HC Deb 23 March 1852 vol 120 cc43-5

said, he rose to move for copies of corespondence between Mr. Robert Burns and Viscount Palmerston, relative to the obstructions and discouragements he had received to his commercial affairs in Borneo. He (Mr. Hume) should content himself on the present occasion with simply moving for the production of these papers, which were necessary to complete the narrative of the transactions in Borneo which had already engaged the attention of that House. If the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. H. Drummond) was anxious for a discussion on the conduct of Sir James Brooke, it was his (Mr. Hume's) intention to gratify him without much delay; but he trusted that the matter would not be debated at that moment.

Address for— Copy of Letter from Mr. Robert Burns to Viscount Palmerston, dated Singapore, 28th day of June, 1851, with its Inclosures, complaining of the obstructions and discouragements he had received to his commercial affairs in Borneo at the hands of Her Majesty's Commissioner and Consul General to the Sultan and independent Chiefs of Borneo, whilst prosecuting his lawful commercial proceedings in that country; together with Copy of any Answers thereto.


said, he must complain that the hon. Member for Montrose should, as last Session, put repeated notices upon the paper which were not literally true, and which implied censures of which the House had no means of forming an accurate judgment. For instance, this notice stated that Mr. Burns was prosecuting, his lawful commercial proceedings. Now, the fact was that these proceedings were, pandering to slander at the instigation of the society who instructed the hon. Member for Montrose. The unfortunate gentleman (Mr. Burns) had given evidence (though he thought he could not have been such a goose as to have thought so) that there were no such things as pirates; but having gone amongst them, he lost his head, and the consequence was that his boat and papers fell into the hands of the Government authorities, and amongst these papers was his journal, which would show what were the commercial proceedings in which he was engaged in Mallaheu Bay. [The hon. Member then read extracts from this journal, to show that the unfortunate gentleman in question, and Mr. Motley, the agent of the Eastern Archipelago Company, had been engaged in endeavouring to persuade the Sultan of Borneo to write to Her Majesty, complaining of the conduct and proceedings of Sir James Brooke.] He had not the smallest objection to meet the hon. Member for Montrose whenever he might bring forward the Borneo question; but he objected to charges being insinuated in these resolutions, instead of being made in a bonâ fide and honest manner, when and where they could be answered; which he knew that they could not be on those occasions. It was too bad that an honourable Gentleman, who was esteemed (and he believed, deservedly) by his friends as a man of benevolence and kindness, should be possessed with such a monomania as to take a delight in blackening in that House the character of one of the most valuable servants whom the country had ever possessed.


said, that the transactions alluded to by the hon. Member took place many months after those with respect to which he (Mr. Hume) wished for an explanation. The hon. Gentleman was mistaken in supposing that he (Mr. Hume) had anything to do with the company to which he had referred. The letter, for a copy of which he was now moving, was direct from, and was signed by, Mr. Burns himself, and he (Mr. Hume) knew nothing of any other party. He denied that the present Motion contained one word of censure, and therefore the remarks of the hon. Member upon that point were not well founded.

Motion agreed to.