said, that in drawing the attention of the House to the correspondence which had taken place respecting the Charles et Georges, he desired to say that it was his intention to treat the matter temperately, and with a complete avoidance of all topics justly calculated to create 1479 irritation in any Foreign States. He could not venture to predict, and of course he could not suggest, the course which any hon. Member might take who followed him in the debate, but he was anxious to declare that in his view any discussion which tended to throw blame upon any foreign potentate was alien to the question which he sought to raise; for the question which he was now asking the House to consider was not one involving our friendly relations with foreign states, but was a question which, in one sense, was purely domestic. No question was at present pending, well or ill—the whole matter had been settled; but it still remained for the House to say whether the manner in which the negotiation had been conducted on the part of England was such as the House could approve. It remained for them to say whether the Foreign Secretary had conducted that negotiation with a fair amount of diligence, a fair amount of firmness, and a due attention to existing treaties, and to those other obligations, not actual treaties, but not less sacred, which we had incurred in consequence of arrangements between Portugal and this country with respect to the slave trade. It appeared to him that the House could not shrink from the discussion of this question. Official documents had been laid before the Legislative Assembly of a foreign State. Those documents had been republished in journals whose liberty of printing was not very large, but which, nevertheless, had been permitted to waft from one end of the Continent to the other impressions not altogether favourable to the honour of England. Unfortunately it was difficult to attempt even to discuss the questions which arose upon this matter without glancing at the treaties in existence between this country and Portugal. Quite lately we were congratulating ourselves that at a time when our empire in Bengal appeared to be failing us the fidelity of the western Presidency remained unimpaired. At that time few of us, perhaps, recollected that the territory of Bombay was ceded to us nearly two centuries ago by the Portuguese Government, and that it was in consequence of the relations which began at that period, or, rather, which were then continued and from that period rendered more close, that our character as a guaranteeing State towards Portugal had arisen. By the treaty of 1661, made on the marriage of Charles II. with a Princess of the house of Braganza, 1480 the island of Bombay was ceded to this country, and amongst the considerations for which that cession was made there was a guarantee binding this country in very large terms to defend Portugal against all foreign enemies. The kind of alliance thus created, though in terms somewhat too large, was nevertheless maintained in practice, and in 1703 another treaty of a more definite sort was entered into between England and Portugal. That treaty was in Latin, and it seemed to him that the translation of it ordinarily given fell a little short of the strenuous language in which the terms of the original treaty were couched. That treaty was between Great Britain and the States General on the one part, and Portugal on the other; and its object was to effect a defensive alliance between the two States first mentioned and Portugal. Now, when a defensive alliance was entered into, it of course followed—and common sense would suggest—that the guaranteeing State must necessarily have an opportunity of looking into the state of affairs which existed previously to actual hostilities. But this treaty seemed not to have left that inference to the common sense of the parties; for it provided, in very express terms, that if there should be even a suspicion or fear of hostilities against Portugal it should be the duty of Great Britian and the States General to urge the case of Portugal against the Power so threatening her. That provision had been translated, be observed, as a mere engagement to give Portugal the good offices of the two guaranteeing States. The original Latin, however, went further than that the words amicé contendent. That was, that it was agreed that the guaranteeing States should strenuously urge by peaceful means the attainment of the object, which, failing those peaceful means, they might have to attain by the use of their forces. The treaty provided that, failing the success of peaceful means, the guaranteeing States should be obliged to support Portugal with all their forces, and that for the purpose of carrying on hostilities—as he read the instrument—in the kingdom of Portugal there should be a force of 12,000 men. This stipulation had been interpreted as if 12,000 men only were to be employed on the whole continent of Europe. As he understood the treaty, it meant that they were to defend Portugal with all their forces—totis viribus; but that for the purpose of defence in Portugal itself the amount should be limited to 1481 12,000 men. In 1810, when Lord Weblington was preparing the lines of Torres Vedras, we entered into the treaty of Rio Janeiro, which was afterwards abrogated; but which engaged Portugal to prohibit the slave trade in all her possessions north of the line. In 1815, England at Vienna, fresh from the triumphs she had achieved in Portugal—triumphs which she owed in great part to the bravery of the Portuguese soldiery—deliberately, and in the face of Europe, renewed her engagements with Portugal, and in very clear and emphatic terms, engaged that the former treaties should be considered as still in full force, and that the terms of friendship, alliance, and guarantee should still subsist. Here it seemed necessary to pause for a moment, and to consider what was the liability which England had incurred by entering into those large engagements with Portugal. According to the opinion of the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs—an opinion given after these events had occurred, and which was to be found in the papers before the House—this was a guarantee which bound England, under all circumstances, to defend the territory of Portugal against all aggression. He (Mr. Kinglake) did not give such a broad interpretation to that treaty. He thought that, under this treaty England was bound to aid Portugal in ally just cause, but not to aid her if she were engaged in a defensive war which she had brought upon herself by undue resistance to just demands. Having thus noticed the position in which England was placed by her political treaties with Portugal, he had next to glance at the arrangements which were wade with a view to the prevention of the slave trade. In 1810, as he had before stated, Portugal engaged to prohibit the slave trade north of the line. In 1815 she renewed that engagement. But it was not until 1836 that she extended that provision to her territories south of the line. In 1836 she made a decree which also prohibited the slave trade south of the line, and that prohibition extended to the coast of Mozambique, the territory near which the vessel in question was taken. For many years after the prohibition of the slave trade on the Mozambique coast there continued a practice of carrying the negroes from that coast to employ them, he would not say as slaves, bat as workmen in the French island of Bourbon or Réunion. After a time it occurred to that great body of humane men who in this country watch 1482 ed the slave trade, and exerted themselves to put an end to it, that under the semblance of importing free labourers to the French colonies, there was going on, in point of fact, a practice very nearly akin to that of the slave trade. He did not wish to impart into this discussion those warm and strong feelings which were associated with our horror of the slave trade, and he would admit that there was much to be said on both sides of the question. On the one hand the French were able to say that these people being probably slaves in their own country became freemen when imported into Réunion; while, on the other hand, the enemies of the practice maintained that, though theoretically free when on board a French ship, they were practically in subjection, and that the demand for them upon the coasts led to the carrying on of slave wars in the interior. The result was that a strong pressure was put upon Portugal, both by France and England. France strenuously contended for a continuance of this practice of importing free colonists, England as strenuously resisted. Ultimately the counsels of England prevailed, and Portugal, at our instance, was induced to prohibit the exportation of negroes from the Mozambique coast. The contest was renewed, and renewed with great vigour, in 1857, when Count Walewski wrote a despatch pressing upon Portugal in the strongest terms the policy and good sense of submitting herself to the practice which he advised her to enter upon. On the other hand, the Earl of Clarendon pressed Portugal to maintain a firm resistance to the deportation of negroes from Mozambique, and in the end Portugal repealed the decree that she had issued against the practice, and finally resolved to prohibit the practice altogether. But the contest did not end there. It was sometimes easier to make laws than to enforce them, and it was found by England, that although Portugal had made these laws against the deportation of negroes from the coast, those laws were systematically evaded. The Earl of Clarendon remonstrated in strong terms against the connivance of Portugal at the practice, and called upon her in the most energetic language to be faithful in her determination to carry out her prohibition. Accordingly, a Portuguese Governor who was supposed, and justly he believed, to have connived at the evasion of the law, was recalled, and at our desire a Governor was sent out with stringent instructions to enforce the prohibition which Portugal 1483 had issued at the instance of this country. Now, although the Government of France had strenuously resisted this determination on the part of Portugal, it was only just towards the French Government to say that they acted at that time with great loyalty, and that, having been defeated in the contest with England as to which of the Powers should carry out her views in the matter, she loyally acceded to the determination which Portugal had arrived at, and sent out distinct orders to her naval commanders in those waters, informing them that Portugal had prohibited the traffic, and ordering them to give effect to the prohibition. In a despatch written by the Earl of Clarendon, and dated the 17th of November, 1857—a despatch he would not read, because if he once commenced to read documents, he knew not when lie should come to an end—his Lordship cordially thanked the Portuguese Government for the firmness with which they had acted in maintaining their prohibition; and whilst he was writing that despatch the vessel to which the present Motion related, the Charles et Georges, was nearing the Mozambique coast. The Charles et Georges was a vessel freighted for the purpose of obtaining negro workmen. Her papers were made out in such a way as to indicate that she was to obtain those workmen in portions of the African territory where she might lawfully do so. She had on board a person called a "delegate." Now, the House would observe that this delegate was a person employed by the French Government, but not armed with that kind of authority which, under similar circumstances, a naval or military officer would possess. This delegate was charged with the duty of seeing, so far as he could, that the regulations prescribed by his Government were adhered to, and that unnecessary hardships were not inflicted upon the negroes. This vessel, on the 17th of November, came near the Mozambique coast, and entered Conducia Bay. There could be no doubt that she was in constant communication with the shore and anchored very near it. The British Consul stated that she was anchored within two miles of his house, and therefore, as the House would be aware, quite within the range of cannon-shot, that being the distance over which international law has extended the sovereignty of a State beyond the actual shore. This vessel being in Conducia Bay, and having already taken some negroes on board at 1484 places where he might lawfully obtain them, Captain Rouxel appeared to have thought that he might also transact a little business of the same description on the Portuguese territory. He accordingly sent his interpreter ashore and obtained fifty-nine negroes from the Mozambique coast, eleven of whom were brought on board with their hands pinioned. The French documents, while they admitted that these men were brought on board with their hands pinioned, yet said it was by their own free consent. This seemed a strange demand to make upon one's credulity, that they should voluntarily submit to be bound; but so it was stated in these papers. On the 23rd the French vessel sailed away, the negroes having been taken on board on the 21st and 23rd, and there was reason to believe that her departure was occasioned by a suspicion that some Portuguese vessels were on the look-out for her. The fact was that on the 21st of November, a day or two after she came into the Bay, her transactions were denounced to the Portuguese Government as an infraction of the law. Now, who thus denounced her? It was the British Consul and the result was that in consequence of his representations, instructions were given that cruisers should be sent to look for the vessel. Captain Rouxel remained at sea for some days, but on the 29th of that month the Charles et Georges returned to Conducia Bay; and on the result of her second visit there might be something like a question whether she anchored within cannon range, for it was said that she was then three or four miles from the shore; but this much was certain—that at the time she was boarded by the Portuguese Consul, her boats were actually on shore, so that she was in actual communication with the land. The French contended that she was anchored outside of cannon range, which might be true of the main land, but she was within cannon range of the island of Quintangonia, which was a portion of the Portuguese territory. The vessel was boarded, and 110 negroes were found on board, all of whom declared that they were there against their will. There were, besides, those peculiar arrangements for water and food, and all the other indications which are usually regarded as marking the slaver. Under such circumstances the captain who commanded the Portuguese vessel, could do no less, and he did no more, than bring the vessel to Mozambique, where a Commission was assembled, which unanimously reported that this vessel 1485 was caught in flagrante delicto, not only in an infraction of the Portuguese law, which prohibited the shipment of negroes from that part of the world, but of an infraction of the law against the slave trade. The vessel was accordingly condemned as a slaver. Captain Rouxel was convicted of carrying on the Slave Trade, and sentenced to two years' imprisonment, while the vessel was sent on to Lisbon. The captain in the meantime entered an appeal to the Supreme Court of Lisbon. As soon as the French Government was made aware of the seizure of this vessel considerable irritation not unnaturally arose. He would therefore ask the House carefully to bear in mind the date of the 6th of March, 1858; for on that day the 6th of March, 1858, a despatch was written to our Foreign Secretary informing him of the claim which the French Government had made against Portugal in respect of the seizure of the vessel, and that it was going to be a very grave affair. The proposition he would maintain was this:—That from the 6th of March, when the Earl of Malmesbury was first informed of it in a despatch from our Minister at Lisbon (Mr. Howard), down to the middle of October, the Earl of Malmesbury, knowing that this was a very grave affair, involving the safety of a State to which we were bound in a treaty of defensive alliance took simply no steps whatever. On the 6th of March, 1858, Mr. Howard wrote that the Marquis de Loulé had stated to him that the Portuguese Minister at Paris, then Baron de Paiva, had seen Count Walewski, who held that this would be a grave affair. About that time the French Minister at the Court of Lisbon, the Marquis de Lisle, raised the question respecting the presence of a delegate, which the French subsequently insisted upon—namely, that the presence of a delegate of France on board the vessel showed the character of the transaction, and totally excluded the idea of the vessel being engaged in the Slave Trade, which was so rashly admitted by the Portuguese authorities. According to the view which he (Mr. Kinglake) took of the transaction, it was not necessary for the House to inquire into the question whether the French Government was right or wrong in the course it took, because the Earl of Malmesbury never took the trouble for a moment to inquire into the question whether France was right or wrong. He never looked to the side either of the Portuguese or the French; he took a course peculiarly his own, and therefore, it was open to any 1486 hon. Member to criticise the conduct of the Earl of Malmesbury without impugning the conduct either of the French or the Portuguese. The claim of the French was no doubt one of a rather startling character. It did seem strange that the sovereignty of a State should be capable of being so dispersed throughout the world that wherever an agent of that State was present it must be assumed, not only that he was innocent and free from blame, but that every one who was on board with him must be also innocent and fair in their dealings. The proposition, he repeated, did bear a startling character, but he was not there to canvass it. For the purposes of his argument he cared not whether it was right or wrong. On the other hand, he was equally indifferent to the correctness of the view taken by Earl Cowley. Earl Cowley was of opinion that though, upon the whole, the claim of the French Government could not be supported, yet still the comity of nations might require that the ship, in whatever transactions she might be engaged, seeing she had such an agent on board, ought to be treated as a vessel acting under the authority of the State to which it belonged, and the persons on board ought not to have been treated as ordinary criminals; but should have been left to the operations of diplomacy. But, whichever of these opinions be the correct one, the Earl of Malmesbury acted upon neither, and did nothing, though the question of the delegate, upon which they both hinged, was first raised on the 6th of May. On the 13th of August the Charles et Georges was brought into the Tagus, with her captain and crew and all the ship's papers; and it was not at all unnatural that the irritation and excitement in France, which had been occasioned by the seizure of the vessel, was greatly increased when she arrived in Europe. The Marquis de Lisle, the French Minister at the Court of Lisbon, wrote a despatch on the 15th August, 1858, in which, after referring to former demands upon the same subject, he stated he was now instructed to demand, in the name of the Emperor, the immediate release of the vessel and her crew, and insisting upon prompt attention to his request. Now, then, when the matter had arrived at this point, he maintained it was the duty of the Earl of Malmesbury, as the representative of a country which was bound by treaty to give aid to Portugal in a defensive war—it was his duty, seriously and deliberately, to inquire into the merits of the dispute 1487 between France and Portugal. It became him, formally and officially, to inform himself of the nature of the French demands; and if he came to the conclusion that the French were right in the main—if he agreed with the Earl Cowley that it was contrary to the comity of nations to treat this vessel, with a Government agent on board, as if she were an ordinary vessel, his duty then was to tell Portugal, with all the authority that England could use, that she was wrong—that she had made a mistake. Had he done so there was every probability that this miserable contest would have been instantly brought to an end. On the other hand, if he could not see his way to this conclusion—if he felt that the claim of France was one which it was impossible for him to admit—it then became his duty fearlessly to inform France that she was engaged in a dangerous quarrel which might impose upon England the necessity of raising up out of their obscurity the ancient treaties that exist between England and Portugal. It would be his duty to inform France that England, as the ally of Portugal, must have a voice in the settlement of the matter. Could any one doubt that had the Earl of Malmesbury arrived at such a conclusion as this, he might have brought the question to an early and amicable conclusion? At that period there was no violent irritation on the part of the French Government; and he should show that the subsequent irritation of the French Government was occasioned by the delays of which the Earl of Malmesbury was guilty. On the 28th of August, 1858, Mr. Howard wrote to the Earl of Mahnesbury—The French Minister at this Court (Lisbon), the Marquis de Lisle, treats as a very serious affair the condemnation as a slaver, by the tribunal at Mozambique, of the French vessel Charles et Georges:"and the despatch went on to state the grounds on which France disputed the legality of the seizure. Still there was no action on the part of the Earl of Malmesbury. The summer months passed away; and as no decided reply was given to the French demands, it was not to be wondered at that the irritation in France was every day increasing. At length on the 14th of September, 1858, the Marquis de Lisle addressed a note to the Portuguese Government, in which he stated that acting upon instructions recently received from his Government he forwarded a peremptory demand for the release of the vessel and 1488 of the master, Captain Rouxel. He dwelt upon the serious influence which the affair might have upon the amicable relations of the two countries; referred to previous notes which he had written to the Portuguese Government on the subject, urging the liberation of the vessel; and laid down the principle that as there was a delegate of the French Government on board the vessel, the French Government could not admit the possibility of her having been engaged in the slave trade. He proceeded to state that the French Government reserved to themselves the right to determine the degree of responsibility involved in this affair, and to bring forward hereafter the demand for compensation; but that they now required the immediate release of the vessel and captain. He concluded with an urgent request for a speedy reply, and sent it in with a verbal intimation that if he did not receive an answer in the course of the next four or five days, he should consider that as equivalent to a refusal to accede to the demand of the French Government. He would ask the House to consider what great misfortune had now befallen Portugal. There were many men in this House who knew something of Asiatic countries devastated by arbitrary Governments. If there were one principle more than another that distinguished Asiatic despotisms from well-ordered European States, it was the barrier which existed between the Executive Government and the judicial authority. In despotic States the executive power and the judicial power were pretty nearly one and the same, but in European countries liberty depended on the fact that the one could not interfere with the other. No misfortune more cruel could be imagined than that a European State should be obliged by pressure from without, or any other circumstance, to interfere with the regular course of its judicial proceedings. Therefore Portugal was justified in hesitating before she consented to give way to the demand which called on her to interrupt legal proceedings, and with a strong and lawless hand to interfere with a pending trial. Portugal hesitated, examined the question apparently with great care, and seemed to have come to the conclusion that the demand was not founded in justice. Still, there was total inaction on the part of the Foreign Office, and on September 18, 1858, Mr. Howard, our Minister, addressed a despatch to the Earl of Malmesbury, recounting these details, and commencing his statement with the 1489 remark that the affair had assumed a very serious aspect. He added—I saw the Marquis de Loulé yesterday just before the Cabinet Council met, at which the Attorney General was to be heard, and the answer to be returned to the French Minister was to be decided on. His Excellency dwelt upon the embarrassing position in which the Portuguese Government was placed. He observed that it appeared from the papers in possession of the Government that the case was not one of an engagement of free labourers, but of the positive purchase of slaves, and that the Government was not authorized by the laws of the country to withdraw the vessel from the action of the judicial power under whose control she now is.Again—His Excellency did not make any application to me for your Lordship's valuable assistance, but I feel persuaded that he would be very grateful should your Lordship be able to afford the Portuguese Government any aid in the treatment of this question with the French Government.He added that the Marquis de Loulé had confidentially informed him that it was proposed to refer the question in dispute to the mediation of a friendly power, and that he would be disposed to leave the choice of the mediator to the French Government. On the 20th of September Earl Cowley wrote that M. Benedetti complained of the Portuguese Government in a manner which made him apprehend the possibility of a serious misunderstanding between France and Portugal if matters remained as represented by that Gentleman. Well, on the 25th of September, the Earl of Malmesbury did at last begin to speak. On the 25th September he wrote to Mr. Howard, in answer to this despatch, that the British GovernmentHave learnt with satisfaction that the Portuguese Government propose to refer the question in dispute to the mediation of a friendly Power. I have transmitted to Her Majesty's Ambassador at Paris copies of your despatches above referred to, and I have to instruct you to assure the Portuguese Government that the friendly offices of Her Majesty's Government will not be wanting for the purpose of bringing about an amicable settlement of the difference between the French and Portuguese Governments on this subject.Having this promise, the Portuguese Government naturally relaxed their efforts, and left the matter in the hands of the English Government. He did not find that anything had been done in pursuance of the promise then made to the Portuguese Government. The matter had been going on from the 6th March until the 25th September; and on that latter day all that was given was not a tender of good offices made to the French Government, but a promise of good offices addressed to the 1490 Government of Lisbon. On the 28th September there came to our Foreign Office an actual application for assistance. He did not think himself that any such application was needed, because the relations which subsisted between England and France must be supposed to have been universally known, and it could hardly have been necessary for Portugal to have demanded our aid. But as the Portuguese Government found that the contest was still prolonged, and that no active steps had been taken by our Foreign Office, they addressed to Lord Malmesbury, on the 28th September, a formal application for assistance. The Portuguese Government thus addressed the noble Lord, through Mr. Howard:—The Marquis de Loulé, in communicating to me the papers in question, begged me to express to your Lordship how grateful the Portuguese Government would feel if your Lordship would afford them your assistance, and employ your good offices with the French Government in order to bring about an amicable settlement of this serious affair. His Excellency said that he trusted your Lordship would be the more ready to do so, because the case was evidently not one of the engagement of free labourers, but of the purchase of slaves, that is to say, a case of slave trade. In reply, I promised to report his Excellency's request to your Lordship by this mail. I remarked, at the same time, that the French Government denied that it was a case of slave trade, and professed to have proved that it was not so.Now, the first act which was done, the first approach towards anything like good offices, and, indeed, the first conversation, as far as it appeared from the published papers, which had passed between the English and the French Governments upon the subject, had taken place on the 30th September; and the House would see that even then the conversation did not amount to anything which could be called an assertion of good offices towards the Government of France. This conversation took place between Earl Cowley and Count Walewski. Earl Cowley said on that day he asked Count Walewski if he had any later intelligence from Lisbon; and he then assured the Count that Mr. Howard had given the Portuguese Government the best advice in his power. He (Mr. Kinglake) had not the slightest doubt but that Earl Cowley, when he had made that assertion, had been firmly convinced of its accuracy; and, indeed, he was justified in believing that it must have been true, because he could not have supposed that an English Minister would have left Mr. Howard at Lisbon without such instructions as would have induced him to 1491 give wholesome advice to the Portuguese Government. But it would be seen from the papers that Mr. Howard expressly stated, that from the commencement of the transaction to the 21st October he had never given any advice whatever to the Government of Portugal. Earl Cowley went on to describe the interview:—Count Walewski replied, that the whole question turned on the legality of the original capture. If the reports received by the French Government were correct, the capture was effected beyond the jurisdiction of Portugal, and the Portuguese tribunals, therefore, were incompetent to judge the case. I asked who was to decide this point, but could obtain no satisfactory answer to my question.Was it possible to suppose that when the Earl Cowley asked that vague question he had any idea of mediation? On the 2nd October the noble Lord sent the following telegrams to the Foreign Office:—At the Council, this morning, the determination was taken to demand the release of the Charles et Georges This determination was come to on the ground that she has been condemned as a slaver, when there was a delegate of the French Government on board.He (Mr. Kinglake) prayed the House to observe, that the dispute might at that time almost be said to have been brought to an inevitable termination, because the French Emperor in Council had conic to a resolution, from which he had never afterwards swerved, and the French ships must then have been nearing the Tagus. Had he not fulfilled the engagement which he undertook when he had promised to show that from the 6th March until the period when intervention could be of any use, the Earl of Malmesbury had entirely neglected to make any attempt to arrange that dangerous question? On the 3rd October Earl Cowley did really, and for the first time, endeavour to use his good offices with the French Government. He did so, as far as he (Mr. Kinglake) was aware, entirely from his own sense of what was right, and without any instruction or any authority from the English Government. He then told the Earl of Malmesbury that he did not think the decision to which the French Government had come on the preceding day would be revoked. On the 5th October Earl Cowley again wrote to the Earl of Malmesbury, and informed hint that "the French Government declined to submit to arbitration." He (Mr. Kinglake) had said, that an examination of the dates showed that the Earl of Malmesbury had been guilty of a grievous delay, 1492 or rather of a complete neglect in that matter; and he had to add, upon the authority of Count Walewski, that it was owing to that miserable delay that the dispute had grown to the unsatisfactory state at which it had arrived. Count Walewski stated, in a despatch written at a later period, that—The British Government seemed to forget that the measure to which they adverted had not been resorted to until friendly offices had been exhausted.From the 3rd March to the 6th October there had been a total inaction on the part of the English Government, and that inaction had been assigned by the French Government themselves as one of the causes which had led to the serious aspect the dispute had ultimately assumed. It was on the 6th October that the repose of the Foreign Office was broken, and he knew of nothing that could make one less regret the cessation of that repose than the way in which the Earl of Malmesbury had afterwards passed to a state of action. On the 6th October the Earl of Malmesbury addressed to Earl Cowley the following telegraphic message:—Any hostile proceedings by France against Portugal should be strongly deprecated by your Excellency, and you should put forward the Paris Protocol at a suitable time.The noble Earl deprecated "any hostile proceeding." Why, the French vessels were nearing the Tagus, and to "deprecate hostilities" after the dispute had been going on for months, and when the patience of the French Government was almost exhausted, was to engage in a fruitless attempt. Then, as to putting forward the Paris Protocol "at a suitable time," surely the suitable time would have been the earliest moment after the commencement of the dispute. The Earl of Malmesbury had chosen to say in one of the papers that it was an "immortal truth"—that was the phrase he believed—that time was the great preventer as well as the healer of all disputes. He supposed it was very true that people, when they ceased to be in a passion, were less dangerous than when they were in a rage. He should imagine that that was what in dialectics would be called an identical proposition, but what he, in humble English, should be content to call a very familiar truism. He could not but think that it was this immortal truth as to the value of time which ensnared the Earl of Malmesbury into the mistake of neglecting to put forward the 1493 Paris Protocol until the seventh month after the commencement of the dispute. The next effort of that noble Lord was to write a despatch to the Admiralty, desiring them to send a force to the Tagus; and, at first sight, that bore the semblance of something like energy; but any one who looked a little more closely at the document, must be struck by a passage in which the Lords of the Admiralty were specially expressed to take care that the force should be a small one. Now, could there be a greater error in transactions of that kind than to send out a small fleet? What could be more unwise than to send out a force at all, and not to send one which by its magnitude would be a worthy representative of England? But it seemed to have been afterwards thought by Her Majesty's Government, that the order which re-required that the force should be a small one was too bold an act, for he found that, although the Lords of the Admiralty stated on the 7th or the 8th of October that the vessels were to depart on the following day, from some cause or another—and he believed it must have been some cause which had its origin, not at the Admiralty, but at the Foreign Office—the ships did not quit the shores of England until the middle of the month of November. But to proceed. M. de Paiva, who was then Portuguese Minister at Paris, joined his exertions to those of the Earl of Malmesbury for the purpose of inducing the French Government to accept the idea of mediation; but when Earl Cowley pressed a proposal to that effect on the notice of Count Walewski; the Count told him that—The Resolution of the Imperial Government was taken to demand the restitution of the Charles et Georges without further delay, and that they were prepared to uphold their assertion that they were in the right against all who might dispute it.Now, he wished to say a few words in reference to the connection of the 23rd Protocol of the Treaty of Paris with the question to which he was directing the attention of the House. It would be unjust to the French Government to say that in declining to be bound by the terms of that Protocol, they were violating any treaty. There was clearly an error in that respect in the speech of the King of Portugal, who stated that he had appealed in vain to the Treaty of Paris, by which he meant the Protocol in that Treaty. But it was only fair to the French Government to declare that when the high contracting Powers assembled at the Congress in Paris 1494 agreed, at the suggestion of the Earl of Clarendon, to express a wish in favour of arbitration in cases of international dispute, Count Walewski stated that he would not be bound by anything like an obligation to adopt upon any particular occasion that principle. He believed that the contracting Powers were right in thinking that it would be impossible for them to undertake to be bound by such an obligation; but it was very naturally supposed that the fate of the Protocol would depend very much on the course which might be taken by any of the great Powers of Europe when the first opportunity of carrying out its principle might arise. Now, it so happened that last year, two years after the signing of the Protocol, an opportunity did occur for carrying it into effect. Some English subjects had been, as everybody in this country believed, exposed to grievous ill-treatment by the King of Naples; a great dispute had in consequence arisen between Her Majesty's Government and the Neapolitan Government, and the representatives of this country, took upon themselves to propose that that dispute, although it excited a very strong feeling in this country, should be made a subject of arbitration. It so happened that from some whim, or from some predilection in favour of Her Majesty's present Government, the King of Naples chose not to put them to the trouble of referring the matter, and at once and in the most handsome manner undertook to do all that, if we had succeeded in an arbitration, he could have been called upon to do. He had entirely acceded to the wishes of Her Majesty's Government; and the result was that Her Majesty's Government did not encounter that indignation which they would have encountered if it had been found that they had surrendered the rights of English subjects in subservience to this very new principle of arbitration. The result was, that the principle of referring questions of that kind to mediation, took great hold on Europe. It was, no doubt, a splendid instance in which a country, possessing an undoubted superiority, magnanimously determined on resorting to mediation for the settlement of a misunderstanding with a weaker Power; and the weaker States, who were greatly interested in the question, began to look forward with confidence to the day when all international disputes would be brought to the same pacific termination. Now, he (Mr. Kinglake) believed in his conscience, that if the Emperor of the French had been 1495 asked to submit to that principle of arbitration in March, in April, in May last, or even at almost any period anterior to the 1st of October, he would have acceded to the proposal. But no such request had ever been addressed to him until the 6th of October. Earl Cowley had, three days previously, made such an appeal; but it was not until the 6th of October that the Earl of Malmesbury had made any allusion to the Protocol; and even then he only expressed a desire that it should be put forward at a "suitable time." In his (Mr. Kinglake's) opinion the "suitable time" was several months before. He came next to another feature in these transactions. Her Majesty's Government, as he had said, had wholly failed to obtain any terms from the French Government. Count Lavradio, the Portuguese Ambassador in London, then went to Paris, and had an interview with Baron de Paiva, the Portuguese Ambassador in Paris, at which they both came to the conclusion that Her Majesty's Ministers were wholly unwilling or unable to help them. M. Lavradio and M. de Paiva despairing of any efficient assistance from England, did what people were often inclined to do when disappointed in obtaining help—they exerted themselves. They went to Count Walewski, and obtained from him something like terms. That was a point upon which he desired to be particularly careful. He understood that many persons thought the terms obtained by Count Lavradio and Baron de Paiva had been obtained by the aid of the English Government. [Mr. S. FITZGERALD: Hear, hear!] The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs seemed, from his cheers, to entertain that opinion; but he (Mr. Kinglake) could only say that he found no confirmation of it in the papers which had been laid before Parliament. He should be glad to find that the hon. Gentleman could come to the table and point to some document which should show that Earl Cowley was an active negotiator in these transactions. He thought, however, that he could say that there was no proof whatever of anything of that kind in the papers produced; and notwithstanding the affirmative cheer of the hon. Gentleman, there was a despatch of Earl Cowley which ought to raise a doubt in the mind of every one as to whether Earl Cowley was actively engaged in those transactions. The House would judge whether the despatch was consistent with the theory of the Under Secretary for Fo- 1496 reign Affairs, that Earl Cowley was actively engaged in negotiating these arrangements. Earl Cowley writes:—Paris, Oct. 13, 1858.I have the satisfaction of informing your Lordship that there is every probability of the affair of the Charles et Georges receiving an amicable solution. The Marquis de Pavia and M. de Lavradio, seeing that the French Government were determined on pushing matters to extremities, sounded Count Walewski as to the likelihood of the following proposal being accepted by the Imperial Government:—The Charles et Georges to be given up, and the captain to be released; the French men of war having previously quitted the waters of Lisbon. The legality of the seizure to be afterwards determined by mediation.Count Walewski replied that he thought he saw in this proposal the germs of an arrangement. The Council was held this morning at St. Cloud, and I saw Count Walewski on his return. I questioned him in general terms as to the state of the affair. He told me that he had seen M. de Lavradio, who had said that the affair might be arranged by the surrender of the ship, if the French men of war were previously withdrawn. The French Government, Count Walewski added, had no wish to appear to impose terms upon Portugal. The honour of France would be satisfied by the release of the ship and her captain. A messenger, therefore, would be sent to-night to Lisbon, to give full powers to M. de Lisle to enter into any arrangement for the future settlement of this affair, provided the ship was set at liberty at once. It is only in case of the impossibility of arriving at any understanding that he is allowed to addres an ultimatum to the Portuguese Government.Although Count Walewski did not enter into any particulars, being pressed for time, I augur from his general tone that, provided the Charles et Georges is released, the legality of her capture, as well as the other questions arising out of it, may be subject of future mediation.Was that the language of an English Minister who was himself taking an active part in negotiations? Would he in that case content himself with merely auguring from the tone of the French Minister? On the contrary, was it not quite clear, from the language which Earl Cowley used, that he was going beyond his instructions when he was reduced to the necessity of auguring merely from the tone of the French Minister, instead of asking him what it was that he meant to do? Every word that he had read showed that this treaty was being negotiated by M. de Lavradio and M. de Lisle, and that Earl Cowley had nothing to do with the negotiation, that he heard of it only as a matter of hearsay and spoke of it in the same way. The fact was, that when this feud sprung up between the French and Portuguese Governments the Earl of Malmesbury took a course entirely one of his own, and it would be for the House to say whether that course was 1497 a proper one or not. He had now exhausted all that the Earl of Mahmesbury did up to the 9th of October, 1858. On that day he sent a telegraphic despatch to Mr. Howard, in which be said—Foreign Office, Oct. 9, 1858.The good offices of Her Majesty's Government will gladly be given to prevent a collision between France and Portugal, but they have no decisive information on the case of the ship. The Portuguese Government had better drop the prosecution if there were informalities during or after the seizure.Why, there was no prosecution intended if there were informalities during or after the seizure, and therefore there was no justification for what the Earl of Malmesbury called dropping the prosecution. If he were to accept the statement of Mr. Howard, there was a despatch of the 16th of October described by him as a telegraphic message from the Earl of Malmesbury, and which recommended the surrender of the vessel. From some cause that despatch had been withheld, but on the 15th of October there was not a mere telegraphic message, but a deliberate despatch, to which he particularly wished to draw the attention of the House, because it was one of those which was not made public until the Government consented that the papers should be printed. It would be recollected that Her Majesty's Ministers had stated that when these papers were produced they would redound greatly to the honour and credit of the Government. Now, the despatch which he was about to read was one of the most important documents in the whole list. It was from the Earl of Malmesbury to Mr. Howard, and was as follows:—Foreign Office, Oct. 15, 1858.Sir,—Her Majesty's Government have read with much concern your Despatches referring to the dispute between France and Portugal, and cannot but regret that the French Government, without first attempting to obtain their object by diplomatic means, have at once sent an imposing force to menace the port of Lisbon.As far as they are at present informed, it appears to Her Majesty's Government that, on the one hand, the French captain and delegate on board of the Charles et Georges violated the municipal laws of Portugal by anchoring at a forbidden point within Portuguese waters, and being there found with a cargo of negroes, who had all the appearance of being slaves, and a portion of whom stated themselves to have been abducted from a dependency of Portugal; on the other hand, that the French captain and delegate had obtained from the Sheik of Matabane a permission to engage and export labourers of his tribe; and that in a document (which is published in the Daily News of the 12th inst.) the contract declares 1498 itself' to have been made and passed at the court of the said Sheik.'The contract was then quoted, and the despatch went on to say—Your Excellency is aware that Her Majesty's Government have never altered their opinion as to the analogous nature of the French scheme for exporting negroes with that of avowed slave trade. It is not, however, with a view to support that opinion, fortified by the present case, that I address you, but in the hope that a suggestion may be accepted which may solve this question of national honour.Now, the House would hear what suggestion presented itself to the mind of the Earl of Malinesbury:—If the above statement is correct, it appears to Her Majesty's Government that Portugal, without any sacrifice of her dignity and rights, may admit that the French delegate and captain, when negotiating for labourers with the Sheik of Matabane, believed him to be an independent chief, and were ignorant of his being a dependent subject of the Portuguese Government; for their contract speaks of him as an independent ruler, having a court of his own. Should the Portuguese Government see the transaction in this light, it appears to Her Majesty's Government to be consistent with a wise indulgence to drop the prosecution of a case which originated in an error, and which might, if imprudently urged against France, be the cause of the gravest complications.Such a course on the part of the Portuguese Government would be accompanied by a note distinctly recapitulating the details of the municipal law of Portugal on the Mozambique coast, and to what extent the Portuguese dependencies are claimed to extend.You will take the earliest opportunity of expressing to the Portuguese Government the view which Her Majesty's Government take of this case, and urge upon them the policy and wisdom of accepting the advice which I have the honour to tender through Her Majesty's Minister at the Court of Lisbon.Now, what was that but to instruct the British Minister to advise the Portuguese Government to make believe that the French captain had been mistaken when he entered the Portuguese waters? Was that a course which a British Minister ought to have pursued? He rejoiced to say that, although these instructions were actually addressed to our British Minister at Lisbon, and though a duplicate of the Despatch was sent to our Ambassador at Paris, yet they both declined to adopt the recommendation. Neither of them, if he might say so, would soil his lips by presenting such advice to the Government to which he was accredited. It was true that after receiving the suggestion Mr. Howard informed the Marquis de Loulé of it, and told him that the British Government had recommended the Portuguese Government 1499 to drop the prosecution, on the state of facts assumed, but he added that it appeared to him that they were nut applicable to the case; that the French captain was quite aware at the time that he was on forbidden ground, but justified it, and produced his authority of the 25th of September from the Governor General of Mozambique. Here were the exact words of the Despatch:—I informed the Marquis de Loulé that your Lordship had directed me to recommend to the Portugese Government to drop the prosecution, on the ground that the French captain believed the Sheik of Matabane to be an independent chief; and although this recommendation was not quite applicable to the case, as the French captain was aware that Matabane was Portuguese territory, and grounds his defence of the legitimacy of his proceedings upon the fact of the Sheik having produced an authority, dated the 25th of September, 1856, from the late Governor General of Mozambique, to supply the French vessels with negroes, I observed, that although your Lordship's recommendation might not be applicable to the exact form in which it was made, yet I thought the Portuguese Government would be acting up to its spirit if they were to consent to give up the vessel on the ground that when the captain purchased the blacks he did so under the persuasion, in consequence of the above-mentioned authority, produced by the Sheik from the late Governor General, that their exportation was permitted by the Portuguese Government.Therefore, the Earl of Malmesbury having suggested one loophole to Mr. Howard, which Mr. Howard did not think applicable to the circumstances of the case, Mr. Howard thought that he should be acting up to the spirit of the suggestion in the noble Earl's despatch if he suggested another loophole of quite a contrary character. But what said Earl Cowley when he was asked to convey this strange suggestion to the French Government? "Count Walewski has never attempted," said Earl Cowley, "in his conversations with me on this matter, to call in doubt the Sovereignty of Portugal over the district of Matabane. I am afraid, therefore, that the mode of settling this misunderstanding between the French and Portuguese Governments, suggested by your Lordship, will not apply to the case." The sore went on festering and festering, and at length, on the 21st of October, the French vessels having come into the Tagus, and the demand of the French Government baying been made in a peremptory way, the Portuguese Government addressed themselves to the English Minister. The Marquis de Loulé said:In presence of the demands presented by the French Government for the release of the vessel 1500 Charles et Georges, you will understand how great is the desire I have to hear the enlightened opinion of the representative of the nation, our most ancient and faithful Ally, on the subject. I hope that you will not hesitate to give to the explanations which I have had the honour of hearing from you the necessary complement, informing me what is, in your judgment, the best decision to adopt. The good relations which have so long subsisted between the two countries make me hope that you will not hesitate to satisfy, in this respect, the wishes of the Portuguese Government.What must Portugal have felt under such circumstances? Who instigated Portugal to make these laws, first against the slave trade, and then against the importation of negroes from the Mozambique coast? Who urged Portugal to enforce those laws? Who induced Portugal to recall the Governor who was lax in the enforcement of this prohibition? Lastly, who was it that denounced the traffic created by this Charles et Georges? It was the British consul. From first to last it was England that was acting in these transactions. Well, then, might Portugal, with a silent dignity, apply to England and say, "What am I to do in this case, in which I have been acting upon your advice?" On the same day, the 21st October, Mr. Howard addressed this despatch to the Marquis de Loulé:—Lisbon, Oct. 21, 1858.I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Excellency's note of this day's date, expressing to me the wish to hear my opinion on the subject of the demands of the French Government, which were conveyed to your Excellency yesterday by the French Minister, as contained in a despatch from Count Walewski dated the 13th instant, and of which your Excellency was so good as to show me an extract, for the restitution of the vessel Charles et Georges, and the liberation of the captain.In reply I beg to repeat what I already had the honour of stating verbally to your Excellency yesterday, that I am without instructions from my Government concerning the particular proposals in question, but that having already communicated to your Excellency a message of the 9th instant from the Earl of Malmesbury, by which, whilst announcing to me that Her Majesty's Government would gladly give their good offices to prevent a collision between France and Portugal, and stating that they had no decisive information on the subject, his Lordship directed me to recommend to His Most Faithful Majesty's Government to drop the prosecution if there were informalities during or after the capture, I considered that I should be only acting up to the spirit of those instructions in now giving my opinion in favour of the acceptation by His Most Faithful Majesty's Government of the present proposals of the French Government for an amicable settlement, which I know my Government to have so much at heart, of the unfortunate differences which have arisen between the French and Portuguese Governments on the subject of 1501 the above-mentioned vessel. I likewise referred your Excellency to a further message of the 16th instant from the Earl of Malmesbury, repeating his former advice to drop the prosecution.My reasons for giving this opinion Were that it really does appear that there were informalities in the judicial proceedings at Mozambique, and that the French captain had reason to suppose that the Arab Sheik of Matabane had the authorization of the Portuguese authorities to supply him with negroes; moreover, that the question has now been placed on the ground of an international one, and that it His Most Faithful Majesty's Government reject the present proposals of the French Minister, more serious demands may be put forward, to which His Most Faithful Majesty's Government will no doubt eventually be obliged to yield.I also stated, in giving this opinion, that I thought His Most Faithful Majesty's Government would be fully justified, if they thought proper to accede to the proposals in question, to ask of the Government of His Majesty the Emperor of the French the assurance, which I feel persuaded will be readily given, that stringent orders will be issued by the latter Government to prevent hereafter the infringement by French vessels of the legal prohibition of His Most Faithful Majesty's Government of the exportation of negroes from the recognized Portuguese colonial possessions.In view, therefore, of the foregoing considerations, and of the importance for Portugal to maintain her amicable relations with France, and to avoid the grave complications which might result from the rejection of the proffered amicable settlement of the dispute, I cannot but declare that I still adhere to the opinion which I yesterday conveyed to your Excellency, and which I have thus taken it upon my own responsibility to record.I beg to add that I consider an essential point would be gained by the acceptation of the present proposals, inasmuch as the French Government thereby consent so far to accede to the wishes of His Most Faithful Majesty's Government as to agree to submit the question of indemnity to the mediation of a friendly power.I will further remark that I feel convinced that no better terms could have been obtained, because it is within my knowledge that Her Majesty's Ambassador at Paris has exerted his influence as much as was in his power to moderate the decisions of the French Government.In conclusion, I am sure I need not repeat to your Excellency, how deep art interest Her Majesty's Government feel in everything concerning the honour and welfare of Portugal.Now, what was the purport of that despatch? The terms thus imposed on Portugal were that the proceedings of the tribunal should be instantly interrupted, and that, though she believed herself to be in the right, she should give up the vessel, liberate the captain, and consent to a mediation merely to determine how much she should pay by way of indemnity for having detained the Charles a Georges at all! That was the proposal which an English Minister seriously designated as "an amicable settlement!" Portugal was better advised than 1502 to accept these miserable counsels. Deserted by her ancient Ally, she still believed herself to be strong in the justice of her cause. The Portuguese Minister, representing a constitutional country like our own, governed by law, felt that he would not be justified in interrupting the course of the constituted tribunal and giving up the vessel, unless he was able to say that he did so under the pressure of force. Portugal accordingly determined, with great dignity, not to adopt our counsels, but to release the vessel, to literate the captain, and pay the indemnity demanded; declining altogether an arbitration which went only upon the supposition that she was in the wrong, when she felt herself in the right, and thus making it patent to all Europe that she only yielded to the violence with which she was menaced. He thought that the House would be of opinion that from the first Portugal had acted with great deference to and thoughtfulness of this country, and had at last yielded with great dignity, and with perfect honour. [Cheers] Those cheers would he very welcome to Portugal. Portugal would rejoice to hear that her conduct in this transaction—though it differed from that which was counselled to her by an English Minister—had been approved by the English House of Commons. Yes, it was true that Portugal had maintained her honour throughout this affair, and that she had maintained it, not by following the counsels of a British Minister, but by bravely rejecting them. On the 26th of October the French men-of-war left the Tagus with the Charles et Georges in company, and there ended this transaction. And, strange to say, no sooner was it terminated than the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs began to see the advantage of raking up the whole question. On the 30th of October he addressed a letter to Earl Cowley, pressing upon him the importance of that 23rd Protocol of Paristo which he had so signally failed to give effect, and, for the first time, desiring him to inform Count Walewski that there were subsisting between England and Portugal some ancient defensive treaties. Count Walewski heard this with great surprise, and with some displeasure. He said that he hoped there was nothing of the kind, but at all events he supposed they were not treaties which bound England to support a cause which was clearly wrong. So far as the House could judge from the papers which were before it, the dispute having lasted from the 6th of March, it 1503 was not until the 30th October that the Earl of Malmesbury ever referred to the existence of these treaties between England and Portugal. That it was only then that they were first mentioned to Count Walewski was certain, because he expressed his surprise and some polite displeasure at the suggestion of their existence. He must now cordially thank the House for the kindness with which they had listened to him. He hoped he had succeeded in showing that during a period of many months there was a failure of diligence on the part of the Earl of Malmesbury, and that every entire step which he took was one that could not be viewed by that House otherwise than with pain and displeasure. He trusted that he had furnished some materials for a debate which would be of more importance than his own speech, and had afforded some grounds for the decision of what, in the present state of Europe, was a most important question—namely, whether the honour of England should be left in the hands of the noble Lord who now held the seals of the Foreign Office.
Motion made, and Question proposed— "That an Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will begraciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House, Copies of Despatches and Documents sent by or communicated to Her Majesty's Government respecting the deportation of Negroes from the Mozambique Coast, including the Despatches from the British Minister at Lisbon to the Portuguese Government, dated respectively the 22nd day of July and the 17th day of November, 1857:Of all the Correspondence which has taken place up to the present time respecting the Charles et Georges between Ber Majesty's Government and Mr. M'Leod, now or late Her Majesty's Consul at Mozambique:Of the Message of the 16th day of October, which is described in Mr. Howard's Despatch of the 21st day of October, in the following words: 'A further Message, of the 16th instant, from the Earl of Malmesbury respecting his former advice to drop the prosecution:'Of any Instructions respecting the charles et Georges which may have been addressed by the Earl of Malmesbury to Lord Cowley in the interval between the 18th day of March, 1858, and the 3rd day of October in the same year:And, of any Correspondence which may have taken place between Count Lavradio and the Earl of Malmesbury subsequently, on the same subject.
§ MR. BUXTON
said, he rose to second the Motion, not because he felt the least interest in showing up the Earl of Malmesbury's shortcomings, nor because he cared to embarrass the Government, but because 1504 in these transactions a principle of incalculable value to the welfare of Europe and the peace of the world, a principle which ought to have been insisted upon with the most strenuous energy, had been miserably slurred over, and could only be raised from the abeyance into which it had fallen, by a firm expression of opinion on the part of that House. Of course if, incidentally, the feelings of a Tory Minister could be wounded, or a Tory Government disgraced, why that must be a source of comfort to every well-regulated mind. But all he should seek would be to vindicate, if possible, the principle to which he had referred. But at the outset, he would most earnestly deprecate the idea that the Government were to be blamed for not having threatened to draw the sword on behalf of Portugal. There was nothing in this case to call for such a course; and for his part he should have deemed it no less than a crime on the part of the Government had they lit up the flame of war without a necessity it was impossible to resist. And plainly, if the case did not justify war it could not justify a threat of war. No statesman could wish the Government to hold out a threat which it was not determined to fulfil. No, the one main essential error of the Government did not lie in their not saying to France, "We shall stand by Portugal at all risks;" but it lay in their not urging upon France, with the most emphatic and strenuous and persevering energy, the duty of accepting Portugal's offer of referring the case to mediation. Every one was aware that in April, 1856, all the great Powers signed a Protocol, according to which any difference that might arise between two European nations was to be referred to the arbitration of a third. He need not expatiate to the House on the infinite value of that Protocol, had it once become a living part of the international law of Christendom. As the Earl of Malmesbury himself said,The British Government had always considered that act as one of the most important to civilization, and to the security of the peace of Europe.Wars undoubtedly might arise, as they saw now, where such a reference of the vexata quœstio would be impossible. But if any one would think over the history of the wars of the last 200 years, he would see that at least two-thirds of them arose upon some question of right, each party deeming it a breach of his honour to yield, and thus recourse was at length had to arms. Whereas, if it were an acknow- 1505 ledged custom to refer the case to mediation, there would be no slur on either country's honour in giving way to such a decision. Such a custom was sure some day to prevail among civilized nations, but the first planting it was a delicate task, and required the strong adhesion to the rule of those who hail laid it down. Had they owned their allegiance to it on but two or three occasions, it would have become consolidated with the fixed customs of Europe. And England having submitted to that rule in the case of the Cagliari, it was only needed that France should obey it too to have rendered it binding in all after time. Clearly then it was of near concern to the peace, and therefore to the happiness and welfare, of Europe that on this occasion France should have been persuaded to exercise a noble self-control in agreeing to the proposal made to her by Portugal, and referring the case to mediation. Had she done so, that rule would have become a law to Europe; not having done so, having flung the rule aside on so striking an occasion, its authority was destroyed. Other lands, instead of feeling bound by the precedent of her moderation, could now point to the example of her breach of the Protocol. He believed that to be a real calamity for Europe; and he would show strong reasons for thinking that this calamity might have been escaped had our Government done its duty. The French had some cause for irritation. Other disputes had been going on between them and Portugal, which had been enough to annoy a thinskinned people, and when upon those grievances one of their ships was seized, no wonder they were angered, and in their anger refused the Portuguese demand for mediation. On the other hand, however, the reasons for referring the case to mediation were so powerful, that had they been at once calmly and strenuously urged upon the Emperor, it England had not only put them forward herself, but hail called on the other Powers that signed the Protocol to join their remonstances to hers, he could hardly by any possibility have persisted in his refusal. The only ground upon which France refused Portugal's request to refer the case to mediation was that, as a delegate was on board the Charles et Georges, her conviction as a slaver involved France in the charge of slave trading. France, therefore, insisted upon it that she was not a slaver, and had been wrongly condemned as a slaver, and on that ground demanded her release. No other ground whatever 1506 was put forward by France at last, though others had been touched upon before, but had been abandoned. Now, this ground was utterly untenable. The negroes on board declared that they had been forced there against their will. Some were manacled. The usual slave-trading apparatus was discovered. Finally, the delegate himself declared that he was aware that half the negroes had been wrongfully detained, and that he meant to report that circumstance to the Governor of Bourbon on his return. It would then have been impossible for France to persist in refusing mediation on the ground that the Charles et Georges was not a slaver, if England and the other Powers had strongly urged mediation, while, at the same time, giving France the very strongest possible assurances that no one supposed her Government to have been in any way conniving at a revival of the slave trade. Had the case been clearly and strongly urged, Count Walewski could not have stood upon the preposterous ground that the ship was not a slaver, when the delegate himself had declared that she was so. But, even had he persisted in refusing upon that ground, still, at any rate, we should have felt that we had done our best; that the whole guilt lay elsewhere. And the fact that we had laid such a stress on the Protocol, and that France had only refused to obey it, because, in this case, she thought that by so doing she would acquiesce in a charge against her of slave trading, would have rather increased than lowered the prestige of the Protocol. It might be said that England had no business to urge and importune the French Government, but he would remind the House that the scrape into which Portugal had got was directly owing to the strong pressure which England had put upon her. It was entirely owing to her treaties with us and the arrangements we had forced upon her for the suppression of the slave trade, that she was brought into collision with France. England, therefore, was bound to be most strenuous in pleading for a reference to mediation. Let the House now look at what was actually done by the British Government. On the 20th of September, Earl Cowley wrote home that he apprehended the possibility of a serious misunderstanding between France and Portugal. On the 2nd of October, Earl Cowley announced the resolution of the French Government to demand the release of the Charles et Georges. On the 10th of October 1507 he wrote that Count Walewski had repeated to him that the resolution of the Imperial Government was taken to demand the restitution of the vessel without delay. The twelve days between the 20th of September and the 2nd of October would have been the best time for action, but it was only finally closed on the 10th of October. During those twenty-one days, of what did the action of the British Government consist? It consisted of this:—During the first twelve days the Earl of Malmesbury never hinted at mediation. Having on the 2nd of October heard that the Emperor and his Council had discussed and decided the case, four days afterwards, on the 6th of October, at the end of a telegraphic message, he says, "You should put forward the Paris Protocol at a suitable time." That tail of a message was the alpha and omega of the action of our Government in behalf of mediation. Of course, it was not to be looked for that when the Government scarcely touched the matter with the tip of their fingers, Earl Cowley would bestir himself strongly. It was not wonderful, therefore, to find that all he did during that period was this,—that on the 3rd of October, when he knew that the Emperor had resolved that the release of the Charles et Georges should be peremptorily demanded,—when, as he said himself, he could not hope that that decision would be revoked,—he said, "I have asked Count Walewski whether he would be willing to refer the affair to the arbitration of a friendly Power. He has not as yet given me an answer, but I have little expectation that my suggestion will be attended to." That poor, weak, plaintive suggestion, thrown out, it would seem, in conversation, contained the whole pressure that was placed upon France by England to persuade her to maintain inviolate that great Protocol. Earl Cowley, on the 10th of October, after hearing once more that the matter was settled, again threw out the idea of mediation, and three days afterwards—but only in consequence of the solicitations of the Portuguese themselves—France agreed that if the ship were at once released the question as to the legality of the capture might be referred to mediation. That only showed how willing the French Government would have been to listen to reason if reason had been set before them. It was not until all was over and done, and the Charles et Georges was on her way to France, that the Earl of Malmesbury complained bitterly that the French had not referred the 1508 case to mediation. What right had he to complain bitterly, he who had done nothing, absolutely nothing, to obtain that mediation from France? The House must see that, had France been persuaded to refer the case to mediation, such a precedent might have caused boundless good to Europe; England had the amplest grounds for demanding mediation, and, if she had done so, France would have had the utmost difficulty in refusing it. Yet the papers proved how poor, how inane, what a more nothing the action of the Government had been, although the credit of England, the claims of Portugal, and the interest of Europe presented extraordinary motives to a display of vigour. He had no wish to attack the Earl of Malmesbury, who had had much less information than was now before the House, and who, no doubt, now that the case could be seen as a whole, would wish that his conduct, as the farmer's wife said, in Adam Bede, could be "hatched over again, and hatched different." But Europe had lost a rare chance of henceforth setting things to rights by mediation, instead of arms. That was a great calamity, and a calamity which might have been warded off, had our Foreign Minister been more prompt and bold. The only hope now was that by speaking out its mind that House might restore to the invaluable Paris Protocol the prestige which had been so recklessly flung away.
MR. SEYMOUR FITZGERALD
said, that, in one point of view, he might be content to leave the debate almost as it stood, inasmuch as the observations of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down were to a great extent a reply to the speech of the hon. Member for Bridgewater (Mr. Kinglake). The argument of the hon. Member for Bridgewater was that the action of the British Government was not spirited enough to answer to the position which England held as a country bound, under all circumstances, to draw the sword in defence of Portugal; but the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had told the House that Ministers would have deserved the severest blame, not only if they had put forward such a pretension, but if they had done anything whatever to imperil the peace of Europe. However, as the hon. Member for Bridgewater had made a speech of considerable length, it was but right and proper that he should receive a reply. In some of his sentiments and opinions every one must cordially con- 1509 cur; for it was undoubtedly incumbent upon a British Minister to take care, not only that the letter of treaties was observed, but that England should not be supposed wanting either in the letter or in the spirit of the obligations which she had incurred towards foreign States. If that was true under ordinary circumstances, it must be doubly so when these obligations were contracted towards one of the weaker Powers of Europe, whose course of action might, to a considerable extent, have been influenced by a prospect of English sympathy and aid. He could not, therefore, complain of the Motion of the hon. Gentleman. It was not only the right, but the duty of Parliament to watch jealously the conduct of those who were intrusted with the administration of affairs, and to see, that in all circumstances the honour and good faith of England did not suffer in their hands; but he maintained, at the same time, that it was equally the duty of Parliament, not to confining its attention to the bare statement of facts presented to it in blue-books, but acting as they were to a certain extent judicially, when they considered the conduct of Government it was their duty to take into view all the surrounding circumstances of a particular policy, all the considerations which might have influenced the conduct and decision of the Minister at the time, and all the possible results which, although they might not have been realized, might have been present to his mind when he was called upon to act. He agreed with the hon. Proposer of the Motion, that it was not necessary to go into all the details of this question, and consider whether the Portuguese Government or the French Government were right. The question before the House was, whether the conduct of Her Majesty's Government was right. It was no question as to the character of the free immigration system, so long patronized by the Government of France; and it was agreed that the language of the British Government had always been uniform on the subject. It had uniformly and uncompromisingly been the language of remonstrance and condemnation. These and similar questions were not those with which the House should on the present occasion interest itself. He repeated, that all the House had to consider was the conduct of Her Majesty's Government. It was possible that the conduct of the Freach Government was right; it was possible that the conduct of Her Majesty's Government 1510 had been injudicious. It was possible that the conduct of the French Government was wrong, and yet that the course taken by Her Majesty's Government was, not only justifiable, but that which in the interests of all concerned they were bound to pursue. Let the House distinctly understand what was the accusation brought against the Government by the hon. Gentleman. The accusation was twofold. The hon. Gentleman imputed to the Government, on the one hand, that they did not with proper efficiency act up to the letter and spirit of our treaties with Portugal, and on the other, as he understood the hon. Gentleman, he said further, that beyond that Her Majesty's Government did not show, with that energy, with that promptitude, with that care which they ought, the sympathy which was due to Portugal, considering that Portugal had been an ancient Ally, and more especially considering that in tins case prompt and energetic sympathy was her due, because the collision or misunderstanding between France and Portugal had, to a certain extent, been caused by the urgent representations of the British Government. He believed that he stated fairly and accurately the accusations of the hon. Gentleman. If he had stated those accusations accurately and fairly, he took issue on both points, and he challenged the verdict of the House. He would, like the hon. Gentleman, not refer at any great length to the treaties which had been alluded to. The first treaty of 1661 was, as the hon. Gentleman stated, conceived in very large terms, for it declared that the King of England would take the interests of the King of Portugal to heart, and defend the State of Portugal and all its dominions with his utmost power, both by sea and laud, even as England itself. That treaty pointed to the case of a direct invasion of Portugal. The second treaty, signed on the 16th of May, 1703, was different. The hon. Gentleman said that the Latin originally meant something more than the English translation; but he could not appreciate the hon. Gentleman's criticism, for it seemed to that the terms pointed to nothing more than the offer of good offices. The second article stipulated that if the Kings of Spain and France, either present or future, together or separate, should make war, or give occasion to suspect that they intended to make war on Portugal, either on the Continent of Europe or on her dependencies, then the King of Great Britain and the 1511 States General engaged to use their friendly offices in order to make them observe terms of peace towards Portugal. Those were the stipulations of the treaty, and when it was said that the British Government had not sufficiently acted up to the letter and spirit of the treaty, he must observe that no one in the House or out of it would contend that this country was bound to support Portugal whether she was right or wrong. The hon. Gentleman spoke of the Earl of Malmesbury's impression of the effect of this treaty, but if he referred with a little more care to the Earl of Malmesbury's despatch, he would find that that noble Lord put forward the position that obviously it could not be affirmed that this country was called on to support Portugal when she was the aggressor, or unless she were clearly in the right. If this were not the case he was sure that every hon. Gentleman would agree that the sooner this country got rid of so indefinite and so perilous a liability the better. In the statement to which the hon. Gentleman had himself alluded, that point of view was pointedly put forward by the Prime Minister of Portugal, who admitted that England could not interfere to support Portugal was right. It was to be observed that the hon. Gentleman from the beginning to the end of his speech never ventured to say that Portugal was in the right, or in such a position that England was called on to act upon treaties, and which she was only called on to put in force when it was clear that Portugal was in the right. He was not going to argue whether France or Portugal was right; but how stood the circumstances? The case of Portugal was, that a French ship had been captured in Portuguese waters, and condemned for slave-trading. Now, let the House examine how far this country was in a position to say that that point was established. Why, the first question raised was the question of jurisdiction—whether the vessel was captured in Portuguese waters or not? It might suit those gentlemen who entertained certain views to say that, on the face of the Portuguese papers, it was clear that the vessel was captured in Portuguese waters; but that was a statement, which, from the first, was met by a direct contradiction from the French Government. At the very time of the capture the point was raised by the captain of the Charles et Georges, and up to the present time, neither by the papers presented to the 1512 House, nor by any information which had come to Her Majesty's Government, were Ministers in a position to say whether the capture took place in the Portuguese waters or not. That was a point of no small difficulty. He begged hon. Gentlemen to remember that during the discussions respecting the Cagliari it was acknowledged on all hands that the whole question turned on the point whether she was captured within or beyond the Neapolitan jurisdiction. Every hon. Gentleman who attended to public affairs was aware, that when questions had arisen between the English Government and the Government of France, or the Government of America, the most delicate point that could be raised was whether a vessel was not, as in this case, captured and seized, but even visited out of the waters over which the Power exercising the visitation had jurisdiction. That point, then, was in this matter at the very basis of the whole affair, and it was impossible for the British Government to say that the French Government was wrong and the Portuguese Government was right. But there was another point. He would refer the hon. Gentleman to one of the first interviews of Mr. Howard with the Marquis de Loulé. Mr. Howard wrote,The Marquis de Loulé admitted to me that he thought that, although the transaction was near akin to the slave trade, it could not be punished as such; and I inferred from the Viscount de Sa' s language that he doubted the legality of the condemnation, which it is thought will not be confirmed by the Superior Court.On the 6th of September, Mr. Howard wrote that,His Excellency has found reason to alter the opinion which he expressed to me during our former conversation, and which he said had likewise been the view of the Viscount de Sa, that the traffic in which the vessel was engaged at Mozambique was not the slave trade, because there were, it appeared, grounds for believing that the papers which had now been brought forward by the French captain to prove the legitimacy of her transactions, but which were not produced at the trial at Mozambique—namely, the contracts with the Arab chief, acting, as bad been represented, under the authority of the late Governor General, and the receipts of the chief, were subsequent fabrications.But what did that amount to? That if they were not fabrications, but true, the condemnation of the vessel was illegal. But there was nothing but the mere suspicion of the Marquis de Loulé to persuade the Government that those documents were forged. There was not a tittle of evidence to justify the suspicion from beginning to end. That being so, what course could 1513 the Government take? Could they say, merely on the suggestion of the possible fabrication of documents, to which he humbly suggested it was not likely the Government of France would lend their countenance that the ground taken by the French was invalid? The only course which the British Government could take they did take. They said, "Here are points of difference we can't decide upon the merits, but the whole case ought to be referred to some third party, who should investigate the merits and say, as between the two Governments, whether either was called upon to make reparation, or to cease from the pretensions which it had put forth." Well, that was the course taken by Her Majesty's Government. [Mr. KINGLAKE: When?] If the hon. Gentleman would have patience he would tell him when. He was not going to shirk or to blink any part of this case, and he would show to the House that that was the course taken by Her Majesty's Government, and that it was the only course which in their mind could have satisfied the justice of the case. The hon. Gentleman asked "When?" implying that the Government had not with sufficient promptness shown that sympathy which was due to Portugal as an ally carrying out British policy with regard to the slave trade. The hon. Gentleman had referred back as far as the 6th of March, and it was perfectly true that at that time the Government were informed that there was a cause of misunderstanding between France and Portugal; but suppose that it had gone no further, did the hon. Gentleman contend that Mr. Howard's despatch to the Earl of Malmesbury of the 6th March was of a nature to cause apprehension, or to call for interference on the part of Her Majesty's Government? No such account of the transaction reached the Government until the despatch of the 28th August, in which Mr. Howard called it a "serious affair." But it was still treated both by M. de Lisle and the Portuguese Government as a matter capable of arrangement there among themselves. M. de Lisle, for instance, proposed that the captain should be let out on bail, and there were no indications of that extreme irritation and anger which afterwards led to the supposition that dangerous consequences might arise. It was not until the despatch, written on the 18th September, which did not reach the Government here till the 24th September, that they were made aware of the serious 1514 nature of the case. This was a question of dates, and when accusing the Government of inaction it was useless to speak of the date when a despatch was written conveying information to the Government, but the date of its arrival must be considered. Well, that despatch, written on the 18th September, was received at the Foreign Office on the 24th, and the hon. Gentleman said that the Portuguese Government took steps of their own because they had received no instructions from us by the 28th September, as if it were possible for that letter of the 18th to have been considered and a reply sent which could have reached Lisbon by the 28th. The despatch which reached the Government on the 24th September told them that the affair began to assume a very serious aspect. What was the course taken by the Government? On the very next day—on the 25th September—before any demand or request or even suggestion had been made by the Portuguese Government for the intervention of the friendly offices of Her Majesty's Government, they stepped forth frankly and said that their friendly offices should not be wanting. [Mr. KINGLAKE: Read.] The hon. Gentleman cried "Read." He would read. What the Government said was this:—I have transmitted to Her Majesty's Ambassador at Paris copies of your despatches above referred to, and I have to instruct you to assure the Portuguese Government that the friendly offices of Her Majesty's Government will not be wanting for the purpose of bringing about an amicable settlement of the difference between the French and Portuguese Governments upon this subject.Now, the hon. Gentleman who moved the Address stated, that for a lengthened period the Government of this country forwarded no instruction on the subject to their Minister at Paris; but he (Mr. S. FitzGerald) would appeal to any hon. Member who was acquainted with the course of public business, whether the transmission of that despatch to Earl Cowley was not in the fullest way an instruction to him to use those friendly offices which the Government stated should not be wanting for the purpose of bringing about an amicable settlement of the differences between the French and Portuguese Governments. The hon. Gentleman had asked where the covering letter to that despatch was. That covering letter should be forthcoming, and it had only been omitted from the present papers by the merest accident on the part of the printer; but in every paper that succeeded 1515 it would be seen that Earl Cowley acted upon that letter, and that day by day his Lordship was in communication with the French Government, doing all he could to exercise those good offices which they had promised, the Portuguese Government should not be wanting. The hon. Gentleman said, that there was nothing in the whole of these papers to show that Earl Cowley had exerted himself in the use of good offices to obtain an amicable settlement of the question in dispute; but surely the hon. Gentleman when he made that statement must have omitted to read the observations of M. de Loulé himself, contained at page 75 of the papers:—His Excellency readily confirmed the statements made in my communications to him—namely, that Her Majesty's Government had offered their good offices before they had even been requested by Portugal; that the only request for assistance which had been made by the Portuguese Government of Her Majesty's Government was for their good offices in order to bring about an amicable settlement of the question, and that he had charged me to convey to your Lordship the thanks of the Portuguese Government for the tender and for the employment of the good offices of Her Majesty's Government, and likewise to Earl Cowley for his exertions to induce the French Government to consent to a mediation of the dispute.And with that paper in his hand the hon. Gentleman boldly stood up and said that it was nothing but a promise of good offices; nothing but a tender of good offices; that the British Government had never employed those good offices; and that Earl Cowley did nothing more than stand by. That despatch was, as he had said, acted on by Earl Cowley; but even then Her Majesty's Government had no reason to suppose that the case was going to take that angry aspect which it afterwards assumed, because Earl Cowley, writing home on the 30th September, said:—Count Walewski's language was very conciliatory. I feel certain that he regrets that the case has arisen, and will gladly see it settled.He paused here for a minute to ask the House to consider what was the position which Her Majesty's Government had occupied down to that period. On that day they heard that the Minister for Foreign Affairs in France used most conciliatory language, and that he regretted that the case had arisen; but before that they had tendered their good offices, and he would presently show how, for a time, the effect of those good offices had been frustrated. However, that was the way in which matters stood on the 30th of Sep- 1516 tember, and it was only by a telegram on the 2nd of October, the substance of which was amplified in a despatch of the 3rd of October, that they had any reason to suppose that the French Government had changed their view, and that the matter was becoming one of serious international consequence. Immediately afterwards the Government desired Earl Cowley to urge upon the French Government, in the strongest way, the adoption of the principle of arbitration. The hon. Gentleman said that that should have been done long before, and that the Protocol of Paris should have been referred to in the first instance; but the Protocol of Paris was at that time utterly inapplicable, because even when it was adopted by any Power it was only applicable as a last resource, and when it afforded the sole means of avoiding an appeal to arms. If the hon. Gentleman would refer to the terms of the Protocol he would find the Plenipotentiaries did not hesitate to express, in the names of their Governments, the wish that States between which any serious misunderstanding might arise, should, before appealing to arms, have recourse, as far as circumstances might allow, to the good offices of a friendly power. It was not, until the French Government were about to appeal to arms, possible for Her Majesty's Government to urge open them the adoption of the Protocol. On the 7th of October ships were sent on the part of the British Government to Lisbon, and he must here say that he knew not from what source the hon. Gentleman had learnt that it was not till the middle of November that those ships started from British shores. All he could say was that that knowledge was not possessed by himself or by any Member of the Government. If the hon. Gentleman would refer to the papers he would find that the Secretary of the Admiralty, in a letter addressed to himself on the 8th of October, said that the Victor Emmanuel and Racoon would proceed to Lisbon according to instructions. And if the hon. Gentleman would refer to the public journals of that date, he would find that the departure of those vessels from British shores was announced in The Times. [Mr. KINGLAKE: On what day did they arrive at Lisbon?] He was unable to say; but the hon. Gentleman was now shifting his ground. The hon. Gentleman, when he mentioned the middle of November, was speaking, not of the arrival of the vessels at Lisbon, but of their departure from this country. The 1517 hon. Gentleman's statement was this, that, owing not to any fault of the First Lord of the Admiralty, but to some impediment created by the Foreign Office, these vessels did not leave England until the month of November. The hon. Gentleman also complained that there had been no communications between Earl Cowley and Count Walewski. But if the hon. Gentleman would refer to the papers he would see that there were constant communications between Earl Cowley, M. Lavradio, M. de Paiva, and Count Walewski between the 7th of October and the conclusion of this affair; that M. de Loulé acknowledged that Earl Cowley was entitled to the greatest thanks for his exertions on behalf of Portugal, and that he (Mr. Kinglake) was not justified in his inference that during the whole of the time Earl Cowley was doing nothing at Paris. The fact was, that not only from day to day, but from hour to hour, Earl Cowley attended carefully and sedulously to this matter, and it was mainly owing to Earl Cowley's exertions that Count Walewski eventually agreed to refer it to arbitration. On the 13th of October Earl Cowley wrote to Her Majesty's Government to say that he expected an amicable solution would take place. Upon this the hon. Gentleman said that the proposition on behalf of Portugal did not come from Earl Cowley, but from the representatives of the Portuguese Government. Well, he, (Mr. FitzGerald) appealed to any hon. Member whether, if he were British Minister at Paris, and there were on the spot most accomplished, able, and experienced Portuguese diplomatists, he would think it his duty in such a case as this to make a suggestion to the French Government as to the course the Portuguese Government would take. The hon. Gentleman would find, on looking to the papers, that it was not till the 3rd of October that Earl Cowley sent a despatch (which did not reach Her Majesty's Government till the 4th) to the effect that he had no reason to suppose till then that the matter would have assumed the serious, he might almost say dangerous, complexion which it then had; and in nine days after the arrival of that despatch—namely, on the 13th of October—Earl Cowley had succeeded by his active exertions (for which he received the praise of M. de Loulé) in inducing the French Government to send full powers to M. de Lisle for the entire arrangement of the affair and its reference to the arbitration of a third party. And yet this was the case which the hon. 1518 Gentleman had represented as one in which no step had been taken by Her Majesty's Government—as one in which from beginning to end there had been nothing but negligence, incompetence, and delay; the fact being that, from the time Her Majesty's Government first knew that this was becoming a dangerous question until what ought to have proved its satisfactory solution was agreed to, only nine days had elapsed; which result was mainly owing to the exertions of Her Majesty's Government. He would briefly relate the history. On the 13th of October the Government were informed that the whole matter was in course of amicable solution. On the 15th of October, Her Majesty's Government received a despatch stating that the Portuguese Minister at Paris had set out for Lisbon, but they heard nothing, to lead them to alter their opinion on this matter. On the contrary, they learnt from Earl Cowley on the 23rd that the French Government were sincerely desirous of terminating the business in a manner which should not wound the honour of either France or Portugal; and they continued under that impression until the 26th of October, when suddenly for the first time they learnt that there had been a misunderstanding at Lisbon, and that the ship had been seized by the French. The hon. Gentleman said that Count Walewski expressed his surprise on hearing that treaties existed between England and Portugal; but if he would refer to the papers he would find not that Count Walewski had expressed his surprise at the existence of such treaties, but had expressed his regret that reference was made to them. [Mr. KINGLAKE: "Hear, hear!"] But was the expression of his regret at their mention the same thing as an expression of surprise that they existed? Count Walewski said that he did not exactly know the nature of those treaties, but was perfectly convinced that they did not impose any obligation on England, to assist Portugal when Portugal was in the wrong, and he expressed a hope that nothing would take place which would imperil the good understanding existing between England and France. The fair inference was that Count Walewski never for a moment anticipated that the good understanding between France and England would be imperilled; and though he did not know the exact nature of the treaties, he was quite aware they existed. It could not be supposed Count Walewski would say he had no ap- 1519 pretensions of the good understanding between the two countries being imperilled, when, according to the hon. Gentleman, all the British Government had done was to interpose its good offices in a friendly spirit to prevent the dispute from growing up into formidable dimensions. It was clear from M. Walewski's statement that he was aware of the existence of the treaties, though he was ignorant of their exact nature. Certainly no candid man could infer from the statement that Count Walewski received with extreme surprise the information that the treaties existed. [Mr. KINGLAKE: "No, no!"] He would repeat the words—extreme surprise—received with the most extreme surprise the announcement that any treaties of the kind were in existence between England and Portugal. He had now tested the case brought forward upon the statements of the hon. Gentleman. He had shown that, from beginning to end, there were such doubts with regard to the statement of facts both on the one side and on the other that it was impossible for Her Majesty's Government to put themselves in that position in which alone they could act with safety—namely, that they could say that Portugal was in the right. He had stated that Her Majesty's Government had suggested, with a view to that, an arbitration by means of reference to a third power. He had shown that, throughout the whole course of these transactions, the moment that Her Majesty's Government heard that the matter was becoming serious, and before even their good offices were asked for, they had tendered them. Day by day they were employed by Earl Cowley, and the British Government had every reason to suppose the matter would be amicably settled; and from the time it first heard the dispute was assuming a serious complexion, till the time it had reason to believe it would be satisfactorily arranged, there elapsed only a period of nine days. Now, he would ask whether the hon. Gentleman was justified in the indictment he had brought against Her Majesty's Government, charging it with neglecting its obligations to a friendly Power, leaving an old and faithful Ally in the lurch, and even with having soiled the honour and character of England? That being the position of the hon. Gentleman, he must say his Motion was one of the most curious he had ever seen. The hon. Gentleman made an accusation against Her Majesty's Government, of which, if one 1520 half were true, the Government ought no longer to sit on these benches. The hon. Gentleman made an accusation of the gravest kind against the Government, and having thought it his duty as an independent Member of Parliament to bring the matter before the House, he thought he fulfilled that duty to his country—the honour of which it was as much the hon. Gentleman's province to uphold as it was that of the Government—by reading out this long indictment, and concluding moving for papers. The House would permit him to go a little further, and note what were the papers for which the hon. Gentleman moved. First, he moved forCopies of despatches and documents sent by or communicated to Her Majesty's Government respecting the deportation of negroes from the Mozambique coast, including the despatches from the British Minister at Lisbon to the Portuguese Government, dated respectively the 22nd day of July and the 17th day of November, 1857.These documents, he could inform the hon. Gentleman, were in his possession already, among the papers on the Portuguese slave trade. Until Her Majesty's present Ministers came into office these papers had not been presented for a series of years; and the hon. Gentleman would find that he had not only had them in his possession, but that they were also collected in a most concise form, and one that was very easy of access. He would have given the despatch of the 17th of November, 1857, if he could find that such a despatch existed, but as far as he knew there was no despatch of that date, or near that date, or one of a description to which he could suppose the hon. Gentleman had referred; and all he could say was that if the hon. Gentleman would point out where the document was to be found he should be happy to furnish it. The hon. Gentleman next moved for copies of all the correspondence which had taken place up to the present time respecting the Charles et Georges between Her Majesty's Government and Mr. M'Leod, now or late Her Majesty's consul at Mozambique. In judging of this case the House ought to put itself into the position of the Government at the time the affair of the Charles et Georges occurred, and subsequent to its occurrence. Up to the time of the conclusion of this affair, the only paper in possession of the Government front Mr. M 'Leod was a short statement of four lines, to the effect that a French vessel had been lying at anchor in Conducia Bay, but that he had no idea it was a French ship. The 1521 only other correspondence consisted of two letters that had reached the Government since the return of Mr. M'Leod to England from Mozambique whence he had been driven by the persecution of its inhabitants. The next paper moved for isThe message of the 16th day of October, which is described in Mr. Howard's despatch of the 21st day of October, 1858, in the following words:—'A further message, of the 16th inst., from the Earl of Malmesbury respecting his former advice to drop the prosecution.'That message was a telegram, given in the fewest possible words, the substance of the Earl of Malmesbury's despatch to Mr. Howard, of the 15th of October; the despatch itself was printed in extenso among the papers on the table. As these telegrams were always sent in cipher, it was important that they should not be unnecessarily published, that the secret cipher of the Government should not be made known to foreign countries. It was obviously important that as few telegrams should be printed as possible, and when they were, the words were always transposed in order to conceal the cipher. If the hon. Gentleman had the slightest curiosity on the subject, however, the paper was at his service, and from it he would see that it was like the heading at the top of a chapter in the Bible—it simply gave in a few short sentences, the contents of the more amplified despatch of the 16th of October. The next paper moved for was a copy ofAny instructions respecting the Charles et Georges which may have been addressed by the Earl of Malmesbury to Lord Cowley in the interval between the 18th day of March, 1858, and the 3rd day of October in the same year; and of any correspondence which may have taken place between Count Lavradio and the Earl of Malmesbury subsequently, on the same subject.He thought he had already sufficiently explained that such instructions were unnecessary. The only paper not given already was a short note to Earl Cowley covering the despatch dated the 26th of September; that was at the hon. Gentleman's service; he would see it was sufficient to put Earl Cowley in motion, as proved by the fact that he immediately used those exertions for which he received the thanks of the Portuguese Government. Since it was originally given the hon. Gentleman had altered the tennis of his notice. What had induced him to make that alteration he knew not. The hon. Gentleman first moved for copies of a correspondence, which took place between his noble Friend and the Foreign Minister of Portugal re- 1522 specting an expression of the Portuguese Minister quoted by his right hon. Friend (Mr. Disraeli) in this House, that this was not a casus belli. He was at a loss to understand how the hon. Member should have been informed of the existence of a private and confidential correspondence which neither the Portuguese Minister nor his noble Friend had thought to be such as could be placed in the archives of the Portuguese Legation, or in those of Her Majesty's Foreign Office. How the hon. Gentleman had obtained information which could only be supposed to have come from either of the parties that such a correspondence existed, it was more than he could divine. The hon. Gentleman would see that, being entirely confidential, it was utterly impossible for him to produce it. It was not in the possession of Her Majesty's Government. This however, he might say, that the statement of his right hon. Friend was substantially correct, and he supposed that would meet the views of the hon. Gentleman. The Marquis de Loulé did state—he was now speaking from a translation of his speech made in the Portuguese Chamber—that some members appeared to be of opinion that the assistance of England ought to have been asked for, but that it was not clear to him that a casus belli had actually arisen. The hon. Seconder of the present Motion had adopted a totally different view from that of the hon. Member of Bridgewater. The ground of complaint of the former against Her Majesty's Government was that they had not sufficiently urged mediation. Now, if the hon. Member would refer to the fly-page of the printed papers he would find the "sketch of an agreement produced by the Marquis de Lisle to the Marquis de Loulé, October 23rd, 1858." The third article of that sketch stated that,The subsidiary questions, that is to say, especially those which relate to the indemnity claimed by the interested parties, and to the seizure of blacks voluntarily engaged at Mayotte, which is a French possession, and at the Comoro Islands, which are an independent country, will be submitted to the mediation of His Majesty the King of the Netherlands, in conformity with the wish expressed in the 23rd Protocol of the Paris Conferences.Thus, the hon. Member's objection that Her Majesty's Government did not urge the adoption of the Protocol of the Paris Conferences entirely fell to the ground. If the hon. Gentleman wished for a proof that by the exertions of the British Government 1523 the value of that Protocol was recognized by France, he had only to look at these papers, and he would find that the object which he asserted had not been obtained, bad, in fact, been substantially obtained, and that through the efforts of Her Majesty's Government. At page 70 of the Correspondence an account was given of a conversation between Count Walewski and Earl Cowley, in which the latter observed that "the 23rd Protocol was exactly framed to meet questions of this nature, where both parties claimed to be in the right;" but Count Walewski interrupted him by declaring that "the French Government had never declined to submit the question of right to friendly mediation." So that not only in the draught proposal submitted by M. de Lisle to the Portuguese Government was there a distinct reference to the Protocol of Paris, but Count Walewski himself, when his attention was called to it, in various interviews stated that he had never refused, to have recourse to its principle. Again in page 58, the Earl of Malmesbury addressing Lord Cowley, said:—It was, therefore, with great concern that I had seen that when, on the late occasion, Portugal requested Her Majesty's Government to use her good offices between the disputants—and, by the authority of Her Majesty's Government, your Excellency proposed and earnestly advocated mediation—The French Government refused the mediation of any third Power, and considered the question as a point of national honour which admitted of no friendly hand to assist in its settlement.Thus, this ground of indictment against Her Majesty's Government entirely failed. He had now gone through the whole case as presented to the House by the hon. Members for Bridgewater and Newport, and the position he was content to take was, not merely that the Government were entitled to have fair allowances made for them, but that in a moment of great doubt and embarrassment they had taken the only course which could secure a proper solution of the difficulties in which the French and Portuguese Governments were involved—the course, also, which was best calculated to secure the honour of both those Governments, and to maintain the peace of Europe, and in consequence the peace of the world. In the speech addressed to the Portuguese Parliament by the Marquis de Loulé on the occasion to which he had already referred, that Minister used these emphatic words:—England is not bound to support us in every controversy, and, besides, the circumstances were 1524 not of such a nature as to lead us to expect war' or as to entitle us fairly to demand the assistance of England. For if she had acceded to our request a European war might have been the result, which on our part as a member of the European family of nations, and interested in the continuance of peace, we were bound to avoid.The hon. Gentleman took a position more Portuguese than the Portuguese themselves. Her Majesty's Government had received the thanks of the Portuguese Government for their good offices in its behalf. Besides the statement of the Portuguese Prime Minister that he could not have formally demanded the assistance of England, and that if such assistance had been rendered precipitately it might have caused a European war—a result which the Portuguese Government felt itself bound to avoid, though the hon. Gentleman would not seem to think that a duty of the same kind rested on Her Majesty's Government—besides that declaration M. de Loulé thanked the Earl of Malmesbury, on the part of the Portuguese Government, "for the tender and for the employment of the good offices of Her Majesty's Government, and likewise Earl Cowley for his exertions to induce the French Government to consent to a mediation of the disepute." He was content, then, to place the question on this issue, that Her Majesty's Government had done their duty to their ally, had preserved unimpaired the honour and dignity of England, and maintained the peace and tranquillity of Europe.
§ MR. LOWE
, said, that the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. S. FitzGerald) had accused the hon. Member for Bridgewater of being more Portuguese than the Portuguese. It might be retorted on the hon. Gentleman opposite himself that he was more French than the French, for he had begun his speech by arguing strenuously against the jurisdiction of the Portuguese Courts, over the spot where the vessel was seized. The hon. Gentleman said, that on consideration the French Government did not think it worth while to press that point; and surely we, the allies of Portugal, need not be more astute in hunting out objections against her than the French themselves. The question of jurisdiction was not raised at the time of the capture. There was no mention of it until it was referred to in Earl Cowley's despatch of the 20th of September, alluding to the statement of M. Benedetti. The French captain and the agent both submitted to the jurisdiction of the Portuguese courts; and it was insisted upon as a part of the 1525 Portuguese Government's case that France, after having admitted the authority of the Portuguese tribunal, ought not to have recourse to measures of violence. The ground upon which the Portuguese Government put the question of jurisdiction was, that the logs of the ships of war and that of the Charles et Georges showed different things; and they argued, not unreasonably, that the logs of the ships of war were more entitled to credit than that of the slaver. There the matter rested, because, as the French Government had not pursued this point further, there were no means of obtaining any more information upon it. The hon. Gentleman seemed much astonished that the documents referred to in the Earl of Maltnesbury's letter of the 15th of October should be treated as forgeries, but he could give him a reason why they should be so treated. In his examination before the Portuguese Commission, the captain of the Charles et Georges stated that, the mate having fallen sick, he put into Quitangonha, and, finding labourers there, bought them. He was asked by the President whether he met with any Portuguese authority at that place, and he replied in the negative, saying that he only saw some individuals who brought labourers, and from whom he bought them, having still in his possession 4,000 dollars with which to engage men. The captain having stated this at the end of the year 1857, and documents, purporting to be engagements taken before the Sheikh of Matabane, having been subsequently produced, was it unreasonable to conclude that they were forgeries? Was it, indeed, possible to come to any other conclusion? If the captain's evidence was true, he could not have had these documents; and if he had had them he had every interest to produce them, because they would have tended very greatly, if not entirely, to exonerate him from the charge of slaving. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. S. FitzGerald) when speaking of Protocols, had laid down a most singular doctrine—namely, that the 23rd Protocol of the Congress of Paris was not to be applied until the parties had taken up arms; that was, that it was never to be applied until it was too late. He could not in fewer words express the absurdity of that argument. The hon. Gentleman had also said that his hon. Friend (Mr. Kinglake) was wrong as to the time at which the British ships arrived at Lisbon. These papers contained nothing to guide the House as to the period at 1526 which that event occurred, nor was it, in his opinion, of much importance, because, from whatever part of the world they had gone, he believed that they would have been better employed there in supporting the honour and credit of this country than in going to the Tagus to be witness of our dishonour and disgrace. The next point upon which the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs had dwelt was, that Her Majesty's Government had received, or rather, he should say, had extorted, thanks, from the Portuguese Government. Now, really it surprised him that his hon. Friend should have put that forward again and again without informing the House how those thanks came to be rendered. Ingratitude, no doubt, was a very prevalent sin, and the Portuguese Government must have been very ungrateful, because, after all the splendid services which they had received from the British Government, they published in the Diaria do Governo an account of these transactions without mentioning one of those services. He supposed that they were so much impressed with them that they did not know how suitably to acknowledge them, and therefore made no attempt to do so. There upon the Earl of Malmesbory. upon whose proceedings the hon. Gentleman opposite had observed a discreet silence, confining himself entirely to those of Earl Cowley, became very vigilant. When the mischief had all been done he woke up like a man from sleep, or a giant refreshed with wine, and, addressing the Portuguese Government, said,—"How dare you give an account of these transactions without acknowledging our good offices?" And the Portuguese Government said,—"Well, then, if you will have it, we do thank you; you are thanked accordingly." And these were the thinks which his hon. Friend had thought it worth his while to trumpet over and over again, as if they had been the spontaneous outpouring of the feelings of a great nation. Then they came to the magnanimity of our Consul, which seemed to have met with the highest admiration of his hon. Friend. The Consul saw a ship evidently engaged in slaving, he reported it to the Government of Mozambique, put them in motion, and thus caused all the mischief. But he would not have done it on his own account. Like Sir Andrew Aguecheek, had he known he had been so cunning a fencer, he would have had nothing to do with it. He knew the Government with which he had to deal, and 1527 felt it necessary to apologize for being jealous in the cause of humanity, of the observation of treaties, and of the honour of his country. His hon. Friend's next point, stripped of diplomatic language, was that Earl Cowley obtained for Portugal very good terms. She was to give up the ship, and the whole matter was to go to arbitration. But then, somehow or other, these terms were never carried out. Of course not. Whatever Count Walewski might have said to Earl Cowley, his despatch, a précis of which was given by Mr. Howard in the papers which had been produced, distinctly contradicted that understanding, and stated that the principle was on no account to be left to arbitration. That assurance, which the hon. Gentleman said so completely deceived the Earl of Malmesbury and accounted for his subsequent supineness, was given on the 13th of October. How came it, then, that two days after receiving that assurance, which settled the whole question, the noble Lord wrote the charming despatch of the 15th of October? Did that look as if he considered the matter settled? If the whole thing was arranged, why did he not write to say, "We have arranged the whole affair; you are to give up the ship and captain, and it is all to go to mediation. We strongly advise you to accept those terms." That would have been a course of some sort; it might have been right or wrong. Instead of that, however, he wrote to the Portuguese Government a despatch which rakes up all the merits or demerits of the transaction, and so anxious was he that it should arrive that he sent the heads of it by telegraph to Mr. Howard. This abridgment his hon. Friend (Mr. S. FitzGerald) said was like the heading of a chapter in the Bible. If so, the abridgment was a great deal better than the work in extenso, for anything more unlike a chapter of the Bible than this despatch, which was founded on a gross error and mistake, and suggested a course which any ingenuous man would be ashamed to take, he never saw in his life. So far from the Earl of Malmesbury's vigilance having been lulled to sleep by the assurance of Count Walewski as to the terms he was going to offer to Portugal that was the only period at which he appeared to have been awake, and this was the only step which he had taken in the matter worth mentioning or considering for a moment. Therefore the ground on which the hon. Gentleman opposite had rested the matter entirely failed 1528 him. He was sorry that they were not to have this telegraphic despatch, because he should have liked to have seen this heading of a chapter of the Bible; that it was in cipher, and that its production would enable parties to read the Government cipher was a reason that could never be admitted to prevail against the production of a despatch. There was another reason given by his hon. Friend—namely, that it was transposed. He supposed it was a little prudery of style which withheld his hon. Friend from producing it. He had himself formed such an opinion of the style of the documents relating to this affair that he did not think that any of them would suffer by transposition. [Mr. S. FITZGERALD threw the despatch upon the table, and requested the hon. Gentleman to read it for himself.] The hon. Gentleman could not expect him to read it while he was addressing the House. Had these despatches been so transposed as to be absolutely incoherent and nonsensical, they would not have suffered in the estimation of those who read them. Having now answered as far as he was able what had been alleged by hon. Gentlemen, he wished to recal the House to what was the real issue before it, because the hon. Gentleman who boasted of having followed the hon. Member for Bridgewater (Mr. Kinglake) through his speech, had omitted all the points which were most relevant and telling. The issue, as he understood it, was not as to what Earl Cowley did, but as to what the Earl of Malmesbury did. He wanted to trace—and it could be done in very few words—all the Earl of Maltmesbury's exploits in these transactions from first to last, and to form their opinion upon them and them only. He wanted to see what the Earl of Malmesbury did, and to ascertain how much this country gained in this very delicate and difficult affair by having a Secretary for Foreign Affairs at all. In order to ascertain what was the real issue which the House had to try, he would refer his hon. Friend to an authority which he would admit was much higher even than his own. On the first night of the Session the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, referring to this subject said:—I will take a very early opportunity of laying the papers on the table of the House, but I may be permitted to say, as so much has appeared in the newspapers of a very unauthorized character, accompanied by garbled extracts from official documents connected with other countries, that I shah lay these papers on the table, with the full 1529 conviction that they will prove that the advisers of Her Majesty have done their duty to their Sovereign and to their country in respect to that question."—[3 Hansard, clii., p. 83.]No issue could be fairer than that, and he much preferred it to the narrower one which his hon. Friend seemed disposed to substitute for it. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say:—When the papers are placed on the table it will be seen, and, I believe, accepted by the House, that the proper advice was given by the Government to our ancient Ally; that all the good offices which, considering the relations which subsist beteen Portugal and this country, would have been expected of us, were exercised in the right quarter in her behalf, and that terms were obtained which might have been accepted by Portugal with honour to herself and with satisfaction to Europe."—[3 Hansard, clii., p. 83.]He did not understand the last words. Did they refer to the terms which were obtained by Earl Cowley from Count Walewski, but which were never carried out? If so, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had surely taken an unwarrantable liberty with the House, which must necessarily have understood him to refer to terms which were really within the reach of Portugal. Or did the right hon. Gentleman allude to the terms which were actually vouchsafed by France to Portugal—terms which obtained for Portugal the liberty of seeing the Charles et Georges seized before the eyes of her people, and carried away by a French steamer, appropriately called the Requin? Did he refer to the terms which compelled Portugal to allow a convicted slaver—Captain Rouxel—to go free after the crimes he had committed; and did he mean to assert that the injustice suffered by Portugal was compensated by the insulting offer of fixing her indemnity by arbitration? Was it a great thing to obtain for Portugal, which was not permitted to be heard upon the question of her own rights, the liberty of chaffering for the dirty dross which it was supposed would heal the wound inflicted upon her honour? He wished to lay clearly before the House the dilemma in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer was placed, and he hoped the House would watch the way in which the right hon. Gentleman might attempt to escape from it. But, after all, what the House had to consider upon the present occasion were the acts of the Earl of Malmesbury himself. On the 23rd of August, according to the printed papers, the Charles et Georges arrived in the Tagus; and here it would facilitate the understanding of the whole case, if the House 1530 were clearly to comprehend what were the charges and facts in regard to that vessel. Her conviction had nothing whatever to do with the French system of free emigration from Africa. She was convicted for slave trading pure and simple, without regard to Portuguese regulations or anything else; and, what was more, she was justly convicted. The evidence was so overwhelming that it would be impossible for any impartial person to come to a contrary conclusion. What were the facts? In the first place, she went into a place where ships were forbidden to go at all, and that, too, close to a large town, where she might have gone if she had liked—a circumstance which showed, at all events, that she had some object for secrecy. The captain stated that he was obliged to go there on account of foul winds, but it appeared that the wind was fair. He next said that he went for provisions, but it had been proved that be had plenty of provisions on board to last 300 men for two months. Then he asserted that he went for a surgeon, but the truth was, there was not a single surgeon at Quitangonha, though there were plenty at Mozambique, two leagues off. He contradicted himself as to the manner in which he obtained possession of the negroes, and upon that point no papers were produced upon his trial, nor till long afterwards. One of his assertions was, that he got the negroes at Quitangonha, but nothing could be more clearly proved than the fact—which, indeed, was admitted in the French documents themselves—that eleven were put on board at Matabane, with their arms pinioned. It was said that their arms were pinioned with their own consent; but, though that might be so, at first sight it did not seem very probable. The negroes themselves, upon being examined, stated that they were put on board against their will, and they were identified as the slaves of persons in the neighbourhood, some of them having been sold directly by their masters, and others through the agency of a Moor. Then it was urged that Captain Rouxel was entitled to do what did in virtue of a licence which he held from the Governor to trade with the Sheik of Matabane, but the truth was there was no such licence in existence, and the only document of the kind produced, expressly provided that the Sheik of Matabane should not trade with any place but Mosambique itself. Finally, the question relative to the delegate was raised, but what was the evidence of that personage him- 1531 self? The very man whose presence, in the opinion of the French, exonerated the Charles et Georges from any imputation of guilt, solemnly deposed that Captain Rouxel was guilty of slave trading, inasmuch as he took the negroes on board in violation of his instructions, and that he, the delegate himself, intended to report the case as soon as he arrived at Bourbon. It was impossible for any man to look at that array of facts and doubt for a moment that here was a decided case of slave trading. He did not impute discredit to the French Government. Traffic in slaves was not contemplated by them; but the fact was undoubted that a French vessel, sent out for one purpose, abused its flag to effect another. The delegate himself could not control the captain, which showed that his presence could give the vessel no impunity from crime and its consequences. On the 28th August, the Charles et Georges having been justly condemned for engaging in the slave trade, the Marquis de Lisle demanded peremptorily that it should be given up to the French Government, and gave various reasons why his demand should be complied with. But up to the 25th of September the Earl of Malmesbury took no step whatever. Seven months he remained inert, except by acting as a postoffice for the transmission of letters and despatches between the different diplomatic personages engaged in the affair. Upon that day, however, he took a step which announced the coming vigour of his operations, for he pronounced an opinion that the case was beginning to be very serious. That was a true and important observation, only it was not original, for the House would find in a despatch addressed to the Earl of Malmesbury, on the 18th September, the same expression used by Mr. Howard. The first great stroke on the Earl of Malmesbury's part was the copying those words out of a despatch of Mr. Howard. However, everything must have a beginning, and great bodies could not be got into motion in a hurry. The next document of importance was a despatch from Earl Cowley on the 30th of September, stating that Count Walewski had referred the question to the Comité des Contentieux, that the Comité had not given in its report, but that in anticipation of its decision he had sent the Donauwerth and the Austerlitz to Lisbon. The despatch added that if the Comité reported in favour of the release of the ship a demand would be made for that release 1532 within the twenty-four hours, and would be enforced, if not complied with. On the other hand, if the report advised an appeal to the higher tribunals of Lisbon the release of the captain on bail would be required. That despatch must have reached the Earl of Malmesbury on the 1st of October. It announced a proceeding of the most startling character, on the part of the French Government, and showed that, as soon as the Comité des Contentieux should have given its decision in their favour, they intended to strike with the utmost promptitude. Such, moreover, was the precise course subsequently taken by the French Government; and yet, the Earl of Malmesbury, as usual, did nothing whatever. If he wished to hear something still more stirring before he interposed, he had not to wait long, for on the 2nd of October there came a telegram that the Comité des Contentieux had decided against Portugal, and on the following day the French ships of war arrived in the Tagus. Still the Earl of Malmesbury did nothing, though here he was bound to mention what he had before unintentionally omitted, that in his despatch of the 25th of September, in addition to stating that the affair began to assume a serious aspect, the Earl of Malmesbury offered the good offices of England. On the 5th of October nothing more was done. Then came a telegram announcing that arbitration had been refused, and on the 6th, after the whole matter had been settled, the Earl of Malmesbury for the first time wrote that despatch in which he stated that the Paris Protocol might be referred to at a suitable time. That was the way in which the matter seemed to stand. He would venture to make a criticism on the conduct of the British Government in respect to this matter. He thought that it was their duty at least by the 6th of October to have made up their minds to some course. They had ample materials on which to form a decision and it was their imperative duty to this country and its Ally to make up their mind whether this was a case of treaty; whether the attitude of Portugal was founded in right, what course they would advise Portugal to pursue, and what course they would pursue themselves. He did not say that under all circumstances they should have gone to war; but he should have been satisfied if they had recommended to Portugal any definite and honourable course. He complained that no definite course was recommended. He thought that when a 1533 doctrine such as that laid down by the Comité des Contentieux was broached for the first time as the public law of Europe, it was the duty of the Government, as soon as so startling a proposition came to their knowledge, to take it into consideration and deliver in the most authoritative and authentic manner their opinion as to the nature of the new claim. That claim was serious enough. Let them consider what the consequences would be if the presence of a person as delegate and intrusted with the power of controlling the ship and keeping it within the dominion of the law was to exempt it from all municipal law whatever. It would then be easy for every country, by merely investing the captains of merchant ships with that character, to make a complete abrogation of the law of nations with respect to the liability of foreign merchants to the law of the places where they happened to trade. Whether this were right or wrong. the consequences were so serious that, instead of being allowed to be drawn into a precedent, it was the duty of the Government to direct their minds to it, and deliver an opinion on it. He did not feel bound to offer an opinion on the law, but he would refer Gentlemen who wished to be enlightened on the subject to Mr. Justice Marshall, an American Judge, who thus stated the principle of the law with respect to ships of war:—In the ports of foreign countries ships of war had always been considered to be exempt from the local jurisdiction, and the reason was, that there was implied the consent of the Sovereign to the derogation of his sovereign rights in respect to such vessels: the derogation rested on the assumed assent of the Sovereign. If that were good law, and it was sanctioned by reason and authority, the necessary inference was, that the matter rested on consent and on usage; and a new thing like this plan of having a delegate on board of a ship could not possibly be invested with that consent which rested on usage, and which nothing but time and frequent repetition could give. There was another point which the Government should have considered. Admitting, for the sake of argument, this authority, was it an authority which no amount of abuse could take away? There were questions of far larger importance than the immediate case under consideration, and it would have been gratifying to observe symptoms of their having been grasped in the Foreign Office. Then came the despatch of the 15th October, and one thing he in- 1534 ferred from that despatch was, that the Earl of Malmesbury had never read these papers. He was not going to be very exact as to what a Secretary of State should be; but it was not too much to ask that he should read the papers in his office, and if he read them that he should form a judgment on them, or at least have sufficient industry to refer to them. The Earl of Malmesbury, in that despatch, said:—It appears to Her Majesty's Government that, on the one hand, the French captain and delegate on board the Charles et Georges violated the municipal laws of Portugal by anchoring at a forbidden point within Portuguese waters, and being there found with a cargo of negroes, who had all the appearance of being slaves, and a portion of whom stated themselves to have been abducted from a dependency of Portugal; on the other hand, that the French captain and delegate had obtained from the Sheik of Matabane a permission to engage and export labourers of his tribe; and that in a document (which is published in the Daily News of the 12th instant), the contract declares itself 'to have been made and passed at the Court of the said Sheik.'Now, if the Earl of Malmesbury had read the papers he would have seen that this idea of the Sheik was preposterous, and that there was no evidence for it. He would proceed to give a brief history of the Earl of Malmesbury's proceedings. On the 25th September the noble Lord promised his good offices, saying things were very serious; on the 6th October the noble Lord deprecated violence, and put forward the Protocol of the Paris Conference; and on the 9th he said Her Majesty's Government had no decisive information on the case of the ship. He maintained that the noble Lord ought to have done a great deal more; he ought to have made up his mind what course he would recommend to Portugal to adopt, and the British Government were bound to decide what course they would take themselves. If they decided that it was not a case respecting which Europe should be involved in war, they might have told Portugal that, for her own sake, it was not desirable to go to war with France and be overrun without the possibility of this country protecting her in time, but that, under the circumstances, they would give Portugal the moral support of their conviction that she was right; that they would solemnly assure France to that effect, not by loose conversation, but by a formal written document, bearing with it the whole weight of the Government, and would call on France to submit the 1535 whole question to a third party under the Protocol of the Congress of Paris. He thought the Government were bound to have done so much. He came now to what he considered the real gravamen of the case, to that which was alone fatal and condemnatory of the Minister, and which, if he had done nothing else, would entitle him to the heaviest censure of that House, but to which the hon. Gentleman opposite had never alluded even in the most distant manner. In Mr. Howard's letter of the 21st October, he said:—In reply, I beg to repeat what I already had the honour of stating verbally to your Excellency Yesterday, that I am without instructions from my Government concerning the particular proposals in question."Without instructions!" On the 30th September, as he (Mr. Lowe) had already observed, Earl Cowley stated Count Walewski's view of the case. The French Government said:—Count Walewski considered that the ship had been illegally captured, and under that conviction had demanded its release, leaving the question of compensation for future settlement. This demand had been refused in a note not over courteous, and the question of future proceedings was now under the consideration of the Imperial Government; he (Couut Walewski) had insisted, with success, that the question should be referred to the 'Comité des Contentieux,' in his department, whose province it was to give an opinion upon transactions of this nature. The report would not be ready for a few days more, but in the meantime some ships had been despatched towards the Tagus, since, in case the report should be in favour of the release of the ship, a demand would be made for that release within the twenty-four hours, and would be enforced, if not complied with. On the other hand, if the report advised an appeal to the higher tribunals of Lisbon, the release of the captain on bail would be required.Then, he asked, what right had the Earl of Malmesbury to say that he had not been forewarned in the matter? The Earl of Malmesbury and the Cabinet had three weeks in which they might have maturely deliberated on the subject, and have decided whether they should advise Portugal that it was a case for war, and in which they would offer their assistance, or whether, deeming that it was not a case for war, they should have communicated that resolution to Portugal, and have said, "We advise you to protest against the violence which has been used towards you; admit your inability to cope with France, and let them do as they will." Either ease would have been defensible in that House. No doubt there would have been those who would have found fault 1536 whatever had been done; but in neither case should they have had to blush for their Government. He trusted that some one would get up on the other side who would not deal in minute points, but would stand forward and tell them on what principle they could justify the conduct of a Government which, seeing this matter growing day by day into one of great magnitude, stood aside, threw the responsibility upon subordinates, and had not the honesty or the courage to express an opinion of its own. For what purpose were Governments, if, when principles which regulated the law of nations were violated and trampled upon, they stood back and were speechless, and threw upon others the responsibility of duties which devolved upon themselves? He rested upon this point, and he hoped to be boldly and fairly met. He hoped to be told bow the Government could be justified which, with a perfect knowledge of the magnitude of this affair, had shrunk from its duty, and had endeavoured to throw the responsibility upon subordinates. He would not say one word of Mr. Howard, for that gentleman had been placed in a most unpleasant position. Certainly no Englishman could read the advice which Mr. Howard had given without experiencing a tingling sensation of shame; but no doubt he had properly interpreted the mind of his masters, and had tendered that advice which they themselves, had they been shut up like a jury in a box, without coal or candle, and compelled to give advice, would have offered. As he had protested against the inaction of the Earl of Malmesbury when action was required, so he must also protest against the spirit which suddenly came over that noble Lord on the 30th of October. When nothing was to be lost by being a little violent, the Earl of Malmesbury took upon himself to remonstrate in a most ferocious manner. Had he been "a man of war from his youth upward," he could not have been more violent; but, without dwelling upon that passage, he (Mr. Lowe) could not help referring, as others had done before him, to what he regarded as the bijou of the whole correspondence, and which must be sufficient to satisfy the House that if we had not in our Foreign Minister a great and accurate administrator, we had what the ancients would have called a great nomade philosopher? The noble Lord had declared it to be an immortal truth that time was as much a preventer as a healer of 1537 differences, and therefore he recommended recourse to arbitration. He (Mr. Lowe) had always thought that the use of arbitration was to make an end of differences; but the Earl of Malmesbury avowed that the object of arbitration was delay—that it was a contrivance for spinning out time. Delay an immortal truth! Certainly they had heard this maxim imputed to the practice of lawyers, but it remained to find it elevated by the eloquence of a Foreign Secretary into an immortal truth. One word more and he had done. The Earl of Malmesbury, writing to Lord Cowley, on the 11th of November, said,—It is not desirable that you should at present revert to the conversation with Count Walewski as reported in your despatch above mentioned. I must, however, protest against the Count's statement that the cases of the Cagliari and the Charles et Georges are not similar. In my opinion they are strictly analogous.Protest to whom? The noble Lord first imposed the seal of secrecy upon the Ambassador, and then indulged in a protest which could have no earthly effect upon any one. Without pretending to lay down immortal truths, he (Mr. Lowe) ventured to say, although the Government had not secured for Portugal the opinion of any neutral Power, and although France had taken from her both her rights and her money also, yet that happily there was a tribunal of public opinion before which Portugal stood in a more distinguished, a nobler, and a firmer attitude than either the country that had deprived her of her rights by violence, or the Ministry that had lent themselves to her oppressoin.
§ MR. BOVILL
said, he desired to acknowledge the courteous and complimentary language of the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, and must congratulate the House that the administration of our foreign affairs had not been left to his tender care on this occasion. It was not often that they found a result so gratifying as that which had been produced—namely, the preservation of the whole of Europe from a general war. The right hon. Gentleman had charged the Earl of Malmesbury, in no measured terms, with ignorance of the department under his peculiar care, with want of attention and not perusing the despatches, and with want of capacity to grasp the questions submitted to his consideration. Before he made those charges the right hon. Gentleman ought to have made the inquiry of himself, whether he had read the papers so carefully as to en- 1538 title him to make those charges. When he heard the right hon. Gentleman declare that the vessel was condemned simply and solely on the ground of being a slaver, and that there was no question of any breach of the fiscal regulations, it struck him that the right hon. Gentleman could not have the Report of the Commission, for if he had done so he would have found it stated at page 11—The Commission were of opinion that the French barque Charles et Georges had not only incurred the penalties of the fiscal laws of the port and of the custom-house, in having neglected the legal bar and entrance, and in seeking an anchorage in a prohibited port, when not forced to it by stress of weather, but also in having there bought and shipped negroes; and, moreover, from the circumstances set forth the said vessel and her crew were liable to the penalties enacted in the Decree of the 10th of December, 1836.In another page the statement was repeated. Was it possible, then, that the right hon. Gentleman could have read those papers?
§ MR. BOVILL
said, that did not preclude him from the observation he had made that the vessel had broken the fiscal regulations of the country. He had read the statement of the sentence itself, and in that there was a reference to the statement made in page 11. The character and known candour of the right hon. Gentleman, therefore, compelled him to infer that he could not have read these papers. When the right hon. Gentleman spoke of a want of capacity on the part of the Earl of Malmesbury to grasp the questions submitted to his consideration, and at the same time himself endeavoured most elaborately to prove a point in this discussion upon which the real question did not depend, and entirely ignored and omitted to notice one or two most important matters connected with it, he (Mr. Bovill) would leave it to the House to say whether that omission on the part of the right hon. Gentleman was owing to want of attention or to want of capacity to grapple with the question. When the right hon. Gentleman talked of the incompetency, the ignorance, and the inattention of the Earl of Malmesbury, and almost attacked that noble Lord's personal honour, he should be a little careful of the mode in which he himself dealt with 1539 the question. They had heard expressions from the right hon. Gentleman about the law of nations having been trampled upon. If that were the issue, and the question, before the House, they were at least entitled to know upon what ground those expressions were used. He would venture to show the right hon. Gentleman and the House that the law of nations, so far as could be ascertained from the facts disclosed in these papers, had not been trampled upon in this instance. The right hon. Gentleman's imputation also was that the Ministers of the Crown, with a full knowledge of the circumstances, had shrunk from the performance of their duty. Did the right hon. Gentleman mean to say, that at that moment either he or any Member of the House knew exactly what were the precise circumstances of this case? Was he or any one in that House or elsewhere entitled to tell the Ministers of the Crown that, with a full knowledge of the circumstances, they had shrunk from the performance of their duty, unless he could point out distinctly what were the facts upon which the Ministers were to act? He (Mr. Bovill) ventured to say that from the very outset of this case the difficult question arose whether the vessel was subject to the jurisdiction of Portugal. Where was the evidence that this vessel was clearly and incontestably within gunshot, or three miles from the Portuguese territory? That was one vital point on which the question as to the infringement of the law of nations depended. If this vessel was not within three miles of the Portuguese territory, Portugal had no jurisdiction whatever. If that was the case, France was entitled to demand its restitution, and was not bound to submit to the decision of the Portuguese courts, either in the first instance or upon appeal. At the very outset, then, it became necessary to inquire what were the facts with reference to the position of this vessel. On looking at these papers it would be found that there was the greatest difficulty in coming to any conclusion on that point. For his part, he was convinced that that point was one upon which the greatest doubts were entertained, because Mr. Howard, in a despatch to the Earl of Malmesbury, stated that in a conversation he had with M. de Lisle, the French Minister laid great stress on the violation of the French flag, because the vessel was not within gunshot of the coast, and he commented on the circumstances of M. de Loulé passing over that fact. That was 1540 the first question that ought to be decided. How did the hon. Gentleman meet that? He started with the assumption that the vessel was within the Portuguese jurisdiction, and argued that the Earl of Malmesbury, with full knowledge of that fact, shrunk from the performance of his duties as Minister for Foreign Affairs. In the despatch of the Governor General of Mozambique, it was stated that soon after sunrise the vessel Charles et Georges was seen, and the circumstances of the chase and capture are stated, but from this account it was impossible to say the vessel was within that distance from the Portuguese coast which would bring her legally under Portuguese jurisdiction. That matter being in doubt, how could the Earl of Malmesbury be said to have full knowledge? If not under Portuguese jurisdiction at the time of the capture, the Portuguese Government bad no right whatever to seize the ship, and France was as much entitled to demand that the vessel should be delivered up, as England was in making a similar demand with respect to the Cagliari. The right hon. Gentleman had also assumed that the vessel was commanded by a merchant captain, and that the French delegate on board was not representing the French Government. The papers showed the contrary. It plainly appeared from them that the vessel was commissioned by the French Government for the purpose of obtaining free emigrants, and that the French delegate was on board as an officer of the French Government. On that ground also, therefore, the Portuguese would have no jurisdiction. Every vessel, of course, was amenable to the law of nations; but unless directly within the jurisdiction of a foreign country, it could be made amenable to the law of nations only through the medium of diplomacy. The hon. Gentleman had treated the question as if the French had contended that the Charles et Georges was not a slaver, because there was a French delegate on board. But that was not the case. The fact was, that if a French delegate was on board the vessel, and in charge of the expedition, the vessel would be entirely taken out of Portuguese jurisdiction. In three different despatches Earl Cowley himself had expressed a doubt whether it would not have been more in accordance with the law of nations if the vessel had been allowed to go home and the dispute had been dealt with by the representatives of each country, and there was no doubt that was the manner in which the affair 1541 ought to have been treated. The right hon. Gentleman had also withheld from the House all mention of the view taken by the French Government, who had raised two distinct and important questions; first, with reference to the fact of the Sheik having himself been engaged in the slave trade, or having given facilities for the carrying on of that trade; and, secondly, as to the doubtful right of the Governor of Mozambique to undertake the decision of the question. He would ask whether the proceedings at Mozambique were of that character which entitled them to be considered as binding in accordance with international law? In the first place, one of the leading principles was that the decision must be by the ordinary tribunals of the country. But in this instance the tribunal was a mere Commission specially appointed to consider the circumstances connected with the seizure of this ship. Again, it was suggested in the papers that there ought to have been an appeal to the Prize Court of Loanda. If there was an original want of jurisdiction, the appeal to the Court at Lisbon, prosecuted by the master could not defeat any right that his owners or the French Government might possess. But the condition of the ship was decided simply by a Commission appointed to inquire into the matter. What respect would be paid by any foreign country to the simple decision of a body of Commissioners specially appointed for a particular occasion even by the Crown of England? Again, the Earl of Malmesbury had been most unwarrantably charged with having, he might say almost fraudulently, suggested that there was some irregularity, and with having asked the Portuguese Government to invent some irregularity, and make that a pretext to get out of the embarrassment. This charge was entirely unsupported by anything to be found in the papers. So far from there not having been any irregularity, the suggestion that there had been some irregularities occurred to the Portuguese representative himself, and was communicated by him to the British Government. Mr. Howard stated that the Marquis de Loulé admitted to him, that he thought, though the transaction was near akin to the slave trade, it could not be punished as such. Mr. Howard also "inferred from the Viscount de Sa's language that he doubted the legality of the condemnation, which it was thought would not be confirmed by the Superior Court." Was not that, then, sufficient to raise a doubt 1542 of the same nature in the minds of the Ministers of this country? But, again, Mr. Howard, in his despatch of the 10th September, recalled the attention of the Earl of Malmesbury to the existence of that doubt; for he said—There is a weak point in the Portuguese case, which is, that it appears the judge at Mozambique ought to have referred the decision of the matter to the port of Loanda which is the competent tribunal for such matters, and not to have undertaken it himself:And again, Earl Cowley wrote on the 30th of September—It appears clear from Mr. Howard's despatches there is a doubt as to the legality of some of the proceedings after the calyure was made.And it was not until after the matter was brought to a conclusion that the letter arrived from Mr. Howard to Lord Malmesbury in which it appeared that there was some doubt as to whether the irregularity existed or not. It certainly was set right afterwards in the despatch of the 18th October, 1856, when it was said, "the only informality was that the witnesses, after making their depositions, were not called upon to confirm them in open court." Then, under these circumstances of doubt and difficulty as to the position of the vessel—of the French delegate—and as to the proceedings of the court of Mozambique and of the Sheik of Matabane could it be said with certainty that the Portuguese throughout the affair were quite right, and the English ministers quite wrong? It was of the essence of this question that the House should consider these various circumstances. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Earl of Malmesbury was incapable of grappling with these questions; but who was to grapple with them? If it turned out that there had been doubt upon every one of these particulars, why was it to have been assumed that Portugal was entirely in the right, and that we were bound by treaty or otherwise to enforce the rights which she supposed herself to possess? The gravamen, however, of the right hon. Gentleman's charge was, that Mr. Howard was left without instructions, and this was founded on Mr. Howard's communication to the Marquis de Loulé on the 21st of October, in which Mr. Howard said—I beg to repeat what I already had the honour of stating verbally to your Excellency yesterday that I am without instructions from my Government concerning the particular proposals in question.But what were the proposals here referred to? They were quite new—they had only 1543 arrived by the last mail from Paris, and had been communicated to the Portuguese Government only the day before, and this appears on the despatch itself; was it therefore to be wondered at that Mr. Howard should have been left without instructions as to those particular demands. Had the right hon. Gentleman read that despatch he could scarcely have made such a charge. [Mr. LOWE: I read it.] Then there must be a great failure on the part either of himself or the right hon. Gentleman of ability to grasp the meaning of the despatch. The hon. Member (Mr. Kinglake) when he opened his case—he meant his notice of Motion—told the House that the general impression abroad was unfavourable to the honour of England, and it was natural to suppose that the only object of the Motion was to remove that unfavourable impression. But instead of that the whole scope and tendency of his speech was to increase throughout Europe that unfavourable impression, and he seemed to think it consistent with his patriotism to indulge the House, the country, and the world at large for two hours and a half with an attack on the honour of his country. [Cries of "No, no!" from the Opposition.] Then what did he mean by saying that the country had dishonoured itself? The concluding words of the hon. Gentleman's speech were, "this is a most momentous question affecting the honour of England." If that and every sentence of his speech did not mean condemnation of the Earl of Malmesbury, and that through the Earl of Malmesbury England bad dishonoured herself, it meant nothing. Then the hon. Member (Mr. Kinglake) introduced his Motion by saying there was no question pending upon the matter at present. If so, why did he rake up past differences which ought never to have been disturbed? The only effect of the discussion would be to create ill will between Portugal and this country, or Her Majesty's Government and on the other hand between France, England, and Portugal. Of course, in going through the various points upon which he (Mr. Bovill) had touched, he had necessarily alluded to arguments which France would adduce in her own favour, and which prevented England from taking a more active part in the affair; he guarded the House, however, against supposing that he supported the conduct of the French Government throughout. Everybody who read the papers would see that France would have done better for herself 1544 and for the interests of Europe and of civilization if she had at once consented to refer the question at issue to the mediation of another power, as England had previously done under similar circumstances, Nor would he have it for a moment supposed that he advocated the peculiar system of emigration which was involved in this case. He desired only to discuss those rights which existed according to international law. England was now solemnly charged with a direct breach of treaty entered into with Portugal, our faithful Ally; and the hon. Mover stood forward as the advocate of Portugal, or some one interested in her cause, and who must have supplied him with the confidential documents to which reference had been made. But it was an extraordinary thing that the Government was charged with a breach of treaty, which Portugal, the party to the treaty, had never complained of! According to the doctrine of the right hon. Gentleman, we must intrude ourselves into the affairs of every foreign nation which happened to be our ally, whether we were asked or not. But were those principles to be advocated with regard to all the sovereigns of Europe? Were we, because Portugal was our ally, to throw ourselves into the gap and endeavour to effect a settlement of her grievances? If so, France was equally our ally, and we were equally bound to interfere on behalf of France. We had no right to interfere with one more than with another; and unless we were satisfied that right was clearly on one side, he submitted that we ought not to take part with either. But this charge of breach of treaty was not once made by Portugal, nor did it appear from the papers, that Portugal had ever appealed to treaties with England. The first reference to the interference of England was in a despatch from Mr. Howard on the 18th of September, detailing a conversation which he had with the Marquis de Loulé, in which he said:—His Excellency did not make any application to me for your Lordship's valuable assistance, but I feel persuaded that he would be very grateful should your Lordship be able to afford the Portuguese Government any aid in the treatment of this question with the French Government.That despatch arrived on the 24th, and on the 25th a despatch was sent by the Earl of Malmesbury to Earl Cowley on the subject, and also to Mr. Howard, desiring him to inform the Portuguese Government that the friendly offices of Her Majesty's Government would not be wanting for the 1545 purpose of bringing about an amicable settlement. In another despatch of the 28th of September, Mr. Howard said that the Portuguese Government would feel grateful to the Earl of Malmesbury if he would employ his good offices with the Portuguese Government, and which were freely and immediately given; in fact the only request for assistance ever made by the Portuguese Minister was for the good offices of our Government. How, therefore, any complaint could be made that we had not sent our Channel fleet at once into the Tagus he was at a loss to understand. The consequences of such an act must have been disastrous to Portugal. The interference would certainly have been regarded by France as a casus belli, and might have involved Europe in war. But it was not this case alone that was the cause of difference. There were insults to the Sisters of Charity. And when it was said that France was wrong to send vessels to the Tagus and menace a weak Power with great force, the French replied, "Why, Portugal by force keeps possession of our ship. Give up the ship, and then we will leave the question between us to mediation." There was at least some irritation which was natural on the part of France. Both nations held out for what they conceived to be their rights; but the facts were in dispute, and so they remained. Looking, then, to the uncertain state of the facts, to the doubts which surrounded many of the chief points of the case, it was a little too much to charge the Government with having wilfully shrunk from performing their duty. If they had acted on the rule laid down by the right hon. Gentleman, the consequence must have been a general war, but the policy which they had pursued had preserved the peace of Europe. On a calm review of the facts, the House, he was sure, would be of opinion with Earl Cowley that the case was one to be settled by diplomacy, and not by sending the Channel fleet into the Tagus.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
Sir, I don't wish to take an exaggerated view of the question, but I must say that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridgewater, (Mr. Kinglake) need not be afraid of the censure which the hon. and learned Member who has just sat down passed upon him. The hon. and learned Member says that for an hon. Member of this House to find fault with the official who is placed in the high position of Secretary of State is to 1546 sacrifice the honour of England, and to expose his country to be blamed throughout all Europe as a country which has lost its honour. I had always understood that the way in which the honour of England was to be preserved was that this House, if at any time it were a question whether a Minister had duly maintained that honour, should inquire, criticise, and, it may be, censure such a Minister. But the hon. and learned Member tells us that, departing from the practice of our ancestors, and our own practice too, whenever a Minister has laid down in a despatch what he thinks to be right, every hon. Member of this House is to concur in that sentiment simply because the Minister has said it. There is, no doubt, much to be said on behalf of the Government with regard to a great many points of the case. A Minister would have been quite wrong if he had advised the Portuguese Government to resist by force of arms the demands made upon them by France. The demand was a violent one, no doubt. But when the Government of France said a compliance with it was necessary for her honour, it would have been a risk to which this country ought not to have exposed Portugal, or Europe, or herself, to advise hostilities. I think, therefore, that the question is not one for censure, and my hon. Friend has not made it one of censure, but it is an occasion for comment and criticism on the mode in which the negotiations have been managed by the Secretary of State. Passing over all that occurred in March and May, I take the despatch of Mr. Howard on the lath of September, in which he says this case is assuming a very serious aspect. The Earl of Malmesbury desires him to tell the Portuguese Government that we will use our good offices to bring about an amicable arrangement of the difficulty; but what is the despatch which he writes the same day to Earl Cowley, the ambassador at Paris? Does he instruct Earl Cowley to tell the French Government that we were bound by treaties to offer our good offices; that he required to know what was the complaint of the French Government, and that we were bound to offer every mode of reparation if wrong had been done, and every explanation, if explanation were necessary, in order to prevent a rupture or serious difference between France and Portugal? Here is the despatch in which he gives his instructions to Earl Cowley:—With reference to my despatch of the 23rd ult., I transmit to your Excellency herewith, for 1547 your information, copies of further despatches, as noted in the margin, which I have received from Her Majesty's Minister at Lisbon, respecting the question in dispute between the French and Portuguese Governments, arising out of the condemnation as a slaver, by the tribunal of Mozambique, of the French vessel Charles et Georges, from which your Excellency will perceive that this affair has assumed a very serious aspect.And there the despatch ends. There is no instruction whatever to offer our good offices or to impress on the French Government the seriousness of the case, and the intimate alliance between this country and Portugal. Indeed, my hon. Friend is quite justified in what he said with respect to the conversation between the Earl of Malmesbury and the Duke of Malakhoff at Windsor, when the Minister for France said he was not aware of the exact nature of the treaties between England and Portugal. I think that in the first instance Earl Cowley should have been instructed to call Count Walewski's attention to those treaties. No doubt Count Walewski was well acquainted with them. A man would be hardly fit to hold the high office of Minister for Foreign Affairs in France without being acquainted with all the treaties of Europe. He must have been acquainted with the important treaties between this country and Portugal, upon which so many wars had hung; and Earl Cowley should have been instructed to call Count Walewski's attention to the obligations imposed on England, and to impress earnestly the anxiety felt by Her Majesty's Government that Portugal should not be wronged, instead of which he simply sends Mr. Howard's despatches. I should say that nothing could be more cold, nothing more neglectful, than merely to send those despatches. With regard to the question itself, I will not pretend to deny the allegations of the hon. and learned Gentleman. It seems to me that the case was by no means a simple one—that it was a case in which a great deal of difficulty existed. I cannot admit that the first allegation of the French Government, that this vessel was four miles from the shore is at all supported, because I find in the diplomatic correspondence this statement by the captain himself. Captain Rouxel says:—On the morning, of the 29th, the majority of my crew being sick, more especially the first and second mates, and the current running in shore, I dropped anchor in Conducia Bay to give the men rest and to secure professional assistance. I anchored at noon, and had no sooner come within range than a vessel of war fired a gun, and hoisted a flag. Whereupon I hoisted our flag. Before I 1548 had dropped anchor a boat was sent, and an officer came on board.He does not deny that he was in the Bay of Conducia. He does not pretend that he was out at sea. He was evidently near the shore, and his statement, so far as it goes, supports the statement of the Portuguese commander, that he was in fact within cannon-shot of the shore. But, more than this, the French Government abandoned that ground. Any Minister may receive at first an incorrect account of a transaction; but they did not pretend that they relied at all in their subsequent decision that the ship was out of the Portuguese jurisdiction. On the 2nd of October the French Government came to the determination to ask for an immediate surrender of the vessel, on the ground that a delegate of the French Government was on board the ship; and the Foreign Minister of France afterwards says that persons—not a single law officer, like the Queen's Advocate, but several persons learned in international law—decided, after three weeks deliberation, that the French Government had a right to require the surrender of the ship under those circumstances. I am not the person to treat with disrespect a statement officially made by the French Minister of Foreign Affairs. I think, on the contrary, that such a statement is entitled to respect. It may be a ground to treat the question diplomatically; it may be not. I own it is a question of considerable doubt. If a French man-of-war had gone to Mozambique, and the captain had taken slaves on board, undoubtedly the Governor of Mozambique would not have thought himself justified in interfering with that man-of-war. He would have sent home a despatch complaining of a French man-of-war carrying on the slave trade in a Portuguese port. If it had been a merchant ship simply, that was slave-trading, contrary to the laws of Portugal, and contrary to the repeated applications and desires of the British Government, no doubt he would have been justified in seizing that merchant ship so laden with slaves. But this is a case of a mixed character. The ship is itself a merchant ship, but there is an officer on board who is the delegate of the French Government. But the reason why they would not interfere with a man-of-war is that the captain of a man-of-war is answerable to his Government, and has complete control over the officers and crew of his ship. Therefore he is responsible to his Government alone, and they cannot 1549 bring him before the tribunals of a foreign nation on such a charge. But this delegate of the French Government seems to have had no such powers as a captain of a man-of-war would have. On the contrary, he seems to have stated that he disapproved the conduct of the captain, and that the captain had bought slaves from a Sheik dependent on the Government of Portugal. What is the result of this? Is it a reason that the French Government should use means of violence to obtain the surrender of that ship without further question? On the contrary, it seems to me exactly one of those cases referred to in the Protocol of Paris—one of those doubtful cases in which the honour of both nations was Concerned—the honour of the Portuguese Government in preventing slave trading in their ports and the honour of the French Government in not having their flag interfered with. It was the very case in which there should have been an arbitration. But it is also a case in which, I think, if the English Government had had proper influence with our Ally—if the Earl of Malmesbury had spoken fairly and firmly, and at the same time in conciliatory language instead of indulging in that sort of bombast about immortal truths, he would have been listened to by our Ally. I have always stated that, I believed the Emperor of the French to be a faithful Ally to this country, and I cannot but attribute to the manner in which the Earl of Malmesbury conducted this case that it was not finally referred to the arbitration of a friendly Power. And be it observed, that the mode in which Count Lavradio proposed that it should be settled, when he found that the French Government thought their honour concerned, was that the vessel should be given up, but that the whole case, the legality or illegality, should be referred to a friendly power. The proposal made by Count Lavradio was not likely to be wanting in good sense or good temper, or in due regard to the dignity of both nations, and that was the proposal which the Earl of Malmesbury ought to have supported with all the influence of this country. It was a fair and moderate proposal, and should have met with every support which this Government could have given it. Instead of which we find the Earl of Malmesbury, from the first cold despatch of the 25th September down to the very last, apparently almost indifferent, and above all suggesting both at Paris and Lisbon that the Portuguese Government must have been in the wrong; 1550 that there must have been some informality; that there must have been a Sheik on the coast whom the French captain thought independent, who was not independent, though neither the French Government nor the French captain knew he was not independent, but which neither Earl Cowley nor Mr. Howard would venture to assert. It all shows in the Earl of Malmesbury a wish to make out a case in favour of the strong power against the weak, and to suggest any pretence true or false for the Portuguese Government to give up their case and yield to the demands of France. I must say that the Portuguese Government had a much better sense of their own honour. The proposal which was laid before them by the French Minister at Lisbon was this—let the Charles et Georges be surrendered, and let the question of indemnity be afterwards referred to a mediating Power. What was that but asking the Portuguese Government to say, "we give up the question of right, but as to whether we shall pay £2,000, or £3,000, or £4,000 as indemnity we will refer the decision to the King of the Netherlands?" Why, it was incompatible with the honour of the Portuguese Government to accept such an appeal. Whether it was one sum or another was a matter of total indifference. That which was the concern of the Portuguese Government as a question of honour was the question whether they had been in the right or not. As to that question the French Government insisted upon a total surrender, and the English Government advised them to make that surrender. The Portuguese Government said, and I think very truly, "We cannot admit ourselves to be in the wrong; we will make no surrender of that which we conceive to be our honour; we will yield, but we will yield plainly and avowedly to force. We give up the ship, we will not make it a question of peace or war; we will not call upon our ally the Queen of England for assistance"—a forbearance for which I think we ought to honour them—"we will not ask for her interference, we will give way, but we will not give way in the manner which the English Minister and the English Government proposes. We will give way in the only manner in which we can do it with honour. We will give up the ship, and we will have no mediation as to the amount of the indemnity. We will make no terms; we will make it a plain yielding to force, a plain cession of the weaker to the stronger Power." That 1551 was the conduct of Portugal. I wish I could say that the conduct of England had been at all commensurate in dignity and character with that of this weak State. I confess, Sir, that I was somewhat shocked when I read the argument which was used by Mr. Howard at Lisbon. In his despatch of the 21st of October there is a great deal about informalities in the judicial proceedings, and the French having reason to suppose that the Arab Sheik of Matabane had an authorization to supply them with negroes. That is entire supposition—entire assumption. I really do not believe that the French captain had any such notion. He wished to pursue his trade, which was properly denounced by our Government as the slave trade under another name, and which the French Government itself has now abandoned—he wished to pursue that trade, and whether the Arab Sheik had or had not any such authorization was a matter of perfect indifference to him. But Mr. Howard goes on—Moreover, that the question has now been placed on the ground of an international one, and that if His Most Faithful Majesty's Government reject the present proposals of the French Minister, more serious demands may be put forward, to which His Most Faithful Majesty's Government will no doubt eventually be obliged to yield.Now, I never heard of such degrading advice given to a foreign nation by a British Minister. This demand of giving up the ship could be complied with, and there would be no great loss to Portugal after the ship had been given up and the captain set free. England might very well consent or advise that that concession should be made, but "more serious demands may be put forward." Why, even supposing the French Government to have been entirely in the right, those serious demands would have been such an abuse of power that I should say that, so far from His Most Faithful Majesty being advised to yield, we should in such a case have been forced to interfere. It would have been according to our treaties, and according to our alliance. Supposing a demand had been made that the forts of Lisbon should be put into the possession of French troops; supposing that the independence of Portugal had been threatened, was the British Minister to say to Portugal, "You are to yield to everything that may be demanded. If you do not yield to this you will have further demands made upon you, and there is no demand which England will assist you in resisting; there shall be 1552 no demand to which you shall not be compelled to submit." Is this proper language for a British Minister to hold? I thought it would have called down the censure of the Earl of Malmesbury, and I looked to see what that noble Lord said about it, and I found these words:—"Her Majesty's Government entirely approve the judicious course which you have pursued." That was a judicious course. I cannot say that it is a judicious course to speak in such language as that to an Ally; and I think that the chief use of such discussions as this is to prevent a British Minister using such language again. I trust that in future more dignified advice will be given, and a more dignified line of conduct adopted. Perhaps, however, the worst fact which appears upon this correspondence is the indisposition which the French Government shows to adopt the spirit of the 23rd Protocol of Paris. It is, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs in France says, entirely a matter of will whether the course recommended in that Protocol should be adopted; but I must say that if in such a case as this, where the question itself was not of very great importance, where it was really a matter more of punctilio on both sides than anything else, the French Government, a powerful Government, refuses to submit the affair to arbitration, there is very little hope that that Protocol can hereafter be of any use. I had looked to that Protocol as a means, not of gaining time, as the Earl of Malmesbury represents it, but as a means of bringing to arbitration those questions, often trivial in themselves, in which the feelings of nations and of Governments get engaged, and which frequently, from slight causes, lead to the most aggravated and bloody wars. I had hoped that in such cases as those that Protocol would have been of use, because we cannot expect that in more serious cases it should be appealed to, or be of any advantage whatever. If one nation attacks another, if it be a question of conquest on one side and independence on the other, no one could suppose that a proposal to refer so serious a question to arbitration would be of any avail. It is in such cases as that now under discussion that the Protocol of Paris might really have been of use, and I cannot but be convinced from the perusal of these papers that if the Earl of Malmesbury, instead of discussing the question in the way he did, instead of always advising the Portuguese Government to yield upon some futile or false pretence, had seriously 1553 and honestly undertaken their cause at Paris with the French Government, if he had spoken friendly language, if he had pointed out to the Government of France how much their reputation in Europe must suffer by their using this violence against a small State,—if he had done all this, I cannot but believe that the French Government would have yielded to his remonstrances. I gather from all this correspondence, not certainly that the Government of this country were wrong in not making this a question of peace or war,—I think, on the contrary, that in that they were perfectly right—but I do gather from it that the Government of this country has not at Paris that influence which a faithful Ally ought to possess, and which the Government of so powerful a country as Great Britain ought to have with one who professes to wish for her welfare, and regard her friendship.
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
—Sir, a Motion for Papers, although not the most convenient one on which to impeach a Minister, has at all events some advantages for its supporters. It leaves them free to adopt each for himself any course which he may think fit, without any apprehension of coining into contest with his friends in the debate. And I think, Sir, that if ever that was exemplified it has been so in the discussion which we have heard to-night in support of this Motion. The hon. Member who moved the Resolution represents what I may call the warlike view of the question. He says that there was one occasion, and one only during the whole of these transactions on which the Government had taken any decided step, but that step they took in such a way as to make it altogether useless; because, although they asked the Admiralty to prepare a force to send to the Tagus, they took care to direct that it should be a small force; and, says the hon. Member, "It was quite right to send ships there, but you ought to have sent ships that would have answered the purpose." Answered what purpose? I think the House will spare me the trouble of answering that question. That is the view of the mover of the Resolution; but what did its Seconder, the hon. Member for Newport (Mr. Buxton) say in the speech to which we all listened with so much pleasure? He said,—"I do not think the Government should have used force. I think they would have been criminal if they had used force; but I advocate this Resolution because I think it is a good opportunity for expressing 1554 the regret of the House that the principle of mediation indicated in the Protocol of Paris was not attended to in this case." I shall have occasion, in a few moments, if the House will permit me, to consider in detail the reasons why that mediation was not resorted to, but, if he will allow me, I will now ask the hon. Gentleman this question—has he considered to whom principally in this case the impossibility of resorting to mediation was attributable? because, according to my judgment, the quarter from which the most serious objection to mediation came was Portugal itself. What did the Government of Portugal say? It said to both France and England, "We can do nothing in this matter; it is before our Court of Appeal, and we cannot stop the process of that Court. It is there and there only that it must be decided, and our constitution prevents our interfering." Of course, if that was so, mediation was out of the question; the Protocol of Paris could not be brought into action. Well, then, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Lowe) supports the Resolution upon another ground. He supports it as if it were a personal matter directed against the Earl of Malmesbury. He grants that Earl Cowley exerted himself, that every day he applied to the French Government, and urged such arguments as were proper to obtain the end in view; but the right hon. Gentleman contends that, as Earl Cowley did this, and not the Earl of Malmesbury, the Government ought to be blamed. He says that there ought to have been letters from the Earl of Malmesbury himself, and, as they cannot be found, he says, "Do, not listen to what Earl Cowley said." And the right hon. Gentleman allowed himself to be carried so far in his accusations against the Earl of Malmesbury that he finally adopted this view:—The Earl of Malmesbury had referred to the statement of Mr. M'Leod, who said that at the time he saw the ship she was in the bay of Conducia, that he did not suspect her to be French, or he would not have put the Mozambique Government in motion, and the right hon. Gentleman then added that Mr. M'Leod in so acting rightly interpreted the spirit of the Government that employed him. But did the right hon. Gentleman know when this occurred? It occurred in the month of November, 1857. Sir, I have heard observations made upon the spirit of the Government at that time, with regard to some of the States concerned in this discussion, but I am sur- 1555 prised to hear these reflections endorsed by the right hon. Gentleman, who was a Member of the Government at that time. Well, we have heard in the last place the observations of the noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord John Russell) who says that this is not a case for censure, but for criticism. To some of the criticisms of the noble Lord I must give my adhesion. He says that the Government were placed in a situation of great difficulty, that it was not a case in which they could have gone to war, that it was matter of the greatest embarrassment to know how any definite step was to be taken. In those opinions I concur; but I cannot concur with the noble Lord in other points, where his criticisms are founded on assertions of facts different from those which really occurred. If the House will permit me, I will endeavour to ascertain the view which the country and those who come after us are likely to adopt. In the first place, let us see, in a few words, the bearing of the treaty between Portugal and England. I put all the treaties aside, except that of 1703, on which the rights of Portugal to demand the assistance of England depend. That was a tripartite treaty between England, Portugal, and Holland, and it says that if the Kings of France or Spain threatened war, or gave cause to suspect that they intended to make war upon Portugal, England and Holland were to use their good offices with the said kings to prevent war. Secondly, it provided that if those good offices proved ineffectual Holland and Great Britain were to assist Portugal in defending herself in that war. My first observation is that the mode of applying for assistance under treaties is perfectly well known. Portugal was not ignorant upon this point. In 1826, the Princess Regent of Portugal addressed a letter to the Sovereign of this country, reminding him of the existence of this treaty, informing him that armed bands were pouring into Portugal from Spain, and applying for assistance under the treaty. What did this country do? Mr. Canning came down to this House, laid upon the table a message from the Sovereign, and called the attention of the House to that message. No doubt, many hon. Members remember that speech of Mr. Canning, and what were his arguments? He said it was necessary to show that a casus fœoederis had arisen, and that he was prepared to prove it. He proceeded to point out the facts in detail, he showed that a case had 1556 arisen, that Portugal had appealed under the treaty, and then he asked the House of Commons to lend assistance to Portugal. But was anything of that kind done here? Was the treaty of 1703 mentioned from first to last? No one would pretend to say it was, and the Prime Minister of Portugal himself stated that he did not think a casus fœderis had arisen. I put aside any charge against the Government for having neglected the literal obligation of the treaty. I admit that the spirit of the treaty called upon this country to take an interest in everything that affected the welfare of Portugal, and if our good offices could be appealed to under the treaty we should be called upon to render them. The next point is as to the question of international law. If a casus fœderis is made out, are you, without inquiry into the merits of the cause, bound to interfere in the quarrel? I maintain that you are not. Even where a treaty confessedly applies you are bound to look and see if your Ally was in the right or the wrong. But what are the facts of this case? The noble Lord the Member for the City of London says that the matters in dispute between Portugal and France involved questions of very considerable doubt. At any rate these doubts were sufficient to make a Government pause in any step they might take. In the first place the proclamation of the Governor of Mozambique warned the cruisers upon the coast to be cautious, that certain vessels had French delegates on board, and were not to be confounded with slavers. That is a document to which the French Government might have appealed. In the next place there were doubts at first, though these were afterwards cleared up, as to the ship being within the limits of the Portuguese waters at the time of her seizure. Then there is a doubt whether the Arab Shiek referred to had authority, and exercised it duly, in permitting the embarcation of negroes on board the Charles et Georges. These doubts were sufficient to make the Government pause before they acted. I will not, however, rest upon them, I will go to the ultimate ground relied on by France, on which the French Government demurred to the jurisdiction of Portugal. This ship had on board a delegate commissioned by the French Government. I will not enter into an international argument on this subject, but I will only say that we are interested as much as France can be in preserving the international law 1557 on this subject intact. The case of France to-day may be our case to-morrow, and I should regret if the house of Commons should declare the French statement of international law to be incorrect, that the municipal law ought not to judge a delegate and a ship under these circumstances. What is the case of this delegate? Why was he on board the ship? Baron Paiva, the Portuguese Minister at Paris, in one line admits that the "French Government had had on board a delegate for the express purpose of guaranteeing that the vessel was not engaged in the Slave Trade." The delegate was the officer of the French Government. He was not on board casually as a passenger, but as the ostensible representative of the French Government, to see that the vessel did not infringe the law of Portugal with regard to the Slave Trade. The French Government admitted the acts of that delegate, and there is no proposition clearer in international law than that, in such a case, the matter is withdrawn from the cognizance of the municipal courts, and becomes the subject of diplomatic negotiation. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe), has referred to authorities in the United States. He will find these principles clearly enunciated by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of the Invincible, and also affirmed by that eminent authority Mr. Justice Storey. The concurrent authority of that court and of that jurist establish the principle that where the Sovereign of a country has an agent and adopts the acts of that agent no municipal court has jurisdiction, and the matter in dispute becomes matter for diplomatic negotiation only. I will take the opinion of Earl Cowley himself, and we all recognize the great experience and sagacity of that noble Lord. He says again and again that he cannot absolve the Portuguese Government from blame, and that in his view the French Government having had a delegate on board, and having recognized the acts of that delegate, it was a matter that should be dealt with according to the country of nations, and ought not to be the subject of any prosecution before the Portuguese courts. The hon. Member for Bridgewater has asked how we could stop the proceedings in the Portuguese courts, and has said that no principle can be more sacred than this—that no executive Government can arrest the action of municipal courts. I quite agree with him as far as a suit between one person and ano- 1558 ther is concerned, but where is his authority for saying that when a State is itself the prosecutor, and its proceedings are contrary to the law of nations, there is anything inconsistent with the spirit of the constitution of any country in the world in requiring the State so situate to arrest the action of its courts, and submit the matter in dispute to diplomatic negotiation? What was done by ourselves in the case of the Caroline? During the disturbances in Canada a party of Loyalists heard that a steamboat called the Caroline was carrying provisions and arms from the American shore to the Canadian rebels. They formed themselves into a body, cut out the Caroline from the American shore, and allowed her to drift over the falls of the river. In that operation one American subject was killed. A few years afterwards—in 1840—a Mr. M'Leod happened to be in New York, and, though a British Canadian, he was arrested by the State officers upon the charge of the murder of the man so killed, and put upon his trial. Our Minister in America, Mr. Fox, without instructions in the first instance from his Government, protested against the arrest and trial of Mr. M'Leod, on the ground that the English Government recognized and were responsible for his acts. Mr. Forsyth, the American Minister, controverted that doctrine of international law, but the Government at home approved what Mr. Fox had done, acknowledged their responsibility for the acts of Mr. M'Leod, whom they represented to be their recognized agent, and for whose release they made a formal demand upon the American Government, thus clearly claiming to put a stop to the action of the American courts. How was that spirited remonstrance received on the other side of the Atlantic? Mr. Webster, who had succeeded Mr. Forsyth, and than whom a more eminent jurist never lived, fully admitted the principle laid down by the English Government, and, although there was some difficulty in applying it, owing to the peculiar constitution of the American Republic, which gave the Federal Union no power over the State of New York, yet Mr. Webster told the local Attorney General that he might proceed with the prosecution of Mr. M'Leod if he pleased, but that the case would be brought by appeal to the Supreme Court (where the doctrines of international law would come into operation), and that the Federal Union would then order the prisoner to be discharged. 1559 I have said so much because I am unwilling to let it be supposed that the Government acquiesce in the statements which have been made to-night with respect to the power of municipal courts as against the sovereign power of other countries. But I must remind the hon. Member for Bridgewater (Mr. Kinglake) when he talks of Portugal being unable to stop the action of its courts, of a case which occurred only last year, and in which we ourselves were deeply interested—the case of the Cagliari. The argument of the King of Naples in that case was exactly that of the hon. Member. He said that the courts of Naples had got jurisdiction of the matter, and he could not arrest their proceedings, but our Government demurred to the jurisdiction of the Neapolitan courts, and demanded that justice should be done by the King himself, as the Sovereign of Naples, to the country which he had wronged. That is exactly the case of which we are now speaking, because if it be true, as the French Government allege, in accordance with the doctrines of international law, that for the acts of their delegate on board the Charles et Georges they were alone responsible, there was no jurisdiction on the part of the Portuguese municipal courts to carry on a prosecution against the ruling power of another State. But the right hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Lowe) has asked why the English Government did not form an opinion at the time upon the position of the French delegate and announce it to the parties concerned. I do not think it was at all necessary to do so. It would have been necessary if any of our own acts had been called in question, but in the case which actually occurred all we had to do was—without pronouncing a definite opinion where one was not required—to see that reasonable, earnest, and proper steps were taken for effecting an amicable arrangement between France and Portugal. And here I come to what I admit to be the main point of the case. Did the Earl of Malmesbury make fair and reasonable exertions for accommodating the matter in dispute between the two countries? The noble Lord the Member for the City is persuaded that if the Foreign Secretary had firmly, but with conciliatory language, exhorted the French Government to settle the question by mediation, he would have succeeded. Will the House permit me to ask its attention to a few dates? I put aside altogether everything that occurred 1560 before the end of September, because, although it is true that on the 6th of March the fact was communicated to us that in the opinion of the French Minister the affair of the Charles et Georges was assuming a grave aspect, yet a few days afterwards we were informed—what appeared to be quite inconsistent with the idea of there being a grave quarrel between the two countries—that the question had been brought by appeal before the courts of Lisbon, and that no objection had been taken by the French Minister, and it was not till the 28th of August that we heard of anything more having occurred between France and Portugal on the subject. Upon the 28th of August, Mr. Howard, for the first time, sent home a long account of the steps which had been taken with regard to the Charles et Georges up to that time; but in that despatch we are not told that the French Government objected or demurred to the jurisdiction of the municipal courts of Portugal. The first time we heard that was upon the 24th or 25th of September, when Lord Malmesbury received a letter from Mr. Howard dated the 18th, stating not that he was authorized to demand our good offices in pursuance of the treaty of 1703, but that he thought or conjectured the Marquis de Loulé would be glad if we offered our good offices towards procuring an amicable settlement with the French Government. Upon the 25th of September, the very day on which that letter was received, the Earl of Malmesbury replied to Mr. Howard, commissioning him to offer our good offices to Portugal if she should desire them. The noble Lord the Member for the City asks why we did not use our good offices at once, or do anything more than enclose the correspondence to Earl Cowley. My answer is twofold. In the first place, we only offered our good offices to Portugal if she should desire them; and, assuming that diplomatic matters are managed pretty much upon the same principle as the affairs of common life, I have yet to learn that it is customary for a man, when he is willing to mediate between two disputants, to go immediately to one of the parties without consulting the other as to whether his good offices are wanted. Portugal had not asked for our good offices, and we had no pretence, therefore, for commencing negotiations at Paris. But in the second place, we sent the correspondence to Earl Cowley that he might use it in whatever way his great experience and sagacity might suggest. Let the House re- 1561 member that we were not dealing with a child or a more clerk, who required to be told how to act under all conceivable circumstances, but with an able and experienced Minister, who would see from the correspondence how the matter stood, and who, if he could judiciously, would carry into effect that which the Earl of Malmesbury said he was willing should be done, though not as if it had been asked by the Portuguese Government. That was on the 26th of September, and on the 30th of September, which appears to be the day when Earl Cowley had his first interview with Count Walewski on this matter, Earl Cowley broached the subject, in pursuance of the Earl of Malmesbury's letter, asked what tidings he had from Portugal, and then pointed out those matters which he thought might smooth down any irritation in the mind of the French Government. The result was that, on the whole, Count Walewski's language was very conciliatory; and Earl Cowley felt certain that the Count regretted that the case had arisen, and would gladly see it settled. The conversation at that interview therefore led Earl Cowley and the Government to hope for a conciliatory solution of the matter. Again, on the 28th of September the Marquis de Louié, we are informed, asks the English Government to render their good offices. On the 3rd of October Earl Cowley armed with this authorization proposed arbitration, not mediation, under the Protocol of Paris, to Count Walewski. Did Count Walewski refuse? No, he said he would consider it; and on the 5th of October, the moment Earl Cowley got Count Walewski's answer, he telegraphed that arbitration was refused. The right hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Lowe) had said that, strangely enough, as soon as arbitration was refused Earl Cowley proposed arbitration. The right hon. Member confounds "arbitration" with "mediation." The two things are perfectly distinct. In "arbitration" both parties are bound by the result, but in "mediation," which is what the Paris Protocol recommends, neither are. When arbitration was refused the Earl Cowley, therefore, proposed mediation by the Protocol of Paris. That was on the 6th of October, and on the same day he received a telegram stating that Portugal had adopted exactly the same course. Therefore, up to that time not a day was lost. On the next day but one, on October 8th, Earl Cowley says that he had had one interview with Count Walewski, and was to have another on the sub- 1562 ject of mediation; and that it was M. de Paiva's intention to address a further note to Count Walewski, offering to submit the question to the mediation of a friendly Power. On the 10th of October we have the ultimate result of the second proposition to Count Walewski to submit the question to mediation, which was a refusal. It has been said that this was the time for the English Government to have taken a decided step. But singularly enough, on the same day Count Lavradio comes upon the scene, and he and Earl Cowley commence a new negotiation. On the 13th of October, Earl Cowley writes that there was then every probability of the affair receiving a satisfactory solution. On the 14th of October the Portuguese Minister sets out for Lisbon to explain the proposal to his Government and ensure their consent. On the 16th of October a despatch is sent to Mr. Howard to apprize him of the terms agreed on in Paris. With respect to the despatch of the 15th of October, the hon. Member for Bridgewater said that such a solution of the difficulty was unworthy of a British Minister who was in possession of Earl Cowley's letter, detailing the new terms. But the explanation was very simple. Though the despatch went through the Foreign Office, yet it was written by the Earl of Malmesbury in Scotland before he had seen Earl Cowley's letter, but that letter of Lord Cowley was sent to Mr. Howard at the same time with the Earl of Malmesbury's despatch, so that Mr. Howard was in possession of the latest information. Some informality in the proceedings was all that was wanted by Portugal to afford her fair ground for an honourable exit out of the difficulty; and what the Earl of Mahnesbury did was to point out the means of getting out of it. On the 18th of October M. Lavradio, who is in London, comes to the Foreign Office, sees my hon. Friend (Mr. FitzGerald), and tells him the arrangement is satisfactory. On that day, the 18th of October, Mr. Howard writes to the Earl of Malmesbury, returning the thanks of the Portuguese Government for the offer of our good offices, and with that ends the whole of the information in this country as to what was being done in Portugal. We are then told the matter is arranged, and that the terms on which it is arranged that the Charles et Georges is to be given up are to be left to the mediation of a friendly power. From the 18th of October until the 25th we have no information on the subject. The right 1563 hon. Gentleman asks, what did the Chancellor of the Exchequer mean by saying we had obtained favourable terms for Portugal. I say, we obtained through the intervention of Earl Cowley, assisting the Count Lavradio, those terms which were pronounced satisfactory at Paris, and which were obtained in that way. It is true these were not carried out, but that was not the fault of Her Majesty's Government. On the 25th of October we hear that the ship is released, and on the 27th of that month Mr. Howard writes us a narrative of the extraordinary circumstances that took place at Lisbon. It turned out that M. de Lisle had received a letter from Count Walewski authorizing him to make terms with the Portuguese Government with regard to the giving up of the Charles et Georges. That letter went on to say there was to be a mediation, but a mediation only as to indemnity, and that the French Government would admit of no mediation on the question of principle. "We decline that mediation," said Portugal, "if it is only to be on the question of indemnity, because that will involve the admission that we were in the wrong." If it had rested there the Portuguese Government were right; but the noble Lord has overlooked a state of things related by Mr. Howard in his letter of the 27th of October. Mr. Howard says, although the Marquis de Lisle began by saying on the 23rd he was bound by a letter of Count Walewski, which limited the proposal of mediation to the question of the amount of indemnity for the interested parties, yet on the 24th, after reconsidering the question he proposed new terms. Those new terms are, to my mind, very different from a mere mediation as to indemnity. Up to this time the French Minister at Lisbon had confined himself to the matter of mediation as to indemnity; but at last he enlarges his proposal, and seeks to carry the mediation to the question of the legality of the embarkation of the negroes. I think that, at all events, was a very substantial alteration in the proposal. But when the Marquis de Lisle was willing to go so far, what should have been the course of the Portuguese Government? They ought to have said, "We will take what you now give, though we object to some of the details; but, as you go so far, the rest is a matter that may be arranged." The course, however, taken by the Portuguese Government was entirely wrong. Mr. Howard says:—The Marquis de Lisle saw the Marquis de 1564 Loulé shortly after his reception of this note, and expressed his regret at the non-acceptation by Portugal of the proposed partial mediation. He produced, at the same time, the sketch of an arrangement, in three articles, herewith enclosed, containing a wording on that subject slightly varying from the letter of Count Walewski's despatch of the 13th inst., and to which as a proof of his anxiety to contribute to a conciliatory settlement, he said he would take it upon himself to agree. The Marquis de Loulé replied, that the Portuguese Government had already taken their decision in this matter, and also declined M. de Lisle's offer to present him with the ultimatum of the French Government.I hope the hon. Member for Newport (Mr. Buxton) who attaches so much importance to the Paris Protocol, will consider this. Does he concur in the course taken at Lisbon by the Portuguese Government? I have heard a great deal about the spirited appeal which the Portuguese Government made to public opinion upon the subject; but I have not heard why they refused this altered proposal for mediation, or, at all events, why they did not give some reason for declining it. I regret to find that according to my view of the transaction what took place is not by any means accurately stated. This is what they said:—With regard to the mediation suggested by the Imperial Government for fixing the sum to be demanded as compensation, the Government considered that, as mediation was not accepted by the French Government with reference to the question of right, the only one which affected the honour and dignity of this country, the Portuguese Government ought not to accept it upon a pecuniary question, leaving it to France to proceed on this point as she might think fit.I say that is not an accurate statement of what took place. It was unfair to keep the Portuguese people in ignorance of the second offer that had been made to the Government of Portugal; and although I am not here to urge that the course taken by the French Government was right, we should award blame where blame is due, and I cannot help censuring the Portuguese authorities for putting aside the greatly modified proposal which was made to them by the Marquis de Lisle. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) has also criticised the letter of Mr. Howard of the 21st October to the Marquis de Loulé in which that Gentleman said, "I am without instructions from my Government concerning the particular proposals in question." The right hon. Gentleman said that alone was sufficient to condemn the Government. But it turns out these were not the proposals agreed to at Paris but the altered proposals; and if the right hon. Gentleman refers to another page of 1565 the papers he will find that there was sent to Mr. Howard the whole narrative of what took place at Paris, so that he was not without instructions as to the propositions to which he might safely have assented. I say he had instructions because there was sent Earl Cowley's despatch, which stated how the whole matter had been agreed to in Paris by the Portuguese representatives. I have gone through these points, because of the noble Lord's criticisms; and now I have to state the conclusions at which I have arrived, and at which I think the House will also arrive. I agree, in the first place in all that has been said as to the objectionable nature of the traffic which was the foundation of these transactions. I must add, however, that the objection seems to me to come with rather a bad grace from Portugal when we remember that these papers show that the main ground of the Portuguese complaint is that slaves—branded slaves belonging to Portuguese subjects—were stolen away from their owners or were sold by them to be sent to a colony where, in theory at least, they would be free men. I agree that the French Government may perhaps regret the too summary manner in which they acted, and I regret, too, that the Portuguese Government did not agree to a mediation according to the Protocol of Paris. I maintain, however, that, as a matter of international law, the French Government were right when they insisted that the presence and recognition of a French delegate withdrew the vessel from the jurisdiction of the Portuguese Courts. I maintain that Portugal never applied to us and never could have applied to us under the treaty of 1703. I maintain that we had secured for Portugal in Paris favourable terms, by which this dispute might have been settled; and, moreover, that Portugal refused at Lisbon terms which in substance were little short of what her representative had agreed to in Paris. I maintain that even if Portugal had objected to assent to these modified terms, yet still she was bound to have stated her reasons, and not to have closed the door to further negotiation. Sir, I maintain further that Her Majesty's Government throughout these discussions, availing themselves of the valuable services of Earl Cowley in Paris, did consistently from day to day exhibit their good offices in favour of Potugal. I think that these results are the same as those at which the House will arrive; and I must add that they appear to me to be in substance the results which 1566 must have been arrived at by the hon. Member for Bridgewater, who, on an imputation against Her Majesty's Ministers of non-adherence to national faith, contents himself by placing in your hands a Motion for papers.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, that he thought it was desirable that the debate should be adjourned as hon. Members who were anxious to address the House upon the subject were not very likely at that hour to receive a very patient hearing.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he thought they ought to understand what was the question before the House. He believed his hon. Friend the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs had stated that he was prepared to give any papers upon that subject which had an actual existence. But of course, if hon. Gentlemen opposite wished to continue the conversation, it was not for them to throw any impediment in their way. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridgewater would probably in that case be able to find some day for going on with his Motion.
said, that the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs had refused to produce a portion of the correspondence.
§ Debate adjourned till Thursday.