§ MR. HUTT
said, he rose to call attention to the Report of the Committee on the Slave Trade in 1848 and 1849, with the view of moving a Resolution on the subject. Eight years ago, at the request of a Select Committee, he submitted to the House a Resolution condemning all attempts at suppressing the slave trade by means of an armed force. That proposition was rejected by a considerable majority, and, although he retained in their full force the convictions with which he left the Committee-room as to the folly and cruelty of our proceedings on the coast of Africa, he had not thought it right since that period to agitate a subject of so much delicacy. The time had now arrived, however, when he might with propriety revert to the subject. We had now had eight years additional experience of our attempts at suppression, and they had brought with them the usual results. He believed, moreover, that a considerable change had taken place in public opinion, and many hon. Members who opposed him in 1850 had since communicated to him their regret that they were induced to take up a position against him, and their determination to amend their conduct if he would give them an opportunity. It was at one time his intention to test the feelings of the House by some Resolution similar to that which he proposed in 1850, but the late period of the Session, the number of Members who had left town, the jaded appear- 1287 ante of those who remained, still more an apprehension that he might embarrass the Government in negotiations of a critical and delicate nature with a foreign State, had determined him not to attempt to pledge the Ministry or the House to any particular course in regard to the suppression of slavery, but to reserve his efforts for that purpose for some future and more convenient occasion. He had no wish to impugn the views or the conduct of those who, at the close of a great European war, looking solely at the great cruelty and wickedness of the slave trade, thought that England might with propriety step out of the usual course of nations for the purpose of suppressing that traffic; nay, the idea of resorting to an armed force was in the first instance a not unnatural suggestion; but when the experience of forty years had proved that an armed force could not put down the slave trade—that, on the contrary, it extended and aggravated the evil—that the work was fatal to the gallant men engaged in the suppression service, and that we ran the risk of coming into angry collision with powerful maritime States, thereby endangering and compromising the peace of the world; when he remembered, moreover, that all that could be said in favour of the present system was, that it had in some inappreciable degree checked the traffic, he thought the time had come when we ought seriously to reconsider the subject. The statement that after a trial of forty years, we had not succeeded in putting down the Slave Trade, might easily be confirmed by a reference to what was now going on in the waters of Cuba. He regretted that the papers relating to the slave trade, which were annually presented to Parliament, had not been placed in the hand of hon. Members during the present Session, for it was always convenient to have the opportunity of referring to Parliamentary and official documents; but in the absence of any recent papers of this description he must have recourse to the papers of last Session; and he found in them a communication from the Commissioners at the Havannah to the then Foreign Secretary, dated the 5th of January, 1856. In that communication the Commissioners stated that the slave trade with the island of Cuba was carried on with increased vigour, nor could they hold out any reasonable hope of its diminution, unless the local Government lent its hearty aid and concurrence in erecting that result. In a subsequent communication on 1288 the 31st of January of last year, the Commissioners observed that they regretted to say that the slave trade was carried on there not only extensively, but almost with impunity. In addition to that information the House had the information communicated by means of the ordinary public organs. He was not aware from official sources what might now be the actual condition of the slave trade with the Spanish West India islands; but the hon. Gentleman opposite, who represented with so much ability the Foreign Office in that House, would contradict him if he made an erroneous statement in asserting that the slave trade with Cuba was never in greater activity than at the present moment. Thus, then, they had established the circumstance that the slave trade was not suppressed by means of armed cruisers. That was proved as a matter of fact; and, as a matter of reason, it could easily be established that they never could succeed by such means. It was remarked by Mr. Burke, in his celebrated letter to Mr. Pitt, that the Slave Trade could only be put down in the country of importation. Cuba and Brazil could put it down, as at different periods they had put it down, but it was impossible for this country, so long as high prices were given in any part of the world for the importation of African slaves, to arrest this kind of merchandise in its progress to the market. Why was it that in this country, with all the means of prevention they possessed, they abandoned high duties on such articles as spirits and tobacco? Because with all their precautions of coastguard and police, they found it impossible to prevent the operations of the smuggler; and they might as well arm a fleet or denounce legal penalties against the flow of the tides or the revolutions of the seasons as attempt to stop, by similar means, the operation of that great law of commercial intercourse—the law of demand and supply. If such was the conclusion at which wise and learned men had arrived by dint of reasoning, the same result had also been arrived at by practical men, who drew their conclusions from the scenes of real life. He found that before the last Committee appointed by that House on the Motion of the late Mr. Hume to consider a subject analogous to the one he now brought under the notice of the House, Captain Hamilton, for several years in command of a vessel engaged in the suppression of the Slave Trade on the coast of Cuba and Brazil, 1289 was called as a witness, and that officer stated:—So long as there is a demand for slaves, and money to pay for them, so long they will just as easily be had as hogsheads of sugar or any other marketable article. There never was, either in Cuba or Brazil much difficulty in getting slaves. It was always a question of £ s. d.Evidence similar to this was given by Sir C. Hotham, who commanded the squadron when it was in its highest state of efficiency. He stated:—I consider that the extent of the slave trade depends entirely on the commercial demand for slaves, and that it has little or no relation to the squadron. Experience has proved the present system of suppression to be fruitless.Comodore Mansell, who preceded Sir C. Hotham in the command of the same squadron, stated:—No possible application of force will ever extinguish the slave trade.The late Mr. Bandinell, who presided for thirty years over that department of the Foreign Office which is charged with suppressing the Slave Trade, told the Committee of 1848, "that the squadron produced on the Slave Trade little or no effect at all." Sir Stephen Lushington, who took a somewhat different view, gave evidence to nearly the same effect. Sir F. Buxton, whose name would not readily be forgotten in that House, and whose intelligence and sagacity were scarcely less admirable than his high moral qualities, bequeathed these parting words to his country:—I must declare my conviction that the slave trade never will be suppressed by the system hitherto pursued. You will be defeated by its enormous gains; you may throw impediments in the way of these miscreants, you may augment their perils, you may reduce their profits, but enough and more than enough will remain to baffle all your humane efforts.The larger portion of that House would recollect the great meeting held in 1841 at Exeter Hall, presided over by the Prince Consort, and attended by the noble Lord the Member for London, and a large number of the Members of both Houses of Parliament. They knew that the speeches made and the Resolutions carried on that occasion were all animated by the same spirit, and embodied the conclusion that the system of forcible suppression had been and must necessarily be a failure. He could go on with a multitude of quotations to the same effect, but he would not fatigue the House with them. Such a mass of authority, reasoning, and facts was collected on this subject as had never been accumulated before on any other, and it all 1290 went to prove that the system had failed. If it had done nothing worse, they might then have said that, though they had expended the money and wasted the resources of the country, they had been animated by good and honourable intentions; but, in his opinion, they had failed with consequences terrible to contemplate. He could not believe that either that House or the country would ever have sanctioned this proceeding if a few naked facts could have been brought under their apprehension. Mr. Burke remarked on the subject of the American war, that a conscientious man would be careful how he dealt with blood; and was that House aware of the extent to which for forty years they had been dealing with the blood of their fellow-creatures, under the delusion that they were suppressing the slave trade? He would read a description of the consequences of this system of suppression given by the late Duke of Wellington. The Duke of Wellington addressed these emphatic words to the Congress of Vienna in 1822, after the armed suppression system had been in operation a few years:—The very attempt at prevention tends to the augmentation of the evil. The dread of detection suggests expedients of concealment productive of the most dreadful sufferings to the cargo. The numbers put on board in each venture are so far from being proportioned to the capacity of the vessel, that the probable profits of each voyage are notoriously calculated only on the survivors, and the mortality is accordingly frightful to a degree unknown since the attention of mankind was first called to the horrors of this traffic.This description given by the Duke of Wellington in the face of Europe and of the British Government, was unquestionably true at the time it was uttered, and was in a tenfold degree true at the present moment, when the resources of steam, and other scientific improvements, had been applied to the prevention of the Slave Trade. The truth was that the British squadron had been utterly unable to prevent the embarkation of slaves from the coast of Africa, almost in proportion to the demand for slaves in America; but it had tended to increase enormously the revolting circumstances of the traffic. Let the House bear in mind the mode in which the Slave Trade was conducted. Large bodies of slaves were brought down in gangs from the interior of Africa to the coast for embarkation. if that portion of the coast off which the slave vessels were lying happened—as was constantly the case—to be blockaded by British cruisers, the slaves 1291 were deposited in factories, or what were called barracoons, until an opportunity occurred of embarking them, and they remained in these places, chained together, frequently for weeks, and sometimes for months. The consequence was that they died in great numbers from disease and privation, and there were authenticated instances of their having perished by the act of their owners in a universal massacre. Thousands of these unfortunate beings died from fatigue, hunger, and thirst in their hurried marches along the coast and in the boat expeditions which were necesssary for their clandestine embarkation to avoid the vigilance of the British cruisers. Then came the middle passage, with its accumulated horrors. Let hon. Gentlemen imagine the miseries of men so packed on board ship, that during the whole course of the Atlantic voyage, they were unable either to change their position or to stir their limbs, while the putrefying dead could not be removed from immediate contact with the living. Let the House think of the sufferings of the survivors, and the permanent injury which their health must have sustained, independently of the agonies of those unfortunate creatures who died under such horrible and revolting circumstances. Mr. Bandinell had calculated that the proportion of slaves who perished in the middle passage was 25 per cent.; Sir F. Buxton estimated the deaths at 33 per cent.; and, although there had been considerable controversy on the subject, he (Mr. Hutt) believed these estimates were substantially correct. The Duke of Wellington was undoubtedly right when he told the Congress of Vienna that in consequence of the attempts to suppress the Slave Trade "the mortality is accordingly frightful to a degree unknown since the attention of mankind was first called to the horrors of this traffic." The responsibility of all these horrors, cruelties, and massacres rested with every man in the country who supported the existing system, and with all the Members of that House who advocated its maintenance, and who might, if they chose, put an end to it. He would not touch upon the position of the British naval force employed in the suppression of this traffic, for he saw below him the noble Member for Sandwich (Lord C. Paget) whose personal experience would enable him to afford the House valuable information upon that subject. There was, however, another very important point with reference to the question to which 1292 recent occurrences had lately directed the attention of the country. It was unnecessary for him to refer to the angry quarrel which had recently arisen between Great Britain and America on this subject, and which he was happy to believe had been amicably settled by the wisdom and promptitude displayed by Her Majesty's Government; but he might remind the House that it was notorious that for many years past a perseverance in the system of suppression had been constantly dragging this country to the verge of hostilities with those two great maritime States between whom and ourselves it was most desirable for the highest interests of civilization that relations of amity and good will should be maintained. There was reason to believe that the dispute with America had been concluded; but to-day we were embroiled with America, and to-morrow we might be embroiled with France if the existing system was continued. Unless that system was abandoned, the time would speedily arrive when we should be engaged in an angry dispute on this subject with one or other of those powerful States, from which we could not recede with honour or dignity, and in which we could not maintain our position without entailing upon the civilized portion of the world all the horrors and miseries of war. For his own part he could not conceive any circumstance which could justify us in incurring the risk of such an alternative. Certainly not the maintenance of the suppression squadron and the exercise of the right of search. In order to avoid such a calamity, therefore, he asked that our cruisers should not be furnished with any instructions for boarding foreign ships, except in cases where suspicion of piracy existed. The right of visit, as distinguished from the right of search, in a time of peace, except in the case of vessels with regard to which a strong presumption of piracy existed, was a pretension which neither France nor America would ever permit this country to exercise. They had it on the high authority of Lord Stowell that for the exercise of such a right there was no pretext or foundation whatever in the law or comity of nations. He did not know what arrangement Her Majesty's Government had effected with America, but he hoped that if our pretensions had been called in question they had not hesitated frankly to renounce pretensions so exorbitant and unjustifiable. On the last occasion when this subject was under discussion the hon. Members who ad- 1293 vocated the maintenance of the squadron indulged in a good deal of that declamatory eloquence and national laudation which were at all times so acceptable to the British public, and especially to the religious portion of it. There was no doubt that the British nation was the finest fellows in the world; they were the most sagacious, and, above all, the most consistent. They professed—and no doubt most sincerely felt—the deepest interest in the wrongs and sufferings of the African negroes, and then they passed the Sugar Duties Bill, the necessary consequence of which was largely to increase slavery and the Slave Trade. They relied for the extinction of the Slave Trade upon a system which long experience and the feeling of mankind had denounced as utterly futile and abortive. When this subject was last debated his right hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Cardwell) made a most able and effective speech, in which he somewhat exultingly stated that, although General Valdez was no longer Captain General of Cuba, the Slave Trade had been entirely abolished; but General Roncales was the successor of General Valdez as Captain General of Cuba, and it was owing to his honourable and generous exertions, and not to the presence of the British squadron, that a stop was at that time put to the Slave Trade. He remembered also that the noble Lord the Member for the City, on that occasion, intimated that the day was not far distant when France and America, who sympathized so warmly in our efforts, would join with us in such an address to Brazil and Cuba on the subject of the Slave Trade as would constrain the Governments of those two countries to defer to it; and, on that account be, as well as his right hon. Friend, called upon the House to continue the African squadron. The state of the Slave Trade at this hour in the Cuban waters, the well-known feeling of France, and of a large portion of the United States, respecting the Slave Trade, offered, he thought, a very significant commentary on these predictions, and suggested to the House how far they ought to trust their judgments to men who rather took their counsels from the delusions of a false and fatal consistency than from reason and experience. During the quarter of a century in which he had the honour to occupy a seat in Parliament, it had always been declared that we were just on the point of success. We had always been in a state of paulo post futurum beatitude, We had 1294 always been just on the point of attaining that which, after forty years endeavour, we had not yet succeeded in attaining. In 1850 his right hon. Friend said we had extinguished the Cuban Slave Trade, and called upon us to hail the event as an earnest of the success which was to follow, and of the complete and final triumph of our efforts at suppression). The same language would probably be held to-day, possibly by the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston). It would no doubt be said, also, that we had extinguished a vast amount of slavery formerly carried on with Brazil. In point of fact we had done neither the one thing nor the other. The Governors General of Cuba, Valdez, Roncales, and Concha did try to put a stop to the Slave Trade, and their names ought never to be mentioned in this country without honour. Since 1850, too, the Emperor and the Legislature of Brazil had put down the Slave Trade in that country; but these results were entirely unconnected with the efforts of the British squadron. In 1848 and 1849 it was proved before the Slave Trade Committee that slaves to the number of 50,000 or 60,000 per annum were imported into Brazil in spite of all the efforts of our squadron. Now, the whole of that branch of the disgusting traffic was, he believed, annihilated. But was it our squadron, our policy, our efforts, which accomplished this? We might as well lay claim to the beneficent operations of nature; we might as well be told that it was our agency which made the fruits of the earth to ripen in autumn, or the flowers to blossom beneath the sunshine of spring. He had now done. He had shown the House that our present system was productive of no good, that on the contrary it was largely productive of evil, and from the nature of things it must necessarily be so. He had shown that for forty years together the system had failed, and he now respectfully but earnestly asked the House if it was to be continued.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, "it is expedient to discontinue the practice of authorizing Her Majesty's ships to visit and search vessels under Foreign Flags, with a view of suppressing the traffic in Slaves," instead thereof.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, the Motion was not, like that last submitted to the House on this subject, a Motion for the withdrawal 1295 of the squadron employed in suppressing the slave trade. It proposed that, leaving our squadron on the coast of Africa, the House should yet fetter the hands of Her Majesty's Government in the instructions given to the commanders of those squadrons, and such being the case he thought that under no circumstances would the House of Commons be likely to adopt the Resolution. His hon. Friend, in the course of his able speech, reminded the House of the inquiry as to the efficacy of the squadron which some years ago was instituted. He told the House of the Committee of which he acted as the Chairman, but he made no mention of that other Committee which, at the same time in the other House of Parliament, had conducted the same inquiry, and which, upon (he believed) fuller evidence, came to exactly the opposite conclusion. The House of Lords' Committee, in a unanimous report, expressed in the strongest terms their opinion, as the result of the evidence laid before them, that the squadron was not ineffective; that for the space of 2,000 miles it had cleared the coast of Africa from the greatest curse which man could inflict on man; and while the Committee did not lead us to rely exclusively upon a squadron for the suppression of the slave trade, it pointed out that there were two beneficent influences on which you could firmly rely, namely, commerce and Christianity. It declared that, if the evidence laid before them proved nothing else, it proved that the removal of our squadron would be followed by universal piracy along the coast; that the missions would be driven from the shore; that Christianity would be extinguished; and that the then nascent but now flourishing commerce carried on would be instantly annihilated. That was the unanimous opinion upon the evidence laid before them of the Lords' Committee, who had the great advantage of following, a Session afterwards, the deliberations carried on by this House, and who were therefore able to examine by the light of their inquiry those points which the Commons' Committee might be thought to have considered partially or incompletely. The Report of the House of Lords was unanimous, but what was the nature of the Report of the Commons' Committee? He was sure that some of his hon. Friends had not forgotten how day after day, Resolution after Resolution, was so keenly contested that in innumerable divisions there were seven on one side and seven on the other, until at last the 1296 Report came down to the House, rather the Report of the hon. Chairman (Mr. Hutt), by whose single vote it was carried, on each important stage of the debate in Committee, as against the unanimous Report of the other House of Parliament. In this House the Report was fully debated, and by a decisive majority it was rejected, so that he might appeal from the decision of the Committee to the decision of the House. What were the vaticinations contained in that Report? That a negro was like any other cargo, and that as long as there was a demand for him, and as long as money could purchase him, he would be had; that the demand in Brazil had never been so great, and the trade had never been pursued so vigorously; all leading to the conclusion, that to try and put down the slave trade with Brazil was a hopeless undertaking. His hon. Friend had just declared that he and others were not true prophets, and that he therefore hoped the House would not place much trust in their judgment as to the future. Now, it was in 1850 that they were told of the hopelessness of suppressing the Brazilian slave trade; but where was that trade before 1851 had expired? Why, it was wiped out from the dark records of the earth. It was said that its extinction was due entirely to the policy of the Brazilian Government. But in 1850 the argument was pushed still further. In those days it used to be said, "By maintaining the African squadron you are inflaming the pride and insulting the dignity of Brazil. You can but rely for the suppression of the trade on the efforts of the Brazilian Government; yet how can you expect that Government to co-operate with you so long as you are affronting its dignity and rousing the national passions?" That was the argument used by hon. Gentlemen. If hon. Members were to listen to the evidence of Sir Gore Ouseley they would find it to be his opinion that despair would take possession of the advocates of the cause of humanity in Brazil if our squadron were to be removed. But then it was argued that the Brazilian Government would never abolish the traffic in slaves so long as that squadron was maintained. That, however, was fortunately not the view of the matter which had been taken by the Minister of the day or by the House of Commons at the period to which he referred; and what had been the result? Fortified by the large majority which had voted against the Report of the Committee 1297 of his hon. Friend, the Government had sent out most stringent instructions to Sir J. Hudson, who was then our Minister at Rio, calling upon him to act with due vigour; and how, he would ask, had the matter terminated? A Brazilian fort had fired upon the Cormorant, the Cormorant had instantly returned the fire and annihilated the fort; the Minister for Foreign Affairs had gone down to the Brazilian Chamber, and had said,I will do all I can to maintain the honour and dignity of the nation, but you must not suppose that when a country like England is in earnest you can long maintain a traffic which she is anxious to extinguish.At that moment the knell of the Slave Trade in Brazil was rung. That circumstance occurred either in 1850 or 1851, and from that hour the Slave Trade was at an end in Brazil. He had appealed from the Report of his hon. Friend to the decision of the House, and he would now appeal to another authority, and that was the authority and the decision of his hon. Friend himself. His hon. Friend had referred to the appointment of a Committee in 1853, on the Motion of the late Mr. Hume. His hon. Friend was himself a member of that Committee. [Mr. HUTT intimated dissent.] He supposed that his hon. Friend did not attend the Committee, but his name was on it. He would, however, quote the last decision. In 1849, so great was the failure in suppressing the trade that it was thought that we had nothing to do but to retire in despair. In 1851, the country which had carried on the greatest traffic in slaves was compelled by the adoption of vigorous measures to desist from carrying it on. Two years after, in 1853, a Committee was appointed to inquire into the subject, and he would read an extract from their Report, which was in effect,That it was gratifying to find how different was the state of the Slave Trade on the west coast of Africa; how much less it had become; and that those efforts in the cause of humanity which had been carried on for so many years were honourable to the nation, and afforded inducements to continue the interference with that trade until it was abolished.If you went by the authority of Committees of the House, you had the unanimous opinion of a Committee of the House of Lords, and you had the opinion of the last Committee of that House which had been appointed. On what then did his hon. 1298 Friend rely? He had quoted authorities on which if he could have relied entirely, he would have pursued a better course. He had quoted, in support of his views, the evidence of Captain Hamilton, whose testimony must carry with it considerable weight in favour of whatever side it might be given. His hon. Friend, however, had omitted to dwell upon the circumstance that the unanimous Report of the Committee had been in opposition to that evidence. The hon. Gentleman had also quoted from the evidence of Sir C. Hotham, and he no doubt had spoken before the Committee of 1849 in terms of regret at our exertions not having been more complete in putting an end to a traffic the horrors of which he himself had been doomed to witness. But was Sir C. Hotham, he would ask, to be reckoned among the number of those by whom the withdrawal of our squadron was recommended? It was asserted that the sufferings of the middle passage had been greatly increased by the steps which this country had taken, and he trusted those who made that statement had taken pains to examine the evidence upon the subject which had been adduced. He had the honour of being a Member for the City of Liverpool when the Committee of 1849 had been appointed; his nomination as a member of the Committee had been opposed in that House upon the ground that, sitting as the representative for Liverpool, he must be regarded as being favourable to the withdrawal of the squadron. Now, he was ready to admit that his opinion upon the question had at first, before he had thoroughly informed himself with respect to it, taken that direction; but when all the evidence that bore upon it had been laid before him, he had arrived at the opposite conclusion, Much stress was laid upon the evidence of Mr. Bandinell, a gentleman whom he knew well, and much respected; but it was but right in dealing with that evidence to bear in mind that it was based upon statistical information which had been furnished to him by Dr. Cliffe, who was himself interested in the slave trade, and by whose information it was admitted before the House of Lords that Mr. Bandinell had been misled. He might next advert to the circumstance that the average mortality during the middle passage, while our regulations were being carried out under Sir W. Dolbren's Act was computed at 14 per cent, while the testimony of Sir C. Hotham, given in 1853, the year after 1299 he had returned from the squadron, showed that it had become reduced to 5 per cent. The argument which had been adduced from those facts was that the price of slaves, owing to the measures which had been taken by this country, had been increased, and that consequently their inhuman masters set a greater value upon them and took greater precautions for the preservation of their lives than had previously been the case. Now, if Sir C. Hotham was to be quoted as an authority upon the subject, he trusted he should be permitted to read a few sentences from the evidence which he had given before the Committee. He had said,I anxiously hope the restriction on the slave trade will never be removed. If you remove all restrictions and take your squadron entirely away small speculators will spring up, who will undersell those who are now in the market; the slave trade will be greatly increased in its horrors, and it is impossible to predict what calamities may ensue. Pirates will abound, and it will become impossible for the legitimate trader to conduct his operations on the coast.Now, in dealing with the subject, our attention must be directed to that important question the supply of cotton for our manufacturers, a trade in which, of a most remarkable and satisfactory characracter, was springing up, as the work of native hands, native venture, and native capital, encouraged by gentlemen of spirit in Manchester, and which trade we were told, upon the authority of Sir C. Hotham and other witnesses, must be inevitably extinguished if our squadron were removed. Look, too, at the position in which the missions would be left. His hon. Friend had said that the British public, and especially the religious public, were tired of using and listening to declamatory language on these questions. He (Mr. Cardwell) did not desire to identify himself with that course of proceeding, but he would ask whether something was not due to the labours of our missionaries, who were devoting their lives and energies to the propagation of Christanity among the native Africans. Those zealous men were members of no particular denomination, inhabitants of no particular country. No more valuable information, indeed, with respect to the natives of Africa had been furnished to us than that which emanated from American missionaries, who expressed their regret that their own country was not in a position to extend to them that protection in the discharge of their duties which, 1300 owing to the existence of treaties, England was in a position to afford. He would read the words of one of these gentlemen himself, an American:—In all these varied ways it does seem to us that the British squadron has rendered important services to the cause of humanity. It has put down piracy in the African seas, has restored peace and tranquillity to a line of sea coast of more than 2,000 miles, has called into existence a large and flourishing commerce, and at the same time has thrown the shield of its protection over the cause of Christian missions, and all the varied agency that has been employed to promote the cause of humanity and civilization among the benighted inhabitants of this continent. It this great object be not worthy of British philanthropy, we know not where to find those that are.And now, after having paid £400,000 to Spain to induce her to enter into a treaty with us, and having solicited other nations to join with us, they were now asked, at a time when the Slave Trade with Brazil had been extinguished, when the momentary difficulty with America had been happily got over, to go the round of the nations, and ask them to release us from the engagements we had contracted and to reverse entirely the policy we had so long pursued. The House of Commons had been of a different opinion when this question last came before it; it had since had a gratifying proof of the wisdom of that division in the entire cessation of the Brazilian slave trade, and he rejoiced to perceive on the part of the Government signs of a disposition to convey to Spain, in intelligible language, certain suggestions which might lead to a reconsideration of the policy of that country. At all events, without advocating a reliance upon the squadron alone as the means of accomplishing the great object in view, he believed that Christianity and the commerce now springing up in Africa would continue to spread, to the great advantage of those countries. He could not believe that America, which had declared the slave trade to be piracy when exercised by her own citizens, or France, would become enemies of this country on account of our adherence to a policy that had produced such excellent results and so much honour to this country. He sincerely hoped the House would adhere to the opinion it had expressed in 1849, and would not give its sanction to a retrograde policy which would be inconsistent with our material interests, derogatory to our honour, and prejudicial to the best interests of civilization and humanity.
MR. SEYMOUR FITZGERALD
Sir, as the observations which I shall take the liberty of making will be in the same sense and spirit as those which have fallen from my right hon. Friend who has just spoken, I should have preferred to allow some other Member of the House, who takes a different view of the question, to address you before I rose for the purpose; but as my right hon. Friend said that I might, perhaps, have it in my power to present to the House in fuller detail some facts with reference to the present condition of the Slave Trade on the west coast of Africa and our commercial prospects there, I venture to hope the House will excuse my now addressing it. The hon. Gentleman who brought forward the Motion has expressed an opinion that if the House and the country had all the facts of the case before them, there would be a general, if not a unanimous opinion, that the policy which has hitherto been pursued of repressing the Slave Trade on the African coast by means of an armed intervention would certainly no longer be maintained; and if I were of the same opinion—if I thought that there was that general change in public opinion upon this subject which he has ventured to express—if I thought that the country would regard the Slave Trade as the hon. Gentleman seems to imply, as a commerce which is to be regulated by the ordinary laws of demand and supply, I should feel that I had a difficult task before me in asking the House to express its strong dissent from the views which he has put before us. I would say, in the first place, in reference to a policy which this country has so long pursued, even if the subject were one of minor or secondary interest, still I think there would be a general disinclination on the part of the House and the public prematurely and precipitately to come to any decision that should reverse that policy. But the policy which we have been pursuing in reference to the slave trade is not a policy of that kind. It is policy, not of sentiment, but a policy in which we have attempted to assert and vindicate a high principle; a policy in which we have invited the co-operation of all the nations of Europe; and I would also say a policy, the moral influence and effect of which upon the conduct of other nations has been most important. If this country had not taken the firm position which we have occupied on this subject; or, if at this moment we were to reverse our policy, does the House 1302 believe that countries like Brazil and Portugal would continue in the course which, following our example, they have adopted? Does not the House rather believe that if England were to exhibit any faltering in her policy, they would reverse their policy also, and the slave trade become as general and as rife as it was a few years ago? The hon. Gentleman had, not directly, but by implication, divided his observations on this subject into two parts. The first question he asked was, whether the policy which we have so long adopted has been a successful or an unsuccessful policy? and in the latter part of his speech he seemed to inquire whether there were any particular circumstances at the present time which militate against the continuance of that policy. With reference to the first of these points I beg to say that, after the most careful consideration, I have come to a totally opposite conclusion to that which he has arrived at: and I will shortly give to the House the facts upon which I base that opinion. As regards the number of slaves exported from the West Coast of Africa, the change, as all hon. Members are aware, has been most remarkable; for whereas only fifteen or eighteen years ago it was considered that the number of slaves annually taken thence approached the enormous number of 135,000, the very highest estimate which the importation of slaves into Cuba—and that is the only market at present—has reached within the last three years—at a time, too, when there were circumstances in existence which tended to give an impulse to the trade—is about 15,000 annually. So that, as regards the more number of slaves exported from Africa, the difference is as between 135,000 a year and—in consequence of the active means of repression which we have adopted—the small number of 15,000 a year. The fact is, that wherever the slave trade is extinguished there legitimate commerce springs up, and wherever legitimate commerce springs up, there equally the slave trade is ultimately not only greatly diminished, but altogether repressed. Whilst upon this branch of the subject I may also state that within the last fourteen years the value of the exports from the western coast of Africa has so enormously increased, that at the present moment it amounts to considerably more than two millions sterling per annum; and from the Bight of Benin, where twenty years ago not an ounce of palm oil could be got, and fifteen years ago a merchant of Liverpool, after 1303 paying £800 for demurrage, succeeded in obtaining only £1,300 worth, this year the export of palm oil alone will be nearly £900,000. In reference to this point, I cannot do better than quote a few extracts which I have made from the latest reports of some of the able officers who are employed on the African coast. I will first quote an extract from a despatch written last year, by Commander Hinkley, a most zealous, able, and intelligent officer, as my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty can testify.I have every reason to think that for the present (and we may hope for the future) the thing has ceased. Fisheries, oil factories, and urzella collectors are settling in every bay, and busying themselves in lawful trade.In another portion of his letter, dated February last year, he says:—The European factories are multiplying fast, so much so, that the impression I received on visiting Punta da Lenha, the trade port thirty miles up, a few months since, was such as I should expect on coming on a squatter's clearance on the bank of a North American river, the axe was so busy and skeleton houses rising so fast. Indeed, I should think the future of this fine river safe to be the head-quarters of a mighty trade.The same opinion is also expressed by Commodore Adams last year. He says:—I am happy to be able to state my belief that the native mind is becoming more alive to the real advantages of legal commerce, and that the slave trade is seldom resorted to, except in cases where there is a cessation of legitimate enterprise.I have similar quotations from Commander Hooker and others; but this I would impress upon the House, that though we have not succeeded absolutely in putting down the slave trade utterly and entirely, we have so discouraged it that we have made the pursuit of it difficult and troublesome, and the consequence is, that those who were formerly engaged in the slave trade are, on every part of the West African coast, turning their attention to the pursuit of legitimate commerce. To exemplify this, I will refer to two points upon that coast. Only four years ago the port of Lagos was one of the great haunts of the slave dealers, and one of the most notorious slave markets on the coast; but what was the condition of that port in the year 1856? Why, that the exports of palm oil, ivory, and cotton—about which I shall have a word to say presently—amounted to no less a sum than £188,000; whilst at the same time, from the immediate neighbourhood of Lagos, during the 1304 period to which the return I quote relates, we did not receive a report of one single slaver having been seen there. Take also the case of Loanda, which, as hon. Members are aware, is a possession of the Portuguese Government, and in alluding to Loanda I wish to express the sentiments of respect which the perusal of the papers before me has created in my mind towards that Government for their zealous and almost chivalrous efforts in seconding us to put down the iniquitous slave trade. And if I might be permitted, I would name one Portuguese statesman at least who has given a great impulse to the movement in Portugal, and who has constantly directed it in a right course for several years. I allude to the Viscount Saldanha whose efforts in this cause have been worthy of the most illustrious names connected with it in this country. Well, at Loanda, legitimate commerce has greatly increased and it has increased exactly in proportion as the slave trade has decreased. Our consul there reports that some of the oldest residents, who in early times were devoted to nothing but the prosecution of the slave trade, have now, in consequence of our squadron, and the repressive measures which have been employed, come to regard it as the most gambling speculation that they can enter upon, and that, consequently, they have turned their attention to fair and legitimate commerce. The exports from Loanda were in 1856, £239,000, and the imports £293,000, making together in that port alone a trade, which has sprung up within a comparatively short period, of the value of a half a million of money, which is the amount that at present represents the annual commerce of Loanda. Now, this is a most encouraging case, because at a very recent date the port of Loanda used to export from 10,000 to 15,000 slaves every year. From Loanda alone, in the course of a few years, there went as many slaves across the Atlantic as are now supposed to go from every part of the African coast. Mr. Gabriel says that he remembers the time when, with this enormous slave traffic, there was nothing but a little ivory and bees-wax exported from there, and the slave trade was fully nine-tenths of the whole commerce of Loanda. I stated just now that one of the articles of export from Lagos and the neighbourhood was cotton. The House is aware that the attention not only of those who are engaged in the manufacture of cotton in this country, but 1305 of statesmen and public men, has of late years been anxiously directed to this subject; and the inquiry has been how, looking at the vast capital employed in the manufacture, and the great population and varied interests which depend upon its prosperity, we can, from one part of the world or another ensure a sufficient supply of the raw material. Now, I do not scruple to say, after having had an opportunity of perusing the papers upon the subject, that it is not to India, or to any other part of the world which has been named, that our attention ought to be directed; but that it is to the west coast of Africa we should look for that large increase in our supply of cotton which is now become not only a thing wished for, but one so absolutely necessary to us that without it I and others who have studied this subject, foresee that, some day or other not far distant, the gravest consequences will ensue to this important branch of our national industry. In support of this opinion I would refer hon. Members to a paper that was laid upon the table in the past year relative to the cultivation of cotton in Africa. In that our consul at Lagos said:—The whole of the Yoruba and other countries south of the Niger, with the Houssa and Nuffee countries on the north side of that river, have been from all time cotton-growing countries; and, notwithstanding the civil wars, ravages, disorders, and disruptions caused by the slave trade, more than sufficient cotton to clothe their populations has always been cultivated, and their fabrics have found markets and a ready sale in those countries where the cotton plant is not cultivated, and into which the fabrics of Manchester and Glasgow have not yet penetrated. The cultivation of cotton, therefore, in the above-named countries is not new to the inhabitants; all that is required is, to offer them a market for the sale of as much as they can cultivate, and, by preventing the export of slaves from the seaboard, render some security to life, freedom, property, and labour.I will not go into the calculations of this gentleman, but I find him saying that it appeared from the best information he could obtain that there had been exported from different ports on the African coast to Brazil an amount of cotton and cotton goods that might fairly be estimated as equal to 7,200,000lb. weight of cotton. I may state further that another of our consuls, speaking of the trade in the Bight of Benin in 1856, says:—The readiness with which the inhabitants of the large town of Abbeokuta have extended their cultivation of the cotton plant merits the favourable notice of the manufacturer, of the philan- 1306 thropist—and as a means of supplanting the slave trade, by its turning the attention of the native to the value of the soil and of human labour—of Her Majesty's Government.He points out that in those countries where there is already this large production, that whereas from the year 1784 to 1791, the first seven years of the import of American cotton into this country, only sixty-four bales of cotton were brought from the United States to England; in 1855–56, being the third year only that attention had been turned to this produce in Africa, the town of Abbeokuta alone exported 249 bales, or 38,695lb.; so that, in a limited district of Africa, one small town, in the first year that their attention had been directed to this export, sent to England nearly twenty times as much cotton as in the early history of the cotton trade was sent by the United States of America. And I think we may fairly say that if we can succeed, as I believe we can succeed, in repressing the slave trade, we shall, before many years are over, receive a most important supply of this article from the West Coast of Africa. I have now shown the House, not by the experience of forty years, but by the experience of only the last few years, we have to a great extent diminished the slave trade, and have also done that which, after all, is the surest means of ultimately putting an end to it—namely, giving birth to a valuable, and rising, and an important trade. But the hon. Gentleman has referred to some circumstances which in his opinion at the present moment more than ever militate against the policy which we have hitherto adopted. He has referred to difficulties which have occurred in the United States, and also to the possible existence of differences with France. It is not my intention now to enter into the merits of the scheme of free immigration which has been adopted by the French Government, but as I informed the House a short time ago Her Majesty's Government, convinced of the impolicy of that scheme, have made a proposition to the French Government, that on the part of both Governments Commissioners should be appointed to inquire upon the spot into the nature and tendency of that scheme. It was not that we conceived the French Government desired by any such system to revive or continue the slave trade. I believe there is no power on the face of the earth which is ready to make greater sacrifices to put down the slave trade than the Government 1307 of His Imperial Majesty. But what we wanted to represent to the Imperial Government was this, that although it was true when those free immigrants, as they are termed, arrived in the French colonies they were most carefully attended to; and I can say myself, having perused the regulations issued by the French Government, that I think nothing could be more carefully devised for the protection of the labourers, and I have every reason to believe that those regulations are strictly fulfilled—yet that the system they had adopted of buying slaves on the African coast, whom they then set free and afterwards apprenticed for six years in a French colony, was one that would necessarily lead to the continuance of the slave trade on the coast of Africa. It is impossible to suppose, if the French purchase from the chiefs on the coast those who are already held as slaves, that the chiefs would not have recourse to those wars to which in times past they were accustomed for the purpose of obtaining slaves to supply the places of those with whom they had parted. The issue of that Commission has, however, for the present been suspended, but I am sure it is only for the present. In support of this opinion, I might refer to an article which appeared in one of the morning papers of this clay, from the pen of one of the most eminent authors in France, and first published in the Revue des Deux Mondes. In that article the writer expresses the earnest hope which he entertains, and which is shared generally by the philanthropists of France, that the French Government will at once inquire into this matter, and take care that that which is intended for the benefit of the colonies in obtaining a supply of free labour shall not be perverted into a repetition or extension of the slave trade. I feel no doubt, therefore, as regards the difficulties which the hon. Gentleman dreads may arise between us and France in reference to the free immigration scheme, that his fears will turn out to be entirely without foundation. The hon. Gentleman has also referred to difficulties which have arisen between us and the United States of America, and which appear to him to throw additional obstacles in our way. As I stated to the House not long ago, as soon as Her Majesty's Government found that the right which we have hitherto asserted, of verifying the national flag, was one which we were not entitled to put forward, they thought it only becoming the dignity of a great nation at 1308 once to say so, and not to put forward a right which we could not justly and legitimately assert. At the same time we were perfectly ready to proceed in the spirit and manner which has been suggested by the Secretary of State of the United States; and where there was cause of suspicion—a suspicion which amounted almost to proof—that the flag of America was not legitimately and fairly borne by a vessel—at once to exercise the right, and take upon ourselves to run the risk of seeing whether that vessel had a right to the flag it bore or not. That is the position which General Cass himself pointed out as a fair position for this country to hold; and not only that, but in documents which were laid on the table of the House of Representatives by the American Government, they have shown that it was a right which they themselves had not scrupled to exercise; and if you refer to that correspondence you will find that the captains of American cruisers. when they thought that certain vessels did not fairly make use of the flag they bore, had searched vessels carrying the French flag. But to-day I have received the opinion of General Cass in reference to the course which this Government have taken on that difficult question; and so far from showing that we have any new difficulties in our way, I think the House will see not only that the course taken by this Government has been properly estimated by the Government of America, but that it will lead to the adoption of some course which will sweep away, I trust for ever, all those difficulties to which the hon. Gentleman has alluded as likely to impede the continuance of our policy. In a despatch received from Lord Napier, he says:—General Cass stated to me that the course taken by Her Majesty's Government was worthy of a great and generous country—of one whoso unquestioned power and promptitude to repel aggression was accompanied by the disposition to recognise an error and redress an injury, if inconsiderately committed. He assured me emphatically that after the satisfactory declaration that had been made by Her Majesty's Government, the Government of the United States would give their attentive consideration to any proposal which Her Majesty's Government might suggest for the verification of the nationality of vessels and their right to the flag which they displayed.I think, therefore, the hon. Gentleman may disabuse his mind of the idea that there is any prospect of such difficulties occurring between England and America as would prevent our continuing in the course of maintaining that just and humane policy which has for so many years 1309 been the pride and the boast of this country. A short time ago I informed the House that it had been a matter of consideration with Her Majesty's Government whether it would not be necessary perhaps to withdraw our squadron from the coast of Cuba. It was obvious that as long as we were there on that coast unsupported and uncountenanced by the American Government in the very highway of their commerce, we might run the risk very often, in attemping to verify the flag, of detaining vessels which were, perhaps, engaged in lawful commerce. That difficulty, I am happy to say, is not likely any longer to occur; because, as Lord Napier says:—General Cass has since informed me that on inquiry he learned that the ships despatched to the Cuban waters had been furnished with the usual instructions issued to the vessels employed on the coast of Africa.Therefore there is at this moment an American squadron on the coast of Cuba prepared to co-operate with you if you will continue to maintain the policy which has hitherto so nobly distinguished you. I will only express the earnest hope that this House will not give its sanction or countenance to the proposition of the hon. Member. The policy which we have pursued has been adopted from no sordid motives. It is one we have maintained solely with a view to the rights of humanity, and to promote the objects of Christian civilization. And for myself, Sir, I can only say, that it is a gratification to me that thus on the threshold of public life, although in a subordinate position, I have been enabled to express on the part of Her Majesty's Government their firm determination not to give up in any respect that policy for which so many great men in this country have struggled, and which I hope will always be the pride of this country to maintain.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
said, that judging from the speech of the hon. Under Secretary, he was induced to believe that there was no great difference, after all, between the Government and the hon. Member for Gateshead with respect to the substance of the Resolution before the House. The hon. Member proposed that we should discontinue the practice of authorizing Her Majesty's ships to visit and search vessels, sailing under foreign flags, but he did not include in his Resolution ships of those nations which had granted us the right of search by special treaty. He simply condemned the indiscriminate right of search 1310 hitherto exercised by our naval officers. That was precisely what the Government were going to do. They were going to discontinue the indiscriminate visiting and searching of vessels under foreign flags, because, if they did not do so, they knew they would inevitably get themselves into a very serious scrape. He was glad that the only rational course was now to be purrsued—that American men-of-war were to exercise the legitimate jurisdiction which they possessed over American vessels, and that English men-of-war were to confine themselves to English vessels. He was also glad that the indiscriminate visiting of American vessels in the Cuban waters had been discontinued by our Government, because it could not have been persevered in without the most serious consequences, and he thought the course which had been taken was a carrying out to a considerable extent of the principle of the Motion of the hon. Member for Gateshead. It was clear that this country had never had any right of visit or search over any but English vessels, except in cases where the right was granted by other nations by special treaties. He therefore considered that the recent proceedings in the Cuban waters had been a violation of the law of nations, and the Government deserved the thanks of Parliament and of the country for ordering them to be discontinued. With respect to the general policy pursued by us on the coast of Africa, the hon. Gentleman the Foreign Under Secretary observed, that many favourable results had been the consequence of maintaining the squadron on that coast, and the hon. Gentleman stated that there had been a great increase of lawful trade, and a great augmentation in the exportation from Africa of cotton and other articles. He hoped that the hon. Member might not discover that those articles had been themselves the produce of slave labour, but he believed that there was very little of free labour or of working for wages in Africa. The hon. Gentleman said, that so many slaves were not now exported from Africa as formerly. There was a very good reason for that, as the demand for slaves on the part of Brazil had totally ceased; but all who now carried on the slave trade, the Spaniards in the Cuban waters, and, to a great extent, "our dear friends" the Turks in the Mediterranean, got as many slaves as they required. He defied any one to assert, that at the present moment those who desired to import slaves from Africa to Cuba could 1311 not get as many as they required. If that were so, then this country was paying about £1,000,000 a year—maintaining a very expensive system of maritime policy—to put down the slave trade, and yet at the same time those who required slaves obtained all they wanted. There must be something wrong in this. Either the present system was totally inadequate and should be carried to a greater extent, or it was an unmitigated evil in itself. He doubted whether this country would ever consent to incur the enormous expenditure necessary for carrying on anything like an effective blockade of such an extensive coast as that of Africa. What was the effect of maintaining the slave trade squadron? Cuba, the only market, got as many slaves now as she required, notwithstanding the vigilance of our squadrons; but in order to supply the demand, a greater number had to be exported from Africa to allow a margin for the number that might be captured and liberated on the passage; the Africans were sent in less roomy vessels; various expedients, fatal to the slaves, were resorted to, in order to enable the slave ships to evade the cruisers, and, thus, for the sake of capturing and liberating a small percentage of slaves, a great increase of suffering and death was inflicted on all the Africans exported for Cuba. They were extending the miseries of the slave trade to an increased number of Africans, and they fancied that, because they captured and liberated some, therefore they were checking the slave trade. If it was the squadron that put down the slave trade with Brazil, he did not understand how it allowed so many slaves to be imported into Cuba. The fact was, that the Brazilian slave trade was abolished by the Brazilian people—by the gradual force of public opinion among them, for it was a mistake to suppose that England monopolized all the moral feeling in the world. Other nations were capable of viewing the slave trade in the same light as the English. A great party in Brazil did so view it, and the Government there passed laws in accordance with the public sentiment. As soon as those laws took effect the slave trade with Brazil ceased, though it had remained undiminished for years under the operations of the squadron. He believed that the measures adopted by this country, among others the passing of the Brazilian Act of 1845, which enabled English cruizers to capture Brazilian vessels and English 1312 law courts to deal with Brazilian subjects, had the effect of irritating public feeling in Brazil, and prolonging the existence of the slave trade there; and his principal object in now rising was chiefly to call on the Government to repeal that offensive Act, a reason for abolishing which was furnished, according to the opinion of the Committee of 1853, by the abolition of the slave trade in Brazil. The state of our relations with Brazil in reference to the slave trade consisted in a general promise on the part of Brazil that the carrying on of the slave trade by Brazilian subjects should be unlawful, and be deemed by the Brazilian law piracy. That engagement Brazil had fulfilled to the letter. The slave trade was now piracy by the Brazilian law, and adequate machinery had been established to give effect to that law. Therefore there was no reason whatever for maintaining the Brazilian Act of 1845, which was only passed on the ground that Brazil had failed in fulfilling its treaty obligations to this country. He, therefore, called on the Government to lose no time in erasing from the statute-book that most offensive and improper Act, which be believed constituted a violation of the law of nations, and which, as the late Lord Truro had distinctly and authoritatively observed, was a wanton attempt on the part of a strong Power to put down the independence of a weaker one. When that Act was passed, the Earl of Aberdeen, then Foreign Minister, made a promise, which was communicated to the Government of Brazil, that when either the Brazilian slave trade ceased or Brazil entered into mutual treaty engagements with this country to put it down the Act should be repealed. Both those events had occurred. In 1851, the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston) stated in a despatch to Lord Howden, which despatch was to be communicated to the Spanish Government, that the Brazilian Government had obtained from the Brazilian Parliament a more stringent law, declaring the slave trade to be piracy, that it had promulgated important facilities for the punishment of offenders, and seized slave vessels, slave trade barracoons, and newly imported negroes. The noble Lord further said, there could be no doubt that if the same system was energetically pursued for twelve months longer, the Brazilian slave trade would be almost entirely extinguished. That system had now been in operation for some years, and the trade had ceased. He, therefore, 1313 thought the time had arrived when the Brazilian Act ought to be repealed, which caused deep irritation in the minds of the Brazilians, and deprived British subjects of many advantages in that country which other foreigners possessed. In consequence of its maintenance the Brazilian Government would not conclude any commercial treaty with this country, nor would they adopt any law with reference to the property of British subjects dying intestate in Brazil. The import and export trade of Brazil amounted to from £12,000,000 to £13,000,000 annually; Brazilians had borrowed in England some £6,000,000 sterling on bond; there were persons in this country possessing an interest to the amount of about £1,000,000 in the internal debt of Brazil; and a large amount of Brazilian railway shares were held by British subjects. He thought, therefore, that, with the view of obtaining for the commercial classes of this country the advantages which were possessed in Brazil by the subjects of other States, Parliament ought to erase from the statute book the objectionable Act to which he had referred, in order that our relations with Brazil might be placed upon a more friendly footing. The right hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Cardwell) had stated that Christianity and Christian missionaries were supported by our armed ships on the coast of Africa; but he (Mr. Gibson) could inform the right hon. Gentleman that missionaries and the members of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society were uniformly opposed to the system of armed interference for the suppression of the slave trade. The right hon. Gentleman had come forward as the champion of the missionaries, but they were rather disposed to rely upon the influence of Christian teaching as tending to the suppression of the slave trade than upon the broadsides of men of war. The British and Foreign Anti Slavery Society had only a few days ago presented a Report to the Earl of Derby, in which they spoke very slightingly of the operation of our naval squadrons. The Committee of that society stated that in so far as the foreign slave trade could be affected, while slavery—the great incentive to it—existed, its extinction rested with the local authorities of the countries to which it was carried on, and that effective measures for this object were more to be anticipated front the influence of moral conviction than from the operation of an armed force or the demonstration of 1314 a hostile diplomacy. The right hon. Gentleman, however, came forward as the champion of the missionaries.
§ MR. CARDWELL
explained that he had morely referred to the evidence of missionaries given before the Commission; he had said nothing at all about the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society.
MR. MILNER GIBSON continued
—The Committee of the Anti-Slavery Society submitted the facts to Her Majesty's Government, commending them to its serious attention, and praying for the repeal of the Brazilian Act of 1845, in consequence of the efforts of the Government of Brazil to suppress the slave trade. He wished to call the attention of the noble Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston) to some passages in the Report of the Anti-Slavery Society with reference to the Ottoman Porte. He knew it was the opinion of the noble Lord that, as a great political necessity for the salvation of Europe, Turkey must be supported, and this country had expended a considerable amount of money in maintaining what was called the independence and integrity of time Ottoman empire. Now, what was time conduct of the Turks with regard to the slave trade? The report of the Anti-Slavery Society stated that, during the late war hopes were entertained that time Ottoman Porte would adopt decisive measures for its suppression; but negroes were still brought from the far interior of the peninsula, and, owing to the length of the journey across the desert and the tender age of a large number of the slaves, the mortality was excessive. They stated that the strongest representations on the subject had been made by Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, and prohibitory firmans were issued, which did not appear to have produced appreciable results, as according to the latest accounts the traffic in young negroes was more active than it had been previously to the war. When they found that the only two nations which now carried on the slave trade were Spain and Turkey, both of them being under great obligations to this country for its support, he thought it was not worth while to continue the petty system of cruizers which was now maintained, but he believed that by appealing to the moral convictions of the rulers of those States they might, by patience and perseverance, induce them to discontinue this cruel and degrading traffic.
§ MR. A. MILLS
observed, that with reference to the present state of the question 1315 as regarded Cuba and Brazil, we should remember that, so far from our efforts being seconded by public opinion in Cuba, the treaty obligations entered into between this country and Spain had been violated in every way. It was an established fact that the Captains General of Cuba with the knowledge of the Spanish Government derived a large proportion of their remuneration from a percentage on the slaves landed on the island of Cuba, and as long as this practice existed it would be nugatory for us to think of wholly suppressing the slave trade by means of an armed squadron in the African waters. In Brazil, however, there had arisen a public opinion in favour of the abolition of the slave trade, and he thought that as the object of the Brazilian Act had been attained it would be a proper course to repeal it. He confessed when he heard that our efforts had failed in Cuba, and that we had an unfaithful ally regardless of treaties in Spain, he was gratified to hear that with respect to America we had the promise of a better day. At the same time, he was bound to say that a circumstance had come to his knowledge with reference to the latter power, calculated, if true, to shake his confidence in that direction. He had been informed that the ships of the United States which had been co-operating with ours on the shores of Africa, took care to keep clear of those portions of the coast in which they knew the slave trade to be carried on. He trusted that the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton would give his assistance towards the continuance of that policy which had already been productive of such beneficial consequences, and that he would be found on the side of those who were in favour of maintaining the past policy of England with reference to this subject.
§ MR. J. H. GURNEY
said, the real question raised by the Motion and speech of the hon. Member (Mr. Hutt) was the success or non-success of the whole system hitherto pursued on the western coast of Africa. Now, he agreed with the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, that there was good evidence that that system had not, as was argued, proved an entire failure. What was the legitimate test of success? Surely the state of that part of Africa upon which our efforts had for the longest period been concentrated. Everybody agreed that the slave trade and legitimate commerce could not flourish in the same locality. Sir Charles Hotham, when 1316 questioned on this point before the House of Commons Committee said,—"I think wherever the two are together the slave trade would have the preference, and would beat the other out of the market." This and other evidence showed clearly that, as these two trades could not co-exist, if we saw in Western Africa a marked increase in legitimate commerce we could only infer that there was a corresponding decrease in the slave trade. It might be that, to a certain extent, the two trades had gone on together; but all experience proved that as the one flourished the other would dwindle away, and that the two had not permanently extended in the same locality. What, then, had been the increase of legitimate trade on the coast of Africa during the last few years? It had been calculated that between 1830 and 1850 the increase of the exports of British manufactures to that part of the coast lying between Senegal and the Portuguese colony of Loando amounted to 87 per cent, and since that time the progress made had been much more rapid. Between 1850 and 1856 the total exports from Great Britain increased 49 per cent, and during the same six years the imports of African produce into Great Britain had increased 60 per cent. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. S. FitzGerald), had stated that the imports of African produce into this country amounted to £2,000,000 per annum; but it should be remembered that that calculation did not include the trade carried on between the coast in question and other countries, which was considerable. For instance, in 1855 the exports to the port of Marseilles alone amounted to £280,000 in one single article—ground nuts. As to the growth of cotton in Central Africa, he had received from Mr. Thomas Clegg, of Manchester, a few figures, from which it appeared that while in 1852 only 1,800 lb. of cotton had been brought into Great Britain, the quantity increased in 1856 to 11,500 lb. in 1857 to 35,400 lb., and in the first five months of the present year it was 94,400 lb. Mr. Clegg further stated that the quality of this cotton, between December, 1856, and April 1858, had been such that its average price had reached within one halfpenny that of the middling quality of cotton brought from New Orleans. At the same time, the native manufacture was carried on to a considerable extent, so that within a period of twelve months 200,000 pieces had been exported 1317 to Brazil, besides 200,000 pieces which were sent to the people living beyond the cotton-producing districts, while the inhabitants of those districts had themselves been also kept supplied. Another abundant article of produce which had not yet made its way into this market, but which must do so before long, was indigo. It was extensively grown in the countries bordering on the cotton district, and it only required a continuance of the present system to develope the export of that produce. It might be said, "Is this developement of trade attributable in any degree to the operation of our squadron?" There seemed to him to be abundant evidence of this. It was strongly set forth in one of the Resolutions of the Lords' Committee, and illustrative of the same view was an incident, communicated to him on good authority, which took place immediately before the breaking out of the Russian war, when Admiral Bruce was in command of the squadron. This officer had blockaded a certain part of the coast about 150 miles north of Sierra Leone, where a considerable number of slaves were congregated. The blockade was so effectual that these slaves could not be shipped, and the native owner agreed to allow them to purchase their freedom by gathering a certain quantity of ground nuts. An English gentleman who visited the locality eighteen months afterwards found, accordingly, that the slaves had purchased their freedom in this way, had built a village on the coast, and there were then thirty French vessels lying off the village taking in ground nuts for the port of Marseilles. One great feature in this commerce was the class of African merchants who had sprung up for the purpose of carrying it on. He had been informed of an instance in which a native merchant had laid out £10,000 in the course of a single year in the purchase of English goods, the money having been remitted to England before the goods were sent; while another had spent £6,000 in the year in a similar manner. He himself had received many letters from Christian negroes which were as well written as if they had been penned by a Member of that House. So far as the future was concerned, he thought it was desirable that the system which had been carried out under Admiral Bruce should be maintained, and the embarkation of negroes prevented, instead of any attempt being made subsequently to capture them. He wished also to observe that the dues which were now 1318 levied at Sierra Leone and Bathurst upon the native commerce which was springing up in Africa tended to affect that commerce most injuriously; the charge being at the former place at the rate of 1s. 6d., and at the latter 1s. per ton. The great hardship of the charge consisted in the circumstance that a vessel going to Sierra Leone, for instance, and breaking bulk there, was obliged, even though she should unship but a very small portion of her cargo, to pay dues upon the whole of her tonnage, as if she had been completely unloaded. He might, in illustration of the severity with which the tax operated, mention the case of the Armenia, upon that portion of whose cargo which had been delivered at Bathurst some time since dues at the rate of 66 per cent had been charged, while 33½ per cent had been levied upon that portion of it which was to be delivered at Sierra Leone. He trusted the matter was one of which the Government would not lose sight, and that they would take steps to relieve the African trade from the burden which was thus imposed upon it.
§ SIR GEORGE PECHELL
said, he thought this an inopportune time for altering their policy on this question; it was inopportune as regarded the intentions of Spain. If they were to give up the right of visiting vessels on the coast of Africa, they might as well give up all endeavour to stop the trade. He would suggest to the First Lord of the Admiralty one mode whereby our cruisers might tell whether a vessel was a slaver. No one could pass under the lee of a slaver without his olfactory nerves informing him that there were slaves on board. Still, there was a great difficulty in ascertaining the character of vessels on the Cuban waters, owing to the fact that the vessels belonging to the United States which traded to that island were similar in outward appearance to slavers. He did not view with any feeling of regret the increase that had lately been made in the number of war vessels belonging to the United States in those waters, for he thought it most desirable that the American Government should aid us in the suppression of the slave trade, and by keeping a watch over the ships belonging to her citizens she would really be carrying out our object. He had always said that, as we had paid £20,000,000 for the emancipation of our own slaves, snore than £400,000 to Spain, and £1,000,000 to Portugal and Brazil, to put down the slave 1319 trade, we ought to carry out our policy by keeping up a squadron to prevent the continuance of the trade.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
said, he would recommend the employment of a large number of steamers on the coast of Africa. If that class of vessels had been employed when the squadron was first formed, the slave trade would long have ceased to exist. One objection he had to the present system was the mode of rewarding officers and men by prize-money. He did not desire to see slavers captured so much as to prevent slavers from leaving the coast. No doubt the officers and men employed upon that station deserved reward, and he would give them double pay, but at present the prize-money was an encouragement to officers (although he did not say that they acted upon it), to allow the embarkation of slaves. He was informed that the extent of coast to be watched was only about 1,500 miles, and fifteen or twenty small steamers would soon put an end to the slave trade there. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ashton (Mr. M. Gibson) appeared to confound the right of search with the right of visit. We had never possessed the right of search as regarded America, but the right of visit was a different thing. A ship might pass ahead of a vessel whose character it was desirable to know, and dropping a boat might send on board and ask to see her papers without at all delaying her voyage. They had no right to open a hatchway. If England had been allowed to search American vessels, and America to search English vessels, the slave trade might have been soon put down. He was glad to hear that the Under Secretary of State was about to take a course satisfactory to both parties, and hoped that henceforward England would not be called upon to apologize for every trifling excess of duty on the part of English captains. All chance of quarrelling with America would be removed if strict orders were given to all captains of English vessels to follow suspected slavers, and if they were found to be American, not to interfere with them.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, he felt very strongly on this subject. He had long considered this question and had always put himself in the position of the slave. He had asked himself what he would not do to his enslaver, and the answer he had given himself was that there was nothing at which he would stop short for the purpose 1320 of effecting his liberation; that he would make it so terribly dangerous to any man to make him a slave that the experiment was not likely to be repeated by the same person against any other individual. That being his view of the matter he trusted the opinions he was about to express in reference to the Motion then before the House would not induce any one to think that he was a friend of the slave trade. It was an unholy traffic, degrading to all engaged in it, whether slaves, slave-sellers, or slave-buyers, and the greatest stain humanity had ever cast upon itself. But what was the question he was asked by this Motion? If he understood it rightly it asked that we should order our vessels to cease from all inquiry as regards slave-trading vessels, He differed entirely from his hon. and gallant Friend (Sir C. Napier) who had endeavoured to draw a distinction between the right of search and the right of visit. We had no right to either, and we were about distinctly and formally to give up all pretensions to the right of visit in the case of the United States. If he was wrong in that supposition he hoped some hon. occupant of the Treasury bench would disabuse his mind of the error. We were about, then, once and for ever to renounce the right of visit as regarded American vessels. He would ask what did we attempt to do by our squadron, first of all on the coast of Africa, and lastly on the coast of Cuba? We had endeavoured to prevent the exportation of slaves; the exportation, not the importation, and if it should prove that our endeavours had led to a greater exportation of slaves than would otherwise have taken place, it would be clear that our endeavours had been mischievous. Well, then, the Brazils had given up time slave trade; Cuba had continued it. And he wanted to know whether Cuba had not received just as many slaves as she wanted? That was the real question to be determined; because, if she had, then it was clear that, as far as regarded the importation of slaves, our endeavours had been of no effect whatever. But as regarded the exportation they had; because in creating difficulties between one shore and another we had rendered it necessary to embark a larger number of slaves in order to meet the demands of the importer, and therefore our endeavours had been clearly mischievous. We had increased the number of slaves exported from Africa, but had not diminished the number imported into Cuba, and he concluded from that circumstance that 1321 we had spent our money and ran the risk of war with other Powers to no purpose. We have done no good; nay, our efforts had been absolutely mischievous. It was not correct to say that the slave trade and honourable commerce could not go on together, for he believed that the increase in the exportation of African produce did not arise from the presence of the squadron, but from the increased demand for those commodities. Our endeavours to put down the slave trade had been in no way the cause of the legitimate trade in Africa: but here he must advert to what he considered the real stain upon England—to wit, her conduct towards Brazil, which had been the conduct of an overpowering State towards a weak one. America interfered, and England at once succumbed; and why? Because she was afraid of America, and was not afraid of Brazil. In the case of America she had truckled—in the case of Brazil she had bullied, because the one was weak and the other was strong. And mark the difference. Brazil had imported slaves, but she agreed with England to make that importation a piracy. What did England do? She passed an Act of Parliament giving to herself the power to search her vessels, to take them into our ports, and to condemn them by our tribunals. Now, the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton had acknowledged that the slave trade in Brazil was put an end to, and this country, in its overweening vanity, supposed that result to be due to its efforts; but so far from that being the case, our efforts as long as we were unaided by the people of Brazil, were wholly futile. The Brazilians, when they found that the black population was increasing to an extent which rendered it probable that they would overpower the whites, put an end to the slave trade themselves. Slaves were imported in spite of all our cruisers, but so soon at the people of Brazil said there should be no further importation, there was an end of the slave trade in Brazil. He thought that England was now called upon in honour to repeal that Act with regard to Brazil. At the time she was conceding a demand of a powerful people she ought to concede the demand of a weak one. It behoved her at once and immediately, during this very Session, to repeal that Act of Parliament. Now, with regard to the general question, he must say that he should like to hear somebody answer the statements he had made. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for 1322 Oxford (Mr. Cardwell) had not met any of its points by anticipation. The right hon. Gentleman had made a speech of great ability, which appealed to many of their prejudices and passions, but he was bound to, and he did not, encounter a great many facts that stared everybody in the face; in fact, he had given the go-by to the question at issue, as did also the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. S. FitzGerald). They endeavoured to show that there was a great increase in the legitimate traffic in those regions. That he was prepared to admit—but they had not succeeded in showing that there was a decrease in the traffic in slaves. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. S. FitzGerald) had not even attempted it; but he (Mr. Roebuck) contended that, unless it were proved that our cruisers were a benefit in keeping down the slave trade, they were an unmingled mischief. He need not attempt to harrow the feelings of the House by dwelling upon the horrors of the middle passage. Great orators had often described those horrors, and with such success that Englishmen had been led to endeavour to put down the slave trade. But we had failed in all our efforts. We had sent large fleets, we had expended much money, and had incurred great risk—and with what result? Why, an augmentation of all the miseries from which the African was suffering. The hon. Under Secretary of State shook his head, but he would ask him, were not those unhappy men packed in slavers like herrings in a barrel? Would they be so packed if the trade were open? If the trade were open would those miseries be entailed upon the wretched Africans who were the victims of this horrid traffic? He regarded the Motion of the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Hutt) as humane. It would, in his opinion, redound to the honour of England, having made the attempt to put down this unholy traffic, to say "We have failed, but the great cause of that failure has been France and America." We could not help that; they were too strong for this country to cope with upon that particular point. It was our duty to consider the horrors of a war with America as compared with the horrors of the slave trade, and he for one thought that, to the interests of humanity, a war with America would be ten times more disastrous. He admitted, therefore, that we were wise in yielding to America, for he was sorry to say, she was strong enough to carry out her bad intentions. 1323 She had no intention of putting down the slave trade. He said it advisedly; and his hon. Friend (Mr. S. FitzGerald) would be deceived if he thought that anything would be done by her to give us the right of search and visit. She would not permit it; and now any trader laden to the very gunwale with slaves had only to hoist that bit of bunting—the stars and stripes—and our officers would be obliged to retire and make their bow to the slaver. Why, we were about to remove our ships from the Cuban waters. He thought he was right in that statement. His hon. Friend (Mr. S. FitzGerald) was silent. During his short tenure of office he had acquired all the reserve peculiar to that bench; but he defied anybody upon that bench to deny that they were about to be withdrawn from Cuba and confined to the West Coast of Africa; and thus every trader in human flesh might hoist that flag of freedom—the stars and stripes—and cover over with that splendid emblem all the horrid misery below. Thus, the freest State in the world would be the cause of propagating all that misery. He congratulated his free cousins upon this worthy consummation of all their great forefathers' efforts. He hoped the House of Commons of England would set them a bright example. It had endeavoured to put the slave trade down. It had failed through the opposition of America, and it was not our shame but hers that it had done so.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, that the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield formed an exception to the almost unexampled unanimity which had distinguished the debate; but although he had complained that the right hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Cardwell) did not, in his speech in the early part of the evening, answer that which the hon. and learned Gentleman had just delivered, he hoped that the House would be of opinion that although he had supported the views of the hon. Member for Gateshead, yet his speech had contained no answer, nor a shadow of an answer, to the speeches of the hon. Member for Oxford and of the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. As to the speech of the right hon. Member for Ashton (Mr. M. Gibson) though it also was in favour of the Motion, every one must have felt that it was delivered in an entirely different sense from the speech of the hon. Member for Gateshead. The House had reason to complain that the speech of the 1324 hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Hutt) was not in accordance with his Motion. If he remembered, the first notice given by the hon. Member was to call the attention of the House to the continuance of the African squadron. Since then he had changed it to one respecting the right of visit or search. But no one could have heard the hon. Gentleman without feeling that the whole of his argument was devoted to the same object as the report of the Committee of 1848, and that his object was to do away with the squadron on the coast of Africa. The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield had spoken openly and fairly in the same sense. He told them that our efforts to put an end to the horrors of the Slave Trade had entirely failed, that our money had been thrown away, that our efforts had been fruitless, and that the Slave Trade was flourishing in spite of us, and that the best way was to cease those exertions for the future. He (Sir J. Pakington) was prepared to state his most decided opinion that those statements were not supported by facts. They might not have succeeded to the degree they desired. But he maintained that they had accomplished great things, and that had it not been for the honourable and continued efforts of this country, the Slave Trade would have been far more prosperous. The House had heard a good deal that night of the amount of the Brazilian Slave Trade in 1846–47–48. No doubt in those years the Slave Trade with Brazil was carried on to an enormous extent. What was the result? That the squadron on the coast of Africa was increased to an amount never reached before. In 1847 we had between forty and fifty vessels on that station with nearly 6,000 men; and what followed? In the course of a very few years the Slave Trade with Brazil was at an end. When the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton gave evidence before the Committee presided over by the hon Member for Gateshead in 1848, he said that he thought it might be a sanguine view to expect that the Brazilian Slave Trade could in ten years be reduced as low as the Cuban Slave Trade was at that time. But mainly by the efforts of that squadron—aided, no doubt, by circumstances in Brazil—the anticipations of the noble Lord were exceeded, and in two or three years from that time that trade had ceased. At that time the Cuban Slave Trade was very low. No doubt it had been revived—that revival 1325 having followed close upon the fact that in consequence of the demands upon our navy, in consequence of the Russian war, our squadron on the coast of Africa was in 1854–55–56, reduced to a minimum. The hon. and learned Gentleman who had spoken last had told the House that the Cubans could, notwithstanding the cruisers, get as many slaves as they liked at any time. The fact was the reverse. The late accounts from Cuba had brought intelligence that notwithstanding the revival of the Slave Trade to a considerable extent, so difficult had it been found to import into Cuba sufficient slaves to maintain the cultivation that they had recently been induced to try as an experiment the introduction of Indians from Yucatan. Therefore, for the sake of that policy which England had so long maintained; for the sake of the great object which this country had so long had at heart, he did hope that the feeling of the House would be almost unanimous against doing away with that squadron. But let not the House imagine that the only good they accomplished by that African squadron was the suppression of the Slave Trade. They had heard a good deal in the speech of the Under Secretary of State with respect to the improved state of trade on the coast of Africa. To one part only of that subject he (Sir J. Pakington) would again advert. He alluded to the growth of cotton. Nothing was at the present time of more importance to England than to secure a continuous supply of cotton, and there was reason to believe that if our efforts on the coast of Africa were maintained, the introduction of civilization supported, and the African Slave Trade not allowed to revive, Africa was the country to which we may look with a more sanguine feeling than to any other part of the world for the supplies of cotton which are so essential to the trade of this country. The Committee presided over by the hon. Member for Gateshead admitted that it was essential even in the interests of trade, that we should have a squadron on the coast of Africa. But it had been said that the maintenance of the squadron was injurious to the navy, that the climate was injurious to the health of our sailors, and that the whole system was detrimental to the interests of the navy. That, however, was not the conclusion at which he had arrived from the inquiries he had made. No doubt, to those who went on shore, or navigated the, rivers, the climate was most deadly, but to those who 1326 kept at sea, as was the case with the crews of our cruisers generally, whose duty was to guard the coast, the climate was by no means more injurious than many other climates our sailors were exposed to, and there was, therefore, no reason why the blockade should not be maintained. While, as to discipline, he had been lately informed by naval officers upon whose opinion he could rely, that the African station was by no means unfavourable to the discipline of the navy. And here he could not but pay a tribute to the conduct of the naval officers engaged in the suppression of the Slave Trade. Though on a late occasion there might have been some excess of zeal and of their instructions, he thought the greatest credit was due to the commanders of our cruisers, bearing in mind that the duty they had to discharge was one of the most delicate and difficult character, and that the command of these ships was generally entrusted to young officers of low rank, and of no great experience. The hon. and learned Gentleman who preceded him said that in the late negotiations the Government of England truckled to that of the United States. He (Sir J. Pakington) distinctly denied that. Our Government had not truckled to the United States, and there was nothing in the speech of the Under Secretary of State to justify a statement which was altogether unfounded and unjust. The Government of this country had met the Government of the United States in a frank and conciliatory spirit, and he was bound to admit that the Government of the United States had responded in the same spirit. There was reason to hope that the result would be, arrangements will be made between the countries under which some definite mode of verifying the character of vessels would be established. and that the extreme difficulty which had hitherto beset that part of the question would be obviated. If that result were obtained he thought the House would admit that there would be reason for feeling grateful that the slight difference which had momentarily interrupted the relations of the two countries had arisen. He had only to express his regret that the hon. Member for Gateshead had intimated his intention not to press his Motion to a division, because he thought it would have been satisfactory to the country to see the overwhelming majority in favour of that policy which England had so long maintained. He believed that the interests of Christianity, 1327 the interests of benevolence and charity, the interests of trade and commerce, and the honour of England demanded that they should not recede from that policy.
§ MR. BUXTON
said, there could be no question that the first thing for us to do was to act in the most conciliatory manner possible towards the United States. By all means let us take this opportunity, and every opportunity, of showing our hearty good-will towards that great country. In this matter we had no choice but to make every concession on which they deliberately insisted. It would be perfect madness for us to go on examining ships that hoisted the American flag if the American Government was resolved not to allow it. That he granted at once, and also that we should be wise to withdraw our cruisers from the coast of Cuba. But though he would on no account persist in doing anything that could give reasonable annoyance to the United States, he trusted that our Government would not act in a hurry, and make concessions which might not, perhaps, be really required. No doubt there had been an effervescence of feeling in the United States, but it seemed to be sinking down as rapidly as it rose. By the last accounts people were beginning to be ashamed of the bluster that had been made. The outrages turned out to be gross exaggerations, or rather the inventions of speculators, and the judicious demeanour of our Government had disarmed resentment. Might it not be hoped that if we went on treating them with due respect, but at the same time pointed out to them the serious evils that might ensue if any pirate or slaver could shelter himself by hoisting the American flag, the people of the United States would meet us half way, with their usual good sense and feeling? As he understood, we had never had any right of visit, but if our men-of-war made the mistake of suspecting a ship wrongfully of carrying colours to which she was not entitled, we should be bound to make ample compensation for any inconvenience or annoyance to which she had been put. Were this clearly set forth to the American people, it was likely that they would leave the matter on this footing provided we withdrew from the Cuban seas; but if not, then we should ask them to confer with us in the most friendly way as to what other means could be found of preventing the abuse of their flag. Serious evils would undoubtedly arise were it known to the ruffians of all nations that they could 1328 shelter themselves from all unpleasant interference by simply hoisting the American flag. There was pretty sure to be a rapid growth of piracy in the African waters. Sir C. Hotham, among others, had reckoned that ten or twelve men-of-war would always have to be kept on the African coast merely to repress piracy. But, waving that, of course there would be an utter end of all our endeavours to put down the slave trade. Now, it had been maintained by some hon. Members that those attempts had been very costly, yet had failed. As to the cost, it seemed forgotten that our cruisers, after all, formed a constituent part of the defences of the country. Should war break out, then we should have ships ready equipped and ready manned, and the crews all the better for having had active service, instead of merely loitering about the Mediterranean or elsewhere. As to the alleged failure, he thought fall and frank inquiry ought to be made. He himself had felt great doubts on the subject, but these had been driven away by a thorough study of the case. One effect, it had been said, of our cruisers was to increase the horrors of the middle passage. Hon. Gentlemen who made that statement could hardly have read the debates which took place in that House before the slave trade was abolished, or they would have found descriptions of the horrors of the middle passage still more distressing than those which were now witnessed. There was this great advantage now, that the vessels were smaller, with only one deck, instead of, as before, two or three decks, and the passage was usually performed in one-third the time that it used to occupy. It must be acknowledged that their attempts to suppress the slave trade had not been altogether successful, but at the same time it could not but be admitted that the obstructions which the cruisers placed in the way of the slave trade necessarily tended very materially to diminish it. Of course, some slavers did escape, but there seemed strong reasons for thinking that but for the cruisers the slave trade would reach four or five times its present amount. Cuba was a very large island, with a most fertile soil and climate. It was ten times the size of Jamaica, and so terrible was the life on the sugar plantations that the imported slaves were used up, as it was called—that is to say, were worked to death in eight years. Could slaves be had freely at a low price, it was probable that, as Dr. Livingstone had cal- 1329 culated, 50,000 slaves could be absorbed by Cuba every year. Now, in the new slave trade blue-book he found our Commissary Judge at Havannah, who had ample means of approximating to the truth, reckoning the number imported at 7,304. Again, on the West coast of Africa slaves sold for £2 or £3—those bought for the Regina Cœli cost £2 10s.—whereas in Cuba the price of a negro varied from £50 to £80. By the bluebook it appeared that the price in Brazil now was £70, and in Cuba it was about the same. That enormous difference was the clearest possible measure of the value of our squadron. But for the obstacles we threw in the way, there could be no earthly reason why negroes should not be sold in Cuba for a few pounds, and, if so, the demand would be very large indeed. That difference of price could not be explained except by the efficiency of our endeavours to reduce the slave trade. Again, people thought of Africa as a quarter of the globe, and laughed at the idea of our blockading her coasts. They forgot that it was only from a limited portion of the coast that slaves could be got; and that portion was inaccessible, except at the mouths of rivers. The slaver now had to approach those points at great risk. He lay at anchor at great risk. He ran great risk in going away. Did it stand to reason that a trade so harassed could be as flourishing as if the slaver could come and go as he pleased, and anchor where he pleased and engage in transactions at his will? Again, the testimony of those intimate with Africa seemed decisive as to the value of the cruisers. Dr. Livingstone said, "I had imbibed the idea that our squadron, so far from diminishing, had rather increased the evils of the Slave Trade." But he gave the proofs which were thrust upon him, and which, he said, "forced me to a different conclusion from that to which the really very plausible statements of various parties had led me." Again, it was matter of experiment, for during the Russian war the squadron had lessoned, and the Slave Trade at once revived. While, on the other hand, the remarkable development of commerce with Africa had dated since 1842, when we began a much more vigorous series of efforts for the suppression of the Slave Trade. For all these reasons it appeared to him that, were our attempts to keep down the Slave Trade given up, it would, in all likelihood, spread to three or four, or even more, times its present 1330 amount. Now, that would be a heavy calamity, not to the negroes alone, but to England and to the whole world; for in the last fifteen years West Africa had been making most unlooked-for and rapid progress. Trade had been striking root, and would evidently in a short while become of immense value, were it not withered by a renewal of the Slave Trade. It had been demonstrated that the forty or fifty millions of negroes in West Africa were an industrious race of men, and eagerly devoted to trade, while the wealth of those regions in the things that Europe needed was boundless. Palm oil, corn, timber, of valuable kinds, ivory, gold, ground nuts, indigo, pepper, rice, coffee, sugar, and a multitude of other articles, were only waiting a market to be produced in any quantities. The trade in palm oil was already valued at £2,000,000. ["No, no!"] He spoke of the home trade. But the most important prospect was that of the supply of cotton. There was no question now that any required amount of cotton, equal to that of New Orleans in quality, might be obtained. A very short time ago, Mr. Clegg, of Manchester, aided by the Rev. H. Venn and a few other gentlemen, trained and sent out two or three young negroes as agents to Abbeokouta. These young men taught the natives to collect and clean their cotton, and sent it home to England. The result was that the natives had actually purchased 250 cotton gins for cleaning their cotton, and lately these natives of Abbeokouta had sent to England and procured four presses, for pressing it for exportation, at a cost of several hundred pounds. Mr. Clegg stated that he was in correspondence with seventy-six native and other African traders, twenty-two of them being chiefs. With one of them Mr. Clegg had a transaction, by which be (the African) received £3,500. And the amount of cotton received at Manchester had risen hand over hand, till in 1856 it came to 35,000lb., and last year to nearly 100,000lb. Well might Mr. Clegg say that this was—A rare instance of the rapid development of a particular trade, and the more so because every ounce of cotton had been collected, all the labour performed, and the responsibility borne by native Africans alone.The fact was, that the West African natives were not more savages. In trade no men could show more energy and quickness. And a considerable degree of social organization existed, He could give a 1331 thousand proofs of this, but he would only quote a word or two from Lieutenant May's despatch to Lord Clarendon, dated the 24th of November, 1857. Lieutenant May crossed overland from the Niger to Lagos, and he says:—A very pleasing and hopeful part of my report lies in the fact that certainly three-quarters of the country was under cultivation. Nor was this the only evidence of the industry and peace of the country: in every but is cotton spinning; in every town is weaving; dyeing, often iron smelting, pottery works, and other useful employments are to be witnessed; while from town to town, for many miles, the entire road presents a continuous file of men, women, and children carrying these articles of their production for sale.He added,—I entertain feelings of much-increased respect for the industry and intellect of these people, and admiration for their laws and manners.Here, then, we had a splendid prospect of happiness to Africa and wealth to Europe. But should the slave trade break out afresh with trebble or quadruple violence, all these hopes would be baffled. He could bring forward endless evidence, of naval men, merchants, missionaries, travellers, &c., to show that the slave trade made legitimate commerce impossible. It kept the people in constant excitement and alarm; it withdrew them from peaceful pursuits; it filled the land with anarchy, misrule, and ruin. Hon. Gentlemen might have read Dr. Barth's terrible account of the slave-hunting expedition which he accompanied. He described "the beauty of the country and the cheerful happiness of the natives in the well-cultivated and thickly-peopled district" which the slave-hunters had selected for attack. In a few days all was utter ruin. The villages were burnt, the crops destroyed, the people murdered or carried off as slaves, and of the latter the useless ones in great numbers were killed by cutting off their arms or legs and letting them blood to death. All accounts concurred in describing the vast amount of desolation which the slave wars caused, and the death-blow they gave to industry and trade. The question, then, they had to deal with was plain enough. There was very strong ground indeed for believing that but for our efforts the slave trade would increase till 50,000 or 60,000 slaves were year by year carried to Cuba, instead of 7,000 or 8,000, and that if our cruisers were withdrawn, a state of lawlessness and confusion would once more arise in West Africa, and her rising com- 1332 merce would be extinguished in blood. We could adopt which course we pleased. We could announce to the world that we thought our work a failure; that we now remembered it was no business of ours to save the negro race; that our benevolence proved expensive—in short, that we were tired of the whole affair. We might do that; and to be sure we should save all the difference between placing the cruisers on the African station and placing them elsewhere. On the other hand, we should lose that vast traffic of which as yet we had only seen the germs. In letting loose the slave trade we should be letting loose on West Africa war, havoc, ruin. We should nip the bud of a mighty commerce, of a mighty civilization. We should lower ourselves in our own eyes and in the eyes of the world. There was another course which we might pursue. We might make our minds up that it was not because a duty proved hard and painful that England would shrink from doing it; that, deeming it right and wise to stand out still against the slave trade, believing that we did really keep it from growing to a fearful size by our resistance, holding it unworthy of us because of some discouragement and cost to throw overboard that policy which was one of the most noble and unique features in the career of England, we would never cease from our war against the trade in man till that foulest of crimes had been cleared off the face of the earth—till Africa was freed from her spoilers, and commerce, civilization, Christianity bore sway in the land which the slave trade had formerly filled with desolation and ruin. That was the course which he thought Her Majesty's Government would find it at once prudent and right to pursue.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
said, he could not understand how hon. Members all round the House should state that naval officers were of opinion that the efforts of our squadron on the coast of Africa were likely to put an end to this horrible traffic. His pockets were full of letters from officers imploring him to use what arguments he could to convince the House of Commons that our efforts, though noble and sublime, were utterly futile, and that there was no hope that, by any force of arms, we could put an end to the Slave Trade. He would not quote the opinion of junior officers, such as captains, although he had many; but would only add the testimony of the last Admiral but one upon the station (Admiral Bruce), a most 1333 zealous officer, who, writing on the 23rd of June, said:—My experience of the Coast of Africa station serves to convince me that while the Government of the United States permit their vessels and flag to be abused by their encouragement of the slave traffic, and while Spain continues to import negroes into Cuba, our labour for the suppression of the Slave Trade is all in vain.Captain Hope, who had been cited as a witness on the other side by the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, wrote almost to the same effect. But he wanted no evidence except his own. It had fallen to his lot to command a ship on the African station, and to capture two slavers; and the scenes that he witnessed on boarding them beggared all description. He chased one, a brig, with a cargo of 480 slaves, for seventeen hours, during all which time these unfortunate creatures were not allowed to move, and were kept without either food or water. The result was, that when he captured the vessel they were 480 raving mad creatures. That was not an isolated case—such scenes were presented to every officer who chased a slaver—and he maintained that our proceedings caused untold misery to the slaves themselves. No one living in this country could realize, no pen could describe, their sufferings. So much for the slaves. Now, he would take the case of our own officers and men. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty had told them that the officers reported that the men were very healthy, and that the mortality was not greater than upon other stations. As regarded mortality that statement was correct, but he maintained that the returns furnished to the Admiralty were no criterion of the sufferings of the crews upon this station. He had lately consulted many officers upon this subject, and they all agreed that, although the great majority of the crews did not die and were not actually invalided, yet of nine-tenths of them the constitutions were broken when they returned; and, instead of being the gallant Englishmen who were sent out, they were poor, broken-down, decrepit invalids. The Admiralty knew well that the greater part of the drunkenness which was to be found in our service was among the men who had been on the coast of Africa; and he maintained that the loss by deaths gave no idea of the sufferings which were produced by this horrible cruising. Let him tell the House what were the duties of a ship on the coast of Africa. She left Ascension, 1334 St. Helena, or some other of the English stations, and was sent to the coast, where she cruised for six long months, up and down within sight of a sandy beach, with a heavy surf rolling, and never seeing a living mortal. The effect of this upon the morale of the officers and men was even worse than that which it produced upon their physique. He read in the papers only the other day that the Hecate had returned from the West Coast of Africa on account of the sickly state of the crew, having got the coast fever on board, and it being impossible to clear her of it. The former commander (Captain Gordon), the Assistant Surgeon, and two boatswains had died, and forty of the crew were in hospital at Ascension. After this, to say that the officers and men did not suffer in health more upon this station than any other was really to mislead the public. If this Motion had been brought forward earlier in the Session, he believed that there would have been a large majority in its favour; and if it were repeated next spring, he should be prepared to give his humble testimony to its support.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
explained, that he had not said that the African station was as healthy as any other. What he did say was, that when the ships kept at sea, and the men did not go on shore, it was not more unhealthy than several others—such as the Chinese and West Indian stations.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, there can certainly be no mistake as to the purport and object of this Motion, because my hon. Friend who introduced it desires to put a stop to all naval operations for the suppression of the Slave Trade, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ashton (Mr. M. Gibson) urges the House to ask the Government to rescind the law applicable to the Slave Trade in Brazil. Undoubtedly, if these two objects were accomplished, the Slave Trade would become rampant to the utmost degree, and, as we all know, commerce up the coast of Africa would in proportion diminish. In fact, the Motion of my hon. Friend is a parody upon the sentiment which was ascribed to Mr. Wyndham, who is reported to have said, "Perish commerce; live the constitution." My hon. Friend makes a little variation and says, "Perish commerce; live the Slave Trade." Now, Sir, if mere assertions could convince the House my hon. Friend 1335 would have made out a complete and unanswerable case. He has gone from assertion to assertion till he had completely established the conclusion at which he wished to arrive. Unfortunately all his assertions happen to be diametrically opposed to the facts. He began by saying that our policy has been a complete failure. Our policy has been eminently successful. He said that we have increased the horrors of the middle passage. That assertion also, as has been proved in the course of the debate, is diametrically opposed to the fact. Then he said that the Cubans get as many slaves as they want, that demand will produce supply, and that no efforts of ours can prevent the application of a politico-economical maxim. That assertion also has been shown to be directly opposed to the fact, because the high price of slaves in Cuba is demonstrative evidence, on the most commercial principles, that the supply falls short of the demand. I say that our policy has been eminently successful. It has been eminently successful, because for three or four years past we have put a stop to the enormous Slave Trade which was carried on with Brazil—a trade which I believe landed in that country not less than 70,000 negroes every year. And when we consider the misery which has thus been prevented we must not confine our view to the 70,000 who were landed, because to land 70,000 it is necessary to bring from the interior of Africa, by means which are well-known, nearly three times that number. The general calculation is, that of the slaves captured in the interior one-third perish on the journey, another third in the barracoons and on the voyage, and only one-third are landed on the other side of the Atlantic. What was the method by which these slaves were obtained in Africa? They were not captured on the coast, where the chiefs used their slaves for their own purposes, but the bulk of them were brought from many hundreds of miles in the interior. They were obtained by wars—not wars for conquest, not wars for extermination, but wars in which peaceful and thriving villages were attacked in the dead of night, the houses set on fire, the aged and infants murdered, and the middle-aged and grown children carried off to the coast, subjected on the way to every kind of misery, whitening the road with their bones, imprisoned in wretched barracoons until the arrival of the traders, exposed to the horrors of the middle passage, and at last 1336 consigned to hopeless and cruel captivity in a foreign land. The noble Lord who spoke last says that our operations are productive of great cruelty to the negroes, and exemplifies that by the fact that he captured two vessels—I presume not far from the coast of Africa—in which the negroes were huddled together in a state of great misery. These people were, no doubt, undergoing great cruelty at the hands of the slave-traders, but my noble Friend restored them to liberty, and therefore, so far from our operations having the effect of aggravating their sufferings, they were equivalent to an act of mercy. But my noble Friend says that the First Lord of the Admiralty is mistaken when he supposes that the African station is not more unhealthy than many others which our ships are obliged to frequent, and he adds that every man who comes from the coast of Africa is a broken-down invalid. I am happy to say that the example which he affords in his own person does not corroborate his statement, and I would rather take his own personal appearance, coupled with the facts stated by the First Lord, than any general assertion which he may choose to make. I say that we have been eminently successful, inasmuch as we have entirely put a stop for the last three or four years to the importation of slaves into Brazil, thereby rescuing about 200,000 Africans annually from the misery to which they would have been otherwise exposed. But it is said that we have no right to take credit for what has occurred in Brazil; that it is not the result of any naval operations on the part of the British Government; it is the result of the improved state of opinion, and the prevalence of a more humane feeling among the Brazilians; it is the spontaneous act, we are told, of the Government and people of Brazil. I utterly deny that statement. Anybody who takes the trouble to look back to the papers upon the slave trade, which are laid annually before Parliament, will see exactly how the thing was accomplished. Up to 1850 the Brazilian slave trade was carried on to the utmost possible extent. What happened in 1850? The Government of that day told the Government of Brazil that an Act of Parliament was passed in 1845 by which we had the power of seizing their slavers on their coast, in their creeks and rivers, and of trying them before an English Court of Admiralty. The Brazilian Government professed not to care much about that; 1337 but what was the consequence? In about three months after our operations were commenced the Brazilian Government came to our Minister at Rio and said they were prepared to comply with any conditions we liked to impose, provided we withdrew our squadron. Four or five articles were drawn up; they were agreed to by the Brazilian Government, and Mr. Hudson then told our admiral to suspend his operations. Those operations were suspended, but the moment that was done the Brazilian Government paid no attention to their engagements, and the slave trade was immediately resumed. In the December or January following, Mr. Hudson told the Government that unless they carried out the arrangement which had been entered into the British admiral should recommence his operations. They were recommenced, and the result was that the Brazilian Government, finding we were determined to use the power which the law of England gave us, immediately persuaded the Brazilian Assembly to pass very stringent laws, which were at once put into execution, and from that time the Brazilian slave trade has utterly and entirely disappeared. That is a proof of the eminent success of our naval operations. Tell me that it is the result of improved opinion in Brazil! I treat that assertion with the contempt which it deserves. No man who knows anything of Brazil or of the facts of the case will entertain such a position for a moment. I do not mean to say that there was not in Brazil a party then growing and of considerable influence that did entertain reasonable and rational opinions upon the subject of the slave trade, and saw that it was not for the interest of Brazil to pursue that crime. I do not mean to say there were not many persons in that country who were most anxious to put an end to that atrocious custom, and who rejoiced when they saw the English Government adopt measures to compel their own Government to take steps to put down the slave traffic. And the result has justified their views, for I am sure that the process has conferred an immense benefit, not only upon the people of Africa, but upon the in habitants of the Brazils likewise. One satisfactory result of the process was that an enormous amount of capital, which up to that time had been employed in the capture of slaves and in inflicting misery upon a large portion of mankind, was directed to purposes of industrial improvement; roads, cultivation, public and private enterprises 1338 of all kinds were immediately begun, and I am happy to say that the improved state of the interior of Brazil shows that the course we pursued, so far from injuring the people of that country, has conferred upon them invaluable benefits. It is entirely incorrect to say, therefore, that our policy has failed, because, although we have not succeeded in utterly extinguishing the slave trade with Cuba, we have extinguished the slave trade with Brazil, while that with Cuba is not one, tenth of what it used to be. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ashton (Mr. M. Gibson) says that the slave trade with Brazil having been put an end to, the British Government is bound by a verbal engagement to propose to Parliament to rescind the Act of 1345. I deny his conclusion, and contend that the maintenance of that Act is the only security we have, for the present at least, that the Brazilian slave trade shall not be revived. I do not call upon you to enforce that Act, but I ask you to reserve it as a power to be used in case the Brazilians should revert to their bad courses. So long as you have that Act in reserve so long will the Government of Brazil pursue the policy which you compelled them to adopt; but if you were to repeal it, depend upon it from that moment the Brazilian slave trade would recommence with all its attendant evils. Then, Sir, while our policy of suppression has been eminently successful in putting an end to the slave trade with the Brazils, it has been equally successful in encouraging legitimate commerce and industry in Africa itself. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs has explained in detail the immense pro gross being made on the coast of Africa in the cultivation of valuable articles of export to this country; and I venture to say, that though at present the trade between England and Africa is less than that carried on with Brazil, yet, if we continue our existing policy and the slave trade is kept down it will in a few years greatly exceed it. The commercial resources of Africa are of vast importance to this country. The production of such articles as palm oil, coffee, and cotton is increasing every year. We are told that these productions increase only because a demand for them has begun. Begun! Why, we should have had a demand for them at any time if the people of Africa had been able to produce them; but when the industry and agriculture of the country were para- 1339 lyzed—when there was no security for life, liberty, and property, how could we expect that they would grow articles to meet the demands of commerce? The demand was for flesh and blood, not for cotton and coffee; and when the demand for flesh and blood in some measure ceased, then the people were able to meet the calls of legitimate commerce. I venture to say that you will find on the West Coast of Africa a most valuable supply of cotton, so essential to the manufactures of this country. It has every advantage for the growth of that article. The cotton districts of Africa are more extensive than those of India. The access to them is more easy than to the Indian cotton districts; and I venture to say that your commerce with the Western Coast of Africa in the article of cotton will in a few years prove to be far more valuable than that of any other portion of the world, the United States alone excepted. Now we are called on to reverse a policy that has been eminently successful, not only in regard to putting an end to the crime against which it was levelled, but in creating a commerce that did not before exist, and which cannot fail to be of great and increasing value to this country. On commercial principles, then, I say it would be most injudicious, nay, the height of folly, to concur with the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen in the view they have taken, and call on the Government to reverse the policy we have hitherto pursued. But how does the case stand in a political point of view? This country, from 1815 down to the present time, has stood honourably forward among the nations of the world, not only by setting a good example, but by inducing as far as her influence extended other maritime and commercial countries to concur in treaties for the suppression of the slave trade. We have been eminently successful in that respect also, because several countries have followed our example in abolishing slavery, and all civilized countries have either by treaty, or by law of their own, or by declaration joined us in reprobating—and many of them as far as they could in preventing—the atrocious trade in slaves. France was at one time a great slave trading country. She began first of all by prohibiting the slave trade, and then she followed our example and abolished slavery within her dominions. Portugal, a great offender, has left off the slave trade; and I was told within a very recent period that the Portuguese Government are contemplating to 1340 propose to their Legislature a law for the prospective abolition of slavery itself in their colonies. I say, then, we have been eminently successful in our endeavours to enlist all the Powers of the world in a condemnation of this great crime; and it would be dishonourable to this country, and abandoning the high position in which we have hitherto stood, if we were suddenly to turn round at the moment of success and say we would retrace our steps, let slavery take its course, and set an example to the world the very opposite of that which has redounded so much to our honour. The hon. Gentleman who brought forward this Motion treated rather cavalierly and with something like a sneer the religious part of this question. I must say that in general there are no considerations that ought so little to be brought before the Members of this House as those founded on religious questions. Our sphere is politics—our sphere is commerce—our sphere embraces simply matters of national interest; but at the same time there are occasions on which higher considerations than those ought to be impressed on the minds of the Members of this House and the country. There are those who believe—I do not know whether the movers of the Motion are of that opinion—that the world is governed by a Divine Providence, and that good deeds and bad deeds meet with their appropriate reward or punishment—that nations are made to suffer for their misdeeds, and derive advantage from the good deeds which they perform. Now, it is a curious coincidence—though there may be no real connection between the two—that from the time when this country first began to abolish the slave trade, followed up by abolishing slavery within the dominions of the Crown, and to use its influence for the suppression of the slave trade elsewhere,—from that period this country has prospered in a degree which it never experienced before. I must say, then—though feeling these to be topics which should be lightly touched on in this House—that, considering the determination we have so nobly carried out, both by example and by precept, to put an end to the slave trade, if the English nation were now to recede from its high position, and re-establish by its own example and its own sanction that abominable crime, if it were to incur the guilt of bringing upon the world the vast amount of human misery which would be the consequence of adopting the Motion of the hon. Member for Gateshead, I think it 1341 is not assuming too much of the functions of a prophet to say that the crime would be visited on the people of this country in a manner which would lend them to repent of having been guided by the counsels of the hon. Gentleman. I am happy to see that the opinion of the House, as manifested in the course of the debate, is such that there is no danger of the Government either being disposed, of their own accord, or of being urged by Parliament, to pursue the policy recommended by the hon. Gentleman. I am convinced that if we persevere in the course we have hitherto taken we shall ultimately succeed; and that the Spanish Government, which has hitherto shown indifference upon this question, and none of that chivalrous sense of honour on which the nation prides itself so much, will at last awaken to see the disgrace it has brought upon itself by the breach of its engagements, and that it will assert the authority which it possesses in a manner to insure success. If so, we shall see the slave trade of Cuba banished like the slave trade of Brazil, and this country will have the satisfaction of knowing that its labours have not been thrown away, and that it has accomplished one of the noblest works in which any nation ever engaged. To effect this will, no doubt, require great exertions. What great object can be accomplished without exertion? And if our exertions and sacrifices should succeed in completing this object, I am persuaded the people of this country will not grudge them. On the contrary, I am persuaded that if you appeal to the people of England on this great question they will tell you to go on pursuing the policy you have hitherto followed, and, so far from grudging the small amount of money that may be required, they will say it is well applied for the promotion of so noble an object.
said, he must protest against the imputation conveyed by the observations of the noble Lord, who had spoken as if those who supported the Motion were not as thoroughly opposed to the slave trade as himself. The noble Lord endeavoured to cast a slur upon the Motion of the hon. Member for Gateshead, by saying that his policy was "perish commerce, but live slave trade;" but the noble Lord could not but know that the hon. Member for Gateshead and those who supported him were quite as much opposed to slavery and the slave trade as he was himself. The whole question was whether 1342 the facts alleged were true? And notwithstanding the scorn with which the noble Lord treated those who differed from him, he (Mr. Gilpin) maintained that the system adopted by England had not answered the purpose for which it was originally designed. The noble Lord had also misstated the pledge which Lord Aberdeen gave to the Brazilian Government respecting the repeal of the Act of Parliament. It was not a verbal promise, but in a formal despatch Lord Aberdeen distinctly stated that the Act of Parliament would be repealed as soon as Brazil showed evidence of a sincere desire to put down the slave trade. Now, could any one deny that evidence of such sincerity had been shown by the Brazilians. His opinion was that the policy of this country towards Brazil had retarded rather than promoted the efforts of the anti-slavery party in Brazil, to whom, much more than the English policy, the suppression of the trade was to be ascribed. As to Cuba, they were recently told by Mr. Consul Crawford that the slave trade had not been so active there for years as it was now. The great question for the House to consider was, as had been stated in the course of the debate, whether Parliament should go on spending 1,000,000 a year to achieve an object which it had not achieved and scarcely even promoted. That was a remark that he had not yet heard answered. If self-denying exertions—never exceeded—were to be taken as any proof of the interest which the Anti-Slavery Society felt in the abolition of slavery, then he gave them credit for being earnest and hearty in support of that great cause. But when the progress of Christianity in Africa was spoken of, he would only say he did not believe in the Christianity that was propagated by the guns of cruisers. The First Lord of the Admiralty had said the facts were against his hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, but the right hon. Gentleman had not attempted to prove that, nor in what way our efforts had been crowned with the success he had claimed for them. He (Mr. Gilpin) contended that when they took a million of money from the hard earnings of the people it ought to be for no questionable object, and that the means employed ought to be somewhat commensurate with the end they had in view. There was something like unanimity in the House as to the necessity of pressing Spain to fulfil her engagements with this country in reference to the slave 1343 trade. That was as it should be, but all would not be gained so long as America continued to be the foremost bulwark of slavery. Much, however, would be gained as soon as the slave trade was stopped in Cuba; and if the House was prepared to adopt an exclusive policy with reference to the produce of Cuba until Spain gave up the slave trade, he thought that would go a great way towards attaining the end in view, and it would only be prohibiting the produce of the stolen labour of stolen men from coining into the English market. He believed, after all the attention he had given to this question, that the House would not put an end to slavery by the means they had adopted. They might make the traffic more difficult and dangerous—and he believed their system went to intensify the horrors of the middle passage—but he repeated his belief that they would fail in future, as they had failed already, in putting a stop to slavery and the slave trade by the course they had adopted.
§ MR. P. O'BRIEN
said, he had a notice of Motion on the paper that it was inexpedient to maintain the naval force at present in the West India waters for the suppression of the slave trade, but it was not now his intention to bring it forward; and, with reference to a statement of the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Hutt), that it was not his wish to divide the House on his Motion, he thought it but due to hon. Members that they should be afforded an opportunity of recording their opinions on so important a subject.
§ GENERAL THOMPSON
said, there must be a grievous commercial fallacy in the argument advanced in support of the Motion. They were told, perhaps with some degree of pardonable hyperbole, that the inhabitants of Cuba were obliged to embark four negroes for one that they got in Cuba. He would ask the House whether that circumstance was not enough to operate as a check on the trade. It had been urged in times when there were restrictions on the importation of food into England, that the English people had as much food as they wanted; which meant only that they had as much as they chose to pay for. So with respect to the Cubans; they had as many slaves as they chose to pay for; and if the expense of landing a slave in Cuba was increased something like four to one on the original cost, he left it to the House to say whether that was not something effected by the squadron.
§ MR. DRUMMOND
was glad to hear the voice of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had just sat down exerted in the same cause in which both the hon. and gallant Gentleman and he (Mr. Drummond) had been labourers for fifty years. Although the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Gilpin) might whitewash himself, he could not whitewash the hon. Gentleman who brought forward the Motion before the House. That hon. Gentleman distinctly laid down the grand idea that the way to govern this country was by the commercial principle of getting whatever we could, no matter by what means. The great principle of commercial intercourse, said the hon. Gentleman—the principle of supply and demand—must over-ride everything. [An hon. MEMBER: He said nothing of the kind.] There were hon. Members now in the House who were not present when the hon. Gentleman spoke, but those who were present when he addressed the House would remember that he said they ought not to interfere with that principle, because they would be interfering with the great principle of free trade. [Mr. HUTT: The hon. Gentleman misrepresents me.] He would leave that difficulty then and pass on to another. The hon. Gentleman and some who supported him dwelt on the horrors of the middle passage, and imputed them to the policy pursued by the Government; but the horrors of the middle passage at present were nothing compared with what they were before the Government entered on the present course. The hon. Gentleman also said that it would be a dreadful thing to incur the risk of a war on this subject; but he (Mr. Drummond) maintained that the bloodiest war ever waged—the capture of Ismail by Suwarrow, the storming of Magdeburg by Tilly—was nothing in comparison with the daily miseries of this slave traffic and the sufferings of the negroes when they arrived in that country which was often held up as a model of advanced civilization and the great pioneer of human liberty and progress. He happened to be present at that great meeting to which the hon. Gentleman had alluded, and he there maintained the argument he now maintained. He there said that if a man stole another's watch or horse, and sold it to A, and A afterwards sold it to B, did not the owner try to follow his property and get it back? The same principle held good with regard to a matter far more important than a 1345 watch or a horse. Personal liberty was the first right of man; and if any one attempted to make him a slave he had a right to kill that person, and kill him he would if he could. His firm conviction was, as he stated at the meeting referred to, that this thing would never be got rid of, except by a rising on the part of the blacks themselves, and he should heartily rejoice when he heard that they had risen and inflicted some poor measure of short justice on the people who now held them in slavery. The hon. Gentleman said that the English boasted exceedingly of their morals and humanity. Now, he thought that if there was any part of the community which liked to be flattered more than another it was the honest old English merchant and the honest old English manufacturer or trader, who were willing for profit to trade with the Devil himself. It was his firm conviction that the love of money and trade—carried on under the name of free trade—really ate out of the country anything like moral and religious feeling, and the arguments of the hon. Gentleman were chiefly addressed to that, point, which he held in utter detestation.
§ MR. COGAN
said, he was slow to believe that the House would sanction the Amendment and thereby give such an impulse to the slave trade as must necessarily ensue from an acknowledgment on the part of Parliament that all the efforts to repress that traffic had been useless, and that the contest must now be given up. However anxious they might be for the advancement of commerce, he trusted that they would not forget the interests of justice and humanity, and the Legislature ought to interfere to prevent cargoes going from this country to the West Coast of Africa to supply the slavers. The hon. Member, amid repeated calls for a division, referred to the Report of the Committee of 1842, for the purpose of showing that slavers had been supplied with necessary articles by British merchants.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."—The House divided:—Ayes 223; Noes 24: Majority 199.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.