§ MR. STIRLING
said, he wished to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Whether he has any information 977 respecting an outrage said to have been perpetrated by Arabs on an English subject at Zanzibar in February last, and respecting reports lately published in the French newspapers of hostile feeling against the European residents excited in the minds of the native population of Zanzibar by certain alleged operations of British cruisers engaged in the repression of the Slave Trade?
§ MR. LAYARD
, in reply, said, he had referred to the French papers, and he had found in the Journal des Debuts an account of a state of things at Zanzibar corresponding with what his hon. Friend had stated It appeared that a meeting had been held of European residents respecting the feelings of the Arabs towards the English. The meeting was presided over by a French gentleman, and considering the source from which the information came it was somewhat suspicious. If the hon. Gentleman would refer to the papers which had been laid on the table, he would find, that while the slave trade had been repressed on the west coast of Africa, it had received an unfortunate development on the east coast, under the name of free-labour emigration. It was carried on not only by French agents, but under the French flag. The British cruisers, acting under a treaty with the Sultan of Zanzibar, had done all in their power to put an end to this infamous traffic, which appeared, from the evidence of travellers in Africa, to have produced the greatest possible misery amongst the unhappy people of the country. In districts that had formerly been inhabited by races of negroes in an advanced state of civilization when compared with those on the western coast, hundreds and even thousands of villages had been deserted, and an extent of suffering had been produced that could hardly be described. He hoped that the efforts of the British cruisers would put a stop to this state of things; but unfortunately the French merchants at Zanzibar derived large profits from the traffic, and they were very much averse to have it interfered with. He trusted, however, that when the French Government were informed of the facts, the Emperor, who had expressed his determination to put down the slave trade, would cause something to be done to remedy the evil.
§ MR. STIRLING
said, he wished to know if his hon. Friend had any information from the British Consuls?
§ MR. LAYARD
said, he had none beyond what he had stated. The hon. Gentleman 978 subsequently rose, and said that he wished to correct any misconception that might be entertained as to the meaning of his remarks on the slave trade on the east coast of Africa. What he meant to say was, that a trade which was virtually a slave trade was being carried on. A trade in what were called "free labourers" was being carried on under the protection of France, but the way in which those free labourers was obtained was something very much resembling a slave trade. By the Convention with France the slave trade was put an end to.