HC Deb 27 May 1851 vol 117 cc3-6

begged to put a question to the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) of which he had given notice. It would be in the recollection of the House that, on Tuesday, May 20, the following notice of Motion stood upon the paper in the name of the hon. Member for Montrose:— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to appoint Her Royal Commission to inquire into and report on the proceedings of Sir James Brooke on the coast of Borneo in the year 1849, and specially into the operations of the naval forces of Her Majesty and of the hon. East India Company under Commander Farquhar, R.N., on the night of the 31st of July in that year, against the Dyaks of Serebas and Sakarran of Borneo, when Sir James Brooke states in his deposition on the 25th of September, 1849, that 'upwards of 500 men were killed in the engagement and subsequent flight;' and Commander Farquhar reports, in his official despatch of the 25th of August, 1849, to Rear-Admiral Sir Francis Collier, 'a loss of about 500 men;' and also states that' more than an equal number would, in all probability, perish in the jungle.' This notice had been hanging over ever since the 13th of February. The hon. Member, however, had deferred that Motion from Tuesday, the 20th, to Thursday, the 22nd of May, and now that Sir James Brooke had arrived in this country with the view, among other objects, that he might answer the charge against him, the Motion was again deferred, and the hon. Member had neglected bringing it forward when he had an opportunity of doing so. It was with respect to the charges implied in the latter part of the Motion in the extracts selected, as it appeared to him, solely—[The hon. Member was called to order before be finished the sentence.] He wished to ask the hon. Member for Montrose, whether the withdrawal by him, on Tuesday last, the 20th day of May, of his Motion concerning certain proceedings on the coast of Borneo, was to be considered as an abandonment of the charges contained in that notice upon the character and conduct of Sir James Brooke?


denied that be had withdrawn his Motion. Since February last he had balloted five or six times for an opportunity to bring it on, and being on one occasion successful, he came down to the House prepared to do so, when the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs—and here he would request hon. Members to make themselves masters of any question they were about to ask, instead of allowing themselves to he put forward as the terriers or bulldogs of others behind the scenes. [Loud cries of "Order!"] He was quite in order. ["No, no!"]


hoped that the hon. Member would see the propriety of withdrawing these expressions.


would admit that the hon. Member was not a bulldog or a terrier—but he had considered that he had been put forward by some third parties. But to resume. The noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs rose when he (Mr. Hume) was prepared to go on with his Motion, and submitted to him whether it would not be a matter of simple justice to the individual chiefly concerned to postpone his Motion until that individual had himself arrived in the country, being then, as the noble Lord believed, at Malta. On the following day he wrote to Lord Tor-rington—[a laugh]—he meant Lord Pal-merston—["Order!"—it was not to be wondered at that he should make such a mistake on that occasion. However he wrote to the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, requesting that he would officially require Sir James Brooke's attendance in London, as follows:— Having, at your request, postponed the Mo- tion for an inquiryi nto the proceedings of the forces on the coast of Borneo, under Sir James Brooke, in July, 1849, I request you will officially require his attendance in England as speedily as possible—he is now at Malta, and the mail of the 7th inst. will convey your orders—as I cannot postpone my Motion beyond the time requisite to admit of his arrival in London. I call your attention to a notice in the Motion paper of this day, for returns or despatches connected with the proceedings under Sir James Brooke, in March and April, 1849, against the Serebas and Sakarran Dyaks, when various acts of murder and plunder were perpetrated, but respecting which no official accounts have been furnished, although in July, 1849, I asked for them. The more these extensive and repeated acts of violence by Her Majesty's and the East India Company's forces, under an unauthorised person, is considered, the more is the public entitled to have the fullest information respecting them, and I hope your Lordship will afford your best assistance to have the facts made known. He wrote again to the noble Lord asking his assistance in obtaining a day for the Motion. The letter was marked "immediate," and was as follows:— When I stood first for the Motion for inquiry into the conduct of Sir James Brooke and the massacre of the 31st of July, 1849, and that nothing fairly could interfere to prevent my proceeding with the discussion, you requested me to postpone the Motion until Sir James Brooke should arrive in England. I agreed to your request in the House, stating that I desired you should have every possible information; and now that Sir James Brooke is in England, I request you will make an arrangement with Lord John Russell to enable me to obtain a time for proceeding with my Motion, as the days for notices are now so taken up by Government that I have little chance of getting the discussion before the House for a long time without your assistance; and I submit to you that a charge so grave, both as respects the character of Sir James Brooke and of this country, ought not to be allowed to hang over his head. Any day that you can procure will suit me; but the importance of the subject requires that I should make my statement at five o'clock, in order to allow of a fair discussion. Your candid and fair conduct entitle me to expect your assistance and attention without delay, and I shall await your answer with anxiety. On the following day he spoke to the noble Lord at the head of the Government, who informed him that he had received the letter from the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary, but that he could not afford him any assistance in bringing the question before the House. He hoped the hon. Gentleman and the public would see from this explanation that he had not shrunk from the inquiry. Sir James Brooke, in one of his despatches, had stated that he had no objection to an inquiry into his conduct; and he (Mr. Hume) last year gave a pledge that he would bring the matter forward. He had taken the necessary steps to do so, and had done all in his power to bring the question under the attention of the House; and let not the hon. Gentleman suppose that he now shrunk from what he (Mr. Hume) considered to be a public duty. When the proper time came, he should ask the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary to afford him the opportunity of redeeming his pledge, which, in justice to the character of the' country and to the character of the Rajah Brooke, he thought the noble Lord could not refuse.


asserted that he was perfectly accurate in his statement of facts. The Motion was withdrawn on a day when it could have been discussed, and postponed to a day when it could not be brought forward.

Subject dropped.

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