have experienced nearly a similar depreciation; and plantations are, consequently, being maintained at a loss, which cannot long be borne by their owners, and is resulting in their total abandonment.They then proceeded to complain that the produce of their colony was subjected to a duty of 37s. 4d. per cwt., which was 200 per cent on its importation into this country. This was a pretty specimen of the free-traders' justice. They opened their ports for free trade to Europe and America, whilst they laid 200 per cent upon the produce of their own colonies. There were various other complaints in the petition, into which he (Mr. Baillie) would not then go. He merely stated the principal subjects. Such, then, was the state of the island of Ceylon when Lord Torrington was sent out as Governor in the commencement of the year 1848. He found the colony labouring under great depression. Distress universally prevailed. Estates in which large capitals had been invested, were every day being brought to execution sales, or altogether abandoned by the owners. The revenue of the colony had fallen below its expenditure, so that danger existed that funds would not be forthcoming sufficient to pay even the officers of the State. In short, Lord Torrington found financial affairs much in the 944 same condition in Ceylon as he had left them at home in the mother country—there was a deficit in the Exchequer; and he seemed to think that he should follow as closely as possible the example of the Chancellor of the Exchequer at home—of that right hon. Baronet whom he (Mr. Baillie) was sorry not to see then in his place. Well, Lord Torrington being, as be presumed, a free-trader, did not appear to have contemplated any increase in the import duties; and being also a Whig, without the fear of a financial reform association before his eyes, nothing remained for him but to follow the example of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in this country, and to propose an increase of direct taxation. Not having the example of an income-tax ready made to his hands, which he might have proposed to his Council at once to double in amount, he was obliged to have recourse to other resources; and, on the spur of the moment, he appeared to have hit upon a financial scheme which was, of all others, the most impracticable to be carried into effect, and which was, at the same time, the most obnoxious to the inhabitants of Ceylon. He published an ordinance for the imposition of four new taxes—a poll-tax for the construction of roads, a tax upon all the shops of the colony, a tax upon guns, and a tax upon dogs. And they were assured by Lord Torrington, in a speech addressed to his Council, that those taxes bad received the full concurrence and sanction of Earl Grey; but he (Lord Torrington), at the same time, stated, that it was not his intention to press the measure, for a reason which must certainly be admitted to be a valid one—namely, that the taxes were not likely to increase the revenue. Now, it was unfortunate that the discovery was not made at an earlier period, because it would have saved Earl Grey from giving his approval to a system of taxation which was not likely to increase the revenue, and was very likely to increase the discontent of the people; and it would have saved the colony from the horrors and miseries of a popular outbreak, because the manner in which those taxes were levied was the cause—the immediate cause—of the late rebellion. This was shown, first of all, by a memorial from nearly all the merchants, planters, and traders of Colombo, who memorialised Earl Grey upon the subject. It should be recollected that they were not interested parties, for the taxes were not levied upon them. They said— 945Under the extreme and painful depression of the colony in every branch of trade and enterprise, as well as a decreasing revenue, your memorialists have felt that it was not an increase of taxation that was called for, so much as a diminution in the heavy expenditure which pervades every department of the colonial government. Were opportunity afforded, your memoralists could point out many instances where wholesome reform and legitimate retrenchments might be made without in the least affecting the efficiency of the Executive, But in the midst of the increasing difficulties of the colony, the colonial government have not only in one session, and together, imposed four taxes of a novel character, but levied them in so objectionable and vexatious a manner as to irritate the people, and urge them to seek redress by personal appeals to his Excellency the Governor, and by petitions to Her Majesty, while, un-happily, too many have made them but a cloak for their own seditious and disloyal purposes. Your memorialists are far from imputing any blame to the local government for originating the taxes in question; but they most respectfully submit, that the fault lay in the provisions of the ordinances which legalised them, and subsequently vexatious manner in which they have been brought into operation. The four new taxes referred to are—1st, the gun-tax; 2nd, the shop or boutique-tax; 3rd, the dog-tax; and, 4th, the labour or poll-tax. The first of these (the gun-tax) compels the owner to pay 2s. 6d. annually for a license for each gun. Already the new tariff had provided that, in lieu of 5 per cent ad valorem, 5s, should be paid on the importation of every gun, thus establishing an increase to the purchaser of from o to 33 per cent on a gun costing 15s. But, independent of a tax already so heavily increased, the mode in which the additional tax of 2s. 6d. has been levied, is one that has called forth the greatest amount of dissatisfaction and condemnation from all parties, and has been made the first ostensible cause of excitement and revolt in the interior. The owners of the guns have been required to attend at Colombo, Kandy, or Gallo, from the utmost limits of the province in which they were respectively situated, some extending to forty miles or more; the illiterate owner was then required to put in his written application—and in English—for a license. The native had no alternative but apply to a writer at hand to make out the application, for which he was compelled to pay, in some instances 6d., in others 3d.; and he returned to his village after several days of loss in travelling, and payment of from 2s. 9d. to 3s., until the following year, when he must renew his license and his trouble. With such undue provision for its collection was this tax brought into operation, that in the first instance the villagers were kept a week or more from their homes, whilst others were obliged to perform their journey several times for the one object, solely because due provision had not been made for issuing the licenses.Now, it was remarkable that, although Lord Torrington had stigmatised the memorialists as bankrupts the most of them, and as being quite unworthy of notice—[Mr. HAWES: No, no!] Yes he did. [Mr. HAWES: Quote the words of the despatch,] He (Mr. Baillie) deemed it unnecessary. 946 It was sufficient to state, that Lord Torrington, when he afterwards thought it advisable to repeal those taxes, made use of the very same arguments which those people had used in their memorial to Earl Grey. He (Mr. Baillie) alluded to Lord Torrington's despatch in which he wrote to Earl Grey for the purpose of communicating the fact that he had repealed the taxes. And it had so happened, that Earl Grey's despatch, in which he fully approved of them, crossed the very one of Lord Torrington's in which their repeal was mentioned. The words were as follows:—This ordinance has since been brought into operation, and I am bound to confess that difficulties have been experienced in carrying out its details, which can be thoroughly appreciated only by those resident on the spot, and which have arisen in a great degree out of native habits and customs, and from that mistrust of each other, combined with ignorance and timidity, which it is almost impossible to eradicate from the minds and feelings of the people. By way of illustration of this remark, I would mention the fact, that instead of one man bringing a number of guns to be registered for himself and his neighbours, every man from a whole district would come out the same day and hour, to the number of several hundred persons, making it utterly impossible for the agent to register their guns on that or the next day, by which arrangement numbers of people would be kept waiting at a considerable expense to themselves and loss of time; and no exertions or representations of the officers of Government could succeed in remedying or preventing this inconvenience. The tax was equal to 20 or 25 per cent upon the value of a great majority of the guns possessed by the natives, of which, indeed, many were utterly useless and valueless, except as curiosities, which had been kept as heir-looms in their families. Again, it has been ascertained that the people in many instances preferred destroying their guns, that others had concealed them, and that it was in fact very difficult in a wild country to compel the people to come in to register fire-arms. It was found, also, that dishonest pedlars had in many instances circulated delusive reports amongst the natives, by which means they had persuaded them to sell their guns absolutely for a mere trifle. Although I have little doubt that the tax could be collected next year with less difficulty, I am nevertheless sensible that some discontent and annoyance might arise from the attempt to enforce it, and I am bound to admit that the revenue hitherto derived from it has not been so large as I anticipated, although I have reason to believe that the actual number of guns was not over-estimated in my previous calculations. That a registration is necessary is beyond a doubt; and I have, with the unanimous concurrence of my Executive Council, recommended that the Bill of last Session should be amended by striking out the word annual; thus leaving it compulsory on all parties possessing fire-arms to register them, but only requiring one registration and one payment. By this alteration I have every reason to believe that the registration 947 will be easily completed, and that the measure will now be willingly adopted by the people. By this means one ground for discontentment will be done away with.Lord Torrington went on to speak about the dog ordinance and the shop license. He (Mr. Baillie) would not go into the details upon those subjects, because hon. Members had already read them. But the fact was apparent, that those ordinances were the cause of the rebellion. It did not, however, appear that the rebellion was very formidable in its nature, or very extensive in its ramifications. The people seemed to have set up a sort of king for themselves like the Irish, and, like the Irish, they seemed to have abandoned him in the hour of need; but the rebellion was quelled without any loss to Her Majesty's troops. As the hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Hawes) had said last year—The rebellion had been very much exaggerated. In point of fact, the troops had been called out for show more than for real use.And now he (Mr. Baillie) came to that part of the transaction which it was impossible to refer to without pain, which it was impossible to mention without calling up a blush into the cheek of every Englishman. He alluded to the severities practised upon the people after the rebellion had been suppressed. They had heard a good deal at one time about the severities practised by Prince Windischgrätz at Vienna, when, it would be remembered, the newspapers, especially those that supported Her Majesty's Government, severely censured that general for his harshness. Now, the rebellion at Vienna had been accompanied by every atrocity that could be conceived, and it was only suppressed after a long and arduous struggle, and an enormous sacrifice of human life: and all that they had heard of the after severities was, that two or three of the leaders had been executed. What said a newspaper which was said to be conducted by a Member of Her Majesty's Government, upon the subject of the execution of Blum?—The Economist, speaking of Blum, said—The most conspicuous act of violence committed by the Austrian Government is the execution of Blum at Vienna. We are not disposed to think much of the sanctity with which the gentlemen at Frankfort have endeavoured to hedge round their persons, by declaring them inviolate. Every Member of the English Parliament may be prosecuted and punished for crimes, as witness Mr. Smith O'Brien; and why not, therefore, Robert Blum and the Frankfort deputies? We do not find fault with his execution because he was a 948 deputy; but in the present state of political excitement, when old authorities have deservedly forfeited much respect, when men are almost everywhere eagerly seeking after political improvement, having no worse motives than those who adhere to the old systems, it is impolitic to begin executions for any kind of political action. If Blum had been one of Latour's murderers, hang him by all means; but being only a violent democrat, who had assisted his brother democrats in the defence of their cause, after that cause was vanquished there was no necessity nor reason for putting him to death. So the act seems to have been appreciated in Germany; and while it has sullied the fair fame of Windischgrätz, it has done more than even the march of Jellachich to kindle the anger of all Germany against the power of the Emperor. The particular instance illustrates the general principle, that in the present state of doubt as to political institutions, and with the present general conviction of the fallibility of statesmen, it is wise to be forbearing, and not to enforce by the sword the supremacy of a power which may be founded in error, and soon, in turn, humbled with the dust. We cannot admit the asserted effect of example in such cases. Executions have not deterred men from vile and execrable crimes. They have been given up for many penal offences, because they were gratuitous cruelty. Political offences of the kind committed by Blum have no shame attached to them. Men are often encouraged to commit them by the applause of their fellows; and when executions do not deter from crimes that are connected with shame and infamy, they are not likely to deter from actions that are honoured and applauded. They induce reprisals, and one such execution, instead of stopping revolts, is more likely to lead to a long train of assassinations.This writer had heard, it seemed, of executions at Vienna, but had never heard of anything of the kind under the paternal influence of the Colonial Office. He had never heard of the establishment of martial law in Ceylon, or of the executions that had taken place under those military tribunals. But the House had been furnished with returns of those executions, and they found that eighteen men were executed under martial law, besides a vast number of others having been sentenced to different degrees of banishment. And he (Mr. Baillie) confessed he was surprised, on looking over the list of offences for which they had been sentenced, to find that men should have been condemned under such charges. He would read a few extracts upon that subject. They found—Kaddapolla Unnanse, first, for directly or indirectly holding correspondence with rebels, and not giving all the information in his power which might lead to the apprehension of a proclaimed rebel" [that was for not choosing to betray his friend], "he professing to know his place of concealment on or about the 17th of August, 1848; secondly, for administering or conniving at the administration of a treasonable oath to one Kirri 949 Bandia, on or about the 17th of August, 1848. Found guilty, sentenced to be shot to death; sentence carried into effect at seven o'clock A. M., 20th of August, 1848.Then came four other men with very long names, for having appeared in company with an armed assemblage, headed by one Dingeralla, calling himself a king. Found guilty. Sentence, that the whole of the prisoners be shot to death; the sentence was carried into immediate execution. Now, those people were not charged with rebellion, but merely with having been found with an armed band, and, strange to say, the very man in whoso company they were charged with being—the mock king Dingeralla—was himself tried subsequently, recommended to mercy, and sentenced merely to transportation. It appeared, indeed, that those executions were carried on with no less brutality than haste. And he (Mr. Baillie) used the word brutality advisedly, for one of the executions, the particulars of which he would read, fully justified the expression. The account he was about to read was taken from the Colombo Observer, which was the newspaper of the largest circulation in Ceylon; and, indeed, he might say, that Lord Torrington himself had confirmed the statement in speaking of the executions. In speaking of the execution of a priest, the Colombo Observer, of the 1st of November, 1848, said—The courts-martial, for which there is no redress, form the saddest part of the dark and bloody tragedy. Three or four European officers, utterly ignorant of the mode of conducting such inquiries, participating in the surrounding excitement, and utterly ignorant of native character, in a country where the highest judicial authority has declared perjury to be the rule, correct evidence the exception—under such circumstances, we say, it was not likely that truth would be patiently searched out, and innocence protected. We have heard a gentleman who was engaged on some investigation, declare that he was most painfully situated. He had heard of the character of the people, and that, notwithstanding all the acumen of judges and lawyers, the civil courts frequently came to erroneous conclusions; and yet hero it was necessary to decide off-hand on the guilt or innocence of a fellow-creature, and life or death in a few hours was in the balance. Witnesses came up and swore point blank, but whether to believe them or disbelieve them he did not know, there being about as much reason for the one conclusion as the other. The court-martial upon the priest, who was shot in his robes at Kandy, may, we suppose, be taken as a fair specimen of these tribunals. He was accused of administering an oath of secrecy regarding the pretender's place of concealment. There were only two witnesses against him, a father and son, who, as the bystanders knew (though the members of the court-martial were ignorant of the fact), appeared under 950 very suspicious circumstances, one of them being in some way a candidate for a Government situation. Of bourse they deposed as to the oath; but even in the cross-examination, such as the officers were able to make, the bystanders, who understand the habits of the people, perceived material discrepancies. At the conclusion of the trial several legal practitioners who were present, and therefore thoroughly convinced of the priest's innocence, called upon the Queen's Advocate, and so satisfied him as to the correctness of their views, that he waited upon the Governor, who happened to be then in Kandy. The interview could, however, have been no more agreeable than it was successful, for the Queen's Advocate returned, apparently greatly mortified at the reception he met with, and informed the gentlemen who, had so humanely interested themselves, that at all hazards the Governor had determined the priest should be shot, and he was shot accordingly next morning. The feeling that pervaded the Governor's mind may be gathered from the indecent refusal of this poor priest's dying request, not to be shot in his sacerdotal habiliments. The man had a perfect right to die in any dress he pleased, and not only was this right violated, but an insult offered to the followers of the Buddhist faith, by compelling him to wear his inner priestly dress. It is now, however, universally believed that this priest was entirely innocent—that he had had no communication whatever with the King. He was a low-countryman, who had lately settled in the interior; was known to few of the people, and not likely to be entrusted with any of their secrets; and even the pretender, it is now said, declares he knew nothing whatever of him, and was not concealed at any time in the same part of the country where the priest resided.Now he (Mr. Baillie) put entirely out of view the question of the guilt or innocence of the man. He assumed that he was guilty. But the mode and manner of his execution were alike an outrage upon humanity and religion; and had such an act been committed at Madrid, under General Narvaez, we should never have heard the last of it. Indeed, it was only in Spain that we could hear of such transactions as had been lately committed in Ceylon. But, in order to appreciate the acts and feelings of Lord Torrington, it was necessary to refer to his correspondence with the Chief Justice of Ceylon (Sir A. Oliphant). It seemed, that as soon as the courts-martial were suspended, the ordinary tribunals came into operation again, and the remainder of the prisoners were tried in the Supreme Court at Kandy before the Chief justice. Fourteen of those men were condemned to death by the Chief Justice, who communicated the fact in a letter to the Governor, Lord Torrington, dated September 23, 1848, which he (Mr. Baillie) would read to the House. After setting forth the names of the persons, he went on to say—Under different circumstances I should have 951 recommended your Excellency to have executed such three or four of those last mentioned as should, after minute investigation into their respective cases by the law officers of the Crown, have appeared to have been most guilty. To have carried out the last penalty of the law against these, would have been necessary for the vindication of justice, order, and good government, and for an example to others. But I find that that example has been already made. I learn that some twenty persons have been already shot for their share in this rebellion by courts-martial. I therefore think—when it is considered no one European has been put to death, that one soldier only has been wounded by the rebels, that no persons have appeared in warlike array against the troops since the outbreak at Matelle and Kurnegalle—that the blood which has been already spilt is sufficient for all purposes, whether of vindication of the law or for example.Now what was the answer of Lord Torrington? He (Mr. Baillie) would read it:—Queen's House, Colombo, Sep. 25,1846.Sir—I have the honour to acknowledge your letter of the 23rd inst., transmitting the notes of evidence and sentences of death passed on the prisoners convicted of high treason at the late session of the Supreme Court held at Kandy, for the special purpose of trying persons implicated in the late rebellion. I have given to this communication not only the respectful attention becoming your high authority, but that painful and anxious consideration inseparable from the solemn question of life and death suggested by your general recommendation of all the prisoners for a commutation of their punishments. But, after soliciting the advice and opinions of the Executive Council, it is with great reluctance that I find myself unable to concur with you in the propriety of that course towards some of those men convicted in due course of law, and whose guilt has been so clearly established, that the strict line of your duty, uninfluenced by other considerations, would have led you, as you state, to recommend to me to inflict upon them the last penalty of the law, in vindication of justice, order, and good government. These considerations, I must observe, are unconnected with the judicial question on which it was properly within your province to assist me with your advice; but, irrespective of this, I am compelled to say that neither they nor the reasoning founded on them, which has induced you to adopt a different line, in recommending these parties to mercy, has produced the same result in my mind; whilst, at the same time, such publicity has unfortunately been given to your opinions on this subject as would involve the Government in embarrassment, were I to set aside your recommendation to mercy, and leave these individuals for execution. On the other hand, I foresee much practical inconvenience likely to result from this summary review of all the proceedings of the highest civil tribunal in the island, followed by a sweeping modification of its judgment upon men convicted of the gravest offences known to our laws. Upon a deliberate calculation, however, of the comparative evils of either course, and feeling strongly the disadvantage at which I am placed in acting on my own judgment, I have deemed it best to lean to the side of mercy, and to adopt so much of your recommendation as regards the 952 commutation of all capital punishments, substituting transportation for life in the instance of those convicts who have not been recommended to mercy by the juries, and transportation for fourteen years in all the other cases.(Signed).—"TORRINGTON.Now, it appeared from this document that Lord Torrington had been compelled, against his will, to temper justice with mercy. One would have thought that he would have felt a deep obligation to the man who would have relieved him from the awful responsibility of deciding between the life and death of a fellow-creature. It was not so, however. And further, they found that not only execution, but confiscation of property, was the order of the day. A proclamation, signed by the island secretary, Sir J. E. Tennant, dated August 18, 1848, was issued, which said—That the lands and property of all persons who shall, after this 18th day of August, 1848, be found to have been absent from their ordinary places of residence during the last twenty days, without giving a satisfactory account of themselves, will be declared forfeited and confiscated to the Crown.Now, it appeared from the admissions of Lord Torrington himself, that such was the haste with which the proclamation was carried into effect, that not only were properties confiscated, but they were actually sold, and the owners of some of them were subsequently proved to have been innocent. Lord Torrington, indeed, said that those persons' properties should be restored to them. But how was that to be done? They could not restore property after it had been sold. They might, indeed, hand over the proceeds of the sale; but what sort of compensation would that be to persons whose properties had been sold in a hurry, for probably one-fourth of their value? And these were the measures that had been sanctioned and approved of by Earl Grey, and by which he hoped to make good, and happy, and faithful subjects to Her Majesty. But there was another matter of which they heard nothing from the blue book. Lord Torrington had at last discovered that he was acting illegally, and that it was necessary to get an act of indemnity, to save not only himself, but all those who were acting under his orders, from the consequences of those proceedings. The Council was accordingly summoned, and a Bill of Indemnity was laid before them. Now, that Council, as he (Mr. Baillie) had said before, was composed of men wholly and entirely nominated by the Governor and the Colonial Office. Out of fourteen men comprising 953 that Council, eight were official men, and six were non-official. Yet the Council so composed were actually divided equally in opinion whether they would pass the Bill of Indemnity. Seven voted for and seven against, and the Bill was actually carried at last by the casting vote of Lord Torrington himself—Sir James Emerson Tonnent, the Colonial Secretary, having declined to vote at all upon the occasion. There could not have been a greater proof of the weight of feeling of the colonists than such conduct upon a question of vital importance to the character of the Government. He (Mr. Baillie) thought he had now shown that the colony of Ceylon was in a very unsatisfactory condition, and that a Parliamentary inquiry was due to the colonists into the evils they complained of. He had shown them the general discontent which prevailed, not only amongst the natives, but amongst the European population. He had shown them the state of financial disorder which existed in a colony possessing 450,000l. of revenue, but which had yet been declared by the Governor unable to meet its expenditure, and which had been thrown into a state of rebellion by attempts to impose additional burdens and additional taxes. He had shown them that the English residents complained of a most defective system in the administration of justice. He had shown them that there evidently existed a most wasteful expenditure of public money; and he had shown them a Governor supending the ordinary tribunals, and establishing martial law without the consent or advice of his Council. He did not know if it was possible to add to this catalogue of complaints; but this he would say, that the noble Lord at the head of the Colonial Department (Earl Grey) had done as great injustice to Lord Torrington as to the colony to which he appointed him. To have appointed an individual without knowledge or experience of colonial government—an individual who had never shown any talent or ability in the conduct of public affairs—an individual who had never filled a post more important than that of Lord of the Bedchamber—to have appointed such an individual to the command of a great and important colony—a colony, too, labouring under peculiar circumstances of distress—such an act was, to say the least of it, one of great injustice to the individual so selected, as well as to the colony in which he was destined to receive the rudiments of his administrative education. 954 He (Mr. Baillie) trusted that the unhappy result of this experiment would act as a warning to those who might in future be intrusted with the high and responsible duty of distributing the patronage of the Crown. He (Mr. Baillie) had now to call the attention of the House to another scene of misgovernment, in which the evils of our colonial system were no less manifest than in Ceylon—he alluded to British Guiana. That settlement was long regarded as one of the most thriving and flourishing of the West Indian colonies; it was blessed with a soil of unbounded fertility and great extent; and people imagined that this was one of the colonies destined to servive the harsh experiments of the mother country. Such, however, was a vain hope. Nothing could withstand the withering influence of the Colonial Office; and British Guiana, with all its natural advantages, was now in a more deplorable condition than any of the West Indian settlements, exhibiting, in their fullest light, the evil effects of misgovernment and neglect on the part of this country. It would be remembered that when negro emancipation took place, the Colonial Office instituted no proceeding to avert or soften the difficulties which every one foresaw must follow. It never occurred to the Colonial Office to pass laws regulating or enforcing contract labour, or promulgating laws for the suppression of vagrancy, and the prevention of squatting. In fact, the Colonial Office left the result to chance. No steps whatever were taken. No measures of any kind were adopted to avert the probable evils arising from the great experiment then about to be tried. The result was most deplorable both for the colony and the mother country. The negroes soon found out that they were the masters of the planters. They exacted the most enormous wages for the least possible amount of work, and indeed gave just as much or as little as they pleased. The planters were entirely at the mercy of their caprice, and were compelled to see their canes rot upon the ground. Under those circumstances the colonists applied to the Government at home to be allowed to import labourers from other countries. They were refused. Meanwhile, however, the Governor of the colony (Sir Henry Light) continued to write home the most flourishing accounts of the prosperous condition of the settlement. "True," he said, "the planters were suffering, but the planters were the 955 few, and the negroes were the many, and the negroes were happy and flourishing;" and well, indeed, might the Governor say so, for by all accounts the negroes were drinking champagne, keeping riding horses, and, as the hon. Member for Dorsetshire (Mr. Bankes) described them, going to work in covered gigs, and, in fact, realising a social El Dorado, as complete as any which had ever been pictured by M. Proudhon or M. Louis Blanc. The result had surprised no one. The only surprise was that ruin could have been so long averted. But it had come at last, and the Colonial Office might now congratulate itself on having accomplished its mission. The ruin of the planters was complete. The value of estates in Guiana had fallen to actually nothing. An estate was sold last year for 2,000l. which had cost 24,000l., and with reference to which he had been assured, by a gentleman well qualified to judge, that the copper boilers and other machinery upon the property were alone worth the purchase money. Here, then, was an estate given away. Of course, when such was the state of things, it was natural to suppose that speculators would arise to carry on the cultivation at a loss, and to wait for reimbursement on the chances of the chapter of accidents. This was the way, in fact, in which the plantations were now carried on in Guiana. The proprietors were ruined—the estates were in the hands of merchants in this country, who were for the present carrying them on, waiting for the ultimate result. Now, to prove that he was not exaggerating the state of matters, he would refer the House to Governor Light's despatch, addressed to Earl Grey in August last. The Governor wrote—I believe at this moment, if any person could influence a change in the present stand against the civil list and supplies, it would be myself. Thus are opinions changed. But despair breaks all forms, and unless I am able, by the next mail, to communicate some other concessions to the planters, your Lordship will have to settle their financial difficulties as circumstances demand. The labourers have the money that has been expended on them since emancipation. Whatever be their rise in society hereafter, they are totally unfit now to carry on the cultivation of estates without some responsible head, though they probably will be purchasers of many of the estates as they fall to the law. Civilisation will not benefit by this change of bands, as has been proved on several estates purchased by the negroes on the east coast of Demerara, particularly where the original purchasers have created such disorders by sub-selling and sub-letting, that no combined system of industry—the only possible mode of keeping up a sugar estate—has been 956 followed. Many persons have endeavoured to pursue the metairie system since the money crisis, but few have carried it out. The negroes, not being under supervision in which they have confidence, neglect the cultivation.Ho (Mr. Baillie) would now proceed to detail the nature of the government of British Guiana. This colony was administered by a governor, and what was called a court of policy. This body consisted of eight persons, four nominated by the governor and four by the planters. To these were added a college of financial representatives, consisting of six persons, elected by the planters, and these two bodies united, formed what was called the Combined Court of British Guiana, which met once a year to vote supplies and to regulate the expenditure of the colony. Well, when this legislature assembled in 1848, they determined that it was necessary to take into consideration the state of the colony, with the view of instituting certain economical reforms, and they came to this resolution not without reason; for in no other colony did there exist abuses to a greater extent. He (Mr. Baillie) held in his hand a list of the public offices in the colony, which were in the gift of the Governor and the Colonial Office. First as to the Governor's patronage. This functionary had at his disposal places to the extent of 37,500l. annually, without including those under 250l. per annum. He would state a few of these situations. First, there was a receiver general with 2,152l., and an assistant at 694l. a year. The next functionary was no less than the sexton of George Town, who received a salary of 1,567l. Then there was the high sheriff at only 1,400l., with a clerk at 300l.; a customs waiter and searcher, brother of the high sheriff, at 858l. a year; a master pilot at 972l. a year; a treasurer to the committee of pilotage—the before-mentioned tidewaiter—at 458l. a year; a collector of rum duties at 1,008l. a year; six superintendents of rivers and creeks at 2,083l. a year; an administrator-general, receiving in fees 2,952l. a year, with an assistant receiving 1,209l. a year; eight commissaries of taxation at 325l. a year; nine ministers of the Scotch church at 5,311l. a year; an inspector of police at 957l. a year, with a house, and a clerk at 250l. a year; and two sub-inspectors at 389l. a year each. All these situations were in the gift of the Governor, irrespective of the civil list. And now for that civil list. It consisted of a governor at 5,000l, per annum; a chief justice at 957 2,500l.; the immigration agent at 1,500l.; a government secretary at 1,500l.; two puisne judges at 3,000l.; a registrar of Guiana and a registrar of Berbice at 1,200l. a piece; an attorney general at 1,100l.; and a high sheriff at 1,200l. [An Hon. MEMBER: That is the same high sheriff you referred to before.] No; this is another. A sheriff of Berbice at 1,050l.; a sheriff of Essequibo at 841l.; a financial accountant at 861l.; a harbour master at 1,000l.; a solicitor general at 300l.; a provost marshal at 214l.; an assistant government secretary at 600l., and six stipendiary magistrates at 7,200l., that was to say, at 1,200l, for each, the whole making a sum of nearly 39,000l. annually in the gift of the Colonial office. Well, it was proposed that in these salaries there should be some reduction. To this the Governor objected. An altercation ensued, and the Court threatened to stop the supplies. It was, however, ultimately arranged that the supplies should be voted for three months, so as to give the Governor an opportunity of communicating with the Colonial Office; and he would now read to the House an extract from the despatch of Earl Grey, in answer to the communication which he had received, informing him of these events. The despatch of Earl Grey was dated the 17th of June, 1848, and was to this effect:—If the measure—the withholding the supplies—be designed to enforce compliance with a demand for the reduction of the salaries granted to public servants by the civil list ordinance, it is equally unreasonable. I conceive the faith of the Crown and of the colony to be pledged to the public servants for the maintenance of the salaries granted by that ordinance for the period for which it is in force; nor would anything short of an absolute inability to redeem the pledge justify their reduction. But no such necessity exists. Governor Light has shown that the expenditure thus sanctioned (39,000l.) amounts to only one-seventh of the whole expenditure (273,000l.) of the colony, the (combined Court having complete control over the other six-sevenths, and that the revenue is rather increasing than falling off, and is derived from taxes which press little upon the planters. This proves that there was no occasion for any such measure as that which was pressed upon me—a measure to which, anxious as I am that the strictest economy should be observed in the expenditure of the colonial revenues, I felt it my duty, for the reasons I have stated, to object. At the same time, if any of the offices paid from the civil list should become vacant, I should approve of any proper and practicable reductions which can be made in the salaries attached to them.Now, it would be observed, that the Colonial Minister justified his refusal to comply 958 with the wishes of the colonists upon two grounds. The first was, that the revenue was sufficient to meet the expenditure; and the second was, that that revenue was derived from sources which did not press heavily upon the colony. But let them inquire for a moment into what were those sources. Why, a tax on a prime necessary of life—a bread tax was the very largest source of income. So here was a Minister who affected to say that the corn laws imposed the most oppressive tax which the country could suffer—writing out to say, that a similar tax was raised with so little difficulty as to justify an extravagant expenditure. The noble Lord (Earl Grey) told them, that the faith of the colony was pledged to the maintenance of the civil list; that an agreement had been made between the Combined Court and the Colonial Office, by which it was stipulated that the civil list should be paid, and that it would be a breach of faith were this stipulation violated—I'll have my bond—I will not hear thee speak:I'll have my bond, and, therefore, speak no more.I'll not be made a soft and dull-eyed fool,To shake the head, relent, and sigh, and yield To Christian intercessors.I'll have no speaking—I will have my bond.Such, then, appeared to be the spirit in which this despatch was written. But now, he had a few words to say as to this agreement. It was clearly proved before the Committee of last year, and that by no less competent a witness than Mr. Barkly, that the engagement was obtained from the colonists under false pretences, and by fraud. Mr. Barkly stated, that When the Colonial Office was anxious to raise the salary of the Governor, they applied to the Colonial Legislature. That body refused to comply; and the Colonial Office then promised that if the increased salary were granted to the Governor, that they would pass an immigration ordinance. On this understanding the Colonial Legislature consented to the wishes of the Office at homo. He would state the matter in Mr. Barkly's own words, before the Sugar and Coffee Plantation Committee last year, and the rather as that Gentleman proved by a reference to authorities what he stated. The fact was, that as soon as the required civil list was obtained, the ordinance was refused by the Colonial Office. Mr. Barkly said—I find Mr. H. M'Leod, who was sent down to 959 Demerara, in consequence of the quarrel between Governor Light and the colonists on the subject, writing thus to Lord J. Russell, on the 23rd May (Parliamentary Papers, British Guiana, 1841):—'To the enactment of the immigration ordinance I gave every facility. It was your Lordship's own promised boon to the colony, so soon as they should have agreed to the civil list question.' Notwithstanding this, as already mentioned, the immigration ordinance was refused, as soon as the civil list was secured.Now, was it not something wonderful that a Minister should accuse a colony of breach of faith when that breach was on his own side? Surely the colony would be justified in not performing their part of the agreement; but all they did was to appeal in forma pauperis—all they said was, that they were compelled to adopt the most rigid economy in expenditure—so that in such circumstances the refusal of the Colonial Office to perform its engagements, appeared to him (Mr. Baillie) to be a piece of most wanton cruelty, not to say one of the most unjust and tyrannical acts which could be committed. But to return to the proceedings of the Combined Court after the receipt of Earl Grey's despatch. The Court immediately assembled, and that despatch was laid before it. The House would remember that the Colonial Minister had stated in it that in the event of any office becoming vacant, he would approve of any reasonable reduction, which could, with the consent of all the parties concerned, be made in the salary of that office. Well, the governorship had become vacant, and the colonists proposed to reduce the salary of the Governor from 5,000l. to 3,500l. In this they were opposed by the acting Governor, who told them that if they persisted in their project, he had Earl Grey's instructions to adjourn them sine die. They did persist, and they were so adjourned, and British Guiana had since been left literally without a Government. The result was almost the annihilation of the colony. No revenue was raised—no money to pay public functionaries could be procured, until, in order to pay the salaries of the civil list, the Colonial Government, by reviving an obsolete duty on tonnage, had contrived to secure a sum of money set apart for the payment of sums foiling due upon a loan raised for the purpose of promoting immigration. He had only one subject more to notice as regarded Mr. Barkly. He regretted that that Gentleman should have sacrificed his consistency by accepting the office which he had gone out to fill. It would be remembered that Mr. Barkly, in 960 his place in the House, had denounced the policy of Government, as regarded our West India colonies—that he had appeared before the Sugar and Coffee Plantation Committee to justify the resistance showed by the Court of Guiana to the Colonial Office—and that he had stated that the colonists had been made the victims of fraud and oppression. Yet, after all this, they found Mr. Barkly accepting the office of Governor of Guiana, and going out upon the full salary of 5,000l. a year. He (Mr. Baillie) thought that he had now made out a case to justify Parliamentary inquiry. He (Mr. Baillie) was aware that he had drawn largely on the indulgence of the House, and it had been his intention to enter into the case of the Mauritius. In that colony causes of complaint similar to those which he had detailed, existed in equal force. There was a wasteful and extravagant expenditure of the public money, and an increasing inability on the part of the colonists to pay the burthens with which they were saddled. On mature reflection, however, he considered, on the whole, that it would be advisable to confine the inquiry for which he asked to the cases of the two colonies the grievances of which he had detailed. In the first place, they were the most urgent cases, and called for immediate interference; and, in the second place, he could not but remember that the closer they confined the inquiry, the greater would be the probability of their arriving at an early result. He would not, therefore, enter into the case of the Mauritius. But I will ask the House (said the hon. Gentleman) whether it is possible that our colonies can long continue to be governed under such a system—whether we can continue to deprive the inhabitants of our Crown colonies of all share in the management of their own affairs? I am aware, Sir, that the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. Hawes), will be most liberal in his promises, both for himself and the head of his department. He will tell us that he has often already recorded his vote for colonial self-government. But that is what the colonists complain of. They say—Both the hon. Gentleman and the noble Lord have expressed opinions in favour of our demands, but their opinions are at variance with their recorded votes. We have no faith in the promises of the one; we have no hope in the management of the other.And indeed, Sir, how can the inhabitants of the colonies place any confidence in the 961 Colonial Minister? How can they place confidence in a Minister who stands convicted of deliberate attempts to deceive and mislead the House of Lords as to the condition and prospects of Jamaica?—how can they place confidence in a Minister who did not hesitate to read certain portions of a memorial to show that Jamaica was in a happy and a flourishing condition, and that the island presented a good field for the investment of capital—all the time knowing, as he did know, that the document which he was quoting had been addressed to him to prove, and did prove, that the memorialists were utterly ruined, and that the large capital which they had invested in land was utterly wasted and gone? Sir, I ask, whether a Minister, who thus perverts truth to serve party purposes, can possibly enjoy the confidence of the colonists; and whether he ought to be longer entrusted with the high and responsible duty of presiding over and protecting the lives and fortunes of British subjects? Sir, nothing but the unhappy differences which existed on this side of the House during the last Session could have prevented the Opposition from uniting in a body to denounce the Minister who could be guilty of such an act, and the Cabinet which could support him. But there is a point beyond which endurance is no longer possible—there is a limit, which, once overstepped, will and must rouse any but the most effete and emasculated of mankind. Sir, that limit has been passed, and the time, I do believe, has now come when at last a dread of responsibility will not be allowed to overwhelm all sense of fairness and of honour, or to prevent a majority of this House from coming forward to give their support to a Motion for that inquiry which I demand in the name of justice, of policy, and in the name of the outraged British colonists, who, although nominally living under the shadow of a constitution which gives them a right to expect safety and protection, have yet from the benefits of that constitution been so long and so systematically excluded. The hon. Member concluded by moving the Motion of which he had given notice.
§ MR. HUME
said, that after the able and, as he hoped, convincing speech of the hon. Member who had just sat down, little remained for him to say in seconding the Motion, to induce the House to accede to the demand. In September last, a few days before the House adjourned, he (Mr. Hume) presented a petition from Ceylon 962 describing the condition of that colony, and on that occasion his hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies, who was misinformed, no doubt, declared that the statements in that petition were exaggerated and incorrect, and that the measures of Lord Torrington had been sanctioned and approved by a public meeting of the inhabitants of Ceylon, at which Sir Emerson Tennent was present. It now turned out that at that meeting there were present only eight natives who were not in the public service and depending for their bread on the Government. But though Sir Emerson Tennent stated in his despatch there was no cause for alarm, yet within a few days afterwards it appeared the colonial authorities became alarmed, and took measures which were unworthy of a British Government. It was the system under which the colonies had been managed that was the cause of the distress complained of. It mattered not who was the Colonial Secretary: so long as one man undertook to govern forty-three colonies, scattered up and down in all parts of the world, so long would they have such evils as now appeared to contend with. Considerations of money were little to be compared with the moral and physical evils produced by colonial misgovernment; and he must say that every act of the noble Lord the present Colonial Minister discredited his former professions in this House. The fault, then, was with the House for allowing such a system to continue. Under a proper system the colonies would be an assistance to the mother country, instead of a charge, as they now were, of 3,000,000l. or 4,000,000l. a year. Notwithstanding his declared wish, three years ago, on taking office, that British institutions should extend to all our colonies, up to this hour the only constitution which had been granted was one to New Zealand, which, in a few months, was repealed. Now, either the noble Lord was sincere or not. He had either no capacity to carry out what he had promised, or be had made professions which he never intended to fulfil; and in either case he ought to retire from the position which he held. What was it which had brought Ceylon into its present condition? He had long been in the habit of coupling the name of Lord Castlereagh with acts of misgovernment; but in 1811 he found Lord Castlereagh strongly recommending the Government of that day to show their appreciation of the excellent character and conduct of the 963 Cingalese, lay extending to them trial by jury, and empowering the natives to fill places of trust in various parts of the colony. What had been the result of this policy? Sir Alexander Johnstone had carried out the jury system, and the Committee which sat on the affairs of Ceylon in 1832, declared that a more peaceable and orderly community did not exist under the British Government; while Sir W. Gifford assured the House that their policy of conciliation and of confidence towards the Cingalese had been attended with the most complete success. What, after a period of twenty-six years, had produced the present state of the island? Nothing but misgovernment; and the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down might have detailed to the House a variety of individual acts which had led to the injury of the colony, and the state of disquiet which its inhabitants were now manifesting. It remained for Lord Torrington to attempt to pass such laws as were likely to produce disturbance; and from the hour of his arrival in the colony to the present time, every act of his Lordship would be found unconstitutional, and likely to cause disaffection both among the natives and the Europeans. He (Mr. Hume) would not descend to particulars, but he was prepared to show, at the proper time, the injury which step by step had been perpetrated, and the acts of oppression which had resulted in the present unsatisfactory state of affairs. One of these acts alone might, however, be adduced now. Was there on the records of Great Britain any account of men, who, for mere absence from home, had had their property confiscated, and taken military possession of, without any trial whatever having taken place? Why, every hon. Member of the House who had the slightest regard for law, justice, or the honour of his country, ought to stand up and say that an inquiry into the conduct pursued at Ceylon was imperatively necessary, and Her Majesty's Ministers ought to recall Lord Torrington before another twenty-four hours' passed over, because all the facts against his Lordship were to be found in official documents emanating from the Colonial Office. He submitted that every day the Government allowed such a governor to continue, or such a colonial officer to act as first commissioner, they became a party to his acts. Enough had been said to show that Ceylon was for many years in a happy, comfortable, loyal, and peaceable condition; the inquiry would show by what 964 means an alteration for the worse had taken place, and then the responsibility must he laid upon those to whom the blame fairly attached. It might be said that the House should not pass a severe judgment upon Earl Grey or Lord Torrington until the inquiry had first taken place; but the fact was, there were acts under their own hands to which no friend to justice or British liberty could for a moment assent. With regard to British Guiana, if ever there was a greater insult than another offered to a colony, it was in the manner in which Earl Grey had refused to allow the reduction of the expenditure in the one now named. He (Mr. Hume) had presented a petition in 1837 from the colonists of British Guiana, in which they stated that they objected altogether to being compelled to pay a civil list of 39,000l., as the taxation of the colony amounted to one-third of the value of the whole of the exports, 3,000,000l. were the value of the exports; 1,000,000l. was the amount of the taxes levied; and when the British House of Commons passed the Act of 1846, which inevitably would bring that colony in a short time into competition with other colonies, they immediately determined to effect a reduction gradually but yet certainly in their expenditure, and they proposed in December, 1847, that a reduction of 25 per cent should be made in the whole expense of the colony. That proposition was submitted and refused; and Earl Grey's answer on the subject had been already read. The Act under which the civil list was guaranteed, stipulated that the colonies should provide the expenses of the civil list, but that in return they were to be granted protection to their produce. Now, the Government having ceased to give them what was promised, he asked any man of common justice whether the contract was not in equity dissolved, and they were not now entitled to have a large reduction made in their expenditure? Earl Grey had, however, objected to that: his Lordship had said, "You may reduce any other salary, but do not meddle with the civil list, for I will admit of no reduction, so far as that is concerned." The Court of Policy asked how they could allow large heavy salaries to remain, and cut down the other servants of the colony, who really did essential service? and after a long argument, they came to the conclusion that it would be highly improper to make reductions in that way, but that they would not refuse the supplies, provided they 965 were allowed to make a general reduction. Three months were permitted to elapse in order to receive an answer from the Government; three months more expired, to see whether the Committee, of which the late Lord George Bentinck was chairman, would come to any satisfactory conclusion; and then it was found that, as their request would not be complied with, they were resolved not to vote any more supplies. He might refer to the Cape, the Mauritius, and almost every other British colony, for proof that a bad system had prevailed, and that the House ought to come to the determination to grant to the several colonies their own self-government. Let them each pay their own expenses, and free England from the charge which she was now compelled to pay. They were willing to do so; and what then prevented it from being done? Why, it was the patronage which arose, and caused so many abuses that the Financial Reform Association would be perfectly astonished if the items were laid upon the table of the House, and published for general information. He hoped, under all the circumstances, that the inquiry now sought for would be gone into, not against this man or that man, but against the system; and if justice were to be administered, and a fair inquiry instituted, he thought that Earl Grey and the hon. the Under Secretary for the Colonies ought to retire from the positions they now held, at least while the inquiry was pending. There had been instances in which despatches had been either mutilated or altogether withheld through Ministerial influence; and, though he might provoke a laugh by repeating his opinion, he nevertheless still thought that the inquiry would be more impartially conducted if the noble Lord and his hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, sent in their resignations, and allowed others to take their places for a time. He seconded the Motion with great pleasure, in the hope that the inquiry would enlighten the public, and have the effect of changing the entire system hitherto pursued with reference to the colonies.
trusted that he might be permitted to make a few observations on what had gone before, although it was no part of his intention to attempt to take upon himself any reply to the heavy charges which had been brought against the Government. But he must express his surprise that with so great an accusation, the 966 hon. Member for Inverness-shire (Mr. Baillie) should have concluded with so small a Motion. He thought that, if the Colonial office were guilty of one-half of the high crimes and misdemeanours laid to their charge—in some part directly, but more by the insinuations of his hon. Friend (Mr. Hume), it would have been more fair, and more worthy of his position, to have come down and proposed a direct vote of censure, and not confine their Motion to one of mere inquiry. [Mr. BAILLIE: It is a direct vote of censure.] The hon. Gentleman says it is a direct vote of censure. It might mean many things, and it was for that very reason that he (Mr. Ricardo) had given expressly notice of his Amendment, because it was his belief that the case of Ceylon was taken as a peg to hang another inquiry on. He (Mr. Ricardo) did not understand what connexion the case of Ceylon had with that of British Guiana. Why did the hon. Member (Mr. Baillie) not bring forward the case of Ceylon by itself? Why couple it with Guiana and the Mauritius? And why did he, at the last moment, withdraw one of the charges against the Colonial Office? He (Mr. Ricardo) was at a loss to know of what it was the hon. Gentleman was complaining. First, it was against the whole system of the colonies. Then he fell off against the Government and the Colonial Office. With regard to Ceylon he was not going to speak—it was no part of his intention to defend the Government. His case was this. Under the guise of a Motion for inquiry into the administration of Ceylon and Guiana, an attempt bad been made for a reactionary movement in favour of protection. That was his case, and he would prove it. He would trace it step by step. The whole object was to embarrass the Government, and so to produce a reaction in favour of protection. Who was the leader of the party who refused the supplies? A Mr. Peter Rose—who, from an extract in the despatch of Governor Light, he (Mr. Ricardo) found was to be considered the organ of the colonial section in the local legislature, in regard to the supposed intentions of the colonial members, at the ensuing Combined Court. Mr. Rose had declared to the Governor that it was hopeless to expect the supplies so long as the colonists were unprotected against slave sugar. The government of the colony was composed of a Governor, assisted by a Court of Policy, and a Combined Court. The functions of the Court of Policy were to prepare the estimates; those 967 of the Combined Court to vote the supplies. The Court of Policy proposed, at their meeting in 1848, that the civil list should be reduced twenty-five per cent. Although it was alleged that the civil list was tricked out of the colonists, because we promised them an emigration fund, they themselves stated that the grounds on which they proposed the reduction were, that when they voted it they had protection for sugar—and when that was removed they found a necessity to reduce their expenditure. They afterwards proposed that the estimates should be postponed until the result of the Committee sitting here upon the Coffee and Sugar Plantations should be known, the motive for refusing the supplies being the withdrawal of protection. Mr. Rose was at the head of all those movements; he says in his speech that it was with deep regret they proceeded to notice that the people of England could not afford to pay 3,000,000l sterling, or 15,000,000 of dollars to keep up the wages of the labourers of the West Indies. They were not much surprised at the enunciation of such a doctrine in the mouth of a free-trade Minister; but we did not expect to have it recorded in an address from a British Governor to a colonial legislative assembly. Immediately after the supplies were refused, he (Mr. Ricardo) found that at a public meeting, Mr. Rose said—Gentlemen, the Committee have completed their labours. A petition will be read to the meeting; a demand for compensation is part of the petition. I am prepared to say that the case is not overstated, and the claim of the West Indies to a compensation of 103,000,000l. is supported very generally in England. There is only one solitary voice raised against our claim, and that is Mr. Cobden's. Mr. Hume, a distinguished leader in the House of Commons, supported our Motion.His hon. Friend (Mr. Hume) had told him (Mr. Ricardo) that he had presented a petition from British Guiana; and on inquiring of the hon. Gentleman if it was this petition, or the substance of it, the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hume) replied no; By whomsoever presented, its prayer was for emigration upon an extensive scale from all parts of Africa, and a plan for the better carrying out of all treaties with foreign nations for the more effectual suppression of the slave trade; with a demand for the liberation of those persons now unjustly held in slavery in Cuba, Porto Rico, and other places. Payment of seven millions sterling—a full indemnity for the depreciation of land and machinery, 968 with a full recognition of British Guiana as an integral part of the empire—were the terms upon which the Combined Court would vote the supplies. For, let it be clearly understood, that six-sevenths of the supplies were under the entire control of the Combined Court, and if they proposed to reduce them 50 per cent, there would have hardly been a voice raised against the proposition at the Colonial Office; but the remaining seventh, which included the civil list, had been voted for a term of years, and could only be altered or reduced by an address to Her Majesty. Could any one, after reading this speech and these despatches, believe that these amendments were moved for the purposes of economy, or with a view to self-government? Not so; they were made for the resuscitation of protection. They were not made against Earl Grey, but against a free-trade Parliament—against free-trade in favour of monopoly. And while all this was going on in British Guiana, very much the same thing was going on in the Mauritius. He (Mr. Ricardo) could trace the same object in the movements in that colony—an attempt to embarrass the Government, with a view to obtaining that protection with the people of England had declared by their Parliament they were no longer able to afford. It was much easier to find fault than to express a sentiment of praise, yet it would be unmanly in him not to express the opinion which he entertained—that Earl Grey had been called to a very arduous post under circumstances of no ordinary difficulty. The people of this country said they would no longer consent to have their industry taxed for the support of the colonies. Otherwise they would have been called upon to make greater sacrifices than had been heretofore demanded of them. It was to Earl Grey's honour that he, in a time of undoubted peril, was willing to incur odium abroad, and misrepresentation at home, rather than flinch from any of those principles which he so ably maintained, in this as well as in the other House of Parliament; and that House would not be doing its duty if they did not show their sense of his high courage. But let him toll the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie) this, that he is no friend to the colonies who held out to them a hope that there is a possibility of returning to the old state of things. Do not let him cajole them to the belief that there is a party in this House powerful enough to 969 return to that commercial policy which the people of England have declared to be oppressive and mischievous. Let him not deceive them into a notion that the people of this country are not firm to the principles of commercial policy which they have deliberately adopted. They will not favour any interest, whether it be that of landowner or shipowner, to the disadvantage of the colonist; but they have pronounced their determination that they will be no longer content to subsidise the colonies; and it was because they had done so, he (Mr. Ricardo) had given notice of the Amendment which he now begged leave to move, namely, at the end of the question to add the words—whereby they may be rendered more capable of meeting the difficulties of the transition from a system of protection to that competition in the British market with the produce of foreign States, to which Parliament has determined that they should be exposed in accordance with the general commercial policy which it has deliberately adopted.
§ MR. HAWES
said, had it not boon for the notice which his hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-upon-Trent (Mr. Ricardo) had given, he should have felt it his duty, as it would have been his inclination, immediately to have replied to the speech of the hon. Member for Inverness-shire (Mr. Baillie), who had first addressed the House. The hon. Gentleman who commenced this debate had made grave and heavy charges against the noble Lord at the head of the Colonial Department (Earl Grey); against the Colonial Department in times gone by; and, he might almost say, against Parliament and the country itself. He had endeavoured to support those charges by statements which he (Mr. Hawes) must characterise as singularly disingenuous and unfair. But why had the hon. Gentleman struck out the Mauritius from his Motion? He (Mr. Hawes) asked him to retain the Mauritius as part of his case. He feared no inquiry—he courted inquiry, and was willing to insert the Mauritius, and any other number of colonies the government of which the hon. Gentleman might choose to call in question. Let it not be understood for a moment that either his noble Friend at the head of the Colonial Office (Earl Grey) or himself feared in the slightest degree any inquiry that might be instituted. He (Mr. Hawes) feared it as little as the right hon. Gentleman had reason to fear it who conducted the colonial affairs under the last Administration. He was ready to meet 970 it, and afford the hon. Mover of the Resolution an opportunity of making good his charges. That House was not the fittest place to make these charges, particularly considering the nature of those which had been advanced. But, having proposed to inquire whether there was any ground for the charges, ho, at least, might have postponed his judgment until his own accusations were proved, as they would be proved, to be utterly unfounded. [Cheers and laughter.] He (Mr. Hawes) was prepared to be met with some jeering, but he was entitled at least to a respectful hearing; this he might say, that it would not interrrupt him in the course he intended to pursue. He did not mean, by declaring his willingness to enter on the inquiry, and his determination to have that inquiry followed up, to shrink in any respect from dealing as well as he was able with the charges and accusations now brought forward. If the hon. Gentleman desired inquiry, he should have every opportunity of making good his charges. But he thought that the hon. Gentleman, in moving for the proposed Committee, might have spared the bitterness and personality in which he had indulged. He (Mr. Hawes), however, would not shrink in the slightest degree from dealing, as well as he was able, with the accusations which the hon. Gentleman had brought forward. Now the hon. Gentleman had accused the Colonial Office of tyranny and oppression, of wasteful expenditure; and he had said, that the colonies ought to have the control of their own affairs, and the management of their own taxation. But the hon. Gentleman, in treating of our colonies, had not attempted anything like discrimination—he had not distinguished those colonies which either had responsible or representative government, or were more directly under the control of the Crown; in short, he had so dealt in generalities as to leave the House in ignorance of what the policy of this country was towards colonies placed under very different circumstances, and under very different degrees of control from home. It might have been supposed from the opening speech that there was not a colony in existence which had a representative government. The hon. Mover (Mr. Baillie) had dealt in general accusations; he had however confined his illustrations to two or three cases; and he had not stated fully and fairly what was the colonial policy of 971 the country. [Mr. BAILLIE: I stated that I would confine my observations to two of the colonies.] He (Mr. Hawes) admitted that such was the fact; but the charges of misgovernment were general—he would afterwards remark upon the particular cases. First of all, attention had been drawn to the colony of Ceylon; and it was necessary to follow that part of the case step by step. Now, when Lord Torrington arrived in Ceylon, he found its treasury almost bankrupt, its trade declining, and, of course, the European population, chiefly engaged in trade, in by no means a prosperous or thriving condition. The hon. Member (Mr. Baillie), in alluding to that colony, had not referred to a single measure introduced by Lord Torrington, except those which had reference to taxation. He had not uttered one word with respect to the great reductions which that noble Lord had effected, to his exertions to relieve industry from the pressure which bore upon it, or to his endeavours to procure a change from an indirect to a direct system of taxation. The hon. Gentleman had passed over those points which would have told in favour of Lord Torrington, and had dwelt only upon those which were likely to produce an unfavourable impression. But what were the measures which Lord Torrington had adopted upon his arrival? Finding an empty treasury and a declining revenue, the noble Lord commenced a revision of the tariff, and repealed taxes to the amount of 30,000l., bearing upon trade and agriculture, with a view to revive commerce and industry, the whole of the particulars of which were in the papers before Parliament, but to which not the smallest allusion had been made by the hon. Gentleman. But that was not all. Lord Torrington instituted inquiries into the state of the public expenditure, and in the first six months of 1848, in consequence of those inquiries, he reduced the expenditure of the colony 20,000l. a year, and chiefly upon the fixed establishments. Not the slightest allusion had been made by the hon. Member (Mr. Baillie) to that act of the noble Lord. And this was not all. The Committee in Ceylon was still pursuing its investigations. Lord Torrington was determined to inquire rigidly and closely into the extravagant expenditure of the island during recent years. His Lordship was of opinion that reductions might—and he (Mr. Hawes) admitted that they ought to—be effected; and his 972 Lordship had already proceeded to give an earnest of his intention by reducing the expenditure already about 20,000l. a year; and by the measures now in contemplation he hoped to be enabled to equalise the income and expenditure. The Governor found it absolutely necessary to give relief to trade, which was suffering under severe depression; and he hoped the House would not forget that that depression, which took place in the autumn of 1847 and extended to 1848, was not confined to England alone; and called for every relief that could be afforded, in order to revive trade and restore credit, especially in Ceylon. Well, the noble Lord (Viscount Torrington) relieved the trade of the island, which was labouring under those difficulties, from a very large amount of the taxation that pressed upon it. He repealed the coffee duties to the extent of 15,000l a year, and he reduced the duties upon various staple products of the colony, such as tobacco, cinnamon, &c., to the amount of from 12,000l. to 15,000l, effecting a reduction altogether of about 30,000l. But it became necessary to see if some means could not be devised in order to replace some portion of the revenue thus surrendered, because, although these great reductions had been made, the revenue, under the existing depression of trade, was not likely to keep up to its former amount; and therefore Lord Torrington had to impose various taxes, but taxes bearing directly upon property. He had proposed, not four ordinances, as the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie) had stated, but six; not all of them, however, for the purpose of raising the revenue. First, there was the road ordinance, which was drawn up by one of the ablest public servants in the island, and a gentleman whose zeal, well-tried talents, and judgment, was of the greatest weight in preparing measures of that sort, He believed he had the pleasure of speaking in the presence of a relative of that gentleman; he alluded to Mr. Wodehouse, who held an important office in the island. This ordinance was intended to place the roads of the island, as far as possible, under some sort of local and native control; and another object was that the taxation, which had formerly been wholly borne by the public revenue, should to a great extent be paid by local rates. But it was impossible, of course, to levy rates in a place like Ceylon, and therefore a commutation for labour was decided upon. 973 Three days' labour a year was to be taken, or a commuted payment instead of 3s., to make the roads; and this was what the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie) had called a poll tax, an instance of the disingenuousness of the hon. Member's charges. The hon. Gentleman seemed to think these ordinances had all been repealed. He (Mr. Hawes) had listened closely to the hon. Gentleman's remarks, and it appeared the impression they had left on the House was, that these various ordinances had been all repealed. The road tax had not been repealed. [Mr. BAILLIE: I did not say that it had.] He thought that the hon. Member's speech must have impressed the House with the idea that all the ordinances had been repealed. [Mr. BAILLIE said, he had stated only that the dog and gun tax ordinances had been repealed.] But the hon. Gentleman was in error; for the gun tax was not repealed. Great objection had been raised to the gun tax, the object of which was to enforce the registration of arms. Perhaps the rate of duty was too high, and an annual registration was objectionable. The Governor, finding it too high, had altered it, and one registration in perpetuity had been adopted in lieu of the annual system. But the great object, the registration of arms, had been secured, and that statute remained. Then there was the dog tax, as the hon. Gentleman had designated it. One would have thought this would have been the last subject to make a complaint about; and he (Mr. Hawes) must consider that the hon. Gentleman know very little of Ceylon, because, if he had inquired, he would have found that one of the greatest nuisances of the island, and, indeed, one that was common to most eastern countries, was the great number of dogs by which they were infested. A general desire had been felt that some means should be taken to reduce the number. If the tax had been confined to the towns, he believed it would have given universal satisfaction to the colony. The country districts had complained, on the ground that in secluded spots the dogs were required as watchdogs; but all that it was necessary to say on this tax was, that it was one of those that had been absolutely repealed, and, therefore, all complaints on that score were now at an end. Then there were the taxes on stamps and carriages for hire. These remained. So the case stood thus—two had been repealed; one, the gun tax, had been modified; and three remained. 974 The hon. Gentleman, however, did not content himself with stating that Lord Torrington was an incapable governor, and that his plans of taxation ought to be condemned, but he had also pronounced the opinion that the outbreak of the insurrection in Ceylon had been caused by these ordinances, He (Mr. Hawes) confessed he did not esteem the hon. Gentleman's authority on this subject very highly. It was opposed to the highest authorities in the island—it was opposed to all the information which he (Mr. Hawes) had received upon the subject. Now the first authority that he would venture to quote, was totally at variance with the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie). It was that of the Major General commanding the troops of the island. He saw the hon. Gentleman was unwilling to accept the testimony of this officer; but he (Mr. Hawes) relied upon it, and would read to the House what he had stated. [The hon. Gentleman here road an extract, which showed the Major General's opinion to be that the late ordinances passed by the legislative council had been urged as a plea for the outbreak, but that was only a pretext. The rebellion had long been brewing, and, as had been stated, the Kandians were anxious to have their own king, and to possess themselves of their country and their properties.] That was not the only opinion entitled to weight, but he would call the attention of the House to the opinion of the Chief Justice of the island. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie) had endeavoured, very unfavourably, to put the Chief Justice in contrast with the Governor; but he (Mr. Baillie) would, at all events, allow him (Mr. Hawes) to claim the Chief Justice as an authority, when his opinion coincided with that which he (Mr. Hawes) entertained, though in opposition to that of the hon. Gentleman. He would first read to the House what he said in passing sentence upon some prisoners who were implicated in the rebellion. The Chief Justice said—I therefore conclude that the rebellion was hatched by the headmen or priests, or by both the headmen and priests. The priests had a cause, and a growing cause, for discontent. I am aware—it is known in the country generally, and needs no further allusion here—that they kept a keen eye upon the decline of their religion, and it was, perhaps, but natural that that should be a cause of discontent to their minds. But I am aware, at the same time—and I speak now from my own observation—that the headmen were always discontented, as far as their conduct came under my observation. The remembrance of the power and 975 authority they formerly exercised over the common people, is not yet effaced altogether from their minds; neither is their power, as far as I can see, completely gone, or anything like it, as is clear from the evidence adduced during this inquiry. Their word appears to have operated as law upon the minds of all the men of inferior ranks, and I believe they see the day is fast approaching when this state of things cannot continue long; they are aware that those perquisites of their office, which they formerly exacted as their rights, are now viewed as nothing but oppression and wrong; and they find that their power over the common people is constantly decreasing.This was the opinion of the Chief Justice, who did not attribute the outbreak to the ordinances; neither did the Major General commanding the forces, nor Sir Emerson Tennent, the colonial secretary, but the contrary. He would not trouble the House by reference to the papers, but might perhaps content himself with stating, in order to shorten what he had to say, that the House would find in the blue hook that both the opinion of Sir Emerson Tennent, and others who had performed extensive tours through the colony, and sent home communications upon this subject, was, that these ordinances were not the immediate cause of the outbreak. He (Mr. Hawes) was perfectly ready to admit that the ordinances had been used by parties endeavouring to foster discontent, and to inflame the minds of the people; and that they succeeded in their designs, by making a handle of these ordinances to excite discontent, would be seen in the circumstances mentioned in the book. They endeavoured to persuade the natives that about thirty or forty new taxes were about to be imposed upon them, and that they ought therefore to resist the imposition of them. And he must say, that means were taken to incite the natives to insurrection by parties who ought to have known better. The editor of the newspaper which the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie) had quoted, had published matter tending to lead the people to an active resistance against the laws and authorities of the island; and the petition which had been referred to that night, was not, in his opinion, a bonâ fide petition from the natives. It was got up and concocted in connexion with the newspapers at Colombo; and would only have had the effect, if the Government had been weak enough to attend to it, of giving certain parties a very undue degree of importance. Again, he could not help tracing, in some of these colonies, the active agency of persons who, either directly or indirectly, were interested 976 in the revival of protection. His hon. Friend (Mr. Ricardo) had tracked out the efforts of these parties in Guiana very acutely; and he (Mr. Hawes) found the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) writing a letter to Ceylon, which was published in the papers there, and commented upon with all the weight due to his colonial reputation. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hume), in that letter, encouraged the natives to renew the agitation, and never to let it cease until they had obtained responsible Government like that of Canada; whilst the native population amounted to about one million and a half, and the Europeans were only a few thousands in number, the natives being profoundly ignorant, superstitious, under the influence of a priesthood such as existed there. Now, to write to such a colony as Ceylon, and advise that agitation should be continued till a responsible Government like that of Canada was obtained, he (Mr. Hawes) deemed to be the height of indiscretion and imprudence on the part of his hon. Friend. The hon. Gentleman, who had used many hard words that night, must pardon him for making these animadversions upon his own conduct, as he had so freely censured that of others. He (Mr. Hawes) could not pass over such conduct, nor let his hon. Friend altogether escape reproof. [Mr. HUME: I don't want you to let me off.] Now, with regard to the most painful part of the subject. Far be it from him to look with indifference upon any unnecessary measures of severity or loss of life—quite the contrary; but he begged the House to recall to its recollection all the circumstances connected with these deplorable transactions. He had already said they did not arise from these ordinances; on the contrary, from 1817 down to 1848, there had been successive attempts at insurrection, fomented always by the same classes, for the same objects, and characterised by the same incidents as the rebellion of 1848. The priests, headmen, and chiefs, were all more or less implicated in this and preceding insurrections. When this insurrection broke out, the military force in Kandy, commanded by Colonel Drought, was exceedingly small, not more than 1,000 men, who were scattered about at different posts. The outbreak was simultaneous in many places, and was attended by the desertion from their ordinary occupations of large numbers of the people, and the whole bore the aspect of a 977 formidable insurrection, much the same at the outset as that which occurred in 1817. And here, in passing, he would allude to what took place in the year 1817. It took twelve months to put down the insurrection of that year. There were 10,000 troops employed, and nearly 1,100 lives lost in one way or another. There was also a large destruction of property, and the total charge on the revenues of the colony, or of the mother country rather, was upwards of a quarter of a million. Martial law was proclaimed, courts-martial sat, and martial law existed for two years after all open resistance in the field was suppressed. And now let them contrast all these things with the conduct of Lord Torrington in the present case. He would read a letter of Major General Smelt's, and let the House mark what he said with regard to martial law in 1848. The Major General said—Martial law was also almost immediately proclaimed, for the rebels assembled in such numbers in different places, and seemed so determined to murder all the white people and destroy their properties, that no time was to be lost, and prompt and vigorous measures were absolutely necessary.After describing the arrival of the troops from Madras, he continues—To the very energetic and vigorous measures adopted by his Excellency the Governor must be attributed our present success in at least checking the rebellion. He feels confident it is quite put down. I own I am not so sanguine, for though the rebels have suffered severely, they still keep to their strongholds in the jungles, and in very large numbers. All people are now beginning to be convinced that this rebellion is deeply rooted and widely spread, and has been in agitation ever since the withdrawal of the different detachments that were stationed in small posts throughout the interior provinces in the years 1837 and 1838. In 1844 a disposition to rebellion showed itself, but it was fortunately discovered and suppressed before any serious outbreak took place, the ringleaders being all known and taken. I hope now we shall not require further reinforcements from Madras; and if we have really succeeded in putting down this rebellion, it has been owing to acting with promptness and decision at first; and I have only to hope that what has been done may be approved by her Majesty's Government at home.The House must not, therefore, think this was a contemptible rebellion, that did not require the application of energetic and vigorous measures. They must not judge of its character or extent simply from the smallness of the loss of life that occurred. As in the former rebellion, so in this, the destruction of property, the loss of troops from their exposure, and the injury to agricultural operations, might have gone 978 on to a very serious extent; and he (Mr. Hawes) was convinced that, if the Governor had not acted with promptitude and vigour, the House would have been asked to pass a vote of censure upon him for shrinking from the measures absolutely necessary under the circumstances for restoring tranquillity and order to the colony. Martial law was proclaimed again on this occasion, which was, in fact, the suspension of all law, and the Governor was not to be held responsible for the proceedings of the courts-martial under the circumstances. Most of the trials—he believed nearly all of them, and the sentences that were carried into execution—took place 100 miles from the spot the Governor was then at. They had not the complete accounts of these proceedings yet; but British officers presided over these courts, whose character and conduct were at least a guarantee that the proceedings of these courts were not to be considered of so sanguinary and unjustifiable a character as the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie) had declared them to be. The hon. Member had alluded to the case of a priest. He (Mr. Hawes) had heard it with pain; but when an insurrection took place, and an influential priest was found to be inciting a large native population, to be fomenting discontent and rebellion, the consequences must be plain. It was obvious to all, that measures must be resorted to which were to be deplored, but which were incidental to such a state of things as then existed in Ceylon—a state of things not produced by the Government, but entirely attributable to the priests and headmen, who wished to recover the power which they had lost. Now, what was the general opinion of those living on the spot, as regarded the conduct of Lord Torrington? The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie), with an inveterate bitterness, seemed to think of nothing but attacking and vilifying that noble Lord. Sir Herbert Maddock, a member of the Council of Calcutta, then on the spot, addressing a public meeting at Kandy, said—I fully and most cordially concur with you in expressing my high appreciation of the able and well-arranged plans of the Government in Colombo, of the prompt and efficient distribution of its military resources in such a manner that, with the exception of those districts where the insurgents, appearing unexpectedly and in great force, were enabled to overrun the country, and spread havoc and destruction in their path, before the military could reach them, has preserved the lives and properties of the European 979 settlers, and all other loyal and peaceful subjects in all other parts of the province; and I unhesitatingly state my belief that you are directly indebted to the able person at the head of the Government for the security and comparative tranquillity which now everywhere prevail.Why, then, did the hon. Gentleman, when referring to this hook, entirely omit these quotations? Why did he not have the candour and fairness to include these statements in favour of Lord Torrington, instead of endeavouring to seize held of every thing calculated to create a prejudice against him? If he had only stated the case fairly and fully, the hon. Gentleman would have been entirely unable to show any grounds for this inquiry. But he (Mr. Hawes) was prepared to meet the hon. Gentleman in Committee, and was confident he should successfully refute his accusations. Public meetings of the leading inhabitants of Colombo, as well as of the Catholic clergy, with their bishop, and the evidence furnished from private letters which he (Mr. Hawes) bad seen, unconnected with the Governor, all concurred in one uniform testimony to the effect that the vigour, ability, and decision of conduct displayed by Lord Torrington, entitled him to praise and approbation. And now a word or two in behalf of the soldiery employed. The hon. Gentleman had alluded to a newspaper of the colony in support of his views. Let him (Mr. Hawes) refer to one at home not unfavourable to the hon. Gentleman's views, which declared that the conduct of the military had been brutal and uncontrollable. He (Mr. Hawes) gave this assertion a direct and indignant denial. It was contradicted by every paper before the House, and had no foundation except in the malignity of those who had unscrupulously originated the report. There was not a particle of evidence to support this discreditable assertion. After what he had already said, he must declare to the House that if the governor of a distant colony like Ceylon was to be attacked in this way, before they had full and perfect information before them—for the hon. Gentleman had given notice of his Motion before the papers were upon the table, and he (Mr. Hawes) had great difficulty in bringing forward the documents in time for the Motion—if the governor of a distant colony, at a moment like this, when the native population were in a state to be easily excited, was to be attacked in the spirit and manner which the hon. Gentleman had manifested, he (Mr. Hawes) would venture 980 to say that the spirit of insurrection was not likely to be effectually allayed or extinguished. So much with regard to Ceylon. He now came to Guiana. The hon. Gentleman had made a statement more like a burlesque of the facts than the reality. He had taken, he supposed, his facts from driblets that appeared from time to time in the newspapers. He had stated that the noble Lord at the head of the Colonial Department (Earl Grey) had refused to consider any reductions in the civil list of Guiana. He (Mr. Hawes) was sure the hon. Gentleman had stated what he could not prove; but he should have an ample opportunity of having all his statements thoroughly sifted before a Committee. He would now proceed to consider the main subject of recent contention in this colony—the civil list. It was commonly stated to be about 39,000l. a year. The revenue of the colony averaged about 227,000l But the civil list was overstated at 39,000l.—a less sum than that that was actually paid by the colony. There was, first, a charge on the civil list of 7,000l. for stipendiary magistrates, and towards this sum this country contributed 4,500l. Then two pensioners that had dropped off some time ago, amounting to about 800l. or 1,000l. a year. This 1,000l. and the 4,500l. above stated, had, therefore, to be deducted in calculating the amount of the civil list paid by the colony. That civil list had been settled in 1841, and was voluntarily renewed by the colony in 1844. In 1841, Mr. Peter Rose (who was the chief opponent of the present civil list) proposed to add to the civil list 9,000l. a year for the Church establishment, and the colony assented to this proposition. The Crown never suggested or demanded it; it was a pure addition on the part of the colony; and therefore, with regard to the civil list, so far as the Crown was concerned in protecting the salaries of the public servants, it amounted only to between 24,000l. and 25,000l., whilst the revenue amounted to 227,000l. In 1848, the Combined Court asserted, as the ground of the refusal to continue the civil list, that the colony was too impoverished to pay it. But how stood the fact? Had their revenue fallen off? No; on the contrary, if allowance were made for the intended stoppage of supplies, by parties who had shipping in the offing, and ready to pour in their cargoes when the tax ordinance should be repealed, they would find good ground for saying that in 1848 981 the revenue had increased. Nor had the produce exported fallen off; for they had exported 2,000 hogsheads of sugar more in 1848 than they had done in 1847. Notwithstanding all these facts which he had just stated, there was no reason why every practical reduction or economy should be refused; but a very serious objection was taken to the mode by which it was attempted to force these reductions upon the Government. He would explain this by supposing the estimates to be under discussion in this House, and some hon. Member to say that the country was too poor to maintain the civil list at its present amount; that it must he reduced before the estimates are agreed to. Why, the answer would be, "We must first see whether the circumstances of the country justify this reduction of the civil list, which is settled by Act of Parliament, and before it can be repealed it must be assented to by the House of Lords and the Crown. Proceed regularly by address; and if both Houses of Parliament concur in altering it, a change will of course be made." Now, this was precisely what his noble Friend (Earl Grey) had told the Court of Policy; and it was untrue to say that he (Earl Grey) had refused to consider the reduction of the civil list. The noble Lord said—I approve of your determination not to proceed further with the estimates after this vote had been come to, since it is obvious that the object of the Amendment was rather to assert the principle of the control of the Combined Court over the expenditure included in the civil list, than to effect a reduction of expenditure which could be of any serious importance. To that principle, for the reasons I have already fully stated, I think it my duty to oppose a firm resistance; I cannot, therefore, authorise your accepting a vote of the estimates in which provision is not made for the whole amount of the civil list, though I still entertain the readiness I have already expressed to consider any proposal for the reduction of the emoluments of the offices included in the civil list on vacancies occurring; nor would it he difficult for the Combined Court to bring any such proposed reduction under the consideration of Her Majesty's Government.But did the colony take that advice? No; the object was to embarrass the Government, and to force concession by plunging the colony into difficulty and perplexity. It had been urged that when Mr. Barkly was appointed, then was the time for making a reduction. Lord Grey and himself (Mr. Hawes), he said again, were not opposed to reductions; but he must tell the House broadly that they were both of this one strong 982 opinion, that it would be the worst policy unduly to cut down the salaries of the governors of colonies like Guiana, where the climate was very injurious, and the cost of living enormous, and where undoubtedly few men of that ability and standing which a governor ought to possess would be induced to undertake the office if they materially reduced the salaries, He did not find from his intercourse with those who were either connected with the colonies in this country, or with those who had been abroad, that the policy of the Government in this respect was disapproved of. He (Mr. Hawes) had shown that his noble Friend (Earl Grey) was not opposed to retrenchment in the colonial expenditure, but that the colonial legislature had endeavoured to force the question of protection upon the Home Government by stopping the supplies; and because the noble Lord had sternly refused to depart from his duty or desert his principles, notwithstanding the menaces or threats of any combination or party whatever, he had been made the object of obloquy, and contumely, and hitter attacks, such as they had a specimen of that night in this House. Well, the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie) had determined to leave the Mauritius out of his Motion. He (Mr. Hawes), however, entreated him to insert it. But the hon. Gentleman had said that the noble Lord (Earl Grey)—and he (Mr. Hawes) had also been included in the censure—had turned his back upon the principles they had formerly professed in that House, as soon as he was entrusted with the seals of office. They were both now accused of deserting their principles and professions; and it was said that they were both deserving of the censure due to inconsistency. Now, he (Mr. Hawes) would emphatically deny that charge, and was fully prepared to prove that it was unfounded. He (Mr. Hawes) knew nothing of which his noble Friend (Earl Grey) had complained of more when out of office—and he (Mr. Hawes) was not aware that he had himself made the same complaint, excepting upon a single occasion—than of what was called the meddling of the Colonial Office with the colonial legislatures: and what was the true remedy for this? Local self-government. He (Mr. Hawes) must suppose that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie) did not mean that his proposition, that colonies should be entrusted with the powers of self-government, should be accepted without some 983 qualification or limitation. Surely he would not maintain for a moment, that no distinction should be made between such a colony as Ceylon or Mauritius, where there was great disproportion between the races, and great inequality of condition—where the white population was small, and the coloured population very numerous—surely the hon. Gentleman would not for a moment pretend to say that the same government should be conferred upon such colonies as these, as he (Mr. Baillie) would confer upon a colony that was placed under totally different circumstances? Far from it: he (Mr. Hawes) believed the hon. Gentleman would find his doctrine far from being universally applicable. "The hon. Gentleman says, he always found them making promises;' but he will also find that the promises which I now make will be very rapidly performed; and, notwithstanding all the obloquy that has been thrown on the Colonial Office, I boldly appeal to my hon. friends when I state my case, to give me their support and sympathy, because I have adhered to that policy—and so has my noble Friend Earl Grey—which is in accordance with the general opinions of the liberal party in this country. No man has carried out more boldly the principles of representative and local self-government than Earl Grey. What has my noble Friend done since he came into office? First of all, I will turn to Canada. When Earl Grey came into office, responsible government in Canada was scarcely more than a name. A responsible government had been promised to the Canadians; but it had not then been carried into effect. But since the accession of my noble Friend to office, and under the superintendence of Lord Elgin—who, I may remark, was, when' appointed, no connexion of Earl Grey—responsible government was firmly established. Responsible government was perfectly established in Canada. And what is the result? Notwithstanding all the convulsions that have taken place during the last year in Europe, and which in former times, in consequence of the discontented state of the French population in Canada, might have led to disasters, in Canada the most perfect tranquillity has been preserved. And it was only this day I saw a letter from Canada, in which it is stated that the most perfect tranquillity exists there; that the people feel perfect satisfaction with the government they possess, as also 984 with the upright administration of the noble Lord at the head of that government. Again, in New Brunswick, responsible government has been established, as a reference to the despatches laid on the table of the House will show. Nova Scotia, it maybe remarked in passing, has representative institutions; and in Newfoundland representative government has been established; and, I must say, with regard to Newfoundland, that the conduct of the Governor of that colony is above all praise. He has carried the population through two winters of deep distress, socking no aid from this country, but carrying them through it, and leading them to habits of useful industry, which will probably prevent that colony from suffering again from the inevitable vicissitudes of the seasons, and the fisheries. He has introduced the cultivation of grain, which is found to be of excellent quality. I now will cross the globe to our Australian colonies. In the course of a very short time I shall lay a Bill on the table of this House to confer representative institutions upon all our Australian colonies. And why? Because in those colonies there is a British population; that population is accustomed to representative government; they know its forms and usages; they know how to wield them and use them, I hope, with moderation and wisdom; and I hope that Bill, with the consent of this House, will be carried in the present Session of Parliament. Can I say more than that? The hon. Gentleman says we have not given a local government to Ceylon. Now, I tell him, that my noble Friend (Earl Grey) has not, and will not, and that I will not cither, take that responsibility. My noble Friend is the last person to take it, when it might be injurious to the colony, nor would Earl Grey, because it might obtain for him a temporary popularity, condescend to seek for it by so doing. I suppose that hon. Gentlemen will taunt me because we have not established a representative government in the Mauritius; but we feel that, with its divided races, with its divided population, and divided interests, it is not in a condition to receive it. But a new Governor has been appointed, who was personally unknown to my noble Friend; and here I would observe, that I wish the hon. Gentleman would be even occasionally a little just in his views. He might have said, that now a governor is appointed to 985 that colony who has acquired a distinguished Indian reputation, and who is a total stranger to my noble Friend; who goes out to inquire into the establishments there, to revise taxation, and to give, I hope, new facilities to the trade of that colony; that at least all that a Secretary of State could do was done for that colony. But already a great deal has been done in that colony: the total amount of taxation reduced is 37,000l Now, I think I have answered the hon. Gentleman on most of the points which he has brought under the consideration of the House. I cannot say that the temper and spirit in which this discussion is introduced, is likely to benefit the people of those colonies. I consider that a calm inquiry, so conducted as to command the aid and assistance of the Colonial Department, so conducted as to create rather satisfaction than discontent in the colonies, might be useful; but I cannot think, unless the inquiry is conducted in a manner very different from that in which the subject was introduced, that it can lead to much practical good. As the hon. Gentleman has the conduct of the Committee, I tender to him my aid and assistance. He shall want for none that I can give him. Again, I say, I fear no inquiry. My noble Friend (Earl Grey) fears no inquiry—his patronage has been honestly administered; and a series of names has been placed at the head of the colonial governments which does no discredit to those who have appointed them. The hon. Gentleman, in that spirit in which he introduced the question, said, 'I think that no governor had been appointed whose conduct reflected credit upon himself or benefit upon the colony.' [Mr. BAILLIE: No, no!] Well, then, what did you say? [Mr. BAILLIE: No Colonial Minister.] I could give you the names of Colonial Ministers—for instance, upon your own side there is Lord Stanley—who proposed some important Acts, though, perhaps, the hon. Gentleman will not reckon the abolition of slavery amongst them. And with regard to the patronage of my noble Friend (Earl Grey), I boldly say here—and the hon. Gentleman, if he can, may impeach it—that the persons appointed by him have been distinguished for their high character, and that their government of the colonies has been marked by great ability. If I turn to New Zealand, I want no better proof in support of my assertion than this, that I find the prosperity of that great colony restored under great difficulties. 986 Peace has been restored—trade is increasing—the revenues are increasing—the native population is becoming gradually attached to the Europeans, and there is a general harmony and union of parties throughout the colony—reflecting the highest credit on Sir George Grey, who now administers its government. I have already alluded to the Governor of Newfoundland, and I will now further say, that never was there a governor who more assiduously or beneficially discharged his duties. I have alluded to Canada, and I may fearlessly say, that never was there at the head of that Government an abler man than Lord Elgin. I may refer to Sir Edmund Head, in Now Brunswick; and who, I ask, will impeach his character or conduct? In fact, I care not where I go, I find the same thing. The hon. Gentleman has said that Lord Torrington—as usual he makes a personal attack—was one of the Lords of the Bed-chamber. That he was a Lord of the Bedchamber should not be considered at that side of the House as a reason for holding him to be totally incapable. There may be able men Lords of the Bedchamber; and Lord Torrington has shown himself to be a man of ability. His means were small—he was a Peer of the realm—he increased his fortune by agricultural industry and skill—and he was selected by a body of intelligent directors, namely, the directors of the South-Eastern Railway, as an associate. I was present at a dinner given to Lord Torrington by those gentlemen on leaving this country, and I heard the highest opinion expressed by them with respect to his abilities and business-like habits. Now, Sir, I have not flinched from even the favourite case of the hon. Gentleman—he kept the others out of sight; nor have I shrunk from that one which he thought perhaps I should not touch upon; and feeling that the Committee will be carried if the Amendment be agreed to—I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman will agree to the Amendment. [Mr. BAILLIE: No, no!] I thought not. I shall presume the Amendment will be carried, and the hon. Gentleman will nevertheless preside over the Committee; and I will venture to say that the more inquiry there is into the administration of my noble Friend (Earl Grey) in the Colonial Office, the more readily will impartial men say—it was wise, honest, just, and sagacious. I do not like at this moment, when obloquy is surrounding my 987 noble Friend, to shrink from my share of it. I am ready to share with him that obloquy—I wish I could only share in one-half of his great and beneficial measures. Believing, as I do, that he has administered the patronage of his office honestly and wisely, I esteem it an honour to stand up here at this moment—I will not say to defend him—but to make this statement to the House, and I confidently leave it to the judgment of the House of Commons."
§ SIR W. MOLESWORTH
deprecated the personal attacks which had been made during the present discussion, since they led to the impression that the grievances of the colonies could be remedied by removing this or that Governor, or this or that Colonial Secretary. The case of Ceylon was very simple. Excessive expenditure produced financial embarrassment; financial embarrassment led to the imposition of injudicious taxes; and injudicious taxes were part, at least, of the cause of the disturbances which took place last year in Ceylon. In 1843 the expenditure of Ceylon was about 326,000l.; four years afterwards, in 1847, it amounted to 496,000l., an increase of 170,000l., or more than fifty per cent in four years. Therefore, though in the same interval the revenue had increased from 380,000l to 440,000l.—an increase of rather more than 15 per cent—the expenditure in 1847 far exceeded the revenue, and the finances of Ceylon became embarrassed. Of what did this expenditure consist? I will endeavour to give the House a brief account of it for the year 1845. In that year the expenditure amounted to 448,000l. It may be divided into two parts: one part is called "extraordinary expenditure," and is annually voted by a legislative council, composed of the governor, a majority of official members, and a few un-official members nominated by the Colonial Office. It is an expenditure of a fluctuating description, and consists of contingent and provisional charges on account of the various departments of government, and of sums paid for repairing and making roads and bridges, and for other public works. It amounted in 1825 to 225,000l. I am unable to give a detailed account of it. I can only state that it has gone on rapidly increasing, from 159,000l. in 1844, to 252,000l. in 1846, an increase of about 70 per cent in two years. The other part of the expenditure of Ceylon amounted, in 1845, to 223,000l., and is called "fixed" expenditure, because it may not be diminished 988 without the sanction of the Colonial Office—a sanction which is rarely, if ever, given. On the contrary, the "fixed" expenditure has likewise gone on rapidly increasing, and in 1846 it was about 31,000l. more than it was in 1844. It consists of payments made for salaries, pensions, and military charges. The military charges amounted in 1845 to 57,000l. Of this sum, 24,000l. was a contribution to the military chest. This contribution, though generally included under the bead of "fixed" expenditure, appears to be annually voted by the Legislative Council; for Sir Emerson Tennent, the Colonial Secretary of Ceylon, now being anxious to diminish expenditure, has omitted it from the colonial estimates of this year, and transferred its payment to the British Exchequer; a proceeding which, I am afraid, will not be very agreeable to us in these days of economy: for, to our usual military expenditure of 110,000l., on account of Ceylon, we shall have to add 24,000l., making in all 134,000l. a year—certainly a very heavy price for a colony, the declared value of our exports to which, in 1845, did not exceed 307,000l. Lord Torrington promised us, in one of his despatches, that no bill should be sent in to us, on account of the late disturbances—here, however, is the bill, to the amount of 24,000l. We are asked to pay this sum, because last year the expenditure of Ceylon exceeded the revenue, in consequence of the cost of suppressing the disturbances. Be assured, that whenever we hoar of riots and disturbances in any of our colonies, if we look long enough and carefully enough, we shall find the consequences, though often much disguised, in the expenditure. The remainder of the "fixed military expenditure" of Ceylon is for colonial pay and allowances to the troops, in addition to their ordinary pay. These allowances cost the colony, in 1845, 33,000l. I hope Sir Emerson Tennent will not pursue his career of economy and retrenchment by transferring the payment of them to the British Exchequer. The next head of "fixed" expenditure to which I will refer, embraces the salaries paid to the officers of the various departments of government—namely, the civil, the ecclesiastical, the revenue, and the judicial departments. The total amount of the salaries in 1845 was about 132,000l. They were distributed in the following manner:—First, to the officers of the civil establishment about 47,000l. Under this head 7,000l. were 989 paid to the governor, who being in 1845 a general officer in command of the troops, received, I believe, on that account, an additional 1,500l out of the military allowances. Some persons consider that this salary is excessive; on the other hand, Lord Grey told the Committee on Miscellaneous Estimates that "it is extremely good economy to give liberal salaries to governors;" that "the best principle to go upon is to select the best governors that can be obtained, and then to rely upon them." I acknowledge the force of this argument, if the principle be strictly adhered to; which has not generally been the practice of the Colonial Office. Under this head the colonial secretary had a salary of 2,000l; since raised, I believe, to 2,500l. The colonial secretary has now two principal assistants; one at 1,000l., the other at 800l. a year: the treasurer and the auditor had each 1,500l. a year—the salary of the latter was raised by Lord Stanley to 1,725l. The civil engineer and his assistant had salaries of 800l and 500l. respectively; the commissioner of roads had 800l. a year; the three master attendants of Colombo, Galle, and Trincomalee, had salaries of 700l., 500l., and 400l. respectively; the postmaster-general had a salary of 400l, raised by Lord Stanley to 550l.; the superintendent of the lunatic asylum 500l. a year; in all, 18,755l.—divided among the thirteen superior officers of this department—giving them, on the average, about 1,400l. a year. In addition to these superior officers, there are some twenty-eight inferior officers, with salaries of from 100l. to 300l. I next come to the salaries of the ecclesiastical establishment—an expensive item in most of our Crown colonies. In Ceylon, the Europeans are few in number—I do not know the number at present—in 1846, they did not exceed 6,000; they are divided into numerous sects, Catholics, Presbyterians, Wesleyans, Baptists, members of the Church of England, &c. Their ministers, according to Lord Torrington's report of 1847, are far from acting in concert, and perplex the natives with the open rivalry of contending sects. Some of the natives are Mahometans, but the great majority are followers of Buddha or Bramah; among them are no real Christians. "Multitudes (according to Lord Torrington) call themselves Christians in public, but in secret they are still more closely attached to the doctrines of the Buddhists and the Hindoo mythology;" 990 and, according to the same authority, the vast preponderance of these pretended Christians profess to be Roman Catholics. Therefore we have given them a Church of England establishment, and annually extract from the pockets of the Cingalese a salary of 2,000l. for the archdeacon, now Bishop of Colombo, and various stipends, one of 900l., four of 700l., one of 500l., one of 400l., and other smaller sums to colonial chaplains at Colombo, Galle. Kandy, Trincomalee, and Jaffna—in all, the "fixed" ecclesiastical establishment amounts to 9,000l. a year, exclusive of grants from the Colonial treasury for the building of churches. The next department to which I will refer is that of the revenue. Its officers received in 1845 about 39,000l. Under this head are included the agents of the provinces. Ceylon is divided into five provinces—the northern, southern, eastern, western, and central; over each province there is a Government agent, receiving a salary of from 1,200l. to 1,500l. a year. Each Government agent has from two to four assistant agents, with salaries varying from 200l. to 850l. a year. It is one of the duties of these officers to make the Government acquainted from time to time with the state of the native population, with their wants, wishes, and grievances; but this duty a large portion of the agents are incompetent to perform, in consequence of their ignorance of the native language; the natives, therefore, have great difficulties in making known their grievances to the Government; and the Government have equal difficulties in making its measures understood by the natives, and in removing erroneous impressions. This was evident in the insurrection of last year. Some of the natives deceived themselves with regard to the intentions of the Government; in two small towns or villages, a riotous rabble assembled; destroyed some furniture and papers, broke some doors and windows, and proclaimed a couple of their companions kings of Kandy. The Government, ignorant of any discontent, were taken by surprise—surprise begot fear, fear begot cruelty—the Government hung and shot without stint or mercy. Then, for the first time. Lord Grey discovered what he terms "the principal fault in the system now existing in Ceylon;" and he communicated to Lord Torrington the information that a knowledge of the native languages on the part of the agents and servants of the Government was a 991 necessary qualification for the effective discharge of their most important duties. This extraordinary discovery had already been made by Lord Glenelg and Lord Stanley. They both laid down the rule, that no European should be appointed to a responsible situation unless he had acquired one or both of the native languages. This rule has in practice been utterly disregarded. May Lord Grey be more successful in enforcing it, for the fatal consequences of neglecting it have been written in blood in the annals of Ceylon! The last department to which I shall refer is the judicial. The salaries paid in 1845 to persons connected with this department amounted to about 38,000l., out of which the chief justice received 2,500l.; the two puisne judges, l,500l. each; the Queen's Advocate and his deputy, l,200l. and l,000l. respectively; the registrar, 600l. In each of the five provinces, there was a superior district judge, several inferior ones, and other law officers; the five superior judges had from 1,000l. to 1,200l. a year each, the inferior district judges and other law officers, with salaries of from 200l. to 800l. a year, amounted in 1845 to twenty-nine in number; in all there were, in 1845, forty legal appointments filled by Europeans, whose united salaries amounted to 26,000l., which would give on the average 650l. as the salary for each officer. It is evident, therefore, we furnish the Cingalese with an ample supply of lawyers. There is some doubt, however, about the quality of the article so abundantly supplied. The merchants, planters, and traders of Ceylon, whose petition I lately presented, state as a notorious fact, that persons without ever having studied or practised the law are taken from other branches of the public service, and appointed to high judicial stations. This statement is confirmed in one of Lord Torrington's despatches. It is also notorious that, at times, the Colonial Office has bestowed important legal situations in Ceylon on briefless barristers, ignorant of all law, and unacquainted with the manners, customs, and languages of the natives. Therefore, as might be expected, law and practice are completely at variance in Ceylon. I state this fact upon very high authority—upon that of Sir Arthur Buller, for seven year's Queen's Advocate of that colony, now a judge in India. In November, 1842, Sir Arther Buller addressed a letter to Sir Colin Campbell, then Governor of Ceylon, in which Sir Arthur stated— 992So generally are strict law and practice at variance in this colony, and so open is its past legislation to attack, that I would undertake myself, in a month, to plunge it into utter anarchy.These statements were made to the Governor by Sir Arthur Buller, in his capacity of Queen's Advocate, in consequence of a judge having injudiciously made, or pretended to make, an attempt to reconcile his practice with the law, for which offence he was immediately removed from his seat on the bench. This case was brought under the consideration of the House in 1847. The last head of fixed expenditure is for pensions. I regret that I have no detailed account of the pension-list of Ceylon. The sum so expended in 1845 appears to me to have been enormous; it amounted to 34,000l.; since then I believe it has increased, and is likely still to increase. I think the House will be somewhat astonished when informed of the reason for this increase. The House may perhaps have heard that, some years ago, there was a mania for coffee-planting in Ceylon; it seized upon the European residents in that colony. It is said that governors disregarded their duties, judges neglected their courts, archdeacons and ministers of religion forgot their sacred functions; and all hastened to plant coffee. However this may be, certain it is that in 1844 Lord Stanley bitterly complained of the low state of feeling, the want of energy and proper pride, which existed among the members of the civil service. He ordered them to attend to their duties, and to divest themselves of their coffee estates. Then, to remunerate them for not being permitted to neglect their duties, he raised the salaries of several of the civil servants, and augmented the scale of their pensions and retired allowances. To this proceeding Lord Torrington attributed the increase in the fixed expenditure of Ceylon; which increase amounted to 34,000l., in the interval between 1844 and 1846. I hope I have succeeded in giving the House an idea of the fixed expenditure of Ceylon for the year 1845. That expenditure, I have already said, amounted to 223,000l.; it consisted—1. Of military charges to the amount of 57,000l.; those charges are to be reduced at our expense to 33,000l. 2. It consisted of salaries to the officers of the civil, ecclesiastical, revenue, and judicial departments of Government. These salaries amounted in 1845 to about 132,000l.; of this sum about one-half, or 66,000l., was distributed between some 106 or 107 993 European gentlemen, in sums varying from the minimum of 200l. to the maximum of 7,000l., the average being 650l. a year. For these same gentlemen, or their predecessors, a pension list has been provided, which amounted to 34,000l. It must now be self-evident to the House to whom and for what purposes a colony like Ceylon is pre-eminently useful. It is valuable as containing numerous appointments, with comfortable salaries, well fitted for the acceptance of political adventurers, of the poor relations, connexions, and needy dependants of men possessing political power, and of the rest of that tribe of privileged incapables for whose profit the Colonial Office collects the revenues and administers the affairs of such colonies as Ceylon. And our ignorant and trusting constituents are taught to believe that such costly possessions are the brightest jewels of the British Crown. I now conclude my account of the expenditure of Ceylon, by repeating that since 1843, it has increased 50 per cent—that it has far exceeded the revenue, though the revenue in the same interval increased 15 per cent; therefore the finances of Ceylon are in a deplorable state. The Colonial Government has had to borrow money from the banks, and intends to repudiate a part of its usual payments on account of military charges; therefore, unless the expenditure of the colony be revised and reduced, it must speedily become bankrupt, and an increasing burthen to Great Britain. Let the House bear in mind that in consequence of the expenditure of Ceylon exceeding the revenue, we had to pay for that colony, exclusive of military and naval expenditure, 926,000l. in the interval between 1811 and 1823, and 500,000l. in the interval between 1827 and 1831; in all, nearly 1,500,000l. in twenty years. Let us therefore take warning in time, and resolve at once that the expenditure of Ceylon be immediately and carefully revised with a view to its reduction. Having proved that excessive expenditure has produced the financial embarrassment of Ceylon, I will proceed to show that financial embarrassment led to the imposition of injudicious taxes by the Colonial Government. It is but fair, how-over, to the Colonial Government, to state that Sir Emerson Tennent, in a speech addressed to the Legislative Council in December last, attributed a portion of the difficulties of the Colonial Government to a "serious fallacy" in the instructions given by Lord Grey to Lord Torrington in 1847. 994 I must call the attention of the House to those instructions. They are dated 15th June, 1847. They were founded upon the report of a Committee appointed by Lord Grey, in the same year, to review the finance and commerce of the island of Ceylon. The Committee consisted of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Hawes), the hon. Gentleman the Member for Devonport (Mr. Tufnell), Mr. S. G. S. Lefevre, and Mr. Bird. They were furnished with reports from Sir Emerson Tennent and others, and with data from the Colonial Office, which are expressly described as drawn from authentic official sources. Their report is dated 13th April, 1847: it commences with an account of the state of the finances of Ceylon. This report is ably written, and would have boon a valuable public document, had its data been less incorrect, and its assumptions less erroneous. Unfortunately, strange errors are to be found in its pages, which have led to the most erroneous conclusions. For instance, in the first page, the expenditure for 1842 is set down at 301,791l. 0s. 5d. This sum is about 30,000l. less than the actual expenditure in the year in question. In this case, it appears from another Parliamentary paper, that the error arose from omitting the sums paid by the Ceylon agent in England on account of pensions, allowances, &c. Again, in the second page, the expenditure for 1845 is ranged under seven heads; against each head, certain sums are set down as the expenditure for 1845. If those sums were correct, when added together the total would be 448,000l., which was the expenditure of Ceylon in 1845; but, on adding them together, I find the result to be 425,000l. Here, therefore, is another error of 23,000l. a sum to that amount having been omitted from the charges voted by the Legislative Council. Again, in the first page, the expenditure for 1846 was estimated at 393,000l. The sum actually expended was 498,000l., or 25 per cent beyond the estimates. This miscalculation seems to me extraordinary; for this report was signed by the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies on the 13th April, 1847, and was approved of by the Secretary of State for the Colonies in his despatch of the 18th June, 1847; consequently, several months after the termination of the financial year of Ceylon, the expenditure of which was under-estimated in so extraordinary a degree. There is an error of 995 equal magnitude, though not so extraordinary with regard to the expenditure of 1847; for that year the estimate of the Committee was 418,000l., the actual expenditure about 496,000l. The last error to which I shall refer is the strangest of all. The Committee state "that the balances in the hands of the public accountants were, on the 31st December, 1845, 210,000l.; on the 31st March, 1846, 208,000l." All wrong; for, in fact they never much exceeded half that sum. In this case the cause of the error is so extraordinary a one, that I should be almost afraid to state it, if I could not quote in proof of my correctness the authority both of Lord Torrington and Sir Emerson Tennent. The error is without parallel, except in the annals of fraudulent bankruptcy. It appears that for a series of years, beginning from 1836, the treasury of Ceylon has been in the habit of returning the liabilities of the colony as assets. It appears that a quantity of Government notes, payable on demand, had been created, to the amount of about 90,000l. Of this paper about one half was in circulation, the other half in the treasury. The dormant notes in the treasury were included among the balances, which were carried to the credit of the Government, and the notes in circulation were omitted from the liabilities. This was just as if the Bank of England, in giving an account of its affairs, should reckon among its treasure all its cancelled notes, and should omit from its liabilities all its notes in circulation. In this manner the treasury balances were swelled beyond their real amount by 90,000l. This error was unknown to the Colonial Office, till detected by Lord Torrington in 1847. From these erroneous data and incorrect estimates the Ceylon Committee arrived most logically at the false conclusion—or "serious fallacy," as Sir Emerson Tennent calls it—which formed the basis of their report, and of Earl Grey's instructions to Lord Torrington. This conclusion was, "that it is evident, therefore, that in dealing with the finances of Ceylon, Her Majesty's Government may count on a large accumulated fund in hand; and, second, on a considerable annual surplus." When those words were written, the fund consisted chiefly of liabilities, and the surplus had become a large deficiency; and these events were occasioned, not by the revenue in 1846 or 1847 being less than the Committee estimated it would be—for in both years it exceeded their estimate—but by the extraordinary 996 increase of expenditure in those two years. Proceeding upon the hypothesis of the great financial prosperity of Ceylon, the Committee recommended the immediate reduction of certain duties on exports, of which the European merchants had complained, and other measures to which I need not refer. Lord Grey adopted the report of the Committee, after having consulted, as he states, various Members of Her Majesty's Government, and the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury; and with their general concurrence the report was transmitted to Lord Torrington for his guidance. Now, I wish to cast censure on no one, but I think the House must acknowledge, that if five gentlemen of distinguished ability, including the two heads of the Colonial Department, could, after much study and labour, be so completely mistaken with regard to this colony, that position is incontrovertibly proved, which has been so often and so ably maintained in this House by the noble Lord the Secretary of State for the Colonies (Earl Grey), that it is impossible for any man, be his talents and industry what they may, adequately to administer such complicated affairs as those of the British colonies, scattered all over the globe. I do think. Sir, that Lord Torrington was much to be pitied on his arrival at Ceylon. Without doubt he expected to find there all the wealth of "Ormuz and of Ind," and to become a great commercial reformer. Instead thereof, he found a bankrupt exchequer, a deficient revenue, and erroneous instructions. He was placed in this dilemma—either he must obey his instructions, or not. If he disobeyed his instructions, and did not repeal the export duties, he said that he would have been assailed by the merchants, the planters, and all the most influential Europeans. If he obeyed his instructions, the financial difficulties of the colony would be increased, unless he could reduce the expenditure or increase taxation. The noble Lord (Viscount Torrington), probably with the advice of his council, adopted the latter alternative. The export duties on cinnamon were diminished; those on coffee and other articles were abolished; a circular, very creditable to the noble Lord, was issued, recommending prompt and vigilant economy in all the departments of the State; and lastly, the legislative council enacted certain tax ordinances, some of which, I maintain, were very injudicious. For those ordinances I do not think that blame 997 should fall chiefly on the noble Lord. I may assume, without any disrespect to the noble Lord, that when he left these shores he was as little acquainted with the languages, laws, manners, customs, wants, interests, and religion of the Cingalese, as he was with the finances of the colony. He must, therefore, have trusted chiefly to his council. They were most to blame; for it must he acknowledged that, as soon as he discovered his errors, he retraced his steps with regard to the ordinances in question. I will not repeat what has been already said with regard to these ordinances. I will merely observe, that about the beginning of last year, seven tax ordinances were enacted: one for increasing the revenue from stamps, one for licensing carts and boats, one for licensing carriages and palanqueens let on hire; and the four ordinances called the shop tax, the dog tax, the gun tax, and the compulsory labour tax. The four last were the ordinances which have been so much complained of. The imposition of the shop tax every one acknowledges to have been injudicious; it was repealed before the close of the year. As regards the dog tax, I agree with the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hawes) that dogs are a great nuisance in the towns and villages of Ceylon; and if the effort to destroy them had been limited to such places, no well-founded objection to such a measure could have boon urged; but the attempt to tax the dogs in the country parts was absurd; no one would own the dogs; no revenue could be obtained from such a tax; and before the end of the year it was also repealed. I now come to the gun tax. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hawes) has made a great mistake respecting that tax, in declaring that it was imposed only with a view to registration, and not to obtain revenue. The hon. Gentleman did not appear to have remembered that that tax was first proposed by Sir Emerson Tennent (in his report on Ceylon) who was for a tax of 1s. 6d. and not 2s. 6d., and the reason why he proposed it was, that it would prove an abundant source of revenue. [Mr. HAWES: I did not say that the gun tax was imposed only for registration.] He was sorry he had misunderstood the hon. Gentleman, but he thought he had taken a correct note of what he said at the moment. The natives would not have objected to the tax, had the only object sought been that of registration; but they did object to a tax which made it necessary 998 for them to come every year from a distant part of their province to apply for a license, not in their own but in the English language, with which few of them were acquainted; the application being made to a Government agent, who would think nothing of keeping them waiting for two or three days. It was not registration but an annual tax which was desired; and the hon. Member for Inverness-shire (Mr. Baillie) was perfectly correct in saying that the gun tax had been substantially repealed. The last tax to which I shall refer was the compulsory labour tax. It consisted of three days' labour, or a commutation of 3s. Therefore, it was a poll tax of 3s. on every man who could pay that amount. As such, it was contrary to all principles of equality of taxation. In fact, it was a graduated property tax in the wrong direction. Worse than that, it belonged to the abominable system of compulsory labour. No doubt it differed from that system as regarded details. The great mistake of this tax was its universality, which Lord Torrington declared to be its principle. It compelled the Buddhist priest, who was vowed to poverty, to work like other natives. It was said, indeed, that the Buddhist priests frequently broke their vows, and that those vows very much resembled the old nolo episcopari of the bishops, being never observed except when they could not be broken; but there was a great difference between the breaking of a vow in secret, and openly violating it. Surely it was a most unwise, impolitic, and unstatesmanlike proceeding, to offer such an insult to a religious people as that of compelling their priests openly to violate their vows. Well, this tax had been repealed by Lord Torrington, as far as the priests of Buddha were concerned. What was the consequence? The Bishop of Colombo wrote a letter, in which he claimed a similar exemption for every Christian minister. Lord Torrington refused to comply with his request, on the ground that if he did so, he must grant the same exemption to the ministers of all other religions, and then he did not know when the exemptions would end; whereupon the bishop asserted that the exemption of the Buddhist priests alone would produce among the natives an impression that the religion of those priests was superior to Christianity. Now, I think it must be clear to every one that I have fully established ray position, that the imposition of these taxes was very 999 injudicious. They were either right or wrong in the spring of last year. If they were right, surely it was very injudicious to repeal them before the termination of the year. In either alternative, the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hawes) could not escape from the conclusion that the conduct of the Government of Ceylon had been most injudicious. It cannot be denied that they produced discontent in Ceylon. Lord Torrington, in his despatch of the 9th July, acknowledges that they did; but he asserts that the ordinances had been partially misunderstood or designedly misrepresented. The fact was, that the natives, finding their carts, their boats, their shops, their dogs, their guns, and even their polls, all suddenly taxed, fancied that all their other possessions would also be taxed; and they were accidentally confirmed in this belief by a return which had been required from them of their jack and cocoa-nut trees, their cattle, even their women and their children: not understanding the value of statistical information, except for purposes of taxation, they fancied that all these articles were also to be taxed. It was difficult to dispel these errors; for the European agents of the Government were (as I have already said) generally ignorant of the native languages, and held but little intercourse with the natives, and the native agents were probably as ignorant of the use of statistics as their fellow-countrymen. Afterwards, but when it was too late. Sir Emerson Tennent and Mr. Wodehouse were sent to give the natives a course of lectures on those ordinances; and it appears they removed many erroneous impressions. It was unfortunate that this proceeding had not been adopted before, instead of after the disturbances. Lord Torrington has stated in his despatch of the 9th August, that the minds of the people had been perverted and excited against the ordinances by one or two turbulent European agitators. This is the stereotyped official mode of explaining discontent. Whenever a Government are too idle or too ignorant to ascertain the real causes of discontent, or when they are anxious to conceal that there are good grounds for discontent, they invariably attribute it to the nefarious machinations of designing agitators. But all history proves that no agitator can of himself produce agitation, unless there be pre-existing causes of discontent. Those causes existing, they give birth to the agitator, who, placing himself at the head of the movement, 1000 may for a time succeed in guiding it, and thus appear to the ignorant to be its creator. In this case Lord Torrington produced, as proof of his assertion, a letter to the editor of the Colombo Observer, which is said to have been translated into Cingalese, and circulated among the natives, undoubtedly this letter contained some unwise and injudicious expressions; but, substantially, it merely asserted what is asserted in the petitions from the natives, namely, that the Government had increased the burdens of the people for the benefit of the "gentlemen," as the Europeans are called. Now, it cannot be denied that the fixed expenditure of Ceylon was increased by Lord Stanley mainly to give larger salaries and better pensions to the "gentlemen;" and the extraordinary expenditure was also augmented by the legislative council in order to improve the roads to the coffee estates of the "gentlemen," who were complaining of low prices and the cost of conveyance. Again, the export duties were repealed to please the "gentlemen;" and the burden of taxation was transferred from their shoulders to those of the natives. [Mr. HAWES intimated dissent from this statement.] Let the hon. Gentleman look at the despatch of Lord Torrington, in which he considered the question whether he should or should not obey his instructions as to the repeal of the export duties. The substance of the despatch was this:—If I repeal them, it will only be because such a feeling has been produced amongst the merchants and the European residents in this colony in favour of repealing them, that I should be sorry to disappoint their hopes.I am far from saying that injudicious taxes were the sole causes of the disturbances which took place last year. It should be remembered, that the inhabitants of the interior have only been subjected to our dominion since 1815; that they have not, like the inhabitants of the maritime provinces, been accustomed for centuries to the rule of Europeans. Under our Government, the material condition of the Kandians has without doubt improved; but we have insulted and wounded their strongest feelings. Lord Torrington has stated that, within the last few years, measures have been strenuously urged, I presume by the Colonial Office, to suppress the Buddhist religion. What right have we to act in this manner? If we insist upon ruling over millions of the followers of Buddha or Bramah, we are bound to treat their religion 1001 with all tenderness. Now, what has been our conduct with regard to the most esteemed relic of the Buddhist faith—I mean that which is called the tooth of Buddha? The superstition is, that to the possession of this relic the sovereignty of Kandy is for ever attached. In 1815 we obtained possession of it; in 1818 it was stolen from us; it became the standard of a rebellion which only terminated with its recovery; for years afterwards we treated it with honour, and carefully guarded it, until, in 1847, the Colonial Office could no longer endure the notion of sanctioning a superstition, and Lord Torrington was ordered to deliver up the relic, as worthless, to the charge of the priests of the temple of Kandy. This contempt wounded the pride and religious feelings of the Kandians, and at the same time produced a belief among the superstitious that ere long our reign over Kandy would terminate. Was such a proceeding wise or politic? I can understand a fierce bigot—a Cortez or a Pizarro—saying to the Cingalese, "Here, take your idols; place them in the front of your battle; we defy you, and will sweep you and your superstition from off the face of the earth:" that would have been plain and unmistakeable language. But what has been our conduct? As soon as the disturbances commenced, the Government agent and the commandant hastened to the temple of Kandy, and in the presence of the priests they assured them-selves that the relic bad not been removed, and took precautions for its safe custody in future; thus offering the most striking homage that could be paid to the idol; convincing its worshippers that our disbelief in it was feigned, and that in the hour of danger our only safety was in the possession of the sacred talisman. Our conduct, therefore, has been impolitic, inconsistent, and absurd. What should we now do with this relic? Place it with all honour on board ship, transfer it to the British Museum, and there let it fulfil the prophecy, and remain until Britannia ceases to be Queen of Ceylon. Thus bigotry sowed the seeds of discontent, which injudicious laws ripened into disturbances. Did those disturbances constitute a rebellion, or were they merely local riots? On the 9th of July, hardly three weeks before the commencement of the disturbances. Lord Torrington stated that he "had abundant reason to think that the mass of the Kandians were by no means disaffected." Was this assertion 1002 correct or incorrect? If incorrect, and the mass of the Kandians were disaffected, then it follows that the Government of Ceylon and the majority of its agents were completely ignorant of the feelings of the Kandians. On the other hand, if the assertion were correct, and the mass of the Kandians were by no means disaffected, then it follows that these disturbances were not a rebellion, but merely local riots. It appears to me that both of these conclusions were true. That the Government were ill acquainted with the feeling of the natives, is virtually acknowledged in Lord Grey's despatch of the 24th of October: that the disturbances were merely local riots, appears to me proved by the official accounts given of them by eyewitnesses, and which are referred to in the margin of Lord Torrington's despatches. Road, for instance, the account of the disturbances at Matelle and at Kurnegalle. A riotous rabble, acting without concert, entered two small towns, broke some doors and windows, and committed various acts of pillage. Two kings were proclaimed, both natives of the low country—an inferior class, whom the proud chiefs of the interior despise, their own kings being of pure Malabar descent. A few troops easily dispersed the mob, killing some scores and wounding some hundreds. The damage done to property was inconsiderable; the injury done to the persons of Europeans consisted in tying one agent to the railing of a verandah, and slightly wounding one soldier. All was nearly over before martial law could be proclaimed. Then came the trials of the prisoners. Now, mark this strange anomaly. Those who were captured in the midst of the riots, though probably the more guilty, were captured before the proclamation of martial law, therefore they could only, fortunately for them, be tried by the ordinary tribunals; those who were subsequently captured were handed over to the courts-martial. In the forty days that elapsed between the 5th of August and the 14th of September they condemned to death nineteen persons, of whom only one was recommended to mercy; the remainder were shot. They commenced on the 5th of August by shooting one of the "kings," and hung his body on a tree as a scarecrow. They terminated on the 14th of September, six weeks after the disturbances were over, by shooting four of the followers of the other "king." On the 26th of August they condemned a priest of Buddha to death; 1003 the man earnestly implored, not for mercy, but that his religion might not be outraged by executing him in his sacred vestments. Lord Torrington states they shot him in full robes. I was surprised to hear the hon. Under Secretary for the Colonies attempt to excuse such conduct; and I was glad to perceive that his speech almost failed him in the attempt. What would have been said had it so occurred that a priest had been engaged in the late rebellion in Ireland?—would any one have dared to have cither hung or shot him in his priestly robes? In the same despatch Lord Torrington expresses his dissatisfaction at the conduct of the Supreme Court in acquitting four other priests of the temple of Dambool, who had been tried for treason; and thereon praises "the certainty and wholesome terror of martial law." Whether Lord Torrington be or be not, strictly speaking, responsible for these military executions, I leave to those who understand martial law to determine; but it is evident he might have stopped them at any moment by putting an end to martial law. His despatches show that he cordially approved of those executions; that if it had boon necessary to submit them to him for approval, he would have sanctioned them; and that he wished for more executions. This is proved by his letter to Sir Anthony Oliphant, Chief Justice of Ceylon. Seventeen prisoners, captured in the midst of the disturbance, but before the proclamation of martial law, had been sentenced to death by the Supreme Court; some of them were recommended to mercy by the jury, all of them by the judge, for the reason contained in this extract from the letter which Sir A. Oliphant addressed to the Governor on the subject:—I learn that some twenty persons have been already shot for their share in this rebellion by the courts-martial; I, therefore, think, when it is considered that no one European has been put to death—that one soldier only has been wounded by the rebels—that no persons have appeared in warlike array against the troops since the outbreaks at Matelle and Kurnegalle—that the blood which has been already spilt is sufficient for all purposes, whether for vindication of the law or for example.From this opinion of the Chief Justice of Ceylon, Lord Torrington dissented, and he declares that he should have let the law take its course if the recommendations of the chief justice had not been made public. Therefore the chief justice compelled the Governor, against his will, to 1004 spare the lives of many offenders. This is a serious charge against a chief justice, I ask, therefore, the Colonial Office to answer distinctly this question, whether the chief justice was right in thinking that sufficient blood had been shed, or whether Lord Torrington was right in thinking that more blood ought to have been shed? I will not trouble the House with an account of the confiscations or sequestrations of many thousand pounds' worth of property belonging to suspected but innocent persons. I must, however, state, on the authority of Lord Torrington's despatch of November 6th, that in some instances the properties of persons were sequestrated, not because they were implicated in the disturbances—not because they were absent from home beyond the permitted period—but because they "were suspected of disaffection owing to their connexion with parties implicated" in the disturbances. In the same despatch, Lord Torrington stated the manner in which he had treated the two most wealthy Kandians, one of them being the head of all the Kandian chiefs. They had been arrested on suspicion; their landed property was sequestrated, their moveable property was sold; fortunately for them, they could not be tried by court-martial, and there was not evidence enough to convict them before the Supreme Court; therefore they were liberated on bail; but Lord Torrington did not deem it expedient to restore their property. Subsequently they were again arrested; but as it was found that nothing could be proved against them, they were ultimately set at liberty, and Lord Torrington has promised to restore their landed property, and to account for the proceeds of the sales of their moveable property. To complete his measures, Lord Torrington has submitted to the legislative council a bill of attainder and a bill of indemnity. The bill of indemnity was carried by the casting vote of the Governor. The only precedent quoted by Lord Torrington for such an ordinance, is that of the Capo of Good Hope in 1836. It requires, certainly, a lively imagination to discover any similarity between the riots in Kandy and the events which occurred at the Cape of Good Hope in 1834. In the December of that year, in the midst of profound peace, more than 20,000 armed barbarians, the fiercest savages on the face of the earth, burst into our colony, plundering, burning, massacring. In one week, 150,000 sheep and 100,000 head of cattle were swept 1005 away, 450 farmhouses were burnt, the frontier districts became a desert, and 7,000 of Her Majesty's subjects were reduced to utter destitution. The whole colony was ill imminent peril. Nothing but energy and decision could save it. Sir Benjamin D'Urban proclaimed martial law over the frontier districts, and, with the aid of Sir Harry Smith, and of a few troops, succeeded in stopping the career of the triumphant savages. An indemnity bill was subsequently passed, which in one important particular was amended by Lord Glenelg. The Ceylon Indemnity Act is a copy of the unamended Bill of the Cape of Good Hope, and contains, in addition, that "striking provision" (as Lord Torrington called it) which he took from the Act of 1798 for enacting martial law in Ireland, and which enables Lord Torrington, by signing a certificate, to prevent any man from being questioned for an act done in the proclaimed provinces during the existence of martial law. As far, however, as Lord Torrington is concerned, the Indemnity Act is worthless, for I believe the law has been correctly laid down by Lord Glenelg, that the governor of a colony, being the representative of Her Majesty, is not amenable to the civil or military tribunals of the colony, but is responsible for acts done in his capacity of governor, to the Queen, to Parliament, and, in certain cases, to the Court of Queen's Bench at Westminster. To indemnify Lord Torrington an Imperial Act would be required. The last act of the government of Ceylon has been to repeal the obnoxious tax ordinances, or their more obnoxious provisions. This proceeding establishes in Ceylon a most important constitutional principle. In every organised government there is some constitutional mode by which the people can procure a redress of grievances. In this country it is by petitions to Parliament, in the pachalics of the Ottoman Porte it is by riot and rebellion, that the people make their complaints known; then hundreds are slaughtered, but their cries frequently reach the cars of the Grand Signor; their grievances are redressed, and a polite message is sent with a bowstring to the offending pacha. Might not Earl Grey study these precedents with some advantage to his pachalic of Ceylon, by sending an official bowstring to his Governor? In conclusion, I have shown that excessive and increasing expenditure, for which the Colonial Office was to blame, has produced financial embarrassment in 1006 the island of Ceylon—that financial embarrassment, and the ignorance of the Colonial Office, led to the enactment of injudicious taxes—that injudicious taxes, combined with the bigoted measures of the Colonial Office, were the causes of the late disturbances—that those disturbances, though followed by military executions, confiscations, and attainders, were, in the end, successful in so far forth that the injudicious taxes or their most obnoxious provisions were repealed. Of everything that has been done or undone in that colony. Lord Grey, as the head of the colonial system of this country, has expressed his entire approbation. It is evident, therefore, that the source of all these evils is to be found in the colonial system—in the attempt to govern, from a distance of many thousand miles, men of whoso affairs we are necessarily ignorant—men wholly unlike us in race, manners, customs, language, and religion. The consequence is general mismanagement and universal discontent, especially in the Crown colonies. When that mismanagement becomes excessive, and the discontent grows loud, it sometimes reaches our ears—then only a few of us can spare time to learn something about it—the vast majority are obliged to trust to the statements of the official defenders of the system, and there the matter drops. So, I am afraid, it will be with regard to Ceylon. What ought to be done for the hotter government of that colony? I do not dream of Anglo-Saxon institutions for the Cingalese, nor do I believe in good government by a small oligarchy of European merchants. I must repeat my recommendation of last year, to transfer this colony to the East India Company. Physically and morally it belongs to our Indian empire; its productions and its races are those of India; when troops are required in Ceylon they are sent from India; when required in India they are sent from Ceylon. The great difficulty in governing Ceylon is, that men of superior ability will not go there: there is not a sufficient field for their ambition, consequently the civil servants of Ceylon, with some exceptions, are what Lord Stanley described them to be. By uniting Ceylon with India, Ceylon would have a share in the talent and official aptitude specially provided for India. It would probably be more economically governed than at present, for the expenditure of Ceylon per head of the population is about 50 per cent greater than that of India. And, 1007 lastly, we should save a military expenditure, which is now to be raised from 110,000l to about 134,000l. a-year.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, he could not but lament that so great and so national a question as this should have been so miserably met, first, by a tricky Amendment, and then by the hon. Under Secretary of the Colonies entering upon a simple, personal defence. First, as to the Amendment, it had manifestly been proposed under a misconception of the Motion against which it had been made; and then, when the Motion proposed was found to be different from that which it was supposed it would be, yet the Amendment was not withdrawn; and it was not withdrawn, because it was desired to give a temporary triumph to the Government on what was a collateral debate. That which should have boon attended to was avoided, and that which they did not care to inquire about was pressed forward as the most fitting subject for consideration; and yet doing this, and pursuing this course, was an admission on the part of the Government of the faults with which it was charged. With regard to the defence made by the Under Secretary of State of the noble Lord (Earl Grey), he must say that he did not look upon this Motion as an attack upon the Government, or an individual. For himself, he said, that so far from being inclined to pass a vote of censure upon the noble Lord (Earl Grey), he was far more disposed to propose to him a vote of thanks; for if ever there was a man raised up by Providence to damn the system he supported, that noble Lord was the very man. He looked up with gratitude to Earl Grey, who, by the peculiarity of his character and his temper, brought to a crisis the difficulties and dangers with which they had been so long struggling. He did not look upon this as a vote of censure, or as an attack upon any person or party—he did not seek for an inquiry in order that it might implicate one Government more than another; but what he wanted to ascertain was, how they were to get out of the difficulties of the colonial system. They merely wanted information as to those circumstances which rendered their colonial administration one scene of disorder; they wanted to ascertain why and how it was that a system was persevered in which was destructive to their colonies, and a disgrace to the mother country. The hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent who had moved the Amendment, declared 1008 that he could not see upon what grounds British Guiana, the Mauritius, and Ceylon had been put into the one Motion—why three cases were put together, all different, all dissimilar, and all distinct from each other, and yet all showing the same disastrous results, in consequence of their colonial administration. It was because where circumstances were diametrically the opposite the same results arose, they might very fairly conclude that the principle was not peculiar to any one case. He said this with no party feeling, for he could not say to what party he belonged, nor who his leader might be; but this he said, that seeing the various disasters that had occurred in various colonies, and seeing that they could be traced to the same principle of government, he wished inqury to be made into that; and what he found fault with was, that no one seemed disposed to deal with that which was the main proposition for consideration. The particular case of Ceylon showed what were the faults of the system; and he could hardly wonder at Lord Torrington saying in one of his letters, "What a pity it was that Ceylon had been made a Crown colony, and separated from the continent." He believed the same remark had been made by Napoleon at the Peace of Amiens, who stated that he was perfectly content that England should keep Ceylon if it were made a Crown colony. There could, he believed, be no doubt that Napoleon had given expression to such an opinion. He said, then, that one of the grievous cases of Government control was, that men were appointed to these colonies without the necessary qualifications for government. It was asked what were Lord Torrington's claims to be sent out as Governor to Ceylon? The answer was, that Lord Torringtion had shown his qualifications for office—and how? By the manner in which he had administered a farm in Kent. That was the answer of the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, who also told them that Lord Torrington had been chairman of the South Eastern Railway Company. The Under Secretary for the Colonies also said, in reply to the hon. Member for Inverness-shire (Mr. Baillie), that that hon. Gentleman had only alluded to the taxes laid on by Lord Torrington, and had made no reference to the reduction of duties effected by him; that is, the Under Secretary for the Colonies complained that the accusation was not made worse against Lord Torrington than what it had been 1009 when originally preferred. Lord Torrington, in the face of a deficient revenue, was determined upon carrying out free-trade notions; not content with dabbling with taxes, his Lordship, like a hero who seemed to be led on by a higher impulse to the achievement of some most difficult task, fancied that to make a revenue he had only to commence with an experiment in free trade; and hence he began by making a large reduction in export duties, then in abolishing all differential duties; and then, when his grand scheme had been set on foot, there was not a single despatch that came from him that did not complain of the deficiency becoming greater and greater, and that did not ask for assistance, whilst there was not one of his orders in council which did not announce a new tax, and they would even be found frequently to come in triplets. There were taxes of all sorts—on houses, dogs, carriages, roads; and the last, it might be observed, imposed in breach of faith with the colonists. From the time the alterations of the duties took place to the end of the blue hook, there would be found not a single order in council from Lord Torrington which did not announce a new tax. At last an exasperated people rebelled. He was astonished, on this part of the subject, to hoar the hon. Under Secretary for the Colonies reading letters from various officers in the provinces. He wondered the hon. Under Secretary did not ask what did the people say for themselves as to the cause of that rebellion? The unfortunate people stated over and over again in letters that were so well written as to show that they might be made capable of having a local government—they stated most plainly that nothing but the enormous taxes imposed upon them goaded them to rebellion—and hon. Gentlemen on the other side might well be supposed to sympathise with men who rebelled against unjust and enormous taxation, Remonstrances were made on the part of the people, and they were not very fairly replied to by Lord Torririgton, who took a very high tone with them for venturing to "canvass his measures"—for such an expression was, he thought, used by the Governor. The rebellion was followed by numbers killed by the military, by men shot, and by severe punishments of various kinds. The history of the affair seemed monstrous from the beginning to the end, and yet the proceedings in the colony were defended by the Home Government, partly because they were more 1010 ignorant of Ceylon than their own Governor, who was on the spot, partly because he was their nominee, and partly because any Motion for inquiry into the administration of a colony was treated by the Government of the day as a vote of censure upon them. Now, what he wanted and what he hoped for was, to strip the question of all personality, in order that they might investigate the whole system of colonial administration. They ought to see whether they would not go back to the old principle of local government—he did not mean representative government, for there was a great difference between the two. He would toll them that the old book of Mr. E. G. Wakefield was bringing conviction to many men in and out of the House. What was wanted was not a triumph for party, but that all should combine together for the purpose of getting out of the difficulty in which they were now placed.
§ MR. SCOTT
said, that the question before the House resolved itself into part of the general question, whether the colonies were well or ill governed. There were two classes of colonies, namely, the Crown and the representative colonies. The present Government had not thought fit to extend to the Crown colonies those institutions which the Members of it individually professed to admire and approve of: the Crown colonies were governed despotically by means of a governor sent out from Downing-street, instead of having a representative system conferred upon them. This was the cause of the discontent that had been exhibited in Ceylon and Guiana. The mode of sending out despatches for the colonies was very correctly described by the late lamented Mr. Charles Buller, who said, in a work published by him on the subject, that they were written not by the Secretary of State, but by some apocryphal character, who might be termed Mr. Mother Country. So the despatches sent out to Ceylon, though signed, could not be written by Earl Grey, but by this Mr. Mother Country, for the contents of those despatches were contradictory to each other. In some of them Earl Grey expresses a desire to see a system of reform and of retrenchment instituted; and he urges Lord Torrington to reduce the expenses of his government, as one of the causes of the rebellion in Ceylon was the excessive amount of taxes imposed for the purpose of meeting the expenditure. On the other hand, the Colonial Office maintains in the colony a most 1011 extravagant expenditure, in the shape of civil list, with a governor at the head of it, receiving a salary of 7,000l. a year. The estimated expenditure for the year 1849 was 408,000l. How much of that sum was composed of charges especially sanctioned by Earl Grey? No less than 236,000l. was positively sanctioned by the noble Earl, who nevertheless recommended so strongly reform and retrenchment. The same course was observed in Guiana. Reform and retrenchment were urged on the authorities at that colony; and yet the sums which the Government at the Colonial Office had approved of as proper to be expended, totally prevented those recommendations from being carried into effect. Let him (Mr. Scott) ask the House whether a sum like that was a fair proportion of the revenue of such a colony to be paid in salaries and civil establishments? The noble Earl at the head of the Colonial Office, however, seemed to consider taxes in the light of so many blessings; and he had addressed several despatches to Lord Torrington on the subject, which rather merited the distinction of being styled didactic effusions than the plain directions of a Colonial Secretary to the governor of a colony. The more direct the tax, the greater the blessing, seemed to be the motto of the noble Earl. In this country, the proper principle upon which taxation was regulated, was property; but Earl Grey seemed to think that an opposite rule ought to prevail at the opposite side of the globe, and that poverty, and not property, was the legitimate basis of taxation. In the despatch addressed by him to Lord Torrington, dated the 24th October, 1848, there occurred the following passages, which would sufficiently illustrate his meaning:—Hence the expediency of adopting the very opposite policy to that which would be proper in Europe, by endeavouring, in the imposition of taxes, to make them press, so for as prudence will admit, rather upon those who are content with a mere subsistence, than upon the possessors of property, and the purchasers of luxuries.The noble Earl in this moral essay seems to consider that the visits of the tax-gatherer ought to be the more welcome the less able the poor man was to answer his demand. He says in another place—It appears to me to be a mistake to regard the imposition of direct taxation to a moderate amount, upon a population, under such circumstances, as really injurious to them. I am persuaded that it may, on the contrary, be conducive to their true welfare.1012 Now, unfortunately, the Cingalese do not appear to be such good political economists as to understand the full blessings of direct taxation; and they seem to unite so much base ingratitude to profound ignorance as not to exhibit any thankfulness for the imposition of taxes which they were little able to pay. For example, they did not appreciate the direct blessings of a road-tax, a gun tax, a dog tax, a shop tax, a trading tax, a boat tax, a carriage tax, and last, not least, a rice tax of 25 per cent, He remembered a great statesman hoping to be gratefully remembered in the cottage by the peasant who refreshed his wearied body with untaxed broad. The Minister for the Colonies, his disciple in free trade and abolition of corn laws, here, thinks a tax on bread in Guiana, and on rice in Ceylon, rather conducive to civilisation and moral improvement than otherwise. Speaking of tropical countries, Earl Grey says—If it be admitted, as I think it must, that the real welfare of mankind consists not alone in the enjoying an abundance of the necessaries of life, but in their being also placed in a situation favourable to their moral improvement, and to their advance in civilisation, it follows that in such countries as I have adverted to, it may be for the true interest of the working classes that the contributions demanded from them towards the wants of the State should somewhat increase the amount of exertion required for procuring subsistence.And that was the method recommended by the noble Earl as the first step towards civilising the Cingalese! Instead of sending out missionaries from Exeter Hall, the best plan, according to the notions of the Colonial Secretary, for converting the natives of Ceylon, would be to despatch thither the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with an army of tax-gatherers. In a despatch of the same date, 24th October, the noble Earl appears very indignant with a body of most respectable merchants, planters, traders, and others for presenting a memorial to him, instead of petitioning the Governor. Certainly it was a very useless attempt on their part, and betrayed great ignorance; but surely it was needless for the applicants to appeal to the very authority against which they sought redress. They appealed to his Lordship because the Legislature had too little, and because the Executive had too much, power; and one of the grievances stated in one of the petitions—That the constitution of the councils of this island does not lead your petitioners to hope for any amelioration through their means; the unpaid, unofficial, members, who are the nominees 1013 of the Governor, are powerless to originate any measure, and, judging from the past, your petitioners have no hope in them for the future, as they do not enjoy the confidence of the community.Thus, in their petition to the home authorities, their first complaint was that they had no confidence in the justice of the legislative council of the colony, and for that reason appealed to higher authorities. And no wonder, when we find the official members ranged on one side, and almost all the unofficial on the other, as follows: Ayes, 9—the Collector of Customs, the Surveyor General, the Government Agent, the Treasurer, the Auditor General, the Queen's Advocate, the Colonial Secretary, the Major General, Mr. Smith. Noes, 5—Mr. Swan, Mr. Fairholme, Mr. Armitage, Mr. Dias, Mr. Giffening. What would be thought hero of a majority so constituted? They complain of the excessive taxation, the enormous expenditure, the expensive sinecures, and the pain of uselessly recording votes in a minority against an official majority. Taking the whole of the circumstances which had been brought to light into consideration, he could come to no other conclusion than that the proceedings of Lord Torrington and his legislative council had given an apt illustration of Earl Grey's own description of colonial government—namely, that it was a "bold, irresponsible despotism;" and most certainly this was not the way to attach British subjects resident in a distant colony to the dominion of the mother country.
§ SIR R. PEEL
As the House has agreed on the main point—namely, an inquiry into the administration of the Government in two or three of our colonies, and as the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. Hawes) has challenged and invited inquiry into the specific facts contained in the statement of the hon. Member for Inverness-shire (Mr. Baillie), there is no necessity to occupy much of the time of the House. I wish it was possible—as there is a common consent on both sides of the House to an inquiry—so to modify the terms of the reference to the Committee, that there should be no necessity for a division on this Motion. I agree with those hon. Gentlemen who have adverted to the great ability displayed by the hon. Member for Inverness-shire (Mr. Baillie); but I think that it would be a great advantage to the colonies if this inquiry were conducted loss 1014 with the view of casting blame upon any particular Secretary of State administering the affairs of the colonies, than of ascertaining whether there could not be such a modification of the system of colonial administration as might be calculated to give satisfaction and content to the inhabitants. When we look to the state of Demerara, to the state of Ceylon, and to the state of Mauritius, and find proofs of discontent existing in those colonies, the chief object of consideration is the removal of the causes of just dissatisfaction. Such an inquiry into the general condition of Ireland was proposed by Lord Althorp, and was carried on for three Sessions. I did not consider that the Motion of Lord Althorp was a censure on the party in power, but an inquiry into the grounds of complaint and principles of government which should be adopted. The Motion thus was made by Lord Althorp was at once assented to by the House. I would enter into such inquiry without reference to the conduct of any one particular Secretary of State, but in reference to the general system of colonial administration. If it be intended to institute an inquiry into the commercial condition of these colonies, with the view of reviving protection, of encouraging hopes, and unsettling the minds of the colonists, I, for one, cannot consent to it. I think it would be a great public evil to delude the minds of the colonists with the expectation that this House would consent to the revival of that system of commercial policy which it has so recently condemned and abandoned. But, Sir, I think it would be quite possible to effect the object which the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie) professes to have in view, so as at the same time to avoid any misconception upon the subject. I think that we might effect the object I allude to by removing such misunderstanding, by altering the original Motion, and dispensing with the necessity for the Amendment. I may be thought fastidious, but I do not like the wording, cither of the original Motion or the Amendment. The Motion seems, perhaps without intending it, to encourage the hope of revived protection—the Amendment declares a fixed resolution as to the future, which I sec no necessity for putting on record. It is impossible to discuss this subject without making some reference to the papers which have been laid on the table of the House. In those papers I find ample ground for the Motion before the House. I Say nothing anticipatory 1015 of the inquiry, but there are official documents presented to Parliament by the Minister of the Crown, and it is difficult to conceal the impression made by the evidence before us. I regret the general tone and spirit in which these despatches are written. No man can be more disposed than I am to make allowance for a governor called upon to administer the affairs of a colony under circumstances of great difficulty. There has been a rebellion, and this rebellion has been suppressed. If there had been inactivity and delay on the part of the Government, that rebellion might have assumed a formidable character, and we should then have blamed the want of vigour and timely severity. I make, therefore great allowances for the governor of a distant colony under such circumstances. I do not quarrel with Lord Torrington for the proclamation of martial law, or with having shown a determination to prevent and suppress the outbreak by decisive measures; but it would have been perfectly consistent with vigorous action, to have abstained from some of the acts done, and spoken of them when done in a different tone and temper. I will take the case of Lord Torrington, as it was stated by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hawes). I will take it for granted that the issue of the taxing ordinances had nothing to do with the rebellion. I will admit that the causes of rebellion were not sudden or accidental; but the more strongly I make that admission the greater alarm do I feel with respect to the condition of Ceylon, and the more do I deprecate the course which has been followed. I will take the case as it is shown in these despatches. Lord Torrington says—I repudiate all supposed connexion between the taxation and the rebellion.I give him all the benefit of this. Taxation, then, was not the cause of the rebellion. It arose from a deeper rooted feeling than mere dissatisfaction with new imposts. The cause of the rebellion is explained in the following extract from a despatch of Lord Torrington:—The chief's and priests, always treacherous to the Government, and hostile to British rule, above all, indignant at the course pursued towards them respecting their religion, have been looking eagerly forward for some pretence to fly to arms, and a plot of longer preparation, and of deeper or more determined character, has seldom, if ever, burst forth. I repudiate all supposed connexion between the taxation and the rebellion, in which opinion the observations of the Colonial Secretary, Sir J. E. Tennent, while travelling through the country, further confirm me.1016 If this be the cause of the rebellion it justifies great apprehension as to the future tenure of our power in the colony; of course I do not mean mere possession by military occupation, but of possession, accompanied by contentment and satisfaction on the part of the people. It appears that two great classes, independent of the ignorant masses, were discontented—the priests and the chiefs. The priests, according to another despatch of the Governor, belongs to an apathetic religion, not manifesting opposition to the religious tenets of others—not hostile to the Established Church—but intensely attached to their own rights and to their national customs. Such was the feeling of the priests. With respect to that of the chiefs. Lord Torrington says—and I think with great force—I cannot forget the observation made to me by one of the chiefs at a solemn conference, held at kandy last year, who said, 'If you Britons give nothing towards the support of our religion, and if you have no regard to our national customs, what benefit is the British Government to us?'This was the address of a native chief to the British Governor. He said nothing of commercial advantage from connexion with us, nothing of the privileges enjoyed in being subject to British rule, but he said there are two national things dear to us—our religion and our customs; if you discourage the one, and have no respect for the other, of what use is your rule to us? The Governor observes, that this speech had made a deep impression on his mind. I wish it had been of a more lasting character, and that the observation of the native chief had recurred to the mind of Lord Torrington when he had to decide on the treatment of priests and chiefs? I do not complain of extending to them the same measure of punishment as to others; but if any slight to their religion was regarded with great jealousy by the priests, if contempt for their customs was looked upon with great jealousy by the people—how could Lord Torrington reconcile it with wisdom, or even common sense, to shoot a priest in the robes of his order; or, when he inflicted transportation on a chief, first to subject him to the ignominy of corporal punishment? I could not discuss this question without alluding to these passages in the despatches. If this priest administered treasonable oaths in favour of the pretended king, and if the pretended king was guilty of rebellion, the necessity for extreme severity might be urgent. It 1017 might be imperatively necessary to inflict the punishment of death upon a priest; but what can be the necessity for shooting a priest when in his sacerdotal robes? How would the public have treated such a circumstance had it occurred in this country? Suppose, for instance, the case of a priest engaged in the rebellion of Tipperary. He might have been tried and sentenced to death—he might have been executed, and a feeling of pity or regret might alone have been excited; but if the punishment had been inflicted in a way to cast a slur upon the order of which he was a member—if the priest had been ostentatiously brought forth for execution on the gallows dressed in his priest's robes, the feeling of simple regret would have been changed to one of indignation and disgust on the part of millions. And this feeling of indignation will not be the weaker among an ignorant people, because their religion is debased by superstitious errors, and partakes not of the mild and tolerant spirit of Christianity. Now with regard to the pretended king, Lord Torrington says—After carefully weighing the recommendation of the judge for mercy, I have arrived at the conclusion that, under the circumstances stated, it would be expedient not to carry the sentence of death into execution. The dread of transportation among the natives is almost greater than that of death.I can believe this. I know that the feeling thus described by the Governor exists in some parts of Ireland. The fear of separation from their homes and families is almost regarded as equal to the punishment of death. But when in public estimation the punishment of transportation is regarded as greater than that of death, what can be said of the proceeding thus described by Lord Torrington?—It is my intention that the sentence shall be commuted to transportation for life; and, by way of making a more lasting impression upon the minds of the Kandians, I propose that their pretended king shall receive a severe public flogging at Kandy preparatory to his transportation.The priest is shot in his full canonicals, and the king, by way of preparation for transportation, is subjected to a severe public flogging. Now, making every allowance for the position of Lord Torrington, thinking it highly probable that he was placed in circumstances of extreme difficulty, admitting that we are indebted to him for his manifestation of vigour and resolution, I think it would have been perfectly possible to reconcile acts of vigour and authority with abstinence from other 1018 acts, calculated to alienate from us the minds of the whole population—a population already too prone to regard our dominion with dissatisfaction and jealousy. Sir, I could not possibly have given expression to my opinions with regard to the particular Motion before the House, without expressing the pain and regret with which I have read those portions of Lord Torrington's despatches to which I have referred.
§ MR. HORSMAN
wished, although the Government consented to the inquiry, to make one or two observations. He thought that, in referring to the executions, which all must lament, justice ought to be done to Sir Archibald Oliphant, the Chief Justice of Ceylon. To him a debt of gratitude was owing, for having interposed to save a further effusion of blood, which might have been lamentably and disgracefully shed. The few lines in which he stated that the executions which had already taken place were sufficiently extensive, and that others ought to be avoided, were so creditable to his character, that they deserved to be acknowledged; and, indeed, whenever such instances of conduct on the part of public servants abroad came under the notice of the Government at home, or of Parliament, no opportunity ought to be lost of recognising them in the most prompt, just, and generous manner. He thought it only right to make this expression of his feeling towards the conduct of a gentleman of whom he knew nothing, except from the despatches before the House. Had the inquiry been resisted, he should have voted for it; but as the Government, in granting it, had taken a line that was creditable to them, he had nothing more to say, except to congratulate the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie) upon the manner in which he had introduced the Motion.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
Although, after the able speech of my hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, I do not feel that the conduct of Earl Grey requires any further defence, yet, in agreeing to the appointment of the Committee, I think it necessary not to pass wholly without notice, both some of the observations which the hon. Gentleman who brought forward the Motion (Mr. Baillie) has made, and some remarks which have been made by others with regard to the affairs of Ceylon. With regard to the hon. Gentleman who brought forward the Motion, and who did it with such a 1019 degree of personal bitterness, as I have seldom heard—["No, no!"] I must say, I believe that must have been the case, in order to lead him to suppress, so completely as he did, any facts which might be favourable to the administration of the noble Earl the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and of the Governor of Ceylon. For the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie) began his speech with regard to Ceylon, by stating that this was a case in which the character of Lord Torrington was involved; that when Lord Torrington arrived at Ceylon, and he found there was a deficiency in the revenue to meet the expenditure, he thought proper immediately to impose certain direct taxes. Now, Sir, the fact is, as the hon. Gentleman must have learned from the papers before the House, and as my hon. Friend (Mr. Hawes) has shown to him, there were certain import and export duties in Ceylon before Lord Torrington's arrival, some of which had become so unproductive that the revenue was unable to moot the expenditure. More especially among those duties were the export duties upon cinnamon and coffee. There were other duties besides those most unadvisable and impolitic taxes; but more especially were these unfit at the moment at which Lord Torrington assumed the government of Ceylon, because, owing to the reduction in the price of cinnamon, and to the reduction in the price of coffee, they were at once found diminished and unproductive, and far more burdensome than the other revenue taxes. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie) then represented Lord Torrington as a volunteer financier attempting to impose a new system of taxation. So far from that, the fact is, that a former Secretary of State had given directions for the whole subject of taxation to be inquired into. Sir Emerson Tennent, the island Secretary, had suggested a plan for revising the taxes. That plan had been examined by gentlemen deputed for the purpose, and Lord Torrington had only to consider in what manner he should carry this proposition—this one simple proposition—into effect. There is one remarkable circumstance, of which the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie) took no notice—namely, that the production of coffee had increased to such an extent that for two years there was necessarily great distress among the planters in the island of Ceylon. I find, there having been no export 1020 of coffee in the year 1843, the export in 1845 was upwards of 16,000,000 lbs., and that in 1848 it had increased to 30,000,000 lbs.—and this export of 30,000,000 lbs., be it observed, when the whole consumption of this country is not more than 37,000,000 lbs. It was obvious, that when the coffee planters of Ceylon had to send 30,000,000 lbs. into a market where they were to meet the competition of West India and foreign coffee, there must necessarily be some great reduction in prices, and consequently considerable distress among the planters. Was it not wise, then, to diminish the burdens which affected the planters injuriously, and which tended to prevent industry and the cultivation of that which had become a most important article of growth and export? But the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie) most studiously and carefully avoided that subject. He took care to suppress and conceal every fact that would lead the House to suppose that anything of the kind had taken place; and he represents Lord Torrington as having volunteered the system of direct taxation. But the hon. Gentleman, in reading the despatch relative to the gun tax, read part only; he read it without the paragraph immediately preceding that which he did read, in which it is said that Sir Colin Campbell, the previous Governor, had proposed the ordinances imposing the gun tax, that he had been an advocate with the Council of Policy for that tax, and that Lord Torrington, concurring in the views Sir Colin Campbell had taken, was prepared to carry them into effect. But that would not have suited the hon. Gentleman's purpose. It would have shown the House that Lord Torrington was not the author of the objectionable ordinance, and that he had not created the rebellion by imposing the tax. The hon. Gentleman, therefore, took the utmost care not to read one word of that passage. And then, after having shown other and similar instances of carelessness and want of candour, the hon. Gentleman concluded his speech by bringing a most unusual charge against Earl Grey, of having made a speech in the House of Lords, in which he had not given a fair account of certain memorials. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie) having indulged in this sort of misconstruction, having suppressed the truth in almost every instance, at last ended, I say, with a charge against Earl Grey, with reference to a speech which he made in the House of Lords, of 1021 which we can none of us have any accurate knowledge—["Oh!"]—of which, I repeat again, none of us can have any accurate knowledge; and of which, you. Sir, if you had been aware the hon. Gentleman was quoting from a speech delivered in the House of Lords, would have been obliged to notice as disorderly! That speech, I believe, was totally different from that which the hon. Gentleman says it was. The hon. Gentleman says, it was a speech to show that prosperity existed in the island of Jamaica. I believe it was no such thing. I believe it was a speech intended to show that property had changed hands in the island, and that many persons—men of small capital—intended to take land in small holdings, in Jamaica, and not to show the prosperity of the planters. At all events, I submit it to the hon. Gentleman, that while he is not capable of giving a fair account of Earl Grey's despatches, and Lord Torrington's despatches in answer to them, he should not have founded a charge in this House, upon the report of a speech in the House of Lords, with regard to which the Members of this House may differ as to the meaning and sense. I come now to a more painful part of the subject, namely, the insurrection which took place in the island of Ceylon. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie) has described that insurrection as entirely owing to the tax ordinances; as being the result of plans long concealed; of a desire for independence of British rule; of feelings of resentment at the want of attention shown to the priests and the head men. I am inclined to believe, however, although the tax ordinances may have been the immediate occasion of the insurrection that took place, that the account given by Lord Torrington, corroborated as it is by various other parties, is the true account with regard to the origin of the insurrection. I am confirmed in that belief by seeing that Ceylon has not been, as the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) described it, as from the year 1811, entirely peaceable, In the year 1818, thirty years ago, there took place an insurrection founded upon similar motives, founded upon a wish to obtain the independence of the Kandians, founded upon a desire to restore their religion in all the splendour which the followers of Buddha ever rejoiced in. In that insurrection, which lasted more than a year, besides the lives of many people being lost in conflict and in battle, no loss than twenty-eight were sentenced 1022 to be shot; they were shot to death; and martial law continued, not only during the rebellion, but for two whole years afterwards. With regard to this subject, therefore, I must say that I think we are indebted to Lord Torrington for the energy he showed at the commencement of the insurrection. Had he not shown great energy at that time, the insurrection might have lasted twelve months, and have been attended with the loss of more lives of British soldiers, and many more of natives. It was, however, quickly suppressed, and the country as quickly restored to confidence and quiet. We had an account of a small British detachment marching, with 20,000 people upon the watch to intercept and surround them; we had accounts of the people meeting in vast numbers for the purpose of proclaiming a king, and to rise in insurrection. All these attempts were quickly suppressed and put down; and I think that Lord Torrington deserves credit for it. Without referring to any opinion that Earl Grey may entertain of the conduct of Lord Torrington, I will read to the House the opinion of Sir Herbert Maddock, a name carrying with it that authority which belongs to a man long conversant with the affairs of India, He is a gentleman holding a high position among the public servants in India, and he is entirely impartial in the opinion he gives:—I fully and most cordially concur "with you in expressing my high appreciation of the able and well-arranged plans of the Government in Colombo, of the prompt and efficient distribution of its military resources in such a manner that, with the exception of those districts where the insurgents, appearing unexpectedly, and in great force, were enabled to overrun the country, and spreading havoc and destruction in their path—before the military could reach them—has pro-served the lives and properties of the European settlers, and all other loyal and peaceful subjects in all other parts of the province; and I unhesitatingly state my belief that you are directly indebted to the able person at the head of the Government for the security and comparative tranquillity which now everywhere prevail.So far from giving the character to Lord Torrington which the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie) has been pleased to give him (probably without any knowledge of his character or abilities), and not taking the line of the hon. Baronet the Member for the borough of Southwark (Sir W. Moles-worth) who attacks all colonial governors in a lump, and calls them "privileged incapables," Sir Herbert Maddock tells a public meeting that they owe the tranquillity of the country and the safety of their 1023 lives to the head of the government of Ceylon. I find, likewise, that at more than one public meeting the same expressions were used; that it was owing to the energy of the Governor that the insurrection was so speedily suppressed. I say, therefore, that Lord Torrington does deserve credit and thanks for the ability, the energy, and the resolution which he has exhibited. Now, Sir, one word with regard to the punishments afterwards inflicted. I confess, I feel upon that subject, that I am not a competent judge of the extent of punishment which was necessary in order to preserve the lives and property, as well of British settlers, as of all other subjects of Her Majesty at Ceylon. It certainly would appear to me, on considering the correspondence between the Chief Justice and Lord Torrington, that the Chief Justice took a more able, and I should say a more politic view of what was prudent at the time he wrote that letter to Lord Torrington. But Lord Torrington observed that recommendation; and, in fact, the prisoners were transported. With regard to the conduct of the courts-martial, I know not if there is any room for complaint. They were presided over by Colonel Drought, an officer of established reputation. It docs not appear that they were guilty of cruelty, or that they gave way to any excess of severity merely for any gratification they might have had in it. I presume that Colonel Drought thought it necessary to inflict these punishments; and with regard to Lord Torrington's part in the case, it consists only in his expressing his general satisfaction with the conduct of Colonel Drought—a satisfaction which I must say, is shared likewise by many of the inhabitants of Ceylon. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth (Sir E. Peel) has spokon of two particular facts—the execution of a priest in his sacred vestments, and the administration of corporal punishment upon a prince. Upon these two particular facts I must decline to give any opinion whatever. I confess that with regard to facts of this kind, so far as they are here stated, I do not see that there was sufficient reason for such inflictions. But, at the same time, I am far from thinking it impossible that there might be peculiar circumstances in the state of mind of the people, after an insurrection had just been suppressed, which rendered these acts justifiable on the part of those who inflicted them. But I go on to the other matters in which the Governor of Ceylon has been impugned. 1024 It is said, that he has shown a disregard for the religion of the Kandians. I must say, having been myself in the situation of Colonial Secretary, that, although it seems very easy to say, "Pay every respect to the religion of the natives; take care no kind of contempt is shown to it; that every regard is paid to their rites;" although that is very easy to say, yet no Governor is exactly in the situation to preserve the line which will satisfy all. I recollect having written despatches to the Governor of Ceylon, in which I endeavoured, as well as I could, to point out to him the line which I thought should be followed. But this, I am convinced, is the danger to which a governor is continually exposed. If he appears in any way to neglect the religious rites of the country, or if, in consequence of having, by his position as governor of the island, the temple and the temple lands in his hands, he docs not apply their proceeds to the rites of the followers of Bramah, he then offends the religious feelings of the natives, and he runs the risk of exciting great discontent. But if, upon the other hand, he confers upon those rites, and temples, and priests, all the respect which the former native governments had shown, then we find that in this country, and finally in this House, there is roused an accusation that idolatry is respected; that the British Government show their contempt for Christianity, by the deference and forbearance with which the most superstitious and disgusting rites are treated; and we are asked, in public meetings throughout the country, and in speeches in this House, to condemn such conduct on the part of governors and ministers who are appointed by a Christian Queen. Let me tell the House, therefore, that between these opposite dangers the line is by no means so safe, so definite, and so easy, as those who, in a speech, lay down lines of conduct for governors to pursue, might seem to suppose. With regard to Lord Torrington especially, I believe that with respect to this subject he has received instructions, some given by former Secretaries of State for the Colonies, some given by the present Secretary of State, which have tended much to fetter and control his conduct with regard to these temples. It may be, that among other matters, this will come before the Committee; but I trust that in investigating the subject, they will show that forbearance which I say ought to be shown; and that they will consider that the person 1025 administering government either in India or in any of our eastern colonies has to decide between two paths, both of which are beset with difficulties, and that it requires the utmost temper and discretion to choose the line which is prudent, and therefore right. And I believe it has happened to Lord Torrington, in the general discontent which prevailed amongst the population of Ceylon, to have fallen to him the result of a conduct long pursued, in accordance with which the British Government has thought it necessary to declare that it was not right for any British governor to favour the superstitious rites of the natives. Sir, having thus spoken of the affairs of Ceylon, I certainly shall not say much with respect to the affairs of the other colonies to which the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie) alluded. As far as I remember the circumstance, I said I was quite ready to agree to an emigration plan, but that I did not think it right there should be a loan for that purpose. I thought that the full expense of emigration ought to be charged to the colonies. I believe, however, that Lord Stanley afterwards consented to an ordinance, by which a loan was decreed. But, Sir, I cannot agree with the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie), that Mr. Barkly has at all forfeited his title to the respect of this House by accepting the government of British Guiana. On the contrary, I think he gave an example, which a man docs well to set, that without reference to former party differences, he was ready to go to a colony where his influence might be of use in reconciling the opinions of the inhabitants to the mode of government in which they were bound to acquiesce. And, be it observed, whilst the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie) finds fault with Mr. Barkly for accepting the government of Guiana, he is one of those who are constantly blaming the Government, because they choose none but their own partisans for offices of this kind. He says, in the first place, "Here is a Government which chooses none but its partisans to whom to give offices of importance." And in the next place, "If any person, not belonging to their party, takes office under them, I will take care to held up his conduct to the reprobation of the House of Commons." I have here a list, with which I need not long trouble the House, of the appointments made by Earl Grey. I think his appointments of governors show a very 1026 careful desire to select men of ability for those important trusts. I know myself how difficult it is very often to find a person well qualified for the post, who will consent to leave this country for a distant colony. I believe, in the very case of Ceylon, the government was offered to at least three persons—[An Hon. MEMBER: Pour]—four, as I am reminded, before it was proposed to Lord Torrington. I know, with regard to several other governments, that they have been offered to men whom it was thought desirable, on account of their abilities, to place in those exalted posts, but that in several instances that hope was disappointed, and the office refused. So untrue is it that those appointments are always sought as objects of desire, and so untrue is it that this patronage is any great object of desire with the person who may fill the office of Colonial Secretary; on the contrary, it is very often a matter of the utmost difficulty to find officers well qualified for filling the posts that may happen to fall vacant. I will read some of the names of persons appointed by Earl Grey. To Canada, the Earl of Elgin; to New Brunswick, Sir Edmund Walker Head; to Van Diemen's Land, Sir William Denison; to Barbadoes, Colonel Reid, who has been succeeded by Sir William Colebrooke; to Gibraltar, Sir Robert Gardiner, an officer of artillery; to Malta, Mr. More O'Ferrall; to Mauritius, Sir William Gomm; to Labuan, Sir James Brooke; to Hong Kong, Mr. Bonham; to South Australia, Sir Henry Young. Such is the general nature of the appointments which Earl Grey has made to colonial governments. I think they show, generally, a very great desire to obtain men of high ability, unconnected with the Government, to fill posts of great importance. Much as I value, in relation to our English colonies, that rule of self-government which for Englishmen is the best rule, I believe that for many of our colonies it is of still more importance to make a good selection of governors. I believe that a governor, well-chosen, does generally so far conciliate the good opinion of those with whom he is to act, that he is enabled to carry many measures which might otherwise be thwarted, and might fail of their purpose. Now, Sir, the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie) has made this—which might have been a Motion for inquiry into most important topics, and which may still have a most beneficial effect—he has chosen to make it the occasion, 1027 and hardly anything else but the occasion, of an attack—a Litter personal attack—against two individuals, Earl Grey and Viscount Torrington, for their conduct in the management of those colonies. That will not prevent us from giving our assent to the appointment of a Committee in the very terms that he has asked, but with the addition, or something like the addition, proposed by my hon. Friend who sits behind me (Mr. Ricardo); because I think, after the experience of last year—after the long inquiry that took place with respect to sugar and coffee duties in the Committee of last year—it would be a great misfortune if it were understood that this House had appointed a Committee with the view of reimposing protective duties. That the colonies will think so, I cannot but believe. I cannot but believe that if the Committee be appointed solely in the words of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie), there will be the opinion that by bringing witnesses before the Committee they can shake the opinion of the Committee, and finally of this House, as to the system of commercial policy that has been adopted. Like the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth (Sir R. Peel), I see, both in the original Motion and in the Amendment, terms that may well be objected to; but they are not supposed to be intended any more to commit the House than to say that the House does not mean by appointing this Committee to alter its policy I think some such words are necessary for that purpose. If the House should agree to such terms, I shall be well content to appoint the Committee, with the addition of the words proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-upon-Trent.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I wish to trouble the House for a few moments before the division takes place—if one is to be called upon the Motion of my hon. Friend (Mr. Baillie), that they may clearly understand the position in which my hon. Friend the Member for Inverness-shire is placed by the observations just made by the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), and by the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, who preceded him. The Motion before the House is for a Select Committee. I beg the attention of the House to it, because the language of the Motion seems to have led to singular misconceptions. It was—That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the grievances complained of in the 1028 Crown Colonies of Ceylon and British Guiana, and to report to the House whether any Measures can be adopted for the better administration and government of those dependencies.Now, Sir, it was certainly the wish of my hon. Friend to have induced the House to consent to a Committee to inquire into the administration and government of those dependencies. Nothing was further from my hon. Friend's thoughts than that that inquiry should at all touch upon any commercial relations, or any fiscal relations, connected with commerce; and I think that any Gentleman who heard the address of my hon. Friend must have felt that such an intention was quite foreign to him at the moment. But, after notice was given of this Motion, there appeared on the Paper an Amendment which I confess surprised me—surprised, I believe, many Gentlemen, but surprised more than all my hon. Friend. The hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent (Mr. Ricardo) moves that after the word "dependencies" there should be added to the original Motion—Whereby they may be rendered more capable of meeting the difficulties of the transition from a system of protection to that competition in the British market with the products of foreign States to which Parliament has determined that they should be exposed, in accordance with the general commercial policy which it has deliberately adopted.When my hon. Friend the Member for Inverness-shire found that Amendment placed upon the table, I know that he felt considerably embarrassed. He had no idea that what is called a free-trade debate was to be brought under our consideration; he thought he had guarded against this by the language used, "administration and government of the dependencies," whoso condition he was going to bring under our consideration to-night. But in consequence of this Amendment, my hon. Friend tonight, in the most scrupulous manner, avoided touching upon any topic that might be misrepresented by any ingenuity of any free-trader; and this is the reason why he particularly avoided touching upon the circumstance of Lord Torrington reducing the import duties and introducing direct taxation, lest in consequence of this notice of amendment it might immediately be said, "This is merely a sinister attack upon our new commercial system." And yet, because he has thought fit to avoid this rock, he is accused of suppression of facts, because he threw out of his case that which would rather have given it a 1029 richness of colouring, lest it might have been misunderstood, and have given some plea to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent (Mr. Ricardo). He is accused of personal bitterness, because he wishes to keep the House to the consideration of the subject. He is accused of suppression of facts. Why, it is perfectly obvious, from the tone of the hon. Gentleman's speech, that if my hon. Friend had commenced by informing the House that the first thing Lord Torrington did was to destroy the revenue that had been created by import duties, and introduce a system of direct taxation, the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent might have had some sort of locus standi for interfering; but instead of that, my hon. Friend the Member for Inver-ness-shire, with laudable discretion, confined himself to the sheer merits of the case; and when the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent rose, he found himself in that position which, in strategy, is called making a diversion, except that in this case I believe it is pretty generally felt that the diversion was not diverting. Well, Sir, what is the conduct of the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. Hawes), under these circumstances? He comes forward in a tone of impetuous eloquence, carrying everything before him, but at the same time saying, "Don't think I am annoyed; you shall have your Committee—I agree at once—what we want is an inquiry—you shall have an inquiry." A great many Gentlemen left the House—it being a critical hour—under the impression that no division could possibly take place, the Government having assented to the inquiry; and we, being satisfied that an opportunity was obtained of examining into the administration and government of those Crown colonies. Later in the evening, as the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hawes) in his speech waxed warmer and warmer, he said, "You shall have an inquiry; that is to say"—and he turned round to his Colleagues for instructions, in order to ascertain whether he (Mr. Hawes) should grant what he had promised twenty minutes before. Then it was discovered that it was not quite so certain that we were to have the inquiry promised us a little before; the inquiry indeed was again promised, but with a tack—on condition that you accept the Amendment. Really, I think that for the hon. Under Secretary, who has, without any circumlocution, accused 1030 my hon. Friend (Mr. Baillie) of having handled this subject to-night in a manner singularly disingenuous and unfair, it was conduct neither fair nor ingenuous on his part to promise a Committee of Inquiry at once, and afterwards to clog his promise with a condition which he knew we could not accept—which it is not to the credit of this House that it should accept. I can only account for this by the excitement of the Treasury bench; because the Under Secretary for the Colonies has told us that whilst he was ready to consent to the Committee, he was himself decidedly of opinion that the inquiry would not be useful or beneficial; whilst the Prime Minister afterwards told us that he thought it was a subject very fit for inquiry. And we have authorities of very great importance in this House who are of the same opinion. Now, my hon. Friend has been sharply attacked by the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), as well as by the Under Secretary of State, on account of the personal bitterness with which he spoke both of Lord Torrington and of Earl Grey. Certainly, my hon. Friend asserted that he was not aware of any public claims which Lord Torrington had to an office of such great importance and trust—language certainly not peculiarly offensive; nay, he even mentioned Lord Torrington as being hitherto only known to fame as having filled the office of a Lord in Waiting, an observation, I believe, not unparliamentary. We listened to the attack, which has been called a bitter, a malignant attack, upon Lord Torrington; and we have also listened to the defence of Lord Torrington by the Under Secretary for the Colonies; and, so far as I can form an opinion, I should imagine that when Lord Torrington hears both of the attack and the defence, he will be less alarmed by the attack than the defence. The agricultural eulogium passed on Lord Torrington may be pleasant and agreeable to his feelings; but the official announcement that the noble Lord was a director of a railway company—of the South Eastern Railway Company—and that he received a public testimonial from that company—to speak of these as being qualifications for the governor of one of our most important colonies, might startle, were they not brought forward by the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, whose public services have also, I believe, been recognised by the South Eastern Railway Company at a public dinner, where I believe 1031 he also was presented with, a public testimonial. [Mr. HAWES intimated that this was not the case.] I thought that the services which the hon. Gentleman had rendered that company on a remarkable Committee, had been marked by the offer of a public testimonial, which probably the purity of his feelings induced him to decline. However, the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hawes) was certainly present at the dinner given to Lord Torrington; and the inspiration of the scene, the genius of the place, I have no doubt, suggested these remembrances on the part of the hon. Gentleman. With regard to the bitter attack on Earl Grey, it is very easy to use these words; but I, remembering what fell from my hon. Friend (Mr. Baillie), must say that I heard nothing to justify that assertion. Certainly the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) is mistaken in supposing that the hon. Member for Inverness-shire censured him as a Minister who invariably employed his own friends and the members of his family. The noble Lord must have been haunted by the journals of the morning, and must have imputed and transferred their observations to the speech of my hon. Friend, who said nothing of the kind. Then my hon. Friend has been sharply rated because he referred to something that occurred in another place; and the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) seems to think that you, Mr. Speaker, ought to have interfered and stopped his observations. But my hon. Friend (Mr. Baillie) used no disorderly expressions—he referred to no speech—he referred only to a public document, which I have myself before now read in this House; and I can assure the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), though I have not the slightest desire to revive bygone topics, that he is in error in his remembrance of it. It was a public document quoted by the Minister to convey the impression, or rather the statement, that a large capital had been recently invested in the island of Jamaica in the manufacture of sugar, while, in a subsequent paragraph of that memorial, which was not read, it was stated that the persons connected with that investment were already in a state of insolvency. If the House recollects that occurrence, it will account for and justify all the observations that were made. Well, now, in brief—for after all that has been said, and ably said, by so many Members, I cannot presume to keep the House longer—I must vindicate the language of the Motion of my hon. Friend (Mr. Baillie). It 1032 seems to me to be framed in good English, in straightforward language, conveying in Parliamentary phrase the intentions of the Mover; and I cannot account for the perversion of mind, the hallucination, by which the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent (Mr. Ricardo) has arrived at the version which he has placed upon it. We shall vote against his Amendment, because we want to obtain our object, which is an inquiry into the government and administration of these colonies and dependencies; and we shall vote against it for a second reason, because we wish to maintain the character of the House of Commons for straightforward dealing and for common sense, and because we will not let it go forth to the public that we are to be diverted from our duty by a manœuvre—a manœuvre which has not even the merit of dexterity. Before us we have the case of a rebellion in one of our most Important colonies—a rebellion suppressed by violent means—by the public execution of several subjects of Her Majesty—by the institution of courts-martial. We have these facts before us, and I want to know what could more authorise an inquiry than such circumstances as these, especially when we have high authorities in this House rising in their places and alleging different causes for the rebellion which has occurred? The one tells us that it is a case of financial reform: the other, that it had a long suppressed and deep-seated political cause. If there are these different opinions, that is the best reason why the House of Commons should investigate the subject. I shall only quote a few lines from one of these documents—not from that volume of documents connected with Ceylon which I perceive is in every hon. Gentleman's hands; it is from a volume of the blue books of the colonies, and is from a despatch of Lord Torrington. I think it is of the greatest importance—if the bad administration and misgovernment of Ceylon is at all occasioned by its financial state—I think it is of the greatest importance that we should clearly understand the opinions of the Governor on the subject of retrenchment. Well, in the despatch I find this passage, which, as it is very interesting, the House will, perhaps, allow me to read. After a long despatch, in which he states his views of the colony in detail, the Governor writes—Paradoxical as it may appear, I am constrained to say, that I anticipate greater difficulties from contracting and reducing expenditure, than from providing subjects for the account of revenue. 1033 There are many sources from which the latter might legitimately be derived, that appear to me to be wholly untouched, and there are others which are now in use that are capable of being extended in a judicious manner. But when establishments are once formed and expenditure is once settled, I find the greatest difficulty in reducing and contracting them. The duties which are at first appointed in cases of emergency, become gradually and imperceptibly fused with the ordinary establishments.These are the views of the Governor in the June previous to the rebellion. These are Lord Torrington's matured opinions with respect to financial reform—the increase of taxation for the maintenance of the government, not the retrenchment of expenditure. If, then, the increase of expenditure has produced the rebellion, we have no reason to believe that the country has been properly governed, or that he is a governor equal to the occasion. If, on the contrary, the cause lies deeper, I know no better subject for the investigation of the House of Commons than the detection of the real motive. I will not touch at this hour of the night upon the subject of the other colony, except to say that it is a colony which is suffering, and which cries out for retrenchment, and that the Government at home quarrels with it because it cries out for retrenchment. If these are not subjects, under present circumstances, worthy the consideration of the House of Commons, I know not what are, and I cannot suppose, therefore, that any Member will, for one moment, support the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent in the Amendment which he has brought forward. As to the warning of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), that unless very precise instructions are given to this Committee, it may last as long as the Committee on Coffee and Sugar Plantations last Session, I cannot agree with the noble Lord that the duration of that Committee is a fit subject for public regret. Whatever may be the system of commercial policy which hon. Gentlemen may approve of, they must approve of the efficient services of a Committee, the result of which was seen in the alteration of the policy of a Minister; and I think the last person who ought to sneer at the services of that Committee, is the Minister who, in consequence of the evidence collected and the report framed by that Committee, was obliged to come forward and announce a change in an almost solemnly-settled question. I repeat there never was a case in which, to my mind, a Committee was more properly moved for 1034 than the present. I think the House is indebted to my hon. Friend (Mr. Baillie) for having brought this subject forward, and brought it forward, not with malignant asperity, as has been said, but with remarkable ability. I think also, that the House ought not to hesitate in opposing the Amendment of the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent. In particular I address myself to those Gentlemen who are the sincere supporters of free trade. Be not misled, or prevented from going into the impending investigation, because a phrase has been thrown in your way, and a manœuvre is attempted which—and I think it will not add to the credit of the Minister—is sanctioned by the Government. I call, therefore, upon the House to support the Motion of my hon. Friend (Mr. Baillie), and to oppose in the most decided manner the Amendment of the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent (Mr. Ricardo),
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he would not trespass long upon the attention of the House. He confessed he exceedingly regretted that the House, which was in general agreed as to the propriety of appointing a Committee to consider what improvements could be effected in the administration or government of these two important colonies—Ceylon and Guiana—should dispute as to the terms on which that Motion was to be framed. He agreed with the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tam-worth, and with his noble Friend (Lord J. Russell), that exceptions might be taken to the terms both of the Motion of the hon. Member for Inverness-shire, and of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent; and he thought it would not be difficult for the House to find words, which would answer the purpose the House had in view—on the one hand, not to send out an impression to these colonies that they were intending in this Committee again to discuss the questions of free trade or protection; or on the other hand, to deprive the colonies of the benefit of this inquiry. He had been looking to the words of the original Motion, and if the hon. Gentleman would accede to one slight alteration, he thought it would remove the difficulty. He proposed, after the words, "to inquire," to omit these words, "into the grievances complained of in the Crown Colonies of Ceylon and British Guiana," and then the Motion would run thus:—Select Committee to inquire and report to the House whether any measures can be adopted 1035 for the better administration or government of the Crown Colonies of Ceylon and British Guiana,Let the House consider what would be the effect of the present Motion: what were the grievances alleged with regard to British Guiana. The whole foundation of the alleged grievances of that colony was the effect of the measures of 1846, by which the colonists declared that they could no longer support their establishments nor pay their taxes. Now, if it went out to the colonies that the House of Commons had appointed a Committee to inquire into these grievances, they would understand that we were about again to investigate the principles of the Act of 1846, and thus they would do the greatest mischief to the colony, by leading them to expect an alteration of that policy. The hon. Gentleman disclaimed any intention of having such an object in view; and he therefore thought he had a fair claim upon him, believing him to have made his proposition bonâ fide, that he should not insist upon those terms in his Motion to which he (Mr. Labouchere) had objected. There were one or two other observations which he was anxious to make upon that occasion. He should offer one reason, by way of explanation, in consequence of what had fallen from the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, who, in a tone of which the Government, he was sure, had no right to complain, had objected to some parts of the conduct of Lord Torrington, and had particularly alluded to the fact that the pretender to the throne of Ceylon had, although he was a royal prince, been punished by lashes. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that the pretender was a member of a princely house in Ceylon, and that consequently the Cingalese looked up to him, and must have had their feelings greatly outraged by the indignity to which he had been subjected. But such was not the case. He pretended, indeed, to be a member of a Cingalese royal house; but the Commander-in-Chief, Colonel Drought, denied it, and said he was a low-caste Cingalese; and the right hon. Gentleman would recollect, in 1823, when he himself was a Member of the Cabinet, and when an insurrection took place in Ceylon, there was a pretender set up, who turned out to be not a royal personage at all, but a low-caste Indian. That man received 100 lashes previously to being imprisoned for a length of time. He (Mr. Labouchere) mentioned that, merely to show how difficult 1036 it was to deal with things of that kind, when they occurred at such a distance; and that British officers, under such circumstances, had a right to a favourable construction being put upon their conduct, in cases of great difficulty and danger. Another observation which he should make was with regard to an assertion put forward by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Disraeli). He said, that Lord Torrington had shown no disposition to reduce the expenditure of the colony, and that his only expedient for making the income meet the expenditure was by imposing fresh taxes. In that assertion the hon. Gentleman was altogether incorrect. Lord Torrington had set about most effectually to reduce the expenditure immediately after his arrival. He had effected a reduction of 20,000l. in the half-year's expenditure; and out of the fund thereby created he had appropriated 10,000l. for the necessary and useful purposes of making roads in the colony. And with regard to the papers presented to the House, he (Mr. Labouchere) did not understand how it was possible for any Gentleman to rise from a careful perusal of them, without being impressed with the conviction that Lord Torrington was possessed of, and had shown, very considerable ability and vigour. One other remark he should make. He thought that the referring of questions to Committees, which seemed to imply any doubt of our intentions with regard to the commercial policy which guided our relations with the colonies, was productive of great evil. It prevented all habits of settled cultivation and trade amongst the colonists. It kept them in a constantly wavering and unsettled condition; and he believed that the adoption of the words he proposed would fully meet the objects of the Gentlemen opposite. He thought it was a great practical evil to unsettle the minds of the colonists, to held out to them hopes of protection; and he thought it better that the principle should be understood to be fixed, of abandonment of protection for the colonies, as we had abandoned it for ourselves.
§ Mr. BERNAL OSBORNE
said, he did not mean to delay the House at that late hour (then past twelve o'clock); but as a Member on that side of the House, and acting with was called the free-trade party, he should protest against the attempt then made to introduce the subject of free trade, for the purpose of hoodwinking the House upon that occasion. He did trust that 1037 those independent Members of Parliament who would not be led by the bugbear of free trade, would prove on this occasion that they were not to be taken in by that clumsy manœuvre, but would give their votes for an inquiry into the system of colonial government pursued by this country; not implicating by that inquiry either Earl Grey or Lord Torrington, but examining into a system which had now sat for so many years as an incubus upon this country.
§ MR. BAILLIE
asked if he was to understand that the Amendment was withdrawn? If the Amendment were withdrawn, he would himself propose to make some alterations which might meet the views of the hon. Gentlemen opposite.
thought that really, after all, there was no very great difference between the Gentlemen at both sides of the House. [Laughter,] If hon. Gentlemen would only listen he would explain. His object was simply that the Committee should really inquire into the administration of the colonies. He believed that also to be the object of the hon. Gentlemen opposite. There was an expression in the Motion that had led him to believe that the Committee might go into the question of protection to the colonies. If, however, such a resolution could be framed as would exclude the inquiry altogether, he should be perfectly satisfied. But he thought it was only fair that the House should understand what the inquiry really was to be, that there should be no doubt about it.
§ MR. W. P. WOOD
said, it would be wrong to divide the House without there being any difference of opinion. He would suggest that the Motion might be framed so as to meet the views of all parties. The question should be framed to the effect that a Select Committee should be appointed to inquire into the grievances complained of in the administration of the Crown colonies of Ceylon, the Mauritius, and British Guiana, and report to the House whether any amendments might be made in such administration.
The EARL of LINCOLN
had no intention of trespassing upon the indulgence of the House at that late hour of the night; but inasmuch as he understood they were 1038 about to divide upon the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent, he wished to say a few words. He wished to know what course the hon. Gentleman meant to adopt, for he felt it was impossible for him to give his vote for the Amendment, and it was equally impossible for him, after the interpretation which had been so broadly put upon the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Inverness-shire by the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies, and other hon. Gentlemen who had spoken, to allow his vote to be so misinterpreted as that it should be supposed he was in any way sacrificing the principles of free trade. On the contrary, he thought that the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stoke-upon-Trent threw far more doubt upon the object of inquiry, and rendered the question of free trade more likely to be the subject of discussion in the Committee, than if the resolution were put in the form proposed by his hon. Friend (Mr. Baillie). But if the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stoke-upon-Trent withdrew his Amendment, he believed his hon. Friend the Member for Inverness-shire was quite prepared to alter, not indeed the spirit of his Motion, but the words, in such a way as to render it impossible that there could be any misunderstanding as to its real meaning; but if the Amendment proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade were adopted, he thought they should be falling into the very opposite error. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies had challenged an inquiry, not into the past condition and government of the colony, and its general administration, but into the particular case of Lord Torrington's administration. Now, he (the Earl of Lincoln) was not anxious about Lord Torrington's administration. What he wished was, that they should not confine themselves to the question of amendments for the future, but that they should investigate the grievances of the colonies generally; for he did not think they could provide remedies for the future unless they looked into the circumstances of the past. If the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ricardo) withdrew his Amendment, he (the Earl of Lincoln) was quite sure his hon. Friend the Member for Inverness-shire would make such alterations as would be satisfactory to all parties. But if the hon. Gentleman divided the House, he should be obliged to vote against him.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
thought that the 1039 hon. Member for Inverness-shire ought to tell the House in what words he proposed to put his resolution, if the Amendment was withdrawn.
§ MR. BAILLIE
, certainly, never supposed that any Gentleman who understood the English language could put any other construction upon his resolution, than that which had been put upon it by his hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire. If the hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent withdrew his Amendment, he (Mr. Baillie) would endeavour to alter his resolution to meet the views of hon. Members, taking care, however, that the alterations did not alter its sense.
, believing the proposal made by the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Baillie) would meet the case, would withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment and original Question, by leave, withdrawn.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a Select Committee be appointed, to inquire into the grievances complained of in the Crown Colonies of Ceylon and British Guiana, in connexion with the Administration and Government of those Dependencies, and to report their opinion whether any measures can be adopted for the redress of any grievances of which there may be shown just reason to complain.
§ MR. HUME
said, he should object to that. He wanted, not only an inquiry with the view of redressing grievances, but that a better system of administration might be adopted in future. The hon. Member concluded by moving the following Amendment:—To add the words 'and also, whether any measures can be adopted for the better Administration and Government of those Dependencies.'
§ Question, "That those words be there added," put, and agreed to.
§ Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Select Committee appointed.
§ House adjourned at half-after Twelve o'clock.