§ MR. ADDERLEY
, after presenting a petition, signed by a large number of the colonists of New Zealand, praying that these colonies, which had been hitherto untainted by convict labour, might be still preserved from its contagion, proceeded to call the attention of the House to the Motion of which he had given notice, on the subject of the intention of the Government to establish penal settlements in South Africa. He could not but regret deeply that in moving that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her to relieve one of Her colonies from an infliction which they deeply felt, and strongly resented, anything he could have to say on the subject should in the slightest degree bear the character of a personal attack. Nothing was further from his mind in bringing forward a national grievance than the mere implication of any individual in the blame attached to that grievance. For his part, he simply looked on the Members of the colonial part of the Exe- 1372 cutive as the A B C of a problem rapidly working out to this conclusion—the destruction of the colonial empire. But, on the other hand, he did not see why any mere scrupulous delicacy towards men high in office should stop the mouth of any hon. Member in the House from freely and fully stating a public grievance. He entertained the highest opinion of the noble Earl the Secretary of the Colonies, and fully believed that he was actuated by high-minded purposes in carrying out his intentions. In moving this Address, he wished, in the first place, to guard the question from two misconstructions to which it might be liable, and particularly so in his hands. The first was, lest the House should think the question less important owing to its being brought forward by one of so little experience, and so little known or connected with a question of such vast importance; the second was, lest by any unsuccessful handling on his part, a question of such importance should be mixed up with other collateral questions, and not be allowed to stand upon its own footing. With regard to the first, he was so far peculiarly qualified to bring forward the question, that he was entirely unhampered by prejudice on the subject; and it would be absurd to say that he had brought forward the subject merely with a view of making a hostile attack on the Government. In this case, at least, the colonies would understand that they were not indebted to any party spirit for the chance of being heard in that House. He was speaking on behalf of that large and growing portion of this empire who were anxiously watching how this country would fulfil its great destiny—in no respect greater than with respect to its colonial empire—who were watching with intense interest how it would fulfil its destiny as a parent of new nations—whether it would treat them as children or as slaves—rear them or degrade them—surround them with all the elements of strength and greatness, or stunt their growth by infecting their youth with all the corruptions of its own decrepitude. With respect to the question itself, he thought he should best consult its interest, as well as the patience of the House, by at once simply and shortly stating the case which he wished to bring before the notice of the House. His case was, that the noble Earl at the head of the Colonial Office having decided upon a new experiment in convict discipline, which would inflict the first 1373 and severest part of the punishment in solitary confinement in the penitentiaries of this country—the second portion in some kind of probation in one or two military stations, and then spread selected convicts, under tickets of leave, over the largest possible range of the dependencies of this country—had begun to carry out this new experiment, by recommencing transportation to New South Wales, with the consent of the Legislative Council of that colony, and by commencing, for the first time, the system of transportation to the Cape of Good Hope, not only without the consent, but even without consulting the wishes, of that colony, and proceeded in so doing against its general and strong remonstrance. He would not stay to consider the value of the consent of the Legislative Council of New South Wales. That consent was obtained by the promises of the Government, that for every convict sent to that colony, there should also be a free emigrant sent out. In answer to the repeated applications of the colonists, they had been told by the Colonial Office that there were no funds with which to give them that upon the faith of which the consent was obtained. The latter part of the contract was never carried out. The colony had the convicts without the free emigrants; and he must say they deserved the treatment they had received, for accepting the proposition of the Government upon such disreputable conditions. He did not wish to discuss the value of that consent so obtained. The consent of legislative councils was not, in his opinion, worth much. But what must be the amount of the dissent of the colonists of the Cape of Good Hope, which could have found its way to this country through the narrow and meagre channels of popular opinion which existed in the close constitution of that colony? It must, indeed, have been a dissent of the strongest kind. Now, the justification of the noble Earl the Secretary of the Colonies, was this—that because they had spent a certain sum of money in conducting the Kafir war, they had a right in return to demand some such service from the colony. That was the justification for this discreditable exaction of unwilling service. He appealed to the House against the impolicy of treating their dependencies in such a manner. He appealed against the gross injustice of selecting a weak dependency upon which to try this experiment, instead of applying the principle impartially to all of them. He appealed against the 1374 mean, ungenerous justification of the noble Earl for the measure in question. He appealed to the House most confidently on these three grounds—to their sense of honour and their love of freedom; he appealed to Her Majesty herself to wipe out this stain from Her Administration; and as speedily as possible to assuage the just irritation consequent upon so flagrant an act of capricious tyranny. He looked at this question simply as one of colonial policy, and entirely distinct from that of secondary punishments; and he appealed to the House—knowing, as he did, its inclination, from the freedom of its debates, to digress into collateral subjects—he appealed to those interested in colonial questions, not to clog this question with the consideration of what was merely a collateral subject—the philosophy of punishment. He appealed to those interested in the large, important, and vital question of secondary punishment, not to bring that subject forward as a mere incidental episode to this debate. Should any hon. Gentleman think, that by his avoiding the question of secondary punishments, he was blinking any arguments against his position, he would at once remove all such suspicion by stating that he was ready, at once, for the purpose of this debate, and for the sake of argument (though he did not concur in the opinion), to admit all that they wished upon that subject. He would admit, for the sake of argument, that those convicts who were sent to the Cape of Good Hope would be as serviceable to the colonists there as servants as they were a good riddance to this country; he would even further admit, that if the Cape of Good Hope ceased to remonstrate, his argument would fail; and he would even go further, and admit, that if the Government were prepared to carry out the measure equally and impartially to all the colonies, the greater part of his accusation against them would fall to the ground. Having admitted all this, it would be clear that any hon. Member who opened the great subject of secondary punishments would be speaking utterly beside the question. He did not ask the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department to notice his remarks, which did not apply to his department. He knew that he had carefully applied the acuteness of his mind, and, he would add, the goodness of his heart, to the consideration of the system of secondary punishments. He would bear him out 1375 in the opinion, that their connexion with the subject of colonial administration had never been a reputable one. They began by making colonies to send their convicts to, and they now sent convicts to maintain their colonies. The transposition of the two propositions betrayed the fallacy of their connexion; but he did not wish the Home Secretary to discuss that fallacy now. He would have opportunity enough to deal with that question soon, and to prove that the difficulties connected with it had never yet been traced to their real source, the perennial fountains of crime in the social system of this country. Having thus narrowed the subject, all that he had to do was, first, to prove his allegations against the Colonial Department, namely, that they had sent convicts for the first time to the Cape of Good Hope without consulting the colonists, and that they proceeded to do so against their remonstrances. That was his first point. He would then endeavour to prove that the Cape of Good Hope, of all the colonies, had the greatest right to remonstrate against this infliction upon them; and then the main point of all was, that this conduct on the part of the noble Earl at the head of the Colonial Department, if not repudiated by the House, would be, upon its part, a public adoption of a retrograde movement in colonisation; and that, too, at the time that the country was crying out for an advance in the spirit of its colonial policy. Lastly, he would call the attention of the House to the justification of the noble Earl for those acts, which he (Mr. Adderley) considered, if persisted in, would be injurious to the honour of the country, disastrous to the colonies, and dangerous to their liberties at home. With respect to the first point, this was the first time that convicts had been sent to the Cape of Good Hope, though he believed that there was an erroneous impression in the minds of many hon. Members existing of a precedent. About ten years ago a philanthropic plan was formed, of sending orphan and foundling boys to Robben Island in Table Bay. So great, however, was the feeling which was raised against it, that it was found necessary to give up the plan. The bare idea that these boys might be convicts, led to a remonstrance similar to the present complaint. Nothing could show more clearly the sensitiveness of the people upon this subject. There was another circumstance which might, 1376 also perhaps give rise to an erroneous opinion upon this subject, and lead hon. Members to suppose that this was not the first time that convicts had been sent to the Cape. In the year 1842 a long correspondence took place between the two Secretaries of State and Mr. Montague, Secretary of the Cape of Good Hope, as to the best mode of dealing with the convicts under sentence of the Cape courts. At another period there was a proposal made to send convicts to the Cape, under certain restrictions. It, however, was not considered feasible to send them, even with these restrictions, and the suggestion was withdrawn upon the remonstrance of the colonists. There was, therefore, no possible precedent for the case before them. Convicts now were sent out for the first time, from any country, and under any circumstances, to the Cape of Good Hope, and they were sent out without consulting the colonists. Would that that were all! The plan had, however, been persisted in, against the remonstrance of the inhabitants. Would that even that were all! By the most ingenious exaggeration of insult, simultaneously with the announcement of the plan for sending convicts to the Cape, some instructions were sent to the Governor, by way of a curious pathological experiment, to test and report upon the sensation produced. Castigatque, Auditque. The colonists had scarcely heard the announcement, when a large meeting was immediately convened in order to give them an opportunity of expressing their opinion upon the subject, and the result was a memorial to the Governor, praying him to use his influence to prevent the plan from being carried into effect. He was sorry that this memorial, with other documents, had not been laid upon the table of the House; he had asked for them repeatedly, but had not been able to get them from the Colonial Office. The answer he had received was, that they had not got them. He saw that the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies was taking a note of that assertion. He might not have asked with anything like official accuracy of expression, but he had sufficiently identified the papers for which he inquired. He might have asked for papers A, which were technically designated B, but he had made his application perfectly intelligible; yet the only answer he had received was, that there had been no such documents received. All of them, however, had found their way to England, and had been in this 1377 country for the last two mouths. This largo meeting of the inhabitants of the Cape of Good Hope—the largest meeting ever known there—unanimously came to an expression of opinion, from which he would read two or three extracts to the House. They resolved—That from the vast extent of this colony, the sparseness of its population, and the impossibility of maintaining an efficient police, except in very limited localities, the introduction of men from Great Britain and Ireland capable of committing crimes so heinous as to justify the high penalty of transportation, would be inexpressibly dangerous to life and property.The meeting also adhered—to the determination expressed in 1842, in a petition to the Queen, that they will not consent to the admission of convicts on any terms or conditions whatever; and they pledge themselves now, as then, should any such be sent, not to employ or receive them into their establishments; and they trust that such a proposal will never again be submitted to the people of this colony by the British Government.Another resolution was to the effect—That the meeting has further learned, with pain and dissatisfaction, that Her Majesty's Government have resolved, without consulting the sentiments of the colonists, to transport to the Cape of Good Hope, as a place of detention and punishment, a certain class of criminals convicted of treason and felony in Ireland; and that a memorial be presented to his Excellency the Governor, praying that, should any of those convicts arrive before Her Majesty's pleasure can be known, he will cause them to be removed from on board the transport directly to Robben Island, and there detained without communication with the colony, as the convicts were in former times, until Her Majesty's Government order their removal to such other place as they see fit.There was something like English spirit in that. The colonists also sent a petition to the Queen, in which they stated—That the colony of the Cape of Good Hope, has never, at any time from its first settlement, received from Europe or elsewhere, any portion of its population out of prisons or penal establishments; but that, on the contrary, certain forms and provisions, as evidences of good character and securities for good behaviour, were required of all strangers permitted to enter or reside in it. That while thus endeavouring to protect the labouring classes of this community from so great an injury, your memorialists desire also to express to Your Majesty their regret that the noble Earl the Secretary of State for the Colonies should have thus dealt with the most vital domestic and personal interests of the colonists, without communicating his designs to the Executive Council of Government, or to the Legislative Council of the Cape of Good Hope, and in direct opposition to the official report and written opinion of his Excellency the Governor. Your Majesty's memorialists therefore humbly pray that this colony of the Cape of Good Hope and its dependencies may not be made a depôt penitentiary or place of confinement, or of punishment, or of refuge, for criminals of any description, 1378 whom they at the same time pledge themselves not to employ, or to receive into their establishments on any terms; and that Your Majesty would be graciously pleased to direct, that when questions of purely domestic policy, affecting the inhabitants of this colony, are under consideration, they shall be communicated to Her Majesty's loyal subjects hero through the constitutional channels, before being finally resolved on.That was the second document of the kind. The third was a memorial to the Governor of the colony himself, in which the colonists appealed to his well-known sympathy with their remonstrances; but he did not know that there was any necessity for his reading any' extracts from that memorial to the House. One would think that the reception of three such documents as these—the resolution unanimously agreed to by a large public meeting, the petition to Her Majesty, and the memorial to the Governor, appealing to his own openly avowed sympathy with their remonstrances, might have affected the mind of the noble Earl the Secretary for the Colonies, if they did not appal him. But it did no such thing. On the 15th of February last, in another place, the noble Earl simultaneously announced his plan of sending out convicts to the Cape, and his utter disregard of the torrent of indignation which such a scheme had called forth. He had lately learnt from the Governor of the Cape, that the announcement of the Government's intention to send convicts there had excited very general dissatisfaction. But the colonists should bear in mind that Parliament had voted 1,000,000l. for the Kafir war; and, after making such sacrifices, this country was entitled to require from the colony a service which might be rendered without injury to its interests. Sic placuit. The noble Earl decided that the importation was for the good of the colony, and there were miles enough of ocean over which their complaint must be wafted, and strength enough in this country to stifle the complaint when it arrived. He thought that he had now proved the ungracious manner in which this act of the noble Earl had been done. He wished next to prove that the Cape had special grounds for remonstrating against an infliction of this sort. The Cape of Good Hope was an old and respectable Dutch settlement. It was colonised by the Dutch almost simultaneously with our emigrations to North America; and the New England emigrants having made a halting place of Holland, on their route to America, might be considered almost as half brothers in origin 1379 with the inhabitants of the Cape, as they certainly were in character. The Cape settlers bore; the reputation of having adopted a quiet, orderly, and religious tone of society; and an infusion of a similar character took place afterwards, in consequence of the revocation of the edict of Nantes, when a number of French Protestant refugees settled in the colony—men, described by Macaulay as a loss to their country, of intelligent minds, industrious habits, and austere morals. He believed that at this moment the Cape colonists preserved their peculiar character, and that they presented a very favourable contrast to certain stirring, money-making settlements, where the moral tone of society was more unscrupulously sacrificed to material interests. Prom what he had seen of the Cape merchants in London, he was induced to believe that this character of the colonists was correct. Certificates of good character used to be required before a person was permitted to reside in the colony; and he might mention some other minute regulations of a somewhat puritan character, if he did not think that he might provoke a sneer, though those regulations at least went to prove the sensitiveness of their morality. He would confidently ask the House, however, whether such feelings ought to be outraged or respected? But there were other grounds on which the inhabitants of the Cape stated their peculiar unfitness for being experimented upon with convicts. They maintained that they had a frontier surrounded by barbarous tribes—a very dangerous neighbourhood for convicts at large, with tickets of leave. They would probably become missionaries of some sort; but whether theirs was the kind of mission which this country would like to encourage was a different question—or whether it might not neutralise the effect of the present missions—or whether the peculiar choice of a Celtic infusion was a well-calculated admixture to the elements of trouble already there. Then, again, the colonists alleged as another peculiar ground of disqualification for the experiment, the sparseness of their population, giving even a small influx of convicts a dangerous proportion to the population they must mix with. The last proposition which set forth their own unfitness for the experiment was certainly a happy one, namely, that they were not yet prepared with gaols and police to receive the criminals sent, still less to be sufficient for the increase of crime to be expected 1380 from the infection of their example. He would now hasten to what he conceived to be the main point of the whole position, namely, that if this measure of the noble Earl were sanctioned by the House, it would amount to a retrograde movement in colonisation. There were two ideas of colonisation. One, treating a dependency like a slave; the other, as a child was treated by its parent, yet not in nonage, but after setting up for itself a separate establishment of its own, which ought to be worthy of its parent's house, yet incapable of injurious rivalry, bound by the indelible ties of language, origin, interest, and character. Such were our colonies in earlier times. Such was the origin of those settlements whose founders were headed by Lord Baltimore, and Penn; and such were those New England colonies which showed so strong a family resemblance to the Cape of Good Hope, that, reflecting on their present contrast, one could give the Cape the melancholy encouragement,Si qua fata aspera rumpas,Tu Marcellus eris.De Tocqueville said, speaking of the English colonies, that throughout their whole history they had flourished or declined, in proportion to the liberal terms of their original establishment. This remark, he thought that history would bear out; and this country had lately exhibited its desire to return to its earlier models in its projects for the settlement of Port Phillip and New Zealand. But there was a totally different system connected with the measure before the House. The conduct of our North American colonies showed what would be done if we tested too roughly the strength of those ties of affection which bound the colonies to the mother country. What a fatal time it was when we tried the patience of those colonies, and treated our children as if they were slaves? We tried the patience of the Americans in precisely the same way as the Cape of Good Hope had been tried by Earl Grey. England and America together had conquered Canada; and England demanded from America the expenses of that conquest in the shape of services to be rendered her, against the will of the colonists. So, in the Capo of Good Hope, England had defended the colony in a frontier war, and claimed the acceptance of convicts as a service in return. The parental interests alone were thought of, and the filial remonstrances were unheeded. As the Cape, however, was not yet strong enough, like 1381 America, to emancipate herself, the noble Earl would have all the advantage of the difference in the resources and circumstances of the two countries. America emancipated herself, saying, "I am not only willing, but anxious, to remain your child, but I am too strong to be your slave." She separated herself from England, and with her we lost all that was dignified and noble in our ideas of civilisation. We set about making elsewhere the cesspools which she had indignantly refused to tolerate, upwards of 100,000 convicts were collected in this country, and under the pressure of necessity our statesmen created the monstrum horrendum, a convict colony. Carlyle had related, and with just disgust, that when Louis XV. found that all remedies failed to cure the disease which he had contracted by his vices, he fell upon a device of the grossest superstition, and fancied he could restore health to his own vitiated body by debauching virgin purity.Mutato nomine, de teFabula narratur.He was not in the slightest degree trespassing here on the question of transportation, which was but one illustration of the servile or debased system of colonisation; but if the House adopted the measure of the noble Earl, they would be adopting by this glaring example the whole principle of that debased system. Now, let the House count the cost of this system of colonisation. If we treated the colonists as slaves, we must keep them altogether; but if we treated them as children, they would be able to maintain their own establishments. The Cape of Good Hope had already refused a Militia Bill, saying, that if we allowed a free government, they would defend themselves; but if we insisted on their service, we should maintain them. If a comparison were made between the cost of freemen and of slaves, it would be found that a generous treatment of the colonies would be most economical also. But if we were to have this system at all, let us carry it out boldly and impartially; let us not begin with the weak. Let us go to Canada—to the West Indies—to New Zealand. Let us not begin with the Cape first, at all events. And now a word with respect to the justification which the noble Earl had assigned for this measure, namely, that England had spent a certain sum in the Kafir war, and, therefore, that we had a right to demand the services of the Cape. He would 1382 beg the attention of the House to the principle involved in this justification, which was not new, but which had been illustrated by other cases already. In a despatch addressed by the noble Earl to the Governor of New South Wales the other day, Earl Grey instructed him to use this argument, namely, that we had spent a good deal of money in the erection of gaols in New South Wales, and that, consequently, we were entitled to send them convicts—a sort of argument in a circle, convicts requiring gaols, and gaols convicts, and so on ad infinitum. But, in truth, we had no right to claim compensation from colonists of the Cape for the expenses of the Kafir war, as that war had been occasioned by our own misgovernment. It was just like a landlord claiming compensation from a tenant for the damage done by his game to his tenant's property. Earl Grey's description of the Kafir war, in his despatch to Sir H. Pottinger, of November, 1846, was to this effect:—It was a contest to be lamented, a great expenditure of public money, a wide destruction of private property, an interruption of the peaceful pursuits of the colonists, leaving an abiding sense of insecurity, and all the more lamentable disasters incident to war with a barbarous enemy.Now, it was hardly to be wondered at, that, under these circumstances, the colonists should think that compensation was due to them; and Sir H. Pottinger, in March, 1847, supported that claim for compensation, to which he thought they had a right. When, however, Earl Grey said that he could not allow that claim, he never thought of saying that the claim was the other way—that had occurred to him since; but an inverted reason was quite enough for a strong Power to use towards a weak one. The compensation, however, which we now claimed from them, was of a kind which they said they were neither willing nor able to pay. He would ask the House whether it was not the most ungenerous thing ever heard of, for us to say that we had borne a great deal in this Kafir war, and that we should make the Cape colonists pay for it by calling upon them to render us servile services. He fully believed that the noble Lord at the head of the Government must feel his blood rise at being obliged to stand sponsor to an argument which, in proportion to its meanness, was so utterly at variance with his character. He was not alarmed lest the House should not agree with him; he did not so much fear opposition as apathy, 1383 Would that he could transport some hon. Gentlemen to the Cape of Good Hope!Segnius irritant animos demissa per aures.Quam quæ sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus.He should in such a case soon have indignation as strong or stronger than that expressed by the inhabitants of the Cape of Good Hope. If he were to conceive a torture worse than that of Tantalus, it would be that of men inspired with all the spirit of English freedom, yet spending their lives in the fetters of a distant, irresponsible, unheeding control, cutting themselves among the tombs of frustrated energies. They were all for government by public opinion. By what public opinion was the Cape governed? By their own? No! that was disregarded utterly. By what then, if that House were apathetic? He hoped that public opinion would be awake in that House. He appealed to them whether they would save a Colonial Minister and lose a colonial empire, and whether they would be content to adopt a retrograde movement in colonisation? He would ask them whether they saw no danger in allowing an irresponsible despotism—only by accidents, such as these golden opportunities brought to light—to grow up in the bosom of this country, silently eating, like a cancer, on the vitals of our liberties? He would conclude by reading the words of his Motion, which, being somewhat quaint, might perhaps excite a sneer, and which, as they stood, did seem to go beyond his argument into the merits of the convict system generally; but they were the words of the colonists themselves, and as such he would submit them to the House. The hon. Geutleman then moved the Address of which he bad given notice.
Motion made, and Question proposed—
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that Her Majesty will be graciously pleased out of consideration for the honourable pride and moral welfare of Her subjects, the people of South Africa, to order that this hitherto unpolluted Colony may be spared the disgrace and affliction of being made a receptacle for the convicted criminals of the Mother Country, whether as prisoners, free exiles, or holders of tickets of leave.
§ SIR G. GREY
could assure the hon. Gentleman that he was much mistaken if he anticipated anything like a sneer from him, either at the terms in which the Motion was expressed, or at the subject to which it related. He fully admitted the importance of the subject, and he agreed with the hon. Gentleman in many of the 1384 principles which he had laid down with reference to colonisation and the interests of our colonial empire. But at the same time he felt it his duty to warn the House against a hasty adoption of the resolution proposed by the hon. Gentleman; and he should, therefore, make some observations upon the substance of the resolution itself, and afterwards make some allusions to the particular charges which had been brought against his noble Friend at the head of the Colonial Department. It was with some surprise that he had heard the hon. Gentleman say that he would relieve him, as far as lay in his power, from the necessity of referring to the system of transportation, because the question before the House was quite separate from the question—"What were we to do with our convicts?" That surprise was certainly very much increased when he heard the hon. Gentleman's speech, which was directed against the whole system of transportation to the colonies, and which he termed a debased system of colonisation. He could certainly draw no other inference from the hon. Gentleman's argument against sending convicted felons to our colonies than that he was opposed to our system of transportation altogether; and sure he was that the House, if they adopted the resolution, would pronounce a verdict against the continuance of transportation. But his noble Friend the Member for Hertford bad but the other day contended that sentences of transportation should not only be continued, but should be bonâ fide carried into effect. Did the hon. Gentleman, he would ask, mean by his protest against a debased system of colonisation, that convicts under sentence of transportation should be shipped from this country, landed on the coast of Africa, or some desert and uninhabited shore, and then left to shift for themselves? The hon. Gentleman had stated that Earl Grey bad proposed a new experiment with respect to convicts, according to which, after having spent in hard labour here a portion of the period assigned as the duration of their sentence, they were to be removed to the colonies with tickets of leave. He did not understand the hon. Gentleman to object to the prior stages of punishment, but to the manner in which the convicts were dealt with afterwards. In 1846 transportation was found to have produced evils of such magnitude in Van Diemen's Land, that it was found necessary to suspend it altogether for two years; and it was this 1385 that had occasioned a necessity for a change. Was the hon. Gentleman prepared to say that a change in our criminal law must take place, and that sentences of transportation must not he passed any more; or did he mean to contend that the former law must still be carried into effect by transporting a mass of 4,000 or 5,000 prisoners yearly to one colony, without having undergone any previous punishment or reformatory process, corrupting each other till they became the very essence of iniquity, and finally being turned loose on society as emancipists? In truth, the Motion of the hon. Gentleman was but an illustration of the difficulties which he (Sir G. Grey) had felt, and continued to feel, with respect to the means of carrying out the sentence of transportation. All he asked of the House was, that if they were resolved to abolish the system of transportation they would do so openly and avowedly, and not by a side wind; and he trusted, therefore, that they would not vote for the present Motion unless they were prepared to draw a distinction, which the hon. Gentleman did not draw, between the Cape of Good Hope and other colonies. He (Sir G. Grey) was by no means prepared to say that there were not evils connected with transportation; there must be evils connected with the infusion into any society of persons tainted with crime. The object, however, now was, to remove this class of criminals—a very small class compared with those who were annually liberated in this country and restored to society—and effect their dispersion among communities whore they might obtain a livelihood by honest labour. The hon. Gentleman had said that he had been obliged to make his speech without being able to refer to some papers for which he had moved. He regretted that this was the case, because he was quite sure that the hon. Gentleman, with his candour, would have spared some of the imputations which he had thrown upon his noble Friend. The hon. Gentleman said that Earl Grey sent out the convicts without consulting the colonists; secondly, that he had done so against their remonstrances; and, thirdly, that he had instructed the Governor to test the sensation created by that Act, and to send home the results. The hon. Gentleman said that the results had been in his possession two months, though he could not get the despatches; but he did not understand the hon. Gentleman to say that he was purposely misled by his hon. Friend 1386 the Under Secretary for the Colonies. There was an imputation, however, of intentional delay, to which he should not have thought it worth while to advert, had it not been received with a cheer. He held in his hand the original despatch containing the three memorials referred to by the hon. Gentleman, dated respectively the 19th and 22nd of December, and the 5th of January, and which were received on the 14th of March. Those despatches were about to be laid on the table; and had the hon. Gentleman waited he would have perceived that the imputation which he had thrown out was not warranted.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, the papers to which he had alluded were in the Morning Chronicle of the 20th of January, and Earl Grey had stated them to have been in his possession on the 15th of February.
§ SIR G. GREY
could only say that they were all received by his noble Friend on the 14th of March. Did the hon. Gentleman mean to say that the despatches of the Governor were in Earl Grey's possession at the time which he had mentioned?
§ SIB G. GREY
said, the hon. Gentleman must be aware that his hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies could not produce extracts from newspapers. He could only produce what had been received officially from the Governor of the colony. He admitted that his noble Friend had endeavoured to find other outlets for convicts besides Van Diemen's Land, and he consulted the colonies for that purpose. He sent a circular letter to ask them whether they were willing to receive convicts, being desirous not to take any final steps before the wishes of the colonists had been consulted. The hon. Gentleman the Member for North Staffordshire went on to say that Earl Grey not only did not consult the colonists, but that he persisted in sending out convicts, notwithstanding their remonstrances. Now, the fact was, that his noble Friend, having sent this circular letter, without waiting for an answer from the Governor of the Cape of Good Hope, directed a ship to proceed with convicts from Bermuda to the Cape, but he did not persevere in sending them out after remonstrances had been received; and he (Sir G. Grey) was not prepared to say that his noble Friend would persist in sending them after a decided expression of opinion on the part of the colo- 1387 nists against their transmission to the colony. He would shortly state the circumstances under which the ship was sent from Bermuda to the Cape of Good Hope. He had stated in a recent debate that great difficulties had been experienced in carrying out the sentence of transportation in consequence of peculiar circumstances which had recently occurred in Ireland, which had led to a great increase in the number of convicts in that country within the last two years. The average yearly return of the number of convicts sentenced to transportation previous to that period was about 600, while last year the number was 2,698. So far from any desire being entertained by his noble Friend at the head of the Colonial Office to force convicts on the colonies, he (Sir G. Grey) was considerably embarrassed with the remonstrances received from the Colonial Office against the number sent, and representing the great indisposition of the colonies to receive convicts. He had repeatedly stated, that as long as the law imposed the punishment of transportation, it was essential that the sentence should in one way or other be carried out; and he hoped that it might be ultimately carried out in a way that would remove the great objections which were so strongly felt in many colonies to receive convicts. In the mean time, while they were considering the steps which should be taken for this purpose, remonstrances were received from the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and from some Members of Parliament connected with that country, complaining that the gaols were crowded to such an extent as to be overflowing With convicts under sentence of transportation, and that there was a probability of disease of an alarming character breaking out in them. What did the Government do? They made every exertion to establish depôts for the reception of convicts sentenced to transportation, and which the law sanctioned them in doing in Ireland. One establishment for this purpose had been formed on an extensive scale at Spike Island. In the first place 600 convicts were placed there; the number was then increased to 800. He hoped soon they would be enabled to increase the number to 1,400. At the present time 2,000 convicts under sentence of transportation were confined in the different depôts in Ireland. A Bill was passed by Parliament about two years ago, by which they were enabled to send convicts from Ireland to Bermuda and Gibraltar, which 1388 was formerly not the case, as only English and Scotch convicts were sent to those places. The result was, that in 1847 the number of convicts from Ireland sent to Bermuda was, he believed, rather more than 700. In the course of last summer the Governor of Bermuda, Captain Elliott, wrote a letter, dated the 27th of June, 1848, to his noble Friend at the head of the Colonial Office, an extract from which he would read to the House:—I avail myself of this occasion to solicit the compassionate. attention of Her Majesty's Government, as soon as any favourable conjunction should present itself, to the case of many other Irish prisoners recently arrived here. It will be remarked with anxiety, on examining the list of 704 prisoners sent from Ireland in the Medway and Bangalore, that many of them were convicted of stealing food, and agrarian offences—the first no doubt chiefly attributable to the dreadful calamity which befel the poorer classes of people during the last two years; and the last in a high degree to the inflammatory practices of others, in the time of their desperate need. Perhaps Her Majesty's Government may be pleased, taking all these circumstances into consideration, on the return of a state of comparative tranquillity in Ireland, to permit me to appoint a commission in this colony for selecting individuals from the Irish prisoners whom it may be permissable to recommend for removal to Australia, on the ticket of leave or conditional pardon. Those prisoners are for the most part friendless men, in humble stations of life; and your Lordship will feel that they are entitled to any extenuating considerations which I can advance in their behalf, whilst they are conducting themselves steadily and submissively at this depôt.His noble Friend had sent this despatch to him, and had consulted him as to the suggestions of the Governor with respect to the disposal of the prisoners. He (Sir G. Grey) answered—That, regard being had to the nature of the offences of which the convicts specially referred to by the Governor were convicted, and to the circumstances under which their offences were committed, and to the favourable report of their subsequent conduct, the inquiry suggested by the Government might be properly instituted with the view to the selection for removal with tickets of leave to Van Diemen's Land of such of those prisoners as, upon the result of the inquiry, may be considered fit objects for such an indulgence. The selection, however, was not to comprise prisoners who had been convicted of personal violence or outrage.Soon after this, another letter was received from the Governor of Bermuda, as to a class of Irish convicts which had been sent to that colony, a great many of whom had not arrived to man's estate. In that despatch he stated—Poor and scanty food and the hard things of their infancy have for the most part left these lads with a lower stature and more childish ap- 1389 pearance than their age alone would explain, though it will shock Her Majesty's Government to perceive that twelve of them are under sixteen years of age, and that one of thirteen years old has been sentenced to fifteen years' transportation for sheep-stealing. Sharp private whipping, as boys are usually corrected, and a brief season of separate confinement on short diet and hard work, under good guidance and instruction, would surely be a more appropriate punishment for these boys than transportation to the hulks. The reflexion of their condition on release from such association and training is appalling, both for themselves and society. I have ordered that these lads should be kept separate from the rest of the prisoners, and not be allowed to work in gangs with grownup men.Earl Grey allowed the Governor of the colony to appoint the proposed commission, with a view, if the report should be satisfactory, of sending a certain number of these convicts with tickets of leave to one of the colonies. At that time the pressure was very severe from other quarters. It became necessary to send to Bermuda a portion of the convicts of Great Britain, in order to remove a certain number who had undergone a probationary part of their sentence by being imprisoned at Millbank or Pentonville. His noble Friend also received further remonstrances from Van Diemen's Land, against a large number of convicts being sent there. It then occurred to his noble Friend, that an experiment might be made at the Cape with respect to the class of convicts to which allusion had been made in the letters to which he had referred, and that it could not be made under more favourable circumstances, although the remonstrances to which the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Staffordshire adverted had certainly not then been received. The parties who had so remonstrated were probably not aware that the convicts to be sent there were not tainted with the crimes for which ordinary convicts were made to undergo the sentence of transportation. He thought, therefore, that the Government might be justified in selecting a certain number of youths, and others, who had been sentenced for the first time for offences of a minor character, so as to make the experiment in a manner which would in the least degree he revolting to the feelings of the colony of the Cape of Good Hope, and, at the same time, in a way calculated to prove of benefit to the convicts themselves, by placing them in a position to exercise habits of honest industry. Before those convicts were sent to the Cape of Good Hope, the Governor of Bermuda received a communication from the Rev. Mr. Ken- 1390 nedy, the Catholic chaplain to the convicts there, in reference to a few cases in the list of transports which did not come within the class which the Governor had been instructed by the Government at home to refer to commissioners for examination; and on being satisfied that it was desirable that those cases should be inquired into, he directed that they should be investigated by the same board. He hoped that the hon. Gentleman would listen to this letter from the Roman Catholic chaplain at Bermuda as to these men. The letter itself was addressed to the Governor, Capt. Elliott:—Sir—I thank you most sincerely for your prompt attention to my recommendation of those few men whom I wished to be added to your number of convicts for the Cape of Good Hope, on terms of conditional pardon. I have every reason to suppose they will there he good and faithful subjects of Her Majesty, and useful members of society. The prisoners sent here within the last two years came under no ordinary circumstances; many, very many, for thefts, to which they were driven by dire distress and famine; and many also for political offences committed under fear and at times of excitement. They were mere creatures of others, entirely ignorant of what they themselves were about. I would further suggest to your Excellency the usefulness, as well as the charity, in persevering in the wise and humane course taken by you with respect to those convicts who are about being sent hence. You are aware that there are many others here of the same class of persons offering to our observation as fair a prospect for the future, and who, if sent, will hereafter be as favourably impressed. I entreat the same merciful consideration towards such others as may be deemed by those in charge of them as deserving of mercy.He was not reading those papers with the view of in any way palliating crime, but to show that, in consequence of the peculiar circumstances which have recently existed in Ireland, sentences of transportation have been passed, perhaps necessarily, which, under ordinary circumstances, would not have been inflicted; but if these parties had been pardoned, and sent back to Ireland, it might have led to the feeling that crime might be committed with impunity, and that the sentences passed would not be carried out. The Government, upon those representations, suggested a course with reference to this class of convicts which they thought was more free from objection than any other that could be adopted, as these convicts were the least likely to prove in any way injurious to the Cape; but, on the contrary, might ultimately be found to become a useful class of colonists. He would read another extract from a subsequent communication which the 1391 Governor of Bermuda had made to the Colonial Office:—The Deputy Superintendent will cause the lists of the prisoners, who came out in the Medway and the Bangalore to be carefully examined, and will prepare a list of candidates for removal to Australia on the ticket of leave, observing the following rules in the preparation of the lists.…. I involve in this list all the prisoners convicted, for the first time, of the offences of sheep stealing, cattle stealing, larceny, or robbery, without violence on the person, putting at the head of the list the name of the prisoner best reported upon in the character columns from England, and proceeding with the classification by that rule.In a subsequent despatch he stated that—They should include lads who had not been convicted more than twice of robbery, unattended with violence to the person.Such were the circumstances under which the convicts were sent to the Cape. He admitted that remonstrances had been subsequently received by the Colonial Office from the Cape of Good Hope, of the disregard of which the hon. Gentleman now complained; but orders for sending those convicts had been sent out before the remonstrances were received. But notwithstanding the exaggerated feelings of the inhabitants of the Cape at present, he hoped, upon the arrival of these convicts, and upon reflection on the part of the colonists, after they should be made acquainted with the real facts of the case, that they would be induced to admit, under less excited feelings, that these persons might become useful members of society upon their being properly distributed throughout the colony, and that ultimately, by honest industry, they might be a valuable acquisition to the colonists themselves. He would also state without re-servo, that, in the ship which was now on its passage from Bermuda to the Cape of Good Hope, there were some convicts of a different class. One of these, whose state of health was such that the Government had been assured, on medical authority, that if he remained at Bermuda his life would be endangered, was John Mitchel, who had been convicted of a treasonable conspiracy, and who would complete his sentence at the Cape, if he reached that colony alive. He had already stated that his noble Friend, so far from having persisted in spite of the feelings of the inhabitants of the Cape of Good Hope, was disposed to concede to their opinions and remonstrances until they had ample time for reflection, and for experience of the plan, so far as it had been carried out, and 1392 that no more convicts would be sent there until there had been time for such experience. It never had been intended, nor was it then intended, to act against the unanimous feelings of the inhabitants of the colony. It was not worth while to engage in conflicts with the inhabitants of the colony in a matter of that kind. Before he sat down he would remind the hon. Gentleman, that when he went back to the early history of that colony, and described the high morality and principle which distinguished it, and the character of its institutions, it was only recently that slavery was abolished there, as it was in our own West Indian colonies, and that it had been one of the domestic institutions of the settlement, and in consequence of its being put an end to, a large section of the colonists moved beyond its boundaries. When, therefore, the hon. Gentleman said that society was not in any way tainted there, he could not help reminding him that the abolition of slavery in it was only of the same date with that in our West Indian colonies. He would only say, that he should deeply deplore any steps being taken to produce in that or any other colony anything which would check the diffusion of British habits, British principles, and British institutions. He did not know whether he need say more. He had stated the circumstances under which the convicts now on their passage had been sent from Bermuda to the Cape, and had described the character of these convicts, and also the inconvenience which was experienced by the Government, from the remonstrances of the colonies, as to the continuance of transportation. He believed that the apprehensions entertained at the Cape and in other places were, to a great extent, exaggerated, and that the evils might be greatly diminished by an increase in the number of colonies to which convicts could be sent, which would facilitate their dispersion, and prevent a largo accumulation in any one colony. The hon. Gentleman was a magistrate, and, probably, took an active part at the quarter-sessions where the sentences of transportation were passed upon convicts; he would, therefore, suggest to him to bear in mind, when such sentences were passed—for a large discretion in that respect was placed with the magistrates and the judges—that he imposed on the Government the necessity of sending convicts in some stage or the other of their sentence to one of our colonies. He would 1393 remind the hon. Gentleman that he had taken a very unfair view of the case in assuming that the whole of the convicted criminals of this country were sent out to the colonies. He held in his hand some returns which had been laid on the table relative to the number of criminal convictions in England and Wales, which, however, did not include those from Ireland. It appeared that in the year 1847 there were sentenced to transportation in England, Wales, and Scotland, 2,726 males and females. With regard to England and Wales, the great majority of the convicts had been sentenced to transportation at the quarter-sessions. Of this number of 2,726, however, there were 326 too old to be sent out, and others were too infirm; so that the number which would be required actually to be sent out of Great Britain would be between 2,300 and 2,400. But what was the number of persons sentenced to terms of imprisonment for periods varying from three years to a few months or weeks, and afterwards returned to society at home? The number of persons so sentenced in the same year at the various assizes and sessions throughout the country was 15,956. The number of persons summarily convicted before magistrates was 68,641, all of whom, after the expiration of the periods of their imprisonment, were returned again to society, making a total of persons imprisoned, of 84,597. He hoped, therefore, that it would not go forth to the colonies that this country was proceeding to get rid of all its criminal population by sending them to the colonies, our wish being to send as small a number as possible to each. He trusted that the number of persons convicted and sentenced to transportation might be hereafter less than it now was; but, as he had stated the other day, he believed that this would be a valuable punishment to retain. He trusted, therefore, that the hon. Gentleman would be satisfied, on that occasion, on the part of the colony which he that night represented, as well as of the other colonies which he had included in his observations, that the moral injury likely to result from the system now adopted, was not so great as he had represented, and that convicts sent out with tickets of leave, after having undergone a part of their punishment, the number to each colony being limited, might be disposed and enabled to earn an honest livelihood; and that when they began life anew at the 1394 end of their sentences, they might add to the prosperity of the colony. He would not refer to the observations which the hon. Gentleman made as to the original settlement of the North American colonies, beyond reminding him that they were not altogether free from the taint of convicts. He would conclude by saying, that unless they resorted to capital punishments, or to perpetual imprisonment, while he admitted they should yield, as far as possible, to the feelings of the colonists on the subject, he trusted that Parliament would not hastily deprive the Government of the power of carrying into effect sentences of transportation.
§ MR. HUME
said, the simple question was, would Government insist upon sending convicts to our colonies against the express desire of those colonies? The hon. Member for North Staffordshire, who raised this important point, had carefully endeavoured to keep the question of transportation separate from the question before the House; but the hon. Member had felt it necessary to introduce that question, with reference to the difficulties created by the overcrowded state of our gaols. He (Mr. Hume) had for many years past endeavoured to impress this particular subject upon the successive Governments of the country. Let him now repeat emphatically that the grand question of all in relation to this subject was how to lessen the amount of crime in this country. He should support the Motion before the House, because he was satisfied that, if carried, it would force the Government to apply itself to the most effective moans of reducing the amount of crime, and, as one of the most effective means, to the extension of education to all classes—to each individual of the community. He did not condemn transportation as a principle, but he certainly considered that the House should exact from the Government a distinct assurance that convicts should not be forced upon colonies against the will of these colonies. He had no hesitation in expressing the belief that, under a proper system the transmission of convicts to consenting colonies might be rendered most beneficial at once to the convicts and to the colonies; but at present there was no Minister here—no Department whose business it was to make a proper classification of the prisoners previous to their departure. The whole thing was rank confusion. What was eminently needed was, a Minister of Justice, one of whose leading duties 1395 it should be to superintend such a classification of prisoners. Had there been such a Minister here, he would never have sent out to Bermuda as convicts, as there had been sent, numbers of boys of tender age, quite incapable of the hard labour to which convicts in that island were subjected. How was it proposed to remedy that overflow of our gaols which everywhere prevailed? It would never do, when men had once been sentenced by the laws, to let the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, or the Home Secretary in England, discharge them from prison merely because there was no room for them in the gaols. Here were we spending six or seven millions a year for religious instruction; surely this expenditure ought to be so managed as to reduce the amount of crime amongst us. There must be something done, and, in order to compel the Government to do this something, he should vote for the Motion.
§ MAJOR BLACKALL
agreed with much that had fallen from the hon. Gentleman who had brought the subject under the attention of the House, as to the want of classification; and this had particularly come under his own observation in Ireland; but he did not believe, if the resolution was adopted, any great advantage would result. He knew in Ireland there was an entire want of classification of the prisoners sentenced to transportation, and, above all, when the gaols were full, where young and old were placed together, without any regard to the nature of the crimes of which they had been found guilty. As to the colonies saying they would rather not have these convicts—if that plea was in every instance to be admitted, there would be no place to which they could send them. The state of the convicts proposed to be sent to the Cape of Good Hope had been alluded to by the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department; and it appeared that they were not persons of general bad habits, but had, generally speaking, only been guilty of one crime, and he was satisfied, if they were sent to the Cape of Good Hope, so far from doing mischief, they would produce good. They had recently extended the boundaries of that colony, and before they could expect to colonise these districts, they must carry on several Government works, such as the formation of roads and the erection of forts to prevent the incursions of the Kafirs. All this might be advantageously 1396 done by a good system of convict labour, which would be under a strict system of military discipline. By doing this, they would ultimately open a new country to the enterprise of the colonists.
§ MR. AGLIONBY
felt that if the Motion was carried or not, the result would be beneficial, He regretted that a greater number of Members did not seem disposed to take part in the debate, as colonial matters had been too long neglected in that House. He did not wish to bring any acrimonious charges against one Cabinet Minister or another, but it was most desirable that the Members of that House should take an active part in controlling matters connected with the colonies; and in this feeling he was satisfied that the public deeply shared. He thought that if the Motion of the hon. Member for North Staffordshire was carried in that House as the adoption of a permanent principle, much good would be effected, for the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary admitted it, as he understood him, to be a good one. [Sir G. GREY: NO, no!] The hon. Member read the Motion and said, he could not find a word in it to which the Government could object. He further understood the right hon. Baronet to say, that it was the intention of the Government not to send out convicts in any shape whatever, either on punishment or on tickets of leave, unless they had previously received the consent of the colony to which they were to be sent; and yet it appeared as if the right hon. Baronet could not have meant that, because such a course would have put an end to transportation altogether, for he could not conceive any colony so much debased as to express a wish that convicts should be sent among their population. It might be possible, indeed, that a number of colonists whose only care was to make money might petition for convicts; but how was it to be ascertained that the really moral and respectable inhabitants of that colony desired them to be sent? He would not now go into the general question of transportation, for it was of infinitely too great importance to be discussed; but the subject was one which the Government and the Legislature must take into serious consideration, and form some decided plan which should not be subject to fluctuation as this or that Minister held office, but one that should be settled, and in which the public would have confidence. The right hon. Baronet had asked what was to be done with these convicts—were 1397 they to be turned loose into this country? He (Mr. Aglionby) thought the danger infinitely less if they were turned loose here, in the midst of an immense population, where society was established and civilised, with an efficient police, and means for keeping them in control, than it would be if they were sent into a small, thinly scattered community, with a defective police. He regretted to hear the right hon. Baronet say, that he could not see the injury that would be done to the colony by sending out the particular class of convicts he named; and he begged to refer him to the information received from South Australia and New Zealand, in illustration of the effects that had been produced there by sending out convicted felons not undergoing punishment. The experiment that had been tried on what were termed the Parkhurst boys, who were sent to Australia in 1843, ought to teach the Government a lesson. These "seedlings of crime," as they were termed, so far from responding to the expectation that had been formed from their careful training in the Parkhurst prison, exhibited every degree of refinement in vice and wickedness as soon as they arrived at their destination. The report which had been sent home to the Government by Mr. G. Clarke, the protector of aborigines in Australia, stated that the arrival of these Parkhurst boys in that colony had proved more injurious than was imaginable; they absconded from their employments and went to live in the bush with the natives, who thought they derived considerable advantage from having Europeans amongst them, but all they obtained was a deeper knowledge of vice; and it was a common trick for these boys to write obscene words on paper and to give them to the natives, who handed them in at the shops as explanatory of what they wanted to purchase. Of the two methods of dealing with convicts, it was by far the more dangerous plan to transport them, instead of retaining them at home, where they would always remain under the surveillance of experienced and competent officers.
§ MR. SCOTT
thought that the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary had misunderstood the object with which the Motion had been brought forward. His hon. Friend the Member for North Staffordshire contended that it was not fair, just, or politic to send the crime of the mother country to an unpolluted colony, and that although the Government might have the right to do so, it was not wise or right to 1398 enforce that right against the will of the colonists. That convicts should be employed upon public works in such places as Bermuda or Gibraltar was not complained of; but the question was whether we had a right to inflict upon colonial society the offscourings of our own people, and send those whom we would not permit to mingle with the population at home to contaminate innocent communities. He would suggest whether it would not be more fair and just that convicts who had worked out their terms on the public works should be required to pay their passage money home instead of being sent to mingle with the colonists—unless, indeed, the colonists were willing to receive them. The amount of crime and destitution in this country—and there were nearly 2,000,000 of paupers in the workhouses, or receiving relief—would of necessity cause an increase in transportation. He had no doubt that the right hon. Baronet opposite, and the noble Earl at the head of the Colonial Department, would do all they could to prevent the contamination of the colonies by too great an influx of convicts; still it should be remarked, that in one colony, Van Diemen's Land, three-fourths of the adult population were cither convicts or persons whose sentences had expired.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, that he should not have taken part in the debate had not the meaning of his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary been apparently misunderstood by the hon. Member for Cocker-mouth, although it had been very clearly put before the House. The hon. Gentleman seemed to suppose that the purport of the Motion was to declare that no convicts were to be sent to the colonies without the consent of the colonists, and that his right hon. Friend agreed in that construction of the Motion. What his right hon. Friend said was very different; and he objected to the Motion, in the first place, because, from the use of the terms pollution and disgrace, in respect of transportation to any colonies, it might be inferred that transportation was for ever to be abolished. That was a just inference on the part of his right hon. Friend; but what he said in relation to the immediate subject of discussion, on the case of the transportation of a certain number of convicts to the Cape of Good Hope was, that, supposing there was a general and universal feeling against transportation taking place in that colony, and that sentiment were persisted in, it would not be advisable or right to continue it. 1399 That was also the opinion of his noble Friend at the head of the Colonial Department, and was the general feeling of the Government. He trusted that, so far as the object of the present Motion was concerned, the result had been satisfactory to the hon. Mover, and that, after what bad been said with respect to transportation to the Cape of Good Hope, he would not seek to place upon the journals of the House a general declaration leading to the inference that if any colony should hereafter declare an objection, that would be sufficient to cause the discontinuance of transportation. To that length he (Lord J. Russell) was certainly not prepared to go, as it would be equivalent to a discontinuance of transportation for ever; for he had no doubt that in no colony whatever would there be any difficulty in getting up a petition, numerously signed, against transportation. With respect to the general subject, it was far too vast and wide to enter upon at the present moment. He would merely remark that the opinions of the hon. Member for Berwickshire who had last spoken appeared to be the reverse of those which had been hitherto held on this question. The general opinion, so far as it was favourable to transportation at all, had been this—that persons who had been guilty of any crime, and who had been convicted in this country, generally, indeed almost always found, after leaving prison, great difficulty, from the general supply of labour, in obtaining any employment; and therefore it was thought desirable that a portion of their punishment should take place in some distant colony, where labour, instead of being in abundance, as here, was in demand, and where these persons would not be subjected to the difficulties which persons having lost character experienced in obtaining employment in this country. But the hon. Gentleman made a proposal precisely the reverse, and said, let the convicts work out their punishment in the colonies, and then let them pay their passage home.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
And to return here. But the course that was advisable with respect to Gibraltar and Bermuda would not be so as regarded New South Wales, for example. On the contrary, that being a colony where labour was in con- 1400 siderable demand, it was desirable that such persons should be induced to remain there, in order that they might at once contribute their labour, and preserve the chance of regaining the character they had lost. In these colonies convicts who were well disposed never found a difficulty in obtaining employment. He remembered the case of a man who had happily profited by the moral and religious instruction he had obtained at Pentonville, and who obtained employment in a shop in this town. He continued to act respectably and honestly; but unfortunately some of his former associates found him out, and they did what under such circumstances was always done, they gave information to the master of the shop, and induced him to suspect the honesty of the man, and to turn him off. No resource was then left to this man but to go back to his old associates. Now, in the colonies, where the demand for labour was great, persons situated as in the case he had referred to would find employment. He did not, however, wish to continue this subject, and would only express the hope that the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Staffordshire having obtained what he required, would not persist in his Motion.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I do not think, after what has fallen from the noble Lord and from the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, that my hon. Friend would be justified in pressing this Motion to a division. The hon. Member has made a most able statement, and has called the attention of the House to a subject which I am sure will receive the consideration its importance deserves. My hon. Friend has said, that it is not his intention to open up a discussion on the general principle of secondary punishment. I think it would be very inadvisable that any such debate should take place on the present occasion. If the subject of secondary punishment is not to be made a matter of debate to-night, every thing that my hon. Friend wishes has been conceded by the Government in a fair and frank manner. There is, however, one observation I wish to make, and that is, to express a hope that if this great question is really to be considered and decided on, the Government will not come to any determination respecting it on particular grounds, such as particular expenditure, as in the case of the Kafir war, or any thing of that kind. I trust they will take a general view of the question, and 1401 be guided by principle only, for I think it would be wrong to say, that any policy should be adopted by the mother country which would be regarded by the colonies as an infliction. I think my hon. Friend was, to some extent, misunderstood with respect to the documents to which he referred. He alluded to a memorial from the inhabitants of the Cape, and also to a despatch enclosing that memorial to Earl Grey. I believe that those documents appeared in the public journals in January last; and, bearing in mind that they were referred to in another place by the Secretary of State for the Colonies in February last, I think my hon. Friend was justified in the course he took. Under these circumstances, I protest against the Secretary for the Home Department saying that the documents in question were nothing more than extracts from newspapers. Surely they were public and official documents, otherwise they would not have been referred to in another place by so responsible an authority as a Secretary of State. I am obliged to my hon. Friend for the very able manner in which he has brought forward this question; and as his object has been gained by directing the attention of the House to it, and eliciting an expression of opinion from the Ministry, I think the better course by far would be, not to proceed further with the Motion.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, that Earl Grey was reported in Hansard* to have said on the 15th of February that he had lately received from the Governor of the Cape of Good Hope an intimation that the Government intention to send convicts there had excited dissatisfaction.
§ SIR G. GREY
said, that the particular documents which had been alluded to by the hon. Gentleman had not been received at that time; but he was not aware whether or not there had been a previous despatch sent, stating that dissatisfaction had been excited on the subject.* Parliamentary Debates (Third Series), Vol. cii. p. 752.
§ MR. HEYWOOD
said, that there was one colony which was desirous of obtaining convict labour, and that was the Mosquito territory. When he was in Jamaica two months ago, he met there Mr. Christie, the Consul of Mosquitia, who was on a visit to Sir Charles Grey, to endeavour to obtain convict labour for the completion of the public works at Grey town, the seaport of the Mosquito district. A meeting of several governors of the West India Islands had also been held lately to discuss the proper colony to which they should send their convicts. He appealed to hon. Members who were acquainted with courts of justice, in favour of the maintenance of transportation, which was a punishment regarded in a far more serious light by criminals than imprisonment. He considered that arrangements might be made by Government with colonies for the employment of convicts in public works.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
, in reply, disclaimed all intention of making a personal attack upon Earl Grey. He was not actuated by any personal motives, for he had not the honour of the noble Earl's acquaintance; but had brought forward this Motion purely on behalf of the colonists, whose remonstrances had boon disregarded. It appeared to him that the whole of the argument of the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary had been addressed rather to the interests of this country than having any reference to those of the colonies. But as he (Mr. Adderley) now distinctly understood from the right hon. Baronet opposite, that the sending of these 250 convicts to the Cape was upon a great emergency, and if he had not actually given a pledge that no more convicts would be sent to the Cape, he had at least said that any remonstrance from the colonists against the sending of convicts would be duly considered by the Government: having obtained that point, he was satisfied without pressing his Motion to a division.
§ SIR G. GREY
wished it to be clearly understood that his noble Friend the Secretary for the Colonies, having thought it advisable to consult the colonies with respect to the introduction of convicts into them, and having intimated his intention not to send convicts to colonies not now receiving them until he had ascertained their opinion, did not intend to disregard the wishes of the colonists. The hon. Gentleman the Member for North Staffordshire was right in saying, that any 1403 remonstrances from the colonies upon the subject would meet with due consideration at the hands of the Government; but he (Sir G. Grey) would give no pledge that a remonstrance from a colony would stop transportation to it, as there might be a difference of opinion in a colony on the subject. The despatch lying before him stated, that the number sent to the Cape was 300; that there were nine prisoners, also Irish, recommended by Mr. Kennedy, the Roman Catholic priest, on account of their good conduct; that the persons sent had been selected with great care, as those who seemed to deserve such a boon; and attention had been directed in the selection to their health and strength, so that they might be no burden to the colony. Motion, by leave, withdrawn.