HC Deb 02 August 1853 vol 129 cc1160-1

said, he begged to ask the noble Lord the Member for London, whether a copy of the charges against Sir James Brooke, contained in the hon. Member for Montrose's (Mr. Hume's) letter enclosed by Lord Clarendon to Lord Dalhousie, were communicated to Sir James Brooke previous to his leaving this country, or whether Her Majesty's Ministers took leave of Sir James Brooke previous to his return to Borneo without letting him know those charges under which they had at that time resolved to arraign him? The House would remember, when the hon. Member for Montrose brought forward charges against Sir James Brooke, the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) declared them to be utterly unfounded, and yet he saw by the papers of the House that the Government had adopted certain charges contained in a letter of the hon. Member (Mr. Hume), and sent by Lord Clarendon to Lord Dalhousie, with a specification of the points on which inquiry should take place.


said, that the Government had not adopted any charges against Sir James Brooke. When he (Lord John Russell) was in the Foreign Office, he directed the letter of the hon. Member for Montrose, which contained many charges against Sir James Brooke, to be sent to that gentleman, requesting him to give any answer he might think proper with regard to it. The inquiry, however, which the Government proposed to institute had no reference to those or any other charges against Sir James Brooke, but was simply of this nature—whether it was desirable that Sir James Brooke, he being the rajah of a foreign country, should continue to hold the various offices under the Government of this country which he had occupied for a considerable period. At the same time the proposed inquiry would give an opportunity to invessigate any charges that might be made against Sir James Brooke, who was himself anxious that such an inquiry should be made, and who had repeatedly declared that he would never shrink from the strictest investigation into his conduct and proceedings. He need hardly state, after the several Motions which had been made in that House, that Sir James Brooke, previous to his leaving this country, was fully informed of the charges which had been brought against him.


said, he had never brought forward charges against Sir James Brooke. He had merely called attention to public despatches, which gave an account of the massacre of 1,500 people, and in the interest of humanity had demanded an inquiry into that atrocious proceeding. He wished to ask Mr. Speaker a question in connexion with this subject. It would be recollected that a despatch had been laid on the table containing a letter addressed by Sir James Brooke to the Judges at Singapore, in which he attacked one of the officials connected with the Court there, calling him a blackguard and a scoundrel, and heaping upon him all the odious epithets he could find. The gentleman thus grossly attacked subsequently addressed a communication by way of reply to the hon. Member (Mr. Baillie) who had moved for the production of the despatch; and that document, on the Motion of the hon. Member for Inverness-shire, was laid before the House in the present Session. He understood, moreover, that several hundred printed copies had been sent to Mr. Speaker, in order that they might be distributed. This had not been done, and he wished to know why the reply of the official at Singapore to the coarse attack of Sir James Brooke had been withheld from publication?


said, he had abstained from distributing it for the simple reason that he thought it was a libel from beginning to end. The hon. Gentleman was wrong in supposing that the document was printed. A printed copy was presented at the Foreign Office, but the one sent to him was in manuscript; and, indeed, it was so full of libellous matter that had any hon. Member proposed to have it printed, he would have considered it his duty not to allow the Motion to proceed.

Subject dropped.