§ Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [27th May].
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
§ SIR JAMES W. HOGG
said, in rising to resume the adjourned debate, he hoped, as a member of the Committee which sat on the Affairs of Ceylon, the House would extend its kind indulgence to him whilst he ventured to state the reasons which had brought him to a conclusion different from that of the hon. Member (Mr. Baillie), by whom this Motion had been introduced. He (Sir J. Hogg) attended the proceedings of that Committee regularly for two years. He scarcely ever missed a sitting; and he believed that every opinion and every vote he gave, was given by him with an anxious desire to do his duty. He confessed he little expected, when he came to that House on Tuesday night, that he should have heard the motives and conduct of a majority of the Committee assailed by his hon. Friend (Mr. Baillie), who had presided over its deliberations as Chairman. He (Sir J. Hogg) admitted that coming from the Chairman, it came with peculiar weight. His hon. Friend did not assail the decision of a majority of the Committee; but he ascribed to them unworthy and discreditable motives, to which he (Sir J. Hogg), for himself, and for the majority of the Committee, must give an indignant denial. His hon. Friend asked—What induced the Committee thus to disregard the instructions of the House? All the ingenuity of the Committee appeared to be directed, in framing their Report, to devise the means whereby the Secretary of State for the Colonies might be exempted from all blame.That was a serious imputation on the integrity and character of the members of a Committee appointed by that House. His hon. Friend continued:— 131In order to escape from that difficulty, the Committee came to the extraordinary resolution not to make any report at all to the House of Commons on the merits of the case; but at the same time they quoted a private understanding with the Under Secretary for the Colonies, that Lord Torrington should be forthwith removed.Now he (Sir J. Hogg) should tell the House what passed, and it would be for other Members of the Committee who followed him in the debate to say whether their recollection agreed with his. When the Committee had heard all the evidence, they adjourned for a few days, to enable those members who wished to offer a report, to make and circulate such report among their colleagues in the Committee; and several of the members mentioned their intention of making a report. But his noble Friend (Lord Hotham), whose report was adopted by the Committee with some modifications, did not state his intention of giving any report at all; and he (Sir J. Hogg) now solemnly declared, that until that report was circulated with the Votes of that House, although he was on intimate terms with his noble Friend, he did not even know that his noble Friend intended to make a report. So much for a combination among the majority of the Committee with respect to the Report. Nay, more, when his noble Friend (Lord Hotham) proposed his report to the Committee, he stated that he had prepared that report without concert or communication with any member of the Committee, or with any individual whomsoever. Now, it was fortunate that an imputation, if it was one, of having framed a report in concert with a cabal of the Committee, should fall on such a person as his noble Friend (Lord Hotham), whose character was above imputation and above panegyric. His hon. Friend (Mr. Bailiie) said he asked his noble Friend (Lord Hotham) if the meaning of that report was that Lord Torrington was to be recalled; and that his noble Friend (Lord Hotham) said it was. His (Sir J. Hogg's) recollection of the case was somewhat different. He thought that the question had been put by the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume), and that Lord Hotham had refused to answer it. [Mr. BAILLIE: No, no!] His recollection might he different from that of the hon. Member, but he certainly thought such had been the case. His recollection was that the question had been put over and over again, and that the noble Lord had refused to answer it. His (Sir J. Hogg's) recollection further was, that again and again the question was put 132 to the hon. Under Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. Hawes), "Do you or do you not intend to recall Lord Torrington?" and again and again the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary refused to give an answer to it. [Mr. HAWES: Hear, hear!] The report of his noble Friend (Lord Hotham) was adopted with some slight modification by the Committee; and, in leaving that part of the question, he could only declare that nothing that he said or did afforded the slightest foundation for the imputation that had been thrown out by the hon. Member for Inverness-shire against the majority of the Committee. A great deal of talk had taken place about the viola-of secrecy and private confidence; and the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie)said the Committee were the culprits—that the example of the violation of confidence was set by the course the Committee adopted with reference to Mr. M'Christie. The hon. Gentleman stated that a resolution was passed by the Committee requiring the production of certain letters written to Mr. M'Christie confidentially. Now, that statement was calculated to produce—and no doubt did produce—a most erroneous impression upon the House. It also led to the impression that he (Sir J. Hogg) was a party to that alleged violation of confidence. This was not the first time that charge had been made. He recollected, when they sat with closed doors, it was asserted in public that he (Sir J. Hogg) had made the unworthy suggestion to a witness that he ought to withdraw his charges against Lord Torrington. What were the facts of the case? Mr. M'Christie was called before the Committee as a witness. He was asked, "Do you know anything whatever about the grievances complained of at Ceylon?" He answered, "I know nothing whatever them; but I come here as their agent and attorney, and I am prepared to state to the Committee the result of the communications sent to me from the Island of Ceylon." When making these communications, he stated, among other things, that a number of proctors and others were at the trial of a prisoner, and that they went, meaning thereby that they all went, for the purpose of interceding for the priest, and that Lord Torrington, in reply, said, "By God, if all the proctors and judges in the place said that he was innocent, he shall he shot to-morrow morning." What was the course the Committee adopted upon that occasion? They passed a resolution—he 133 (Sir J. Hogg) was not present at the time, as he was attending another Committee—that Mr. M'Christie should produce all the documents upon which these charges were grounded against Lord Torrington. Mr. M'Christie protested that these communications were of a confidential nature, and he wanted to claim the professional privilege of an attorney in favour of the communications being held confidential communications; as if an agent for a colony attending before a Committee to give evidence, and making criminal charges, could plead that the communications sent to him in that character, and on which he based those charges, were confidential and privileged. He stated that they were contained in a letter; but how else could he have obtained any knowledge of them? Mr. M'Christie stated that he was an attorney, and he claimed the professional privilege of an attorney. Well, he (Sir J. Hogg) said to him, if these letters are private documents, and you are unwilling to produce them, you must not garble them, by stating a portion and withholding the rest; if we cannot get at the persons who make these charges at Ceylon, and put them in the chair, to cross-examine them, we at least must let them tell their own story. Either produce your papers and support your charges, or keep back your papers and withdraw your charges. That was what he said; and he put it to any candid man, were not the Committee bound by a sense of justice to the public, as well as to the individual, to pursue the course which it adopted? What was the consequence? Mr. M'Christie did produce the documents, in order to support his charge. Now, he would mention to the House an instance of the danger of trusting merely to recollection of documents in such matters as these. Mr. M'Christie, in speaking from recollection of a letter, stated that a number of persons went to Lord Torrington to intercede for the priest to save the man's life, because doubts were felt as to his guilt. What was the fact? Only one person went, Mr. Selby, the Queen's Advocate; and when he was asked to produce the letter in which the statement was made, he could not find it, and he had to ask permission to withdraw that portion of his evidence. Now his hon. Friend (Mr. Baillie) said, that the production of these documents was a violation of secrecy. Was there the slightest analogy between asking for the production of a letter written to an agent for 134 a colony in his character as such, and a letter of a confidential character written by one private gentleman to another, and irrespective to the subject of inquiry? Why, the whole object of Mr. M'Christie's coming before the Committee was to produce these very letters. As to the present Motion, he must say it was the first time since he had been a Member of that House that he had known, after a Committee had investigated a charge, that its Chairman had proposed to the House a vote of censure which had not first been submitted to the consideration of the Committee. There was, it was true, a modified vote of censure proposed by the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume); but the Chairman of the Committee did not propose any vote of censure whatever. Now, he must say, he thought the first question anybody would ask who read the Motion would he, what was its practical utility? Lord Torrington was no longer Governor of Ceylon. He remembered during the inquiry the hon. Member for Montrose again and again said to the hon. Under Secretary for the Colonies, "Why don't you terminate these proceedings by recalling Lord Torrington?" That noble Lord he must therefore suppose was no longer the object of the Motion. It might, however, he intended for the purpose of assailing the Colonial Secretary of Her Majesty's Government. Well, that was a fair legitimate Parliamentary object. But he did say that the means selected to obtain that object were neither fair, legitimate, nor Parliamentary. If hon. Members wanted to assail the Colonial Secretary, why not select some part of his policy, some act of his own? Why not move a vote of a general want of confidence in the Government, at least in the Colonial Department? But if this was their object, before they arrived at it by the course they now pursued, they would stigmatise and hold up to public execration not only Lord Torrington, but very nearly every civil and military servant in the colony. But it may be said—and indeed nearly as much had been said by the hon. Member for Montrose—that these civil and military servants were abettors of Lord Torrington—that they were his accomplices—and that they deserved to be held up to public execration. Well, if that was the case, why was it not stated in the Resolution, and why was there not a ground laid for the censure. What was the Resolution? The first portion of it ran— 135That this House, having taken into its consideration the Evidence adduced before the Select Committee appointed to inquire into the affairs of Ceylon, is of opinion that the punishments inflicted during the late disturbances in that island were excessive and uncalled for. That this House is of opinion that the execution of eighteen persons, and the imprisonment, transportation, and corporal punishment of 140 other persons on this occasion, is at variance with the merciful administration of the British penal laws, and is not calculated to secure the future affections and fidelity of Her Majesty's colonial subjects.Now this, per se, was an unmeaning Resolution. If the rebellion was wide spread, the number was very small; if, on the contrary, the rebellion was trifling in its character, it might be very large. Where were the prefatory observations to make this Resolution just as a censure, or justifiable as the declaration of an opinion? Why was it not stated in the prefatory matter of the Resolution, that there had been no rebellion; or, if the existence of a rebellion was conceded, why was it not distinctly stated that the sentences passed by the courts-martial were unjust and unsupported by evidence? He would tell the House why this prefatory matter was not before it; an attempt was made to prove it in Committee, and it signally failed. It was attempted to be proved that some arbitrary tax had been imposed which was opposed to the character and feelings of the colony; and the very witnesses most hostile to Lord Torrington showed that this was not consistent with the fact. There was an attempt to prove that the disturbances were of a trifling character; but hostile witnesses proved that the case was altogether otherwise. Then, again, an endeavour had been made to show that if there were some disturbances approaching to a riot, they were not of a kind to justify the necessity for the proclamation of martial law. Again, witnesses were called most hostile to the policy of Lord Torrington, who proved that there was a serious and an alarming rebellion, and that martial law was necessary. Then evidence was brought to show that martial law had been improperly continued. About this point there was some dispute; but it was the only one that admitted a difference of opinion, and the resolution, wisely and judiciously framed, founded itself here. But he said it was not fair to commence at this point, of the propriety of the continuance of martial law. It was not fair to shut out from consideration the previous facts. From the manner in which the hon. Member for Inverness-shire had passed over 136 Lord Torrington's civil government, he assumed that his Lordship's financial and commercial policy were not objected to. That noble Lord found the island in a state of embarrassment, with a deficit, and he left it flourishing, with a surplus. There might be discussions whether the policy he maintained was right or wrong with reference to discretionary views; but the policy which he strictly carried out was that commercial policy which had been adopted in this country for the last ten years. He reduced the export duty on coffee from 1s. to 4d. He reduced all the import duties, and abolished nearly all the export duties. This of course created a deficit, to supply which he instituted a customs tax and. a road tax. These might have been indifferent; but the third—a gun tax—was indiscreet, as it was found necessary to modify it. As to the tax upon dogs, to which so much reference had been made, it was a mere police regulation. He would not go into the evidence in detail upon these subjects, but merely quote the words of Sir Anthony Oliphant, the Chief Justice of Ceylon, that these were not the cause of the rebellion, but that they were used by the priests as a handle to excite the people. It was the report of the intention of instituting thirty new taxes which excited the discontent; a falsehood from beginning to end. Now they would see what were the opinions of people upon the 29th of July, when accounts of the rebellion were brought in, and he trusted that the House would not be influenced in their decision by what was thought after the rebellion was over, but by what was thought and said when it was in existence. On the 29th of July Lord Torrington received accounts that an alarming rebellion had broken out.
§ SIR JAMES W. HOGG
Would the hon. Member deny that Lord Torrington received on that day certain papers which seemed to prove that a rebellion had taken place?
§ SIR JAMES W. HOGG
Well, papers were laid before him to that effect. Will the hon. Member gainsay that? [Mr. HUME was understood to express his assent.] When these letters were received by Lord Torrington, he immediately sent for Colonel 137 Fraser, the most experienced man in the island, and one who had been employed in the suppression of the rebellion of 1818. Colonel Fraser, when he read the papers, said they produced upon his mind the greatest possible apprehensions of danger, and he advised Lord Torrington to proclaim martial law, and to despatch a steamer to Madras to ask for assistance. This was the impression of Colonel Fraser, the most experienced man in the island, and a man nearly as competent to judge of what ought to be done, under the circumstances, as the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume). Lord Torrington, not wishing to confide in his own judgment, immediately assembled the Executive Council. Mr. Selby, the Queen's Advocate, and General Smelt were the only members within reach at the time, and they were also of opinion that it was imperatively necessary to proclaim martial law. They had the experience before them of 1818, when martial law was not proclaimed at first, and that the rebellion lasted two years, and 10,000 people lost their lives. General Smelt advised the Governor to meet the occasion promptly and efficiently. He did so, and 130 exceeded the number of those who lost their lives. This was on the 29th of July. In a few days, when the other members of the Executive Council arrived at Colombo, Lord Torrington summoned a fresh meeting of the Council, and laid before them the papers on which he had founded his proclamation of martial law, and a suggestion which he had received that the system should be extended to another district which had become disturbed. The Executive Council approved of the proclamation of martial law in the first instance, and of its proposed extension to a fresh district, with one exception, that of Mr. Anstruther. Mr. Selby (the Queen's Advocate), Mr. Wodehouse, and Sir Anthony Oliphant (the Chief Justice) were for it; and there was not a witness who did not in the first instance admit the necessity for the proclamation of martial law. He admitted that on the subject of its continuance, there was a diversity of opinion. Now, one of the reasons upon which this Motion was founded, was that the Governor continued to enforce martial law after its chief legal adviser had recommended a contrary course. Why, this amounted merely to a charge that Lord Torrington had acted against the opinion of Mr. Selby, the Queen's Advocate. That was a most extraordinary accusation. He should like to know, if a disturbance broke 138 out in a distant part of the kingdom, whether the right hon. Baronet the Home Secretary would send for the Attorney and Solicitor General to ask them what he should do, instead of sending for the Lord Lieutenant of the county? It was true that upon the 7th of August Mr. Selby suggested the advisability of putting a stop to martial law; and he drew up a proclamation to that effect, and left it in the office, to be ready when the occasion should require it. Mr. Selby then went to Kandy; and on the 10th of the same month he again wrote to Lord Torrington, suggesting the expediency of revoking the proclamation enforcing martial law. Now, in the Committee, he (Sir J. Hogg) asked Mr. Selby, if before writing that letter he had consulted either the commanding officer of the district, or the judge of the district; and Mr. Selby's reply was, that he had consulted neither. Now, with all due deference to Mr. Selby's judgment, he thought that before he wrote a letter so important in its bearing and consequences, it was incumbent on him to seek information from those most competent and best able to afford it. Shortly afterwards Lord Torrington himself went to Kandy, and Mr. Selby again returned to the question of putting an end to martial law. What was the course adopted by Lord Torrington? The noble Lord wrote to Mr. Selby as follows:—Your letter to Mr. Bernard respecting the whole question, I may say, of our policy with regard to the Kandyan rebellion, has caused me much anxious consideration. I should be very glad to have a quiet consultation with you, Mr. Stewart, and Sir Herbert Maddock at any hour most convenient to-day.Lord Torrington accordingly met Mr. Selby, Mr. Stewart, Sir Herbert Maddock, Colonel Drought, and Mr. Bernard, and after a long consultation it was deemed expedient to continue martial law until the Pretender, or the King, as he was called, had been arrested. On the 21st of September this individual was apprehended, and having made certain statements implicating many of the chiefs and headmen as participators in the rebellion, it was the opinion of General Smelt that it would be inexpedient to discontinue martial law until inquiries had been made to test the accuracy of those statements. On the 22nd of the same month, Mr. Selby wrote another minute, to the effect that he saw no reason for continuing martial law. This minute was submitted to the Governor and Executive Council, and the result was, that the Go- 139 vernor caused it to be entered on the minutes that he had come to the resolution of continuing martial law in force until the Indemnity Bill was passed. Mr. Selby stated that upon that occasion there was a full meeting of the Executive Council, and that to the best of his recollection no one dissented from the propriety of continuing martial law, except himself. Now, this decision of Lord Torrington might be right, or it might he wrong: he (Sir J. Hogg) was not there as the advocate of Lord Torrington; he was a stranger to him, for he had scarcely over seen him; and in rising up to defend him, he was actuated by no other motive than to see justice done. As a member of a Committee that had sat for two years judicially, he was anxious to bear his humble testimony that, in his opinion, Lord Torrington had acted honestly, consistently, and uprightly, and, whether rightly or wrongly, that he had always acted with a regard to the public service of the country. In order to protect him from censure, it was not necessary to show that all that he did was right. Where was the man who would presume to say that his judgment was infallible? All that was required was to show that be did his best in the performance of an arduous duty. Now, be had told the House that the opinion of Mr. Selby was against the continuance of martial law, but that the opinion of every other member of the Council was in favour of it. He begged also to tell the House that Mr. Stewart, Mr. Selby's deputy, who had quite as much experience, and who was quite as competent a judge as Mr. Selby, was strongly in favour of the continuance of martial law. Another point the House should be cognisant of in relation to the state of the island at this period—Mr. Selby resided at Colombo, and had little knowledge of the interior, whereas Mr. Stewart resided in the disturbed district, and knew all about it. It had been asserted that the Government ought to have dispensed with the military by calling to their aid the assistance of the police. Now, he must call the attention of the House to a peculiarity in respect to the police establishments in Ceylon. In the first place, the rebellion was fomented by the priests and headmen. Well, those were the very persons who acted as police in Ceylon; it was they who served the processes, and discharged all the duties of a police; and were they to entrust the suppression of the rebellion to the very men who had been the principal 140 fomenters of it? He must say, too, that he thought Mr. Selby, in the disturbed state of the country, might have afforded a little more assistance than he had done. Colonel Drought had been assailed, not only during this discussion, but in other places, in no measured terms; he was a deserving officer, who held the confidence of his Sovereign, and who had discharged his duties for many years with zeal, ability, and fidelity. Colonel Drought, when he found himself thrown into a difficult position at a remote station, wrote to Mr. Selby, desiring to know from him, as law officer of the Crown, what his powers were with reference to the painful duty which had been entrusted to him of administering martial law. Well, what was the answer of Mr. Selby? Why, "Send in your application through the official channel, and then I will give my opinion." He (Sir J. Hogg) had some experience of the law officers of the East, and he could safely affirm that if any Advocate General refused to give advice to any servant of the Company, he would hold office not one hour longer. It was Mr. Selby's bounden duty to have assisted this unfortunate officer, flung as he was into circumstances of great difficulty and danger. Mr. Selby wrote a reply to Colonel Drought, and then afterwards said he had never received any application from him. "Why," said Colonel Drought, "I got an answer from you in reply to it." Fortunately Col. Drought had shown that answer to two or three individuals, who recollected the substance of it, otherwise Mr. Selby most probably would have denied the whole circumstances. He did not impute any blame to Mr. Selby in this case. He believed that the circumstance had escaped his memory, for he searched his office, it appeared, and the letters wore not forthcoming; but if Colonel Drought had not fortunately shown the answer to some of his friends, the whole matter would have been denied. He had already told the House that the headmen were the solo officers of police on the island, and the sole persons entrusted with the serving of processes. What was the usual course of proceeding there? If they wanted to apprehend a man they must go to the nearest magistrate and lodge their depositions; and then, however distant they may happen to be, they must be sent up to Colombo for the examination of the Queen's Advocate, who, like the Lord Advocate in Scotland, discharges all the functions of a grand jury, before an arrest 141 can take place. He asked whether such a system as this could be productive of any useful result in putting down any disturbance whatever? Then it was said that, however necessary it might be to proclaim and to continue martial law, still the proceeding's that took place before the courts-martial were wholly unjustifiable. Now, he would remind the House that his hon. Friend (Mr. Baillie), with all his assiduity in preparing this case, had only fixed upon the proceedings of one court-martial, to which he (Sir J. Hogg) would call attention presently, as being in his opinion specially reprehensible. He had general evidence bearing upon the character of these courts-martial, and from which he thought they might fairly draw the conclusion that the others which were not referred to had been conducted in a similar manner, and from that evidence he believed the House would have the satisfaction of knowing and feeling that British officers, however distant from home they may be, never forget the feelings of honour and humanity. It happened that Sir Herbert Maddock was present at three of these courts-martial. He had put to Sir Herbert Maddock, when under examination before the Committee, this question—knowing well what were the duties that gentleman had to discharge as a Member of Council—he asked him, "Have you ever seen the proceedings of courts-martial held under the Mutiny Act?" He replied he had, and was quite familiar with them. He then asked—"Were the proceedings that you attended regular, and in accordance with the proceedings of courts-martial held under the Mutiny Act?" Sir Herbert Maddock said they were; that he had seen the proceedings held on the man Dingeralle; that the proceedings in that case were perfectly regular; that the prisoner was allowed to cross-question the witnesses, and that everything was conducted with great regularity. Again, Captain Bird, who had sat on several courts-martial, said that the proceedings were perfectly regular, that the proceedings were written down, and that all the usual forms were observed. Again, Mr. Stewart, Mr. Selby's deputy, who had been personally present, and officiated as judge-advocate in four of the courts-martial, stated that the proceedings in all of these were perfectly regular, and that the forms observed were in accordance with those established under the Mutiny Act. By the way, one complaint 142 was, that this gentleman (Mr. Stewart) had not attended more than four courts-martial. But who stopped him from attending? Why, it was his chief, Mr. Selby. Mr. Selby wrote to him, and told him not to continue to officiate as Judge Advocate any longer. It was, therefore, most inexplicable conduct in Mr. Selby to complain of the proceedings of these courts-martial, when he himself had withdrawn the most able legal assistance they could possibly have had. He begged also to tell the House that these courts-martial sat openly. If they had sat with closed doors, he could easily conceive that a strong case of suspicion might have been made out against them; but the courts sat with open doors, and it was in evidence that the courts were crowded with spectators, including a swarm of proctors, who, having nothing else to do during the continuance of martial law, crowded the courts-martial. But would the House believe, that with the presence and vigilance of these gentlemen, who were clamouring against the continuance of martial law, if there had been a flaw, if there had been any irregularity practised in the course of the proceedings, that flaw would not have been noticed, and any irregularity would not have been exposed? But no such evidence had been offered, and it was therefore fair to infer, that the proceedings of the courts-martial had been free from any irregularity whatever. His hon. Friend laid much stress on a letter which he read from Colonel Drought, giving it as his opinion that the presence of a Judge Advocate was not necessary at the courts-martial. Well, it was true that Colonel Drought did write that letter, and Colonel Drought was perfectly correct in the opinion he thus gave. His hon. Friend (Mr. Baillie) somewhat astonished him when he attempted to run a parallel between martial law and the common law of England, and he was inclined to carp at the statement of the Judge Advocate, that martial law was a denial of all law. But the Judge Advocate was quite correct. It was a denial of all law, and could not be the subject of regulation. The rule was, that when martial law was proclaimed, the commanding officer must use his discretion, and he was expected to approximate as near as he could to the regular course of justice. If it was at a large station, the court-martial ought to consist of several officers; if it was at a small or remote station, where many of the officers were out on duty, they might hold a court-martial consisting of 143 only three officers. In every case the evidence was written down. If he were driven to conjecture why Colonel Drought thought it was not necessary to employ a Judge Advocate, he believed he would find it in the fact that a police magistrate was employed to take down the depositions, and Colonel Drought might think that, on that account, the presence of a Judge Advocate was not necessary. Having given this evidence as to the general conduct of the courts-martial, let him now call attention to the one which his hon. Friend (Mr. Baillie) had noticed generally in his Resolution; for he thought they might give the hon. Gentleman credit for having selected the most flagrant case and brought it prominently forward as specially deserving of reprobation. Let them then examine this case in detail, and he only asked the House to judge of all the other courts-martial in the same manner in which they might feel called upon to judge of that which the hon. Gentleman had selected as the worst of them all. The case he referred to was the court-martial on the priest Unnanse, held at Kandy on the 25th of August; and the sentence, it would be remembered, was carried into effect at seven o'clock next morning. Major Lushington presided at that court-martial, and they had already heard that he was an officer of distinction and experience, and that he had received a reward for good service. Mr. Buller, the judge of one district, Mr. Stales, the judge of another district, a number of the neighbouring planters, and five or six proctors and advocates, were all present at this court-martial, so that they had a good chance of arriving at the truth with respect to it. Mr. Selby, the brother of the Queen's Advocate, was also present. He told the Committee that Major Lushington, turning to the proctors who were in court, said, "Gentlemen, any of you are at liberty to cross-examine the witnesses, and to give the prisoner any assistance in his present circumstances." The House had already heard the indignant remarks of a Member of the English Bar, and to which the House had responded, on hearing that not one of these proctors had offered his assistance to the unhappy prisoner; and yet would it be believed by that House, that one of those very five men who would not put a question to the witnesses, to expose the conspiracy which he said existed against the prisoner, went afterwards to Mr. Selby, and told him that he considered that the conviction was unjust? He (Sir J. Hogg) 144 thought they were bound to sift the conduct of any man who came forward to accuse others; and it was his intention to sift, though not offensively, but fairly and according to the dictates of common sense, the course taken by Mr. Selby. He (Sir J. Hogg) had put a question to Mr. Selby in Committee. He said—When Mr. Smith gave you the information, did you seek for further information—did you inquire who were present, that you might ask the opinion of men who were competent to give one, instead of being influenced by Mr. Smith, who had refused on the trial to give any assistance to this wretched prisoner?Now, Mr. Selby's brother was present, and Mr. Stewart, Mr. Selby's deputy, was present. Did Mr. Selby seek the opinion of either of these gentlemen before he went on his awful mission to the Governor? No, he went to nobody—he consulted nobody. [Mr. BAILLIE: Hear, hear!] His hon. Friend ironically cheered. He (Sir J. Hogg) considered it was an awful thing to convict and to execute a fellow-creature. He felt as much as any one could do the awful responsibility; but he felt there was another responsibility as awful—the responsibility they owed to their country, and to justice. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir G. Grey) had, from the office he held, frequently a painful duty to discharge; and, if he had nothing but his own feelings to consult, it might be more agreeable to him to rescue from the extreme sentence of the law those unfortunate men who were doomed to suffer death. But an officer of the Crown, before he dared—he used that word advisedly—to arrest the course of justice by an appeal to the fountain of mercy, was bound to inform himself fully as to all the circumstances of the case. Was he justified in relying entirely on the vague story of a single solicitor, when every man present in the court except that solicitor was satisfied with the propriety of the sentence? He further asked Mr. Selby what Mr. Smith said to him on the occasion. Now, he would venture to assert that when a law officer of the Crown went to call upon the Governor of a colony to arrest the course of justice, it was but natural to suppose that the words which had moved him to take that step must have made a deep impression on him. In reply to the question Mr. Selby stated that Mr. Smith said something about the character of the witnesses, and the general bearing of the evidence—he did not exactly remember what. That was a strange reply, 145 evidencing a peculiar state of mind to characterise the law adviser of the Crown in going to the Governor upon a question of life or death. Well, Mr. Selby went to Lord Torrington, and he found Lord Torrington in consultation with Colonel Drought. The case was an important one. The rebellion had been chiefly fomented by the headmen and the priests. If, therefore, a priest or a headman were found guilty by the court-martial, it might be a painful duty, but it was obviously a plain one, to punish them. Colonel Drought, who knew the importance of the case, took the proceedings of the court-martial to the Governor; the Governor and he went over them together, and they satisfied themselves of the guilt of the priest. Mr. Selby then came in and stated the opinion of Mr. Smith. Lord Torrington replied that he had confidence in Major Lushington and his brother officers who sat on the court-martial—that he and Colonel Drought had read over the proceedings, and that it appeared to them clear that the man was guilty, and that it was not, therefore, consistent with his duty to arrest the course of justice. Mr. Selby further stated that Lord Torrington had used expressions which, if he did really use them upon an occasion so solemn, he (Sir J. Hogg) knew not what term of disapprobation, or rather of execration, to apply to such conduct upon the part of a man in such a position. Mr. Selby said in his letter—Your Lordship became pale whilst I was speaking, and when I concluded, struck your hand on your thigh, exclaiming, 'By God, if all the proctors in the place said the man was innocent he should die to-morrow morning,' or words to that effect. The only words I have any doubt about are 'place' and 'die.' It is possible that your Lordship used the word 'island' instead of 'place,' and the words 'be shot,' instead of 'die.'But then there was a witness—Colonel Drought was present during the whole interview, who did not hear these words.
§ SIR JAMES W. HOGG
did not wish to misquote nor to tire the House with references to the blue book.
§ SIR FREDERIC THESIGER
The witness of whom you speak was present only during the latter part of the interview.
§ SIR FREDERIC THESIGER
He 146 could not hear them when he was not in the room, and he was only in the room during the latter portion of the interview.
§ SIR JAMES W. HOGG
If the expression were used at all, it must have been the result of discussion, and the excitement must have come at the close of that discussion; and yet Colonel Drought, who came in, as the hon. and learned Member has stated, towards the latter portion of the interview, declared that he heard no such expression—that he found the Governor perfectly calm and collected, while Mr. Selby appeared to be much flurried. Mr. Selby further stated, that after his interview with the Governor he went to Sir Anthony Oliphant, who told him that he was going to the Governor on the subject of the execution of the priest. Mr. Selby told him he had better not go, or he would be insulted, as he (Mr. Selby) had been, or words to that effect. His reason for stating this, he says, was, that Sir Anthony Oliphant was ill and nervous, and could not bear excitement. Now, he (Sir J. Hogg) would call the attention of the hon. Gentlemen who cheered him ironically to this—that if Mr. Selby believed in his conscience the man had been unjustly sentenced, and was to be executed next morning, how could he justify himself in endeavouring to dissuade Sir Anthony Oliphant from going to Lord Torrington, to obtain a respite? Why, irrespective of all other considerations, would it not occur to Mr. Selby that the Chief Justice would have more influence with the Governor than he had; would it not have occurred to Mr. Selby that if the Chief Justice had stated distinctly that he believed, or had reason to believe, that this man was unjustly condemned, such a representation would have had weight with Lord Torrington? [Mr. BAILLIE: Hear, hear!] His hon. Friend again ironically cheered. He did not object to that cheer; he wished only to express his astonishment that he should give an ironical cheer when he (Sir J. Hogg) expressed his surprise that any law officer of the Crown, believing that an innocent man was about to suffer, should deter a Chief Justice, under any circumstances, from going to intercede on his behalf. It happened, however, that the advice given by Mr. Selby to the Chief Justice was not altogether effectual, for notwithstanding these representations of the state of anger in which he said he found Lord Torrington, Sir Anthony Oliphant did muster courage to go and talk over these identical 147 trials with the Governor, in a conversation which Sir Anthony Oliphant himself stated was in perfectly friendly terms on both sides, and yet Sir Anthony Oliphant never once alluded to the case of the priest, or expressed a wish to arrest the course of judgment. What reason did Sir Anthony Oliphant assign for this conduct? Sir Anthony Oliphant said he found he had gone to the wrong person; and being asked to explain what he meant, his explanation was this—that he found Lord Torrington under the influence of Sir Herbert Maddock; that it turned out they had both been educated at Eton; that they had talked over old times, and that he appeared to be completely under the advice and guidance of Sir Herbert Maddock. Now, could that be pretended as a reason why he should not endeavour to arrest the execution of this unhappy man, if he considered that man had been wrongfully convicted? To say the least, the reason was most unsatisfactory. He could only say, that if Lord Torrington did attend to the advice of Sir Herbert Maddock, he acted under the advice of a man who had done good service to his country in trying times, whoso private character was beyond reproach, and whose public character was beyond praise. In testing a man's memory it was right to look to the state of his mind at the time, and ascertain whether he was labouring under irritation or not. He thought Mr. Selby must have been in a condition of great irritation. As a law officer of the Crown he went to the Governor on a matter so grave as the life and death of a man, and in the course of the discussion an expression escaped from Lord Torrington, according to Mr. Selby, disgraceful to a man, and unbecoming a Christian. Now, he (Sir J. Hogg) had put a question to Mr. Selby, supposing the expression alluded to to have been used, whether he thought it consistent with his duty, as the law adviser of the Governor to promulgate to the world an unguarded expression which might have escaped from the Governor in a moment of irritation, and which he used in the confidence of his private chamber? Mr. Selby said that he did not think it was any violation of his public duty. He (Sir J. Hogg) must respectfully think that it was a violation 'of that duty. Suppose that the hon. and learned Attorney General were to go to the noble Lord at the head of the Government, whose tranquillity he believed was as rarely ruffled as that of any man, and suppose that in the confidence of his 148 private chamber the noble Lord might let fall an unguarded expression with respect to an hon. Member of this House, whose opposition the noble Lord might disapprove of—what would be thought of the Attorney General if he should promulgate through the House the language which in any incautious moment had dropped from the noble Lord? It had been stated by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Serjeant Murphy) who spoke second in the debate, that Mr. Selby had not had the advantage of a professional education for the Bar. He (Sir J. Hogg), however, was bound to say that Mr. Selby had given his evidence before the Committee as fairly as any other witness, and that he had impressed him with a most favourable opinion of his competency to discharge the duties of his office; but having stated that, he must be permitted to add that he did not think the noble Lord at the head of the Colonial Department was justified in appointing as the confidential adviser of the Governor of an important colony an individual who had not had the advantage of a legal education in this country, and whose fitness for his duty bad not been tested by a professional experience in this country. The hon. Under Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. Hawes) had stated in the Committee that the Colonial Office was not aware that Mr. Selby had not been called to the English Bar, and that he was appointed to his present situation at the earnest recommendation of the colonial authorities. He must add, that if there was one thing more injudicious than another in the colony of Ceylon, it was this—that Kandy being in 1851 what it was in 1815, there had yet been introduced into the whole colony the whole process of the English law—the pleadings and the technicalities of Westminster Hall, with a host of proctors and advocates, 19–20ths of whom were natives, and who, he feared, were chiefly engaged in plundering their unfortunate countrymen. Nothing, he was satisfied, could be more unsuited to the circumstances of the colony than this. He would now come to the cases of Nilleme and Gollahalla. He thought that what his hon. Friend (Mr. Baillie) had pointed out in these cases were irregularities, but his hon. Friend had not stated them fairly. It was true that both were arrested; but Nilleme was arrested a second time, and was afterwards discharged by the Queen's Advocate. It was not a mere casual capricious seizing of the man. The evidence against him 149 was very strong; but the Queen's Advocate stated that he would not send him for trial, because he did not believe the witnesses, not that there was no evidence. The same was the case with regard to Gollahalla. In both cases the men were liberated, in both cases property was sold which ought not to have been sold, and that was an irregularity which he (Sir J. Hogg) did not stand there to justify or defend. He now came to the concluding Resolution, moved by his hon. Friend:—That this House is therefore of opinion that the conduct of Earl Grey, in signifying Her Majesty's approbation of the conduct of Lord Torrington during and subsequent to the disturbances, was precipitate and injudicious, tending to establish precedents of rigour and severity in the government of Her Majesty's Foreign Possessions, and injurious to the character of this country for justice and humanity.He had endeavoured, in the course of this discussion, to speak of the general bearing of Lord Torrington's administration, and of that only. He had repeatedly said, and he would say again, he did not stand there to justify the irregularities which must always occur in a case of war, still more especially in a case of civil rebellion. Those irregularities could not sometimes be prevented; but he would affirm that there was no evidence connecting Lord Torrington with them. Referring now to that concluding part of the Resolution, it contained, in his opinion, a political morality to which he, for one, would be no party. The Resolution affirmed that the approbation of Earl Grey was precipitate and injudicious. What did his hon. Friend mean? Did he mean that, when the Colonial Secretary received a despatch from the Governor of a colony, he was to lay by and withhold his opinion, with dastardly and cowardly craft, awaiting the result—ready to claim credit for the policy adopted if success attended it, and ready to sacrifice the Governor if it failed? He asserted that it was the imperative duty of the Colonial Secretary and of the Foreign Secretary, when they received despatches from those who represented the Sovereign abroad, explicitly and at once to state their opinions, and to say whether the Queen approved of the policy pursued, and that the Ministry would stand by them; or that the Queen disapproved, and the Ministry recalled them. The first communication from Lord Torrington to Earl Grey on the subject of the disturbances was in July; in the second, dated the 9th of August, his Lordship stated that his ex- 150 pectations of the speedy putting down of the insurrection had been disappointed. He (Sir J. Hogg) now begged to call the attention of the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) to the impression of Lord Torrington on the 9th of August, when he thus wrote to Earl Grey:—"I still keep a steamer in readiness to send to Madras." So strong was Lord Torrington's opinion of the danger of the insurrection, that on the 9th of August he still kept a steamer in readiness to send to Madras. On the 14th of August he wrote to Earl Grey, to state that proclamation of martial law had been made; to which Earl Grey replied on the 24th of October; and this reply he (Sir J. Hogg) bogged permission to read to the House. He did deliberately say, that if Earl Grey had foreseen this discussion, and had written in anticipation, he could not have penned a despatch so free from cavil or objection of any kind. He would read it, because his hon. Friend who moved these Resolutions referred to this particular despatch. His hon. Friend said he did not want to arraign Lord Torrington or the officials at the island, he only wanted to arraign Earl Grey. He (Sir J. Hogg), however, thought that before they could arraign Earl Grey, they must stigmatise the man whose policy Earl Grey approved. Could anything be more absurd than attempting to separate the policy of Lord Torrington from that of Earl Grey? This was the despatch of the 24th October:—I have received and laid before the Queen the various despatches enumerated in the margin, containing the intelligence of some riotous proceedings which took place at Colombo, and of the subsequent attempt at insurrection in the province of Kandy, which your Lordship states to have been promptly suppressed. The Queen has learnt with regret that the public peace of the colony had been disturbed, and that a part of the native population had been excited to acts of rebellion by the false representations industriously circulated as to the intentions of the local Government, and as to the nature and objects of the ordinances recently passed to sanction the imposition of certain new taxes which had been rendered necessary by alterations in the financial arrangements of the island, involving a large reduction of objectionable taxes, for the benefit and encouragement of its trade and commerce. I have, however, great satisfaction in conveying to your Lordship Her Majesty's approbation of the measures taken to restore tranquillity, and maintain the authority of the Government; and of the decision, promptitude, and judgment with which you acted in putting down the attempts which were made to disturb the peace of the island, and to set up an usurped and illegal power.He would now read the seventh paragraph:— 151Your Lordship, with the aid of the Executive and Legislative Councils, will, I am sure, carefully weigh every practical objection to these laws, and be anxious to remove every injurious provision calculated to press with any harshness or injustice upon either classes or individuals; and I rely upon your not losing sight of the importance of remedying defects, whether in the ordinances in question, or in the general administration of the law, and, above all, that you will apply yourself to the correction of what seems to me the principal fault in the system of government now existing in Ceylon, which has been brought to light by these transactions—I mean the absence of sufficient opportunities for the natives in some districts freely to communicate with the various agents of the Government, in order that their representations may be carefully and candidly considered (especially in reference to such measures as those lately adopted), so that any grievances they may justly complain of may be promptly redressed, and any unfounded apprehensions they may be led to entertain by erroneous notions, as to the intentions of the Government, may be removed. Nothing, it is obvious, can so effectually contribute to this important object as a knowledge of the native languages on the part of the agents and servants of the Government; it is indeed a necessary qualification for the effective discharge of their most important duties. A knowledge, therefore, of those languages must in future be considered as an indispensable condition of promotion; and you will take care to adopt such measures as you may think best calculated to test the qualification in this respect of the different civil servants, in order that this condition may be strictly enforced.A more considerate despatch, under the circumstances, could not possibly be penned. Now, with regard to the punishments, Earl Grey wrote thus:—I concur in your Lordship's opinion that it is necessary to punish with severity the leaders and promoters of this insurrection, which will prove the most merciful course in the end. But whilst it is desirable to vindicate and maintain the law, it is desirable that acts of justice and severity should be strictly limited to what is inevitably called for by the occasion, and that the prevailing character of measures consequent upon excitement and insubordination, should at all times be that of moderation and clemency towards those who have been misled. This implies no indulgence towards the guilty contrivers of sedition, nor any forgetfulness of the claims to consideration and protection of the loyal, peaceable, and industrious, who constitute, as I am happy to find, the great majority of Her Majesty's subjects in Ceylon.He (Sir J. Hogg) would ask the House was there anything harsh, anything reprehensible, in that despatch of Earl Grey? Earl Grey approved of the conduct of Lord Torrington for the prompt measures which he had taken to suppress the insurrection, and counselled the noble Lord to limit the punishment to the promoters and exciters of the rebellion. He believed that if Earl Grey had withheld his opinion, and 152 if he had withheld his approbation from Lord Torrington under the difficult circumstances in which Lord Torrington was placed, that he would indeed have held forth a precedent dangerous to the peace of this country, and dangerous to the peace of the colonies. When his hon. Friend (Mr. Baillie) spoke of the painful duty he had undertaken, it was not a matter of surprise that the protracted persecution of Warren Hastings was presented to his mind; but his hon. Friend might have selected from the splendid essays of Mr. Macaulay a better passage than the virulent and extravagant invective of Burke. Prom those masterly sketches of history, and from the life of that illustrious man, he might have extracted lessons of wisdom, moderation, and charity; he might have been taught to pause for a moment before he endeavoured to pass this crushing and ruinous sentence on the character of Lord Torrington, and of so many public servants abroad, when discharging their duty under circumstances of peculiar difficulty. It might also have occurred to him that time tempers animosities, and that he might hereafter think, and perhaps with regret, that he had pressed too harshly upon Lord Torrington. These reflections might have been suggested by the graphic statement made by the historian, who, after narrating the impeachment, added, iii a passage he well recollected, that at a future period "the Commons received Warren Hastings with acclamations, and when he retired rose and uncovered." He could state, upon his own experience, and it was not small, that he knew the necessity of watching well, and carefully and jealously, those who were entrusted with the execution of unlimited power abroad; but he knew also the importance of affording to those who occupied that position, so long as they merited it, a generous confidence. Influenced by those feelings, having sat upon that Committee, and speaking judicially as a Member of that House, he declared that he would give his uncompromising opposition to the Resolutions proposed; that he would give to Lord Torrington, and to the civil and military services in Ceylon, credit for having given that consideration to the circumstances which was necessary for the interests of a distant possession of the country, which were inseparably knit with the interests of the empire.
§ SIR FREDERIC THESIGER
said, that if the question was to be decided only 153 by Members of the Ceylon Committee, and if they alone were in possession of the materials upon which to form a judgment, he should have very considerable hesitation in challenging so weighty an authority as that of the hon. Member for Honiton (Sir J. Hogg). But the means of forming an opinion were in the hands of every Member; and having directed considerable attention to the subject, he was not afraid to avow that he bad come to a conclusion opposite to that of the hon. Gentleman. The great difficulty of dealing with this question arose from the vast accumulation of evidence, embodied in four formidable blue books, and which were so voluminous that hon. Members might be well excused from making themselves masters of them: few would have the leisure—fewer, perhaps, the inclination; but among their varieties and contradictions, any hon. Member who did wade through them might find anything he wanted to prove, and in addressing the House would have ample materials for producing on his hearers any impression he might desire. He was quite aware that he should be open himself to that suggestion; but he had endeavoured, as far as he could, to elicit from the mass the general truth of the case, and to take a view of the question narrowed in some degree to the Resolution proposed; and he should be prepared, if any doubt arose as to his accuracy, to refer any hon. Gentleman to that part of the books which would vouch for any statement he might make. He could not, like the hon. and learned Member for Cork (Mr. Serjeant Murphy), boast of any private friendship for Lord Torrington: he was quite certain, however, he was not actuated by any personal hostility. He addressed himself to the subject without any personal bias; and he only regretted that there should have been any suggestions of private feelings in what his hon. and learned Friend had stated was a judicial inquiry; and he only wished his hon. and learned Friend had borne this in mind, in the course of the observations he had made; because then probably he would have felt that, independently of other considerations, it was not the best mode of defending the case of his noble Friend—instead of confining himself to a statement of the facts, and to the arguments legitimately based upon them—to attack the witnesses whose evidence was the strongest against his case; and that this course was infinitely more the conduct of an advocate than of a statesman. He confessed 154 that he was astonished to hear the grounds upon which his hon. and learned Friend had thought fit to sneer at and disparage the evidence of Sir Anthony Oliphant, Lieutenant Colonel Braybrooke, and Mr. Selby. His hon. and learned Friend stated, and thought it becoming to state, that Mr. Selby had not graduated regularly towards the high office which he held. Did his hon. and learned Friend forget that there was at this moment a striking example in this country of a distinguished individual who had reached the highest judicial position without that training at the Bar of which his hon. and learned Friend had had the advantage? and did his hon. and learned Friend forget that the same remark applied to that distinguished person which he had applied to Mr. Selby, who, according to the testimony of Sir Anthony Oliphant, had discharged his duties with fidelity and ability, and to the entire satisfaction of the Judges, the Government, and the public? His hon. Friend the Member for Honiton had done justice to Mr. Selby, against whose character there was not the slightest imputation; and his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cork ought to have known that if Mr. Selby had been an incompetent person—if there had been anything in the slightest degree affecting him—it was incredible that Lord Grey, having the opportunity of removing him from his situation, should have sent him back to the island to fulfil the same important duties as before. But he (Sir F. Thesiger) regretted that an important question involving the policy of the Colonial Office, involving the spirit with which the colonial empire was to be governed, was to be converted by this ingenious mode into a discussion of a personal nature; and, undoubtedly, the course pursued by the Government on this occasion had been an unusual, but, at the same time, a dexterous one. His hon. Friend the Member for Inverness-shire stated that his ultimate end and object was a censure on the Government for their approbation, from first to last, of the conduct of Lord Torrington in these different transactions. The noble Lord at the head of the Government accepted this as the construction of his hon. Friend's Resolution. What, then, would have been the natural course to be anticipated when his hon. Friend (Mr. Baillie) had finished the speech by which he introduced his Resolutions, but the course which had been adopted on former similar occasions? One would have supposed that 155 either the noble Lord at the head of the Government, or his hon. Friend the Under Secretary of the Colonies, would immediately have risen and would have answered the observations and arguments of his hon. Friend the Member for Inverness-shire. But instead of that, his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Serjeant Murphy) rose, and in terms with which he and his hon. Friend were familiar daily in the courts, told the House that he was "instructed" by his noble Friend to state certain facts in answer to the charges made to the House. Now he (Sir F. Thesiger) begged leave to say that his impression of the Resolutions of his hon. Friend was, that, under the circumstances of the case, they could only be considered as directed against the policy of the Colonial Office. If Lord Torrington had continued to be the Governor of Coylon, no doubt his hon. Friend would have framed his Resolution so as to vote an Address to the Crown for his removal. If, on the other hand, he had been removed by the Secretary of State for 'the Colonies on the ground of his disapproval of the particular measures of which complaint was now made, he had not the slightest doubt that his hon. Friend would not have considered it worth his while to have brought forward any Motion on Ceylon affairs at all. But, inasmuch as Lord Torrington had quitted his governorship in the month of July, 1850, not in consequence of any disapprobation felt and expressed by the noble Lord at the head of the Colonial Department on the subject of these transactions, but on totally distinct grounds—merely because he was not able to preserve harmony and mutual co-operation amongst the subordinate officers in the island—it was necessary for his hon. Friend to decide whether he would abandon altogether the consideration of the censurable conduct of the Secretary of State for the Colonial Department, or would bring forward all the circumstances, which necessarily of themselves involve the character of Lord Torrington. The hon. Member for Honiton asked what was the practical use of this Motion? The practical use of it was, to obtain from the House an opinion that the conduct of the Secretary of State for the Colonies was unjustifiable in expressing his approbation of the measures of the Governor of Ceylon, instead of censuring him on the ground on which the hon. Gentleman submitted he ought to be censured. 156 The hon. Member for Honiton said, that the Resolution of the hon. Member for Inverness-shire was an unmeaning abstraction, and he complained that he had not introduced it with any prefatory averment. The Resolution of the hon. Member for Inverness-shire stated, that having taken into consideration the evidence adduced before the Committee, so and so was the opinion which he called on the House to express. What sort of prefatory averment was it that the hon. Member for Honiton desired—would he have the whole evidence of the blue books? Reference was made to the whole of that evidence, and surely that was a sufficient prefatory averment. But he (Sir F. Thesiger) was satisfied that it was impossible for the hon. Member for Inverness-shire to have framed his Resolutions in any way palatable to the hon. Member for Honiton. Dismissing then, as far as he (Sir F. Thesiger) could all motives of personal consideration, and being desirous in the part he should take in this important discussion, to say nothing which could wound the feelings of Lord Torrington or Lord Torrington's friends, he was anxious to confine himself as closely as he could to the matters connected with the Resolutions. To attempt to grasp the whole mass of details contained in these four blue books and other documents would be utterly impossible. The mind was lost in their multiplicity; but after carefully considering them, the mist gradually disappeared, and certain leading points stood out in bold relief. Those points had been seized on by his hon. Friend the Member for Inverness-shire, and upon those he grounded the Resolutions he submitted to the House. The hon. and learned Member for Cork had made strong objections to the course pursued by the hon. Member for Inverness-shire. He said how hard it was on Lord Torrington to take only an insulated part of his government, and not to embrace in the Resolutions the whole scope of his policy from beginning to end; and then the learned Gentleman proceeded to praise Lord Torrington for various measures which had taken place during the time of his administration of the government of Ceylon. Without intending any offence by the illustration: suppose his hon. and learned Friend had been concerned in prosecuting a servant for embezzlement, and supposing the Counsel on the other side had said, "It is hard on my client to visit him with punishment on this occasion. You have forgotten alto- 157 gether the instances of fidelity to his master which he has exhibited"—he (Sir F. Thesiger) knew perfectly well what would be the answer of his learned Friend in a court of justice. He would expose the fallacy immediately; and he could hardly believe his hon. Friend had so contemptible an opinion of the Members of the House of Commons as to think that an argument which would be scouted in a court of law was fit for the atmosphere of this assembly. The hon. Member for Inverness-shire having confined his Resolutions to certain particulars of the conduct of Lord Torrington, the questions upon which they were called on to determine were, the mode in which martial law was carried out by Lord Torrington, the period during which that martial law was continued, the severities practised during its continuance, and the entire and unqualified approbation of the Secretary of State of the conduct of Lord Torrington, from the beginning to the end of these proceedings. In considering these different points it would be necessary, in order fairly and justly to estimate the severities practised on the misguided men who took part in the disturbances, to ascertain the cause and origin of those disturbances; because it appeared to him to be a very different question, whether it was a well-organised and wide-spread conspiracy for the purpose of overturning the British rule in the island, or originating in various causes of discontent which prevailed among different classes of the people. The hon. Member for Honiton had stated, and he thought trulystated, as the result of his consideration of the evidence on this subject, that there was discontent prevailing amongst the people with respect to the imposition of certain taxes, which had been, as he admitted, rashly and in considerately imposed, and that that discontent was taken advantage of by those who had other grievances, which they rendered available to their designs. He (Sir F. Thesiger) thought there was no doubt that, with regard to the priests, they were discontented, in consequence of Government having assumed the management of their religious affairs; that the headmen were discontented in consequence of an abatement of their importance among the natives; but that the mass of the people were excited entirely by the imposition of the taxes in question, and the apprehension of other new taxes. It was surely important to ascertain the motives which instigated the conduct of the insurgents; because, if 158 it was found that only a feeble bond of union combined them together for no common object or purpose, of course the necessity either for the existence of martial law originally, and its continuance for a considerable period, was very much abated. Could any one take the papers and entertain a doubt that if, when that tumultuous meeting of unarmed people took place about the 12th July, and came to Mr. Buller, the Government agent, demanding the repeal of those taxes, Lord Torrington had yielded to the application, there would have been no pretext whatever, by which the priests and headmen could have goaded them into rebellion? He did not say that Lord Torrington ought to have repealed those taxes; but it was a fact that his Lordship, as rashly and inconsiderately as he originated, did repeal them in the November following. He used this circumstance, not for the purpose of showing anything as to the imposition or repeal of those taxes, but only as it indicated the motives which led the great majority of persons, who joined in this unfortunate rising, to take part in it with others, who were enabled to use them as instruments of their own designs. Having ascertained the motives of the rebellion, let them inquire what was its character, and, for that 'purpose, turn their attention to the observations of persons at the time, as the true indications and test of the real state of the case, and not to any statement made long after the transactions had passed away. Mr. Buller, the Government agent, wrote only two days after the affair at Matelle, and one day after the affair at Kornegalle, and gave an account of the rising of the people; and it was most remarkable that Mr. Buller, in six different passages in that letter, called these persons "a rabble." Captain Lillie, who commanded the force at Kandy, called it a brush." Lieutenant Anstey commanded at Kornegalle, and said, "A few were killed and wounded, not a man of ours was touched." Mr. Templer called it" a skirmish. "Mr. Hanna, a police magistrate, at Kornegalle, two days after the Matelle attack, and one day after the Kornegalle attack, gave an account of the transactions and of the state of the country, and certainly the account which he gave was anything but an indication of a very formidable rising of the people. On the contrary, after the "rabble" were dispersed at Matelle, and after the "brush" and "skirmish" at Kornegalle, the bond of union that connected the 159 parties together seemed to he entirely broken, and the people dispersed, and from that moment down to the discontinuance of martial law, on the 10th of October, the rioters never made any head against the troops, or appeared in any force. Mr. Hanna, the police magistrate at Kandy, gave an account of the state of the country immediately after the affair at Kornegalle and Matelle, in which he said that the rising was of no formidable description; but in 1849, subsequent to the commencement of the inquiry before the Committee of the House of Commons, and the receipt of the circular letter issued by Sir J. E. Tennent, he gave a totally different account of the outbreak. Mr. Staples, the district Judge of Kandy, also contradicted himself upon this subject, after the receipt of that circular letter. In 1848, he said—The low-country people are all thieves and marauders, and they have raised a clamour about the taxes to serve as a blind to the exercise of their propensities. The thieving party is by far the larger, and the gang are chiefly headed by the low-country people. The spirit which the Malabar coolies have evinced, must have taken them by surprise, and will have deterred them much in prosecuting their depredations, so that, what is better, these coolies will, no doubt, communicate with their countrymen on the coast, and inspire them with confidence to come over, so that I have every hope (in conjunction with the steps Government has taken) that there will be no lack of labour.But in 1849, after the receipt of the circular letter, the same Mr. Staples said—I am firmly of opinion that the late disturbances within the Kandyan provinces, were, to all intents, a rebellion, an attempt to subvert the Government. I am also certain that my opinion will be supported by that of every person of experience within these provinces; and I cannot but conceive that those who have made the bold assertions before the Select Committee of the House of Commons, that the late disturbances were a mere riot occasioned by marauders from the low-country, must have been utterly ignorant of the Kandyans and of the state of the country, as also of past events.He (Sir F. Thesiger) admitted that all the official persons who were invited by Sir Emerson Tennent's circular to express an opinion upon the nature of this outbreak, joined with one voice in declaring it to have been one of a most serious character. But he would ask any man exercising an impartial judgment upon the matter, whether he would be disposed to take the opinion of persons at a time when they had no motive to exaggerate or misrepresent, or those which were given when a question 160 had arisen as to the conduct of individuals who had taken part in the circumstances involved in the transactions, and when it became important to give a different colour to those circumstances? This being the nature of the outbreak, martial law was proclaimed for Matelle on the 29th of July, and for the district in which Kornegalle was situated, on the 31st of July. He did not dispute the right of the Governor to proclaim martial law—it was the undoubted prerogative of the Crown, in cases of great emergency, to resort to this extreme measure; and that prerogative might be transferred to the Governors of our Colonies, to enable them to act in a similar emergency. The complaint which he made was not that martial law was proclaimed, although there were some very strong opinions to be found in the evidence as to the absence of all necessity for resorting to martial law: but what he complained of was that martial law had been proclaimed without any directions being given as to how it was to be carried out. When any one in authority exercised this important power with which he was invested, for the public safety, he was not to let loose the military upon the proclaimed districts, without any directions being given to them as to the course of conduct to be pursued: it was his duty to take care that martial law, which had become a grievous necessity, should be carried out with as much justice and equity as the occasion permitted. The hon. and learned Member for Cork had said that, when martial law was proclaimed, absolute power was given to the general commanding the troops over the lives of the people. He (Sir F. Thesiger) entirely differed from that opinion. It was true that, when this extreme course was resorted to, there was no regular prescribed form as to the tribunals, or as to the mode in which martial law was to be enforced. But if the commanding officer had that absolute power over the lives of the people, his hon. Friend (Mr. Serjeant Murphy) might as well say that he had a right to confiscate their property—to torture them, if torture were useful for the purpose of ascertaining, as in this case, the haunt of the pretended king—or that he might resort to any other grievous punishment which he should consider necessary under the circumstances of the country. Now, it being perfectly clear that the proclamation of martial law gave no such extensive power to the commanding officer, there must be some limit, and 161 the limit was that which custom and usage, upon these terrible occasions, prescribed to those who had the administration of justice in their hands; and it was the duty of Lord Torrington to have given definite instructions with respect to the constitution of the tribunals which were to execute the sentence of the law, and the mode in which their proceedings were to be sanctioned or controlled; and, failing to do so, all those serious consequences resulted which were the ground of complaint by his hon. Friend the Member for Inverness. What was the opinion entertained by the official persons in Ceylon with respect to the effect of the proclamation of martial law? It was stated by Sir Herbert Mad-dock that he believed the proclamation gave the commanders of the troops unlimited power over the lives and property of the people. The notion was prevalent that the commanding officer had unlimited power to confiscate the property of all persons who might be rebels, or who, being absent from their houses, might be suspected of being such; and accordingly Mr. Simms, the police magistrate, suggests the mode of dealing with the property which he considers so forfeited. In a letter, dated August 5, 1848, he says—There can be no doubt that in abandoning their homes and joining in open rebellion, that their property has become forfeited to Government; and I think it worthy of consideration, whether it would not he expedient to make over their lands and houses to Malabars, who would gladly settle in the district upon any terms Government might desire. This may appear a rash suggestion, and it is only thrown out as a suggestion; but it is absolutely necessary that a heavy punishment of some sort should he inflicted upon all the rebellious. It is true that a great number of them have already been killed, and many more will doubtless suffer the extreme penalty of the law. Still the great mass of them cannot he so punished, and the sufferings of a few will have very little effect upon the others, if they are not all made to suffer individually in their own property.Sir Emerson Tennent was not long in taking advantage of this suggestion, for it would be found in page 200 of the same book. In a letter written to Lord Torrington, he says—The opportunity now presented of locating a race of Malabars in these important positions, on the lands forfeited by the rebels, is one which I earnestly trust your Excellency will not allow to pass unimproved.In the evidence of Sir Emerson Tennent, before the Committee, he stated that he meant by this only, when the property was forfeited upon the conviction of the rebels. 162 But he (Sir F. Thesiger) would leave it to any man to say, whether that interpretation could be put upon the terms of his letter to Lord Torrington, following, as it did, the suggestion of Mr. Simms? Upon this, Colonel Drought issued a proclamation, which he was inclined to call a proclamation of confiscation. There wore contemporaneous instructions with that proclamation, and those instructions issued by Colonel Drought began in this way:—In order to facilitate future confiscation of the lands, houses, and other property of all subjects of Her Majesty in the Kandyan districts, now subject to martial law, who have departed from their allegiance to the Crown, and have joined the rebels in arms against the Government, you are hereby directed to ascertain or procure from the civil authorities information respecting the names of all persons now absent from their homes, who are believed to be now with the rebels, or known to have committed any act of rebellion, and take possession of all lands, houses, cattle, and other property belonging to such persons, and make over their lands to the charge of respectable persons.And it went on:—And you will adopt such measures as may be proper and practicable to enable you to detect any attempt to carry away the crops from the lands of absent rebels, or to supply them with provisions, in contravention of the orders contained in the notification, and will bring to trial all persons accused thereof as aiding and abetting the enemies of the Queen, and forthwith to place their lands and property under attachment, and that with them, according to the forth going instructions, you will furnish me with information for communicating to the local agent lists of lands attached under these orders, drawn up according to the form subjoined, with lists of all other property which will be retained for the use of Government, or sold by public auction, according as you may deem best. When such property is sold, a report will he made, showing the price realised by each article, and the amount will then be carried to the credit of the State in the account of the Government agents.Could any one doubt that that proclamation, with the contemporaneous instructions, was a direction to seize and convert the property of all persons who might be absent from their homes at the time? It was a most remarkable thing that Sir E. Tennent, in his evidence before the Committee in question [9,150], quoted these instructions within inverted commas, and quoted them as intended to facilitate "future sequestration;" the words being expressly "to facilitate future confiscation." In consequence of these instructions and the proclamation, a party of armed men went about from village to village, entered all the houses, ransacked them, and carried away property both of 163 an imperishable as well as a perishable description; and the Colonial Secretary, in a circular issued on the 16th of August, 1848, summed up the proceedings of the troops in these words: "The troops are engaged with civil officers securing prisoners and taking possession of the confiscated property;" and yet Sir E. Tennent, in his evidence, took upon him to state distinctly that there had been no confiscation whatever of any property, but that all that had been done had been to sequester and secure it for future purposes. The House would not have forgotten the proclamation which was issued in the Cingalese language, ordering the persons who had possession of any property to deliver it up, with the threat that if they concealed it, or refused to give information upon the subject, they would be imprisoned, and their property confiscated. But there was stronger evidence upon the subject of the confiscation than any which he had yet adduced—evidence arising out of the acts of the Governor himself, proceeding upon the recommendation of Sir Herbert Mad-dock. Sir H. Maddock happened to be in Ceylon at the time the disturbances took place. He was the proprietor of a coffee plantation there, which had been considerably injured in the course of those disturbances. He was unquestionably, as appeared by the evidence in the blue books, the person upon whom Lord Torrington mainly relied, as his confidential adviser; and he would give the House a sample of the notions entertained by that gentleman. He said—As there are still many persons absent from their homes who are known or suspected to have been in arms with the rebels, or to have accompanied the Pretender in his flight, it would be advisable if the commandant, with reference to his former notification, was now to issue another, calling upon such persons to return to their homes, or deliver themselves up within some fixed period, say fifteen or twenty clays; and proclaiming that in case of their failure to return or deliver themselves up within the time prescribed, their lands, houses, and all other property will be liable to confiscation, and will be confiscated whenever the commandant directed the confiscation of lands and houses, and should give orders to that effect according to a form to be agreed upon between him and the Governor.Acting upon this advice, Lord Torrington, on the 16th of August, issued a proclamation in the terms of the recommendation, proclaiming the confiscation, and in that proclamation most important expressions are used to show the state of the country at that time; these being the words— 164 "the late insurrection," and "the past disturbances." Those papers were laid before Mr. Selby, the Queen's Advocate, who lost no time in expressing his decided conviction that it was entirely illegal to confiscate the property of persons who had not been convicted by courts of justice. Lord Torrington, upon receiving that communication from the Queen's Advocate, requested an immediate consultation, which took place; and then both Mr. Selby and Mr. Stewart, the Deputy Queen's Advocate, repeated the opinion which had been previously expressed in writing by Mr. Selby, as to the illegality of the whole proceedings with reference to the confiscation of property. Now, from that time he admitted there was an endeavour made to convert confiscation into sequestration—with what success would be presently seen, when he adverted to the proceedings of Captain Watson in the district of Matelle, and saw in what mode he carried out the object the commanding officer and the Governor had in view as to the seizure of the lands and property of the rebels. It was remarkable that in writing to Lord Grey, Lord Torrington sent to him his proclamation of the 18th of August, but omitted to send Colonel Drought's proclamation of the 8th of August, and did not transmit the paper containing the suggestion of Sir H. Maddock, and the answer given to them by the Queen's Advocate; and the proclamation of Colonel Drought was not sent to the Secretary of State until after the inquiry had been commenced before the Committee in 1849, when Lord Torrington transmitted it with an apology that it had been overlooked up to that moment. But let the House mark what took place as to the proclamation of Lord Torrington. Lord Torrington, after the conversation which he had had with Mr. Selby, said that the proclamation of the 18th of August had been issued with the advice of the Queen's Advocate. When the contents of that letter were communicated to Mr. Selby, he remonstrated with Lord Torrington, who admitted that he had been incorrect, and promised that he would write to Earl Grey, and correct the misrepresentation. He did write to Earl Grey, but without explaining satisfactorily the position in which Mr. Selby had placed himself. Mr. Selby again remonstrated, and ultimately Lord Torrington was compelled to tell Earl Grey that he had entertained an incorrect view of the opinion entertained by Mr. Selby, and that he was bound to say 165 that Mr. Selby had not acquiesced in issuing that proclamation. He would now call the attention of the House to the proceedings of Captain Watson in the Matelle district, and the course adopted by Lord Torrington and Lord Grey thereupon. The House would find the various articles of property that were seized in the Matelle district mentioned in the Second Report, from page 537 to 540. A considerable part of that property was sold by public auction, and he need not say at a great sacrifice, considering the state of the country at the time. What did Lord Torrington say on that subject? At a meeting of the Legislative Council in October, 1848, Lord Torrington stated that only perishable property had been sold, and that accounts of it had been kept; and he wrote to Lord Grey a month afterwards, saying it was absolutely necessary to sell perishable property as well as cattle and implements, as there were no means of keeping it in safety, but that accurate accounts had been kept. Now, the accounts of Captain Watson for the Matelle district were in such an unsettled and unsatisfactory state for more than a year afterwards that they had not been rendered, and the result had not been ascertained; and, so far from the property which he had seized being only perishable, even the' Committee of the Executive Council, which afterwards assembled on the subject of those accounts, stated that they could not possibly understand why property of a totally different description should have been seized. The amount realised by the sale of the property that had been seized by Captain Watson was 616l. 7s. Of that amount Captain Watson appropriated 503l.—part of it for repairs of Government buildings, and part for the salary of a gentleman whom he had appointed supervisor of the property at a salary of 200l. a year, and 2s. 6d. a day for travelling expenses; and another part of the property had been intrusted to a colour-sergeant, who had not accounted for a sum of nearly 100l. A court of inquiry which sat upon the delinquencies of the colour-sergeant, found that the sum for which he was a defaulter was only 63l. 5s., and therefore, in the result, there was at least 49l. and a fraction wholly unaccounted for by Captain Watson. Under these circumstances one would have thought, the question being whether this was a sequestration or confiscation, whether the property was of a perishable or imperishable character, that Lord Torring- 166 ton, making himself acquainted with the particulars, would have condemned the conduct of Captain Watson, and insisted that he had exceeded the order and intention of the Governor, and would have been very far indeed from recommending the Government at home to sanction the sequestration of the money so misappropriated by Captain Watson. What said the letter of Lord Torrington on that subject? He says—In my despatch, No. 195, of the 6th November, 1848, reference was made to the circumstances under which it was found necessary to sequestrate, and in many instances to dispose of, the movable and perishable property of parties implicated, or supposed to he implicated, in the rebellious movement at Matelle; and in my despatch, No. 103, I stated to your Lordship that, with the concurrence of my Executive Council, I had given directions that the whole of the proceeds of the property so disposed of should be paid to the respective owners thereof, without any deduction whatever for the expenses incurred, except as regards those cases in which the parties interested might have been convicted of high treason before the Supreme Court. Some delay, however, has, I regret to say, unavoidably occurred in the settlement of these accounts, in consequence of the difficulty of procuring precise and satisfactory vouchers from Captain Watson, who commanded the military of Matelle at the period referred to. The total amount realised by the sale of property sequestrated by Captain Watson, under the orders of the Commandant at Kandy, was 616l. 7s. 0½d. The total amount disbursed by him under the same authority was 503l. 9s. 9d. leaving a balance still unaccounted for by Captain Watson of 112l. 17s. 3½d.—a portion of which sum, however, appears to have been made away with by Colour-sergeant Tingall, of the Ceylon Rifle Regiment, from whom there was no prospect that any part of it could be recovered. Without here entering into the question whether Captain Watson was or was not justified in making the disbursements the details of which are given in the accompanying papers, directly through his own hands rather than through the medium of the Government agent, dining the existence of martial law, I do not hesitate to record my conviction that Captain Watson acted bond fide in the manner he thought most conducive to the public good under the peculiar circumstances of the time, and that the expenditure incurred by him was for objects of paramount importance, and in many instances of more than passing advantage to the Government.Now the Secretary of State for the Colonial Department, upon the despatch of Lord Torrington, who had in his possession all the circumstances connected with what he must call the confiscation of the property of persons in a most illegal and unjustifiable manner, had his attention brought more particularly to the conduct of one who had distinguished himself in that illegal outrage. A recommendation had been made by the Governor that the cir- 167 cumstances under which Captain Watson had seized the property should he considered, because his object was the advantage of the Government; and one would have thought that under those circumstances Lord Grey would have expressed some reprehension as to the conduct of Captain Watson, and would not have adopted this recommendation; but Lord Grey wrote thus:—I have received your despatch, with enclosures, No. 125, dated 14th September, 1849, requesting authority to relieve Captain Watson, who was commandant of Matelle while martial law was in force there in 1848, from all further responsibility in regard to certain pecuniary transactions in which that officer was concerned on behalf of the Government during the period in question, or shortly after its termination. I regret that I am unable at present to recommend Her Majesty's Treasury to grant the relief applied for, as I find that the papers forwarded are in many points defective. If Captain Watson was altogether without written instructions, either from the Government or from his commanding officer, Colonel Drought, for the regulation of his receipts, disbursements, and accounts, the fact is not stated in these papers. Your Lordship will understand that I entertain no doubt of the correctness of Captain Watson's proceedings with respect to these pecuniary transactions; but as a matter of principle, I consider it necessary, before recommending Her Majesty's Treasury to grant the relief applied for, to require the more detailed information which is wanted to support his accounts, or a more particular explanation of the reasons why this information cannot be supplied, as to those points on which it is not attainable.So far, then, from reprehending the conduct of Captain Watson, Lord Grey took care to intimate to Lord Torrington that he entertained no doubt of the correctness of Captain Watson's proceedings as to those pecuniary transactions. Certainly Lord Grey, at a subsequent period, did entertain some doubt as to the propriety of the confiscations, because he said, in a later despatch of the 16th of January, 1850, on the subject of an Indemnity Act—Although measures such as those"—meaning the sequestration of property, as it was then called—"do not appear to fall within the ordinary course of martial law, yet they are such as may very probably have been necessary, and would be fully competent to the Legislature to place under the safeguard of indemnity.Now the act of confiscation being illegal—for he defied his learned Friends to say that, under martial law, confiscation of property at all was legal—lot them turn to the circumstances under which martial law was continued from the time it was proclaimed in the different districts to the 10th of October, and he would undertake 168 to satisfy the House there was no necessity for the continuation of martial law. He would take the evidence of the Governor, of the Colonial Secretary, and the commanding officer of the troops as to the state of the country. But, first, let him quote a passage from the writings of one of the most accomplished philosophers, jurists, and statesmen this country had ever produced—he alluded to Sir J. Mackintosh. He said—When law is silenced by the noise of arms, the rulers of the armed force must punish as equitably as they can those crimes which threaten their own safety and that of society, but no longer. Every moment beyond is usurpation. As soon as the law can act, every other mode of punishing supposed crime is of itself an enormous crime;"—and with reference to the Act of 1799 as to the continuance of martial law after the course of the common law had been in some degree restored, Sir James Mackintosh remarked upon it—"as being a most positive declaration that when the common law could be exercised in some parts of the country, martial law could not be established in others, though rebellion actually prevailed there, without the extraordinary intervention of the supreme legislative authority.Now, what was the state of the country after the dispersion of the rebels at Matelle, and the brush and skirmish at Kornegalle? The despatch of Major Smelt, of the 13th July, said, "The Governor appears confident that the rebellion is quite put down; but I own that I am not so sanguine." On the 15th of August he says, "I hope in another week the rebellion maybe entirely subsided." On the 18th he wrote a most remarkable letter, in which he says, "The present lull and apparently peaceable conduct on the part of the Kandyans creates a strong impression on my mind that all is not right." That was a most extraordinary expression. He was not in the least intimidated by the din of arms; but became alarmed at the peaceful condition of the people. On the 16th October he wrote, "No fresh outbreak has taken place in the colony since my last despatch;" which despatch was dated the 15th August. Now, what did Sir Emerson Tennent say? To the south and west of Randy he had found the country perfectly tranquil, the roads crowded with bullock carts, the people returning to their houses, the bazaars reopened, and everything restored to its usual appearance. Colonel Drought, too, represented the state of things as most favourable; 169 that armed crowds were no longer to be seen, and the people were eager to resume their usual occupations. That was on the 12th of August; and Lord Torrington himself, in a letter to Colonel Drought, of the 5th of September, 1848, spoke of the military measures "which had crushed the rebellion in the bud." Was there any necessity for continuing martial law when, according to these accounts, tranquillity had been restored? It was suggested by Lord Torrington, that, inasmuch as the Pretender had fled to some place of concealment, it was necessary to continue martial law until he should be secured. But what did Lord Torrington say at an earlier period on this point? On the 9th of August he said, the immediate attendants of the Pretender "have nearly all deserted him, and with great difficulty he maintains his concealment in the mountains." And what did he say on the 16th? "The Pretender and his brother cannot long remain in their present concealment, as the people generally are undeceived as to their pretensions, and numbers of the natives are in active pursuit of them, allured by the reward in prospect." Now, after these statements, could it be contended for a moment that there was any necessity for martial law down to the 10th of October? The Pretender was secured on the 21st of September, but martial law was continued nearly three weeks afterwards. This showed that the securing the Pretender was not the real object of continuing martial law. The real object of Lord Torrington was to continue martial law until an Indemnity Act could be passed. This clearly appeared from what Lord Torrington had himself said. In his despatch to Earl Grey, on the 14th of September, he said—But at the present time there is no inherent power of confiscation of the property even of traitors convicted under martial law. It has, therefore, been indispensable, not only that caution should be used with regard even to the sequestration of property, but it will be necessary that a Bill of Indemnity should be passed by the Legislative Council, to hold the authorities harmless for all bonâ fide acts done under martial law, and that the ordinance should come into operation on the same day that martial law may cease to have effect.And in Question 1,481 it was said, "The Governor had made up his mind to continue martial law in force till the Indemnity Bill was passed." Now, was that a legitimate object for the continuance of martial law? And yet Earl Grey, 170 being aware of the wholesale confiscation of property which had taken place, and knowing that the object of the Governor was to get a Bill of Indemnity, never expressed the least disapprobation of his conduct in this respect. It must be remembered, that during the whole of this time the country was in the peaceful state described by the Governor, by the Colonial Secretary, by the Commander-in-Chief, and other official persons, and yet these courts-martial were sitting, and condemning to death, imprisonment, and corporal punishment no less than 140 persons, who were alleged to be guilty of participating in this disturbance. It was a remarkable fact that there was no evidence of the exact number of the persons tried by courts-martial. Sir Herbert Maddock produced a list of 146 persons, signed by Colonel Drought, and delivered to him. Colonel Drought sent homo an official return, containing only 126 names, of whom 10 were acquitted. Lord Torrington gave a summary of 120 persons, of whom eight were acquitted. Which of these was the correct return, it was impossible to ascertain. There being that state of tranquillity prevailing, and there being, as he must always insist, no necessity for the continuance of martial law, let the House see the opinion that was expressed as to the utility of it by a gentleman on whose evidence great stress was laid by the Colonial Office. Colonel Drought said, in a letter, page 233 of the appendix—Though it was not my province to decide upon the time when martial law should cease, I may be permitted to remark that I am thoroughly convinced that the Pretender would never have been captured, and the valuable information he gave would never have been brought before Government, if the advocates and proctors had had the power of raising legal difficulties, and if active operations had been suspended until those objections should have been overcome.The hon. and learned Member for Cork, in referring to the constitution of courts-martial, stated the number of years' service of the commandants, and the ages of the junior officers. These young gentlemen were placed in a position of very great difficulty and anxiety, not only by the painful duties which they were called upon to discharge, but by the nature of the instructions which they received from their commandants. He could not trust himself with the expression of his feelings with regard to those letters, but he must be permitted to direct the attention of the House to them, in order to justify the ob- 171 servations which he felt it his duty to make with regard to this portion of the case. In a letter dated Matelle, the 16th August, Colonel Drought said—My dear Watson—I wish you to explain to your officers at Matelle that I am surprised they did not sentence the four prisoners to he executed. A plunderer in these times is a miscreant in the double Capacity of a rebel and a felon, who would, if he could, first take your life, and then your property. Remind them that all engaged as those were arc rebels, and that all rebels should suffer death. Sir A. Oliphant has given it as his opinion that we are dealing delicately with the rascals, and that a great deal too much time is taken in detailing evidence. The court have, under the present law, merely to satisfy themselves as to the parties being guilty or otherwise, find, and decide accordingly.And in another letter he said—My dear Watson—You are getting on swimmingly. Your deputy-judge-advocate will, of course, receive the usual allowance for every day the court sits. Impress on the court that there is no necessity for taking down the evidence in detail, so that they are satisfied with the guilt or innocence of the individual; that is sufficient for them to find and sentence. This is the law and mode; have you no case for example on thy Spot?Under such instructions as these, how was it possible for the junior officers not to feel that a heavy responsibilty rested upon them if they ventured to act contrary to the instructions which they had received from their commanding officers. On the 18th of August the Judge Advocate ceased to officiate, and from that time to the 26th September the proceedings of the courts-martial were conducted without the presence of any Judge Advocate at all. Now, was the sentence of these courts-martial to be final and conclusive, or was there to be any confirmation of the sentence? If the sentence was to be final and conclusive, an awful and perilous responsibility attached to these young officers. If the sentence was to be confirmed and approved by the commandants, how was it possible to know whether it would be confirmed or not, if the details wore not properly set out? Now, he should like to know whether an account contained in the Morning Chronicle, of the 31st of March last, professing to be a statement of the proceedings of one of the courts-martial, was a true and correct account. It was there stated that four prisoners were tried before that court-martial—that there were three young officers, lieutenants, members of those courts?—that with regard to the first and third of the prisoners, there was not one tittle of evidence to implicate them in any part 172 of the illegal transactions; and that with respect to the second and fourth prisoners, questions of this kind were put to the witnesses—"Did you see the prisoner with a gun? No, I did not, but Mr. Madeley told me he did." "Did you see No. 4 prisoner running out of the jungle? No, but several people said they had seen him." Now, upon this evidence, all four prisoners were found guilty of high treason—all four were sentenced to be shot, and sentence was executed upon them on the following morning. This was on the 6th of September. The trial took place at Matelle. Captain Watson was present on the occasion. But there was another remarkable thing connected with that trial. There was appended to the account of the proceedings a statement with regard to the character of two of the persons convicted and shot, signed by Mr. Mackelwee, and that statement was not annexed to the proceedings until more than fifteen months afterwards. The hon. Member for Honiton said the proceedings of the courts-martial were perfectly regular. Now he would refer to the evidence of Captain Bird, and ask if the proceeding was regular in his case? He was a junior member of one of the courts-martial, and, under the authority which he received from the commandant, after the evidence had been heard he retired, and he himself confirmed the sentence of the court-martial of which he had been one of the junior members. He did not expect, when martial law was proclaimed, to find the exact rule of military law, but he did expect the tribunals to be regularly constituted, and their proceedings to be conducted in a regular manner, and he did not expect to find persons convicted and sentenced to death on insufficient and unsatisfactory evidence; and, so far as he had been able to ascertain the truth, he found that persons had suffered against whom he could not discover the smallest tittle of evidence to warrant their condemnation. He was unwilling to advert further to the conduct of these young officers, encouraged as it was by their superiors, or he might turn to the account of the proceedings of Lieutenant Henderson, who was concerned in the burning of three houses, because they were inhabited by men of bad character, of whom he wished to make examples. It was a most extraordinary thing that that circumstance was not inquired into until twelve months afterwards—until the inquiry had commenced before the Committee, and then, no doubt, 173 the Colonial Secretary thought it right to censure his conduct. Whilst these courts-martial were proceeding in what he must term their bloody course, there was no pretence for saying there existed any urgency for the summary and almost instantaneous punishment of the persons convicted. During the time they were in full operation, the civil court was sitting at Kandy, presided over by Sir A. Oliphant, the Chief Justice, who had been requested by the Governor to go the circuit for the express purpose of holding these trials. Remembering what had been stated respecting the continuance of martial law, taking into consideration the circumstances of the country, and the sitting of the civil court, he thought the proceedings of these courts-martial and their terrible executions could not by possibility be justified by the circumstances. There were thirty-four persons tried before the civil court, one-half of whom were acquitted. Before the courts-martial 126 persons were tried, and eight or ten acquitted. Let the House compare those proceedings and the result of them with the proceedings of the courts-martial, in which, at least, 126 persons were tried, and only ten or eight were acquitted, and consider whether there were not some grounds for believing that if legal objections, and what a military officer had been pleased to call "legal difficulties," had been allowed to be interposed upon the trials of the courts-martial, the result, with respect to many of those persons, might not have been very different; and whether many lives might not have been spared which had been sacrificed, in some degree, to the inexperience and to what he must call the haste of those young officers? The Chief Justice, upon the conviction of seventeen, sentenced them to death; but, knowing that blood had been shed to a fearful extent already, he recommended their cases to the consideration of the Governor, and expressed a hope that their lives would be spared. This was so important a part of the case that he must call the attention of the House to the application of the Chief Justice, and the answer which it received. In the letter of the Chief Justice, dated "Colombo, September 23, 1848," he said—I have to report to your Excellency that the several convictions in the said cases, respectively, were obtained in due course of law. I have also to state that I recommend as fit and proper objects of your Excellency's clemency, as far as regards the punishment of death, not only all the persons recommended by the jury for the reasons 174 given by them, but also all the prisoners who have been found guilty.After mentioning the names of several of the parties, he went on to say—And under different circumstances I should have recommended your Excellency to have executed such three or four of those last mentioned as should, after minute investigation into their respective cases by the law officers of the Crown, have appeared to have been most guilty. To have carried out the last penalty of the law against these would have been necessary for the vindication of justice, order, and good government, and for an example to others. But I find that that example has been already made. I learn that some twenty persons have been already shot for their share in this rebellion by the courts-martial; I therefore think, when it is considered that no one European has been put to death, that one soldier only has been wounded by the rebels, that no persons have appeared in warlike array against the troops since the outbreaks at Matelle and Kurnegalle, that the blood which has been already spilt is sufficient for all purposes, whether of vindication of the law or for example, I advise that the prisoners last above-mentioned be transported for life, that the others not recommended to mercy by the jury be transported for fourteen years, and that those who have been recommended be imprisoned and kept to hard labour for such short periods as, after consideration with the Crown lawyers, may be deemed due to them respectively.He felt compelled to say, and he did so with the greatest regret, that but for the humane interposition of the Chief Justice, the lives of these 17 persons would have swelled the frightful catalogue of those who had been previously condemned to death. The letter of the Governor in reply to the communication, fully justified the opinion which he had formed, and he would not shrink from the duty of expressing that opinion. The following was the letter of the Governor:—Sir—1. I have the honour to acknowledge your letter of the 23rd instant, transmitting the notes of evidence, and sentences of death passed on the prisoners convicted of high treason at the late Session of the Supreme Court held at Kandy for the special purpose of trying persons implicated in the late rebellion. 2. I have given to this communication not only the respectful attention becoming your high authority, but that painful and anxious consideration inseparable from the solemn question of life and death suggested by your general recommendation of all the prisoners for a commutation of their punishments. But after soliciting the advice and opinions of the Executive Council, it is with great reluctance that I find myself unable to concur with you in the propriety of that course towards some of those men convicted in due course of law, and whose guilt has been so clearly established that the strict line of your duty, uninfluenced by other considerations, would have led you, as you state, to recommend to me to inflict on them the last penalty of the law in vindication of justice, order, and good government. 3. These considerations, I must 175 observe, are unconnected with the judicial question on which it was properly within your province to assist me with your advice; but, irrespectively of this, I am compelled to say that neither they nor the reasoning founded on them which has induced you to adopt a different line in recommending these parties to mercy, has produced the same result in my mind; whilst at the same time such publicity has unfortunately been given to your opinions on this subject as would involve the Government in embarrassment were I to set aside your recommendation to mercy, and leave these individuals for execution. On the other hand, I foresee much practical inconvenience likely to result from this summary review of all the proceedings of the highest civil tribunal in the island, followed by a sweeping modification of its judgment upon men convicted of the gravest offences known to our laws. 4. Upon a deliberate calculation, however, of the comparative evils of either course, and feeling strongly the disadvantage at which I am placed in acting on my own judgment, I have deemed it best to lean to the side of mercy, and to adopt so much of your recommendation as regards the commutation of all capital punishments, substituting transportation for life in the instance of those convicts who have not been recommended to mercy by the juries, and transportation for fourteen years in all the other cases.—I have, &c. (Signed) "TORRINGTON.The Honourable Sir Anthony Oliphant,Kt., Chief Justice.He (Sir F. Thesiger) appealed to the House whether such a letter written by the Governor, was not a complete justification of the opinion he had expressed. The course pursued by Lord Torrington in this case might reflect some light upon another transaction in which he was implicated, and to which the Motion before the House referred—he meant the conduct of Lord Torrington in refusing to delay the execution of the priest upon the application of the Queen's Advocate. The hon. and learned Member for Honiton had made some very severe remarks upon the conduct of the Queen's Advocate on that occasion; but he (Sir F. Thesiger) was at a loss to understand the ground of such observations. The Queen's Advocate stated that he himself, and two other persons who had been present, were of opinion that the prisoner was not guilty, and that the witnesses who had sworn against him had conspired for the purpose. Mr. Selby was at a loss to know how he should act; he went to his Deputy Queen's Advocate, Mr. Stewart, consulted him as to the course he ought to adopt, and, by his advice, immediately proceeded to the Governor. Now, was there anything extremely reprehensible in the conduct of the Queen's Advocate on that occasion? He certainly thought the Queen's Advocate would have been wanting in humanity 176 if, under the circumstances, he had not attempted to arrest the execution of the law till the real facts had been ascertained. The Queen's Advocate went to Lord Torrington, and, from his account, the noble Lord, in a state of excitement, made use of expressions of a most unjustifiable character. Those expressions were undoubtedly of the strongest description, and merited the severest reprobation. He (Sir F. Thesiger) was ready to admit that, when martial law was necessary, and when rebellion was raging, the immediate execution of the offenders might be requisite; but on the 25th of August, when Mr. Selby went to the Governor, there was no occasion for the immediate execution of any of the persons who had been convicted; and surely a delay of twenty-four hours, when any doubt was expressed as to the guilt of a person condemned to death, would not have been unbecoming. But an issue was raised as to whether the Governor did or did not make use of the expressions to which he (Sir F. Thesiger) had referred. Now, it was always considered a very important circumstance in proof of the truth of a statement if a person, immediately after an occurrence, communicated the facts to another person; and on the occasion in question Mr. Selby went immediately from the Governor to Sir A. Oliphant, and stated to him the very terms and expressions which he attributed to Lord Torrington. In 1849 Lord Torrington wrote to Mr. Selby, requesting from him an account of the circumstances of the interview which took place on the 25th of August, 1848. Mr. Selby stated, in reply, that when he made his application, Lord Torrington struck his thigh, turned pale, and made use of the expression mentioned. Lord Torrington said he thought the observation with respect to turning pale unnecessary, and returned the paper, observing, "It is very likely I may have used some strong expressions with respect to the proctors, because I believe they have done a great deal of mischief; but I don't recollect that I used any unbecoming expressions on the occasion." Subsequently Lord Torrington wrote a letter to Earl Grey, and in that letter he said that he never made use of those expressions, and referred to Colonel Drought and Mr. Bernard as having been present at the interview, and able to vouch for the accuracy of his recollection. The following was the letter of Colonel Drought, in which it would be remarked that he stated that he 177 was present only at the latter part of the interview:—In reply to your note of this morning, I beg to say that I was present at the latter part of the interview which took place between you and Mr. Selby relative to the priest's trial, on which occasion I did not hear you express any unbecoming language, nor were you in any degree excited. On the contrary, you appeared to me to be perfectly calm and collected, while Mr. Selby was evidently much flurried. I left the Pavilion without the slightest idea that you had in the least forgotten yourself, or acted in any manner unworthy of the position in which you were placed.MR. Bernard, who, as he (Sir F. Thesiger) was informed, laboured under the infirmity of deafness, said in his letter to Lord Tor-rington—As long as I was present I did not hear any violent or unbecoming laughter on your part. The impression left upon my mind at the time of the general tone of the interview was, that Mr. Selby was excited by something that might have taken place before the interview, and I inferred, by your calling Colonel Drought, who joined you (having gone away just as Mr. Selby came), that you were consulting him as to the object for which Mr. Selby had come to you. It did not at all occur to me then, nor did I hear it from any one, until it appeared some time afterwards in the Observer, that anything of an unpleasant nature had taken place on the occasion of Mr. Selby'a visit.This was the evidence brought against the distinct and positive statement of Mr. Selby, confirmed as it was by all the circumstances to which he (Sir F. Thesiger) had alluded; and, notwithstanding, Earl Grey, on the 2nd of August, 1850, wrote to Lord Torrington in the following terms: "I have no hesitation in assuring you that I give entire credit to your denial." Well, then, what was the position of Mr. Selby? Mr. Selby, in the estimation of Earl Grey, was a convicted libeller. He had attributed expressions to Lord Torrington which the hon. and learned Member for Honiton said he hardly had language sufficiently strong to characterise—in short, in the estimation of Lord Grey, Mr. Selby had told a wilful and deliberate falsehood. What then were they to say of the conduct of Earl Grey when he allowed such a person to go back to the colony, and when this letter was written to him by the Under Secretary for the Colonies by order of Earl Grey:—"Without entering into the question whether the words were really used or not, Earl Grey-considers that any conversation on such a subject between a Governor and his law adviser ought to be strictly confidential." He (Sir F. Thesiger) would not read any 178 further. It appeared to him that if there was any part of Earl Grey's conduct more deserving of censure than another, it was his sending back to the colony a person branded with the charge of a deliberate falsehood in the estimation of the individual who had the power of removing as well as of appointing him. But Earl Grey, from the beginning to the end, having the whole of the circumstances before him, approved of everything that had been done, and could find no occasion for censuring any parties engaged in these transactions; from first to last, there was not a note of disapproval; and, finally, he took care to assure Lord Torrington of his approbation, adding that his removal from Ceylon did not arise from any disapprobation of his conduct during these disturbances, but merely because he had failed in procuring harmonious action among his subordinates. The hon. and learned Member for Honiton had called attention to a particular despatch of Earl Grey, in which he seemed at an early date to have anticipated an investigation of the kind in which they were then engaged. But they who found fault with the course which had been pursued by the Secretary of State for the Colonies were not objecting to any particular despatch; they merely said that in all his despatches Earl Grey never bad expressed the slightest disapprobation of what had occurred. He (Sir F. Thesiger) had now endeavoured fully—too fully, he feared—and as fairly as he could, to bring before the House his views upon this question. He had not designedly misstated or misquoted any one despatch: and if he had been mistaken in anything that he had advanced, it would have been only just to have interrupted him, and to have called upon him to vouch for the accuracy of his statement. He said again, that he had endeavoured to discharge his duty fairly, and his wish had been to convey his honest and conscientious opinion to the House. Undoubtedly this was a case of very great importance. It was a question which involved nothing less than this—what was to be for the future the spirit in which our large colonial possessions should be governed, and what was the policy which dictated the views of the Colonial Office. It was a question which could not be confined to the narrow walls of that House, nor to the limits of this country; and their decision that night would go out into all lands proclaiming what was the conduct which was to be expected by colonists with regard to the 179 administration of government. He was satisfied that all who heard him would he disposed to make every allowance for a person placed in the position of Lord Torrington, which was perhaps unequalled, and certainly unusual; but they would not, he thought, take the same view of the conduct of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, because at least they would feel that he was not called on to act upon the moment, that he had had time and opportunity for judgment and deliberation; and if the House adopted the views which he (Sir F. Thesiger) had presented to the House, they must condemn the opinion which Earl Grey had formed and expressed with regard to the conduct of those persons who had been deputed to administer the Government of Ceylon. But if the Resolutions of his hon. Friend the Member for Inverness-shire should be rejected by the House, and by so doing they should virtually express approbation of the measures which had been adopted, then the acts of the Secretary of State would become the acts of the nation, being adopted by its representatives; and he feared that such a result of that discussion would give a fatal blow to the character of the nation for justice and humanity.
§ COLONEL DUNNE
said, that he fully concurred in the regret expressed by the hon. and learned Member for Abingdon (Sir Frederic Thesiger), in the commencement of his speech, that the debate had taken a personal turn; but in a question of this kind it was almost imposible to separate the political and general facts from those of a personal nature. The House would perhaps allow him, as a soldier, and as an old friend of Colonel Drought, to express his opinion in reference to the share which that officer had borne in these transactions. Colonel Drought was the son of a neighbour of his (Colonel Dunne), and he believed there was no one in Her Majesty's Army in whom better trust could be reposed, or who was more deserving of the position he occupied. He had a letter from Colonel Drought himself, with a statement of the whole of the circumstances that unfortunately occurred in Kandy during the late insurrection, and he would, with the permission of the House, state some facts from it. The proclamation of martial law was admitted by every Member who had spoken in the debate, to have been an unfortunate necessity. Colonel Drought did not proclaim martial law; it was proclaimed by the Governor, by the 180 advice of his Council, and consent of Mr. Selby, who was present at the decision. True, Colonel Drought properly approved of it; but as he was only one of a number of military officers who took that view, he need make no defence of him on that subject. But, far from believing the proclamation of martial law, it appeared to him (Col. Dunne) that Lord Torrington deserved credit for it, and for the promptness of the military operations with which he met this rebellion; and it seemed to him clear that the effect of these measures was to crush the insurrection, and that with little effusion of blood. Hon. Members must recollect the small force that could be opposed to an unknown number of a fierce population, but which every account then made enormous, when compared with the few British troops in the disturbed district; and to render a small force available under such circumstances, they must be used with promptness and effect. After martial law was proclaimed, the execution was entrusted to his prudence, and for that Colonel Drought was responsible more than Lord Torrington. He was informed by Colonel Drought that there were only ten persons sentenced for execution, of whom nine were executed, one being pardoned, on the intercession of Colonel Drought himself; and that the number tried altogether was 126. The first man tried by a court-martial was found guilty of having wounded two coolies, who subsequently died, and murdered a third; and at the time of the murder, he plundered parties who were going into the country, and he was tried both for plunder and murder, and no one could doubt that the punishment was justly inflicted upon him. The next that were tried were four men who had been with the Pretender during the whole war; they were taken with arms in their hands, after defending themselves from the party who took them; they were tried, condemned to death, and shot. The evidence against them was of the clearest nature, and most voluminous. There were four others under very nearly similar circumstances, and he believed there was no doubt of the guilt of those men on the part of the officers who constituted the court-martial. They were not convicted on hear-say, but on direct evidence, which was quite as necessary in a military court as in a court of law, and the sentences were approved of by competent authority—the senior officer on the spot, before they were 181 carried into execution. Colonel Drought, in his communication, drew a contrast between the clearness of the guilt of those who were tried by courts martial and those who were tried in the supreme court. There was nothing to prove that the men who were tried in the supreme court wore in the crowd of rebels, not of their own will, but by force; whereas those who were tried by courts-martial were taken with arms in their hands. The other person who was tried by the court-martial was the priest. This court was conducted with all the solemnity of a court-martial. The man was found guilty, and as he was going to execution, he confessed that he was guilty, and that he was an emissary of the King's, A great deal had been said about this man being a priest, and of his being executed in his robes; but Colonel Drought said the priests of the two great temples voluntarily came forward to state that the man never was a priest, but that he assumed the dress and character of a priest to forward his designs and give him influence among the people. Another allegation against Colonel Drought was as to the confiscations. Now there was a letter among the evidence from Colonel Drought to Captain Watson, in which he desired Captain Watson to be on his guard with respect to confiscations, to separate everything which he considered should not be confiscated, and that sequestrations should be distinguished from confiscations; and it appeared that this order was obeyed. The hon. Gentleman who introduced the Motion gave them several lectures on military law. He might have saved himself the trouble if he had looked in the Appendix, where the opinions of the highest military authorities were given, that he might have seen, in cases where martial law has been proclaimed, it does not appear that the ordinary tribunals of the country were necessarily suspended, and the officer in command had the power of determining when to carry out martial law, which ordinarily was extended merely to the sphere of actual military operations, while in any part of a country where actual war was not carried on, the ordinary laws were left in force, as was the case when the Duke of Wellington entered the south of France; and in consequence, it was for him to lay down the rules which were to guide the country occupied by those who served under him. The officers who constituted courts-martials were merely the judges of facts laid before them; 182 martial law was, in fact, the suspension of all law but the will of the officers commanding, the same as a jury in this country; and when the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir Frederic Thesiger) quoted from the Morning Chronicle, that a junior officer confirmed the sentence of a court-martial on which his seniors were serving, it was impossible that that could be done.
§ COLONEL DUNNE
repeated that it could not have occurred. It might be in a blue book, but a blue book was not infallible, and there must have been some mistake in this evidence. He saw many military men around him, and he appealed to them whether his was not a correct view of the case. The way of forming the courts-martial was perfectly clear and regular; three subalterns were put on them. The hon. and learned Gentleman had asked why the senior officer was not put on. Of course he could not be on because he had to confirm the decision of the court. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir Frederic Thesiger) had animadverted also on the instructions which Colonel Drought gave, and that he wrote a letter censuring the officers of the court-martial for sentencing four men to transportation instead of to death. Now the letter of Colonel Drought was perfectly clear on that point, and he laid down correctly the martial law in such cases, and the duty of the officers who composed the court-martial; that the men who were tried, having been found guilty, should have been sentenced to death. The crime of plunder was one for which by military law they should have been sentenced to death; and it was not in the power of the court to mitigate the sentence: that power rested with the superior officer, and they had nothing to do with it. Another letter which had been animadverted on, was a letter to Captain Watson, in which Colonel Drought said he was "getting on swimmingly." Now he (Colonel Dunne) thought it was hard for Gentlemen sitting in that House to pass a harsh judgment on a mere observation of a military man, taken from a letter written in the hurry of war, and necessarily alluding to many unconnected subjects. He merely said he (Captain Watson) was getting on well; and it was 183 clear that the observation applied to the military operations and positions of Captain Watson. he was certain no officer was ever placed on a court-martial who did not feel a deep responsibility, and still more must such responsibility be felt by an officer whose duty it was to approve and carry into effect sentences affecting the lives of fellow-creatures. Colonel Drought was perfectly incapable of cruelty, or of approving it in others. He believed that if a court-martial was granted to inquire into the conduct of Colonel Drought and the officers who held these courts-martial, and particularly on Colonel Drought, that it would find that he had only done his duty; and he should be happy, on Colonel Drought's part, if Government would grant such an inquiry. A doubt had been expressed whether the tumults in Ceylon really amounted to a rebellion. He (Colonel Dunne) thought it was mainly owing to the conduct of Colonel Drought that they had not attained a more serious character; but an outbreak of any kind in Ceylon was not a thing to be neglected or made light of. They all know how formidable the Kandyans were in former times. He was informed by an officer of rank, who had served in a former war, that at that time when it was customary with the Kandyans to put their prisoners to death by horrible means, a large detachment of the 19th Regiment, commanded by a Major Daly, which had been wasted by fever in an unhealthy quarter, surrendered to the Kandyans, on a promise that their lives should he spared; but every man of them was murdered by torture, after surrender; and so great was the fear of some of the officers of falling into the hands of the enemy, that they were said to have actually shot one another to avoid being captured. Nor should it be forgotten that at the time of the recent outbreak, our military force in the island was very small, while the Pretender boasted of having a force of 18,000 at his command. He (Colonel Dunne) agreed with many others in disapproving of the conduct of Lord Torrington in other respects, and even admitted there might be reason to dissent from much of the course of policy pursued towards Ceylon; but it was not his intention to go into that subject, as he rose merely to vindicate the character of Colonel Drought, who, he believed, would be found to have performed his duty with the humanity, as well as the courage, of a British officer.
§ MR. HAWES
could not regret that the House had had the opportunity of hearing the speeches of the hon. and learned Members for Cork and Sheffield, and also that of the hon. and learned Member for Honi-ton, before it fell to his lot to speak on this important question. He thought that the House would so far concur with him that the opinions of such men—men of great ability and experience, and accustomed on the one hand to sift evidence, and on the other to deal with the affairs of empires—were entitled to the greatest weight, and would weigh with all impartial men in this country. He (Mr. Hawes) felt that he could not have addressed the House on a former evening without the greatest possible disadvantage, nor until he was in a condition to meet, to answer, and to refute, the charge which had been made against the department with which he had the honour to be connected, with reference to the charge that was made, that either he, or Lord Grey, or some parties in the Colonial Department, had been guilty of the deliberate falsification of documents. He had met and refuted that charge; hut until it was met and answered, he could not, in justice to the Colonial Department and to himself, address the House. Before entering upon the general subject, he must notice one or two statements which had been made by the hon. Member for Inverness-shire, more especially in reference to himself. That hon. Member had asserted, he thought somewhat lightly, and without much regard for the feelings of others, that the Resolutions to which the Committee came were the result of some compromise of which he (Mr. Hawes) was the author, namely, to the effect that he had previously conveyed the consent of his noble Friend (Earl Grey) and of the Government to the recall of Lord Torrington. He (Mr. Hawes) utterly denied that he had ever entered into such an arrangement. He had never seen or heard of the Resolutions which were the foundation of those which were adopted, until they were produced in the Committee. Then, again, it had been alleged that he (Mr. Hawes) was willing to admit the production of private letters, when it was supposed that those letters would support his views; hut that when other private letters were to be produced, which were unfavourable to the views which he entertained, he refused to admit them. The hon. Gentleman was entirely mistaken in. that respect; and if he had taken the 185 trouble to refer to the evidence before the Committee, he would not have made such a statement. Mr. M'Christie'sletters—those, he presumed, first referred to—were public letters; and he (Mr. M'Christie) stated to the Committee that there was no other foundation for the charges which he made against Lord Torrington but the identical letters which he had in his possession. The Committee, one and all, he (Mr. Hawes) believed, thought that Mr. M'Christie ought to be called on to do one of two things—either to withdraw the charges, or to produce the letters. The letters were not private letters, in any proper sense of the term; and as, according to his own statement, he had no other ground for those charges than the letters which he had received from his clients at Colombo, and as he had no personal knowledge of what had taken place, Mr. M'Christie was very properly called upon to produce those letters, in order that the Committee might not allow such charges to go forth without seeing the evidence on which they rested. Then, -with regard to Colonel Braybrooke's letters, hon. Members would find, if they would refer to the evidence, that he was willing to produce them. The House should also recollect that Colonel Brayhrooke wrote his letter in answer to one addressed to him, believing, as he stated, the letter which was addressed to him, to be an application from a Committee of the House of Commons. No question, therefore, arose as to the propriety of producing that letter. This was the answer he had to make to this part of the hon. Gentleman's speech. But with regard to the letters produced by Mr. Wodebouse, he thought that a most marked distinction existed, since the letters addressed to him were avowedly confidential. The most important letter contained matter not relevant to the inquiry, and was produced by the person to whom it was addressed without the knowledge or consent of the writer. He (Mr. Hawes) passed no opinion on Mr. Wodehouse's conduct, because the production of that letter rested with the Committee, with whom the public, he thought, would be little disposed to concur. His hon. and learned Friend (Sir F. Thesiger) stated most fairly at the outset, that he thought, in order to form a sound opinion on this case, there ought to be a competent acquaintance with the evidence, and with the papers which had been laid before the House; but, at the same time, he said that a few points stood out in bold relief, 186 which would enable hon. Members to decide, aye or no, upon the Resolution which had been submitted to the judgment of the House. Now, he could not congratulate his hon. and learned Friend on his acquaintance with the evidence. he did not doubt his fairness, or the sincerity of the opinion which he had formed. Knowing him as he did, he should be the last man to dispute either; but he must say that his hon. and learned Friend had not brought before the House all the evidence which fully and fairly bore on the points to which he had addressed himself. After all, however, there were hut two questions which were really those on which the decision of the House must turn: first, what was the state of the island at the time of these events; and, secondly, supposing that the state of the island justified the proclamation of martial law, was there undue and unnecessary severity in carrying martial law into effect? His hon. and learned Friend had said that there was no rebellion, no disturbance of magnitude or importance, no organised resistance to the authority of the Government, and that the officers of the Government gave one opinion at one time, and another at another. His hon. and learned Friend impugned the conduct of the civil officers of the local Government, because, after receiving a circular from the Colonial Secretary, seeking for information, they all gave accounts which were favourable to the views which the Government entertained, and opposed to those which they gave in the first instance. That was a favourite argument with the hon. Member for Montrose also. The alleged inconsistency, however, did not exist; and if these accounts were given a long time after the event, and given by honourable men who personally knew what had occurred, he held that their evidence was as good as if it had been given immediately; nor did the hon. Member himself decline to rely upon evidence given long after the event, where that evidence supported his own views. It must be recollected that these events happened in 1848, a year which could never be forgotten, and which was marked by events in Europe which, he must be allowed to say, produced a sensible influence throughout our colonial empire; and which, as those who had read the evidence and other papers laid before Parliament would admit, might be traced as well in the Cape as Ceylon and elsewhere. Now he was desirous of showing to the House that the causes of this rebel- 187 lion could scarcely be matter of doubt, and in proof of it he would refer to the evidence of a gentleman whose authority was much extolled by hon. Members on the other side of the House. There had been many rebellions in Ceylon from 1818 down to 1848; and Mr. Selby, the Queen's Advocate, the witness to whom he referred, was particularly asked by the Committee to what he attributed the rebellion of 1848. Mr. Selby was asked this question:—1,288. Have you formed any opinion of what the causes were which led to those disturbances?—I have.1,289. Will you state them shortly to the Committee?—la the year 1842 an attempt was made in the Kandyan country to create disturbances of a somewhat similar character to those which took place in 1848. I conducted, on behalf of the Crown, the prosecutions in those cases, and I believe that the disturbances in 1848 were attributable to the same cause which created the disturbances in 1842, though I also think that many more people joined in the disturbances of 1848, from the dissatisfaction which they felt in consequence of their believing that the Government were about to impose a great number in taxes upon them; and I think so because, upon one of the trials in 1848, at Kurnegalle, it came out in the evidence for the prosecution that the people who were inarching into Kurnegalle to attack Kurnegalle said, 'They have imposed 18 taxes upon us, and we are going in to pay them.' I conclude, therefore, from that circumstance, that to some extent the apprehension of more taxation being imposed, had influenced the people.Now it was well known to those who had read the papers, that interested parties did spread reports that as many as thirty-four new taxes, some of them of the most odious description, were about to be imposed; and the chief instigators of the rebellion took advantage of the excitement which the circulation of these reports had occasioned, to arouse the mass of the people, who, without that excitement, would have remained true to the Crown and the local Government. Here, then, they had the chief legal officer of the Government, who was so much relied on by hon. Gentlemen opposite, saying that the same causes operated in 1848 as in 1842; and he (Mr. Hawes) would go further, and say that the same causes were equally active in 1823. He must also take the liberty of calling the attention of his hon. and learned Friend, who made so light of the alarm which was felt when the insurrection broke, out, to the testimony given by a witness who was brought before the Committee by the Chairman and the hon. Member for Montrose, but to whom no reference had been made by his hon. and learned Friend. Colonel 188 Braybrooke, who was an adverse witness, stated distinctly to the Committee—We were under the impression, from what we had heard of the whole country, that we were on the eve of a great rebellion; that being the case, I think it was wise and judicious on the part of Lord Torrington to proclaim martial law, particularly as I know that in 1817 it was generally believed by the first military authorities that much mischief was done by Sir Robert Brownrigg's not having proclaimed martial law soon enough. Sir R. Brownrigg had not declared martial law till February, 1818, leaving four or five months to intervene, during which time the rebellion got to a head, while the military had not the power to act with that decision and energy which they would otherwise have done.Indeed the rebellion of 181.8, which arose from causes so similar to those which led to that of 1848, and which was at first not more formidable, had been referred to by another witness, Major Forbes, who said—He could not help thinking that hundreds of British and thousands of native lives might have been saved if, at the commencement of the rebellion, a stern and severe example had been made of the persons and property of those who first committed acts of treason and murder, and had taken the field in arms against the British Government. It would have struck terror into all classes, and have been a sufficient excuse to the lower ranks for withdrawing to those homes which, in the event of remaining absent, would be rendered desolate.Major Forbes added—They ventured their lives on no stronger temptation than ancient habits of blind obedience to the chiefs, or for fear of revenge in the event of their success.He quoted the opinion of Major Forbes, because that officer was called by the hon. Member for Montrose. Major Forbes, in his work published ten years ago, made that statement. He adopted the estimate given by Dr. Davy in his most interesting work on Ceylon, of the British loss in that contest in the field and by sickness, at 1,000 men, and that of the Kandyans at 10,000. His hon. and learned Friend said that there was no organised rebellion. But why did he omit to refer to the charge of the Chief Justice, who presided at the trials of the prisoners at Kandy for high treason before martial law was proclaimed. If his hon. and learned Friend had done so, he would have found that learned person saying that there was a rebellion, and moreover that the rebellion had nothing whatever to do with the taxes imposed by the Government. His hon. and learned Friend would do well to refer to the charge of the Chief Justice, before 189 whom thirty-four prisoners were arraigned for high treason, and whose duty it was to condemn nineteen persons to death for offences committed, he repeated, before the rebellion broke out. The Chief Justice said—6,880. A more futile and contemptible attempt at rebellion than this has never before, to my knowledge, been made. It is difficult to divine what were the causes moving you, or what were your views in this affair. Judging, however, from the conduct of those who seem to have been most active in it, I hope I may be allowed to say, that the priests and headmen, as the evidence discloses, took the most active part in inciting the people; in fact, any one who attended the court during the last fortnight, and listened to the evidence, can hardly doubt that the common people were driven to it like a flock of sheep. I, therefore, conclude, this rebellion was hatched by headmen or priests, or both by headmen and priests. That the priests have a cause, and a growing cause, of discontent, I am aware; it is known to the country generally, and therefore needs no further allusion to it here. They have kept a keen eye upon the decline of their religion, and it is quite natural that this should raise discontent in their minds; but I am aware, at the same time, and I speak from my own observation, that headmen have been always discontented, as far as their conduct has come to my knowledge, and it appears to me the reason of it is as follows: the remembrance of the former power and authority which they had exercised over the common people has not yet been effaced from their minds, neither is that power, as far as I can see from the evidence, altogether gone, or anything like gone, as is clearly shown by the evidence adduced on these trials. But no human being who has attended this court during these trials, and listened to the evidence, can for a moment doubt that this rebellion has been got up by korales, aratchies, and priests, and that the common people were exceedingly passive in the transaction. In all this, however, I may be mistaken. I give expression to my own notions without asking any one to adopt them.6,881 Mr. HUME: On what occasion was that address delivered?—It was delivered on the 18th day of September.6,882. Was it at the conclusion of the trials; at the time the sentence was passed?—Yes, it was when sentence was passed.Here, therefore, was a competent authority to say whether there was a rebellion or not. Well, then, if such was the state of the country—and he thought he need hardly insist further upon that point, because there was ample documentary evidence from the leading authorities, civil and military, to prove it—if such was the state of the country, it furnished an abundant justification for the proclamation of martial law. Much turned upon that question; if the proclamation of martial law was justified by the state of the country, the proceedings by the courts-martial necessarily followed, and he had only to deal with the second question— 190 was there unnecessary severity, was there uncalled-for punishment in the numbers condemned by these courts-martial? He must, however, in the first instance, be permitted to say, that the authorities were strong as to the necessity of proclaiming martial law. Colonel Braybrooke himself admitted that the general impression at first was, that the colony was on the eve' of a great rebellion. Afterwards, however, he said that from information which he received, he was induced to think that too much had been made of it. But the Governor and his Council thought differently; and there were men of high military standing, General Smelt and Colonel Drought, who concurred with the Governor. Col. Fraser also—whom the hon. Member for Montrose at one time considered a very high authority, and very justly so, and proposed to summon before the Committee;—a proposition which he (Mr. Hawes) opposed, thinking it improper that an inferior officer should be called to give evidence against his superior officer on. questions of general policy—referred in a letter to circumstances which lie said must have convinced him, whatever might have been his opinion until then, that Lord Torrington was quite justified in proclaiming martial law.The intelligence of the outbreak had not, I believe, been an hour in Lord Torrington's possession when his Lordship sent for mo, and referring to ray experience on former occasions, asked me to favour him with my sentiments and suggestions in regard to that event. All the letters which his Excellency had received from Kandy by the express of that morning were then put into my hands, and in consequence of the very alarming accounts which they contained of the state of Matelle, I suggested that Government should be prepared to place that district under martial law; also that no time should be lost in sending to Madras for the aid of a reinforcement of troops, and that a small detail of the latter should be brought over at once, and landed at Trincomalie, to enable us to withdraw from that station a largo detachment of our own troops, and move them direct into Matelle. Some time after this I waited upon the Major General commanding the forces, at his own office, to receive his orders for concentrating the troops, and he then informed me that it had been ascertained, after I left Lord Torrington and himself at the Queen's House, that the steamer Lady Mary Wood was then at Galie, and that an express was just starting for that place with the Governor's despatches and his own for the authorities at Madras, to be forwarded by the Lady Mary Wood, the agents of that vessel having assured them that she would not only be available for the conveyance of the despatches, hut would afterwards return to Trincomalie with the first troops that might be in readiness to embark. This was on the 29th of July. I cannot now recollect the precise day upon which Sir J. E. Ten- 191 nent returned to Colombo, but I know that for a week or more after the reports had reached us of a hostile feeling having betrayed itself in Matelle, I was summoned almost daily to the Queen's House, and that I frequently, if not always, met Sir J. E. Tennent there. The first proclamation of martial law was, however, published in the Gazette of the 29th July, and I saw no member of the Executive Council at the Queen's House on that day (except Major General Smelt), so that any observations I may have made in the presence of the Council, of a suggestive nature, must have referred to the proclamation of the 31st July, when the acts of violence and outrage which had been committed in the Seven Korles and Matelle, the blocking up of the Trincomalie road, &c, must have convinced me, whatever might have been my opinion until then, that Lord Torrington was quite justified in proclaiming martial law, and in adopting the most prompt and vigorous measures to restore the disturbed provinces to order and subordination. It will hardly be denied, I suppose, that it would have been quite impossible to put down an insurrection like that of 1817–18 with the small force under General Smelt's orders in 1848; but from the improved state of our communications, and the other advantages we possessed at this latter period, a force so large as that which Sir Robert Brownrigg had at his command at the termination of the rebellion of 1S18, would have been much more than sufficient for the suppression of an insurrection equally formidable in its nature (in 1848), had such an event taken place.He continues—My opinion being required as to what might have been the result had the disturbances of last year not been promptly checked, I have now to state that had those disturbances ended in a well-organised insurrection of the people of Matelle and the neighbouring districts, the troops would in all probability have been involved in a disheartening and trying service, in which, without assistance from India, it would have been in vain to hope for success, and the Government would have had on its hands a troublesome and expensive contest with its own subjects, to say nothing of the ruinous consequences of such a state of things to the European proprietors of the numerous coffee plantations throughout the interior. As connected with this question, I may further mention that the fire-arms taken from the Kandyans at the end of the rebellion of 1818 did not exceed 10,000 stand at the utmost, and at least two-thirds of those (including a large proportion of old matchlocks) were in a most unserviceable state; whereas in 1848 they (the Kandyans) had probably not less than 60,000 stand in their possession, many of them good muskets, or English fowling-pieces.(Signed) "J. FRASER,Deputy Quartermaster General.December 12th, 1849.Such was Colonel Fraser's opinion, on which, at one time, the Member for Montrose was so disposed to rely, and which he was so anxious to obtain. The evidence of the Deputy Queen's Advocate was decisive in another point: it showed that the civil power was at a standstill, and that 192 processes could not be executed, and that therefore it was necessary and justifiable to resort to extreme measures. The authority of Mr. Stewart was high. He was a native of Ceylon, knew the language, and was an able lawyer, and he was considered by the Chief Justice to be quite equal as an authority to Mr. Selby. The hon. Member for Montrose, indeed, doubted Mr. Stewart's evidence, because it was given a year after the event; yet when the lion. Member wanted additional evidence himself in 1850, he found no fault with it, though it referred to events which occurred in 1848. Now, Mr. Stewart said—At this time the civil authority had ceased to exist; the place was not in British occupation; the magistrate and all others not engaged in the rebellion had fled from it. Again, from what has been already observed, it has been, I think, shown that the headmen, petty and high, were nearly all disaffected, or actual participators in the attempt to subvert British authority. If this be so, it was impossible for the civil Government of the country to be effectively carried on; the headmen, it need not be remarked, are the channels through which all processes are executed, they are the revenue collectors in their several districts, and, in fact, their active and faithful co-operation is necessary to the due and efficient carrying on of the Executive Government, and the judicial business of the island.And then he proceeded further to state—The rebellion of 1818 had a much less formidable beginning, and in comparison with the recent one was quite insignificant in its inception.He (Mr. Hawes) might multiply these statements to a great extent; and if evidence was to decide this question, he contended that the evidence decidedly supported the measures and policy of the local Government in suppressing the rebellion. Well, what was the course which Lord Torrington took when the news of the rebellion first arrived? The moment he received the first information he sent for Colonel Fraser, and his next step was to call together his Executive Council. Colonel Fraser's opinion he had quoted. Did the Executive Council differ in opinion? No; they concurred in the proclamation of martial law being necessary. A second Council was called on the 31st of July, and the proclamation of martial law was again issued in another district. One Member of the Executive Council at that time, Mr. Wodehouse, who had not agreed in the first concurred in the second proclamation; he, however, subsequently desired that a Council should be called specially to reconsider the grounds on which these proclamations were issued. At his instigation, on the 5th of August, 193 an Executive Council was called, at which every Member was present, and the fullest information, it is recorded, was laid before it; and this Council, on the 5th of August—after the period when it was alleged that perfect tranquillity was restored, and after the period at which it was said there was no organised outbreak, and when, as it was said, there was no necessity for martial law-—at that date this Executive Council came to a unanimous resolution that the conduct and measures of the Government were perfectly satisfactory, and not an objection was taken, nor is one recorded, to the policy pursued. What was the necessity for martial law, then, if all was quiet? Even Mr. Wodehouse, on the 5th of August, acquiesced in the continuance of martial law. The House of Commons, not long ago, continued the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act in Ireland, when perfect tranquillity prevailed, and that was justified under the peculiar circumstances of the case. Colonel Braybrooke also admitted that the proclamation of martial law was a wise measure, and that it had a great moral influence on the people at the time (5,725). Independently of Mr. Wodehouse, there was another gentleman, whom, without offence, he must consider a hostile witness—Mr. Selby (the Queen's Advocate) not only approved of, but entirely concurred in, the proclamation of martial law, as appeared from his evidence. He was asked—2,275. Mr. HAWES: You were a member of the Executive Council when it was proposed to proclaim martial law in the first instance at Matelle?—Yes.2,276. And subsequently at Kurnegalle?—Yes.2,277. And you assented to those proclamations?—I did; I did more than assent to them, I concurred in them.2,278. You not only assented, but you concurred in that proclamation?—I agreed in the measure, but the propriety of the measure was not submitted to mo; I should have concurred in the propriety of it if it had been submitted to me.Well, he (Mr. Hawes) thought he had said quite enough to show that Lord Torrington, supported as he was by all the civil and military authorities, General Smelt, Colonel Eraser, and his Executive and Legislative Councils, who were conversant with the state of the country, was fully justified in proclaiming martial law. Then came the question, were the proceedings under martial law unnecessarily severe? And first, after what had been said in the course of the debate, a few words 194 as to Colonel Drought. Colonel Drought had been represented as the author of much unnecessary seventy. His position imposed a very painful duty upon him. But the Chief Justice did justice to the man, if not to the soldier, in his evidence. The Chief Justice, in the evidence before them, speaking incidentally of Colonel Drought, said, "My opinion of Colonel Drought is that he is a humane man." Now that was an opinion which ought to have some weight; but it had also been proved in evidence that, during martial law, there were soldiers who had been guilty of offences subjecting them to a court-martial; and what were the directions Colonel Drought gave with regard to the trial of these soldiers? Colonel Braybrooke states (5,953) that—They were tried with all the formalities prescribed by the Mutiny Act; but Major Layard informed me that he had referred the question to j Colonel Drought, as to what mode of proceeding he should adopt in the case of soldiers who were offenders during the continuance of martial law; and the answer lie received was, that he was to try them precisely as he tried the natives.He (Mr. Hawes) would put it to the House, when a man like Colonel Drought, who was charged with so much cruelty, so much violence, and bloodshed, but who dealt with his own soldiers precisely as was done with the natives, when his character as a soldier nobody impugns, and when his character for humanity is admitted—whether it was even probable that he could have been guilty of the unnecessary severity imputed to him towards the natives? But if it was true that all these proceedings were marked by such unnecessary severity, how did it happen that they had not heard a word from the colony to that effect—how did it happen that it was all left to be brought out a twelvemonth afterwards—how did it happen that the newspapers were all but silent—and yet they had a free press in Ceylon—how did it happen that no representation was ever made to the Major General commanding—for it must be remembered that there was no absence of complaint on other subjects? Yet they were told in the face of these facts that the proceedings were so violent and atrocious as to baffle language to describe them. But what was the opinion of the Legislative Council on the 2nd of October, 1848, while martial law was in force, and had been for nearly two months? Why, they unanimously agreed upon an address to the Governor, in which they stated their 195 satisfaction at the speedy and successful suppression of the insurrection which had taken place in certain districts of the island, and for which they expressed themselves indebted to the prompt declaration of martial law, and the zealous and able exertions of the officers, and noncommissioned officers, and privates in Her Majesty's troops; and then they added the declaration that they fully participated in his Excellency the Governor's desire for the speedy termination of martial law, and that they would be ready to give their best attention to a Bill of Indemnity. This was the address he referred to:—ADDRESS of the Legislative Council to the Right Honourable the Governor, in reply to His Excellency's Speech of the 2nd October, 1848.May it please your Excellency,We beg to express to your Excellency our satisfaction at the speedy and successful suppression of the insurrection which has taken place in some districts of the interior, and for which we feel ourselves indebted to the prompt declaration of martial law, and the zealous and able exertions made by the officers, non-commissioned officers and privates of Her Majesty's forces serving in the colony.We fully participate in your Excellency's earnest desire for the speedy termination of martial law; and we shall be ready to give our best attention to the Bill of Indemnity proposed to be laid before us.
|"Wm. Smelt.||W. H. Simms.|
|J. Emerson Tennent||G. Vane.|
|H. C. Selby.||J. Smith.|
|C. J. MacCarthy.||J. Armitage.|
|F. J. Templer.||J. Swan."|
|P. E. Wodehouse.|
§ And let it be remarked that this very address was concurred in by Mr. Selby and Mr. Wodehouse, the gentlemen who now impugned the Bill of Indemnity which was afterward passed by the Legislative Council. And who did the House think drew up the address of the 2nd of October to the Governor? This point was elicited by the hon. Member for Inverness, who thought the address was so flattering to the Governor, and so much in conformity with his policy, that it must have been written by the Colonial Secretary (Sir E. Tennent). "Who wrote the address?" was the question put by the hon. Gentleman. "Mr. Wodehouse," was the reply—it was drawn up by the very gentleman whose authority was so much used in this. case in condemnation of Lord Torrington. But perhaps it would be said, that at that time the Legislative Council was still under alarm and apprehension when it adopted this address. Well, but another meeting of the Legis- 196 lative Council was held about a twelvemonth afterwards, when it was known that the inquiry in this country was in full force—when the authority of the Governor had been shaken—and when there were parties ready enough to come forward and attack him. In 1849 the Legislative Council came to another unanimous address, which was as follows:—
§ (Enclosure in No. 19.)
§ "ADDRESS of the Legislative Council to the Right Honourable the Governor, in reply to His Excellency's Speech of the 18th September, 1849.
"May it please your Excellency,
The Council, have received with much satisfaction your Excellency's announcement of the continuance of tranquillity throughout the island, which they believe to be mainly attributable to the energetic and prudent measures adopted by your Excellency during and after the disturbances in 184S.
They are further gratified to find that the efforts of your Excellency's Government to promote the welfare of the people are better appreciated, and that your endeavours to develop the resources of the island have been so successful, as evinced by the large increase of colonial exports, and the general improvement of the public finances.
Well, after all the evidence before the House, he thought it could not be said that there had been those notorious cruelties and irregular proceedings in carrying martial law into operation which were the main ground of the hon. Gentleman's charges. If it was true, as bad been stated, that there had been those irregularities and those violent confiscations and sequestrations, how happened it that there were no complaints made on the subject in the colony? Mr. Selby bore very important testimony on this point. He said that certain complaints had reached the Government as to the conduct of the parties employed in suppressing the rebellion, and this is the statement he makes:—
2,206. Were the complaints referred to there complaints on the part of the natives?—Yes; they were complaints from the natives that their property had been taken and disposed of, and had come into the possession of private individuals.
2,207. Can you call to mind any one particular case?—Native names arc so difficult to remember.
2,208. Native or other parties?—Do you mean the name of the party charged, or the name of the party making the complaint?
2,209. Either the name of the party charged, or of the party making the complaint.—I remember the name of a party charged in one particular case.
2,210. Will you state what the name was?—Mr. Mackclwee.
2,211. What was done in consequence?—In one case against Mr. Mackelwee depositions were
taken by Mr. Tempter, at Matelle, and an investigation was made into the case, and Mr. Tempter's opinions upon that investigation was, that the charge had not been substantiated; but the case had not been finally disposed of when I left Ceylon.
2,212. But when the complaint was made, the matter was investigated by the authorities?—It was.
2,213. Will you mention any other ease?—I am not sure whether all the cases which I refer to, although they were charges made by different parties, were not against the same individual; I rather think they were.
2,214. Can you or can you not remember any other case?—No, I cannot.
2,215. Then I will put this general question: As far as complaints were made, and as far as they reached the authorities, is this Committee to understand you to say that the Government promptly inquired into them?—Yes; my belief is, that it was only necessary for a party to make a complaint to the proper authority, and it was sure to be listened to, and he was certain to obtain redress if he had been in any way aggrieved.
He (Mr. Hawes) asked if such evidence as this could be given consistently with all the allegations of violence; and whether it was possible to conceive that all persons holding high civil or military situations in the colony could have conspired to stifle all the irregularities now raked up if they had really occurred; and that it should be left to two or three individuals to bring to light this story of cruelty and severity. The hon. and learned Gentleman had alluded to the confiscations of property under a particular proclamation; but he did not tell the House that not one single act of confiscation had actually taken place. He challenged any hon. Gentleman to point out the least evidence to show that any confiscation whatever took place under the proclamation of the 18th of August. Then all the argument and ingenuity of the hon. and learned Gentleman was perfectly thrown away; for however violent and illegal the proclamation might be, not a single instance of confiscation occurred under it. In answer to a question which he (Mr. Hawes) put to Mr. Selby, that gentleman, in his evidence, said, "that in point of fact there was no confiscation;" and the whole bearing of the evidence was to the same effect upon this point. But then the hon. and learned Gentleman said, the sequestration was violent and illegal. Now, what was the history of the sequestration? When the insurrection took place, and martial law was proclaimed, a great portion of the inhabitants, as had been their custom in all former rebellions, fled to the jungle, and property to a considerable amount was left at the mercy of any
plunderers who might choose to take possession of it. Under these circumstances all movable property was taken possession of by the military; what was perishable, and what was perishable only, was, or was intended to be, sold; and the hon. and learned Gentleman had not told the House that the whole value of the property thus sold was restored to the owners. He did not mean to say that there might not have been any hardship, even some irregularity; but hardship in some degree there must always attend the suppression of an insurrection. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Inverness-shire, in his Resolutions, declared that the refusal of the Governor to allow a short delay in the execution of a priest at the request of the Queen's Advocate, who wished a further investigation of the case, was in the highest degree arbitrary and oppressive. The hon. Gentleman must have been perfectly aware that there was nothing on which Mr. Selby insisted so strongly as that it was not as Queen's Advocate that he went to the Governor. He (Mr. Hawes) had questioned him on that subject, and he distinctly declared that ho went as a private individual, and not as Queen's Advocate; and there was a very important distinction between his going in the one capacity, and his going as a private individual. But he went as a private individual, on the loose and vague report of a person who said he had been present at the trial; he knew nothing of the matter himself, and had taken no means to inform himself accurately upon it, as he was bound to have done if he had gone to the Governor as Queen's Advocate; while, on the other hand, the Governor gave his decision after he had read the whole of the evidence, and had made himself acquainted with the whole facts of the case by communicating with Colonel Drought. Well, then, taking a fair view of what he had stated—that the proclamation of martial law was justified, being supported by the opinion of all the most eminent military and civil authorities—considering that these stories of severity and violence did not transpire in the colony?—that Mr. Selby stated that all complaints might have been heard and redressed, if made—considering that the Legislative and Executive Councils, and the press, all concurred in the opinion of the necessity for martial law, and that there never was, throughout the whole time of its continu-
ance, any direct or official intimation to the Governor, either from the civil authorities or through the medium of public opinion in the island, that the proceedings and measures of the Government were either violent or unjustifiable—on all these grounds he thought there was no justification for the allegations made against the administration of Lord Torrington by the hon. Member for Inverness-shire. There never was a case, in fact, in which a Governor of a colony could fall back on the support of public opinion and every local authority with more confidence than in this case. But he must refer for a moment to another part of the hon. Gentleman's Motion. It impugned Lord Grey for having given his unqualified approbation to the proceedings attending the proclamation of martial law, and to the subsequent conduct of the courts-martial. Now, the House, he thought, must be struck with the circumstance, that when the hon. Gentleman first placed his Resolutions on the table, he spoke of the "unqualified" approbation of Lord Grey of the conduct of Lord Torrington; whilst, on the other hand, in the Resolution for which he now asked the support of the House, the word "unqualified" was omitted. Of course the hon. Gentleman became convinced that his first Resolution was erroneous, and he had therefore taken advantage of the intervening time—and not in this particular only—to alter his Resolutions, and, in passing, he might say most essentially to alter them. The hon. Gentleman, as Chairman of the Committee, and therefore bound to look carefully into all the documents concerning the inquiry, had first told the House that Earl Grey's "unqualified approbation" had been given to these proceedings; but now it would appear, according to the altered Resolution, in the opinion of the lion. Gentleman it was not "unqualified." Surely from the Chairman of the Committee, the House was entitled to expect greater accuracy in his statement of facts. He was not, however, going to take refuge under that; he was prepared to defend the conduct of his noble Friend, and to defend it by former precedents. When a Secretary of State received from a colony accounts of an insurrection—and this was an insurrection—what course did the House expect that he should take? Suppose he received an account from the Governor of a colony that a rebellion had broken out—that the troops had discharged their duty satisfactorily—
that they had behaved with their usual gallantry and discipline—that they had been successful—and that the insurrection was suppressed, and the tranquillity of the colony was restored; was he in that case to wait, as the hon. Member for Honiton (Sir J. W. Hogg) had asked, until a sufficient time had passed, in order to take any course he pleased, to award blame or honour as he might subsequently think expedient? That, at all events, had not been the practice of former Secretaries of State. When accounts similar to those from Ceylon had been received, the Secretary of State for the time being, if the despatch was clear and distinct, announcing that all the proceedings had been lawful, and under the direction and upon the responsibility of the proper authorities, had always answered it instanter, conveying to the Governor and the troops Her Majesty's approbation of the part they had taken in putting down the insurrection. It was impossible at the same time that such a despatch could be construed to convey approbation of every act done in time of rebellion. The Secretary of State could not be cognisant of all the facts that occurred during the proceedings; the military proceedings must be assumed to take place under competent military officers, who were responsible to the highest military authority in this country. If those military proceedings were irregular, there were ample means under military law of punishing any offences proved to have been committed; while there were proper tribunals by which civilians who had committed any civil offences might a-so be punished. He contended that his noble Friend (Earl Grey) had, in the course he had taken, acted strictly in accordance with former precedents. The first to which he would refer was the case of the Ceylon rebellion in 1818. Martial law was proclaimed in February, 1818; a despatch announcing the fact was received by the Secretary of State on the 29th July, and it was answered on the 12th August, 1818, by Lord Bathurst, who conveyed the King's approbation to the Governor and troops almost in the same language in which it was conveyed in Earl Grey's despatch. He said—
At the same time I have to convey to you the Prince Regent's entire approbation of the measures you have adopted with a view to the suppression of the insurrection. I have only to observe that the intelligence strongly confirms the opinion expressed in my former despatch, and that it does not render necessary any alteration in
the instructions which I have by command of his Royal Highness to convey to you.
The next case was that of Jamaica. The despatch here was received Oct. 14th, 1823, and it was answered on the 23rd October of the same year. Now this was a very remarkable case; it was a servile insurrection, and a great many cases occurred which did afterwards lead to a very anxious inquiry; but no one supposed that the despatch of the Secretary of State was an approval of everything that was done in the suppression of the insurrection. The language of that despatch was very much the same as that employed by his noble Friend (Earl Grey):—
His Majesty is pleased to approve of the promptitude and decision with which your Lordship appears to have acted in this emergency, and observes with high satisfaction that you have found so much reason to commend the conduct of the officers and troops.
In the case of Demerara, the despatch announcing the insurrection and its suppression was answered with similar promptitude. In the case of New Zealand, when the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gladstone) was in office, he did not hesitate to convey the Queen's approbation to the Governor of the colony, and to commend the conduct of the troops, without waiting to inquire whether there had been any act of unnecessary severity or bloodshed; but with the promptitude of all former Secretaries of State, he replied on the 29th of June, to the despatch which he had received on the 25th June, 1846. Well, many natives fell in that insurrection—there was considerable loss of life, and subsequently martial law was proclaimed; but was the right hon. Gentleman to be held responsible for all that was done? He (Mr. Hawes) deemed it unnecessary to pursue this subject further, though it was the foundation of the hon. Gentleman's (Mr. Baillie's) Resolution; he (Mr. Hawes) relied entirely upon the fact that a despatch under such circumstances conveyed the general approbation of the Secretary of State of the proceedings taken to suppress the rebellion, and that it was impossible to consider it as conveying an approval of all proceedings, whatever might be their character, of which he could have no knowledge. He thought that he had shown that the course taken by Earl Grey was in strict conformity with precedent; and it was a course which he hoped would continue to be pursued, for it would be a most dangerous thing if the Governors of distant
colonies, in difficult and dangerous emergencies, were to be left unsupported, till every allegation of irregularity or abuse of power had been the subject of inquiry or adjudication—or till a Secretary of State found it safe and politic to convey the approbation of the Sovereign to an officer who had successfully discharged his first duty, the suppression of rebellion and the maintenance of peace. Let it not be supposed that he thought any acts had been done which, if known to the Secretary of State, should have induced him to withhold his approval from Lord Torrington. He believed that the proceedings in Ceylon were necessary under the circumstances of the case. He had on a previous occasion said in that House, that the tremendous powers of martial law should be exercised with great caution, great care, and great watchfulness. He should be sorry to be thought capable of defending unnecessary severity, or undue recourse to the powers of martial law. They were tremendous powers, placed in the hands of the Governor of a colony for the purpose of preserving tranquillity only, when the ordinary powers of the law had failed. On the other hand, when events took place, like those in Ceylon—when a great public road was blocked up to prevent the advance of the troops—when two towns were attacked and plundered—when a King was proclaimed and crowned—when the natives met in arms, and encountered the Queen's troops—he contended that there were then all the incidents necessary to constitute a rebellion; and when we found the civil officers reporting that the civil power was in abeyance, he repeated that the Governor was justified in resorting to martial law, and in maintaining the peace of the colony at all hazards. He thought, therefore, that Lord Torrington's policy was justified, and he could not refrain from saying also that the case had been pressed against him with a degree of virulence and vindictiveness that had rarely marked an inquiry into the conduct of any public officer. The press had been constantly employed to vilify his conduct; from beginning to end constant and sedulous efforts had been made to disparage all the authorities in Ceylon, and to discredit the evidence brought forward in favour of Lord Torrington. It had been said that the noble Lord wrote two letters on the same day of an entirely opposite character, respecting the same individual; but although those notes were
dated oil the same day, he (Mr. Hawes) thought there was no ground for saying that they were of an opposite character, for one of them was the most perfectly commonplace note that could by possibility have been written; and he thought there was no ground for saying that Lord Torrington had written altogether contradictory letters on the same clay. Lord Torrington had, however, in the most manly way, disposed of this charge, and he need not further allude to it. He asked the House to review the evidence before them, and to weigh well the testimony which had been adduced in this case. How many of them had looked into the whole of that evidence, and had carefully examined it? He was afraid but few were competent to offer an opinion on the whole of the case; but he would ask them to reflect that Lord Torrington had acted in conjunction with every civil and military authority, and in no one instance in opposition to these authorities or public opinion in Ceylon; and that when he left Ceylon his departure was marked by an address from almost every proprietor in justification of his conduct in this rebellion. The hon. Member for Dorset had, indeed, thrown great discredit on the addresses of Europeans in the colony. He imagined that that lion. Member had not paid much attention to colonial affairs, for he thought that any man who had would not have ventured to throw out imputations upon the conduct of British merchants resident in our colonies. The address Was very numerously signed—in fact, by all the planters, with but one exception he believed—and he knew that the opinion of the gentleman whose name stood at the head of the list with respect to the conduct of Lord Torrington, was entitled to as much weight as the evidence of any Gentleman in that House. He was personally acquainted with him; ho therefore attached considerable importance to that address. That address declared that the thanks of the inhabitants of the Central Province of Ceylon were duo to his Lordship for the prompt measures by which he had destroyed in the bud a rebellion which, judging from the past history of the island, might otherwise have been most disastrous to the colony. And Lord Torrington, before his departure, also received from the Catholic bishops of the colony an address, which ascribed to the measures taken by his Lordship the preservation of the lives and property of the inhabitants. He contended, then, that inasmuch as Lord Torrington met with the
support of all the authorities, civil and military, and of all classes, both of the commercial and indeed the labouring population; inasmuch as there was no evidence of any expression of opinion hostile to the course which he adopted; and inasmuch as the Queen's Advocate stated that there was no impediment to the bringing forward of any complaints, and a perfect readiness to redress every injury when, proved—he confidently contended that there was no ground for passing a vote of censure not only on Lord Torrington, but on every subordinate officer connected with the Government in the colony and with these proceedings, still less for passing a vote of censure on the noble Lord at the head of the Colonial Department for the part he had taken in conformity with precedent, and in the discharge of his duty. He was confident that there were no grounds that could be stated which would justify the course now recommended to the House; and ho therefore relied upon the justice of the House to lead them to reject the Motion of the hon. Member for Inverness.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
Sir, the hon. Member who has justs at down has handled this question, I am bound to say, with his usual ability, and with a fairness that does him honour. It was quite refreshing to notice the freedom of his speech from those personalities which have entered too largely, I am compelled to say, into portions of this debate. Much has been said of personalities against Lord Torrington. I am not here to justify them; nor, I trust, am I here to repeat them. It certainly will be without my intention or my wish if anything of the kind should escape me in regard to any man whatsoever. But if personalities be objectionable and odious—as they are—in respect to Lord Torrington, who is a Peer of the realm, who has the power of vindicating himself in a British House of Parliament, who is backed by a Government and a great party—I ask, what are personalities against those who are not Peers of the realm, who arc not backed by a Government and a great party, who are mere subordinate persons, labouring in a distant land in the service of their country, and who are dependent upon their employment for their bread from day to day? What are we to say to those personalities, of which, I am sorry to say, there was an abundant sprinkling in the able and eloquent speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Sir J. W. Hogg), and which 205 formed the staple and substance of the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Cork (Mr. Serjeant Murphy), who appeared so early in the debate as the representative of Lord Torrington? I venture to tell that hon. and learned Gentleman, that, as the representative of Lord Torrington, he has pursued a most injudicious course in founding the vindication of that noble Lord upon almost every point (I believe I might say, without contradiction, upon every single point of his speech), upon the vituperation of those employed under him. It was not only one the hon. and learned Member attacked: it was now the Chief Justice, Sir Anthony Oliphant; then it was Lieut.-Colonel Braybrooke; next it was the Queen's Advocate, Mr. Selby; then it was Mr. Elliot; and next it was Mr. M'Christie; every person, in fact, whose testimony came across the hon. and learned Gentleman; every person whose opinions and whose testimony were inconvenient to his purpose, he chose to dispose of by vilifying their characters; and upon one occasion I confess that I was astonished at the hon. and learned Gentleman. He referred to the case of Mr. Selby; and he a barrister, having reached his high position by the aid of legal training, was not ashamed to make it a matter of attack on Mr. Selby in this House that he had attained a position of eminence, though in a narrower sphere, and without the advantages of a legal training which the hon. and learned Serjeant had enjoyed. Let me do justice at the same time to my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Sir J. Hogg). He referred to the very same subject, but in a different spirit and a different sense. He referred to Mr. Selby not having had the advantages of a legal training, not as a reason for disparaging his testimony and for making light of his character, but, on the contrary, as reflecting a higher honour upon that gentleman for having achieved success under disadvantages unknown to the learned Serjeant. In defending these gentlemen I may be warm, but I shall endeavour to be otherwise when I come to the argument on the main points ill the case. But there is another gentleman to whom I must refer for one moment, and that is Mr. Wodehouse. I thank the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down for the fairness with which he has dealt with the case of Mr. Wodehouse. So much has been said of that case that I may perhaps be permitted to devote a few moments to 206 it. Mr. Wodehouse is found fault with for the production of confidential letters before the Committee. But how stand the facts? They are these:—Mr. Wodehouse's evidence had been disparaged by an endeavour to show that he had been all along the confidential friend and adviser of Lord Torrington. He had in his possession sundry confidential letters from Lord Torrington, which, he thought, showed that this was not the fact. These confidential letters contained other matters totally distinct from the matter which he wished to make use of, and which was unhappily vituperative of other parties. What did he do? He did not produce the letters; but a charge of inconsistency, nearly amounting to one of personal dishonour, having been fastened on him, as having advised in Ceylon measures which he censured here, he said he would refer to Lord Torrington's letters to show he had not been in close connexion with him; that is, he would refer to them, for a purpose beneficial to himself certainly, but not injurious to Lord Torrington, or to any other human being. Was there any dishonour in that? No, certainly not. But what did the Committee do? The Committee, I confess, in my opinion, committed an egregious error—they, by a rigorous and injudicious act, compelled him to produce those letters. I was not present when the decision was come to, and I expressed my deep regret at the moment I entered the room, and had an opportunity of doing so. Taking a most narrow and technical, and really most absurd view of the subject, they said, "You shall not be allowed to refer to your letters for any purpose, however inoffensive, unless you consent to lay the whole of the letters before the Committee." Mr. Wodehouse, therefore, produced the letters and said, "There are documents to which I must refer in order to clear my character," and so by this means the documents came before the Committee. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hawes) has done justice to Mr. Wodehouse to-night so fully and fairly that I will not refer to the censure which he was the means of conveying to Mr. Wodehouse on the part of Earl Grey for his conduct in this matter. He has fairly said that the Committee was responsible for the production of those letters, and he has thus, in my opinion, given a complete vindication of a man whom I believe to be as intelligent and respectable a servant as Her Majesty can find in any part of Her domin- 207 ions. Now I do trust that in the rest of this debate there will be some consideration with regard to those gentlemen employed in Ceylon, who, I have ventured to observe to the House, have every argument that the Governor can have in making a claim upon your consideration and indulgence, whilst they have also other arguments peculiar to themselves in their defencelessness, in their dependence on the employment which they possess, and in the necessary restraint upon their freedom of explanation and defence, so long as they continue to hold office under the confidential advisers of the Crown. Now I come to the main question which is before the House. I regretted the rising of the hon. and learned Member for Cork (Mr. Serjeant Murphy) after the speech of the hon. Member for Inverness-shire (Mr. Baillie), because it tended to foster the misunderstanding that we are here substantially and mainly to discuss the conduct of Lord Torrington. Now, it is most important that we should understand what we are really discussing, and in what relation the officers of the Government in Ceylon, Lord Torrington, the Governor, and Her Majesty's Government, stand to the House of Commons, in regard to this question. I say fearlessly, first and foremost, in the main and in the substance, we are here to discuss the conduct of Her Majesty's Government. I don't stand upon the ground of a single despatch, written by Earl Grey during the excitement and the anxiety of those events. It would be most ungenerous to endeavour to pin a man to words under any circumstances, and more especially under the great and often under the crushing anxieties of political life. What I stand upon is this—that the approbation which was conveyed by Earl Grey to Lord Torrington on' the 24th of October,1848, is an approbation which was then given with a necessarily imperfect knowledge of the circumstances; and that it has been reaffirmed and re-conferred upon more occasions than one, after the fullest inquiry, with a flood of light thrown upon the whole subject, and with the issue fairly and clearly laid before Government. And, Sir, the hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Hogg) asked whether the Secretary for the Colonies was to wait to see what course events would take before expressing an opinion respecting the conduct of a Governor. Certainly not. Never, I believe, was there a Secretary of State, and I hope there never will be one, 208 that would be capable of anything so base. A Secretary of State for the Colonies must run some risk, and when he receives the account of a Governor he must receive it as the account of a man who has his confidence, and whom he believes to be honourable and intelligent until he ascertains the contrary; and, above all, he has a right to stake himself on any risk he runs. It would of course be absurd to hold that the Secretary of State is to be responsible for all the details of the policy which he approves of; it is not enough for any Member of this House to go into a case like this and show irregularity here and irregularity here it is quite plain that these are subjects that must he viewed in the main with reference to the great interests, and still more to the great principles, they involve; they must be viewed in their main and leading outline, and not in their petty and technical details. To give you an example: the hon. Gentleman (Sir J. Hogg) says there was no confiscation of property. Now, upon that point he is entirely wrong. [Mr. HAWES: No!] Thus challenged, I must show the hon. Gentleman he is wrong. In the answers to the questions 4,992 and 4,993, Mr. Selby says there were confiscations, but those confiscations were afterwards converted into sequestrations. But I am not going to stand here upon such questions as that; certainly those confiscations of property were grossly illegal—they were oppressive and unfortunate. It was a grave and serious error, and should have been censured by Lord Torrington, and noticed by Earl Grey, but still they are not cases for votes of censure in this House. The case I have to deal with is one which involves the highest and most sacred principles on which the government of mankind can be carried on. It is on an issue of that kind, and not on small matters or mere errors, even of a serious nature, that I, for one, am prepared to support a vote that is a vote of censure on a great department of the State, and in connexion with that on Her Majesty's Government, who have identified themselves with that department. I will not weary the House with any statements except those which are necessary to make good my case, and to prove that not only on the 24th October, 1848, but at recent dates and on late occasions, down to a memorable occasion within the last few weeks, the noble Earl at the head of the Colonial Department, on his own part, and on the 209 part of the Government, has distinctly and bodily adopted the whole of the proceedings of Lord Torrington. I say the whole, not meaning to take into view those of secondary consequence, but speaking of their main outline, principle, substance, and effect; we are now judging the conduct, accidentally only of Lord Torrington, but substantially of Her Majesty's Government. I hold it to be the constitutional principle with respect to all subordinate persons in the employment of the Crown—and the Governor of a colony, although an officer of high rank, is still but a subordinate to the confidential advisers of the Crown at home—that when their acts have been adopted formally and deliberately by the Administration, we lose sight altogether of the subordinates; and it becomes the duty of the House of Commons, as the representatives of the people, to deal only with the principals on the floor of this House, and hero to debate such questions and fight them out as Government questions, unconnected with the paltry purpose of prosecuting individuals. And now, Sir, I hope the House will well recollect what has been urged upon them by the hon. Member for Honiton (Sir J. W. Hogg) with respect to the gravity of the motives that beset us on either side in this matter. It is undoubtedly a very grave matter, indeed, to censure the conduct of a Colonial Governor that has been approved of and formally adopted by the Secretary of State at homo. I will not attempt to conceal that such a remedy as the interposition of this House for the purpose of rectifying grave errors on the part of the Executive, requires to be of the rarest possible application, and that if Motions of this kind should become frequently necessary, it would betoken the existence of a state of things in which the work of Government could not be carried on. Fully admitting, therefore, the gravity of the Motion, I say that we have, on the other hand, motives still more exalted and sacred presented to our view; for the question raised was not a more error in policy, affecting simply men's property, or slight injury to their persons. No; it ascends to the very highest matters—to the sacredness of human life itself, and the main issue you have to try is whether there has in this case been a judicious and wise, or an unwise and a wanton administration of the highest and most solemn prerogative of Government, which consists in taking into its own hands the work of the Creator, and determining when 210 the span of human existence shall be brought to a close. Something has been said in the course of this debate on the use of the word "rebellion." Some persons think the outbreak in Ceylon was entitled to be called a rebellion, while others have treated this application of the term as ridiculous. I will not quarrel about the word; and, looking at the characteristics of the outbreak, I am not indisposed to admit that it was one to which the term "rebellion" may very fairly be applied. The hon. Under Secretary for the Colonies, however, had overstated the case when ho spoke of the sacking and plundering of two towns. Certain buildings—not more than two—in two different towns were injured or gutted. The same thing happened in this country last night. The newspapers, however, in recording that event did not adopt the political language of the hon. Under Secretary, and magnify it into the sacking and plunder of a town. But then it was said there had been a great gathering of men in arms. The witnesses, however, differed as to the numbers in the Ceylon case, but the majority bore out the statement that between 8,000 and 10,000 persons assembled in arms against the Queen's authority. An engagement also took place with the troops, and one soldier was slightly wounded. But what did the rebels do when they had the field at their command before the soldiers came? What excesses, what outrages, did they commit to deserve the horrors subsequently inflicted on them? They injured if they did not destroy the buildings and crops on a certain coffee plantation. Will any one pretend that this destruction of property is to be set against the waste of human life under the circumstances before us? The only outrage on a human being committed by these rebels consisted in tying a man's hands behind his back, and his feet to a verandah; and in the description given of this affair it was stated that his skin was blackened by the pressure of the cords. That was tile only outrage committed on a European. In addition, some Coolies were wounded in a scuffle on an estate; but loss of life caused by the rebels, as far as I have been able to ascertain, there was absolutely none. This showed at least that if there was a rebellion is was not a vindictive, atrocious, or murderous, rebellion. The extreme ferocity of the persons with whom we had to deal was proved by the fact that when excited and maddened by rebellion they tied the arms of an European behind his back, 211 and attached his feet to a verandah. Then, again, I must observe that if there was a rebellion, it was one of the shortest ever known. It can be properly said to have lasted only two days. After two days there were assemblages of unarmed men connected with the taxes which were the cause of complaint, but assemblages of armed men after two days there were none. The hon. Under Secretary for the Colonies said that there were two questions to be determined, namely, whether Lord Torrington was justified in proclaiming martial law; and, secondly, whether undue severity was practised under the martial law. Now, I will reduce the two questions by a summary process to one. So far as any question has been raised on the propriety of declaring martial law (I did not hear it raised), it may be a question open to differences of opinion. Some may be of opinion it was necessary, and others that it was not; but the Motion on which we are going to decide does not contain the slightest impeachment of the Ceylon Government for the proclamation of martial law; and, therefore, the whole of what the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies has said on that matter was unnecessary, for it did not require any proof at all; and, therefore, vanishes from before us. The question is as to what was done after martial law was proclaimed. I have said that the rebellion was the shortest ever known, and I will not deny that the application of strong measures might have been a humane course to pursue under the circumstances. No man can be excused for rebellion under any circumstances; but there never was a rebellion in palliation of which so much could be said. Now I will prove that, not by having recourse to hostile testimony, or by bringing up the testimony of the enemies of Lord Torrington. You say, that in Ceylon you are dealing with a population ignorant and uninstructed, who could not be governed, like civilised men, by an appeal to their reason. If so, it behoves you to take care how you provoke their force. The change of policy adopted by Lord Torrington may be justified by the abstract principles of political economy, but it abrogated the privileges and violated the laws which secured the persons and property of the natives. A sudden change of system, introducing batches of new taxes on property, was, to say the least, injudicious. I allude to this circumstance as a palliation of the guilt of rebellion. 212 There is no doubt that the taxes were connected with the rebellion; and when you say these were not the cause of it, I apprehend you mean they were not the main cause; but it was admitted on all hands, even by persons who have made appeals on the part of Lord Torrington, that the taxes had tended to excite it. So far certainly as the people were concerned, they were the cause of the rebellion. They may have been a pretext—a dishonest pretext—on the part of others; but as far as the mass of the people in Ceylon was concerned, the imposition of taxes—it is admitted on all hands and by all the witnesses, and Lord Torrington himself so stated in his defence—was the main and effective means of inciting the people to rebellion, not merely by the fact that such taxes had been imposed, but by the argument further built upon it, "When we have those six taxes suddenly imposed upon us, we have every reason to suppose that we shall have six taxes more." Let the House also recollect the position of the people of Ceylon in respect of their religion. I ask this question distinctly of Her Majesty's Government. Had the people of Ceylon any right to complain or not of the conduct of this country in regard to their religion? We are not here to discuss the merits of that religion, or to be the advocates of Buddhism, but we are here as the advocates of good faith; and if you bind yourselves by the obligations of good faith, those obligations you must, in spite of all difficulties, fulfil. You bound yourselves to take some qualified care of the property connected with the Buddhist religion; and, unfortunatety, just before the period of the outbreak (not supported by the advice of the civil servants of the colony, but opposed by them all) in the teeth of the advice of every practical man, you suddenly threw up all charge over the property connected with the maintenance of their religion, and refused to constitute any new legal staff for its management. Was it possible to adopt a measure more calculated to exasperate the people? Was it consistent with good faith, or not? I shall read a few lines from a statement made with regard to the feelings of the people of Ceylon in reference to the maintenance of the property connected with their religion; and the witness, whoso testimony I shall quote, is Lord Torrington himself. Lord Torrington himself, in the month of October or September, page 213 256, first blue book, thus writes to Earl Grey:—I have, in conclusion, to remark, that it is by no means too late to attempt to remedy the evils which appear to have substantial foundation; and first and foremost our endeavour should be to restore to the religion of the people and its ministers that qualified protection which is due to them by treaty. It is necessary for them on the ground of policy, and may not be inconsistent with the mild system of amelioration of the British Government.Therefore, in matters which were nearest to the feelings of those men, you have chosen to break faith with them. I am not now accusing any parties on that score, but I am beseeching and entreating, before you decide on the question of rebellion, before you proceed to condemn them, to estimate the severities inflicted upon them, and to consider the deep provocation that was given to them, and that drove them to that extremity. If we may trust the witnesses before the Committee, there was another case of longer standing, and perhaps more deeply connected with the outbreak—that was the policy pursued for a series of years in reference to the ancient chiefs of the people—a policy of distrust and suspicion. There was a Major Skinner brought before the Committee by the hon. Under Secretary of State, who gave evidence on this subject. He said, in the time of Sir Edward Barnes, who was Governor of the colony about twenty-four years ago, the system of policy was to recognise all the patriarchal relations that were found to exist between the chiefs, the headmen, and the common people of Ceylon. What were the consequences of that system? The consequences were, that they regarded the Governor with the deepest affection. There was no division between them, and all classes revered him; and Major Skinner tells us, that after his death, when a statue was erected to his memory, they used to bring offerings and leave them before it. However, that policy was entirely changed. It was thought better and wiser to mistrust them, and to alter your relations between the chiefs and headmen and the people; and what was the consequence? You made them your enemies. With some reason they complain of your conduct. You had enjoyed their attachment when you chose to cultivate it, and you must now expect that they should be alienated and estranged from your institutions. You alienated from you the chiefs, the headmen, and priests; but was that a reason why the people should be punished. They at least had 214 given you no cause of complaint. It is not pretended that there was a general dissatisfaction in Ceylon. The very case made on the part of the Government was, that the people of Ceylon wore the tools of their superiors, who had led them astray. Therefore I put it to the House that it is clear on every ground that there never was a rebellion respecting which more could be urged in palliation of the guilt which attended it—that there never was a rebellion in which it was more desirable or imperative that in administering justice you should have remembered at the earliest possible moment to return to mercy and grace. Now, Sir, I come to the statement of the cause that will induce me to give my vote in favour of the first Resolution of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Inverness-shire (Mr. Baillie). I think, in dealing with the case of a country like Ceylon, we ought to draw a broad distinction between charges that simply relate to the undue assumption of power, and charges that involve the cruel and unnecessarily severe and harsh exercise of power. We have charges of both descriptions before us. The first is not the proclamation of martial law, but the prolongation of martial law. What opinion is the House to pronounce by its verdict to-night on that prolongation? The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies says justly that we are not to hold a Secretary of State responsible for all the details of transactions under martial law; but the hon. Gentleman, I am sure, will not attempt to deny that this prolongation of martial law, from the month of July to the 10th of October, is a circumstance of a character so essential and important, that it must have a great influence every way on the judgment of this House. What is the reason alleged for the prolongation of martial law for two months and a half? What is the justification on the point by the highest authority that can be cited on the subject, Lord Torrington himself? I confess it seems to me that the justification which Lord Torrington alleges is obviously, from forgetfulness, no doubt, on his part, an afterthought. The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) took up the same idea, and said that the prolongation of martial law was necessary in order to facilitate the apprehension of the Pretender, because, so great was the discontent of the population, that they would have baffled the authori- 215 ties at every turn, and it would have been impossible to get hold of the Pretender without the aid of martial law. Now, Lord Torrington gives a complete contradiction to this in the despatch which he wrote to Earl Grey on the 16th of August. He said—The pretended King and his brother cannot long remain in their present concealment, as the people generally are undeceived as to their pretensions, and numbers of the natives are in active pursuit of them, allured by the reward in prospect.He tells us here distinctly that the bulk of the population was with him, and that there was every desire to apprehend the Pretender. Well, if that was so, I ask again why, on the 16th of August, did Lord Torrington prolong the existence of martial law? I must say that, in reading the papers in this case, I find a total absence of any sense of the value of constitutional principles and the principles of freedom. Lord Torrington and the Government—for I must charge it upon the Government, considering that they have adopted the noble Lord's proceedings—seem to have regarded martial law solely in the aspect of its convenience to themselves. Lord Torrington regarded it as a means of obviating the difficulties, and as a justification of any accusations that might be brought against the acts of the Ceylon Government; and Lord Torrington resolved that martial law should continue until an Act of Indemnity was passed. I state that without having seen the document; but it has not, so far as I am aware, been contradicted. [Mr. HAWES intimated dissent.] I am speaking now of the intention that martial law should continue until an Act of Indemnity was passed. Now, what is the evidence upon the subject of the necessity of continuing martial law? After having been a member of the Ceylon Committee, and listened to this debate, I am not aware of a single testimony given in this country in justification of the prolongation of the term of martial law. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies, whose industry as well as his fairness I am ready to admit, has stated no such testimony. He quoted the evidence of Colonel Braybrooke with respect to the proclamation of martial law; but he knows that Colonel Braybrooke disapproved of its continuance. He also knows that the Chief Justice (Sir Anthony Oliphant) disapproved of it. He knows that every witness, or almost every witness, that was brought before the Com- 216 mittee, distinctly stated that he disapproved of the continuance of martial law. Now, I ask, is that a slight matter, or one of petty detail? It has been said, and said truly, that martial law is the abolition of all law. In Ceylon, therefore, during the continuance of martial law all law was abolished; and nothing could justify this but the most urgent necessity. The hon. Gentleman has quoted the address of the Legislative Council; but that address is merely negative evidence in his favour. The Legislative Council does not say a single word in justification of the continuance of martial law up to that date. Throughout the whole evidence, I repeat, there is not a single declaration in favour of the continuance of martial law until the 10th of October; and I fearlessly say, therefore, that that sentiment, if it exists, has yet to be produced—for none such has been brought either before the Ceylon Committee or the British House of Commons. Is there anything on the face of the facts to justify the continuance of martial law? On the contrary, the rebellion was suppressed on the 31st of July. The assemblages of the people after that were unarmed assemblages, and these took place a few days after the period I have mentioned. I assert that after that period there was no combination of the people for the purpose of resistance; and yet for more than two months this monstrous state of things was suffered to continue—for monstrous it is when it is allowed to exist without any adequate justification. On this ground, therefore, I think there is room for grave censure upon Her Majesty's Government, whose instrument we must, of course, consider Lord Torrington to have been; for I regard Lord Torrington's prolongation of martial law as just as much the act of the Government as if it had been continued under directions from the noble Earl the Secretary for the Colonies. So much for the case of martial law. But there is one other point which it is necessary to notice; it is one which, I confess, I cannot dismiss from my mind. I consider it, indeed, by far the most serious of the whole, because even the prolongation of martial law would not have induced me to vote against the Government on this occasion, unless it had been shown that there had been an unnecessary infliction of suffering upon the people, and an unnecessary disregard of freedom and personal rights. But, now, how do we stand in reference to the matter of the military ex- 217 ecutions in Ceylon? I do hope that the hon. Members, however weary they may he of this debate, which has detained us longer than is usual with colonial subjects, will not he altogether deaf to the appeal that is made to them as men and as Christians to consider their responsibility with reference to the effusion of human blood—because that is the question we have now to consider. When Her Majesty's Government thought fit to affirm the proceedings of Lord Torrington, I say distinctly they put themselves in the place of Lord Torrington. Lord Torrington has been recalled, and we have no right to look to him unless we are prepared to impeach him, which, I apprehend, no one proposes to do. The Government, therefore, have put themselves in the place of Lord Torrington; but the question tonight is, whether this House will put itself in the place of the Government. By approving of the proceedings of Lord Torrington, the Government have taken his responsibility on themselves. The question now is—shall we take on ourselves the responsibility of the Government with reference to the military executions in Ceylon. We have seen what the rebellion was; we have seen what its duration was, as well as its excesses, and we have seen the palliations that may fairly be urged for those who took part in it. Well, what were the punishments which were inflicted? The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hawes) has stated that the question raised before the House was the cruel proceedings of the courts-martial. Now, that is not the question. There are, indeed, allegations that great irregularities had taken place, but I am not aware that inhumanity has been charged upon those who sat upon the courts-martial. The charge was altogether of a different character. The hon. Gentleman has also told us that if the courts-martial were wrong, the proceedings ought to have been brought under the review of the military authorities in this country. Now, I venture to tell the hon. Gentleman, who, I admit, ought to know better than that he is entirely in error. The military authorities at the Horse Guards have nothing to do with the courts-martial which took place in Ceylon; and this I state upon the authority of Lord Fitzroy Somerset himself, who, on being asked before the Committee whether it was not his duty to look into the proceedings of the courts-martial in Ceylon, to see whether they had been irregular, re- 218 plied, certainly not; he had nothing to do with courts-martial unless they were held under the Mutiny Act. The fact is, that they were not courts-martial, in the ordinary sense, at all, but merely military courts under the control of the civil authorities; and if there were any irregularities, it was the business of the civil authorities in Ceylon to have controlled them. But we are not now upon the subject of the irregularities of the courts-martial, but upon the executions of eighteen men after the suppression of the rebellion in which not one life was taken. It is true that great outrages were committed, and in consequence eighteen men received sentence of death; but the necessity has never been shown for carrying those sentences into effect, inasmuch as it was in the power of the Governor to have mitigated the sentences. These eighteen men, however, were executed; and I maintain that this was an unnecessary effusion of human blood, and a totally unjustifiable proceeding. The defence put forward is, that there was discontent among the chiefs, headmen, and priests-—that the common people were their tools—and that it was necessary to make a severe example, in order to check the discontent which prevailed among the superior classes of the natives, and the evil use which they made of their influence. Be it so. That might explain in some degree the severities which were inflicted upon the chiefs, priests, and headmen; but were the eighteen men all chiefs, priests, and headmen? No; they were not. There was but one chief among them, or, at all events, only one who was called a chief; one priest there certainly was, and a few headmen. But the majority of these eighteen men were not chiefs, priests, or headmen, but the mere commonalty; the lowest class, mere tools of their superiors, men who felt no discontent, but who were driven on to rebellion by those whom they respected as their superiors. Are we to be told at this time of day that that class of men, when driven into rebellion by the influence of their superiors, are not only to be made the subject of judicial cognisance, but are to be made to answer, by the forfeit of their lives, for acts committed under such circumstances? Show me the rebellion where the like of this was to be found—where, after the disturbances were suppressed, eight or ten men of that class, not themselves designers, but worked upon, and blindly driven on by designing parties, were selected for 219 trial at a time when armed men were no longer in the field, and made to pay the forfeit of their lives to public justice. This is an act for which I labour in vain to find a parallel; this is an act—I do not qualify it by the character of a cruel act, because it might have been done in haste and excitement—but an act of the gravest character, involving the neglect of the highest and most sacred principles, and pregnant with fatal consequences to the good fame of this country, and to the allegiance of its subjects throughout the world. It is an act which leads me to feel beyond any doubt that it is the duty of this House to affirm the Motion of the hon. Member for Inverness-shire. In my opinion any Gentleman who holds a seat in this House would do wrong to others and to his own conscience if he dared to vote, or to abstain from voting, on a question of this high and sacred nature from any considerations apart from the question itself. [Mr. B. OSBORNE: Hear, hear!] Yes; a question of this sacred nature; but I may have misunderstood the hon. Member for Middlesex, and I will not pursue the argument. [Mr. B. OSBORNE: No, you have not.] Then there is the more necessity that I should pursue it. No consideration of political inconvenience—no desire to eject a Government from office, or to retain a Government in office, will justify the Members of the British House of Commons cither in refraining from voting, or in giving any vote on that question, except that vote which, after a consideration of the circumstances as they are laid before you, and with the best use of the means you have for examining and judging of those circumstances, shall bring home to your minds and consciences that which is conformable to truth and justice, and which alone can satisfy the high and exalted duties you are called on to perform in the face of your own country, of the whole British empire, and of foreign populations, who, admiring your glory, but jealous of your every act, are constantly on the watch to see whether those principles which you urge so strongly against them, in season and out of season, in regard to personal freedom, and human life, and all the sacred duties which regulate the intercourse of society—whether you give those principles a practical application to your own conduct, and whether the House of Commons, the sacred tribunal of justice to which the oppressed subject may on all occasions resort for relief, is ready to vin- 220 dicate those principles even against those who occupy the exalted station of Ministers of the Crown.
The ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, it was not without considerable reluctance that he intruded himself upon the House at so late an hour. It was somewhat difficult to know what were the precise grounds on which this accusation against Lord Torrington and Earl Grey was founded. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) got up at almost the close of this night's debate, and began by shifting entirely the ground which had been taken by every previous speaker. That was not the first time that he had seen the right hon. Gentleman take part in a debate in which the personal character and conduct of a man was involved; and he (the Attorney General) was perfectly prepared for the course which had been taken by the right hon. Gentleman. After the House had heard the grounds on which this Motion was supposed to rest gone over and over again, and after the two hours' speech of the hon. and learned Member for Abingdon (Sir Frederic Thesiger), and the declaration of the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume), who affirmed his belief that there had been no rebellion whatever, and consequently no necessity for the proclamation of martial law, he (the Attorney General) was certainly surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) concede the fact of the rebellion, and admit the propriety of martial law, though he said that martial law had been continued too long, and that the punishment had been excessively severe. He (the Attorney General) contended that the Government had fairly beaten the right hon. Gentlemen and those who acted with them from the first point in the Resolution. It had been said again and again in the course of this debate that this was a judicial inquiry. There could be no earthly doubt on that subject. Here was a Motion which involved a grave accusation against two public men, charging the one with having caused, and the other with having sanctioned and approved of, a reckless sacrifice of human life. It was scarcely possible to conceive a more serious accusation than to brand those two public men with the stigma of indelible reproach, and to hold them up to public execration. It, therefore, was a matter of judicial inquiry. But what did they mean by judicial inquiry? Did they mean that they were to bring to it calm and dispassionate minds—that it was an 221 inquiry in which political passions ought to have no place and ought to exercise no influence, or was it the contrary? By a judicial inquiry, he understood an inquiry in which every man who was called on to give his vote in the decision, should have taken the utmost pains to master the case, and the evidence on which it rested, and should he able to lay his hand on his heart and say that he was not only in point of impartiality and of justice, but of information, competent to form an opinion of the matters in issue, before he pronounced condemnation on any one. He would ask hon. Gentlemen how many of them had taken the pains to wade through the voluminous blue books on this subject? ["Oh, oh!"] He was quite sure the observation went home to them. [Cries of "Question!"] Hon. Gentlemen called "Question;" but the question was whether they had mastered the evidence or not, and whether they had made themselves acquainted with the facts? He believed in this case it was almost impossible to expect that hon. Gentleman should task themselves to mastering the evidence on which it rested; but it was the duty of those who came to that House for the purpose of voting condemnation of two public men, first to make themselves acquainted with the evidence. The report of the Committee was before the House. The House had trusted that Committee to ascertain the facts of this case, to report on them, and to guide the House by their investigation. Had that Committee come to the conclusion to which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Inverness-shire (Mr. Baillie) asked the House to come on this occasion? Most unquestionably they had not. The Resolution which the Committee came to was nothing more or less than this, that they had not sufficient materials before them on which they could come to a conclusion. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Inverness-shire complained of the decision of the Committee. It was a Committee of his own selection. [Mr. BAILLIE: No, no!] At all events it was a Committee to which the hon. Member gave his assent, and of which he became the chairman. There was an incident which took place not very long ago, which the House could not fail to remember. At an early part of the Session the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie) put this or a similar Resolution on the Minutes of the House. He afterwards proposed to postpone the inquiry. The noble Lord at the head of the 222 Government complained that such an accusation should have been kept suspended over the head of the Government, and stated that the hon. Gentleman should have cither proceeded with it, or have withdrawn it. On that occasion the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire rose and stated the reason for the delay was that further evidence was required to enable the House to come to a decision upon the question. [Mr. DISRAELI: No, no!] It was his (the Attorney General's) impression that that was the objection made. The hon. Member said, that certain documents had been sent out of the country, for which he blamed the Colonial Office; and, in the absence of those documents, the party with whom he was connected declined going on. [Mr. DISRAELI dissented.] The hon. Member shakes his head; but he (the Attorney General) appealed to the recollection of the House as to his correctness. But whether that was so, or whether it was not, this at least was clear, that the Committee had not reported, but had left the matter in the hands of the Government. Now he asked, having appointed a Committee to assist them, and that Committee not having reported, from an insufficiency of evidence, how was it possible the hon. Gentleman could ask the House to decide that which the Committee, for the reasons which he had just stated, declared themselves unable to decide? In the first place, it had been said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford, that he abandoned the two first grounds on which this Resolution was founded. He stated that it was the continuance of martial law which he condemned as unnecessary. No evidence had been adduced to the Committee to satisfy them that martial law was unnecessary as far as the 5th of October; but, on the contrary, there was evidence of a very cogent character which led the Committee to a contrary conclusion. This fact appeared. Upon the apprehension of the Pretender, on the 21st of September, Lord Torrington conceived the notion of putting an end to martial law, and he brought the matter under the consideration of his proper advisers. General Smelt, the principal military officer of the colony, took objection to that course, and declared that although the Pretender had been taken, there were many reasons why martial law should not be discontinued; and he addressed a remonstrance, in an official shape, to Lord Torrington. In that document he stated 223 that the prisoner would most probably make further important revelations as to certain parties who were mixed up in the transaction, and that until they were taken it was most necessary that martial law should continue. The Governor, upon this, convoked the Legislative Council, and he addressed them on the 5th of October and stated his desire to put an end to martial law. The Legislative Council replied—We beg to express to your Excellency our satisfaction at the speedy and successful suppression of the insurrection which has taken place in some districts of the interior, and which we feel ourselves indebted to the prompt declaration of martial law, and the zealous and able exertions made by the officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates of Her Majesty's forces serving in the colony. We fully participate in your Excellency's earnest desire for the speedy termination of martial law, and we shall be ready to give our best attention to the Bill of Indemnity proposed to be laid before us.There was not one word here of objection to the continuance of martial law; and they expressed their opinion that it was to the promptitude of the Government in the proclamation of martial law that they were indebted for the successful and speedy termination of the rebellion. Now, when he found the Legislative Council ascribing their security to the conduct of the Government in this especial matter, it did seem monstrous to him for any man to say that there had been no necessity for the proclamation or the continuance of martial law. But that was not all. On the 10th of September, 1849, the Legislative Council addressed the Governor as follows:—September 10, 1849.The Council have received with much satisfaction your Excellency's announcement of the continuance of tranquillity throughout the island, which they believe to be mainly attributable to the energetic and prudent measures adopted by your Excellency during and after the disturbances in 1848. We are further gratified to find that the efforts of your Excellency's Government to promote the welfare of the people are better appreciated, and that your endeavours to develop the resources of the island have been so successful," &c.Now, he put it to any impartial man, whether he would not deduce from these statements that the Legislative Council, the Executive Council, and the commanders of the forces, approved of the conduct of the Government? But the hon. Member for Montrose says, what had the Government to do with the opinions of the Legislative Council? It did appear to him (the Attorney General) that was a very extraordinary expression. Was not that House of Com- 224 mons the Legislative Council of the nation? and did they not interfere with the internal regulation of the empire, checking and controlling whatever seemed to require it? And was not the present inquiry the best illustration of the point at issue? But then it was observed—Oh! but the Legislative Council was under the influence of the Governor. Amongst the names attached to these proceedings, which concurred with and ratified the proceedings of the Governor, he found those of Mr. Selby, the Queen's Advocate, and Mr. Wodehouse, of whom so much mention had been made. The first of these documents was signed by Mr. Selby and Mr. Wodehouse; and the second was drafted by Mr. Selby, and bore his name. There was a largo portion of testimony also bearing on the same point contained in resolutions adopted at public meetings, addresses from members, letters from magistrates, letters from local judges, &c, which he would not weary the House by reading, but all of which concurred in the necessity, not only for the proclamation of martial law, but for its continuance during the period in question. And what was that period? Why, just a period of ten weeks. Colonel Fraser told them that in the year 1818 the rebellion had been prolonged in consequence of the neglect in not having proclaimed martial law at an earlier period of the rebellion. In the present case they had the statement from the lips of the Pretender himself, that had it not been for the continuance of martial law he would not have been apprehended. He now turned to the Resolution of the hon. Member for Inverness-shire. The hon. Gentleman had put forward three Resolutions—he (the Attorney General) entreated, for the sake of justice, the attention of the House—not one of these Resolutions agreed with the other. In the first Resolution, the hon. Gentleman stated that sixteen persons had been executed, and 150 transported, imprisoned, or otherwise corporally punished. In the second, that eighteen had been executed, and 145 transported, imprisoned, or otherwise corporally punished. And, in the third, that eighteen had been executed, and 140 transported, imprisoned, or otherwise corporally punished. He quite admitted that those discrepancies were of no great value, but he did think when the hon. Gentleman came forward in the character of a public prosecutor, it was important that he should be exceedingly accurate, and that his statements should not vary. 225 But he must say, that the error into which the hon. Gentleman had fallen in framing this last Resolution was one very extraordinary, when they took into consideration the facts and the facilities of information which he had before him. The hon. Gentleman states in his charge that eighteen persons were executed, and 140 were punished by transportation, imprisonment, or corporal punishment. What would the House say, if the whole number of persons convicted and punished amounted only to 64? He may tell me that sixty-four is a large number. So it may be; but that was no reason for his statement that they amounted to 160, eighteen of whom were capitally punished. Now, he (the Attorney General) would prove to the House that only sixty-four instead of 158 persons had been punished. He had before him the official list of persons tried; it was to be found in the Appendix, Session 1850, page 407. There was a list given, which contained the names of one hundred and twenty persons tried by courts-martial. It was afterwards found that this list was. imperfect, and the second was published, containing the names of one hundred and twenty-six persons, which was the whole number tried before the courts-martial; but of the list of one hundred and twenty-six, it was shown that forty-seven persons only had been punished for acts connected with the rebellion, and that the remaining seventy-nine persons had been punished for ordinary police and criminal offences, which had nothing whatever to do with the rebellion; but who were brought before the courts-martial, because under a system of martial law the ordinary criminal courts ceased to have jurisdiction. Therefore instead of one hundred and fifty-eight persons being punished for rebellion, as would appear by the Resolution, the total number punished amounted to sixty-five—that was to say, forty-seven tried and punished by the courts-martial, and eighteen tried and punished after martial law had ceased by the ordinary courts-martial. Now, after these details, he asked if the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie) had stated the facts of the case in his Resolution fairly? He would venture to say that there was not a Member in that House—except those who were concerned in getting up this case, and in preferring the accusation—that there was not another Member who read these Resolutions who did not believe that the whole number here mentioned as tried, convicted, imprisoned, transported, and corporally punished, were so punished in 226 respect of the rebellion. He appealed to the honourable feelings of Members on this subject—every one, he thought, would admit that that was the sense in which the Resolution would be read; and he believed there was no man who was capable of appreciating the English language who would understand it otherwise. Of any intention to frame the Resolutions designedly in this ambiguous and artful way, he, of course, fully acquitted the hon. Member for Inverness-shire. He believed him to be incapable of such a proceeding; but with the list before him of forty-seven persons punished for acts of rebellion, and seventy-nine persons punished for acts altogether unconnected with the rebellion, he asked if it did not behove a Gentleman who assumed to himself the office of public prosecutor—and in such a character the hon. Gentleman had voluntarily placed himself—that he should not so frame his indictment as to have the effect of exaggerating the subject of offence in a threefold degree? But the statement of the hon. Member for Inverness-shire was really quite moderate, as compared with the statement made by the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume), for he had made an error that was infinitely more startling. The hon. Member for Montrose told them that three hundred and eighty persons had been punished for this rebellion. He (the Attorney General) could hardly believe his ears when he heard that statement; but he took down the numbers at the time, and he now thought he had found out the secret of the hon. Member's mistake, though it cost him a good hour's research that morning to get at it. The hon. Member had taken the first list of one hundred and twenty persons punished, to which he (the Attorney General) had already alluded; and he apparently had added to it the second or corrected list of one hundred and twenty-six persons punished, which together, of course, made two hundred and forty-six. But that second list was afterwards subdivided into two lists, showing that forty-seven of the one hundred and twenty-six had been punished for acts of rebellion; and the remaining seventy-nine for other acts than those of rebellion. These two lists being put together made another one hundred and twenty-six, which, added to the two former series, gave a total of three hundred and twenty-two. The hon. Member, he presumed, then added to these the eighteen tried before the criminal courts, which made three hundred and 227 ninety, and from these he substracted the ten persons whom the criminal courts had acquitted, which exactly reduced the number to the figures stated by the hon. Gentleman, namely, three hundred and eighty. That was the way in which another hon. Member who essayed the office of public prosecutor, appeared to have got up his case: at least, if he had not adopted that process of computation—counting the same persons three times over—he could not comprehend in what other way he had arrived at his result. There was no more pretence for saying that three hundred and eighty persons had suffered on account of the rebellion, than there was for saying that 380,000 persons had suffered. The total number given in the official list, which tallied in every respect with the evidence given by Sir Herbert Maddock, was not three hundred and eighty, nor even one hundred and fifty, but only sixty-four. This reduced the list to a totally different state from what it was represented to be by the hon. Gentleman. Let the House consider this question fairly. They said, and said truly, that it was essential their colonies and distant dependencies should be protected against the cruelty and the caprice of a Governor; but let them take care, while they talked of establishing a control over their colonial policy, they did not do it at the expense of an innocent man—let them take care that they did not condemn a man for having done his best under trying circumstances. Let them look at the case fairly. He admitted that the sixty-five persons were punished, and that eighteen of these were capitally punished; and they were told that this rigour was excessive. He admitted that it was so, if they looked at the amount of punishment only with reference to this particular rebellion. But he said that, in considering the question of punishment, it was necessary that the Governor should look at all the surrounding circumstances of the case. They did not punish men simply for the offences they committed; they punished them in order to deter others from following their example. Now what were the circumstances of this case? It was all very well to talk of this comparatively bloodless rebellion, which they had suppressed without difficulty by the troops that were sent to the spot. But let them recollect the spirit of the people, their disaffection to the Government, and all the circumstances connected with the native population of this colony. In the course of the years that 228 they had had dominion over this colony, they had had no fewer than six conspiracies or rebellions. They had completed the subjugation of the district—partly by force, partly by negotiation—in 1814. In 1818, a serious and dangerous rebellion broke out, which cost much blood, both of the soldiers and of the inhabitants, before it could be suppressed. Had the spirit and affection of the people improved in later times? All the evidence showed the contrary. The chiefs, who believed that, in submitting to the English they were only substituting a mild and meek Government for the tyranny of their native kings, and that they were in fact to govern the country, found themselves disappointed; they were eventually removed from their chief-ships for being guilty of arbitrary and oppressive conduct. In 1820 a Pretender was started again, and the attempt at rebellion was only suppressed by prompt and efficient measures being taken on the part of the Government. In 1823 there was another conspiracy; and in 1834 another; and in both cases it was only by means of the information they received from natives, who betrayed the secrets of their countrymen, that they were enabled, by bringing troops suddenly to bear upon the disaffected districts, to crush the rebellion at the outset. There was again a serious conspiracy of the headmen and priests in 1842, which was only suppressed by the energetic and prompt measures of the Government. Had they any reason to believe that the affection of the people towards the Government was stronger now than at that time? Not at all. The chiefs were dissatisfied, for the Colonial Government were bringing the jungle and the forest under coffee cultivation, thus limiting the extent of their hunting grounds, and diminishing the pasture grounds of the cattle of the natives. The priests were dissatisfied, for the English authorities had dissociated the Religion from the Government of the country. They had abandoned the care of that sacred symbol, Buddha's tooth—they had done so because they deemed it inconsistent with their character as a Christian Government to lend themselves to what they believed and knew to be a system of jugglery and imposture. That step might be impolitic; but, at any rate, Lord Torrington was not responsible for it. But further, the priests had ceased to enjoy the right of compelling the people to cultivate the lands belonging to their temples, and therefore they were in every 229 way dissatisfied. All these were causes from which dissatisfaction sprang; but, deeper and more powerful than these, lay the dislike to foreign dominion, the yearning for national independence, and the dislike to the yoke of the stranger, which, after all, one could hardly help sympathising in. But the question for them to consider was, whether, from any spirit of mistaken chivalry, they were to yield, or whether they were to maintain the dominion of the Sovereign and the supremacy of their country. Lord Torrington, at all events, knew that he had been sent out for no other purpose than to maintain the sovereignty of the British Crown, and the dominion of the British people. With all those causes at work, it was idle to talk about taxation having anything to do with the late rebellion. It was an idle delusion. The taxes imposed by Lord Torrington were suggested by the Home Government. When Lord Torrington went there he found a deficient revenue. However, in a short time he so improved the finances of the island, that he reduced the expenditure by 95,000l. per annum. But in order to do that he was under the necessity of imposing fresh taxes. Of all the taxes that were imposed, three only affected the native population of Kandy—one of them was of the nature of a police tax, the other was a dog tax (which might also be considered in the nature of a police tax), and the third was a road tax, which required from every man six days' labour on the public roads, or a commutation for the labour of three shillings in money. The whole amount of the taxes that affected the natives amounted only to six shillings per annum. Could they suppose that a tax like this was the cause of the insurrection? No; the only circumstance connected with these taxes was this—they afforded to the discontented chiefs and priests a handle by which to excite disaffection among the people; he asked, then, was it not the duty of the Governor, with all the experience of the past, when he was considering how far he might extend the prerogative of mercy, to take into consideration all those circumstances, in awarding to each party his measure of punishment, to look at the spirit of the people, and the relative disposition of that people and of the government he was called on to exercise? The hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume), however, maintained that there was no rebellion at all. But it could not be denied that the people 230 appointed a King, and that they took him to one of their ancient temples and proclaimed him as their Sovereign—that they then sacked the public buildings, and proceeded to Kornegalle, where they did the same thing. The population of the surrounding districts rose, and they were all armed. The evidence of Sir Herbert Maddock, whoso testimony was entitled to: the highest degree of credit, and who knew the country well, went to show that 60,000 persons had assembled, and that they had among them 10,000 stand of arms. Colonel Fraser even considered that they had not among them less than 60,000 stand of arms. He was perfectly willing to admit that they were a cowardly population; their habit was to fight in the jungle, and to take their enemy at a disadvantage. But in the present instance they had themselves been taken at a disadvantage. They fled in all directions, and the fugitives spread terror through the surrounding districts, and so the insurrection subsided as suddenly as it arose. But all this showed the spirit of the people, and the necessity there was for vigorous measures. If those measures had not been adopted—if, instead of declaring martial law, and prolonging it till the King was taken, Lord Torrington had pursued a weak and vacillating policy—if the rebellion had been allowed to spread—if the Governor, in defiance of the opinion of the military authorities, in defiance of the Executive Council, in defiance of the European planters and merchants, had refused to adopt those measures to which all classes ascribed the suppression of the revolt and the safety of the Colony—let him ask what would then have been said, and where would have been the limit to their language of censure and reproach cast upon the Governor? Then it was said the proceedings of the courts-martial were improper; and letters of Colonel Drought wore referred to, as being couched in language of a very improper kind. He (the Attorney General) was not there to defend Colonel Drought. He had found a friend in the hon. and gallant Member for Portarlington (Colonel Dunne). He (the Attorney General) was there to consider the case of Lord Torrington and the head of the Colonial Department. Lord Torrington knew nothing of this correspondence between Colonel Drought and the officers who composed the courts-martial. Was it, then, consistent with justice, or with that dispassionate and impartial 231 inquiry which had been recommended, to import into this discussion what passed between Colonel Drought and other officers—those matters being wholly unknown to Lord Torrington, and never brought under his consideration until produced in evidence before the Committee? If that applied to Lord Torrington, with how much more force did it apply to Earl Grey? For, after all, what had Earl Grey done on this occasion? As had been already pointed out, Earl Grey, on receiving intimation of what had taken place, on receiving information from the Governor that this rebellion had broken out, that measures had been adopted which resulted in its suppression, and a certain amount of punishment had been awarded, gave his sanction and approval upon the state of facts, and not upon details which had not come to his knowledge. In his despatch to Lord Torrington, Earl Grey said—I have also to express my sense of the success with which your Lordship has laboured to maintain the public peace since the suppression of the insurrection in the year 1848, and my conviction, which remains unshaken by all that has been alleged against you, that your measures upon that unfortunate occasion were dictated solely by your opinion, founded on the best information within your reach, and supported by the judgment of those whom it was your duty to consult, that the steps which you then took were indispensable for the prompt suppression of the disturbances, and for the security of the lives and property of Her Majesty's peaceable and loyal subjects in the districts where those disturbances had broken out.It was charged by the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone) that after fresh light had been shed on this subject, Earl Grey again confirmed that approval. [Mr. GLADSTONE: He has confirmed that approval only lately.] The right hon. Gentleman should have read the despatch of Earl Grey. Earl Grey did not say that he absolutely approved of the measures taken. What he did say amounted to this, that, taking into consideration the trying and difficult circumstances under which Lord Torrington was placed, that he had done his best to acquire every information, that he had consulted all those whom it was his duty to consult, and that he had acted with their advice, and assistance, and concurrence—Earl Grey was bound to say that Lord Torrington had done that which he believed, under the circumstances, and from the information before him, was for the best interests of the colony. Having reference to the difficulties in which the Governor was placed, was Earl Grey, in sending that approval 232 after the affairs of Ceylon had been brought under the consideration of the House, deserving the unqualified language to which he (the Attorney General) had called attention? Surely when the matter was pending before the Committee, when the House had come to no resolution, they would not have wished Earl Grey, upon an exparte statement and testimony, on the validity of which he had no means of forming a judgment, and which was certainly of a doubtful character, to have disapproved of the conduct of the Governor, when the Committee had come to no decision, and presented no report? It was a little hard on Earl Grey, if he was to be made the object of censure for such a despatch as that. No doubt it was of importance that our colonial policy should be based on sound and safe principles; but it was also of importance that the House should do justice to the Governors of our distant colonies, and, if there was a matter of inquiry, deal fairly with the case, and enter upon any investigation in a spirit of impartiality, fairness, and candour. He thought they ought not to adopt the example of the hon. Member for Montrose, who, not content with going into the facts relating to the charges preferred, among other things charged against the Colonial Government was the suppression of documents and the burning of letters for the purpose of evading inquiry before the Committee. He (the Attorney General) trusted the House would listen to what he was now about to bring under their notice. It was a letter from Lord Torrington, who, unfortunately, could not be heard in that House, and was addressed to Earl Grey, and had been placed in his hands by his hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies:—I beg to call your Lordship's attention to a paragraph in the speech of Mr. Hume, as published in the Morning Chronicle—' If the Committee could have obtained the correspondence between Colonel Drought and Lord Torrington, they would have been enabled to arrive at the truth. Not a single letter had been produced. He believed they had been burnt in order to evade this inquiry.' In justice to your Lordship and my own character, I feel bound to contradict this statement. I sent no instructions to Colonel Drought in relation to martial law, and I have no hesitation in saying so myself; nor have I any doubt that Colonel Drought would confirm me, that no correspondence between myself and Colonel Drought has been burnt or withheld to evade this inquiry; and, morever, Colonel Drought received all orders from the Major General commanding.It was in vain for the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford 233 to say it was no attack on Lord Torrington, but only an attack on Earl Grey. He (the Attorney General) owned he was astonished to hear such a proposition. True, the attack was mainly directed against Earl Grey (the motives of which,' though painful, it was necessary to touch upon), but the attack on Earl Grey was necessarily made through Lord Torrington. Lord Torrington was the principal, and Earl Grey was only an accessory after the fact, and therefore, to say that it was totally directed against Earl Grey, and Lord Torrington was not affected by the inquiry, was language which he (the Attorney General) could not understand. The charge under consideration affected Lord Torrington's character in the tenderest point; to tell a man that he had been guilty of shedding blood unnecessarily, was a charge of a most serious and aggravated character. It was idle to say they did that for the purpose of attacking the head of the Colonial Government. His hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) reminded them of an observation of a French writer, that in England we occasionally executed an admiral to encourage the others, and suggested this attack was on a similar principle. He (the Attorney General) owned that when he heard that allusion, it presented a startling and striking inference to his mind. He could not forbear asking, was it destined, in the history of this country, as a reproach with foreign nations, and after ages, that persecution, injustice, and cruelty, should be associated for a second time with the name of Byng? As involving a case in which party feelings ought to have no weight, as involving a question, not of political principles, but of public character, he said they were bound, as just and generous men, to lose sight of everything except truth, and that great and prominent consideration, the justice they owed to all who were accused, and upon whom they had to pass judgment. In such a case they ought only to condemn, when, as just and generous men, as men of principle and honour, they felt satisfied beyond all possibility of doubt that the accusation was true.
§ LORD HOTHAM
said, that having served two Sessions on the Ceylon Committee—having attended unremittingly to the business before it to the extent of having been absent, he believed, on only two or three occasions, from the commencement to the close of the inquiry—and it being, moreover, his misfortune not to agree with 234 those who had taken a leading part, whether on the one side or the other, in this debate, he felt an intense anxiety to detail the impression which this long investigation had left on his own mind, and at the same time to state in which respects and to what extent, either Lord Grey or Lord Torrington were, in his judgment, obnoxious to the censure proposed to be cast on them. The lateness of the hour, however, and the necessity of closing the debate without any further adjournment, pointed out to him that he could not presume to ask the indulgence of the House for a sufficient time to fulfil this intention. But he hoped that at any rate he might not ask in vain for the attention of hon. Members, while he discharged the minor duty of relieving himself from the imputations so unjustly cast upon him by the hon. Member for Inverness. The hon. Gentleman had stated, first, that the "Committee seemed to have taxed its ingenuity to the utmost in order to screen the Colonial Secretary from all blame." Now he (Lord Hotham) had not the honour of Lord Grey's personal acquaintance. He had sat many years with him in that House, and had never exchanged either a word or a bow with him, and to his political views he had always been opposed. These circumstances, he hoped, would not have induced him to do Lord Grey any injustice, but on the other hand they would show the absence of all motive for such feeling as the hon. Member for Inverness had imputed to him. Again, the hon. Member had referred to a supposed conversation between them, and he had stated that on his (Lord Hotham's) Report being read, he Mr. Baillie, inquired what meaning was to be attached to the words "any measure;" to which the reply was, "The answer is obvious, I mean the recall of Lord Torrington." Now his (Lord Hotham's) recollection differed widely from that of the hon. Member. His (Lord Hotham's) impression always had been, and still was, that it was not the hon. Member himself, but the Member for Montrose, who had asked this question, and that the answer he received was, "I decline to answer your inquiry. Every one must judge for himself." At the same time he would frankly admit, that the recall of Lord Torrington was not "the measure," but one of "the measures" which he had in view; and it was his belief that there existed not a doubt on the mind of any one Member of the Committee, but that a change in the Government of Cey- 235 Ion must inevitably result from what had come out during the inquiry. And here he might incidentally notice a misprint in the printed Report now in the hands of Members, in which the word "measure" appears, instead of "measures," as shown by the original draft now in his (Lord Hotham's) hands. But this was not all. The hon. Member for Inverness had imputed to him that which pained him (Lord Hotham) still more, namely, that his Report was the result of a "private understanding" with the Government. In answer to this imputation, he had only to state unequivocally, that to no one human being did he communicate his intention to prepare a Report, and that the only individual who knew that he had done so was his right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, by whom he was asked, at a club to which they mutually belonged, what were his ideas about a Report; on which he said to his hon. Friend, "I will not deceive you—I have drawn up a little report of my own, and here it is—you will see it to-morrow in print, and I hope you will not think me uncourteous if I decline now to enter on the subject." So much for this report being the result of a private understanding with any one. Now, what was his inducement in framing it? When the Committee determined to take no more evidence, he found lying before him a list of eighteen persons, every one of whom had been alluded to—some as being able to confirm, others to contradict other witnesses; and besides these, several individuals themselves personally concerned in the subject-matter before the Committee. It was impossible to secure the attendance of these individuals; and the noble Lord the Prime Minister had unfortunately prevailed on the House to refuse a Royal Commission on this, too, by which every necessary information could easily, and at once, have been procured. If, therefore, he (Lord Hotham) felt himself then unable to agree to any report passing judgment on the entire case, how could he concur in the Resolutions now before the House? But it was said, that any censure that might be passed would only affect Lord Grey, he having approved all the proceedings adopted by the Governor of Ceylon, and those under him. Legally and constitutionally this might be so, but it was in vain to tell him (Lord Hotham) that the House could condemn Lord Grey for approving certain acts, without at the same time, and in reality, condemning those by 236 whom these acts had been committed; and let it be recollected that these acts had been by some termed cruelty and murder. For these reasons he could not support the Motion of the hon. Member for Inverness-shire, and still less could he do so when he recollected that in taking such a step, he ran the risk of ruining, and perhaps unjustly, the characters of men of high reputation, and hitherto untarnished conduct, without either calling on them for an explanation of their proceedings, or giving them the opportunity of applying to be heard in their own defence. He again deeply regretted being obliged to confine himself to this statement, as had more time been available, it would have been seen, that while he dissented from the Resolutions of the hon. Member for Inverness-shire, he by no means concurred in much. that had been said by hon. Members opposite.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Sir, as few Members of the Government have addressed the House during this long discussion, I feel that I cannot allow the Debate to close without explaining shortly the views which Government have taken of the conduct of Lord Torrington in Ceylon, and of the Motion of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie). Now, Sir, in so doing it will not be necessary for me to go through those points which have been argued with great ability, on the one side or the other, with respect to particular acts of Lord Torrington; but there are two hon. Members who have taken part in this debate on the other side of the House, who have narrowed this question to points of great magnitude indeed, but which may be brought into a very small compass. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Dorsetshire (Mr. Ker Seymer) said on Tuesday night that if the Government, instead of recalling Lord Torrington on the ground of his inability to keep harmony among the official servants of the Crown in Ceylon, had recalled him with an expression of disapprobation of the continuance of martial law, and of the number of executions which had taken place, that he should have been satisfied, and he should not have concurred in any Motion like the present. The right hon. Gentleman the Member, for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), in speaking tonight, has said that he is willing to admit, as I understand him, that there was an insurrection in Ceylon, that 10,000 men were in arms against the Queen's Government and the Queen's authority, attempt- 237 ing to set up another authority in its place; that the proclamation of martial law in the first instance was a fit method of treating that insurrection, and in so doing he did not blame the Government. He laid his whole blame upon the continuance of the martial law, and the number of executions that had taken place. Now it is obvious that this question affects, in the first place, Lord Torrington; in the next place, Earl Grey; and, in the third place, the whole of Her Majesty's Government. Speaking strictly with reference to individuals, I must beg the House to consider what has been the general administration of Lord Torrington. Lord Torrington was sent out to a colony in which Sir Emerson Tennent described all the civil servants to be in such a state of dissension that it was very difficult to obtain any aid from them, and utterly impossible to obtain harmonious aid. He found the finances in such a state that the expenditure had exceeded the income by 80,000l.; at the same time he was instructed to adopt an entirely new method of taxation. Lord Torrington had carried into effect his instructions. He reduced the expenditure by more than the sum in which it had exceeded the revenue. He complied with the instructions which he had received with respect to the taxation—into the wisdom of which it was not quite necessary to enter now—but such were his instructions; and the result was, that at the end of three years he left a surplus in the Treasury; and he had the satisfaction to reflect that, in the course of ten weeks he had not only suppressed a rebellion, but that he had completely eradicated the seeds of that rebellion; that he left the colony prosperous which he found embarrassed; that he left the people tranquil whom he found on the verge of a rebellion; and he handed over the Government to his successor in such a manner, that I am told his successor has declared that he is indebted to the conduct of Lord Torrington for the ease with which he can now carry on the Government of Ceylon. That is a plain description of the Government of Lord Torrington over an important colony. It is the description of that which was done, by a person certainly inexperienced in the previous government of a colony, who found no assistance, but, on the contrary, great obstacles, from the dissensions which prevailed amongst those who are properly appointed to assist the executive. Well, Sir, I am sure I shall be excused 238 for saying that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Inverness-shire, in bringing before this House a Motion with respect to Lord Torrington's government of Ceylon, should take the whole of that government into consideration, and that, if he meant to point his Resolution fairly, he should have declared what was that whole result, and should not have taken up merely one or two points, upon which he thinks objections can be made, and asked the opinion of the House upon those points, and those points only, of Lord Torrington's. Government. But, Sir, what is the blame to be imputed to Lord Torrington with respect to this insurrection? Be it observed, that the news of that insurrection came suddenly upon the Governor. He immediately sent for Colonel Fraser, an officer who had been engaged in the previous insurrection, to whose discretion and whose experience he might well trust for an able and a sound opinion upon that matter. He acted according to that opinion. He immediately saw the general commanding the forces. He took moans by which troops should be at once sent to the points at which the insurrection had broken out. He took other means by which the rebels might be promptly met and the rebellion promptly suppressed, and in order to do that more effectually, with the concurrence of General Smelt and the Queen's Advocate, and the advice of Colonel Fraser, he proclaimed martial law in that district of the colony which was disturbed. The effect was immediate and most salutary; because, as the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) says, in two days, though I cannot agree with him as to that term, but in a few days the armed resistance had ceased. Those who had been collecting together to proclaim a pretender as their king—those who were destroying the coffee plantations, and who were preparing to destroy all the buildings of the colony—disappeared in various directions; and although 4,000 men assembled at one time to attack a small number of British troops, they were defeated, driven back, and dispersed. So far, Lord Torrington was not to blame for the step which he had taken. But the right hon. Gentleman says he continued martial law. The right hon. Gentleman omits one remarkable circumstance, which was that he acted in concert and with the advice of his Executive Council in this respect. He had the opinion of one gentleman of that Council, Mr. Anstruther, strongly opposed 239 to his own; but he had the opinion of four others in his favour; and, with his own opinion, there was, therefore, a preponderance of five to one in that Executive Council in favour of continuing martial law. The Major General commanding the district, above all, was strenuous in advising that the operation of martial law should be continued. He did not think that, unless the place of the Pretender could be discovered, and he could be brought to punishment, that tranquillity could be brought to the colony. Now, Sir, I submit to the House that it is a totally different thing to act in the manner which those Resolutions describe—at his sole will and sole caprice, and to take the deliberate advice of his Executive Council, of those who were best acquainted with the colony, and with their advice to continue martial law for a short time. The whole time during which this martial law was continued was ten weeks. But I must admit that it is a most serious resolution to come to, the establishment of martial law in any district, or in any part of a colony. I must admit that those acts which have been gone into in great detail by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Abingdon (Sir Frederic Thesiger), whether accurately or not I will not at this moment stop to inquire—such as irregularities in taking evidence, want of proper defence and cross-examination, and many of those circumstances, are inherent and inseparable from the proclamation of martial law, which the Governor then took upon himself. But at the same time the Governor bad to consider—and this was the question for Lord Torrington; this was the question for the Government at home; and this is the question for the House to-night, in its more general features—that if on the one hand martial law cannot be continued without the risk of punishments which may reach not the most guilty, but those who have appeared in arms, and are guilty according to the law of high treason and rebellion—if such may be the consequence, on the other hand, the consequence of refusing to continue martial law, the consequence of refusing even to put it in force may be this—that rebellion may gain a head; that insurrection, which at first is weak and may be easily crushed, may become formidable; that the whole order of the colony may be destroyed; that the allegiance which is due to the Crown may be withheld; that property to an indefinite extent may be spoiled and ruined; but, 240 above all, that humanity, for the sake of which martial law was withheld, that humanity itself may be lost sight of, and many more lives may be lost in the struggle that may ensue than would have been lost if martial law had for a few weeks been continued. Now, 'that was the question which Lord Torrington had to decide. Lord Torrington is accused in the Resolution before the House of departing from the usual merciful administration of the penal laws of the country. The question came next to the Government at home; and the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) in the most extraordinary way, says that this Resolution affects solely the Government. I ask, how can such a censure upon conduct that is described as arbitrary and oppressive pass over the head of the individual, and merely strike the Government under which he serves? I do not pretend to say to whom the share of the blame may be the greatest; but I ask, can any man hoar that censure of wanton cruelty, of having executed the subjects of the Queen, of having been guilty of arbitrary conduct, without feeling that the blow coming from the House of Commons is a blight almost sufficient to crush his reputation. Well, then, as to the question before the House, the first despatch was written, and I must say the manner in which it was referred to shows the blindness of prejudice under which the hon. Member for Inverness-shire has acted. That despatch contains two very remarkable passages. One of them refers to the measures taken by Lord Torrington for the prompt suppression of the rebellion; and I think almost every Member of this House will agree that his immediately sending troops, his immediately taking measures to suppress the rebellion, his immediately proclaiming martial law, was a wise and prompt action against an incipient rebellion. But there is another part of the despatch relating to the punishments to be inflicted, and the hon. Member for Inverness-shire read that part which related to the prompt suppression of the rebellion as if it were the part that related to the punishment, and altogether omitted that part which related to the punishment. I will, however, ask permission to read to the House the paragraph omitted by the hon. Gentleman. Earl Grey, in that despatch, says—I concur in your Lordship's opinion that it is necessary to punish with severity the leaders and promoters of this insurrection, which will prove the most merciful course in the end. But whilst 241 it is necessary to vindicate and maintain the law, it is desirable that acts of justice and severity should be strictly limited to what is inevitably called for by the occasion, and that the prevailing character of measures consequent upon excitement and insubordination should at all times be that of moderation and clemency towards those who have been misled. This implies no indulgence towards the guilty contrivers of sedition, nor any forgetfulness of the claims of consideration and protection of the loyal, peaceable, and industrious, who constitute, as I am happy to find, the great majority of Her Majesty's subjects in Ceylon.Now, I ask the House if these were not sentiments befitting the Secretary of State? But I will ask a second question. I will ask where is the candour of the Members of this House who, bringing an accusation against a Government that they have approved of wanton severity, have totally omitted the paragraph which I have just cited? It is quite true, as the hon. Member for Dorsetshire (Mr. K. Seymer) has said, and as the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) has urged, that we have not at any time—that Earl Grey had not, and that the Government have not collectively, expressed any disapprobation of the conduct of Lord Torrington in punishing the authors and contrivers of, and partakers in, the rebellion in Ceylon. In the last despatch which Earl Grey wrote, he stated that Her Majesty's Government still believed that Lord Torrington was guided by opinions which he had conscientiously formed, supported as he was by those who ought to advise him in the colony—that in proclaiming martial law, and in punishing those who suffered, he was acting, as he believed, in the only way that could maintain the tranquillity of the country, and provide for the welfare of Her Majesty's subjects. That, Sir, is our belief. It is our belief that when you send a Governor to a distant part of the globe—when you find that he is zealously performing his duty—when you find that he is endeavouring by all the means in his power to preserve the colony in allegiance to Her Majesty, and at the same time is consulting the peace, the welfare, the prosperity of such colony—we think that confidence ought to be held out to that Governor, that confidence ought to be placed in him, and that we ought not, as a Government, to attempt to throw any censure upon questions upon which we believe, if there could be any difference of opinion, he is more likely to judge right from the circumstances before him, and the assistance of his advisers, than we should be able who form our judgments of them at a distance. I believe 242 we came to a right conclusion on that subject; and I believe that, looking at colonial government in general, this House ought to come to an entirely opposite conclusion to that of the hon. Member for Inverness-shire. I believe that if at the first beginning of an insurrection a Governor were obliged to say to himself, "I must take care how I crush the rebellion; I must be careful how I punish offenders; I may be brought before a Committee of the House of Commons; I may be censured by the Government under which I serve; I may undergo the pains and penalties of a Resolution of the House of Commons, and therefore I must be careful not to extend the verge and boundary of strict law." I believe if you teach such a lesson to your Governors, while you will diminish their energy—while you will diminish the security of Her Majesty's subjects in the colony, you will do nothing for humanity. On the contrary, whenever an insurrection springs up, you will have a long and bloody contest—you will have the lives of Her Majesty's troops sacrificed on the one hand, and you will have the lives and property of innocent colonists destroyed or endangered on the other; and for my part I must say I think it better that one guilty man should suffer, than that ten men innocent should suffer death. I, therefore, come to an entirely opposite conclusion from that of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Baillie). I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) that this is a grave and most important question for this House to decide. For my own part, I could wish that none would vote upon this Motion of censure upon Earl Grey and upon the Government, but those who feel that, looking to all the merits of the case, they have no alternative. I trust that none will join in this vote who have not considered the colonial question fully, and that none will vote in favour of the Motion who do not feel bound to pronounce a vote of censure upon the late Governor of Ceylon, upon the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and upon the Government. If that be the case, I shall cheerfully leave the decision to the House. I believe, whatever that decision may be, that the rules and maxims that we have laid down must be the rules and maxims by which any Government will be guided which seeks to preserve this empire; and that if any Government was to take the dastardly part of sacrificing a Governor because there was a clamour raised against him, got up with great per- 243 severance and industry—I believe that the Government, while it would sacrifice the colonies, would meet with the reprobation, the deserved reprobation, of the people of England.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I admire, Sir, the statesmanlike spirit of the First Minister of the Crown, who feels it to be his paramount duty to support the representatives of the Sovereign in the exercise of their duties in distant dependencies. I admire the Minister of this country, who is determined not to sacrifice a Governor to public clamour; but that being the feeling—the conscientious conviction—of the noble Lord, I may be permitted to ask him why he yielded to the clamour he so much deprecates and denounces, and why he so easily granted the Committee, whose protracted investigation he now finds it convenient to criticise? I ask the House to remember (indeed it is impossible to forget, for the sounds are still ringing in our ears) the character of Lord Torrington as just now not only sketched but coloured by the First Minister of the Crown. Why, it is the character of a perfect Governor—of an administrator who perfectly accomplished the highest duties under circumstances the most difficult. He found a deficient revenue—he leaves an ample surplus. He encountered a terrible rebellion—he delivers to his successor a peaceful community. And this is the Governor whom—at the very first moment when a murmur is heard against his administration in this House—the same Minister we have just heard lauding him, feebly defends, and then ignominiously deserts! The noble Lord, after all the remarkable circumstances connected with this inquiry, seems to think, too, that he is to escape from all the merits of the case, by delivering some abstractions like those contained in the paragraph of Lord Grey's despatch, which he blames my hon. Friend for not quoting, but which I think he shewed good sense in omitting, and not wasting the time of the House in requiring them to listen to pretty commonplaces. The noble Lord, instead of entering into the merits of the case, or offering to the House a vindication of his own conduct two years ago, delivers some general observations upon the duty of a Minister of England not to desert the representatives of the Sovereign, and not to allow a Governor to be sacrificed to clamour. The noble Lord said, in his ingenuous address, "I think it would have been only candid and just and fair if the hon. Mem- 244 ber for Inverness-shire had not narrowed the issue in this petty manner; if he had, at least, in a spirit of justice, called the attention of the House to the general effects of the administration of Lord Torrington, and had shown them how successful Lord Torrington had been as a financial administrator, as well as in quelling an insurrection." Why, what is the reason we have been obliged to narrow the issue? Does the noble Lord know that the Committee on Ceylon was prevented from entering into the administration of Lord Torrington, and the mode in which he changed the fiscal arrangements and affected the revenue of the colony? The noble Lord can scarcely be ignorant of the fact. He must recollect that when this question was first brought before the House, one of his ardent supporters rose and said it was a covert attack upon free trade. The noble Lord, imagining that under that plea—I will not call it a false plea—he might escape an adverse division, supported his Friend, and we were in consequence obliged to narrow the instructions of the Committee merely to the causes and conduct of the insurrection. I myself had some experience of the Ceylon Committee. I do not pretend to have attended so diligently as some; my attendance was sometimes short; and why? I found the Committee embroiled in investigations which I thought could lead to no creditable consequence. I found the proceedings too often partaking of the character of the intrigues of a country town, and of the passions of a parish. I cannot but feel that the same character, with some exceptions, has too much pervaded this debate. We hear a great deal of the character and the feelings of the Governor and the Judge Advocate; there is great sympathy with individuals, but no one except the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford (Mr. Gladstone), seems to think anything of the inhabitants of Ceylon, and the duties that we owe to them. The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck), indeed, laid down a most extraordinary doctrine. He says, "Ceylon is not a colony; we gained it with the sword, and we must keep it with the sword." Hang them, tax them, confiscate them, sequestrate them—all this the Governor may do, and Parliament has no right to inquire too closely into such conduct. That is not my way; that is not the way which these unenlightened benches can possibly patronise as the mode of governing the inhabitants 245 of a country, colony or not. They are of a different race, says the hon. and learned Gentleman; they have a different language, chiefs of their own, a priesthood of their own; it is not a plantation like Ulster; we cannot recognise the people as entitled to any protection of the law of nations or of nature. And then comes the hon. Member for Honiton (Sir J. W. Hogg), and he says, more guardedly, but in the same tone, "Take care; absent Governors must not he called in question, or your empire is in danger." Why, that is a plea for Verres. And these are professors of liberal principles and champions of public right, who are destroying the very foundation of all political responsibility! The Government, they say, is responsible for the conduct of its subordinates, but you are hurting the feelings, you are destroying the prospects of the subordinate; and it is impossible to carry into effect the doctrine of the responsibility of a Minister. For my part, I shall form my opinion just the same as if, instead of "Lord Torrington," we had a blank in the book—a person described by stars or other printers' marks. I think the very fact that Lord Torrington is no longer Governor of Ceylon, which is urged as a reason why we should proceed no further, is an additional reason why we should prosecute our task. What have we to do with Lord Torrington? We have to do with this dependency of the Crown; we have to ascertain whether it was well governed or misgoverned, and, if misgoverned, to take steps to secure its future good government. The existence of the individual connected with that Government is, as compared with our task, but as a drop of water to the ocean. Besides, you cannot now turn round and say, "You are hunting an individual to death; you are withdrawing an individual from his appointment." But I cannot help here recalling to the recollection of the House the manner in which this noble Lord has been withdrawn from the scene. Strange position in which the present Administration is perpetually placing itself—anomalous position—that they stake their existence now on supporting a man whom they have already withdrawn from his government, and not for the faults of which he is accused! I agree with the Under Secretary that Lord Torringten is a very ill-used man; but by whom ill used? By Her Majesty's Government. They have withdrawn him, and for what? A perfect Minister, the best of administrators of 246 finances, the man who has put down rebellion, and delivered his dependency in a state of unparalleled prosperity and peace to his successor—a man who has fulfilled the highest duties in the most complete manner, is recalled by the Government. Grateful Government! Why is he recalled? I believe there were two letters written to two persons; I believe he called one man a fool, and the other a knave; and I am not quite sure that the letters may not have crossed, and the wrong man got each of them. There was a contemptible piece of scandal, that none but an old maid in a country town would have listened to, and for this you sacrifice this able statesman, who did that which your own Chancellor of the Exchequer never could do—gave you a surplus revenue, and that which your Secretary for Foreign Affairs has hardly contrived to do—kept you at peace. Was this insurrection or rebellion met in a proper manner? or was it encountered and quelled in a spirit and under circumstances disgraceful to the name of England, and dangerous to our tenure of that or of any other colony? There has been a controversy as to the number of persons tried and executed. My hon. Friend has been, in that respect, most unfairly accused by the Attorney General. The incacuracy of which he speaks, if it be one, arises from the Government documents placed before the Committee, and from the varying accounts produced. In one the figures are 120—in another 146. But the greatest "mare's nest" was found that ever rewarded the most patient inquirer; for, says Mr. Attorney, "I will show you how unjust are these Resolutions of the hon. Member (Mr. Baillie), how exaggerated the statements, when I prove to you that out of these 120 or 130 criminals sixty-seven were not even tried for high treason or rebellion by these military tribunals, which we consider too severe and stern even for high treason and rebellion." To prove by the existence of these tribunals that there was rebellion and treason, the hon. and learned Gentleman shows you that the majority of the prisoners brought before them were not guilty of either. But it has not been denied that, when tranquillity was restored, these tribunals still pursued their dreaded course, and there were executions by the score; and not of headmen, priests, leaders of this rebellion—but the poor peasantry of the country. Yet, if we were to believe the statement of Her Majesty's Ministers, all the discon- 247 tent, I might say disgust, at these proceedings, is essentially factitious, has been made up by some discontentod coterie a year after the event, sent over the water to England, fostered in the House of Commons, and brought forward merely as the means of party annoyance. We have just been told that in Ceylon the public opinion was not at all arrayed against these proceedings—that they were not condemned by the press—that it was only in England the press was so venal and corrupt as to disapprove of the conduct of the Governor. Here is a leading article from a colonial paper. I am not going to read from the Observer edited by Mr. Elliot, whose conduct and character have been so fully criticised. I am going to read from the Government paper, from the paper familiarly styled in Ceylon "Lord Torrington's paper." ["The date?"] It is called the Examiner. I will give you the date. It is September 23, 1848. Most happy period! "The Rebellion Butchery" is the title of the leading article, which proceeds as follows:—It is with feelings of sorrow and humiliation we hear that seventeen persons now he under the recorded sentence of death in Candy, for having taken part in the late rebellion. These unfortunates have been tried by the civil tribunal, and were recommended to mercy by the Chief Justice. Obliged as a judge to record the dread sentence, as a man and as a Christian, Sir Anthony could not forbear calling for that clemency from the Governor, which it was not in his own power to extend to these unhappy men. In making the appeal to the prerogative of clemency, the Chief Justice sees, as must every one, that the supremacy of the law has been vindicated already by the two executions which have taken place in Candy; that the punishment which so irresistibly fell upon the people, their heavy pecuniary losses, the numbers which have been slain in action, and others condemned to transportation, have been sufficient to deter from another outbreak. We join our feeble voice and implore the Governor to spare the lives of these misguided people, that while there is yet time to despatch an express to Candy, he will in mercy send a reprieve. While we are writing, a court-martial, presided over by Captain Watson, holds its sittings at Matelle, a tribunal from which there is no appeal to higher authority. Twenty-one persons have already been shot under its sentence, to the horror of the Commandant of Candy, who feels that he can exercise but little control, the sentence being carried into effect immediately under the orders of the Court.The article gives a faithful picture of the feelings of the country expressed by an organ favourable to Government:—Under the Governor's proclamation that people should return to their homes, many are daily falling into the hands of the military Court, which perpetrates this wholesale butchery irresponsibly. 248 From the constitution of these Courts it cannot be doubted that many innocent victims suffer; it is believed that the priest who was shot in Candy would not have been adjudged guilty by a civil tribunal, for, like the four priests who were acquitted, he acted under intimidation. Four men were shot at Kornegalle a few days ago, who met their fate with coolness, uttering imprecations on their slayers. Two hundred bodies, we hear, have been accounted for, if our information be correct; how fearfully have these people paid the penalty of their folly; yet does the court-martial continue its bloody work at Matelle. That Ceylon may not be held up to the execration of the world, and what is of more consequence, that those who are responsible for the continuance of the carnage may find mercy when they come to their own dread reckoning, we call upon our rulers to stay their hands from slaughter by arresting these proceedings. The soldiers are pillaging the houses, digging up the floors to find money and jewellery belonging to the hiding villagers, confiscated under martial law. The scenes at present enacted in the neighbourhood of Matelle are a disgrace to a civilised Government.That is the language of a journal which is popularly known as "Lord Torrington's Journal." It is the language of a journal which appears to be written in a spirit of fairness. How can the Government come forward and say that there is no public opinion as evinced by the press, to which reference can be made? I shall not dwell on details. The circumstances must be fresh in the recollection of every Member of the House. I look to them as circumstances which are dangerous to our tenure of our Colonies. This, I think, of all others is the case in which the Parliament of England ought to interfere; and now if it interferes it does so after the advantage of a prolonged investigation by one of its Committees, and after it has been put in possession of the most ample materials. What I say is, that I do not look now to the responsibility of a Governor, whose admirable qualities have been acknowledged by the Ministry that has withdrawn him from his post. I do not look to responsibility in a distant colony. I look to the responsibility of the Minister. In a despatch which, in a certain sense, may considered formal, I find this language uttered by the Secretary of State in another place after due deliberation, after having made himself master of all the circumstances of the case. When he would be alive to its importance from the pending inquiry and the possible consequences of the vote in Parliament, Lord Grey, in April of this year, thus expressed his opinion:—He has had to deal with a rebellion which he has shown proceeded from causes of discontent of 249 long standing, and which had existed long previous to his assuming the Government, and that this rebellion was repressed by the wise policy and promptitude of the measures which he adopted; and I will not hesitate to express my opinion that true humanity was consulted by the measures of my noble Friend.It is because I do not believe that the interests of true humanity were consulted, but because I believe the policy pursued has been a policy of panic, a policy under which measures have been adopted disproportioned to the exigency; it is because I feel what would be the consequence of encouraging such a policy—and we do encourage such a policy if it is allowed to pass uncriticised and uncensured in this country—it is because I believe the consequence of such a policy would be perilous to the empire, that I will support the Resolutions of my hon. Friend.
§ MR. BAILLIE
said, he wished to say a few words in defence of certain individuals against whom serious charges had been advanced in the course of the discussion that evening. The proctors in Ceylon had been accused of having refused to defend a priest who had been tried by a court-martial. Now, that charge had already been put forward, and the result of an inquiry which the proctors had caused to be made with respect to it was, that Major Lushington, the officer who had presided over the court, had given a full explanation of all the circumstances of the case. Major Lushington states—That he had desired an interpreter to inform the prisoner that he was at liberty to call on any person to assist him, upon the understanding that such person should conform to the practice of courts-martial. Afterwards an interpreter of the court was spoken to, but the prisoner turned towards Mr. Wilmot, who was sitting at his right hand. Major Lushington did not understand what the prisoner said, but Mr. Wilmot rose from his seat, and went out of the court. After a pause the interpreter informed Major Lushington that the prisoner had no friend to assist him in his defence; and instead of having desired these proctors to assist him, he desired Mr. Wilmot, who was the defender of prisoners, a Government officer, and whose duty it was to defend him.Mr. Wilmot was still a Government officer, and his letter in defence of Lord Torrington was quoted by the hon. and learned Member for Cork (Mr. Serjeant Murphy) as a letter of very great importance. In answer to the observation of the hon. and learned Attorney General respecting the alteration made by him (Mr. Baillie) in his Resolution as to the numbers of prisoners, he could only say that there were three distinct reports on this head, which all dif- 250 fered from each other, so that no blam could be fairly attached to him on tha account.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 202; Noes 282: Majority 80.
|List of the AYES.|
|Adair, H. E.||Forester, hon. G. C. W.|
|Adderley, C. B.||Fox, S. W. L.|
|Archdall, Capt. M.||Frewen, C. H.|
|Arkwright, G.||Fuller, A. E.|
|Bagge, W.||Galway, Visct.|
|Bagot, hon. W.||Gaskell, J. M.|
|Bailey, J.||Gilpin, Col.|
|Baillie, H. J.||Gladstone, rt. hon. W. E.|
|Baird, J.||Gooch, E. S.|
|Baldock, E. H.||Gordon, Adm.|
|Bankes, G.||Gore, W. R. O.|
|Barrow, W. H.||Grace, O. D. J.|
|Bateson, T.||Granby, Marq. of|
|Bennet, P.||Grattan, H.|
|Bentinck, Lord H.||Greene, J.|
|Bernard, Visct.||Grogan, E.|
|Best, J.||Guernsey Lord|
|Blair, S.||Gwyn, H.|
|Blake, M. J.||Halford, Sir H.|
|Blakemore, R.||Hall, Col.|
|Blandford, Marq. of||Halsey, T. P.|
|Boldero, H. G.||Hamilton, G. A.|
|Booker, T. W.||Hamilton, J. H.|
|Bremridge, R.||Heald, J.|
|Brisco, M.||Henley, J. W.|
|Brooke, Lord||Herbert, H. A.|
|Bruen, Col.||Higgins, G. G. O.|
|Buck, L. W.||Hildyard, R. C.|
|Buller, Sir J. Y.||Hildyard, T. B. T.|
|Burghley, Lord||Hill, Lord E.|
|Burrell, Sir C. M.||Hodgson, W. N.|
|Cabbell, B. B.||Hope, A.|
|Carew, W. H. P.||Hope, H. T.|
|Castlereagh, Visct.||Hornby, J.|
|Chandos, Marq. of||Hume, J.|
|Child, S.||Jones, Capt.|
|Christopher, R. A.||Keating, R.|
|Christy, S.||Keogh, W.|
|Clive, H. B.||Kerrison, Sir E.|
|Cobbold, J. C.||Knightley, Sir C.|
|Cochrane, A. D. R. W. B.||Knox, Col.|
|Codrington, Sir W.||Knox, hon. W. S.|
|Coles, H. B.||Lacy, H. C.|
|Compton, H. C.||Lawless, hon. C.|
|Conolly, T.||Lennox, Lord A. G.|
|Corbally, M. E.||Lennox, Lord H. G.|
|Cotton, hon. W. H. S.||Leslie, C. P.|
|Devereux, J. T.||Lewisham, Visct.|
|Disraeli, B.||Lockhart, W.|
|Dod, J. W.||Long, W.|
|Duncombe, hon. A.||Lowther, hon. Col.|
|Duncombe, hon. O.||Lushington, C.|
|Duncuft, J.||Lygon, hon. Gen.|
|Dundas, G.||Magan, W. H.|
|Du Pre, C. G.||Maher, N. V.|
|Edwards, H.||Meagher, T.|
|Evelyn, W. J.||Mahon, Visct.|
|Fagan, J.||Mandeville, Visct.|
|Farnham, E. B.||Manners, Lord G.|
|Farrer, J.||Manners, Lord J.|
|Fellowes, E.||March, Earl of|
|Floyer, J.||Maunsell, T. P.|
|Forbes, W.||Maxwell, hon. J. P.|
|Meux, Sir H.||Stanley, E.|
|Miles, P. W. S.||Stanley, hon. E. H.|
|Miles, W.||Stuart, H.|
|Monsell, W.||Stuart, J.|
|Moore, G. H.||Sturt, H. G.|
|Morgan, O.||Sullivan, M.|
|Mullings, J. R.||Taylor, T. E.|
|Mundy, W.||Thesiger, Sir F.|
|Napier, J.||Thompson, Col.|
|Neeld, J.||Thompson, Ald.|
|Neeld, J.||Thornhill, G.|
|Newdegate, C. N.||Trevor, hon. G. R.|
|Nugent, Sir P.||Trollope, Sir J.|
|O'Brien, J.||Tyler, Sir G.|
|O'Brien, Sir L.||Tyrell, Sir J. T.|
|O'Brien, Sir T.||Urquhart, D.|
|O'Connell, J.||Verner, Sir W.|
|O'Flaherty, A.||Villiers, Visct.|
|Ossulston, Lord||Villiers, hon. F. W. C.|
|Packe, C. W.||Vyvyan, Sir R. R.|
|Pakington, Sir J.||Vyse, R. H. R. H.|
|Peel, Col.||Waddington, D.|
|Portal, M.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Power, Dr.||Walpole, S. H.|
|Prime, R.||Walsh, Sir J. B.|
|Renton, J. C.||Wegg-Prosser, F. R.|
|Repton, G. W. J.||Welby, G. E.|
|Reynolds, J.||Whiteside, J.|
|Roche, E. B.||Whitmore, T. C.|
|Sadleir, J.||Williams, T. P.|
|Sandars, G.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Scott, hon. F.||Wodehouse, E.|
|Scully, F.||Worcester, Marq. of|
|Seaham, Visct.||Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.|
|Seymer, H. K.||Wynn, Sir W. W.|
|Sibthorp, Col.||Yorke, hon. E. T.|
|Stafford, A.||Beresford, W.|
|Stanford, J. F.||Mackenzie, W. F.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Abdy, Sir T. N.||Brotherton, J.|
|Acland, Sir T. D.||Brown, H.|
|Adair, R. A. O.||Brown, W.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Bunbury, E. H.|
|Alcock, T.||Burke, Sir T. J.|
|Anson, hon. Col.||Butler, P. S.|
|Anson, Visct.||Buxton, Sir E. N.|
|Anstey, T. C.||Campbell, hon. W. F.|
|Armstrong, Sir A.||Cardwell, E.|
|Armstrong, R. B.||Carter, J. B.|
|Ashley, Lord||Caulfield, J. M.|
|Bagshaw, J.||Cavendish, hon. G. H.|
|Baines, rt. hon. M. T.||Cavendish, W. G.|
|Baring, H. B.||Cayley, E. S.|
|Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T.||Chaplin, W. J.|
|Bass, M. T.||Charteris, hon. F.|
|Bell, J.||Childers, J. W.|
|Bellew, R. M.||Cholmeley, Sir M.|
|Berkeley, Adm.||Clay, J.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Clay, Sir W.|
|Berkeley, C. L. G.||Clements, hon. C. S.|
|Bernal, R.||Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Bethell, R.||Clifford, H. M.|
|Birch, Sir T. B.||Cockburn, Sir A. J. E.|
|Blackstone, W. S.||Coke, hon. E. K.|
|Bowles, Adm.||Colebrooke, Sir T. E.|
|Boyle, hon. Col.||Collins, W.|
|Bramston, T. W.||Cowper, hon. W. F.|
|Brockman, E. D.||Craig, Sir W. G.|
|Brooke, Sir A. B.||Crawford, R. W.|
|Crowder, R. B.||Henry, A.|
|Cubitt, W.||Herbert, rt. hon. S.|
|Currie, H.||Heywood, J.|
|Curteis, H. M.||Heyworth, L.|
|Dashwood, Sir G, H.||Hindley, C.|
|Davie, Sir H. R. F.||Hobhouse, T. B.|
|Dawson, hon. T. V.||Hodges, T. L.|
|Deedes, W.||Hodges, T. T.|
|Denison, J. E.||Hogg, Sir J. W.|
|D'Eyncourt, rt. hn. C.T.||Hollond, R.|
|Divett, E.||Howard, Lord E.|
|Dodd, G.||Howard, hon. C. W. G.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Howard, hon. J. K.|
|Douro, Marq. of||Howard, hon. E. G. G.|
|Duff, G. S.||Howard, Sir R.|
|Duff, J.||Hughes, W. B.|
|Duke, Sir J.||Humphery, Ald.|
|Duncan, G.||Hutchins, E. J.|
|Duncan, Visct.||Inglis, Sir R. H.|
|Dundas, Adm.||Jackson, W.|
|Dundas, rt. hon. Sir D.||Jermyn, Earl|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Kershaw, J.|
|Egerton, Sir P.||Kildare, Marq. of|
|Ellice, rt. hon. E.||Labouchere, rt. hon. H.|
|Ellice, E.||Langston, J. H.|
|Ellis, J.||Lawley, hon. B. R.|
|Elliot, hon. J. E.||Lemon, Sir C.|
|Enfield, Visct.||Lewis, rt. hon. Sir T. F.|
|Estcourt, J. B. B.||Lewis, G. C.|
|Euston, Earl of||Lindsay, hon. Col.|
|Evans, Sir De L.||Littleton, hon. E. R.|
|Evans, J.||Locke, J.|
|Evans, W.||Mackie, J.|
|Ewart, W.||Mackinnon, W. A.|
|Fergus, J.||M'Cullagh, W. T.|
|Ferguson, Col.||M'Gregor, J.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. A.||M'Taggart, Sir J.|
|FitzPatrick, rt. hon. J.||Mahon, The O'Gorman|
|Fitzroy, hon. H.||Mangles, R. D.|
|Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W.||Marshall, J. G.|
|Foley, J. H. H.||Marshall, W.|
|Fordyce, A. D.||Martin, J.|
|Forster, M.||Martin, C. W.|
|Fortescue, C.||Masterman, J.|
|Fox, R. M.||Matheson, A.|
|Freestun, Col.||Matheson, Sir J.|
|French, F.||Matheson, Col.|
|Geach, C.||Melgund, Visct.|
|Glyn, G. C.||Milner, W. M. E.|
|Goddard, A. L.||Milnes, R. M.|
|Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.||Milton, Visct.|
|Granger, T. C.||Moffatt, G.|
|Greene, T.||Molesworth, Sir W.|
|Grenfell, C. P.||Moncreiff, J.|
|Grenfell, C. W.||Morris, D.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.|
|Grey, R. W.||Mulgrave, Earl of|
|Grosvenor, Lord R.||Murphy, F. S.|
|Grosvenor, Earl||Nicholl, rt. hon. J.|
|Guest, Sir J.||Norreys, Lord|
|Hale, R. B.||Norreys. Sir D. J.|
|Hall, Sir B.||O'Connell, M. J.|
|Hallyburton, Lrd. J. F. G.||O'Ferrall, rt. hon. R. M.|
|Hanmer, Sir J.||Ogle, S. C. H.|
|Harcourt, G. G.||Ord, W.|
|Hardcastle, J. A.||Osborne, R.|
|Hastie, A.||Owen, Sir J.|
|Hatchell, rt. hon. J.||Paget, Lord A.|
|Hawes, B.||Paget, Lord C.|
|Headlam, T. E.||Paget, Lord G.|
|Heathcote, Sir G. J.||Palmerston, Visct.|
|Heneage, G. H. W.||Parker, J.|
|Heneage, E.||Pechell, Sir G. B.|
|Perfect, R.||Strickland, Sir G.|
|Peto, S. M.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Pigott, F.||Tanered, H. W.|
|Pilkington, J.||Tenison, E. K.|
|Pinney, W.||Tennent, R. J.|
|Plowden, W. H. C.||Thicknesse, R. A.|
|Ponsonby. hon. C. F. A. C.||Thornely, T.|
|Price, Sir R.||Tollemache, hon. F. G.|
|Pusey, P.||Tollemache, J.|
|Rawdon, Col.||Towneley, J.|
|Reid, Col.||Townley, R. G.|
|Ricardo, J. L.||Traill, G.|
|Ricardo, O.||Trevor, hon. T.|
|Rice, E. R.||Tufnell, rt. hon. H.|
|Rich, H.||Vane, Lord H.|
|Robartes, T. J. A.||Villiers, hon. C.|
|Roebuck, J. A.||Vivian, J. H.|
|Romilly, Col.||Wakley, T.|
|Romilly, Sir J.||Wall, C. B.|
|Russell, Lord J.||Walmsley, Sir J.|
|Russell, hon. E. S.||Walter, J.|
|Russell, F. C. H.||Wawn, J. T.|
|Sandars, J.||Wellesley, Lord C.|
|Scrope, G. P.||West, F. R.|
|Seymour, H. D.||Westhead, J. P. B.|
|Seymour, Lord||Willcox, B. M.|
|Shafto, R. D.||Willyams, H.|
|Shelburne, Earl of||Williamson, Sir H.|
|Smith, rt. hon. R. V.||Wilson, J.|
|Smith, J. A.||Wilson, M.|
|Smith, M. T.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Smythe, hon. G.||Wood, Sir W. P.|
|Somers, J. P.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Somerville. rt. hon. Sir W.||Wyld, J.|
|Sotheron, T. H. S.||Wyvill, M.|
|Spearman, H. J.||Young, Sir J.|
|Stanley, hon. W. O.|
|Stansfield, W. R. C.||TELLERS.|
|Stanton, W. H.||Hayter, W. G.|
|Stephenson, R.||Hill, Lord M.|
Motion made, and Question put—
That this House is of opinion, that the execution of eighteen persons, and the imprisonment, transportation, and corporal punishment of one hundred and forty other persons on this occasion, is at variance with the merciful administration of the British Penal Laws, and is not calculated to secure the future affections and fidelity of Her Majesty's Colonial subjects:—That this House is of opinion, that these severities are the more sincerely to be deprecated as they were exercised after the suppression of the disturbances, during which none of Her Majesty's troops or public servants were killed, and only one soldier slightly wounded:—That this House is of opinion, that the conduct of the late Governor of Ceylon, in keeping in force Martial Law for two months, after his chief legal adviser had recommended its discontinuance, and during which period the Civil Courts were sitting without danger or interruption, and also his refusal to allow a short delay in the execution of a priest, at the request of the Queen's Advocate, who wished further investigation into the case, was in the highest degree arbitrary and oppressive:—That this House is therefore of opinion, that the conduct of Earl Grey, in signifying Her Majesty's approbation of the conduct of Lord Torrington during and subsequent to the disturbances, was precipitate and injudicious, tending to establish precedents of rigour and severity in the government of Her Majesty's Foreign Possessions, and injurious to the char-
acter of this Country for justice and humanity.
§ Motion negatived.
§ The House adjourned at a quarter before Three o'clock.