(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum not exceeding 24,080l., be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge of the Civil Establishments on the Western Coast of Africa, to the 31st day of March. 1851; also, for the purchase of Stores, &c, on the Gold Coast, from the Danish Government.
§ MR. COBDEN
said, he should have thought it probably more in order if some Member of the Government had explained the grounds upon which the Committee were called upon to vote this sum. It was proposed to vote 10,000l. for five settlements on the coast of Africa, If 10,000l. were all, it might be passed over lightly, and no great harm would be done, for a vote of 10,000l. was a small thing indeed. The question was, would they extend their territory on the Gold Coast of Africa? His opinion was that they had lately had too much of tropical possessions, and that they ought not to extend them. He asked himself what were the grounds on which they proposed to extend their territory on the coast of Africa? Why, they had had a correspondence passing between their Government and the Danish Government on the subject; and, so far as he could understand it, they were, first of all, to extend their operations on shore for the suppression of the slave trade—next, they were to extend their trade, and then there was a general plan for the diffusion of civilisation on the continent of Africa. Well, now, the first of these questions was, whether they were to go on, with increased outlay and exertion, to suppress the slave trade on the coast of Africa? He thought 38 there was a very great doubt in the country whether we should continue the operations we were now engaged in—whether we should carry on our operations at sea. But here wan a new plan for operations on shore; because the plan was, that we were to go on building forts and extending our territory, in order to put down singlehanded what we had failed to do in conjunction with France by sea. This plan was put before them by Governor Winniett, in evidence which he gave before a Committee of the House of Lords, which was laid before us last year. This was the evidence:—Have you any means of forming any judgment as to how far the system of the occupation of forts upon that coast might be extended?—Yes; I have on one or two occasions corresponded with the Secretary of State on that very subject; and it is my firm opinion that slavery will never be done away, excepting by blockading the Bight of Benin, and building forts along the line of coast. I do not mean simply blockading by not allowing Spanish or Portuguese vessels to go there; but I mean to say, that in two years, or two years and a half, by blockading the coast thoroughly, you must do away with slavery; because it would compel the King of Dahomey to come into our views; for they cannot do without English manufactured goods, and I think that in two or three years he would certainly come into our views in respect to the sum of money. But it must be such a blockade by steamers as not to allow anything to pass, and at the same time erecting forts every ten or twenty miles; something in the same shape as the forts on the coast of Sussex, the martello towers.He was reminded that there would be many places out of the reach of our guns; and his answer was—Those forts would have twenty-five or thirty troops, with officers, and we should patrol the beach, just as you do in looking out for smugglers upon the coast of Kent, and we should always have a telescope on the top of those towers, watching for the approach of any vessel.They had always some fresh plan for the suppression of the slave trade. First, they had steam vessels, then they had the Niger expedition, with its horrible loss of life, and now they were to have martello towers which were to put an end to the slave trade in two years and a half, according to Governor Winniett's opinion. Some persons might suppose he was exaggerating; but he had the advantage of hearing the evidence of Earl Grey, which was not yet printed, and that of itself was a good reason for deferring this vote. Earl Grey approved of the plan suggested by Governor Winniett, of extending forts along the coast. Such an opinion expressed by Earl Grey was rather alarming, because he was 39 a Cabinet Minister, and it was likely that his opinion was shared in by the rest of the Government. Why, if they could not abolish the slave trade—which was an export smuggling trade by means of steam vessels, it was futile to think of abolishing it by means of stationary forts on land. The next object for which these forts were to be purchased, was to extend their trade on the coast of Africa. Now he, as a freetrader, maintained that if they removed the obstacles on trade, it was not their business to purchase land for the promotion of agriculture or trade. They had petitions from Manchester and Liverpool in favour of the purchase of these forts; but he maintained that they should not vote the money of the taxpayers at large to promote the interest of particular traders in a particular locality. A Member of that House who was very largely connected with the trade on the African coast had been mentioned in connexion with this subject; but that individual had been offered the Danish forts for nothing if he would only hoist the Danish flag. They had been told that the growth of cotton would be promoted by buying these forts. If that were so, how was it, that with a large portion of the Gold coast under their influence for a long time, they had as yet heard of no importations of cotton from that quarter. The people of British Guiana stated, in a petition which had been presented to that House, that the soil and climate of that country was admirably adapted for the growth of cotton, and were it not for the obstacles thrown in their way by the Colonial Office, that they could grow enough for the entire consumption of the country. [Mr. HAWES: Hear, hear!] He did not mean to prefer any charge against the Colonial Office. What he wished to impress on the House was this, that it was not necessary to invest public money in the purchase of territory on the coast of Africa, with a view to the growth of cotton, when they had Guiana, Jamaica, and other West India Islands, for a length of time, without getting any cotton from them, although they were told these places were adapted for its growth. He maintained that they had no right to come to that House to ask for money in order to purchase territory on account of such a remote object. Let them remove the obstacles on trade—do away with their custom-house officers as far as possible—abolish the excise—and by these means they would help and encourage trade; but let them not ask that 40 House for money to buy territory in order to grow cotton. Then there were very magniloquent terms used with regard to the extension of civilisation and the promotion of Christianity on the coast of Africa. In a letter from Sir C. Trevelyan, dated the 12th of December, it is said—My Lords concur with your Lordship and Lord Palmerston as to the results of such an arrangement in the extinction of the slave trade and the improvement of the inhabitants which must be anticipated from such a measure.And Mr. Merivale, in writing to Sir C. Trevelyan, says—It is unnecessary to point out the advantages which must result from the measure with regard to the diffusion of Christianity and the spread of civilisation on the coast of Africa in connexion with the increase of British commerce. The acquisition of the Danish forts and the spread of British influence will give efficiency to our policy in the territory subject to our jurisdiction.That was embarking on a wide scheme indeed. That showed that he was right in viewing this not merely as a vote of 10,000l. They aimed at nothing short of the civilising and Christianising the vast coast of Africa. But he held that they had a great deal to do at home within a stone's throw of where they were before they embarked on a scheme of redeeming from barbarism the whole coast of Africa. Well, then, the question arose—what forts were they going to buy from the Danes? Were they going to buy the forts merely with the territory within the command of their guns, or were they going to extend the dependencies? That was an important question, and it did not distinctly appear which was the object in view; but the House should bear in mind this fact, that they had never claimed the right of sovereignty beyond the reach of their guns over those parts of the Gold Coast, where they had established themselves; and the report of the Committee of 1843 declared that to be a sound principle. If they extended their, territory, they would involve themselves in endless obligations. But there was contained in the report an account of a tour of Governor Winniett, in which he speaks of the natives wishing to offer fealty to the Queen, by giving him the handle end of a spear, and presenting the point at themselves. He spoke of a tract of country one hundred miles in the interior, and bordering the territory of the king of Ashantee. A very formidable tribe possessed that country. They had engagements with them before; and if they were to occupy this country, who was to guaran- 41 tee that they would not find themselves embarked some fine morning in a war with the Ashantees, as they had been engaged with the Caffres some two or three years ago? This was an important question, and should be well considered by the House before they sanctioned the purchase of these forts. If they were not going to buy any territory, but merely the forts with the land under the range of their guns, what was to be the character of their relations with the native tribes? Were they to be dependent on this country? But they were told that there was a probability of raising a revenue from the natives. He never knew a case in which territory was to be purchased or acquired, in which they were not told that it would bring a revenue. But the result generally was, that it was a source of money going out, instead of coming in. If they succeeded in raising money by building custom-houses at the foot of these forts, he could only say that it would be the first time such a feat was performed. What was to prevent the people from landing goods elsewhere, than within the reach of their guns in these forts? But then the duty was to be moderate—3d. a pound on tobacco; and then they were to receive a small duty on 3,000,000 gallons of rum. If these duties were to be levied by means of custom-houses connected with the forts, the trade would be carried on by contraband—it would be like the slave trade, and smuggling would be carried on in spite of them. He exhorted the House not to trust in this revenue till they saw how it was to be raised. The estimate of expenditure on account of the purchase of these forts was most fallacious, and he would advise the House not to confide in it. He had been sitting for three years on the Army, Navy, and Ordnance Committee, and if he was convinced of any one thing more than another, it was as to the fallaciousness of the estimated cost of their garrisons and establishments abroad. The Civil Estimates furnished no criterion of the vast expenditure which was going on; and in the Army Estimates for this year there was an estimate of 6,000l. a year for a corps of blacks on the coast of Africa, in consequence of the purchase of these forts. This was but the beginning of the outlay. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies would, perhaps, reply that the West Indian corps which was now there would be withdrawn. But Earl Grey told them that it would not be so. Stores and other items of expense would be required 42 in consequence of the purchase of these forts, and it was for the purpose of guarding against another outlet of expenditure that he exhorted the Committee to pause before they recognised the principle of extending their possessions in tropical climates. He said tropical climates, because there was a great difference between acquiring territory where the race might become indigenous, so as to extend commerce and to spread the principle of self-government over the world, and taking possession of tropical territory, where their own race was not indigenous, where Government must be upheld by force, and where there was no prospect of being able to disembarrass themselves of the responsibility of governing the people. When they formerly took possession of tropical countries, they endeavoured to compensate themselves for the expense of governing them by monopolising trade. But they had now abandoned the principle and entered on a now epoch. He recollected that Burke, in his speeches on the American revolution, assigned two motives for colonisation—one, that of having an exclusive trade with the colonies, and maintaining navigation—the other, that of deriving a revenue from them by means of taxation. The principle of monopolising trade had been abandoned, and the navigation had been thrown open to all the world. The present, therefore, was the moment when they ought to pause before they extended their dominion by one square yard of territory in tropical climates. Another consideration why they should pause before they sanctioned the purchase of these forts was, that the climate was most prejudicial and fatal to the health of white men. We should be told, perhaps, of the great benefits to civilisation and humanity in our taking steps to abolish the slave trade. But was there not some consideration due to our own race, to those whom we should be sending to the coast of Africa, "the white man's grave?" Mr. Lander stated before the Lords' Committee that the mortality among the whites on the Gold Coast was 25 per cent per annum. What did the examination of Governor Winniett show?—Do you find that the health of the white officers suffers very much from the climate?—Very much; seven died during the time I was out there upon the coast alone. Did your health suffer while you were there?—In the first instance; you are quite sure, on arriving at the Gold Coast, to have an attack of fever, what they call the 'seasoning,' and two out of five are the average that die. After you get through the seasoning, you are compare 43 tively safe for five or seven years, with the exception of having an attack of fever and ague.Were we justified, upon principles of humanity, in carrying on a system which involved the sacrifice of so many lives, after such repeated proof that it utterly failed in preventing the slave trade? It might he said, the victims went out voluntarily. But was not he particeps criminis who became party to the system—a system involving acts little short of suicide? He considered that he would be as much justified in taking part in a direct act of homicide as he would be in encouraging such an expedition as the Niger Expedition. He recollected that he denounced that expedition at a public meeting in Manchester as little short of murder, and he gave offence to many persons by doing so; but looking now at the consequences of that expedition, he should deeply reproach himself if he had not loudly protested against it. He called therefore on the philanthropists of the House to step in and prevent this wanton and unjustifiable sacrifice of human life. He called on those who professed the principle of humanity, as well as the political economist and the mere politician, on no ground to sanction the extension of this system to the coast of Africa.
Whereupon Motion made, and Question put—That a sum, not exceeding 14,080l, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge of the Civil Establishments on the Western Coast of Africa, to the 31st day of March 1851; also, for the purchase of Stores, &c, on the Gold Coast, from the Danish Government.
§ MR. FORSTER
felt himself very incompetent to meet his hon. Friend the Member for the West Riding as a speaker; but, on this occasion at all events, he had the advantage over his hon. Friend of knowing something of the matter before the House. In fact, his hon. Friend should endeavour to confine himself a little more to the subjects with which he was acquainted, such as the corn laws and financial reform, for he never departed a hair's breadth from them without involving himself in trouble and in unfounded statements. The hon. Member had said, the object of the purchase was the extension of our territory on the coast of Arica. It was no such thing. He also asserted it would tend to increase the mortality on the coast. Now, so far from that being the case, one of the great objects of the transaction was to lessen the mortality by enabling us to raise local black corps, 44 officered of course by white officers, who would, however, only remain on the coast for a very short time, and thus to diminish the mortality arising from the service of detachments of white regiments in a climate to which they were not accustomed. The hon. Member, in support of his allegations, had referred to Governor Winniett's journals. Now, he must say, he thought those journals were very silly, and regretted the Colonial Office had laid them on the table. [Oh!"] Well, he would withdraw the words "very silly," and merely say he thought they had been injurious. As to the arrangement itself, the hon. Member for the West Riding might be considered the author of the whole transaction, for it had been in consequence of the outcry raised by the financial and colonial reformers that Earl Grey was rendered anxious to decrease every possible expense, and, on coming to the Gold Coast, and finding there certain expenses without any revenue being raised to meet them, adopted the present arrangement as a means of raising some local revenue. Our settlements on the coast being situated between those of the Dutch and of the Danish, it was impossible to raise any revenue without coming to some arrangement with them. Denmark had sustained those forts for forty years at an annual expense of 3,000l. or 4,000l., without ever deriving the slightest benefit from them. [Laughter.] Yes, because Denmark had no trade whatever on the coast, but England had a trade, and that accounted for the anxiety of Denmark to get rid of these forts, and to sell them to England. She therefore made proposals on the subject, which were not accepted; France was anxious to obtain the forts; but Denmark having taken a great interest in the suppression of the slave trade, very properly wished to put them under the care of England; and Holland having agreed to come to an arrangement with us for enabling us to raise a revenue, the negotiation for the sale of the forts was finally arranged, and in this way it was now proposed to lessen the expenditure of the British establishment. In effect, the measure was one of economy, and on that ground he was prepared to defend it. It would at all events be the fault of the Colonial Office if it was not so. Whether as a measure of economy or of commerce, it was one which affected the Manchester district more than any portion of the country. The hon. Member for the West 45 Riding was mistaken if he supposed the Liverpool petitioners had any interest in the trade with the Gold Coast, for they did not possess any, and the petition set forth, that they approved of the acquisition of the forts for the sake of humanity, and as a stand against the monopoly established on the coast by the French. In order to show that the people of Manchester were also in favour of the purchase of the forts, he would mention a petition that had been presented from the Commercial Association of that town, to the effect, that the petitioners had observed with regret that a notice had been given by an hon. Member—alluding to the hon. Member for the West Riding—of his intention to oppose the grant, and that they were of opinion great advantages would accrue from the purchase to the handloom weavers in particular, to our trade with the Gold Coast in general, and to the natives of the country. The hon. Member for the West Riding was completely mistaken in supposing trade could be carried on without those forts, for then the French would get possession of them, and, in that case, we should soon be entirely excluded. At the present moment the export of cotton goods to the coast amounted to 120,000l. annually; and, as the cost of the raw material did not amount to more than 20,000l., it was evident the trade to that coast produced an annual gain of 100,000l. The hon. Member might say, plausibly enough, that the Commercial Association had some peculiar interest in the question; but the Manchester Guardian, reflecting, as he believed, the opinions of the manufacturers more accurately than any other, had, in its last number, expressed its great surprise at the hon. Member for the West Riding's notice, and its still greater surprise that the hon. Members for Manchester should support him, although they had lately proposed the East India Company should send out at vast expense a commission to inquire into the growth of cotton in India, which would last for the next ten years, while here they opposed a paltry grant likely to effect a great increase in the supplies of cotton, thus showing the difference that existed between the crotchets of their own heads and the well-matured plans of Government. In his (Mr. Forster's) experience of forty years with respect to the coast of Africa, he must say this was the first vote he had ever seen which was likely to be attended with any beneficial effects to the trade and 46 commerce of this country. He could sum up millions that had been completely thrown away on the coast—thrown away by folly, There was the expedition of Major Rennie in 1815, which cost 400,000l., which scarcely started from Senegal, and never did the least good. Then there was the expedition of Major Gray, which cost at least 100,000l.; next there was the expedition of Mr. Laing from Sierra Leone, which cost 100,000l. more, neither of which was of the least use; then followed the fatal expedition of Captain Tucker to Congo, which ended like the others, and cost a great deal of money; and, lastly, came the Niger expedition, which was in preparation when he (Mr. Forster) came into the House in 1841. Knowing that it would end like all the others, he had taken the trouble of speaking to the noble Lord at the head of the Government, in order to dissuade him from entering upon it. He spoke to the noble Lord in the library, who had received his suggestions and warnings, he would not say with incivility, but a little coldly, perhaps as he sometimes received his friends. His advice was, at all events, rejected; the expedition started, and his predictions were, unfortunately, all fulfilled. After all these sums had been wasted in such expeditions, it was too bad that this small vote for 10,000l., which was likely to be of real service, should be objected to The Colonial Office seldom did anything right; for thirty-five years he had opposed their proceedings on the coast of Africa, but he was glad to see they were ready lately to listen to reasonable advice, and he would support them fully on this vote. These forts had nothing at all to do with the acquisition of territory they were merely the jaws through which our commerce would flow. We did not injure the people. We merely advised the natives and assisted them in what they called their "palavers." All the control we exercised was by means of moral influence; but he was not surprised that the greater part of the speech of the hon. Member for the West Riding should have been directed against the acquisition of territory, for it was clear the hon. Gentleman would shut the doors of all our foreign embassies, cut all our colonies, and leave England to stand isolated in the world, if he had his own way. But the hon. Member ought to support the purchase of the forts, for in no other way could he fit the people there for self- 47 government, and in no other way could he reduce the local expenditure. The hon. Gentleman argued that nothing had been done towards putting down the slave trade; but the argument only showed how exceedingly ignorant he was on the subject, for by the influence of commerce alone a line of coast of 1,500 miles, from the Gambia to Whydah, had been cleared of the slave trade altogether.
§ MR. JACKSON
expressed his surprise that the Government had not at once explained the object and real intent of this vote. He had heard a petition from merchants of Liverpool read, declaring that it was necessary to expend this sum of money, and he could understand their doing so; and for this reason—so soon as the 10,000l. should be voted, if it was to be voted, the Liverpool merchants would be on the alert to have a share of it. In order that it be paid, bills must be drawn on the different departments, and how were they to be cashed? By the manufacturers of this country trading from London and Liverpool. In that process the Liverpool merchants would take care of themselves, and receive their share of the profit. He could, therefore, understand their petitioning in favour of this vote. But before he gave his sanction to it, he wished to know from the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, or from the Under Secretary for the Colonies, whether this 10,000l. was to be spent in adding to our physical force, or in carrying forward that moral ascendancy through which they all wished to see the slave trade totally abolished? There was not in that House a man more anxious to see the slave trade abolished than he was, nor one less disposed to advocate the saving of money, if by a judicious expenditure of it they could achieve that glorious object. What was the history of that trade, briefly told? About 200 years ago the West Indies fell into our hands, and we went to the coast of Africa for the purpose of obtaining a population for those territories which would cultivate the soil. In accomplishing that object, every imaginable crime was committed, every species of rapine and murder resorted to. At the instance of Wilberforce, Clarkson, Buxton, and other such men, we as a nation changed our views and our tactics. We said that slavery should no longer exist, and we announced that money should be no obstacle in our endeavours to destroy it. But to whom did the 20,000,000l. 48 which we voted go? Not to the black men whom we had so badly treated, and to obtain whom we had committed such crimes. No, we paid every shilling of it to ourselves. We paid it in the shape of compensation to the West Indies, our own possessions, which was like paying it from one pocket into another. He would just remind the House of what the Emperor of Morocco said to Cromwell when Cromwell threatened to bombard and destroy certain cities belonging to the emperor. "Give me," said he, "half the money it will cost you, and I'll do it for you." So if we had given to the African chiefs half the money we had spent in maintaining a squadron on the coast of Africa, those chiefs would have been to us tantamount to an efficient police, and would have long since completely eradicated the slave trade. If we compensated those chiefs, and showed them that by a useful commerce they would gain quite as much as they now did by this nefarious traffic, he was quite certain they would embrace the one and abandon the other. He wished, therefore, to know what was to be done with the 10,000l.—whether it was to be employed in the commencement of a new policy, or in the continuance of the old system? If the latter, he would vote against it; but if it was for a fresh system, which would tend to the withdrawal of the squadron, he would vote for it. Let the Government change their course; let them spend but half the amount they were now spending, and say that they were prepared to compensate every chief from Sierra Leone to the farthest point at which the slave trade existed, and he was satisfied that in a few years they would accomplish what the country so much desired, and had already made, but in vain, such sacrifices to achieve. He hoped the Government would give some satisfactory explanation of the vote, and not leave its defence to an independent Member. It was not a question of 10,000l., nor 15,000l., nor 20,000l., they had to deal with, but whether they were to begin a system of which they could not foresee the end.
§ MR. HAWES
said, that if he had hesitated to rise earlier, it was because he had reason to expect, and the event had proved his expectation not to have been ill-founded, that two Gentlemen largely connected with the British trade on the coast of Africa would address to the House 49 observations more valuable than any which he had to offer. Upon this occasion he was very glad to hear the opinion of his hon. Friend the Member for Berwick, and he had no doubt that the House was also glad to hear what had fallen from him; but he confessed that he did not quite understand the speech of another hon. Friend behind him, the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme. That hon. Gentleman told the House that if they voted the sum of money now proposed, the Liverpool merchants would not be slow to take advantage of such a proceeding; but what possible objection to the proposed vote could be founded on such a circumstance as that? If any two positions could be regarded as more clearly established than any others, they were these: first, that there prevailed in this country a very general opinion that the slave trade ought to be abolished as speedily as possible; and the second was, that the most effectual mode of putting an end to it would be the gradual extension of legitimate trade upon the coast of Africa. Now, experience had shown that every step which Great Britain took in the extension of commerce, had the effect of limiting and circumscribing the slave trade; and, bearing that truth in mind, he could not help expressing strong surprise at some of the speeches which the House had heard; and he confessed that no portion of those speeches struck his mind as more extraordinary than the complaint that the present vote did not comprehend the whole of the expenditure. It surely did not profess to do anything of the sort, inasmuch as it made no pretence to include the expenses of the Army and the Navy employed in that part of the public service. But, passing from considerations of this nature, he would come to the question before the House, and call their attention to the state of that question. There were certain forts belonging to the Danish Government placed along a portion of the African coast to the extent of 100 or 200 miles, and commanding one of the finest rivers in Africa, through which stream there might be derived the largest supplies of all varieties of produce that could be expected to exist in that part of the world; and now, in seeking fairly and legitimately to acquire possession of those forts, and when they were considering the proposition of a vote of money for that purpose, they were told that they were seeking to acquire the sovereignty of the districts in which 50 those forts were situated. But that was quite a mistake; and it was also a mistake to suppose that there existed any intention of imposing taxes of any kind. No doubt revenue, as in similar cases, would be derived from commerce; but it would be revenue in the nature of customs duties, and not at all in the form of taxes imposed by a ruling power upon subjects. Then, if he looked to authority and to the opinions of others upon this important question, he might remind the House of the petitions that had come before them from Manchester and from Liverpool. It might be reasonably supposed that the Gentlemen who signed these petitions were pretty good judges of the extent to which British commerce might be carried in that part of the world, and they well knew its condition. They knew it to be increasing, and they knew also the time at which it had begun to increase. Now if, as he believed no one could deny, our commerce was increasing on the coast of Africa, was it not the best possible policy to extend that trade to the utmost; for, he repeated that it was to the extension of that commerce and to the moral influence of England that the world must look for the extinction of the slave trade. It was hardly necessary for him to say much more with regard to the value and importance of that trade which Great Britain carried on with the west coast of Africa; and saying nothing with regard to the produce of cotton, for which that soil and climate were peculiarly adapted, he would remind the House that from the papers then on their table they might derive all the information that would be necessary for enabling them to form a sound judgment respecting our trade with the African coast; but he might nevertheless occupy a moment in stating that the value of our exports to the west coast of Africa in 1846 was 421,000l.; in 1847, 518,000l.; and in 1848, 571,000l. Looking, then, at the present state and future prospects of our trade with Africa, he ventured to assert that the whole amount of our proposed expenditure would be covered by the revenue accruing from our commerce, and in. that opinion he did not stand alone, for it was one held and expressed by Governor Winniett. He had always confidently believed that the regular trade, when fairly and extensively introduced, would very speedily supersede the contraband; and there could be no doubt, if low duties were imposed upon goods legally entered, that 51 the whole of those duties would be easily collected. There was one other point upon which he should like to touch before he concluded. The King of Dahomey, who was one of the principal chiefs on that coast, stated—and the statement was contained in papers on the table of the House—that he found the revenue which he derived from the slave trade was rapidly falling away, in proportion as the legitimate trade increased; that his subjects, since factories for the purchase of palm oil had been established, did not pay their tribute with their former regularity; that they set him at defiance; that they cheated him; and he wished the British Government would remove those factories. Could there possibly be a stronger testimony borne to the effect which the extension of British commerce had upon the slave trade? Then, he begged the House to remember that these forts were not to be obtained with the view of making them military stations, but for the purpose of securing the protection of the British flag to the fair trader. He did not overlook the fact that the great loss of life on the African coast had often been made matter of complaint; but his answer to that was, that it arose from the employment of white men upon that station, and that it was now proposed to establish a local force. Further, there was a point to which he desired to advert, and that was the stress that had been laid on the cultivation of cotton in Guiana and other places; but they had by their own policy brought the cultivation of cotton there to its present state; and the fact of Guiana being adapted by soil and climate for the cultivation of cotton, formed no reason why they might not promote its cultivation in other parts of the world. A sum of 10,000l. applied in the manner now proposed, would do more service to the interests of commerce than in any other mode in which an equal amount could possibly be expended. Upon these general grounds he asked the House to consent to that which he fully believed to be the wisest and most economical mode of contributing to the great work of putting down the slave trade—namely, that of promoting the legitimate commerce of Great Britain with the coast of Africa.
agreed with the hon. Member for Berwick in everything but the very stringent condemnation he had passed on the Colonial Office; for he thought, never to do right, must exceed 52 the powers of that Office or any other. But on a question like the present, he must look to his constituents. Now, he could imagine one of his constituents saying, "We are in alarm at Bradford at hearing the Government is going to give ten thousand pounds for forts on the coast of Africa. We are afraid there is a plan for increasing our trade, and we know the danger there is in increasing our trade. We have had our trade increased before, and the result is, that there is not a beggar in Bradford, nor scarcely a man who would accept of sixpence if he was to be put to the trouble of asking for it. We have seen quite enough of that kind of thing, and we beg there may be no more." He had said he could imagine one of his constituents saying this, but he could not imagine any more; because individuals were subject to aberrations of intellect, but communities were not. He would, therefore, vote for any reasonable expenditure which might tend to the development of the trade by which his constituents were to flourish. But he saw further reasons why Great Britain must lose no opportunity of increasing her commercial power. He had some time ago had occasion to represent to that House, that there was a quarter in which a spirit intensely hostile to Great Britain was arising. He had no wish to speak unjustly of America; but there were two seeds struggling there, the seed of the men who went out from us and of whom the old world was not worthy, before whom he should rejoice to see all heads bared and all standards bowed in reverence; and there was the seed of our negro-drivers—men who had given, and were every day giving, proof of the incompatibility of slavery with all political and social morality—men who had said, "Evil be thou our good," to a greater extent than had been elsewhere witnessed in the world—and who hated England as the mother and patroness of the freedom which was their enemy, and had sworn in their own inflated language—the proof of the animus which moved them, whatever might be the chances of its execution—within the life of children now born, to substitute "the modest stars and stripes" for the "flaunting bunting that floats over Windsor Castle." And it was clear enough, that within the time specified, strength would not be wanted for the trial, if England did not use the time in increasing her own strength by the means which nature or Providence put within her reach. The plan of America, 53 at this moment going on unchecked, was to cover the western world with slave States to be component parts of her own power. If England, therefore, did not play off free Asia and free Africa against slavish America, the time would come when the American would spit in her palaces. Meanwhile the chances were in favour of England; for there was an English principle at work as well as an American. The English principle was to unite all races and bloods under the name of Englishman. Read Do Foe's description of a True-born Englishman, and see whether any harm could be done by the introduction of black Englishmen. The Horse Guards Blue did not object to a a horse because he was black; and why should a citizen be objected to on the same account? In Africa, as in Asia, we had men impervious to the influences of climate, ready to amalgamate with us and to do our behests; and if we did not find the men able for our purposes ready made, we must make them. Forty years ago he had endeavoured to lay the foundation of a Cadets' school, in Africa, where the sons of Africans of influence should receive such an education as is given to midshipmen in the gun-room of a line-of-battle ship; it was very likely his successor put it down, but it was not difficult to see the uses that might be made of such a system. He had often wondered how long it was before Tubal Cain, who was stated to be the first blacksmith, found out he could use an intervening material to hold his metal, and so save his own fingers from being burnt. Just as imperfect policy was it, for a European nation desiring to exert itself in Africa, not to find out that there was an instrument ready made, God's tropical man, who had only to be employed, or if not now fit for the employment, made so. The time was over when people pretended to doubt of the capacity of the African. If the European, the Jew, and the Arab, were the best stocks of the human family, the African undoubtedly came next, and wanted nothing but trying, to prove the goodness of his blood. Africa, in fact, appeared to be stretching out her hands to Great Britain, for there were few or feeble prejudices there to oppose a junction; and a general feeling among the natives of that country was, that the highest honour and good fortune which could befall them, would be to become English citizens. For all these reasons, he would run the risk of 54 what might betide him from his constituents, for voting for the 100,00l.
§ MR. M. GIBSON
said, there was one part of the explanation of his hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies which was not clear to his mind, and which he thought had an important bearing on the matter in hand. It was said that a large revenue was to be derived. Now, somebody must pay this large revenue. It was said also that the tariff of duties which was to be enforced had been submitted to somebody who had approved of it, and this "somebody" was said to be a merchant connected with that trade. Now he did not think that the tariff of duties was to be approved by a particular merchant interested in that trade. But the question was who were they going to tax? Why, these very negroes for whom they expressed so much sympathy. His hon. Friend the Member for Berwick said these ports were the inlets to that part of Africa. Then what were they going to do? They were going to place themselves at these ports, without any right, and to collect a tribute on the articles that were brought into that country for that population, and this tribute they told them was for the benefit of that population. And then the hon. Gentleman told them they were going to christianise the population. They were always told that was the object. He doubted very much whether they would. The only thing they would do would be to make these negroes pay more for their rum and tobacco, and all for the benefit of the British Exchequer. He did not like economy at the expense of those whom they had no right to tax. He wanted to know from what source this right sprung, it was said that it was all for the benefit of our merchants trading with Africa; but would imposing a duty on British manufactures going into Africa extend our trade? He must say, if we were to have these ports it would be more creditable for us to pay the expense of them, than to defray it by taxing the negroes. On these grounds he should vote for the Amendment.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, that no doubt any duties which could be raised upon the import of rum or other articles would go in aid of the annual expense of the ordinary establishments; and if any new establishments were required, it would then be applied in aid of the additional expense thereby incurred. But the question now was, whether they would apply a sum of 10,000l. once for all, for the purchase of 55 certain guns and other munitions of the full value of 10,000l., now lying and being in certain Danish forts on the western coast of Africa, the surrender of these forts being made to us, at the same time, entirely gratuitous; and would they be doing a wise, or an unwise thing, in accepting that jurisdiction? He had before him a map of the forts in question, from which it would be seen that down to the Equator the slave trade existed only in the Bight of Benin; in other words that the impediment to the legitimate trade of Great Britain, namely, the slave trade, existed only in the Bight of Benin. Along the Gold Coast we had had a succession of forts from time immemorial; and immediately adjoining the Danish forts, at the furthest east, was a lagune, an internal navigation, which was a great focus of the slave trade. The King of Dahomey, who derived a considerable revenue from the slave trade, had actually invited us to establish a fort at the point intervening between this lagune and the Danish forts. Now, if the hon. Gentleman the Member for the West Riding, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester, would say, "Abolish the whole of the cost of African expenditure, spend nothing upon the forts on the Gold Coast, and do not spend anything upon forts in the territory of the King of Dahomey," although that advice would be contrary to the report of the Committee of 1842, it would at least be consistent in itself, and have the semblance of common sense. But the Amendment said, "Keep up your expenditure upon the Gold Coast, though it offers no impediment to the slave trade, but do not fill up the hiatus between those establishments and the Danish forts; and although the Danish Government is willing to give them up for nothing, do not spend 10,000l. once for all upon a purchase which will make your territory complete, and your operations effectual." But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester objected to placing a tax upon imports from the interior of Africa. On this point, he could only say he was surprised to hear such a doctrine from Gentlemen who were peculiarly the advocates of financial economy, and who objected to every item, however unimportant, in the miscellaneous estimates. Giving them the benefit of the argument—"do not tax the natives of Africa," they should not forget that the Government would have provided for the necessary expenditure of the establishment by a moderate tax on the na- 56 tives; but that, in order to please the financial economists, they insisted upon having 6,000l. for that purpose left in the estimates. Let him, however, call attention to another consideration—the effect of the slave trade upon the legitimate trade, which, the commercial representatives of England were bound to promote. A fertile country and a large population, not upon the coast but in the interior—how was it they did not consume Manchester goods? Because in the interior the country was a scene of war and rapine, in order to keep up the slave trade. It could not on that account be a seat of industry. It was in evidence, however, that the people looked upon the English as their friends, and the persons with whom they most desired to trade; but if there was only a slave trade, they must live by the slave trade, because they could not cultivate along with it those products which were legitimate objects of commerce. Manchester could not manufacture for them, nor Liverpool carry for them, unless the slave trade were put down. But if we carried our jurisdiction along the coast, there could be no slave trade in that large and fertile internal region, because there would be no facilities for export. The same effects would follow there as had taken place in the Bight of Biafra. There, since the slave trade had been abolished, 22,000 tons of British shipping were employed last year, though previously when the traffic was carried on, not a single British vessel could be found there. Such being the state of the case, was it extraordinary that the commercial Association of Manchester and the African Association of Liverpool should have presented petitions to the House that this money should be expended? If Liverpool merchants were not slow in taking advantage of this trade, whose articles, he would ask, were they exporting? Why, those very articles which the constituents of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester were so usefully employed in manufacturing. The question, too had been adverted to, whether we could not obtain from that part of Africa a supply of cotton for our own manufactures? He had often heard in that House descriptions of the extreme importance of finding new sources of supply for our cotton manufactories; indeed, the English language could hardly go too far in expressing the extreme importance of finding a new and independent supply of cotton. The Chamber of Commerce of Manchester, in a memorial to the Government, 57 dated January 10, 1850, speaking of the late Mr. Duncan's visit to Dahomey, said, "An increase in the sources of supply of raw cotton is a matter of importance." It yielded not, they said, in importance to the importance of a plentiful supply of food, and he agreed with them. Now, lie had been informed that already there had been an import of cotton into this country of a most encouraging quality. There was great reason to expect the highest advantages from this cause; and this experiment alone justified him, in the position he had the honour to hold, in voting that the sum of 10,000l., in the circumstances under which it was asked, should be voted by the House. Mr. Duncan added, said the Chamber of Commerce, that there were then twelve ships taking in palm oil, where, only three years ago it was rare to see three vessels, two of which would be slavers. Then it was said that through the influence of their talented and persevering Member, a charter could easily be procured for a company under the title of the African Agricultural Company. He must of course leave the African Company and its prospectus in the hands of the hon. Gentleman; but he hoped he had amply justified the vote he was about to give. The right hon. Gentleman objected to the policy of an armed squadron upon the coast of Africa, and to putting down the slave trade by an armed force at sea. He (Mr. Cardwell) would not enter upon that question, but he would remind the House that we had had forts upon the coast for fifty years, and that for fifty years there had been no slave trade there. It had been said that the British name was hated. But the king of Dahomey would not give a passport to any but English, and he implored us to send him missionaries. If we wished to extend our commerce with the interior of the continent of Africa, and to promote objects which it was said could not be effected by armed force but only by pacific means; if we wanted to suppress the slave trade, and to diffuse Christianity, he could see no possible objection to the vote.
MR. V. SMITH
was glad that the Government had made their treaty for the purchase of these ports conditional on a vote of that House; he only regretted that the question had not been submitted in a larger form, namely, whether we should, by either purchase or conquest, extend our colonies to the very utmost. We were not to lay down a rule of establishing a crusade in every quarter of the globe, and 58 expending a vast amount of money, for the sake of extending Christianity—the principle laid down in the report. It was remarkable that most of our attempts to spread Christianity in Africa had failed; even at the Cape of Good Hope the Governor stated such to be the case. It was said this would extend the. moral influence of England; but nothing more was meant than impressing the natives with an idea of our great prowess. Fear was expressed that the French would get hold of these forts, and he saw no reason why they should not. The arguments in favour of their purchase by England, would equally apply to all the forts, Dutch, and others, upon the African coast. He should be glad to hear whether the possession of these forts would diminish the cost of the African squadron; if so, he would support the vote; but on this point the report gave no information. It was said this purchase would make our territory complete; but that could not be, unless we possessed the whole coast. The Dutch and the French were equally anxious with ourselves to put down the slave trade, and perhaps the Danes were not less so. Thence the purchase could not be justified on the ground of its being necessary for the suppression of the slave trade. The idea seemed to have originated with the hon. Member for Berwick, who had thereupon put himself in communication with the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary and the Danish Government.
§ MR. FORSTER
said, it was quite incorrect to say that he had made any offer to the Danish Government; they had applied to him in the first instance.
MR. V. SMITH
said, we might as well be asked to purchase the French and Dutch forts, if we were not content with the co-operation of those nations in suppressing the slave trade. He was entirely opposed to the projects of extending our colonies by any means; and he hoped the Government would not attend to every suggestion from the manufacturing districts for the extension of colonies with the view of extending trade. He hoped they would be warned by what had taken place in Labuan. The greatest difficulties arose from the unlimited extension of our colonies in all parts of the world—the Cape of Good Hope was a notorious instance of this; and in all those distant colonies the military expenditure in particular was most excessive. It was no doubt a very flattering notion to be continually adding little 59 portions to our territory, with the view of making it complete; but he must protest against such unwarranted extensions, and should vote against the Motion.
§ SIR E. BUXTON
concurred in the impropriety of extending our possessions all over the world; but the effect of the proposed purchase would be, not to increase, but to diminish, our expenditure on the coast of Africa. A revenue would be raised by taxing the inhabitants; and he was surprised to hear the right hon. Member for Manchester, and others near him, object to a colony defraying its own cost. If, by a moderate outlay, we could increase our commerce in Africa, the money would be well spent. Our present colonies there were very near those of the Danes and the Dutch; so much so, that it had been impossible to raise revenue from them, or to give security to the trade. By adding the forts in question, both objects would be accomplished. As to the supply of cotton, it was surely worth 10,00l. to try the experiment whether it could not be obtained from that coast.
§ MR. C. ANSTEY
said, the object of this vote had been very differently stated by the hon. Member for Liverpool, and by other authorities as competent on the other side. The hon. Gentleman said it was merely to form a nucleus for the spread of Christianity and civilisation in Africa; the hon. Baronet opposite the Member for South Essex said it was to form a new colony which should produce a revenue. He wished to know whether this vote would be taken as a substitute for that most objectionable one in support of the African squadron. So long as we had settlements on the coast of Africa we must have a squadron there for their protection; but the idea of putting down the slave trade by the acquisition of these forts was most vain and illusory. Their possession of these territories was but temporary, and the time would come when the civilised African would be able, without the interference of the white man, to administer the affairs of his own ports. He, on this ground, objected to the extension of such possessions, and to the establishment of even pacific factories, when they were conducted by the Government.
§ MR. BRIGHT
would oppose the vote on behalf of the trading community which he was supposed to represent. He doubted whether there was, in the history of any country in the world, anything to be found so contrary to the dictates of Christianity, 60 as their conduct with regard to their colonies. With regard to the trade, they were assured that they were now going to take a step which would very likely afford a new source of supply in cotton to the Lancashire merchants, and an increased number of customers for the produce of the manufacturers. Now he would not have the merits of this vote to be judged by any wish that the Commercial Association might have expressed in its favour. The Chamber of Commerce in Manchester did not support it. Mr. Duncan had been furnished by that chamber with cotton seeds of various kinds to take out to Africa; but he believed that the chamber had received a very small amount of cotton in return. He protested against the Chamber of Commerce being quoted in favour of the proposition before the House. If that proposition was placed before them for a decision, it would be rejected by a large majority. The proposition put him in mind of the English raising factories in India about two centuries since. It was then pretended that their intercourse was to be of a mere pacific nature; but since that they had discovered that India had been conquered by the natives themselves under the dictation and the pay of the English Government. He understood that it was the intention of the Government to establish a black corps; now he would not be astonished if they were, after the example of the King of Dahomey, to raise an army of black women. The Government were seeking to establish the principle that it was necessary for them to possess a large portion of the west coast of Africa, in order to keep down the slave trade. Was it not the wish of the Government to become possessed, in the course of the next ten years, of a large portion of the continent of Africa? If such was their intention, it was a pity that they did not state it more fully to the House. This question involved a much higher consideration than the gain of some thousands of pounds to be procured as duty on rum and tobacco. The Government had not always shown themselves so exceedingly anxious to procure cotton for the Lancashire manufacturers. When a Motion was made, some time ago, for a commission to inquire into the state of the growth of cotton in India, the Government opposed the Motion. The fact was, that they did not care one straw about the growth of cotton in India or Africa. It was always with them a poli- 61 tical question, and the squadron now maintained at the expense of the country, and in spite almost of Parliament, was kept up by repeated threats of resignation on the part of the Government, and, what was worse, a dissolution of Parliament. The interests of the Government in the growth of cotton was never seen until they had in hand a project of that kind; but when any proposition was made for the benefit of the Manchester and Liverpool merchants, the Government pooh-poohed it, and allowed the Directors of the East India Company to dictate to them the course which they were to pursue. He repudiated, on the part of those whom he represented, any connexion between the cotton trade and its interests, and the project before the House. He rose for the purpose of remonstrating against the supposition that the cotton trade had anything to do with it; and, as there was not the slightest probability of their getting fifty bales of cotton for the next fifty years if such a measure were agreed to, he would support the Motion of the hon. Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire.
§ SIR DE L. EVANS
believed that the cotton merchants were in favour of it. He believed also that they had a great deal of culpability to redeem, as also complicity to atone for; and therefore, for his own part, though this question were connected with the question of the African squadron, which it was not, he was prepared to take any degree of odium that might result from voting in favour of it. He believed that the acceptance of this small territory would be highly beneficial to commerce, whilst the whole expense of maintaining it would not exceed some 1,150l. per annum, to be paid by a small duty upon rum, He believed the result would be, by increased commercial intercourse, to lessen the necessity of maintaining the expense of the African squadron; and on these grounds he was prepared to support the vote.
§ MR. HUTT
agreed with the views expressed by the hon. Member for the West Riding, and looked upon this proposal to purchase these forts as another of those costly and abortive experiments by which the people of this country had been so long deluded into the imagination that they were magnanimously suppressing the slave trade. For 30 years together they had pursued the game by no other means. They had made treaties enough, and had undergone sacrifices enough, to have secured the most perfect success to their 62 policy, if success by such means could by possibility be obtained; but what was the result they had arrived at? They had arrived at that conclusion which the Duke of Wellington and Mr. Canning arrived at in 1822—that it would have been well for the cause of humanity if none of those experiments had been undertaken. His hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies told them, that although they had failed on other occasions, yet upon this they were about to be successful. He had no doubt his hon. Friend was sincere in his belief; but there had been persons who were as honest as himself, and not less sagacious, who predicted success on every one of those experiments. They had, however, failed, and he could perceive no reason why they should think that this would succeed, it was said, that on a certain portion of the coast of Africa they had put down the slave trade. But had they diminished the slave trade itself? Was it not now as large as it ever had been? And was it not carried on under circumstances of as great horror as ever it was? It was not six weeks ago when a most eminent merchant of Liverpool informed him, and produced a letter in corroboration of his statement, that the slave trade of Brazil was now as active as on any former occasion, and that never till now were slaves valued at so low a price in the markets of Brazil. What, then, was the value of their blockading policy? After 30 years of great exertions, all they had done was to force the slave trade to shift its quarters, and to break out with greater violence elsewhere. They were going to purchase these forts; were they prepared to erect martello towers along the whole coastline of the continent of Africa? His hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies was too sagacious to undertake any such proceeding. Then he begged to tell his hon. Friend, that unless he was prepared to hermetically seal the whole coast of Africa, it was of no use to occupy one or two more points on that immense line of coast. He was himself thoroughly convinced, that if the House passed this vote, they would not put down the slave trade; but that they would embark upon a system of territorial aggrandisement and national expense of which no man living could foresee the extent.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
I cannot but think that this question has risen in the course of the discussion to a magnitude very much disproportioned to its real im- 63 portance. We are told that this is the he-ginning of a great and extensive system of increasing our colonial possessions; my hon. Friend who has just spoken entertains that apprehension. Another Gentleman thinks that this is the commencement of establishing in Africa a dominion commensurate with that which we have obtained in India. I cannot partake in these apprehensions. The only person, as it appears to me, who has really stated any practical views on the subject, is my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, who has just spoken; and who, avowing—I believe I am not misrepresenting my hon. Friend—that he is not an enemy to the slave trade—[Mr. HUTT: I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord.] Allow me to explain. What my hon. Friend thinks ought to be done is, that there should be an agreement between this country and Brazil, by which we should consent to a regulated and limited system of slavery. I hope I do not misrepresent my hon. Friend.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
I thought I was borne out in saying that my hon. Friend maintained that we ought to cease all forcible attempts at putting down the slave trade. I am sure his arguments in public, and I venture to say he won't contradict me when I state that his private opinion is, that the best policy this country could adopt was to consent to a limited and well-regulated amount of slave trade on the coast of Africa. [Mr. HUTT: Hear, hear!] If my hon. Friend does not intend that, I beg his pardon, and I retract it. My hon. Friend, at all events, has stated that our attempts have failed; that after a long course of endeavours to put down the slave trade, we have utterly failed in that attempt; and that the slave trade is just where it was when we began in 1815. But what was the attempt made in 1815 for the purpose of putting down that trade? What was the utmost endeavour which the Powers of Europe would make for that purpose? They thought that at the outset the best plan was to put an end to the slave trade as far as the south of the line. Well, the slave trade, with the exception of a small portion of the coast between Whydah and Lagos, has practically been put down. Therefore it is contrary to the fact to assert that England—in conjunction with, and not in opposition to, all the 64 other Powers of Europe—it is a misrepresentation to say that we have not to a great degree succeeded. My hon. Friend has stated that the slave trade of Brazil is as extensive now as it ever was before our attempts to suppress it. I beg to assure my hon. Friend that he is mistaken as to that fact. The account of the importations of slaves into Brazil in 1849 show that the numbers fell short of the importations in 1848. My hon. Friend, also, is quite mistaken as to the price of slaves having fallen in the markets of Brazil; on the contrary, the price has been considerably augmented. But any one who knows not what is really going on, would suppose from what has been said during this discussion that the question is whether this country should acquire some vast extent of territory in Africa, to be obtained at some enormous amount. Why, the whole question is this—whether we should accept from Denmark a trading post, or fort, as it is called, on the coast of Africa, occupied by a few black soldiers, for the purpose of supporting the interests of commerce, and of affording security to our merchants, and by the possession of these forts protecting that commerce from the jealousy and activity of rivals? If Parliament were to refuse to sanction this acquisition, there is no doubt the acquisition will pass into other hands. I am sure those who know the details of the African trade must be well aware of the inconvenience and prejudices arising to our merchants from the too close a neighbourhood of jealous commercial rivals. The way in which this question arose is this—the Danish Government stated to the British Government, through its Minister in this country, that they had a certain station, or certain forts, on the coast of Africa, which were of no use to them, inasmuch as they had no commerce of any magnitude for which those forts might serve as channels; that they were anxious to hand them over to some friendly Power; and that, knowing the interest which England, in common with Denmark, has taken in the suppression of the slave trade, and knowing also the increasing commerce we are carrying on in Africa, they were willing te make over these stations to England, provided only that we would pay for the materials which were there at the time, and which were valued at 10,000l. A more friendly and handsome offer on the part of another country wag never made; and a more unwise refusal never could be made to a handsome offer than the refusal which this 65 House is now called upon to make to an offer so made. We all know that it is very difficult to please everybody. One day we are told that it is of the utmost importance to the manufacturing interest of the country to obtain a supply of cotton; and we are asked, at great expense, to send a commission to India, which could not report for a great length of time, and which would very possibly end in no useful result whatever; and now, here, when we are offered three or four trading stations upon a coast infinitely nearer, where a supply of cotton is known to exist, and where, with ordinary care and good management, we would be sure to obtain a large supply, the House is called upon not to accept the offer, and thereby to forego what appears to be a most likely method of obtaining a supply of cotton. The hon. Member for Manchester seems to treat this prospect of a supply as a matter not likely to turn out advantageously; but the specimens which Mr. Duncan sent home, were, I understand, found to be exceedingly good. I may mention also, that Mr. Beecroft has gone out to Dahomey for the double purpose of endeavouring to conclude an arrangement, such as my hon. Friend behind me thought one of the best modes of suppressing the slave trade, by which pecuniary allowances for a limited period were to be offered to the chiefs, on condition that they should abstain from carrying on the trade; and also for the purpose of collecting specimens of cotton, and procuring a large supply for this country. Now all these objects, whether you are anxious to put down the slave trade without that cost which certain persons grudge, or to form additional openings to the commerce of this country with the interior of Africa—a territory which offers inexhaustible resources for commerce; or whether you are anxious to secure the extension of Christianity and civilisation amongst the natives of Africa—an object to which surely the utmost importance may be attached—all these ends, I maintain, will be promoted by the acquisition of these trading stations, which fill up the gap in the line of communications we already possess, and which may be obtained at a very trifling expense.
§ MR. HUTT
The noble Lord below me, in defence of his own case, has thought it necessary to state that I have, at some place and time, advocated a qualified system of slave trade. Now, I distinctly deny that either here or anywhere else, either now or at any former time, I ever held such 66 an opinion; and I have only to request that the noble Lord, if ever he should be advised to repeat such a statement, will be prepared to mention the time and the place. There is no person in this House who looks on the slave trade with greater heartfelt horror than I do. It is because I look upon the slave trade as one of the greatest of all human crimes that I am most anxious to repress it; and although I do not doubt the honest sincerity with which the noble Lord is carrying forward his views, I must tell him, since he has challenged me on the subject, that I do look upon him as one of the most practical promoters of the slave trade now existing. I have only one remark further to make. The noble Lord stated that I was entirely mistaken in saying that slaves had fallen in price in the markets of Brazil. The acquaintance which circumstances enable me to have with the singular information which the noble Lord obtained on this subject, and the extraordinary correspondence he receives, have caused me to listen to that statement without much surprise; but I wish to state to the House that it was not without reason that I made the assertion. A gentleman, who is one of the first merchants of Liverpool, and who gave me permission to make use of his name when I repeated the statement, assured me not six weeks ago, in London—and he held the letters in his hand which he had just received by the last Rio packet confirming his statement—that at no previous period had slaves been offered for sale at a lower price in the markets of Brazil, and that was after thirty years of attempts to put down the slave trade, when we had a force on the coast of Africa and in the West Indies employed on this service greater than at any former period.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
If my hon. Friend wishes me to state time and place, I can only say I was under the impression that at an interview I had with him in the Foreign Office, he stated to me that in his opinion there was a natural tendency for labour to flow from Africa to America, and he wished me to consider and weigh well in my mind whether it would not be possible to come to an arrangement by which a certain limited amount of slave trade might be carried on with Brazil, subject to arrangements which might render the passage less prejudicial and injurious. If he says I was mistaken, I will at once admit that I was so, but that was my impression.
§ MR. HUTT
I have not the slightest doubt that the noble Lord had not the least intention of misrepresenting me when he rose a second time to repeat his statement. I deny that I made the statement which the noble Lord has now imputed to me; he utterly mistook me. He granted me the honour of an interview with him at the Foreign Office, when we had some discussion on the subject, and I then pointed out to him my opinion, that, inasmuch as it was almost impossible, under existing circumstances, to prevent the influx of slaves into Brazil, it would be advisable that, in concert with Brazil, we should adopt some system similar to that by which we are now supplying our own West Indian colonies with free labour; and that if Brazil could be supplied with free labour, it would more effectually put down the slave trade than all the efforts we are now making. Sir, that was my statement, and no other.
§ MR. HUME
said, a more extraordinary discussion had not taken place within his recollection. Of the advocates of the measure no two had agreed as to the grounds on which it deserved support. The noble Lord the Foreign Secretary said, that from the year 1815, the efforts made to put down the slave trade had been completely successful. Why, if the evidence taken before the two Houses was to be relied upon, so far from that being the case, the number of slaves transported to America had been doubled and even trebled. The noble Lord's reasoning was very singular. He said, "The Danish Government have made a very liberal and handsome offer, and will you refuse it?" Why, what was the fact? The Danish Government, after keeping up these forts at an expense of from 3,000l. to 5,000l. a year, had offered them to an individual merchant, on the condition that he should hoist the Danish flag—an offer which he was too prudent to accept. As to expecting a supply of cotton from a district where their power would not extend beyond the range of their guns, it would be madness. Had hon. Members considered what they were asked to purchase? They were asked to buy six forts. Of these, the first, Christianburg, was a place of considerable extent, mounting forty guns. This was represented as a factory. Along with it was a martello tower and a burial-ground. The other forts were nearly all in ruins, and they would no doubt be asked for grants of money to repair them. In fact, the country was asked to take upon 68 itself an enormous and interminable expense. The intermediate distances were to be so studded with forts, that it would be impossible for a native to land without permission. Though 6,000l. was put down as the pay of the men, it must be recollected that that sum did not include either the commissariat or the stores; 1,500l. had, it appeared, already been expended for other purposes.
§ MR. MUNTZ
would like to know what a stranger in the gallery would think they had been about all night. Instead of 10,000l., he must have thought they were discussing the merits of 10,000,000l. at least. Why, the sum they had been talking about was beneath their consideration. It was not merely the question of laying out 10,000l. that was before them; it was the buying of a property, and if this country had not obtained possession of that property, some other undoubtedly would. With respect to the taxes derived from the natives, about which the right hon. Member for Manchester was so anxious, he (Mr. Muntz) thought that that was only carrying out the principle of the Gentlemen of the Manchester school themselves, that every colony should pay its own expenses. When they recollected the petitions from Manchester and Liverpool and other places in favour of these settlements, whether they were called forts or commercial stations, they could not but be satisfied that for a small amount they were meeting the wishes of a large portion of the population of the country by their maintenance.
§ SIR W. MOLESWORTH
said, that this was not a question of 10,000l., but a question of the extension of a certain system that was being carried on on the coast of Africa. The arguments in favour of that course were chiefly drawn from the memorials of certain merchants in Liverpool and Manchester, asking the Government to extend the trade and commerce from which they derived their profits, by an increase of expenditure out of the pockets of the people of this country. Now, what had been the amount of this trade and commerce as compared with the annual expenditure to the country on account of it? The papers on the table of the House showed that the civil and military expenditure on Sierra Leone, Cape Coast Castle, and Gambia, was 55,000l. in 1846; and the same year the imports from Great Britain amounted to 176,000l. 69 Therefore, for every 176,000l. worth of goods sent to Africa by these merchants, the people of England were to have to pay 55,000l. He had objected to the corn laws on the ground that they took money out of the pockets of the people to put it into the pockets of the landlords; and on the same principle lie objected to put 17l. into the pockets of Manchester merchants at the expense of 5l. 10s. to the people of England. For these reasons, without reference to the question of slavery, he should give his cordial opposition to this Motion, Three years ago he had proved to the House that our establishments on tin-coast of Africa ought to be reduced; and if any hon. Gentleman proposed to stop the vote on account of these establishments, he should be ready to support him.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 42; Noes 138: Majority 96.
|List of the AYES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Lushington, C.|
|Alcock, T.||Molesworth, Sir W.|
|Anstey, T. C.||Monsell, W.|
|Arkwright, G.||Nicholl, rt. hon. J.|
|Cocks, T. S.||O'Connor, F.|
|Crawford, W. S.||Pechell, Sir G. B.|
|Duncan, Visct.||Pilkington, J.|
|Evelyn, W. J.||Salwey, Col.|
|Fox, W. J.||Simeon, J.|
|Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.||Smith, rt. hon. R. V.|
|Gladstone, rt. hon. W. E.||Smith, J. B.|
|Greene, J.||Smythe, hon. G.|
|Hall, Sir B.||Stafford, A.|
|Hastie, A.||Stuart, Lord D.|
|Headlam, T. E.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Henry, A.||Wakley, T.|
|Hervey, Lord A.||Walmsley, Sir J.|
|Heyworth, L.||Williams, J.|
|Hume, J.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.||Cobden, R.|
|Lennox, Lord H. G.||Bright, J.|
§ Original Question put, and agreed to; as were also Votes—
§ (3.) 10,875l., St. Helena.
§ (4.) 7,579l., Western Australia.
§ (5.) 1,284l., Port Essington.
§ (6.) 1,486l., Heligoland.
§ (7.) 5.000l., Falkland Islands.
§ (8.) 13,296l., Colonial Land and Emigration Board, &c.
§ House resumed.
§ Resolutions to be reported on Monday next; Committee to sit again on Monday.