§ MR. CAVE
Sir, I cannot but be sensible that in introducing this subject to the House I render myself liable to the charge of reviving a question which is speculative rather than practical, which belongs to the sentimentalist rather than to the statesman. I know that Colonial matters naturally excite less lively attention here than questions which more intimately concern those whom we represent; but I hope to show that this Motion is practical rather than speculative, that this is not merely a Colonial but a grave imperial question; and I am sure it is one which excites much interest out of doors, from the letters I have received from people of various classes and opinions since first I placed these Resolutions on the paper, some containing valuable, others very strange suggestions. My chief excuse, however, is, that since I took the liberty of asking the noble Lord, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, a question on this subject, some very important documents have come to light. One, a circular from the noble Lord himself, dated July 11th, 1860, to be found at the end of the correspondence relating to emigration from Canton, and addressed to France, Spain, Portugal, and the United States. Secondly, the reply to that circular from the President of the United States, dated August last. And here I may perhaps be allowed to say that, though in the main concurring with that reply, I read with pain the somewhat arrogant tone which Mr. Trescott, the Secretary at Washington, allowed himself to use—a tone certainly not warranted by the noble Lord's temperate and conciliatory language. The other documents to which I refer are the ordinary slave trade correspondence of 1860, class A and B, and the convention with France on Coolie immigration. The publication of these very important documents may excuse my 951 troubling the House, especially as the I noble Lord has propounded a new policy, against a portion of which I feel it my duty, with great deference, most earnestly to protest. My first Resolution is not, I fear, difficult of proof. The noble Lord distinctly states in his circular that—During the last two years the slave trade has again increased; that at the present moment it is actively carried on for supplying slaves to the island of Cuba; and recent intelligence proves that preparations are being made for prosecuting the trade on a most extensive scale!MR. Crawford, Consul-General at Havana, writes, that the number of slaves imported in 1858 was known to be nearly 17,000, and was probably much greater; that in 1859 that number had increased to upwards of 30,000; and we hear that last year between 40,000 and 50,000 were landed, besides a large number of Chinese; and that the sugar crop had reached the enormous amount of half a million tons. In the two debates on the Motions of the hon. Member for Gateshead, in 1850 and 1851, hon. Members may have remarked a curious contrast. At the first epoch Brazil was the great offender, and Cuba nearly innocent. At the latter period, the effect of the noble Lord's measure of 1846 had began to tell, and the case was completely reversed. Had, then, the squadron extinguished the trade with Brazil? It had contributed to do so. Brazil set at nought her obligations to us for many years. In 1845 we passed an Act authorizing stringent measures. Instructions were some years later issued in conformity with that Act. A British cruiser, the Cormorant, cut out a slaver under a Brazilian fort, and, being fired upon, destroyed the fort itself. This circumstance, united with a general impression that the negro population in the country was large enough, and a hostile feeling to the Portuguese slave-traders induced and enabled the Government to put an end to the trade. Not that they have kept faith in other respects, as nearly 30,000 emancipados, entitled to their freedom, are kept still in bondage. In Cuba no such considerations prevail. All are interested in the importation of negroes from the least to the greatest. The high profits of cultivation enable the planter to give 1,000 dollars for a slave who cost less than twenty dollars on the coast. Our squadron no doubt much increases the cost of the passage, and checks the demand by enhancing the price; but with such a margin of profit 952 the demand will always be met by supply. Such vigorous measures as we employed against Brazil might be more effectual, and so thinks the President of the United States; for Mr. Trescott writes—The slavers must be prevented from landing their cargoes in Cuba; or, if landed, the slaves must be followed into the interior and set free. Whenever Her Britannic Majesty's Government shall think proper in its discretion to enforce the provisions of the treaty with Spain, by which the Spanish Court undertook to abolish the slave trade, and accepted £400,000 to enable it to do so; then, and not till then, in the President's opinion, will the trade be abolished.The noble Lord proposes a plan of cruising on the coast of Cuba by vessels of Spain, the United States, and Great Britain; what reply has been received from Spain I know not, but the President most flatly refuses this most reasonable proposal. This, Sir, brings me to the question of whether the squadron might be made more efficient. I am one who thinks it does good even now. It clears those seas of piracy, and protects the growing civilization of the west coast of Africa, but it cannot watch so great a length of coast. A portion of it should be stationed in the West Indies. It may be said that this has already been done, and was discontinued on account of collisions with America. True, but why was this? Simpty because one of the first vessels taken was full of dollars coming out of Havana. This turned the activity of our cruisers in that direction, and several American vessels were overhauled on suspicion, and as it is not easy to detect a slaver on her outward voyage, many mistakes were made. But if, instead of watching for vessels leaving Havana empty, our cruisers watched for vessels coming in full of slaves there could be no mistake. Naval officers know that if you get to leeward it is impossible to mistake the horrible effluvium of a slaver. They know, too, that in these latitudes the trade wind always blows from east to west, and near the shore the breeze blows from the land all night and dies away for some time about sunrise; and that there are two comparatively narrow channels by which vessels come from the East to Cuba, and which are far from the track of fair traders from America. A few fast steamers north and south of Jamaica would make more captures than all the African squadron put together. The noble Lord indicates also the plan of civilizing and converting Africa itself. Sir, I am the last 953 man to undervalue what has been done there; but I cannot avoid remembering that the slave-trade has been carried on by the most civilized and Christian nations in the world. I know the great demand for palm oil has caused a line of vessels to trade regularly with Africa, and carry goods in exchange. The same may doubtless be done in the case of cotton, but those improvements must be the work of generations, and, after all, the labour can hardly be called free. Captain Forbes says, that even in Liberia slaves are bought and sold as in the United States. Captain Forbes, who commanded a cruiser in the African squadron, went also on two missions to the King of Dahomey for the purpose of inducing him to abandon the slave trade; and he gives this account of his principal interview with the Mayo or Prime Minister, without whom the King could do nothing:—We showed him, he says, some silk handkerchiefs, and told him if he would grow palm oil he might have shiploads of such, and explained the position of those countries which had relinquished the infamous slave trade, but I fear to little purpose. Pocketing two gold rings and a hankerchief, he hid us good-bye, explaining that the slave trade was very lucrative, and that it would take some time to grow the palm trees,To show there is little improvement in Dahomey since that time I need only advert to the account arrived last week of the barbarous massacres in memory of the king whom Forbes visited, and almost in the presence of the envoy sent from Her Majesty to remonstrate against such barbarity. Another remedy proposed by the noble Lord is registration and inspection, respecting which these are the opinions of the President of the United States:—The Government of the United States could not ask Spain to pass such laws; but, were this otherwise, it is quite certain that such laws would have no practical effect; for if Her Majesty's Government are well aware that the price of sugar affords the slave-trader profits which enable him to corrupt the authorities, and if joint-stock companies are established at Havana for the purpose of prosecuting the slave trade under the eye of the highest officials in the island, and with perfect impunity, it would be vain to expect the registrars would counteract the policy of their superiors by faithfully performing their duty.Vain, indeed! but both Her Majesty's Government, and that of Washington, seem to have overlooked a fact which Lord Clarendon, when in office, announced in the House of Lords, in terms of the highest satisfaction — that in March, 1851, the Queen of Spain had signed decrees for this 954 very registration and inspection, so that all slaves introduced after that time should be immediately free—decrees which have been as well observed as Spanish laws usually are. They may be found in Slave Trade Correspondence B, 1854–5, in no less than three chapters and fifty-six sections. Lastly, the noble Lord relies on free labour as his remedy. So far I have the honour to concur; but as to the quarter in which that remedy is to be applied I do most entirely disagree. The convention to which I referred, offers facilities to France, and greater facilities I may say than those at that time conceded to our colonies, for obtaining our Indian subjects from Calcutta as a bribe for ceasing to revive contrary to treaty, the American slave trade. I protested last Session against this measure on the ground that when once out of our jurisdiction, the coolies were at the mercy of their employers. Facts since published have increased my objections to it. The Rev. Mr. Beaton, formerly chaplain to the forces in Mauritius, made a visit to Bourbon, the result of which appeared in two volumes published last year. He writes: —Coolie immigration to Bourbon has proved a failure. In this case the Indians were justified in refusing to embark at Bourbon, and there was some foundation for the reports which were circulated amongst them, and which led them to prefer the West Indies to an island which they could reach in twenty days. It was not my object in visiting Bourbon to obtain political information, or to inquire whether the coolies were treated with justice; hut I was led into frequent interviews with them, and could not but discover some of the grievances of which they justly complain. I never heard a coolie in Mauritus intimate that he had not left India of his own free choice. I never met a coolie at Bourbon who did not affirm that he had been trepanned in some way.He goes on to say:—His wages are diminished by deductions, so that it is only natural that he should incur debt, and thus become the slave of the man who advanced the money. Nineteen-twentieths of the coolies in Bourbon are British subjects, and therefore have claim upon the Government of India.He says that we should be justified in preventing the immigration, but he concludes:—There is no necessity for extreme measures. The evil has cured itself. No human being is more alive to his own interests than the Hindoo, and he has discovered that he is consulting his own interests when he refuses to embark for Bourbon. Hence the coolies who leave Bourbon never return, while those in Mauritius frequently do so, and bring others with them.Well, Sir, what does this Convention do? It gives the French another port in 955 India, so distant from the one where they have already such a bad name that not a man will trust them, that they will be enabled, under the sanction of the British Government to entrap, under false pretences till again found out, the unhappy people who trust—vainly, indeed—to our better knowledge to protect them. The French colonies cannot be called really free countries. A letter in The Times last December — anonymous indeed, but never contradicted — gives this picture of Cayenne:—Certain proprietors act to their emigrants of every description, whether African or Chinese, as if they were slaves. They scarcely feed them, and they pay them no wages. They address them in the harshest language, and even strike them in the face. In fact they treat their labourers in a way in which the law forbids them to treat their animals.But, Sir, if these objections are so strong against immigration to countries in which slavery has been nominally abolished, with how much greater force do they apply to those in which slavery still exists in its most atrocious forms? Yet this is one of the suggestions of the circular of the noble Lord. Under any circumstances it seems to me derogatory to the dignity of this country that we should go cap in hand to Spain, and say to them, "You have broken every treaty we have ever made with you on this subject for nearly half a century. You received in 1818, £400,000, now amounting with interest to a million and a half, (which if we made you refund, would pay for the introduction of 80,000 Chinese into our Colonies) as compensation for giving up the slave trade, and you have used it instead as capital for carrying on that trade to a greater extent. You have laughed at your promises to us in 1835, and your own law of 1854. You have done all this; you have defied us all this time, made us a laughing-stock, but cannot you be persuaded to save our credit? Will not Chinese do as well for you as Africans?" But I am quite sure the noble Lord could never have been aware of the way in which these Chinese are treated, or he would have been the last man in the world to have sanctioned this measure. I know the hon. Member for Poole—whose absence, and the cause of it, I much regret—imagines the Chinese are not badly treated in Cuba, because he saw no instance when there. Well, Sir, I have been in almost every slave colony in the West Indies and through the slave States of 956 America, and I never saw a slave ill-treated. Sir, these things are not done in open day. Public opinion, even in slave countries, will not tolerate this. Hon. Members may go through the streets of London without seeing an infringement of the Act for the prevention of cruelty to animals; but who doubts the fact?—who can tell even how his groom treats his horse when his back is turned? I will, out of a mass of evidence on this subject select two passages—one by an English the other by an American Author which puts the fact beyond a doubt. The first is from Russell, the author of the Agriculture and Climate of North America, who visited Cuba for scientific purposes in 1855. He writes thus—The condition of the Chinese is not much better than that of the slave, for he is coerced as unsparingly, and is not so well fitted to endure such treatment. I was told that large numbers of the Chinese had committed suicide, and, were the facts known, it would be found that a small proportion withstood the rigours of their treatment during the long apprenticeship. This must be pretty obvious when it is borne in mind that the mortality among the negroes is from six to ten per cent annually, and vastly larger in some cases. I heard it affirmed that there was little chance of the Chinese being freed on the expiry of their term of service, and, certainly, probabilities are in favour of that view. The humane statutes regulating hours of labour, and favouring the slave purchasing his liberty, are now totally inoperative. It is also well known that many of the negroes taken by our cruisers were landed in Cuba, where the mixed commission set them free, but apprenticed them for a limited number of years to the planters, who have made the apprenticeship perpetual, and so their condition is no better than if they had been sold at once.We have seen the sympathy expressed from one end of the country to the other for Anderson — one man escaping from the service to which he was born. Is there less for those thousands upon thousands for whose liberty we are in a manner responsible? Dana, the well-known American author of Two Tears before the Mast, writes thus of Cuba, which he visited in 1859, four years after Russell:—Yesterday I drove out to see the coolie gaol, or market, where the imported coolies are kept for sale. The dealer did not deny their tendency to suicide. Those coolies that are taken to British islands are under contracts understood and enforced; not so these. The prevailing impression is that they will he brought in debt, and bound over again for their debts (like the coolies in Bourbon), or in some other way secured to a life-long servitude. That they are kept in strict confinement till sold, and then kept to labour by force there is no doubt. Their presence in Cuba adds another distressing element to the difficulties 957 of the labour question which hangs like a black cloud over all the islands of the West Indies.I need only refer to the terrible mutinies and disasters on board ships from China and Cuba, unknown in those going to our Colonies, and at the high price paid for the coolies in Cuba—four times what we can afford—which proves that they will not be treated and paid as free men. The facts I have adduced prove beyond a doubt that the system is one which ought not for a moment to be tolerated by the Government of England. Can we doubt that if one-fiftieth part of these abuses were alleged against immigration to British colonies it would be at once prohibited? Yet it is to Cuba, as we learn, that cotton seeds have been sent from the Foreign Office to try the experiment whether we may not be supplied with cotton as well as sugar from thence. It is in British colonies alone that justice and true liberty can be, insured to the immigrant. This is proved by the testimony of the governors. It is admitted in the Colonial Office; and, though articles dictated by ignorance and prejudice occasionally appear in a certain class of the public press, it is generally appreciated by the country at large. I will not enumerate the difficulties surmounted before this point was gained. Year after year we met nothing but obstruction. Every facility we demanded was opposed by a busy knot of men, who, occupying the places of those who put I away the slave trade and slavery from amongst us, fail to see what they would have seen, that the next step was to assist our free Colonies in every way to make head against the slavery of foreign countries. Happily this is past. The noble Lord, the Member for King's Lynn, who has seen both East and West Indies, in-agurated a new policy, and I will only trouble the House with a single piece of evidence, the more valuable as coming from a society, formerly, though I hope no longer, most hostile to the West Indians. Mr. Underhill, a Baptist missionary, having visited Trinidad, writes thus:—This system is approved by every class of persons. I converse with Government officials, planters, missionaries, store-keepers, and coolies themselves. I did not hear a single complaint. Men of the most opposite opinions all concurred in this, that immigration is a success. The houses of the coolies are better, to say the least, than their houses in India. They looked well-fed, happy, and contented. Their lowest wages is 10d. a day for four hours, many earn treble that. Contrary to expectation it has improved the con- 958 dition of the negroes. The command of coolie labour has increased the growth of the sugar-cane. With this there has necessarily arisen a demand for hedges and ditches, drainage, carpenters, coopers, enginemen, &c. The demand for ground provisions to supply the wants of coolie labourers has increased. There is, therefore, a great demand for labour of a remunerative kind. The garden produce finds a better market. All these occupations are being rapidly taken up by the negro. The coolie is, therefore, no competitor with the negro in the labour-market, and no ill-feeling exists because of the displacement of one by the other. Coolie labour opens a wider field of exertion to the negro, and he is rapidly becoming the partizan and skilled labourer of the Trinidad community.Still, however, we fail to take a broad and comprehensive view of this great question. The Emperor of the French—whose wisdom, at least in his generation, no one doubts—strains every nerve to pour labourers into his colonies. Spain risks a war with England to increase her population in Cuba. The people of England have determined to have as much sugar and cotton as they require without asking questions. It must be made by free or slave labour. It cannot be made by free labour without immigration. Yet we persist in viewing immigration as a concession to the planters to be grudgingly and suspiciously bestowed. Seven hundred re-captured Africans are at this moment at Ascension, and it seems nobody's business to take them away. Seventy thousand free negroes are said to be ready to leave the Southern States for Jamaica. The Governor of that colony is told that on grounds of international policy Her Majesty's Government cannot sanction it. Others wish to leave Canada for a more genial climate, but no move is made to assist them. Again, we saddle the planter who employs the immigrant and pays the same rate of wages as his neighbour, with two-thirds of the cost of his introduction, thereby confining immigration to a very narrow limit; yet the whole colony benefits before the planter. He pays the weekly wages which the immigrant spends; the shopkeeper benefits; the importer benefits; the revenue benefits from an increased consumption of dutiable commodities, while the planter does not know till the end of the year whether he has lost or gained by the crop. Surely no better employment can be found for the surplus revenue of a thinly-peopled colony than the introduction of fresh hands; and even the mother country, which has been spending half a million a year for half a century in a temporary hindrance 959 to the slave trade, may find it true economy, by loans and guarantees for the same purpose, to try a means of stopping it for ever. Whether free labour can be made absolutely cheaper than slave labour in the tropics, I doubt; that it can be made practically cheaper, I have little doubt, because the employers of free labour will be content with smaller profits; and, therefore, Barbadoes, with its immense free population, gallantly holds its own against the formidable competition of Cuba. The slave owners are like men employed in dangerous trades—they must be well paid for the risk. Pestilence may decimate their human chattels, conspiracies may endanger their own lives. Prosperous as they seem, a sword hangs over their heads,—Incedunt per ignes suppositos cinori doloso.If, then, the prosperity of our Colonies be a national question, if the saving of half a million a year be a national question, and especially if a consistent policy be a national question, this is a national question. When the history of these times is read and the minor motives which actuate statesmen are forgotten, men will not cease to wonder that a nation which did so much to destroy slavery in its own Colonies should have done so much more to encourage it in foreign countries—that a Government which kept an armed force to suppress the slave trade should have offered commercial advantages which induced that trade to set that force at defiance. In conclusion, then, I can see but two alternatives. The one to strike at the root of slavery and the slave trade, by cutting off the commercial profits. The other to withdraw our squadron to let our colonies succumb, and to continue, as we are at present, the greatest consumers of slave produce in the world. But let us have nothing to do with these empirical remedies, which only heal over the ulcer to make it break out with fresh virulence elsewhere; and which, while taking credit for extinguishing the slave trade, substitute for it a system which, from the length of the voyage and character of the victims, is infinitely more crue than that which it professes to destroy. Thanking the House for the patience with which it has listened to this dry subject, I beg to move the Resolutions which stand on the paper in my name:—That the means hitherto employed by this Country for the suppression of the African Slave Trade have failed to accomplish that object.960That this failure has mainly arisen from our having endeavoured, almost exclusively, to prevent the supply of Slaves, instead of to check the demand for them.That the true remedy is not to be found in countenancing immigration into those countries where Slavery exists, but in augmenting the working population of those in which Slavery has been abolished.That, therefore, while repressive measures should be continued, and even rendered more effective, every possible encouragement and assistance should be given to the introduction of Free Immigrants, and especially of Settlers from China, into the British West India Colonies.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the means hitherto employed by this Country for the suppression of the African Slave Trade have failed to accomplish that object.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
The hon. Gentleman has proposed his Resolution to the House in a very able, and, at the same time, a very feeling though temperate speech. It is worth the while of this House frequently to consider this subject, and if any hon. Member of this House will point out means by which the slave trade can be more rapidly and more effectually suppressed, I am sure our time will not be lost in considering any such suggested remedy. I shall, however, reserve what I have to say with respect to the Motion of the hon. Gentleman until I have made some observations upon the comments with which he has introduced his proposal. Now, Sir, in the first place, we have happily got rid, and we ought at all times to be thankful to God that we have got rid of slavery in our own possessions. I remember the time when Mr. Canning came to this House and made some twelve or thirteen proposals which were proposals of the Government, not for the abolition or extinction, but for the mitigation of slavery in our West Indian Colonies, with a view certainly to its final extinction. Among those propositions were some of a most humane character. But some months, I think a year afterwards, Mr. Canning came down to this House again and said that his propositions had not been favourably received in the West India colonics, and that there was one particularly to which the West Indian colonists objected, because its adoption would be fatal to their property and to the continuance of the labour upon which their incomes depended. Now, this proposition was that the flogging of women should be abolished. That was the proposition which Mr. Canning said 961 the West India colonies would not suffer and which they would not have. Happily we have gone far beyond the ideas of those times, for we have not only witnessed plans for the immigration of slavery and for the apprenticing of negroes, but we have seen that noble scheme for the abolition of slavery in the West Indies, which was introduced into this House by the Earl of Derby, adopted and carried into effect. At the same time that we were adopting plans of our own for the abolition of slavery, we made endeavours by treaties to abolish the slave trade carried on by other nations. The hon. Gentleman says, I cannot conceive upon what foundation, that we have been promoting slavery in other countries. That our efforts, unhappily, have not been successful I admit—that is to say, successful to the extent of totally suppressing slavery or the slave trade—but all our efforts have certainly been aimed in that direction, and to a considerable extent they have unquestionably interfered with and obstructed the slave trade. There is, however, this consideration to be borne in mind, that while the whole nation with willingness, I may say with enthusiasm, adopted the plans for the suppression of the English slave trade, and extinguished English slavery, there is in other countries no such moral public opinion against their slave trade or slavery upon which we can count upon as of efficient support either to the diplomacy of this country or to the execution of the engagements and acts into which those countries may enter for the suppression of this trade. We have done much—as the hon. Gentleman has gone through the details I need not repeat them—we have done much for the suppression of the slave trade with Brazil; and the accounts for the last few years state that there has been no slave trade carried on with that country. There is a very great trade in slaves carried on between the coast of Africa and the Island of Cuba, and great numbers of slaves have been introduced into that island. Some say that 500,000 and others that 600,000 tons of sugar annually are grown and manufactured in Cuba, and almost entirely by slave labour. This is a melancholy fact; and we have endeavoured to ascertain how it is that this trade is increasing. In the first place, we find that every person in Cuba who has official cognizance of this importation of slaves receives, or is able to receive, if he chooses, a very large bribe for assenting to the introduction of slaves. 962 The sum given to procure connivance at the introduction of slaves is, to many persona of small salaries an irresistible temptation; especially as those above them content themselves with receiving still larger bribes, instead of assisting, as they ought, in the prevention of the traffic. I believe that the present Governor of Cuba is sincere in his declaration that he wishes to suppress the slave trade, and that there is no doubt that he has of late dismissed from their employment several persons who had been convicted of carrying on the slave trade; but still the profit is so enormous, the facilities are so great, that cargoes of slaves are still introduced into the island by the connivance of those officials. And what, according to our treaties, would be the remedy for this state of things? Vessels sailing under the Spanish flag and introducing slaves might be captured, and sent before the mixed commission and condemned, but here again we meet with that which is an effectual obstruction to our efforts for the suppression of the trade. The hon. Member says if certain cruisers were placed off Jamaica, and were to intercept these vessels going to Cuba, they might make several captures. Our commanders have several times had efficient squadrons near Cuba, and I believe they have used every endeavour to check the slave trade as far as was in their power. But we are met with another obstacle, and that is that these slavers carry the American flag, and many of them are saved in that way. I have read over and over again in the American newspapers that there is a large association with considerable capital at Havanna, which has relations with New York and with other ports on the coast of America. The agents purchase vessels in New York and elsewhere, and these are sent sometimes to Havanna, and sometimes directly to the coast of Africa. They are regularly equipped for the reception of slaves. They arrive off the coast, and perhaps are for weeks unable to embark their human cargo, but opportunities are ultimately found. As the hon. Gentleman truly said, one squadron, however active, cannot prevent the embarkation of slaves along the whole coast. The ships are then brought to Cuba, where they anchor in some of the small creeks or harbours of Cuba, there the slaves are landed and dispersed among the plantations. All this time our cruisers are unable to touch them, because they have been covered by the American flag. When we remonstrated on this sub- 963 ject, the American Government stated—and held that they were in their perfect right in so doing—that the right of search in time of peace cannot by international law be allowed; and they claimed immunity for their ships, however engaged, from any search of our cruisers. No doubt, this flag has covered a vast importation of slaves into Cuba. If the Spanish flag had been shown our cruisers would at once have seized the vessels, but as they bore American colours it was impossible to do so. But I met them, I think, with great fairness. I said, "It may be that the sensitiveness you show with regard to the search of your ships is justifiable; it may be that your national pride would never allow an English officer to come on board, and search vessels bonâ fide in possession of ship's papers belonging to the United States; but, if that be so, do not depart from your own treaties and your own declarations against the slave trade. Employ cruisers of your own. If you will not allow British cruisers to put down the slave trade, put it down yourselves, and take all the credit and glory which will appertain to the successful extinction of the slave trade. Let us not touch a single one of your ships; but do it effectually yourselves—do it for the sake of your own character, for the sake of that great Republic which I hope may still remain the United States of America." The President of the United States, as the hon. Gentleman says, has directed the Secretary of State to tell me that the American Government has had already heard enough of these remonstrances on the part of the British Government, and hoped that they would not be continued. The hon. Gentleman has seen that in the papers, but he has not seen my answer. My reply was that the American Government might state what they pleased, but that no declaration or diplomatic remonstrances of others would prevent the British Secretary of State from remonstrating, or from declaring that it was a blot on the United States that they should not effectually suppress the slave trade, which was carried on under their flag. And, more than that, I stated that whenever occasion arose I would repeat the remonstrances against which the American President had protested. The state of things, however, is one for which I think neither the hon. Member nor any Member of this House will easily find a remedy. The Spanish Government, while they take some steps which might be commended, while 964 they arm some cruisers to check the slave trade, do allow their officials, and more especially the planters in the Isle of Cuba, to derive enormous profits—as much as 70, 80, and 100 per cent—from this horrible traffic, which is to us a subject of abhorrence. And this they are enabled to do by the protection given by the American flag to the vessels which carry on the trade. There was a proposal made many years ago which I proposed—perhaps, the hon. Gentleman may think it was a very bad proposition—but I felt it my duty to look for some remedy—and I proposed that there should be a joint squadron of cruisers.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
I am glad to hear it meets with the hon. Gentleman's approbation. I should be glad to see it adopted if it would work practically; but I am afraid neither the United States, nor perhaps Prance or Spain, would agree to it. It proceeded from a Sovereign who was altogether disinterested in the matter—the Emperor Alexander of Russia, who, seeing the jealousies of maritime nations, proposed that there should be a joint squadron composed of ships of various countries, empowered by all to search for slavers, but bearing only one flag, and carrying the prizes before a Court empowered by all the Powers to condemn them. That seemed to me a very reasonable proposition; but, despairing of being able to get such a suggestion accepted in its integrity, I proposed that the cruisers of various nations should sail together. But the American Government, I am sorry to say, refused that proposition.
I now come to the plan of the hon. Gentleman for the introduction of Chinese coolies into Cuba, and in my mind it is recommended, at least, by this advantage—that in Cuba, with such fertility of soil, the demand for labour must of course be very great. The way in which Africans are obtained by the slave traders—by keeping the tribes in a state of unmitigated hostility—in short, by means which are repugnant to humanity—and the mode in which these unfortunate Africans are taken has often been the subject of eloquent denunciation in this House from the time of Mr. Fox and Mr. Pitt to the present day. If Chinese coolies, however, were sent to these islands you would be able to establish regulations in concert with the Chinese 965 Government by which you could insure that the emigration should be entirely voluntary and that the Chinese labour market, which is always redundant, should be relieved of persons willing to emigrate, who, instead of being on the borders of famine in their own country, would obtain good wages and plentiful subsistence. You would have it in your power to regulate the conditions of immigration, and likewise of the passage; but I am sorry to say, with the hon. Gentleman, that I do not believe you would have any power over the manner in which the authorities and owners of property in Cuba would treat them on their arrival. But the check which the hon. Gentleman has mentioned with regard to the Isle of Bourbon would be applicable to this case also. When the coolies from Madras found they were well treated in the Mauritius, and ill-treated in the Isle of Bourbon, they ceased to join in the voluntary immigration to the latter. In the same way, if it were found that the coolies either did not return, or reported unfavourably of their treatment in Cuba there would be the same indisposition on their part to go to Cuba as was previously exhibited by Hindoos to go to Bourbon; and thus the Spaniards would be obliged to treat them well or that supply of labour would fall off altogether. The hon. Gentleman has also alluded—and this, I think, was the foundation of his Motion—to the subject of immigration into our own Colonies. I should be the last person to differ with him on that subject. I quite agree that from the time that slavery was abolished in our own possessions it should have been the policy of this country to favour the immigration of free labourers to those Colonies. I remember perfectly well that, being Secretary for the Colonies, I endeavoured to establish a scheme of immigration from India to the Mauritius. I did not succeed in that at first, but for what reason? Because this House was then averse to any such suggestion, believing that we should be only establishing a new kind of slavery in the Mauritius. I contended in vain that it would be a very great advantage to the suffering labourers in India, many of whom were justly described as hardly having means sufficient to keep body and soul together, and that their condition would be improved by earning good wages in the Mauritius, and being enabled after a time to return to India. But the opinions of the House did not prevent the Colonial Minister from going on with the plan; it has been 966 pursued for many years with the greatest success. Perhaps my hon. Friend will be able to give us the actual number of those who have emigrated—
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
More than 180,000 Indians have been introduced into the Mauritius. Numbers of them have returned to India; numbers, I am happy to say have settled in the Mauritius; and the good wages they have enjoyed, while allowing considerable benefit to the owners of property in the country have been the means of raising these labourers in the scale of social life, while enabling them to gain an honest livelihood. Therefore, having taken an early part in promoting immigration into the Mauritius, I certainly should be most happy to see a similar immigration to our West India Islands. But then comes the question—how is that to be done? On that part of the subject I do not wish to address the House. I think it should be left to the Colonial Secretary of State to form plans, or to agree to such plans as may be proposed to him from time to time, and as may seem calculated to carry out that object. This, however, I may say, that Her Majesty's Government are aware of the advantages that may be obtained by immigration into the West Indies—by increasing the quantity of free labour; and that we are also of opinion that conditions and regulations may be framed by which the abuses that may have prevailed in the first instance can in future be warded off and guarded against. Therefore I am not, on the principle of immigration, opposed to the hon. Gentleman, but I do not think, as seems to be asserted by his third Resolution, that this immigration would be sufficient. There would be still the bad example of Cuba before us, and therefore I think that the other measures which we have adopted must not be given up. I must confess, too, that I do not see the practical advantage of the hon. Gentleman's Resolutions. The first states that "the means hitherto employed by this country for the suppression of the slave trade have failed to accomplish that object." No doubt they have not totally abolished the slave trade, no more than have our police succeeded in totally destroying the vicious custom of picking pockets, which has long prevailed in our own Metropolis; but the means referred to in the Resolution have thrown obstacles in the way of the slave trade, just 967 as the police have thrown obstacles in the way of that species of thieving. Therefore I cannot agree in that part of the hon. Gentleman's Resolutions which seems to imply that our means have not tended towards the end for which they were devised. The latter part of the third Resolution points to a very useful measure; but the former part of it "that the true remedy is not to be found in countenancing immigration into those countries where slavery exists," rather seems to exclude other remedies, which other remedies have, in my judgment, been found very conducive to the suppression of the slave trade. With these opinions, Sir, while concurring in the greater part of the hon. Gentleman's observations, and entirely approving the object which he has in view. I beg to move the Previous Question.
§ Whereupon Previous Question proposed, "That that Question be now put."
§ MR. BUXTON
said, he shared his hon. Friend's views regarding the importance of immigration into the British West Indies, and heartily concurred in the fourth Resolution. He had always considered it an admitted principle that they should encourage the largest possible influx of Chinese and coolies into that part of the British dominions. At one time, it was true, he thought that a case was made out for inquiry into the mode of conducting that immigration; but he had satisfied himself that it was humanely carried on, and, under due precautions, was highly beneficial both to the islands and the immigrants themselves. His hon. Friend's first Resolution could not be denied. Every one must feel deep regret in being compelled to assent to it; but, unhappily, it was impossible to deny that the slave trade was not yet suppressed. It was too true that after all England's sacrifices and exertions Africa was once again desolated with Slave wars, and the Atlantic was once again covered with slave ships. It would be wrong, however, to imagine that England's strenuous and generous efforts had been in vain; the slave trade was not suppressed, but it was enormously diminished. Within the memory of many hon. Gentlemen the slave trade had been carried on by the United States, by Central America, by Brazil, by Portugal, by Spain, by Turkey, by France, by England herself; while, at the present moment, except Spain, there was not one of those countries that had not renounced this trade, and this result had been mainly due to England's endeavours and example. 968 The single fact that the slave trade had been annihilated along the whole coast of both the Americas was by itself a splendid triumph of British philanthropy. At the present moment, however, the slave trade was again rearing its head. They might hope that the French immigration of negroes, which had every one of the cruel characteristics of the slave trade, was, or soon would be at an end; but it was too true that the Cuban slave trade had broken out in the last two years with great violence. No words could express the baseness as well as the cruelty which had characterised the conduct of Spain in all her dealings in this matter. That might be thought strong language, but it was hardly stronger than that used by the Earl of Malmesbury himself, who, in June, 1858, told the Spanish Government to their face thatHer Majesty's Government has a right to require that a term shall be put to the flagrant abuse by the Spanish authorities of the engagements which Spain had contracted with this country for the suppression of the slave trade.In fact, Spain had sunk so low in the scale of nations, so debased were the minds of her statesmen, that they were quite content to let theirs be the single country stained with the infamy of that crime. The Government of the United States inquired not long ago why we did not force Spain to act up to her engagements. And surely there was a strong case for vigorous measures. Spain stooped to accept £400,000 from us as a remuneration for agreeing to abolish the trade. That sum at simple interest would now amount to a million. We have a right, therefore, to compel her to respect her stipulations. But mournful as the state of things was with regard to the Cuban slave trade a more distressing prospect was opening before us. There was little doubt now that one main object of the Southern States in seceding from the Union had been to revive the trade in slaves with Africa. Their demand for slaves would have no limit. Half a million of negroes per annum would not be enough for their purposes. He looked forward to this with horror. Were this allowed all hope for Africa would vanish. She would again be laid in ruins. He hoped that Her Majesty's Government would show themselves equal to this emergency. The noble Lord at the head of Her Majesty's Government had done more than any living man for the suppression of the slave trade, and the noble Lord the Minister for Foreign Affairs had always 969 strenuously exerted himself in the same cause. He confidently looked to them on this occasion to adopt a well-considered as well as a vigorous policy, and undoubtedly the country would go heartily along with them in doing whatever was requisite to annihilate the trade in human beings. Now, he presumed to express the hope that the British Government would refuse to recognize the flag of the Southern Confederacy, except upon the stipulation that the African slave trade should not be revived. At the same time one could not but feel that such a condition might be evaded, or in time be put aside; and, after long and most anxious study of this question, he had come to the conclusion that to meet this present and prospective slave trade they must shift their policy. They could not stop the slave trade by simply cruising at sea, nor by remonstrances and protests with the Powers whose subjects make a profit of the traffic. What they ought to do was to render the African coast inaccessible to the slave-trader. There was nothing novel or theoretical in that proposal. That very thing had actually been done over a vast extent of coast where formerly the slave trade was rife, namely, from the Senegal to Accra, including 2,000 miles of the coast of Gambia, and of Guinea, formerly the very home of the slave trade; owing to the occupation, either in the way of possession or of protectorate, by France at Senegal, by England on the Gambia, Sierra Leone, the Gold Coast, and Lagos, and by the Americans in Liberia, the slave trade was now entirely confined to that far smaller portion of the coast occupied by native chiefs (especially the King of Dahomey), and also to the Portuguese dominions. Now, in the first place, what he proposed was that, instead of vainly remonstrating with Spain, who profited by the trade and defied us, they should throw their whole influence upon Portugal. With her they had slave trade treaties; she derived no profit from the trade; her feeling had always been in their favour regarding it. All that was wanted to seal up the slave trade along the Portuguese part of the coast was that the Government of Portugal, stimulated and perhaps aided by them, should again adopt stringent measures for its suppression. They could do it if they would, and they had every motive to do so. Let the Government leave Spain alone in her infamous course, and devote themselves to awakening the Government of Portugal to their duty and their interest 970 in this matter. Let them do their best to induce Portugal to send a higher class of officials, with better salaries, and supported by some naval force, and under stringent orders to execute the laws against slave traders, and the slave trade there must cease. But, then, it would be absolutely requisite for us to place consuls at several points, to keep a close watch over all that went forward, and all this would be in vain unless at the same time they sealed up the intervals of coast occupied by the ruffian of Dahomey and other native chiefs. The proposal, then, for which he most earnestly entreated a favourable consideration was that they should extend along that portion of the coast the same kind of protectorate that had already produced such beneficial results on the Gold Coast. On the Gold Coast they possessed no territory; but they had a few forts from which their flag waved, and let him read to the House what Earl Grey said as to the result—By the system there pursued, at a very small cost compared to the result, a great amount of immediate good is affected, and the sure foundations are laid for much greater good being accomplished hereafter. Already wars have been completely put an end to. The barbarous punishments formerly in use have ceased, security of life and property has been almost completely established, education and missionary labours are successfully carried on, trade and industry are daily increasing.Now, he did not mean that they should enforce the protectorate by troops on shore, or by any military occupation whatever. A few civilian officials, guarded by some companies of native soldiers, as at the Gold Coast, was all he asked. They would merely want to occupy a very few stations at convenient points, just to have the flags of the protecting Powers flying, as a visible sign that the country was under their guardianship. He would not enforce the protectorate by troops on shore; but its practical efficacy would arise—first, from its enabling the crews of men-of-war to land and destroy the barracoons I on shore, which, when done by Captain Denman, ruined the slave traders and broke up the trade; secondly, from its enabling them to seize and execute as pirates those who might attempt to kidnap the people under their guardianship, just as they should do on the Gambia or the Gold Coast. That such a course would put a dead stop to the slave trade along the protected coast there could be no question. The objections were, he owned, weighty. 971 At the outset arose the question of expense. But their expense ought to be much less than now. Three vessels, backed up by the power of destroying the barracoons and other machinery, so to speak, of the trade, and by the power of hanging the slave traders as pirates, would tell more than twenty vessels on the sea with no right of search. The contrast of the two plans was strikingly exhibited by comparing the Gold Coast with that of Dahomey. The former was the greater, yet being under their protection, it needed not a cruiser to guard it, while the latter had often, he was told, been watched by ten or twelve cruisers. Then again, it might be thought anomalous to protect people who had not asked for their protection. But, whatever the chiefs might feel, the people would be grateful for the increased security to their persons and their property. And he was willing to base this proceeding on the matter-of-fact principle of giving to their rising commerce that police protection which the native chiefs could not or would not afford. The main question, however, was whether they should not excite the jealousy of other nations. But they might entirely escape that by offering to any other nation that pleased to unite with them in this protectorate; that their flags should wave there along with our own, only with the understanding that our efforts were not to be hampered. By this arrangement they would also meet the one remaining objection—namely, that it was not the policy of England to extend her dominions. They would not be extending their dominions. They would not be grasping at new territory; they would not be undertaking to administer new affairs. All they would do would be to establish a police supervision on shore as well as at sea; and he entreated the House to bear in mind the prodigious advantages that would accrue to England, to Africa, to the whole world, if the slave trade were effectually put down. The experience of those few years during which the slave trade nearly disappeared, before the United States refused the right of search, demonstrated that if Africa could but have rest from slave wars, a mighty commerce would arise, Her resources in all kinds of wealth—in oil, timber, metals, sugar, coffee, and cotton—are boundless. As to the latter article, it had been shown that infinite quantities could be produced, of a quality as good as that from New Orleans, and probably at a still lower price. The trade in ground nuts from Gambia had formerly 972 no existence, it then reached upwards of 12,000 tons a year. The exports from that part of West Africa whence the slave hunter had been driven already amounted to little less than £3,000,000 per annum. Only put an end to the slave trade, only give peace to those fertile regions, and the wealth not only of England, but of the world would be greatly augmented. Africa would speedily rise to close communion with Europe. Agriculture, commerce, civilization, Christianity would soon shed their blessings over that hapless quarter of the globe.
§ LORD ALFRED CHURCHILL
said, he entirely concurred in the view taken by the hon. Gentleman who last spoke as to the importance of establishing forts or stations along the coast of Africa. The Committee of the House of Lords in 1850 had adopted the same views, and it was found, on inquiry, that the establishment at Cape Coast Castle was maintained at a cost of not more than £4,000 a year. The slave trade, which extended for 150 miles on either side of the position which that fort occupied, was completely put down after its establishment, and that at a cost of £4,000 a year. There were many other parts of the African coast where the same policy might he advantageously carried out. They had been told that a commission was about to proceed to Dahomey to endeavour to induce the King to aid in the suppression of the slave trade, and he believed that the fear of a fort being erected on that part of the coast would have great influence in leading him to come to our terms. But the Committee of the House of Lords had also suggested the passing of some Act of Parliament by which the captains and crews of slave ships might be effectually punished. That was a suggestion well worthy of consideration, if it could be carried out without exciting too much the jealousy of foreign nations; and, in order to obviate that difficulty, other nations might have the power, if they wished it, to claim their own subjects with a view to their punishment. The slave trade, as was well known, was supported on the coast of Africa in a great measure by the desire of the native chiefs to possess European goods. Those chiefs were paid principally in dollars, and these dollars found their way back again in the purchase of European commodities which they wished to possess. It was plain, therefore, what would be the result of the establishment of free legitimate commerce in Africa. If the chiefs and the natives 973 generally could be led to engage in legitimate trade, even to a slight extent, their natural cupidity and love of gain was such that the effect would be gradually to abolish the slave trade. The exports from this country to Africa in 1859 amounted to £900,000, and the imports from Africa to this country were £1,500,000, showing a balance of £600,000 in favour of this country. This trade was conducted by a very few houses, and it was rapidly increasing year by year. The trade in numerous articles, including cotton, was increasing to a most encouraging extent, and no doubt could exist that if the slave trade was abolished our commerce with Africa would be very great. The only question was how could that object best be attained? He thought, in the first place, that it would be greatly promoted by bringing into competition with slave labour the free labour of other countries, no matter where those countries were situated. In the United States the cost of slave labour was calculated at a dollar a day. If the original price of the slave, the depreciation which took place in his value, and the expense of his keep and clothing were taken into account it would be found that his labour cost a dollar a day, and in Cuba the same result was arrived at. Free coloured labour could be had at a much cheaper rate. In the West Indies it had been said that Coolie labour could be procured at only 10½d. a day. Indeed, except in Australia, there was scarcely a part of the world in which they could not get free labour at a considerably lower price. Now, with regard to the introduction of free labour into the West Indian Colonies, he might mention that he was interested in a society for promoting that very object; and that society addressed a letter in December last to the Governor of Jamaica to ascertain how far he would be disposed to receive free coloured labourers from Canada and the States. They received a most encouraging reply from Governor Darling, saying he fully entered into the views of the society, and intended to place on the Estimates for the ensuing Session a sum for the purpose of carrying it out. But by a subsequent mail another letter came, saying that he had received a notification from the Colonial Office, to the effect that a consent could not be given to the appropriation of the funds of the colony for such a purpose. He trusted that his hon. Friend at the head of the Colonial Office would, at the proper time, explain this 974 point. The three principal means by which slave labour could be best suppressed were, first, the competition of free labour; secondly, by the formation of detached forts along the coast, and the punishment of slaver captains and crews; and by giving increased encouragement to consular establishments on the coast, many of which might be of rather a roving than a fixed character, as they would thus have greater facilities in seeing what was going on, and using their influence in suppressing slavery.
§ MR. KINNAIRD
said, he thought that the hon. Gentleman who had spoken last had travelled somewhat out of the Resolutions before the House, and had pursued a course calculated to endanger them. He was surprised that his noble Friend (Lord John Russell) should have concluded his speech in the manner he did, namely by moving the previous Question, because, as was well known, that was an expedient resorted to for the purpose of shelving the Resolutions, while the noble Lord's speech itself was in favour of them. The first Resolution declared that the means hitherto employed by this country for the suppression of the slave trade had failed to accomplish that object; and the noble Lord had urged in answer that at the present time the practice of picking pockets continued in every town, but that that was no ground for saying that the police were wholly inefficient. No doubt this was so; hut the illustration was more amusing than appropriate: for if it were stated that pick-pocketing had enormously increased, some steps would certainly be taken to retard and put a stop to it. Slavery had increased. Where 15,000 slaves were formerly sold, 50,000 were now disposed of; had picking pockets increased at the same rate, a Committee would have been appointed to inquire into the efficiency of the police. Therefore, he did not think that that argument, amusing as it was, would have any effect upon the House. The noble Lord admitted that all efforts to suppress the slave trade had failed. But he seemed to think that it had not been proved that this country, which had made such great sacrifices to suppress the slave trade, had at the same time encouraged the slave trade in the manner that had been stated. In support of his hon. Friend's proposition, he (Mr. Kinnaird) would simply point to the enormous increase in the export of sugar from Cuba, amounting to 500,000 tons, and which was annually on the increase, Nor, who were the great con- 975 sumers of the slave-grown produce of Cuba? The people of this country? It was a great national inconsistency; and although he was favourable to free trade, he did not think it ought to override every other consideration. The noble Lord, moreover, somewhat depreciated their power when he said that it was almost impossible to suppress the traffic in slaves, as so much of it was carried on under the American flag. No doubt, the American flag was very frequently used; but whilst the Americans objected to the system of searching there vessels, if a ship were captured sailing under the American flag, and having on board a cargo of slaves, the American Government did not pratically interfere to prevent the punishment of the persons found in charge of the vessel. For these reasons he trusted that the noble Lord would not persevere in endeavouring to shelve the Resolutions, by pressing his Motion for the previous Question.
§ MR. M'MAHON
said, there were three articles of slave produce which were largely consumed in this country—cotton, tobacco, and sugar. Now, if the Government of this country would tolerate the growth of tobacco at home they would be carrying out the views of the hon. Gentleman the Member for New Shoreham (Mr. Cave). It might be said they could not grow tobacco in England; but it was grown here in the reign of Charles II., and it grew very well, and the growth of it was not suppressed in Ireland until the reign of William IV. Now, why should it not he grown in these islands at this time? The reason assigned for its suppression was its interference with the Customs revenue: but when they considered the effect it would have in suppressing the slave trade, he apprehended that the loss to the revenue would be small compared with the advantages which would result. In 1860 the first Act was passed to prevent the growth of tobacco in England, and that was done in the interest of the' colonies and plantations of America; but they seemed to have forgotten the independence of that country, and they should consider whether they might not allow their own people at home to grow it. The next article was sugar. Now, why should sugar not be produced at home? So large was the quantity of beet root grown in France, that there was now a produce of upwards of 70,000 tons of sugar annually, nearly three-fourths of the entire consumption of France. In Ireland they had tried to make sugar, but 976 the trade was suppressed by the excise regulations. If they wanted to suppress the slave trade they should allow their own people at home to make sugar from beet root, to convert sugar into beer, and to grow tobacco. He had merely mentioned these facts because he did not remember that attention had been called to them before. Then as to cotton, he believed that India and Australia would be able to produce a large quantity for the supply of the manufacturers of this country, and if they really adopted free trade in those matters, they would do a great deal more towards getting rid of the slave trade than by the employment of any number of ships on the coast of Africa or elsewhere.
§ MR. SLANEY
observed, that he concurred entirely in what had been said by the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary, but he would ask if there were no other modes of putting an end to the slave trade than those which had been mentioned. It appeared to him that they had another mode, and that was to provide a supply of free labour cheaper than slave labour. Now, they had in the East an immense body of persons willing, for wages much less than the cost of the slave, to go to the country where the slave was employed; and, if it were made clear to the purchasers of the slaves that they could have free and well-regulated labour on cheaper terms than slave labour, their interest would cause them to object to the purchase of slaves. Good faith, however, must he kept with the coolies, and not the same course followed as had been done in the French and Spanish colonies. Persons coming as free labourers should be treated as free labourers, and after a certain time be able to return to the country from whence they came. It was clear their Transatlantic friends were well aware of what was to their own interest; and, if they could be made to tee that they could be supplied with labour fitter for the warm portions of their country where they wanted it, at a cheaper rate than they could supply themselves with slaves, it would be an effectual mode of preventing the slave trade, and gradually diminishing and getting rid of the evil now prevailing in their country. When he was recently in America, he had frequent conversations with intelligent planters from the Southern States, who said they would, be most willing to consider, with due deliberation and good faith, a proposal for the introduction of coolie labour under proper 977 stipulations for the protection of the immigrants.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, he was anxious to say a few words by way of comment on that part of the speech of the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Cave) which related to the Colonial Department. The only complaint brought against the Colonial Office was that the expense of coolie emigration to the West Indies was thrown in an excessive degree on the planters, and that sufficient contributions towards the expense were not supplied from the revenues of the Colonies. He would admit that it was a question not easy to decide consistently with justice. The apportionment of the cost of emigration between the planters and the Colonial Government admitted of a great deal of argument, and must inevitably be regarded from different points of view, according to the dispositions and interests of those who considered it. One obvious view, and one which the Colonial Office was obliged to consider, was that the labourers were introduced into the West Indies for the special purpose of growing sugar. They were introduced for the apparent interest of one class. They were allotted to one description of employers. They were indentured for fixed periods to the producers of sugar, who thereby acquired for the time a right to their labour. They were introduced without that proportion of women and children which naturally accompanied any ordinary emigration from one part of the world to the other, and under the condition that if they pleased they should be transported back to their native country, so as not to add to the permanent population of the colony. These very peculiar conditions, under which coolie and Chinese labourers were introduced into the West Indies, led some persons to think that any contribution under such circumstances would be nothing more or less than a bounty from the public funds for the production of sugar. That was a view, however, which the Colonial Office could not accept. This importation was not left to its natural course. The planter was subjected to many restrictions. He was not permitted to introduce labourers as he pleased, nor could he limit the importation to able field-hands, being obliged to import with them a certain fixed proportion of women, children, and old people. A contribution from the colonial revenues was under these circumstances considered not as a matter of bounty, but only a fair compensation for 978 these restrictions, and that view had been acted upon by the Colonial Office. It had also been shown that the introduction of immigrant labour had benefited not alone the producer, but also every class in the colony. It had benefited the revenue, the merchants, and by the stimulus it had given to industry, even the native population, with which the immigrants had come into competition. A contribution from the Colonial Funds, therefore, in aid of that immigration seemed only reasonable, and successive Secretaries of State had concurred in settling the proportion to be borne by the planters and the Colonies respectively. This proportion was that of the whole cost of immigration to the West Indian Colonies two-thirds should fall upon the planting interest, either in direct payments by the planters to whom the coolies were allotted, or as a tax falling on the planters as a class, while the remaining third was to be borne by the general revenue of the colony. The Colonial Office, it must be remembered, had many opposing views to balance and reconcile. It was in the position of an arbitrator, because in many of our Colonies the class that demanded and benefited by immigration was the governing class of the colony, which had the disposal of the Colonial revenues. It was, therefore, the duty of the Colonial Office to represent the interests of those who were either not represented or were imperfectly represented. The hon. Member (Mr. Cave) must be aware that the Colonial Office of late years had not had to contend against the views he had advocated to-night, but against those who had looked with suspicion and fear upon the system of free immigration, and who were the old friends of the slaves. He was, therefore, glad to hear his hon. Friend (Mr. Buxton), who had an hereditary right to speak on this subject, say that the objections formerly felt to free immigration were now withdrawn, and that it was generally felt that the introduction of coolie and Chinese immigrants had been a real and decided success. It was satisfactory to know that of the large number of free immigrants into the Mauritius so few demanded to be transported back to their native country. The Mauritius now enjoyed greater prosperity than it had ever done before, and produced three times the quantity of sugar than it produced when slavery prevailed. Many thousands of free immigrants had been introduced into British Guiana with a like success. Jamaica 979 had been rather behind; but, although late in the field, would no doubt run the race with success. The coolie emigration had been extended to the African colony of Natal, and a plan was under consideration for conveying free immigrants to the Australian colony of Queensland. He was less sanguine about the suggestion for extending along the coast of Africa the strange protectorate which we now exercised with very moderate success on the Gold Coast. His opinion was that the separate settlements upon the great trading rivers of Sierra Leone and the Gambia were more advantageous than our protectorate of the Gold Coast, and that if anything were to be done, it would be better to increase the number of such settlements. Such a protectorate as now existed on the Gold Coast it would not be desirable to establish elsewhere. On the Gold Coast the tribes whom we protected where in the utmost danger from their enemies, the Ashantees, and hence they welcomed our rule. But, where the same danger and dread did not exist, the tribes on the coast would not so readily accept our rule. That protectorate, however, was not exercised merely by a few civilians, but was supported by a respectable military force. He was satisfied that the immigration of free labour into our tropical and semi-tropical Colonies was of the utmost promise. It was extending rapidly from year to year, and the most promising feature was, perhaps, the growth of a free immigration from China. The Chinese were valuable labourers; they were desirous to leave their native country, and they were so industrious as to be willing to continue permanently in the exercise of a laborious occupation. Such was precisely the class of free labour required to compete with slavery in the production of tropical produce.
§ MR. CRUM EWING
said, he believed that if it had not been for the coolie immigration into the West India Colonies they would at present he wholly dependent on slave labour for their supply of sugar. He employed on his own estate about 800 labourers, two-thirds of whom were foreigners—Portuguese and Chinamen. Of the last there were about 150, and he might say that those men were the mainstay of the whole property, and when they were more accustomed to the ways of Europeans, he confidently expected that their labour would be cheaper than the labour of slaves. He had no hesitation in saying that if the British West Indies had a sufficient supply of free labour, chiefly 980 from China, they would raise sugar more cheaply than any other part of the world, Cuba itself not excepted. He readily acknowledged the obligations which the colonists owed, both to the late and the present chiefs of the Colonial Office, who had done all in their power to favour that immigration.
SIR MINTO FARQUHAR
said, he must congratulate his hon. Friend for the masterly and temperate manner in which he had introduced to the House the subject under discussion. As chairman of the West India Committee, and one who for many years had given much time and thought to this subject, no man had a better right to be heard. Unfortunately they all knew that the slave trade, which it was the desire and object of this country to abolish, was, although not indeed so flourishing as many years ago, again rearing up its head in consequence of the detestable traffic which was carried on between Africa and Cuba, and which would continue so long as the American flag protected the ships engaged in it, and so long as the Spanish Government, with which this country had made treaties on the subject in vain, overlooked the gross and disgraceful conduct of its officials in Cuba. British officers had actively exerted themselves for the suppression of that great evil, but he was of opinion that if a portion of our cruisers now off the Coast of Africa were placed in the Caribbean Sea a greater diminution of the importation of Africans into Cuba would be the result. He acknowledged the importance of favouring immigration into the West Indies, but he questioned the policy of encouraging immigration into Cuba; for it appeared from the evidence published that the system pursued in China to effect the last-named immigration was a system of kidnapping and torture; and he had heard it stated that when the Chinese arrived in Cuba they were sold in the public market at 400 dollars a head, and might also be said to be absorbed into the slave population, the Cubans looking upon this immigration rather as an accompaniment of, than a substitution for, slavery. He, therefore, thought that the most stringent regulations should be adopted in China, in order to put the Cuban immigration on the same just and honourable footing as that now carried on under Mr. Austin's scheme with respect to the West Indies, although it must be doubtful whether such immigration could be advisable to that Spanish colony, 981 where, when the Chinese immigrants arrived, they were treated very little, if at all, better than the negro slave. To show the House the great difference between the Chinese immigration to Cuba and that carried on to the West Indies under the excellent management of Mr. Austin, he would read an extract of a letter from that gentleman, dated Hong Kong, 15th March, 1860:Instead of forcing the emigrants to indent themselves to worse even than slavery by renunciation of the advantages secured by law to Cuban slaves, I guaranteed all the advantages of the free British citizens, the current wages of the Colonies, house and garden rent free, correspondence free of cost with relatives left behind, and the punctual payment at Hong Kong or Canton monthly, from the day of emigration, of such portion of the wages to be earned as the emigrants desired to appropriate in China. Lastly, instead of placing my ships where oppression could be practised with impunity, I selected Hong Kong and Canton for their anchorage, and facilitated their inspection by the Chinese authorities and people as much as possible. You may judge of the influence of this over the feelings of the emigrants when I tell you that the first Canton ship, the Red Riding Hood, left with 10,000 crackers blazing at each yard-arm, amidst cheers which told far and wide that there was no compulsion, and you may judge of the character of our emigration by the contrast afforded in the behaviour of our people in the Dora, and those of the Flora Temple for Cuba, when sailing down the China Seas, the latter, 800 in number, rising in the bitter agony of despair, only to meet grape shot, imprisonment, cruel abandonment on the reef, and a watery grave; whilst the former, to use the words of the surgeon, passed Anger, after the quickest passage ever made, singing hymns and joining regularly in the morning and evening services.Mr. Austin had also succeeded last year in inducing 300 Chinese women to accompany the immigrants to the West Indies—a most important circumstance. The whole question was one of free labour only. In the British sugar Colonies freedom was as well established as in England; and by a large introduction of free labour into them, they might be made a counterpoise to Cuba, supplanting by their free sugar the slave-grown produce of that Island, and thus, indeed, materially checking the slave trade. There was no reason whatever why, upon the vast plains of British Guiana, there should not be with proper immigration not only an immense increase ill the growth of sugar, but also that production of cotton, which used to exist there, and which would be so valued by the manufacturers of this country. He hoped the noble Lord at the head of the Foreign Office would press upon the Government of Spain the necessity of adhering to their treaties, and he might almost say, threaten them with a with- 982 drawal of our Minister if they refused. He regretted that the "previous Question" had been moved, though the speech of the noble Lord was as strong a support to his hon. Friend's Motion as could have been given.
§ MR. GREGSON
said, that from the experience he had of Indian and Chinese labour, he should greatly approve of the immigrants from India. He mentioned that to correct a mistake into which the hon. Member for Paisley had fallen. Both himself and others connected with the West Indies were of opinion that, although the Chinese were apt and rapid in their work, for permanent industry the coolies were much preferable.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, I must say the House is much indebted to the hon. Member who moved these Resolutions for bringing under their consideration a subject of the greatest interest and importance to this country; and, however much we may differ from him as to the wording of the Resolutions, the course of the discussion must have shown him and the House that there is no difference of opinion between the hon. Member and Her Majesty's Government as to the object to be attained. There were some expressions, however, used by the hon. Member towards the conclusion of his speech, and re-echoed by the hon. Member for Perth (Mr. Kinnaird), which, if they are allowed to go forth without explanation, might create a misapprehension as to their meaning. The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Cave) stated that the English Government had for a long course of time encouraged and promoted slavery and the slave trade in other countries; but what I believe he meant, and I am confirmed in it by what afterwards fell from the hon. Member for Perth was, that by consuming slave-grown produce the people of England had indirectly encouraged slavery and the slave trade. That is a question which has been frequently discussed in this House, and, upon full deliberation, those who have urged Parliament to prohibit the consumption of slave-grown commodities have not succeeded in convincing Parliament and the country that this was a wise or an effectual method of putting slavery and the slave trade down. I wish it to be understood that the efforts of England for putting down slavery and the slave trade have been most exemplary, of long continuance, energetic, and, to a certain degree, successful. That is one 983 reason why I object to the wording of the first Resolution; because, taken nakedly and without explanation, it would imply that our efforts have altogether and entirely failed. We ourselves set the example of abolishing the slave trade, and afterwards the condition of slavery. Has that remained a fruitless example? On the contrary, France has followed our example. She abolished first the slave trade, and then slavery; and now no condition of slavery exists in any territory belonging to France. Holland has abolished the slave trade. We have also concluded treaties with Spain and Portugal, giving means and providing machinery for putting an end to the slave trade; and we have concluded treaties with the innumerable chiefs on the coast of Africa, binding them to co-operate with us in putting an end to it in their dominions. To say, then, that this country has been encouraging the slave trade and slavery in other parts of the world, and by other nations, is really to assert that which is at variance with the most notorious historical facts, and is a calumny on the British nation and the British Government. Our efforts and example, in fact, have been greatly successful. The efforts of the British Government have never ceased ever since 1815, when, at the great Congress of Vienna, their representatives persuaded all the great Powers to agree to a declaration that the slave trade was a disgrace to Europe, and a curse of desolation in Africa, and ought to be put down. From that time to the present the influence of the British Government has been exerted with every civilized nation to induce them to put down the slave trade, and they have had great success. In Brazil, which used to import annually 50,000, 69,000, and 70,000 negroes—a number which represents three times the amount of human misery inflicted, because, at least three times that number of negroes were every year torn from their homes and families in the centre of Africa, in order to produce the residuum landed on Brazil—we have succeeded in abolishing the slave trade—and if we had only accomplished that it would be a great glory to the British nation. Portugal used to be a most active instrument of the slave trade. I will not undertake to say, because I know it would not be true, that in the Portuguese colonies in Africa a great extent of slave trade does not still go on, but it goes on against the will of the Govern- 984 ment of Lisbon, and, when representations are made to it, the Government of Lisbon honestly and bonâ fide exercises its authority to prevent the recurrence of these abominations. Time was when the Court of Lisbon encouraged the slave trade. Now, it does all it can to discourage it, and very little slave trade is now carried on under the Portuguese flag. Holland, which used to carry on a great deal, now carries on no slave trade. Therefore, the slave trade is now confined exclusively to that centre of abominations—the island of Cuba. The number of slaves imported into Cuba was formerly comparatively small, but I am sorry to say that within the last few year, it has greatly increased. And how or why has it increased? It is because the American Government, from motives which we ought perhaps to respect—from a mistaken sense of national honour—has interfered to cover with impunity that prostitution of the American flag which covers the abomination of the slave trade. When we come to speak of Spain it is impossible to express too strongly one's sense of indignation at the profligate, shameless, and disgraceful bad faith with which the Spanish nation have acted in reference to the treaties concluded with England on this matter. As far back as 1817, the Spanish Government bound themselves by treaty to put an end to the slave trade, and received £400,000 as compensation to those who might be sufferers by this change of policy. In 1835, after the Government of England had mainly contributed by its assistance and protection to the establishment of a free Constitution in Spain, we asked, as the only acknowledgment of our services, that Spain would conclude with us a treaty by which machinery should be established by mutual right of search, mixed commissions, and the like, by which the engagement of 1817 might be rendered fully applicable, and an effectual end put to that slave trade which Spain still carried on, and which she was bound to abolish. We obtained our request. The memory of the services we had rendered her being still fresh in the recollection of Spain, she consented to make such a treaty, and, if it had been fairly carried out, the Spanish slave trade would have been as much abolished as that of Brazil. It is extraordinary that a nation which consists of men who, taken singly, would blush to do anything which was not perfectly honest and straightforward, should, when taken 985 in the aggregate, be guilty of so shameless and abominable a violation of good faith. The conduct of Spain might have given us just cause for war, if we had thought proper to avail ourselves of it. We have repeatedly remonstrated with the Spanish Government in stronger language than that which I am now using, and the papers laid on the table from year to year are a record of this. My noble Friend has recently spoken to them in the same tone, but I am sorry to say they have hitherto been deaf to a sense of their duty with respect to their national engagement. I trust, however, it is only a remnant of that debased feeling which the arbitrary Government of former days inflicted upon Spain. I hope that those liberal principles and those generous feelings which belong to a popular, representative, and constitutional Government, will before long have their sway; and that the Spanish people will force their Government to act in a manner more in accordance with national honour and good faith. I regret to say, as my noble Friend has stated, that we have not received from the Government of the United States that assistance which we were entitled to expect from a Government of free men. The Government of the United States have taken engagements as well as the Spanish nation. They are bound by treaty to co-operate with England for the suppression of the slave trade by stationing a certain amount of naval force upon the coast of Africa. That engagement has been more or less fulfilled from time to time, but the American Government have prevented British cruisers from meddling with ships sailing under the American flag, except at their risk and peril, in the event of the ships being found not only to have the American flag, but to have American papers proving their nationality. It is well known that the mere hoisting of a flag is no proof of nationality. Nationality is proved by papers, which papers, of course, can only be a proof upon their production. Well, a great difficulty arose two or three years ago upon the coast of Cuba. We thought that not only should there be an intercepting force on the coast of Africa, but that it would be useful to station a similar force on the coast of Cuba. Difficulties immediately arose. American citizens engaged in the slave trade immediately got up a great clamour against our cruisers, asserting that they were intercepting the legitimate commerce of the United States. The United 986 States' Government took the matter up; and, owing to the complication of circumstances, the British Government were obliged to withdraw their cruisers from that station. My noble Friend made not long ago a proposal to the American Government, which, if they had really been disposed to co-operate with us in the suppression of the slave trade, I think they ought to have accepted. We and the American Government stand upon a different footing in one important respect in regard to our power of suppressing the slave trade. By the Act of 1845 a British cruiser taking a vessel engaged in the slave trade without papers and without any indication of nationality is entitled to have it judged by a British Court of Admiralty, and condemned by British law. The Americans have not that power by their laws, and therefore when an American cruiser meets a ship even laden with slaves, but without any proof of nationality, she is unable to do anything, because if she were to take the slaver into an American port, there is no American law by which a ship not American could be condemned for the crime of engaging in the slave trade. If an American cruiser finds a ship with American papers, and with slaves on board, that is an offence against the laws of America. But what happened on the coast of Cuba? When a slaver, filled with slaves, met an American cruiser she threw her papers overboard, destroyed all proof of her nationality, and so foiled and baffled the enemy. When she met a British cruiser she became an American ship, produced her papers; and, as by international law there is no right of search, though filled with slaves, defied our people to touch her. Well, my noble Friend proposed to meet this case. He proposed to the American Government that British and American cruisers should always sail in couples, so that when they met a slaver, if she had destroyed the proofs of her nationality, the British cruiser might take her, while, on the other hand, if she showed American papers and colours, she might be seized by the American cruiser. In this case there could be no escape; but our proposal was declined, and therefore, as far as that method of intercepting the slave trade on the coast of Cuba is concerned, we have been defeated. It is always satisfactory when this House takes up this great question, and by such an expression of opinion as we have heard to-night fortifies Her Majesty's Government in the representa- 987 tions which they feel it their duty to make to foreign Governments. For my own part, I cannot too strongly express my concurrence in the opinion stated by my hon. Friend the Member for Newport (Mr. Buxton), whose name is associated with all the most honourable and vigorous efforts for putting an end to slavery and the slave trade—that, if this abominable crime could once be extinguished, the coast of Africa would be the source of such wealth to itself, to all Europe, and the rest of the world as the imagination of man can hardly compass. The amount of valuable productions which might be drawn from that country, as well as the amount of consumption which might be found there for the productions of other regions, would give a scope to industry and civilization which would reflect the highest credit upon all the nations engaged in so glorious an achievement. However, the main object of the Motion before our House—though I do not think that object is clearly developed in the Resolution as it stands—seems to be that the Government ought to encourage free immigration into the Colonies. That is the sum and substance of the Resolutions; but I hope, after the statement made by my hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonial Department—who has shown that the Government are fully alive to the importance of this immigration, that they have greatly encouraged it, that it is continuing and increasing year by year, affording a supply of labour to our Colonies—and after the general opinion which has been expressed by those who have taken part in the debate to-night, that the hon. Member opposite will not think it necessary to press his Resolutions to a division. I can assure him that it would be unpleasant to the Government to do anything which might have the effect of inducing the public to believe that they differ from him in his general opinions. We agree with him in those opinions, although we cannot accept his Resolution as it stands; and I trust, therefore, he will be satisfied with the discussion which has taken place, and will not force the House to the disagreeable necessity of voting under the previous Question. I have only another word to Bay. It is quite right and useful that those who are connected with our Colonial possessions should urge as strongly as they can the expediency of increasing free labour, with the view of augmenting the production those possessions; but, if I might be allowed to say 988 so, I think they ought carefully to abstain from any argument which might be misconstrued by other nations into a desire to curtail the productions of rival colonies. It may be true that those coolies who go to Cuba are not so well treated as the coolies who go to our Colonies. It is impossible that free men imported as labourers into a country where slavery exists can have the same security and the same liberty as they would have in a country where slavery does not exist. But, at the same time, can you suppose that the proprietors in Cuba will easily consent to allow their fields to remain uncultivated, their produce to diminish, for the want of a supply of labour? That is a thing not to be expected. The choice lies between their being supplied with slaves taken by the most abominable means from the centre of Africa, or with persons who, though kidnapped and badly treated, are still free to a certain extent. Depend upon it, if it is supposed that the object of the British colonists is not simply to increase their own means of production, but to diminish that of other countries the efforts of England to put down the slave trade will be misunderstood. It will be supposed that they are dictated by a narrow commercial jealousy, not by principles of humanity and of general benevolence; and, so far from other countries being willing to co-operate with us in our exertions against this foul abomination they will set themselves against us, and do everything in their power to thwart and defeat our policy. Therefore, I trust, the hon. Member will feel satisfied with the expression of opinion he has elicited, and withdraw his Motion.
§ MR. CAVE,
in reply, said, that he would detain the House but a very short time in replying to a few of the remarks which had been made. With respect to what had fallen from his hon. Friend the Under Secretary for the Colonies he regretted to see that he still laboured under the delusion that immigration was not a national question, but merely a concession to the planter. He would not, however, argue that point now; he had lived long enough to see so much improvement in the Colonial Office, that he could afford to wait patiently for this also. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had charged him with calumniating this country. He felt, however, obliged to repeat that the equalization of the duties on slave and free grown sugar had been the greatest encouragement to slavery and the slave trade in our day. He 989 knew that when the intelligence of the passing of the Bill of 1846 reached Havanna the city was illuminated, which shewed at any rate what the opinion there was of the probable effect of the measure. He was sorry that both the noble Lords had somewhat slurred over the objections to the immigration of free labourers to slave countries. But in spite of what had fallen from the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) about the suspicions which foreign nations might entertain of the purity of our motives in objecting to the importation of Chinese into Cuba, the truth ought to be told; and the truth was, that if there was to be slavery at all, it was better that people who were slaves at homo should be taken as slaves to Cuba, rather than that free people like the Chinese should find themselves in that position. Spain was not fit to be trusted with the custody of these people. She had ever enjoyed a pre-eminence for barbarity in the dark annals of the New World. She began by working one race there to death. When a stronger race was imported she did her best to work them to death also; and she ought not to be encouraged to import another race more re-sembling the first than the second, in order that she might treat them with the same inhumanity, in what had been justly called by the noble Lord, "the centre of abomination." With regard to his Resolutions, he would not for a moment press them after the opinions which had been expressed by the Government. His chief object had been to ventilate this question. He was perfectly satisfied with the general tone of the debate, and much gratified to hear the well-merited rejoinder which the Foreign Secretary had made to the President of the United States.
§ Previous Question and Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ House adjourned at a Quarter before Ten o'clock.