HC Deb 18 June 1858 vol 151 cc41-56

said, he had given notice of his intention to put a question to the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on the subject of the proceedings of the English squadron engaged in the suppression of the Slave Trade, and with respect to our relations with the United States. He did not wish at all to enter into a discussion of the question alluded to, although it was a question which was just now exciting so much interest in the public mind, both on this and the other side of the Atlantic, as he understood that, before very long, an hon. Member who sat on that (the Opposition) side of the House, and who had for many years taken an interest in the slave-trade question, had determined to submit the whole question to the consideration of the House. He might, however, observe that his (Mr. Bright's) own opinions had always been very adverse to maintaining an armed squadron for the suppression of the slave trade. He wished to ask the hon. Gentleman whether the Government had received any information with regard to the unfortunate matters which have occurred in the Cuban waters—information which could be laid before the House, in order to place the public in full possession of all the circumstances of the case, and to allay the apprehension which existed in this country and perhaps also in America. What was said in that House passed over the world as soon as the post, and the present was precisely one of those occasions in which great frankness and openness on the part of the Government would prove most advantageous. There might be some persons in both countries who would not object to something like a quarrel, but he believed that the great bulk of the people, both in this country and in the United States, were disposed to take a rational and moral view of the question, and would sincerely regret anything which might promote discord between the two countries. Perhaps, also, the hon. Gentleman would have no objection to state the number of vessels sent out last year, and whether the officers upon that station had received any new instructions. He perceived that the Earl of Aberdeen had stated on the previous evening in his place in the other House, that, if the instructions of 1844 had been strictly acted on, it was impossible that transactions such as had been complained of could have taken place. Now, of course, he did not know whether any further instructions had been sent out, but he thought that it was highly improbable that British officers could have committed the acts alleged, unless they had received fresh instructions beyond those referred to by the Earl of Aberdeen. He asked the question that evening instead of postponing it until Monday, because the steamer left Liverpool on the following day, and, in his opinion, it was very desirable that anything which might be said should be said that night, in order that it might reach the United States as soon as possible, and he trusted that what might be said would tend to allay the alarm which existed both in that country and in this.


Sir, I concur with the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) in deprecating any extended discussion upon this subject, which is one of a very delicate nature, and which, if it has not produced alarm, has certainly occasioned much uneasiness and anxiety both in this country and in America. I shall then content myself with making as concise a statement as I can in reference to the question now before us. The hon. Gentleman first asked me whether we had received any more explicit information upon the occurrences that have recently taken place in the Cuban waters. On a former occasion I took the opportunity, while speaking on this question, of stating that the information which Her Majesty's Government had then received was not of an official character, and that we had not received such information in reference to those circumstances as would enable me to give a satisfactory answer to the inquiry put to me. But from the continuous statements made by several American journals, I think it is possible that the over zeal of some of our officers may, in some few instances, have led them into acts somewhat beyond the instructions they have received. I can only say, if that be so, it is the most anxious wish of Her Majesty's Government to acknowledge the error, and to repair, as far as possible, any wrong which may have been committed by any of our officers—indeed, to meet that wrong with the most frank and candid acknowledgment. I hope, Sir, that the time is far distant when this country will be willing to give up any one of her rights to which she considers herself justly entitled; but I equally trust that that day is also far distant when, from any motives of mistaken pride or dignity, this country shall ever refuse to acknowledge she had committed a wrong, and to make a full reparation for any wrong which through her officers she may have committed. Now, in reference to the hon. Gentleman's questions; first, whether we have received any additional information upon those transactions? We have not received any further information on the matter, and I trust the statement I have just made will be considered so far satisfactory. But there is One point upon which I hope I may be permitted to make one or two observations, because I think the House will see that they justify the hope and confidence I entertain that upon a fuller explanation and consideration of the facts, both on this side of the Atlantic and in America, all those circumstances which have hitherto created feelings of an anxious and disagreeable character will be peacefully and satisfactorily arranged. The first point to which I desire to refer involves an act of simple justice to our officers abroad. As I have before stated, although there may have been a few instances in Which over zeal may have led some of our officers to exceed that discretion which generally characterises their conduct, yet it is obvious, from all the circumstances that have come to our knowledge, that the statements which have been made in relation to what are termed British outrages have been most grossly exaggerated. I will not at this moment enter fully into the explanations contained in the papers which I hold in my hand; but in the last statement published in a New York paper, and carefully copied into every other journal in the country, it was alleged that there were thirty-two American vessels which were improperly detained and searched, and which proceedings are classed under the fame of British outrages. Now I may be permitted to state what this affair really turned out to be. I take the ease of the brig Charles F. O'Brien. According to the statement,— She was boarded on the 2nd of May, in the harbour of Sagua la Grande, by an armed boat from a British steamer. The boat pulled alongside without hailing, and boarded without asking permission to do so. The usual questions as to the name, ownership, and destination of the vessel were asked and answered, and the captain was requested to produce his papers. These, he informed the officers, were at the office of the American Consulate. He made no further search of the vessel, and having satisfied his curiosity, departed. His behaviour was civil, and no threat or intimidation was suggested.' I will also read a concise statement which appeared in one of the American newspapers, and which, as it gives the name and residence of the party making it, I think may be considered important. In this appear the names of three vessels said to have been boarded by us:— Ship Escort was on her voyage from Havre to New Orleans; when off the south side of Cuba, the wind being quite light, a British steamer ranged alongside, and her commander said that he wished to communicate with the ship if her captain had no objection. Captain Bryant said he would be happy to receive any communications the steamer pleased to make. The ship was not requested to heave to, but the steamer ranged ahead of the ship and dropped a boat, which came alongside. An officer from her went on board, asked where the ship was from and bound, but made no request to see her papers. He stated that the steamer was from Port Royal, Jamaica, and was then under sealed orders, to be opened off Cape May. The officer asked if he could render the ship any service, and, being thanked, returned to his boat. Captain Bryant states that from first to last the conduct of the steamer, her officers, and men, was friendly. He states, Moreover, that the ship's hold might have been filled with negroes for aught the officer seemed to care. His visit was not prying in any sense. Captain Bryant could not call to mind the name of the steamer without referring to the ship's log, The brig Pulaski, Captain Hawthorn, from Cienfuegos, arrived here last evening, and reports that on the 11th inst., in lat. 23 deg. 21 min., long. 83 deg. 34 min., she was hailed from a British war steamer, barque-rigged, and asked where she was from and bound, but was not requested to heave to, nor was she boarded, nor did the steamer fire at her. Captain Hawthorn says the commander of the steamer conducted himself just as any decent shipmaster would when speaking another vessel at sea. The brig Eliza Merrithew, Captain Gordon, from Sagua la Grande, arrived here yesterday afternoon. While at Sagua her captain says she was not troubled by the British, and he believes two-thirds of the stories in circulation about outrages, &c., are made out of whole cloth. In America it is usual to say, in reference to a statement not quite correct, that the party making it was "spinning a yarn," but as regarded a statement which was Wholly untrue, the Americans called it "whole cloth." Here is another statement of Captain Cline, who is the boarding officer of the Merchants' Exchange of Boston. This gentleman says:— Captain Cline, the boarding officer of the Merchants' Exchange news-rooms, says that he has conversed freely with the officers and crews of every vessel from Cuba which has arrived at this port, and he declares that not one of them considered himself damaged to the amount of one cent. Many of the stories about having been fired into need confirmation. In two cases where the captains report having been fired at, neither the crew nor the mates knew anything about it; and the nonsense about the overbearing conduct of the officers was too often invented. Frequently a man-of-war's boat has dropped alongside, and the officer, without leaving her, has asked questions and shoved off again. Those who wish to create a sensation, and see their name in print, make outrages of common courtesy. The British officers generally, the crews of our Cuba trade report, appear anxious to avoid giving offence. Now, I do not wish by making those observations to throw any doubt upon the bona fides of the American Government or to deny that they thought that they had really good grounds for their representations. I only desire to place those facts before the public eye, first in justice to our own officers whose conduct has been called seriously into question, and also to explain to the House why I entertain the confidence that upon further inquiry into the circumstances of the case which first appeared so extraordinary it will be satisfactorily arranged. The other point to which I wish to refer strengthens me in the opinion that, from the documents even laid before the Congress by the American Government itself, the use or rather the abuse of the American flag to cover the slave trade has become prevalent. I do not say this in an offensive sense. What I mean to say is this, that the American flag was made use of by other ships than American—by ships which had no right whatever to the use of it, for the purpose of enabling them to carry on this abominable traffic—that that flag, instead of being the ensign of liberty and civilization on all occasions was frequently prostituted to the foulest purposes. I cannot, therefore help thinking, and with the greatest confidence, that when all these circumstances are brought to the notice of the American Government, when they find that this country is disposed to deal with them in the most frank and friendly spirit—that our relations upon the other side of the Atlantic will be inclined to meet us in a similar spirit, and that a satisfactory settlement of the whole matter will be the result. As we are all, like the hon. Member for Birmingham, most anxious to allay any queasiness or irritation that may exist in the United States, I beg leave, in reply to another question of the hon. Gentleman, to make a brief statement as to the course Her Majesty's Government are prepared to take, and what are our views as to the right of search or visitation. The question, then, is this—whether we are prepared to abandon that principle as a right, and what course we mean to take under these circumstances? In reference to this right of visitation, it is no doubt a positive source of irritation between the two countries, and whatever may have been the practice of preceding Governments of this country, the right of boarding her vessels has never been admitted by America. Consequently it becomes our duty, in the face of circumstances so serious, to ascertain what our rights really are; whether we are prepared to stand by them, and if not, candidly to acknowledge our intention of giving them up. Her Majesty's Government have, therefore, taken the advice of the law officers of the Crown upon the whole question. It is their decided opinion that by the international law, in times of peace, we have no right of search or visitation whatever. And that being the case, we think we should be acting in a manner unworthy of the British Government if we delayed one minute communicating that information. But while we admit we have no right to visit American vessels peacefully pursuing their ordinary trade, it would be wrong of us, and-unbecoming this great country, to say that we are willing at once to abandon that great policy which has so honourably distinguished her and cease our efforts to put down the slave trade. In reference to this point the position taken by the English Government is the same as that distinctly laid down in one of the best papers I have ever read on the subject. I allude to the document addressed by General Cass to Lord Napier, which, with the permission of the House, I will now read. A merchant vessel upon the high seas is protected by her national character. He who forcibly enters her does so upon his own responsibility. Undoubtedly, if a vessel assume a national character to which she is not entitled, and is sailing under false colours, she cannot be protected by this assumption of a nationality to which she has no claim. As the identity of a person must be determined by the officer bearing a process for his arrest, and determined at the risk of such officer, so must the national identity of a vessel be determined at the like hazard to him, who, doubting the flag she displays, searches her to ascertain her true character. There, no doubt, may be circumstances which would go far to modify the complaints a nation would have a right to make for such a violation of its sovereignty. If the boarding officer had just grounds for suspicion, and deported himself with propriety in the performance of his task, doing no injury, and peaceably retiring when satisfied of his error, no nation would make such an act the subject of serious reclamation. Now that, I believe, is strictly the position we are entitled to take by the authority of international law. The American Government have themselves acknowledged it on the face of General Cass's State paper to be such as no nation would make the subject of serious reclamation, and consequently that is the line of conduct which it will be the duty of Her Majesty's Government to instruct the officers commanding our cruisers to follow. In reference to one other point to which the hon. Member referred; the hon. Gentleman asked whether it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to make any addition to the fleet which is stationed in the Cuban waters, and whether any addition had already been made to it. I beg to say, that during the time Her Majesty's Government have been in office, no increase whatever has been made to that fleet; and I may say further, that it will necessarily come under the consideration of the Government whether they will continue to maintain this squadron in the Cuban waters. Whether the squadron there is necessary to carry on the object we have in view—whether, in fact, objections of a more or less serious character are not applicable to the maintenance of our squadron in those waters. It is obvious that a squadron on the coast of Africa is altogether differently circumstanced from one maintained on the coast of Cuba. In the latter case the squadron is stationed upon the highway of American commerce, and each day they could scarcely fail to meet a number of American vessels peaceably engaged in trade. It is, therefore, obvious in carrying out those instructions which were necessarily given to our officers, that a considerable amount of discretion must be allowed, and that when there is much discretion given there must be a far greater risk of misunderstanding occurring, if not of actual collision. Whereas, on the coast of Africa, where the general commerce is more scattered, it is much easier to ascertain the character of suspicious vessels than amid a crowd of foreign ships. It is, therefore, under the consideration of Her Majesty's Government whether it would not be desirable to withdraw altogether our squadron from the Cuban waters. The original plan by which a species of blockade was instituted, was instituted on the suggestion of the American Government, though neither that Government nor ourselves seemed to see the serious objections to it that afterwards arose. The last question of the hon. Member for Birmingham was, whether any additional instructions had been sent out to our squadron. In reference to that question, I have to say that the instructions to which the hon. Member for Birmingham alluded, which were given by the Earl of Aberdeen at the time of the late Sir R. Peel's Government, applied to the position of our cruisers on the coast of Africa. My right hon. Friend at the head of the Board of Admiralty thought it necessary, since he came into office, to give more stringent instructions enjoining greater caution and discretion on the part of our cruisers on the coast of Cuba. Whether there were any other instructions given in the meantime giving rise to increased activity on the part of our cruisers there, I am not in a position to say. I can only assure the House that all our earliest efforts were directed to enjoining the greatest caution and prudence on the part of those who were engaged in our behalf on the coast of Cuba. Sir, I do not know any other information I can communicate to the hon. Gentleman. I can only say, expressing I believe not only the sentiments of every hon. Gentleman in this House, but also the sentiments and opinions of every man in this country, that a more fatal thing to the civilization and the happiness of either country could not occur than a misunderstanding between us and the United States. We shall meet the case in a frank and generous spirit, and fully confiding in the justice of the American Government, and in a reciprocity of feeling upon the part of the American people. I entertain, Sir, a firm hope and confidence that the questions at issue between us will, at an early date, end in an arrangement satisfactory for both nations.


Sir, the position which I hold in this House, I think, makes it desirable that I should express very humbly the view which I entertain upon this question. I do not think the time of the night is any objection to my stating very shortly what I desire to say. Sir, things have recently happened in America which, if properly understood by Americans, would lead them to a very different conclusion than that to which they have arrived. At the present time there are two peoples in the world at the head of civilization, and who are marching steadily onward in their course, as I believe, to the civilization of mankind. They are identical in language—they have the same institutions, and they have nearly the same form of Government. They are identical in race; they are derived from the same origin; they are, in fact, one nation. Now, these two nations are, I have said, at the head of civilization. They are going onward in that course; and, if in that course any obstruction unhappily interposes, surely it is the business of those who wish well to mankind to brush away that obstruction, and to make and keep those two nations friends. I think, Sir, the statement of the hon. Gentleman to-night is in accordance with these sentiments. The hon. Gentleman has, in a most satisfactory manner, stated the views of his Government upon this occasion. Not one word has escaped his lips derogatcry to this country or insulting to America. He has shown throughout that he understands the delicate position in which he is; and he has shown that he knows full well the great—I may say the overwhelming—duty which is now imposed upon both nations. Sir, certain language has been employed by gentlemen on the other side of the water, and I am bound to take notice of these facts, because it is supposed that we shall notice them. I am quite prepared to admit the destinies of the great nation we have planted on the other side of the Atlantic. I believe that from their country, their position, their institutions, their character, which they have derived from us, they are destined to be the leaders of mankind. But, Sir, I am not one of those who wish to derogate from the dignity of England. Language has been used in the American Congress which is not worthy of gentlemen—which is more worthy of ancient Pistol or of Bobadil than of the representatives of a great people. It has been assumed that England desires to insult them. Let them take a lesson from what has been said to-night as signifying the disposition of the people of England—that we do not desire to do anything which will give offence to our brethren over the water—that we are desirous of maintaining good relations with them, that we are desirous of maintaining our institutions and dignity; but that we do not intend to wound or alarm them. I thought myself bound to say these few words, because it has been said we shut our ears to the statements made by leading men in America. Sir, things have been said there which cannot pass unnoticed. I have been insulted through my country by what has been said. People on the floor of the Congress—to use the language of America—have only been gratified to meet with an opportunity to insult England, and as an Englishman I am bound to answer that insult. I say that we, acting as a great people, have only the desire to put down a great blot upon humanity—I mean the slave trade. In order to do this, we have given certain instructions. Be it that in the heat of the moment, and in the desire to do their duty, your officers have been induced to go beyond the very letter of their instructions, would a great people, a friendly people, have made this an opportunity for indulging in abuse of this country, from whom they suppose those instructions emanated. I believe that reports have been exaggerated. I believe that our officers have merely done their duty, and I believe that people, pandering to bad appetites, had put into papers in America what is not true. A cant phrase has been used by the hon. Gentleman, to signify stories which are not true. I will use a shorter word, and I hope it will go across the water—I say that they have been telling "lies." I say that, pandering to bad passions, they have been telling lies. Sure am I, that the people of England wish to maintain kindly relations with the people of America. Sure I am, that the people of England wish to employ their great power—and we have a great power, though we don't wish to boast about it—I say we only wish to employ that power in the service of mankind. If we wish to put down the slave trade, it is merely for the good of mankind. We may have injudicious or generous officers, but I don't believe one-half or one-tenth of the stories talked about, and I won't believe that any Englishman has done anything which calls upon the Government he has served to believe that he has deviated from his duty. Sir, the people of England will maintain that great position which they have ever held; they will not be bullied out of their rights; they do not wish to maintain a power which they ought not to have; they do not desire to do anything which shall excite hostility with America, which shall wound feelings or injure relations on the other side of the Atlantic, but they will take care of their own honour.


Sir, I wish to say that Her Majesty's Government may rest assured, if they conduct the affairs of the country in that temperate spirit in which the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs has stated it to be their intention to conduct them, while at the same time they are determined to maintain our rights, this House will afford them its ready support. With regard to the facts of the case immediately under consideration, it appears to me that there is much remaining to be told. The instructions given by the Government of 1844 to our cruisers have never been altered since, except, as it appears by the statement of the hon. Under Secretary, by those additional instructions which were given by the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Admiralty, advising greater caution and prudence in the demeanour of our officers towards American ships. With regard to the original instructions, the order issued by the Earl of Aberdeen was framed after much consultation and advice of the most eminent authorities, and amongst others Dr. Lushington. The instructions were framed in the most temperate spirit, and previous to being issued they were communicated to the Government of the United States. During the fifteen years they have been in operation they have been acted upon without any interruption of the amicable relations which have existed between this country and the United States. The question is, whether the complaints which have recently arisen have arisen from the increased vigilance of our cruisers, or from the fact of our commanders overstepping their duty; or whether they arose from the unwillingness of America to submit to the carrying out of those instructions, although for a period of fifteen years she had recognized them. What is the duty of Her Majesty's Government under the circumstances? In the first place, it is their duty to restrain the over-zeal of our commanders, and if it be found that they have exceeded their instructions, it then becomes us as a great nation to acknowledge that fact, and to repair any wrong that we may have committed. On the other hand, if the American Govern- ment are prepared to say that these instructions are objectionable to them, it is the duty, and at the same time true wisdom, on the part of Her Majesty's Government to advise with the Government of America as to the nature of the measures which ought to be adopted in order to effect the objects which both countries have in view. I will not venture to say what those measures ought to be. But it is quite clear, as admitted by General Cass himself, that this right of search is absolutely necessary for both countries, in order to protect the national interests of both on the high seas. The Americans are a maritime nation as well as ourselves, and it would never suit their commerce in the China seas, for instance, where piracy prevails, if after a pirate ship had taken and plundered an American vessel, and perhaps killed the crew, she had only to hoist the British ensign to protect herself from all examination on the part of American Commanders. They should have the right, as well as ourselves, of searching a suspicious vessel hoisting a flag to which it was not entitled. I think too much importance has been attached to the statement made even in the American Congress. It is obviously the interest of the two nations to remain united; and I am happy to hear from the Under Secretary of State that whatever may be the decision of Her Majesty's Government in relation to the squadron on the coast of Cuba, it is not their intention to deviate from that great line of policy which we have followed for so many years, and which has been justified by so many treaties into which we have entered with foreign Powers for the suppression of the slave trade. I now only wish to express the pleasure I have felt at the explanation given by the Under Secretary of State, which, while upholding the dignity of this country, has, at the same time, been characterized by much good temper and ability.


Sir, as some questions have arisen with regard to the grounds upon which our cruisers have been sent to suppress the slave trade upon the coast of Cuba, I beg to remind the House that that arrangement was adopted in deference to the frequently expressed wishes of Parliament and of numerous deputations which waited upon the late Government, recommending the adoption of such a course. The Under Secretary of State has truly stated that the arrange- ment had been acceded to by the American Government itself; therefore, there was nothing whatever about those proceedings which were not prompted by good and sufficient reasons. It is always, no doubt, to be expected that when an additional number of inspecting and preventing ships appear on a particular station, those with whose traffic they interfere should endeavour to raise a cry against it, and misrepresent the objects we have in view. I hope, Sir, it may turn out that the complaints we have recently heard so much about have originated in some such source. Of course, as the hon. Gentleman has stated, every reasonable and proper complaint will be attended to by Her Majesty's Government. It is but just to the American Government, however, to say that they have always not only expressed, but actually manifested, the same feeling which has actuated the people of England with regard to the suppression of that most abominable crime—the slave trade. The American Government actually made it a law that the slave trade was an offence liable to the heaviest punishment, and whenever the American cruisers have been stationed to operate with the British cruisers for the suppression of that trade, the American officers have done their duty, and co-operated in the most cordial manner possible with the officers of the British cruisers in every step thought necessary to be taken with that object in view. Those of them especially that were employed on the coast of Africa did their duty in the most prompt manner and with the best spirit. I think, therefore, Her Majesty's Government might urge upon the American Government to send cruisers to the coast of Cuba to prevent, by their own legitimate action, the abuse of her flag which is now practised by Spaniards, Portuguese, and bandits of all nations, whose conduct has, in fact, led to the present disputes. I concur with my noble Friend the Member for London, in thinking that it is impossible we can assent to the naked principle that the hoisting of the flag of a particular country is to be adopted as a conclusive proof that the vessel belongs to that country whose flag it hoists. It is well known that vessels are in the habit of carrying flags of different nations for the purpose of making signals; and if it came to be understood that the hoisting of the flags of England, or of France, or of the United States, or of the numerous States of South America, were to be a sufficient proof of the identification of a vessel, piracy of the most frightful description would be rampant over the seas, and every country possessed of a mercantile navy would soon feel the necessity of combining to put an end to the system. I do not understand that the hon. Gentleman said that Her Majesty's Government have admitted the principle to the extent I have mentioned. I may state that I was informed the other day, by my right hon. Friend the late First Lord of the Admiralty, that no instructions had been sent to our cruisers on the coast of Cuba different from those instructions which were issued by the Earl of Aberdeen. I believe, therefore, that our officers are still acting on the instructions issued with the consent of the Americans themselves; and I presume that if any fresh instructions are sent they will be communicated to Parliament, so that we may see the extent of the modifications.


said, he had listened with very great satisfaction to the observations of the noble Lord the Member for London, and he agreed with him that the best answer to the violent speeches that had been made in the American Senate would be the calm and dispassionate discussion that had taken place that evening. His hon. Friend the Under Secretary, in his very clear statement on the part of the Government, had not stated what he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) might mention, that without conceding the point to which the noble Lord had just referred, and which they had not in any way conceded, Her Majesty's Government, after pointing out the terrible abuse of their flag under the present system, and that piracy of the most flagrant character might be committed, had invited the Government of the United States to favour them with their suggestions as to the mode by which such things might be prevented, and had offered to take those suggestions into consideration, and, if possible, to combine with that Government in any arrangement that might promise a satisfactory solution of the difficulties which both Governments at present experienced. They had not as yet received any answer to that proposition, but he was inclined to believe that it would be received by the Government of the United States in the same spirit as it had been offered. His hon. Friend had so fully entered into the question, as far as at present we were masters of the de-ails, that it was not necessary, nor indeed would it be convenient for him (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) to go at any length into the subject. He confessed he looked forward with great confidence that the existing misconceptions would soon disappear, and that their occurrence now would lead to an understanding upon this subject that would prevent a renewal of them hereafter. He was sure that both the American Government and the American people, when they had examined thoroughly this subject, and had paused and pondered over all that had occurred, would feel that it was for the advantage of both countries, and for the benefit of civilization, that there should be some clear understanding as to the united course which both Governments should take upon this matter. Far from being alarmed, he was not displeased to hear that American ships of war had been sent into the Cuban waters, because the crews of those vessels would themselves be witnesses of what was taking place there, and he did not doubt that they would act with the same promptness and fidelity they had shown on other occasions and to which the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton had borne witness. There was also another reason why he took no gloomy view of our relations with the United States, however threatening they might appear. It was because upon all the great principles of policy which influenced the system of the United States there was between the Government of that country and that of Her Majesty, generally speaking, a complete accordance. We witnessed with no jealousy the expansion of the United States; we did not find in the general course of their policy any of those causes which create distrust between States; and knowing that their was in general among the public men of America a sincere desire to cultivate friendly relations with the Government and people of this country, he could not allow an accidental ebullition to induce him to believe that a policy founded upon deep reflection and an intimate acquaintance with the mutual interests of the two countries could be terminated or disturbed by circumstances which could only be regarded as of a transient nature, but which, if neglected, might no doubt assume a far more serious character than their essential merits could justify.


said, he thought it was not to be regretted that this discussion had taken place. There was one point to which he wished to advert. He thought he collected from the Under Secretary of State that our Cuban squadron would shortly be withdrawn. [Mr. S. FITZGERALD: I said it was under consideration.] He thought he was justified in assuming the probability of its withdrawal. If, however, we withdrew our squadron, and the United States did not substitute one of their own, then slavers under any flag, once escaping from the coast of Africa, had nothing to fear, and could not be prevented from landing their cargoes on the island of Cuba. The noble Lord the Member for Tiverton had thrown out a hope that the American Government would themselves undertake to maintain a squadron off the coast of Cuba. How far her Majesty's Government in their negotiations upon this delicate subject might be disposed to suggest such a course he could not tell, but he was strongly impressed with the belief that if there were no squadron in those waters, impunity, if not encouragement, would be given to the slave trade.