SIR JOHN HAY*
Sir, the subject which I am about to introduce to the notice of the House is one which I believe to be of considerable importance to the national honour, and I trust the House will favour me with their kind indulgence should I be obliged to trespass on their attention for some considerable time. I fear that I may have to do so, for I shall hardly be able to state the subject clearly without going into many details. It is now nearly two months ago since I took occasion to address a question to the Colonial Secretary upon the subject of the war with Ashantee, and I do not believe that at the time I did so there were ten Members in the House out of the Cabinet who were aware that war had been commenced with that country. The reason why I have taken upon myself the duty of calling1 attention to this painful subject is, that I have myself served upon that station, and I am personally cognizant of the country to which I am about to refer; and, unfortunately, a near relative of mine has served on this expedition, and in it has lost his life, with many another brave soldier whose loss we must all deplore. And here I may be pardoned for saying that my unfortunate relative was able, discreet, and resolute, as the reports of his superiors testify, and that in him Her Majesty has lost a good and faithful servant.
And now let me say something as to the country which has been the scene of this war. Cape Coast Castle, as is well known is a settlement about 1,000 miles from Sierra Leone, the only civilized town, if even it deserves that title, in that part of the world. It is an old castle, built originally by the Portuguese, upon a granite rock which projects into the sea. To the eastward of it is a small river, which during the rains is often a flood, but during the greater part of the year is a swamp, and the water of which is not fit for the use either of human beings or of animals. Along the sandy shore between the river and the sea extends the town of Cape 1951 Coast Castle, principally inhabited by a Native population, under the protection of the fort, generally numbering about 10,000 persons. The water for supplying the town is collected in tanks during the rainy season; and the water so collected is supposed to be sufficient to supply the wants of the normal population during the dry portion of the year. The fort of Cape Coast formerly had very large and ample tanks; but many of them are now put of repair, and those that are in good condition are only sufficient to supply with water a force of about 250 men, which is the usual garrison. It is true that since these operations commenced, some six or seven months after the troops were sent there, in the month of January, Her Majesty's Government sent a distilling apparatus to Cape Coast Castle, to supply the troops, hut unfortunately that apparatus was not in order until early in May, so that there was no sufficient supply of water for the additional influx of troops until the rainy season1 had again set in, and the necessity for the distilling apparatus was not so apparent as it had previously been. There are at Cape Coast Castle no animals suitable for the food of man, no sheep or cattle. There is no herbage to feed them, and as soon as cattle are brought to the settlement they are killed. As much of the meat as is required is consumed fresh and the rest is salted for future use. The food supplied to the troops is therefore mainly salt provisions and navy biscuit.
The Colonial officer in charge at Cape Coast Castle is Mr. Richard Pine, and I am sorry to see, from a source which may perhaps be supposed to indicate the opinions of Her Majesty's Government, that there seems to be some intention to throw the blame of these proceedings on Governor Pine. He was formerly Attorney General at the Gambia. He is an able and clever lawyer, and was appointed — in consequence of his knowledge of the affairs of that part of Africa—to be Governor of Cape Coast Castle. He has been very much abused, but the House will forgive me if I endeavour to show that the censure which has been cast upon him is not altogether deserved. The papers of my poor brother who (shortly after his arrival with the troops at Cape Coast Castle) received orders to act is a political capacity under Governor Pine, have come into my hands, and among them are some despatches which throw light upon the policy which, the Governor proposed to adopt. In an official 1952 letter dated the 15th of December, 1863, and addressed, to "Lieutenant Hay, 4th "West India Regiment, Commanding Volunteer Corps," Governor Pine says.—Sir,—Upon your Report, at the request of Afarka and Bosoomfra, and mainly at your suggestion, I have embodied a corps of Volunteers, who have become, virtually soldiers, and which you have volunteered to command, under the sanction of Colonel Conran. The objects I have in view in this undertaking are so well known to you that I shall encumber you with few instructions. The chiefs to whose support you proceed, against a threatened attack of King Amantifou, I consider deserve the countenance, and, if necessary, the armed assistance; of this Government; at the: same time, I cannot impress upon your mind my extreme anxiety, and the almost necessity which exists for hostilities not being adopted on our part if they can be avoided. Your duty will be rather to conciliate the dissenting party, and I doubt not that your appearance with your little force will have the effect of preventing bloodshed, so soon as it is known that Afarka and Bosoomfra are under British protection; but you will be justified in using your force in resisting an attack upon the chiefs, if the sole cause of quarrel be their resistance of the passage of munitions of war and stores to the Ashantee country. It is possible that the French authorities, as you are aware, will indirectly attempt to uphold the tribes unfriendly to us, but I most urgently call upon you to avoid collision with the French authorities, or a breach of international law. In case of danger of such collision being imminent, you will, if possible, make amicable arrangements, or refer the question to this Government; but I do not fear direct interference so much as clandestine influence, against which1 you will be prepared. You will be good enough to present the accompanying letter to the Governor of Elmina, and obtain his permission before marching through his territory; and such march, I trust, will be effected throughout in the least ostentatious manner, defiance not being the object of your mission, but an effort to preserve peace. In full reliance on your discretion,I have the honour to be. Sir,Your most obedient servant,RICE. PINE, Governor.This letter seems to me to show that, so far from having any bloodthirsty intention, Governor Pine's wish was to be as humane as possible, and the only strong suggestions of war were embodied in a despatch from the Colonial Office, which threw blame upon Major Cochrane, the former commandant, and offered stimulants and suggestions of aggressive measures to his successor. I have thought it but fair to an officer who is absent, from this country, and in a most difficult and responsible position, to give him the benefit of the defence which this Better affords him, and which contrasts, favourably with those which Her Majesty's Government has selected to produce to the House.
1953 Extending from Cape Coast Castle almost 100 miles into the, interior is the Fantee territory, inhabited by Native tribes which claim our protection. Beyond this is the kingdom of Ashantee, and less than 200 miles from Cape Coast Castle is the town of Kumasi, which is the capital of that kingdom. With the King of Ashantee we have, as the papers partially show, certain political arrangements. If a slave escapes from Ashantee and touches the British or protected territory he becomes free. It is not the custom of the authorities of Cape Coast Castle to give up such slaves, nor does the King of Ashantee usually demand them. We have also an agreement in the nature of a treaty of extradition with Ashantee, according to which criminals are to be given up by Ashantee to us, when proved guilty, and vice versa. In 1892, a subject of the King of Ashantee, a slave who was working in the gold mines, escaped and crossed over into the Fantee territory, taking with him a portion of the gold. This being the property of the monarch, the King of Ashantee, after some preliminary correspondence with the Governor of the Gold Coast, claimed the slave as a thief; but the Governor, rightly or wrongly, thought he was not justified in giving him up, believing that the major of his being an escaped slave included the minor of his being a thief. The King of Ashantee replied that if the slave were innocent he should not have claimed him, but, being a thief, he could not admit that the fact of his being a slave ought to save him from punishment. He accordingly sent some men across the frontier to endeavour to seize him in one of the Fantee villages in which he believed him to be concealed. They failed to accomplish their purpose, but burned the village, and committed some acts of destruction, which, I have been assured, I could not be supposed to exceed £400 in value. The matter was represented to the Colonial Office, which decided upon war, and took measures accordingly.
The Returns in the hands of Members are very imperfect, but it appears from them that on the 1st of July last, in time of peace, 686 men and 18 officers, about the strength intended to be maintained permanently on th6 coast, were already on the spot. Three officers, Major Heyrick, Captain Barnard, and my brother, then serving at the Cape of Good Hope, were ordered home in the spring of last year, with a view of proceeding to the West 1954 Indies, there to join a newly raised regiment for service on the west cost of Africa. They were exceedingly astonished when they received those orders, but in obedience to them returned to this country, and my brother was with me in this country last June. I mention this fact because a statement has been put forth, that at that time no intention of war was entertained, whereas when my brother was with me in England he had orders to go to the coast of Africa by the West: Indies, and I gave hip letters of introduction to Commodore Wilmot and others on the coast of Africa, which I would not have done unless I had known he was going there. Of those three officers two are now dead, and one is in such a condition that it is feared he mat never recover. Fortunately, however, he has reached this country, and I trust Captain Barnard may again, serve the Queen. I am not now about to question the policy which Her Majesty's Government has thought proper to adopt in commencing this war, but, as they decided to carry on, war upon the Gold Coast, I am entitled to inquire how they have conducted it. I have seen something of military and naval operations in most parts of the world, and have been personally engaged, in most of the wars in which we have been involved for the last thirty years. I may be supposed, therefore, to have some experience of this matter. One would imagine that every comfort for troops serving in such a deadly climate would have been immediately sent out; and as there is no good water there, and no supplies can be obtained on the Spot, one would imagine that roomy and ample transports conveying the expedition would have been moored in the anchorage off Cape Coast Castle to afford a base of operations; that steam transports would have been forthcoming to convey fresh provisions from Sierra Leone, or any other place from which it was thought desirable to draw supplies; and, further, that hospital ships to receive the sick, and steamers to take them away to a position where they might recover from disease or from gunshot wounds, would have been provided. It would also have been desirable that the steam transports should have been employed, as in the Crimea, in distilling water for the use of the troops. With such appliances, the war, though still dangerous and deadly, would not have been as fatal as it fasts proved; and Her Majesty's Government, having made up their 1955 minds to send 1,800 men upon such duty, were bound to supply them with materials other than a distilling apparatus that would not work, brackens water remaining for use of 200 men, and salt provisions, and single canvas tents for shelter, whilst the thermometer stood at ninety-four in the shade. I do not wish to state the case more strongly than it deserves; I do not wish to make an unjust attack upon any Department. But, as the war is estimated to have cost £14,000 a month, I must say that all which could be necessary for the safety of the troops or the efficient conduct of hostilities ought to have been supplied; and that Her Majesty's Government, which had thought proper to incur this expense without the sanction, and, indeed, without the knowledge of this House would have done well either to have consulted the House, or else not to have starved the war and killed our men. War to be successful ought to be conducted so as to bring matters to an issue as speedily as possible, but in the present case it seems that this maxim, and, indeed, the dictates of common sense, has been lost sight of. The officer whom I have mentioned sailed in Her Majesty's ship Magæa from Plymouth in June for Jamaica, and orders had been previously forwarded for the troops there to be ready to embark for the Gold Goast. The troops were ready on her arrival, and embarked at once, and sailed for Africa. As there are some unaccountable errors in the official Return, I prefer to take the numbers from particulars furnished to me from other sources; and, according to these, one wing of the Fourth West India Regiment, under Colonel Couran, numbering 21 officers and 450 men, embarked in the course of the month of July and sailed immediately for Cape Coast Castle, reaching it on the 14th of August. There is a rumour that Colonel Conran is to be blamed for having committed a mistake; that he, being an officer who had served in hot climates, ought to have attended to the Commissariat, and that to his neglect, or that of Governor Pine, is owing what has occurred. Now, Colonel Conran, on arriving at the Gold Coast, was, I am assured, very much astonished at the position in which he found himself. A Considerable body of troops, quite sufficient for the existing supplies, were already on the spot, and he was thrown on shore with 450 men and 21 officers additional. Naturally he referred to Governor Pine for instructions as to the duty which he was expected to 1956 perform, those which he had himself received being by no means clear, the only thing to be gathered from them being that he was to place himself at the disposal of Governor Pine. The Governor told him his orders were to march to Prahsu, a town on the river Prah, and to occupy Mansu and Shahsu. By the desire of the Government, he had already deposited supplies of salt provisions at certain places on the line of march, and huts for the accommodation of the soldiers would speedily be erected. Colonel Conran, I understand, acted in a manner that was highly credit able to him. I am told he is an officer who has risen from the ranks; but he must be an able soldier or Her Majesty's Government would never have selected him for this special service. He is a hardy, rough British officer, and a proof of this may be found in the fact that officers who have just returned to this country report of Colonel Conran a characteristic declaration that "he was fulfilling and would fulfil the instructions of Her Majesty's Government, thought only two white officers were left to follow him." Colonel Conran told the Governor he was ready to obey the order, though he certainly thought they were not wise; and he was then shown a dispatch from the Colonial Office, blaming Major Cochrane, his predecessor, and charging him with inactivity, and a want of military virtues more important even that activity. Like a good soldier, Colonel Conran obeyed order, and a commissary, Mr. Blanc, having been sent out to endeavour to provided to do his best to fulfil his duty. He had command of money, but of no other facilities whatever, for it seemed to be forgotten that the scene of action was 1,000 miles from Sierra Leone. Mr. Blanc, however, was highly praised by Governor Pine for what he had done with the slender means at his disposal; and, therefore, it is plain that no blame attaches either to Governor Pine, to Colone Conran, or to Mr. Blanc the commissary, for the misfortunes which afterwards befell the force. When the Megæra landed the expeditionary force, instead of remaining attached to it, she sailed on other duties and disappeared his force, as directed, to Mansu, to Prahsu, to Shahsu, and other places; and shortly afterwards a large force of volunteers was raised far away to the west, at Dixocove. To that force no medical man was attached, and Colonel 1957 Conran, writing to the officer in command on the 29th of January, said—Sir,—Under existing circumstances you will, on receipt of this letter, march from where you now are to Akropong, in Denker, with your detachment of volunteers, and there remain in the defence of the King and his people, as allies of Her Majesty's Government against the Ashantees. The king, who is here and knows me, will house your men. I will in a few days forward a medical officer to your assistance from the I'rah, by a road leading thence. The king's son, Quacoe Mame, is my A.D.C., and upon whom you may depend for truthful information. Your letter the Governor and myself received this morning from Gorgie.I have the honour to be, Sir,Your most obedient servant,E. CONRAN,Lieutenant Colonel commanding Troops.That communication was addressed to Lieutenant Hay, commanding the volunteers on the Gold Coast, and is marked "Pressing." The medical officer never reached the force, and the volunteers consequently entered upon the war without any medical aid whatever. This letter shows that the volunteers raised were acting as a combined force for the invasion of Ashantee. Among the papers in my possession is a copy of an official letter, written by my brother to the Governor, after he was almost too ill for exertion of any kind, in the following terms:—Sir,—I have the honour to report, for the information of the officer commanding, the 4th West India Regiment on the 11th of this month with everything correct. The march throughout was good, considering the nature of the country. One day we crossed forty-nine rivers, some by fording and others by large trees, so that long marches cannot be made in a day of even ten hours' march. I had to make two halts on the road, one of one day to rest the men, and another of three days to take medicine for the country fever, of which the men had an attack, but are now nearly all right, except from the weakness incidental to a sharp attack of that sickness.So that the officers and men on detached expeditions were without any medical advice, the blame of which, however, does not rest with the officers who despatched them. Those officers volunteered for that service, and there were no medical men to send. Her Majesty's Government sent out twelve medical officers. Three are dead, three are invalided, and the remaining six have been described to me as walking skeletons who have been left to do duty at Cape Coast Castle. About that time the commanding officer of one of Her Majesty's ships then at Cape Coast was asked to give two Excellent seamen to manage the rocket battery attached to the 1958 expedition. Two men were sent up, find both died. Commodore Wilmot, the able naval Commander-in-Chief on the West Coast, whose experience is great, and whose talents are recognized, and who had officially protested against this war, for he well knew the coast, was so angry that he threatened to bring a charge against the captain in command of the detachment for not properly lodging and feeding his men. Doctor Rutherford, the medical officer with the detachment, agreed in this charge, and was about to give evidence is support of it, but he died also, and it was found on inquiry that the seamen were as well lodged and fed as the officers of the army. That official correspondence has not yet appeared, but I suppose it is in the possession of Her Majesty's Government.
Throughout last winter there was great sickness at Cape Coast Castle. I have examined the Return laid on the table, and have endeavoured to ascertain how many have died. The Return now in the hands of Members gives a total of 64 officers and 1,745 men who have been landed since 1st July, 1863, or were present at that date, and it gives 1,3,48 men and 48 officers as now remaining fit for duty. There must, however, be, some mistake here, because the Return gives 35 out of the 64 officers as dead or invalided, in addition to those in hospital in Cape Coast Castle. Out of 1,745 men 1,348 are said to be efficient. That leaves 397 hors de combat, whereas the Return of the number of men dead and invalided is 127, which leaves 270 men not accounted for. They are "missing," in military parlance, which means dead or deserted. As it is not likely they have deserted to the King of Ashantee, I come to the other painful conclusion.
On the 9th of April this year H.M.S. Tamar landed reinforcements from the West Indies at Cape Coast Castle. She brought 643 men and 27 officers. At that time there were troops at various camps in the interior, but there were many men sick at Cape Coast, and 15 officers also ill in the Castle. The Tamar landed her men on the beach of Cape Coast Castle. She brought no provision for the mass of wretchedness there. The troops already there were in Native huts, and those brought by the Tamar were marched to the front and put under canvas. Before the Tamar left, 120 of the men, she brought were down with sickness. The medical 1959 officer said he would have given his own life to have had those poor men put on board the Tamar. Captain Stirling, an excellent officer, took compassion on a poor lady, and against orders took her to Gibraltar and saved her life. The Tamar had no orders to have anything to do with the expedition. With the usual red-tape routine, she was ordered, after landing her troops, immediately to proceed on another service and to remove a regiment from Gibraltar; and these poor sick men from the ramparts saw her steaming away for the western horizon, and with her the last gleam of hope shrunk within their breasts. They nearly all died. One would have imagined that the Government when sending a steamship to this part of the world, where there was he one to give orders— for the Governor was gone to sea, ill, Colonel Conran was up the country, and the commanding officer at Cape Coast Castle was delirious with fever — would have given orders to the captain of the Tamar to bring away with him any men who might have been wounded; or suffering from fever. But the captain had positive Orders to proceed oh another service. The captain was probably not aware of what was going on on shore, and he steamed away in obedience to his orders, leaving these men to die. "The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel," It would be rather too painful to read the names of the officers whose services have been in this manner lost to their country. Some few may have recovered, but I have been told by a 'medical man that, the effect of the fever is so debilitating upon the constitution; that those who died were almost happier than; those who lived, When the last mail left there — for the African mail called there every month—there were nine officers and eighty-five men left in the apology for an hospital in Cape Coast Castle, who were living on brackish water and salt beef. The mail steamer was so full that there was no room for any one. Her medical officer was kindness itself to those who embarked on board her; but there was no preparation for invalids: the surgeon himself gave up his cabin to a poor lady who died; and the sick officers, packed in small cabins, were without those com forts so necessary to their recovery. Some died at sea; others were landed at Sierra Leone, and died there.
Now, Sir, I understand the Government propose1 to send out the Gladiator to bring away the troops: I wish to tell the House, 1960 and the Secretary of Stale for the Colonies will bear me out, that I have not wished to keep secret the information I have received. I have not endeavoured to throw it on the House as a surprise for party purposes. I drew up a memorandum, which I showed to many of my friends, and afterwards placed in the hands of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and I understand the right hon. Gentleman has shown it to the noble Marquess the Tinder Secretary for War; In the same spirit yesterday morning I called upon thy noble Friend the Secretary to the Admiralty to state that I understood no transport had been taken up or sent and that I was about to put a question in the House in the form which I placed in the noble Lord's hands. In consequence of the noble Lord's answer, I noted down another question, and called on the noble Marquess at the War Office. I told the noble Marquess that I should put that question to him in the House. In consequence of my notice, the Admiralty decided on sending the Gladiator. At this time, therefore, although some sailing transport, whose name is hot known, is under repair, the only actual and tangible ship is the Gladiator. She is to bring away 600 men, which, according to the Government Return, leaves 270 men unaccounted for. The House has been told that it is the intention of the Government to keep 700 or 800 men there, and to bring away 500. Now, the Gladiator is to carry these men to Cape Verd. Hon. Gentlemen looking at a map are apt to forget the great distance that separates Cape Coast from Cape Verd. The Cape Verd Islands are nearly 2,000 miles from Cape Coast Gristle. It will be necessary to carry these black men, who are debilitated by climate and sickness, upon deck, for the Gladiator has little room beyond what is necessary for her own crew. Is it possible that it is proposed to carry 550 sickly men On deck from Cape Coast Castle to Cape Verd—a distance of nearly 2,000 miles? When they get to Cape Verd, which is a sickly place, have Her Majesty's Government obtained permission from the Portuguese Government for these men to disembark? The quarantine law in those Islands is said to be very strict, as I believe is well known. Will the Portuguese Government allow these black troops to break their laws, and; after twelve or fourteen days' voyage, will they allow them to land (If any are then alive) on their shores and await the arrival of a 1961 vessel that is not yet ready for sailing? But what sort of a ship is the Gladiator In the Report on the Health of the Navy in 1869 the Gladiator is stated to have been built at Woolwich in 1844. Her length of gun-deck is 190 feet; keel for tonnage, 164 feet; extreme breadth, 37½ feet; depth of hold, 23 feet. She is 1,200 tons burden, her draught of water is 7 feet 7 inches forward, and 9 feet 4 inches aft. The Gladiator was, I believe, ordered home not long ago, partly from defects and partly from being unhealthy. Her crew were not paid off, but turned over to the Grey-hound. From the Report of the Health of the Navy, 1859, page 44, it appears that I the Gladiator had 23 cases of yellow fever at Havannah in October, of which two I died. The disease was cheeked by the ship running out of the tropics to Halifax, I Comparing the ratio of non-effectives daily per 1,000 of mean force in the Indus, the I ship which I then had the honour to command, and the Gladiator, the following is the result:—Indus, 40.5; Gladiator, 78.8. Sent to Hospital — Indus, one year, 38; Gladiator, three months, 25; Indus's complement, 600; Gladiator's complement, 255. By the Report of the Health of the Navy, 1860, page 97, the Gladiator again shows an unhealthy ratio of sickness:— Number of complement, 160 only (previous Return 255); average number daily of non-effectives, 14.3; ratio per 1,000 of mean force, 79.4; being the fourth ship bearing the greatest proportion of sick, those with a larger number having all I been fever ships in 1860. That ship, which will not contain 500 men below, and which is reported as being unhealthy, is the vessel which has suddenly sailed after notice of a question has been given, and is the only chance of life that our officers and men at Cape Coast Castle have. They are to be conveyed by that ship to a Portuguese colony, which may not receive them, there to be put into a ship whose name even is unknown, and which has not yet sailed. The question which I now have to ask the House is, who is to blame? There has been a sort of hushed suggestion that a noble Duke, whose illness I personally regret and which is regretted by all who know him, is to be the scapegoat of the Ministry. I have shown, however, that the Colonial Office is not the Department which is specially to blame. It has been also suggested, that the Governor is to blame, but I have pointed out that the Governor has only followed the in- 1962 structions which have been given him. The Colonial Governor could not order officers from the Cape of Good Hope, nor troops from Jamaica, nor transports nor other ships from England. I have no doubt, if the Governor had the power, the waters of Cape Coast would have been covered with transports. Therefore, the Colonial Governor is not to blame. Well, the Colonial Minister has not the power to declare war — that is a Cabinet question; and, therefore, before 2,000 men can be sent, a great expense incurred, and a disastrous expedition determined upon, there must be some consultation among Her Majesty's Ministers. It appears to me that the Cabinet are responsible for this war; that the War Office is responsible for the ordering of the troops, and for the insufficient commissariat. The Admiralty, in a slight degree, is also to blame for the want of sufficient transports. The Admiralty and Transport Office in those cases act only on requisition from the War Office, but, if no requisition was made, the responsibility for not sending transports, store-ships, and supplies rests especially with the War Department. But that Department cannot act without the Treasury where a large sum of money is required, and, therefore, those two Departments seem to me particularly responsible. I therefore ask this question, "Who is to blame?" and I trust Her Majesty's Government will find an answer. Who is to blame? The men who have betrayed Denmark and truckled to Germany. Who is to blame? The men who have alienated France and irritated Russia. Who is to blame? The men who have convulsed China and devastated Japan; the same men who ten years ago sent a British army to perish of cold, of hunger, and of want of shelter in a Crimean winter, and have now sent British troops to perish of fever, of thirst, and of want of shelter on the burning plains and fetid swamps of Western Africa. These men cling to that front Bench with wonderful tenacity, and they send other men to die with wonderful courage. I appeal to this House to do justice to its soldiers; I pray of them to purge themselves from complicity in this crime. I entreat you to lay the blood of our brethren—which cries to us from the ground — where it is deserved—at the door of Her Majesty's Ministers. I move, Sir, that Her Majesty's Government, in landing forces on the Gold Coast for the purpose of waging war against the King of 1963 Ashantee without making any sufficient provision for preserving the health of the troops to be employed there, have incurred a grave responsibility, and that this House laments the want of foresight which has caused so large a loss of life.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question in order to add the words "Her Majesty's Government, in lauding Forces on the Gold Coast for the purpose of waging war against the King of Ashantee, without making any sufficient provision for preserving the health of the Troops to be employed there, have incurred a grave responsibility; and that this House laments the want of foresight which has caused so large a loss of life."—(Sir John Hay,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, he was quite sure they all sympathized very deeply with the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had just addressed the House, for the very painful loss which he had sustained—the loss of a distinguished and gallant brother upon the inhospitable shores of Africa. He trusted, however, that, much as the House might sympathize with the hon. and gallant Member, no feeling of that kind would induce them to assent to the Resolution which had just been moved without more careful inquiry into the facts and better evidence for his assertions than the hon. and gallant Gentleman had afforded. He did not propose to follow the hon. and gallant Member through the whole of his speech, or to answer all the allegations which had been made against Her Majesty's Government; but as the weight of the indictment and the greatest number of charges had been brought against the Department which he had the honour to represent in that House, he hoped the House would bear with him while he explained as well and as shortly as he could the arrangements which had been made by that Department, the loss which the country had actually sustained, and the real facts of the case with respect to the operations under notice. The hon. and gallant Member had stated that a considerable number of troops had from time to time been landed on the Gold by order of the Government, with the object of prosecuting hostilities against the King of Ashantee. He must distinctly state that the only troops which had been sent by 1964 order of Her Majesty's Government, and had been landed upon the Gold Coast, with that, object, were the seven companies which landed at Cape Coast Castle from the Tamar in the April of this year. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had stated that the troops, which arrived under the command of Colonel Conran in the August of last year must have been, intended for that purpose, Without fatiguing the House by entering into all the negotiations which had taken place between the War Office and the Colonial Office with respect to the number of: troops, be might state that as long ago as 1862 the Colonial Office urged on the Horse, Guards that the increased requirements of the service needed an increase of the troops to be permanently maintained on the West Coast of Africa. On account of the difficulty of preparing a considerable number of troops for that purpose, the proposition was at that time resisted by the War Office, and no increase of force was sanctioned; but late in 1862 the Gold Coast Artillery Corps—which up to that time was the only corps permanently stationed there—mutinied and had to be disbanded. In consequence of that, mutiny, and also of the continual requisitions of the Colonial Office, it, was determined to raise another West India, regiment, and until that regiment had been raised, it was decided that the head-quarters and one wing of the 4th West India regiment, he believed, under the command of Colonel Conran, should proceed to the Gold Coast for the purpose of taking the place of the corps which had mutinied. That proposed arrangement he asserted positively, and he hoped the House would give him its attention, had been; commenced before the Government had any notice of a war, and it would have, been made equally as well when Major Cochrane was in command, whether the war had taken; place or not; nor were the troops under command of Colonel Conran sent with the object of taking, part in hostilities against the King of Ashantee, The point was of some importance, because the number of the troops to which the hon. and gallant Member's Motion referred would very much vary, with the fact, whether the troops landed from, the Megæra were or were not intended to wage war with the King of the Ashantees.
One of the principal grounds of accusation against Her Majesty's Government appeared to be that sufficient preparation 1965 was not made for the troops which were landed from the Tamar Cape Coast Castle in April of the present year; and, though the hon. Member had not mentioned it, the statement had been made that sufficient foresight had not teen exercised in regulating the time in which those troops should be disembarked from the Tamar on that coast. Now he had a statement of the dates of the different orders and proceedings connected With the conveyance of the troops by the Tamar, which would show that no unnecessary delay took place in the despatch of the reinforcements to Colonel Conran. He would leave to his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies the defence of the policy of the Government in. assenting, upon the urgent representations of Governor Pine, to send reinforcements to Cape Coast Castle, with the object, if necessary, to prosecute war with the King of the Ashantees. He thought his right hon. Friend could show that that was not an unwise decision, but he (the Marquess of Hartington) did not wish to go into the question1 of policy, as he only desired to point out what were the arrangements to forward to Colonel Conran these reinforcements. In December last it was decided that they should be sent. No time was then lost in applying to the Admiralty on the subject, and getting u transport to take them, and the Tamar was ready to sail from England on the 8th of January. It must not be supposed that it was in the power of the Tamar to sail to a certain place in the West Indies in order to take up troops there and at once to convey them to Cape Coast Castle. On the contrary, one of, the great difficulties in providing these reinforcements was that of ascertaining at What station in the West Indies they could be taken without inconvenience and without delay. The consequence Was that the Tamar had to proceed to Barbadoes, Trinidad, and thence to Jamaica. She made her final departure from Honduras on the 3rd of March, and arrived at Cape Coast Castle on the 9th of April. Owing to that circuitous course, and its being uncertain whence the troops could be taken, it was quite impossible that the Government could make an accurate calculation of the time when they Would arrive at Cape Coast Castle; and with reference to the statement that proper accommodation was riot provided for the troops on their arrival there, he most observe that it Was the intention of the Go- 1966 vernor, in conjunction with Colonel Conran, who had made all his preparations for the invasion of the Ashantee territory, not to delay twenty-four hours after the arrival of the reinforcements, bat immediately to march up the troops landed from the Tamar to the River Prah, and after striking a blow against the King of the Ashantees, the colonel hoped to return to the coast within a short period, and before the setting in of the rainy season. The reinforcements would then have been sent back to the West Indies. The Tamar did not arrive as soon by about a fortnight as Colonel Conran had expected, and besides there occurred that which he believed the House would find to be the real cause of the ill success of the whole euterprize—the rainy season commenced at least two months or six weeks earlier than had been expected. In fact last year, as appeared from the despatches on the table, very little rain indeed had fallen up to the month of August. The rainy season, as he was informed by the best authorities acquainted with that climate, did not generally commence till the end of April or the beginning of May. In the present year, however, it set in with great severity in the middle of March. He believed that it was known that the seasons were extremely uncertain in tropical climes, but he was informed that the rainy season was rarely known to begin so early as in the present year, and the Correspondence on the table showed that neither Colonel Conran nor Governor Pine anticipated that it would commence before they were able to begin the expedition into the interior of the country. If, "however, Colonel Conran had been able to send the troops with the reinforcements into the interior, that circumstance would not have relieved him from the duty of making the necessary accommodation for them on the coast, because it was expected that they would come back there in a short time. In respect to the matter of accommodation for the troops, he had to state that in October last the War Office despatched a very able officer of Engineers, Major Clarke, to the Gold Coast, with the object of making such arrangements as might be found to be necessary for the increased number of troops intended to be maintained on the coast of Africa. His instructions were to report to the War Office what alterations and extensions of existing buildings would be necessary, and he Was also authorized, with the sanction of the officer in command of the 1967 troops, to expend certain sums on services immediately needed. It was true that Major Clarke, when he arrived at Cape Coast Castle, was not aware that those reinforcements of seven companies had been ordered; but his instructions had reference to a very much larger number of troops than were at Cape Coast Castle at the time. Of course it was impossible for Major Clarke to enter upon any large works at once, because he had not funds at his disposal for extensive works but he had all the funds which the House of Commons had enabled to be placed at his disposal. Still the labour and the necessary materials were not at hand, and therefore it was necessary that existing buildings should be adapted to the accommodation of troops. Major Clarke found that a Cape Coast Castle, Accra, and other stations, there was an ambulance of public buildings and private houses well fitted to accommodate a very large number of troops. He had seen sketch made by Major Clarke pf certain private houses at Accra which he proposed to convert into barracks ay a small expense. Unfortunately, however, a short time previously to the arrival of the reinforcements from the West Indies the small-pox broke out very badly in some parts of the town of Cape Coast Castle, and the buildings destined for the accommodation of the troops were on the account unavailable, and it became necessary to place the men under canvas or to take advantage of such other buildings as might be obtained at some distance from the infected part of the town. Some hon. Gentleman who seem amused at mention of the small-pox might, perhaps, be more amused at the circumstance that at Accra the house intended by Major Clarke to be converted into temporary barracks were destroyed by an earthquake a short time before the arrival of the Tamar. Therefore there was no accommodation for the troops except such as might be provided by tents and some other houses, but he was informed that the troops from the Tamar only remained at the station under canvas for two days, and then almost every one was accommodated in houses. He thought that the statement he had made would show that there was no want of forethought on that part of the War Office in providing accommodation for the troops. Under the circumstances regular barracks could not be obtained, but an officer had been specially sent out to provide tempo- 1968 rary accommodation. If, from unfortunate circumstances, that accommodation, suddenly and in a very short time before the arrival of the troops became unavailable, he really could not see how the Government could be held responsible for the unfortunate circumstances which had occurred.
The next allegation was that the commissariat arrangements were defective. With regard to those arrangements, it was reported, in August, 1863, after the arrival of the Megæra, by the commissariat officer at Cape Coast, that there was considerable difficulty in procuring fresh meat—that it could not be procured oftener than twice a week. Subsequently, and on that representation, large issues of preserved meat were made from this country, and they had been continued up to the present time. In the compaign which took place in the year 1863 the Governor made great complaints against Major Cochrane about his delay and not having prosecuted the was with greater vigour. Major Cochrane represented that the great difficulty was in obtaining transport for the commissariat. In consequence orders were sent in October last to Assistant Commissary General Blanc, who was then serving at the Gambia, to proceed to Cape Coast Castle, in order, should the operations be continued, to organize a transport corps. That officer, who in all these transactions had fully borne out the high opinion previously entertained of him, did organize a transport corps, of between 700 or 800 men, and numbering ultimately 1,000 Natives, by means of which the troops were furnished with supplies, wherever they moved. With reference to the statement that had been made, that the troops lived at that time almost entirely on salt meat, the House would perhaps allow him to read a general order issued by Colonel Conran on the 23rd January.
The rations for the troops in the field will be as follows: —1 lb. salt meat or 1 lb. fresh meat, or ¾ lb. preserved boiled beef without bone. Fresh meat or preserved meat to be issued every other day. The issued of biscuit, flour, and rice to be varied as often as circumstances will permit.It could not be supposed that Colonel Conran would have published that general order to the troops if he had not first assured himself of the fact that there was fresh meat to be issued. He would not have ventured to ridicule the officers and 1969 men by holding out web expectations if he had had only salt meat at his disposal. On the 25th of January the officer commanding the troops reported to the Horse Guards that he was satisfied with the exertions of the commissariat, and strongly recommended Commissary General Blanc for promotion. The letters of Colonel Conran and Governor Pine abounded with expressions of their satisfaction with the completeness of the commissariat arrangements. They spoke in the highest terms not only of the personal exertions of Commissary General Blanc, but of the manner in which the commissariat service had generally been conducted. Under these circumstances, he could not see what weight could be attached to the complaints that had been brought forward with respect to the commissariat.
It had also been said that there was a great deficiency of fresh water. Owing to some negligence—on whose part he could not say—the tanks at Cape Coast Castle, which ought to have been sufficient to supply the garrison for some time, failed earlier than they should have done. In December the War Office learnt that the supply of water was not of a proper description, and orders were immediately given to send out a large quantity of filtering stones, and also, as soon as possible, a steam condensing apparatus believed to be capable of supplying 1,200 gallons a day. The condensing apparatus arrived in February, and orders were despatched by the Admiralty to one of the cruisers on the coast to send an engineer to assist in erecting it. The condensing apparatus was set up, but it did not succeed in producing as much fresh water as had been anticipated—it yielded, in fact, only some 500 gallons a day. That was, no doubt, unfortunate; but, at the same time, he did not see what the authorities at home could have done beyond sending out the best means within their knowledge for providing the troops with what was wanted.
It had further been alleged that the medical arrangements were imperfect. The number of troops at the station at no time exceeded 1,400, and there had never been fewer than six surgeons attached to the force; there had for some time been eight, and during the last five months there had been eleven and twelve. The hon. and gallant Member stated that, although twelve had been sent out, three had died, and three were invalided. He could only 1970 say that, according to the latest Returns, twelve medical officers were reported to be at Cape Coast Castle, and he had every reason to suppose that they were actually present and effective. For a force never exceeding 1,400 men, even in that unhealthy climate, a staff of twelve medical officers must be deemed amply sufficient. There had been no complaints of any deficiency in the medical or hospital stores or any article of that description required for the men. That there was an adequate supply of these things was proved by the reports, not only of officers on the spot, but of those who had come home to this country. The Returns further showed that medical comforts of all kinds had actually bees issued to the sick in the hospitals, and therefore it was quite dear that a sufficient quantity had been provided. So far from there having been any deficiency in that respect, the officer commanding reported to the War Office in September last, that he had issued three general orders in the previous month relative to the formation of a military hospital wherein the sick were to be provided with all necessary comforts, and that the system established was then proving most beneficial to the sick soldier. To show that the troops were not at all so unprovided for as some hon. Members opposite imagined, he would read to the House the list of rations which were served out in the hospital, with the addition of such medical comforts as the surgeon deemed necessary:—Bread, beef or mutton, 1 lb.; or fowl, 12 oz.; or fish, 12 oz.; tea, ¼oz.; or coffee, 1 oz.; sugar, 2 oz.; vegetables, 4 oz.; rice, 3 oz.; pepper, salt, and butter. Since the notice had been placed on the paper, inquiries had been made of Staff Surgeon Schroeder, who had returned to this country, whether there had been at any period a deficiency in any of the medical or hospital stores. His reply was that they bad been at one time short of castor oil, but that a supply had been immediately obtained from one of the ships off the coast, and more could have been got from the same source if needed. In fact, if there had been a lack of anything, one or other of the ships in the neighbourhood of the station would have provided it.
The hon. and gallant Member said the Government ought to have established a floating hospital. He bad been informed, however, by those who had been at the station, that ships could not lie within three miles of Cape Coast Castle, that in 1971 all weathers the landing through the surf was a difficult, not to say dangerous, operation, that communication could not be maintained between the shore and the ships for more than four or five days at a time, and that when the weather was at all bad the surf was such that it would be quite impossible to transport sick or wounded men to a floating hospital. In camp equipments and other stores of that kind there had been no more deficiency than in the articles he had just mentioned. He would not detain the House with an enumeration of the stores, but from December last, bed steads, blankets, tents, and so on, had been repeatedly sent out in large numbers. Not only had all requisitions been attended to without the slightest delay, but the wants of the troops were even anticipated by the Department at home. Such were the arrangements which had been made by the War Office, and he thought they were sufficient to show that the wants and comforts of the troops had not been neglected. If anything had been omitted to be done, it was quite clear, he thought, that complaints would have been heard on the subject; but although he had looked over a great many dispatches which had been received from the Gold Coast he had not seen a single complaint — and he believed no such thing existed — either from the officer in command of the troops, from the Governor at the station, from the officer in charge of the commissariat, who was admitted on all hands to be a most active and energetic man, and who, if anything went wrong not be likely to hold his tongue, or from the senior medical officer, or, indeed, from anybody else who was responsible to the Government or the War Office for the proper equipment of the troops under their charge. Nor could he imagine, had the Government been guilty of the negligence of which they were accused, that the officers in question would have kept the authorities at home in ignorance on the subject. It was for the hon. and gallant Gentleman to come down to the House and to say that such and such things had not been provided; and it was, of course, impossible for him to meet such a settlement with a direct denial without a reference to those who were on the spot; but the fact that no complaint was made by those who were responsible for the health and comfort of the men was, he contented, a strong ground for supposing that no deficiency in reality existed. That being so, the War 1972 Office could scarcely be much to blame, however much the disastrous loss of life which had taken place was to be deplored.
The hon. and gallant Member had produced a great sensation — and a great sensation had no doubt been produced in the country—by moving for a list the names of thirteen officers who had died at the station, and he believed it was supposed by many that those thirteen officers had died in consequence of the expedition against the King of Ashantee. Now, that expedition took place—it was the only expedition against the King of Ashntee which the Government had sanctioned—during the spring. Of the thirteen officers who died in thirteen months—for the Returns extended from May of last year to May of the present—six died last year. Of these, four died in Major Cochrane's campaign against the Ashantees, the repetition of which campaign was exactly that which it was the object of the Government, of Governor Pine, and of Colonel Conran to prevent. In 1863 no precaution was taken to prevent the Ashntees from entering the country under the protection of England. They did enter the country, destroyed several villages and indulged, he believed, in great cruelty towards the Natives. It was in the endeavour to expel the King of the Ashntees and his forces from the British Protectorate that the troops under Major Cochrane had suffered so severely. He presumed, however, that if the territory was supposed to be under our protection, it would not be contented that we should allow the troops of the King of Ashantee or any other force to ravage it [An hon. MEMBER: Denmark.] He was not aware that Denmark was under the British Protectorate; but to return to the list of those officers who had died, he found that one died on the 2nd of October, 1863, just after, he believed, he had landed from the West Indies, and the expedition against the King of Ashantee had nothing to do with his death. Another officer died on the 13th of February. He was civil commandant at a place that was a considerable distance from Cape Coast Castle; he never took any part against the Ashantees and the expedition had nothing to do with his death. A staff assistant surgeon and two officers died either on the expedition or at sea coming home, having been invalided in consequence of the expedition. Another officer died at Lagos in March and was never in the expedition. Captain Hay, the lamented brother of the 1973 hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite, had not, so far as he could ascertain, even taken any part in the expedition against the King of Ashantee. He had Volunteered to command certain troops in a totally different service at another station on the coast; and although his death might be remotely connected with the hostilities going on against the King of Ashantee, still it could not legitimately be said to have been caused by mat expedition, to which, as far as he could make out, the Motion alone pointed. ["No, no!"] Hon. Members might cry "No!" but he apprehended that the maintenance of a certain force on the Gold Coast was not to be made a ground of accusation against the Government because of the pestilential nature of the climate. The occupation of that, station had continued for many years, and under other Administrations than the present. But, be that as it might, three officers, and three officers only, had, so far as he could make out, died in consequence of the projected invasion of the Ashantee territory; and when that loss was compared with the frightful rate at which Europeans annually died at the Gold Coast, whether engaged in active operations or not, he did not see—much as the loss was to be deplored—that any sufficient grounds for the impeachment of the Government were furnished. The number of rank and file who had died was stated in a Return which had been laid before the House, but he could not follow the hon. and gallant Gentleman in that part of his speech in which he attempted to prove that a certain extra number was missing. The discrepancy which had been pointed out was, he thought, owing to the fact that the first Return gave the number of troops landed on the Gold Coast, while the other statement related only to the actual number remaining at Cape Coast Castle. At all events, the Returns which he had laid on the table had been procured from the Adjutant General, and he had no reason to doubt their accuracy. He wished he could give the House the actual number of the rank and file who had died during the progress of hostilities. Speaking from memory, however, he might state that the amount of the force at Cape Coast Castle was on the 1st of May 1,299 rank and file, and that out of that force only sixty-four were sick, while only twelve had died within a month. That rate of mortality was no doubt high, but not so high, he thought, compared with that which took place ordinarily in a regiment at home as to justify 1974 its being put forward as a region for an appeal to the House of Commons to pass a Vote of Censure on the Government.
The last charge made against the Government was that there had been unnecessary delay in sending out a transport to bring a certain portion of the troops home, hut with that part of the question his noble Friend the Secretary for the Admiralty would be better able to deal. He might, however, state, that although it was no doubt desirable that the troops should he removed as Soon as possible, yet the fact of their being compelled to remain at the station for a few days was not, after all, so very terrible a trial, as he had shown that the sanitary state of the rank and file of the black troops was not very bad. As to the officers, he could only say that the mail steamers touched at Cape Coast every month, and that any officer who might not be sufficiently strong to continue there in the performance of his duty was at once sent home; indeed, his superior officer had no power to keep him at the station if the medical officer in charge certified that he was not fit to remain. Whatever delay there might have been in sending the transport, there was none in sending out instructions that the forces should retire from the interior. Those orders went out by the first mail after the announcement which his right hon. Friend made in that House. The Governor and the officer commanding the forces were directed to withdraw the troops from the interior to the comparatively healthy coast; the stores were not even brought away; they were to be distributed among the friendly Natives. There was no delay in sending out those orders. Besides that, the officer commanding the troops, Colonel Conran, knowing that there was no prospect of the resumption of active operations, would have no scruple in allowing any officer whose health had been impaired to retire at once, and therefore he could not think that the officers were at all likely to suffer from the small delay which had occurred in sending out the transport. These were the facts with reference to the arrangements made by the authorities at home for the conduct of the war, and these were the events which had occurred fluting the expedition, He asked the House whether, upon such a statement as was made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman, so totally unsupported by documents, and so full of vague assertions of which no proof was offered, they 1975 were, in the face of such an explanation as he had been able to make, prepared to agree to what amounted to a very severe Vote of Censure upon the Government. Because although the hon. and gallant Member had, no doubt, in order to secure the votes of some hon. Member who would not have right to support a Resolution in such extremely strong language, modified the terms of that which he first submitted o the House, he maintained that the Motion before them was as directly a Vote of Censure upon the Departments which were concerned with the business. Nor had the hon. and gallant Member retracted, explained, or modified in any way the assertion which he made the other evening, that he should be able to prove that the deaths of all the thirteen officers, a list of whose names had been laid upon the table, were owing to the criminal incapacity of Her Majesty's Government. He (the Marquess of Hartington) had shown how few of these officers deaths were in any way owing to the expedition itself, and he could show that the number of officers who died or were invalided annually, even when they were not engaged in active operations, amounted to 50 per cent of the number of Europeans upon the coast. The hon. and gallant Member not had substantiated his statement; he had not attempted to prove the assertion which he had not made, and which the facts which he (the Marquess of Hartington) had stated the House entirely disproved. Although the terms of the Motion had been modified, its support and tenour remained the same, and he trusted that the House would not only refuse to assent to it, but would negative it by such a majority as would mark its sense of the conduct of the hon. and gallant Member in bringing forward charges of grave a character in the reckless manner he has done.
§ MR. HENRY SEYMOUR
said, it was one of the disadvantages of the manner in which the Government had been formed, that the heads of neither the naval nor the military Departments were in that House, and that the noble Lord, whose abilities and industry he did not dispute, but who was not a Cabinet Minister, and who had had nothing to do with the planning of this expedition, and was not responsible for carrying it out, had been called upon to reply to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member opposite. It was not surprising that his explanations had been very un- 1976 satisfactory, and afforded no answers to the statement of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. To take up one point, the noble Lord said that he had no official information that any of the medical officers beyond the usual number in the colony had died. If he could show from a letter which he had reason to believe came from a very high authority, in the colony, that nearly half the medical force were either dead or invalided, and that there were at present only two medical men in the colony who were fit for duty, and that those two were coloured men, of that value would the noble Lord's other assertion be? There was often a great difference between authentic information and official information. They might obtain authentic information from private sources, but the official information was sure to be withheld until the time when any such debate as that had passed over. That applied to officials of both parties, and it was a circumstance which was not fair either to the House to the country, or to the Government. It would be far better to make a clean breast of the matter, and rely upon their general abilities, which would probably induce the country to overlook any laches which there had been in the matter. The letter to which he had referred, and which he was assured was written by a gentleman who was high in authority at Cape Coast Castle, was dated "May 12, 1864," and came by the last mail. It contained this passage—The troops arrived at the Prah about the 1st of February, and on the 8th of April, when the Tamar anchored in Cape Coast roadstead, there were fourteen officers of the 4th West at the Castle; and such was their state of health, that at the dinner given to fête the arrival of the reinforcement, only one was able to leave his bed and meet them, and even he was in a dreadful state of debility. Out of twenty-six officers who left the coast for the field, fifteen, or thereabouts, have been invalided home in a very precarious state, three have died, and four are obliged to keep their bed, though not sufficiently ill to be invalided. Of the soldiers many have died, principally from dysentery. A great many are so weak that, an all probability, they will not be fit for active service in the field for the next twelve months. Of the twelve medical officers in the coast, three have been invalided, one has died, and three are still prostrated with fever.He was told that that letter came from a gentleman who had special knowledge of the subject. ["Name, name."] He was not permitted to mention the gentleman's name, but it would tell very badly for the Government if the information turned out to be correct. The noble Lord did not to be correct. The noble Lord did not 1977 deny that the tanks were out of order. There were magnificent; tanks sufficient for the supply of all the men that were sent; but they had been allowed to go so entirety out of repair that they were used as the common Sewer, and it was not until the second year of the war that the distilling apparatus was sent out. The noble Lord said that the men were supplied with blankets and bedstead; but he did not deny that they were not supplied with water. He did not deny that the Tamar arrived after the rains had begun, nor that there had been a drought at Cape Coast Castle for twenty months, and that the rain this year might have been expected much earlier than usual. He wished to make a few remarks upon the general conduct, of the expedition. It was planned by the Cabinet in London. It did not depend upon Governor Pine or any one else in the colony. He sent home his project for an expedition to Ashantee; that was confirmed by the Colonist Minister, who sent it to the War Office, and ought to have consulted the Cabinet upon it. It was to be presumed that he did consult the Minister of the Departments which would be concerned in carrying it out. A war to be conducted from Cape Coast Castle in the interior of Africa was no slight undertaking, more especially in the case of Ashantee, which had many unpleasant reminiscences for Englishmen. It was only forty years since Sir Charles M'Carthy was routed with 1,000 men, and lost his head, the skull of which was still, he believed, used as a drinking-cup in Ashantee. Before that there had been another great disaster to the English, who had for many years been literally obliged to pay tribute for their possessions along the coast. So that the Government, in sanctioning an expedition against Ashantee, a country full of jungle and impenetrable woods, ought to have been aware that it was no light undertaking. It ought to have been made, if it was not, a Cabinet question, and ought to hive been the subject of complete and efficient concert between the different Departments of the Government. Arrangements ought to have been made as to the number of troops which were to be sent, and the time at which they were to be despatched, and the proper officers ought to have been sent to prepare the way for the arrival of these reinforcements. Up to December the reinforcements which arrived were tolerably well provided. As- 1978 sistant Commissary Blanc, who was sent out, appeared to have been an energetic officer, sold he got ready his land transport corps with great ability. Every soldier had a porter to carry his knapsack and provisions. But the case was quite different with the detachments which followed, and a sufficient transport corps could not be got together for them. The noble Marquess said the Tamar had to go here and to go there; but if the Government intended to carry out that expedition, it was their duty to know that the transports could bring the troops to that coast, if not by a certain day, by a certain week, and that when they arrived arrangements had been made to receive them. The noble Marquess did not dispute that the expedition was a perfect failure. As far as could be ascertained from other sources than the meagre despatches, he thought the plan of Governor Pine and Colonel Conran, an able soldier, was a good one, and that the only fault was in depending upon the Government for the arrival of the Tamar. Colonel Conran advanced to the Prah, but the rains coming on and the Tamar arriving he was obliged to the coast. How did all that contrast with the arrangements of a good general, like Napoleon for instance, who took care in planning an expedition that his troops should arrive at the place intended on a certain day, and made the minutest arrangements for their reception, and then success attended his efforts! It was lamentable to see the slovenly way in which the whole thing had been managed, through that very want of organization in the different Government Departments which led to such misfortunes in the Crimean war. He regretted to see no improvement made in that respect, because if that state of things continued, and we should have to send out a much larger and more important expedition than that to Ashantee, as, for example, one to Denmark or the Baltic, further misfortunes might be expected to occur. Surely it was not impossible for the Prime Minister to see that the rations Departments did their duty and acted in proper concert. It was no answer to say that a constitutional Government must be placed in a permanent inferiority to a despotic monarchy, and that it could not exhibit the requisite unity of action in those cases. Why could not the Colonial Minister have said, "I approve this war with Ashantee, but I must have certain troops landed by a cer- 1979 tain day" And why could not the war and other Departments then have set about making all the necessary arrangements for the landing and comfort of the troops? If that had been done the disaster, would not have happened. All the facts had been admitted the noble Marquess, and, considering the swampy marsh on were located, and, the little provision which had, been made for them, it was strange that the mortality was not greater. An able Commissioner, Major Ord, was sent out some times ago to inquire into the water at Cape Coast Castle and he and he reported that Nothing could be easier than, to obtain a constant supply; that not only were there the formerly placed there by Portuguese, and which were out of order, but he recommended that Artesian walls should be bored, and for a small part of the expenditure incurred on the fortification good water might be brought into Cape Castle. The noble Marquess had overstated the mortality on these stations. The medical Returns given by his own Departments stated that in the year 1859–60 the ratio per thousand at Sierra Leone was579.6 admitted to hospital, and 24.48 deaths. In Gambia the proportion were 831.3 admitted to hospital, and 30.13 deaths; whereas on the Gold Coast the proportions per thousand admitted to the hospital was 657.1 and the deaths were the only 16.89. Dr. Clarke who had been twenty years at Sierra Leone and the Gold Coast, stated in his medical report that the latter might be favourably compared with that of the former. The climate, therefore, was not really so deadly, provided the ordinary appliances necessary for preserving human life, whether in that great city on the coast of Africa, were duly attended to. He did not look on that as a party question. As a Liberal Member of Parliament he wished to see improvements made in all the Departments of the State. He could not support the Government in all cases, whether right or wrong. When faults were signalized against the Government and not disproved, and when they were likely if repeated hereafter to work detrimentally; to the public interests ha had at perfect right to say, in the words of that Motion, that he deeply regretted that better provision was not made for the arrival of troops on that unhealthy coast and that there had been a deplorable want of organization in the different Departments. The question affected the 1980 lives and interests of many Englishmen, and therefore could not be regarded as a party one. He was sure the country would not view in that light, and even if some Member of the Cabinet was not able to answer, he would not say the accusations, but, the observations that had been made on that subject, the carrying, of the Motion could not be fairly treated, as a censure on; the Government generally. If such a censure, were intended, the general conduct of the Government and not merely its conduct in that particular instance, ought to be submitted to the consideration of the House. The, last accounts were that the troops at Cape Coast Castle Were put on an allowance of a pint of brackish water per day, and that there was no shelter for them, According to the Colonial Secretary's admission, there were twice the number of troops there that there, was accommodation for, and therefore he had ordered their removal from Cape Coast Castle immediately. That was as good as saying that they ought never to have been sent there at all. In that case there had unquestionably been a fault, and that must rest on the organization of the Departments of the Government. All Governments, however, committed fault, and he did not see why the condemnation of particular laches should be viewed as a general expression of want of confidence in the administration of the noble Lord
§ MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE
said, there had been nothing in the speech of the noble Marquees with which he was more struck than the allegation that when these troops were sent out to Cape Coast Castle there was no intention of carrying on a war. If no such intention existed, what was the good of sending out such a number of troops, at all? To a right understanding of the question it was necessary to discover by whose authority the war was entered into, and the date of the orders sent from the; Colonial Office empowering Governor Pine to make war in the Ashantee country. The despatches presented to Parliament were very few and among those of Governor Pine laid on the table were frequent references to documents which had not been, produced. The noble Marquees, however, must remember that the state of thing existing when Colonel Conran landed was but a continuance of events which occurred in 1863, when Major Cochrane was in command. [Hear!] The noble Lord the First Minister generally made a 1981 point of defending his subordinates, and for the honour and credit of his Administration he hoped no attempt would be made in that instance to cast the blame on Governor Pine. ["Hear; hear!" from the Treasury Bench] He was delighted to hear that assurance, and should proceed to refer to such portions of the official correspondence as were in the hands of Members. The first despatch from the Duke of Newcastle entirely approved the Governor's refusal to surrender the fugitive. The next despatch, of the 18th of May, said—Sir, I have received your despatch, No. 33, of the 15th ult., reporting the threatening movements of the Ashantees, and the steps which you have taken to resist an invasion, and I have much pleasure in noticing the calmness and prudence as well as the energy which you have shown in these trying circumstances.That was an approval of the Governor's policy. The next despatch, of the 22nd of August, was written after Major Cochrane's expedition; and he greatly regretted that the noble Marquess in alluding to that part of the subject should have cast an unworthy reflection upon a gallant officer, who was placed in a position of very great difficulty, without the means of performing the duty he was expected to discharge. Writing to Governor Pine on the 2nd of August, the Duke of Newcastle said—You report the withdraw of the enemy without molestation, after, having inflicted destructive ravages on the territory under British protection. It is much to be feared that this impunity may prove an encouragement to fresh aggressions.That certainly looked very like an incitement to action, His Grace continued—Your own conduct in this trying emergency appears to have been all that could be desired. You betrayed no undue wish to interpose in military matters, but when accounts reached you from all sides of an inactivity which was injurious to the public interest, you hastened to the scene of action, and there endeavoured to produce more resolution, and provided by your own influence some of the material aids from the Natives which had been represented to be wanting, the whole being done at great risk to yourself from the attendant exposure and anxiety. For such efforts, made in such a spirit, it is my pleasing duty to convey to you my cordial approbation.That amounted to a distinct approval of all that had been done. ["No, no!"] Right hon. Gentlemen opposite appeared to think that despatch did not convey approval of the Governor's policy. What did they say to the despatch of the 21st of December, 1863, written by Sir F. Rogers, in the absence and by the authority of the Secretary of State?— 1982I transmit for your information an extract of a letter which by my desire has been addressed to the War Office, explaining the grounds on which I have recommended that your application Should be complied with, and I have to request that you will guide yourself by the principles therein stated. In case the expected Ashantee invasion takes place, my hope is that you and the officer in command will be able to inflict so severe a punishment upon the invaders as will remove the disastrous impressions caused by their impunity when they lately ravaged the protected territory, and will deter them from any future aggression. But should no opportunity be found of striking such a blow without entering the Ashantee territory, you are not to regard yourself as absolutely prohibited from doing so under any circumstances, and from advancing, as far as the utmost, consideration for the safety of the troops would permit, for the purpose of obtaining reparation and securing the peace of the Protectorate.There was not only approval of what had been already done, but a distinct and positive incitement of Governor Pine, who required no incitement at all, to prosecute this terrible war. In the letter to the Colonial Office, alluded to in that despatch, he found the following passage:—His Grace feels that he cannot refuse to Governor Pine a conditional authority to strike a blow within the Ashantee territory, if such a blow can be struck Without making any other or further advance than in his own opinion and that of the officer in command may be consistent with the utmost consideration for the safety of the troops, and provided also he can satisfy himself that the result will be to remove the disastrous impressions caused by the impunity of the Ashantees when they last ravaged the protected territory, and to obtain reparation and secure the peace of the Protectorate.How, after reading those despatches, the noble Lord could say that these troops did not go out to carry on a war he was at a loss to understand. The despatch from Governor Pine urged as strongly as possible that additional troops should be sent out. Ten weeks elapsed before any notice was taken of that application, and when the troops did arrive they landed two months too late to be of the least use for that season, and six months too soon for any future campaign. Those charged with the interests of the navy must have known the nature of that coast, from which at a particular season vapours arise that are absolutely poisonous, and winds of the most destructive character prevail. Yet it was to that unhealthy coast that men were sent to live in tents unprovided with any commensurate appointments. He characterized this expedition to the Gold Coast as part of the dangerous policy of meddling every where pursued by Her Majesty's Government; and as to the allega- 1983 tion that war was not contemplated when these troops were sent out, could it be seriously argued that it was unnecessary to take any precautions affecting their health because they were not meant to embark in hostilities? His noble Friend on the Treasury Bench must know, moreover, that the water on the Gold Coast was so objectionably as to produce what was called the Guinea worm., Therefore, on every ground, whether the troops were sent out for the purposes of war or not, the Government were responsible for the loss of life which had occurred. Adding-together the number of officers and men originally at Cape Coast Castle, those landed from the Megæra in 1863, and those from the Tamar in 1864, the Government Return gave a total of 1,809 officers and men. Of these, but 1,396 were accounted for, and, therefore, on, the figures supplied by the Government itself there; was, a deficiency of 413 officers and men. He could, perhaps, supply the House with a few statistics on that point. Two expeditions went up, the country, one of 700 men, of which, number 180 were dead within five days; the other, of 400 men, 200 of whom died or were disabled in tea days. The fate of previous expeditions might have warned the Government against entering into such an enterprize. They ought to have known that of 1,000 men who formed M'Carthy's expedition only fifty returned to Cape Coast Castle. They ought also to have known that the Ashantees were most remarkable as a warlike, energetic race. From a statement which he had received it appeared that the Ashantee monarch had a considerable regard for the faith of treaties, and did not commence war without negotiation, and that the Ashantees were the most civilized people on the coast. They would find, from the blue-book, that, instead of conciliating that peeplet they had done nothing but offend them. In 1829 Sir George Murray; established the settlement at Cape Coast Castle, and two Committees — one in 1837, the other in 1842—had strongly recommended conciliatory conduct towards the Natives; It was certainly matter for regret that they should have carried on the war in that quarter so heedlessly, so wantonly, and with so little consideration for the Natives, and even for out troops. Not the smallest information had been given to Parliament that such a war was going on. The whole country was totally ignorant that any war 1984 had taken place and must have heard with regret and indignation of the sacrifice of life that had taken place. The Government had incurred a fearful responsibility, and he trusted the Resolution would be carried, as a protest against perpetual interventions and meddlings which led to nothing but the destruction of human life. At any rate, he trusted it would prove a lesson to the Government to take care not again to embark in conflicts with barbarous tribes in the interior of Africa, without making proper provision for the health and comfort of our troops.
§ LORD ALFRED CHURCHILL
said, he had originally intended to move an Amendment to the Resolution of the hon. Member (Sir John Hay), but he found that he was prevented by the forms of the House from doing so. He would, therefore, briefly state to the House the reasons why he could not approve the Resolution, but he wished first to express his heartfelt sympathy for the bereavement which the hon. Baronet had sustained in the loss of his brother, and also his sympathy with the families of those officers who died in the performance of their duty. He would now endeavour to give a brief summary of what had taken place. The Ashantee King demanded, under an extradition treaty, that a slave who had escaped should be given up to him. The Governor required that evidence should be produced that he had committed the crimes with which he had been charged, and on the King's refusal Governor Pine, in the cause of humanity, declined to accede to the demand. The King of Ashantee threatened to invade British territory, and in the spring of 1863 he invaded the protected territory of the Fantees, a friendly tribe. Major Cochrane was sent with a force of coloured troops, officered by Europeans, to encourage the Fantees in resisting the Ashantees. From some cause or other Major Cochrane failed to Come to his post; the Ashstatees in consequence overran the Fantee territory; massacred from 3,000 to 5,000 Natives, and; then returned to their own territory. To prevent a recurrence of such attacks, Governor Pine submitted to the Duke of Newcastle the necessity of striking a blow. The Duke of Newcastle at first objected to an invasion of Ashantee territory, but in a despatch, dated August 22, 1863, he said —You allude to your former despatch, No. 40, of the 12th of May, in which you submitted a plan 1985 of organizing a very large force, to consist of 2,000 disciplined soldiers, followed by upwards of 50,000 Natives, and of making with that army a regular invasion of the territory of Ashantee. I am not insensible of the encouragement which the unfortunate inaction of the troops and Native allies under Major Cochrane's command may afford to fresh aggressions by the Ashantees, but the proposal of a regular invasion to be made upon that nation, and of a march upon their capital, is too serious to admit of my encouraging it. I will merely say at present that I should feel very averse to its adoption, except in case of overruling necessity, and also after the report of some more competent military commander than anyone from whom there has yet been an opportunity of obtaining an opinion at the Gold Coast.On the receipt of that despatch Governor Pine again wrote to the Secretary of State, urging the organization of a force to attack the Ashantees. The Duke of Newcastle, therefore, wrote a despatch to the War Office expressing his continued adhesion to the principle that all military proceedings on the West Coast of Africa should be measures of defence, and not of aggression. While, however, he gave to Governor Pine a conditional authority to enter the Ashantee territory, he enjoined upon him the utmost consideration for the safety of the troops. The Duke of Newcastle manifested the utmost desire that the troops should be cared for in every possible way. To charge the Government with culpable negligence was, under such circumstances, an accusation that would not hold water for a moment. Preparations were made by the Governor for the arrival of troops, and supplies of biscuit, ball-cartridge, and medical stores were provided. The Governor anticipated the arrival of an additional West India Regiment. He forwarded a portion of the troops up the country, where a depôt of stores was formed. It was intended that the whole of the troops should have gone up and entered the Ashantee territory before the rainy season, in order to teach the King a lesson. The disasters which had occurred were to be attributed to the two facts, that the rainy season had set in one month earlier than was anticipated, and the Tamar, which was to convey the troops, arrived a month too late. The delay in the arrival of the vessel was not to be wondered at when it was recollected that the authorities at home had had to forward instructions to the West ladies for the troops to be collected at different spots. They had then to be transported across the Atlantic in the face of the trade winds. There 1986 was, therefore, nothing unusual or surprising in the troops arriving one month after the time they were expected. It was said that they were landed on the beach, but where else could they be landed? Cape Coast Castle was said to be a remarkably healthy spot, and, if so, the Government were not very much to be blamed if the men were placed under tents, seeing that there was no accommodation for them otherwise. The principal charge against the Government appeared to be that thirteen officers had died. The West India regiments were officered by Europeans, and every individual, men and officers alike, on such a coast usually passed through the hospital before they became acclimatized. He had seen numbers of Europeans who had been in Africa, and coloured gentlemen also, who had passed through the hospitals, and after that were quite able to bear the climate. It should be remembered that European officers were in the habit of exchanging into West Indian regiments, knowing that the mortality was greater, but with the view of procuring rapid promotion. Many years ago, when he was a subaltern in the army, he applied for an exchange into a West Indian regiment with that object. If that were so, he did not see why people should cry out because those men went to an unhealthy climate, where they had to run their chance. His opinion was, that a number of men who had been acclimatized should be kept in the forts during the rainy season, and in that way the mortality among the troops would be greatly reduced. He could not but say that the Government of the Coast had been very dilatory in making preparations for the transport of troops and opening up the country by roads, which would be useful not only for military purposes, but also for promoting commerce; and it had been practically shown that roads could be constructed there at an expense of only £35 a mile. Another way by which the security of the protected territories might be promoted was by stopping the supplies procured by the Ashantees of arms, ammunition, and salt. There were 150 miles of the Volta navigable, and the Ashantees had been able to procure supplies by means of that river; but it would have been very easy for us to blockade its mouth, and prevent the enemy supplying themselves from that source. There was another source, also, from which the Ashantees procured supplies—namely, from the Dutch settlements, which he believed 1987 were free ports. But arrangements might be made by which the transport, of arms and ammunition from the Dutch ports might be put a stop to, and he trusted the Colonial Office would endeavour to effect something in that way. With respect to the army surgeons some ten or twelve had been sent out, two of the most competent of whom were coloured, and they were the only persons who had not been seriously affected by fever, and had not been prevented from performing their duties. That was a most important point, because, if we were to keep troops on that coast it would be essential that we should employ coloured surgeons. There were many other posts also in which coloured persons might be employed as engineers, and for instance, in the making of roads, and thus an opportunity might be found for the development of the intellect off the coloured people. It was much to be regretted that Governor, Pine's health, had not admitted of his remaining at Cape Coast until the arrival of the troops. Had he been there he would probably have said that the season was too advanced to undertake hostilities, and would have taken upon himself the responsibility of ordering them to a more healthy station. Sierra Leone was unhealthy on the shore, but excellent barracks had been erected on the hills, and since that time there had been little or no sickness among the troops there. Had the troops been sent there they might have escaped without any suffering. Complaints, had been made that the Gladiator was unable to take all the troops away that ought to be removed. There need be no uneasiness on that head, inasmuch as the Rattlesnake, under Commodore Wilmot, was hovering about the coast, and could be made available for the accommodation and Conveyance of the troops which the Gladiator could, not find room for. He trusted that he had succeeded in showing to the House that there had not been any culpable negligence, on the part of the Government, as some hon. Gentlemen opposite supposed. It was certainly the intention of the Duke of Newcastle to take every care possible of the health and comfort of the troops. Under all those circumstances, he thought that the House ought to express an opinion which would be satisfactory to the relatives of those who had unfortunately fallen in this expedition, to the effect that Her Majesty's Government had, done nothing more than was clearly their duty.
§ MR. LIDDELL
said, he agreed in the opinion which had been expressed by the hon. Member for Poole, that the question involved in the Motion could not and ought not to be made a party question. It appeared to him that the lives of their soldiers were as dear, to the Gentlemen sitting upon one side of the House as to those who were sitting on the other. And because he believed that the lives of the soldiers had been unnecessarily sacrificed by the neglect of the common precautions which the War Department ought to have taken and the insufficiency, of the arrangements made for their reception, that he, as a Member of that House, intended to give his vote in favour, of the Resolution. When military operations, were undertaken, that House, ought to be satisfied upon two material points. The first was, that there was a necessity for war; and the second, that if military operations were necessary, proper precautions and safeguards had been made for the safety and protection of the, troops which were sent abroad. He-repeated they ought to be satisfied upon both those points. Now, if he wanted information, as to the opinion of the Government on the necessity of the war, he would find its necessity denied in the despatch written by the Colonial Secretary a few days ago. If he wanted an assurance that proper precautions had not been taken for the safety of the troops, he would find it in the speeches of the noble Lord who represented the War Department in that House. The noble Marquess had told them that the War Office could not be expected to know that there was a scarcity of water at Cape Coast Castle. Now, had that been a fortuitous expedition thrown upon an unknown coast, such an observation might be taken as an excuse, though a bad one. But that was not the case, inasmuch as the country in question was a permanent station which for many years had been in the possession of the British Crown. And yet the noble Lord said that the War Office, could not be expected to, know that there was a want of water in the place. The noble Lord, to his (Mr. Liddell's) amazement, told the House that it was impossible to provide barracks for the troops sent there upon the emergency. Well, if it were impossible to provide, barracks for the troops at that station, those troops should, not have been sent to a coast so notorious for its insalubrity. It appeared to him that the noble Lord by those observations had used the 1989 strongest argument in support of the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member. He (Mr. Liddell) could not forget that the noble Lord was a Member of the Government, who had a short time ago given a conditional authority to Governor Pine to strike what he called a blow against the Ashantee power. The Governor at that time was engaged in the largest schemes of war and aggrandizement. He was engaged in raising an army of 50,000 Natives, to be supported by 2,000 European troops. That in itself was a gigantic project. It was at this time and under those circumstances the Governor received conditional authority to carry the war into the Ashantee territory. An ominous sentence had fallen from the lips of the noble Lord representing the War Department, when he told the House that a correspondence had recently passed between the Colonial Government and the War Office on the subject of a permanent increase of the troops upon the West Coast of Africa. He (Mr. Liddell) had heard that announcement with great alarm as well as disappointment after the speech the noble Lord had delivered in that House. It was necessary to say a few words with regard to the position of the British at Cape Coast Castle. They had heard that place spoken of as being a military station, but it was more. It was the seat of justice for a vast country in the interior of Africa, and the place of a court of appeal and arbitration for an enormous Native population. Laws were there framed, ordinances were passed, and justice administered by Englishmen, presided over by an English Judge, in concert with a conclave of Native chiefs. When laws were framed in so unusual a manner and justice administered in so peculiar a form, he was reminded of what Earl Grey had written upon this subject only twelve years ago. That distinguished nobleman, among the greatest of our statesmen, said, "Our authority rests entirely on the moral ascendancy of those exercising it, and the willing obedience of the people." But when that willing obedience ceased and our moral ascendancy waned, there was nothing left but to support our authority by the sword. When he heard, then, the noble Under Secretary of the War Department talk of a permanent increase of the troops at the station in question it might, he thought, be taken as a sign that our moral ascendancy was really on the wane, and that the time 1990 was not far distant when our authority, which had heretofore rested upon the willing obedience of the people, must be supported by the point of the bayonet. A protectorate, so long as we exercised it with the consent of the people, was a proud title for England, who thus became the civiliser of rude populations and the teacher of Christianity. But the moment he heard that we had become engaged in a war with the people under our care, he felt that all the advantages of that protectorate were passing away, and our moral ascendancy was extinct. He should give his vote for the Motion, because he firmly believed, and he was sure the country would also believe when they read the details of that unhappy expedition, that many valuable lives had been unnecessarily sacrificed. He hoped the House would gravely take into its consideration our position as to the protectorate of a vast Native population. The war had arisen from a neighbouring sovereign, whose power we had learnt to dread, exercising what he believed to be his sovereign rights. He claimed that one of his subjects should be handed over to him, not as a fugitive slave, but as a criminal, according to the laws of Ashantee, and we had gone to war with him in opposition to the exercise of that sovereign right. But they should remember that the climate of the coast of Africa was the worst climate in the world, and our troops in penetrating the interior had to meet with pestilential jungles, dense forests, and a very warlike people. He, therefore, asked the House to pause before they encouraged such proceedings; and, above all, he asked them to mark by their votes their sense of the incompetency and carelessness of the mode in which these troops had been thrown on the shores of the Gold Coast under the direction of the authorities at the War Office.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, he rose to take advantage of the opportunity afforded by the course which the debate had taken, to offer an explanation of the conduct of his noble Friend the Duke of Newcastle in giving his sanction to the measures adopted by the Governor of the Gold Coast for the protection of the people placed under British protection. While he was far from wishing to avoid any responsibility that might justly he on himself as subordinate to the noble Duke, the late Colonial Secretary, he begged to say that the cautious and qualified sanc- 1991 tion extended to the Governor of the Gold Coast was given by the immediate direction of the noble Duke. He made that statement because it was the truth, and because he knew that the noble Duke would be the last man to avoid the responsibility of his acts. Having made that statement as the foundation of what he had to say, he now wished, in justification, of Her Majesty's Government, and especially of his noble Friend, to remind the House of the position of the Government in respect to the Gold Coast. Remarks had been made implying that the British Government, in sanctioning these hostilities, small in themselves but lamentable on account of the loss of life, had been guilty of unwarrantable interference in the affairs of some of the Native tribes. Such was not the case. What they had done had been in fulfilment of a recognized obligation undertaken by the British Government. Down to the year 1842, with one short exception, the management of our forte and settlements on the Gold Coast had been for two centuries in the hands of a company of English merchants. In 1824 the British Government assumed for a time the management of the settlements, and undertook to protect the people of the adjacent territories against their cruel and sanguinary oppressor the King of Ashantee. In the course of these operations England had to lament the death of a brave man, Sir Charles M'Carthy, and the loss of many troops. The result, however, was that the King of Ashantee was reduced to terms, and compelled to renounce all claims over the tribes which now remained under the British protectorate. The Imperial Government, having restored peace and tranquillity (which had lasted, strange to say, till last year), after a few years gave back the management of the forts and settlements to the company of merchants. The great object of public policy, then, was to check the slave trade on that coast; but a suspicion arose that the company was not very zealous in promoting that end, and that private interest sometimes thwrated the desires of the public. Dr. Madden was despatched in 1840 to the settlement to institute inquiries, and his Report was submitted to a Committee of the House of Commons in 1842, under the Government of Sir Robert Peel. The first recommendation of that Committee, was that the administration of the forts, and settlements on the Gold Coast should be resumed by the Imperial 1992 Government. That recommendation was carried into effect by Sir Robert Peel and the Earl of Derby, the then Colonial Secretary. Since that time the Imperial Government had managed the settlements and exercised a considerable degree of authority over the people of the protected territories. Immediately after 1842 a Judge was appointed, under the name of Judicial Assessor, who had a most important civil and criminal jurisdiction over a large population, spread over a great extent of country; The people of the protected country were not indeed, in the eye of the law, British subjects, because, if they had been admitted to that position, it would have led to serious difficulties in regard to the domestic slavery which prevailed among them. But the Government interfered in some important respects, according to its own notions of what was right, With their laws and customs. For instance, domestic slavery was placed under regulations. Cruel treatment on the part of masters and the export of slaves were forbidden. Intertribal wars were repressed. Human sacrifices were prohibited. On the other Hand, the British Government afforded the tribes protection against their ancient tyrant and oppressor the King of Ashantee. Such protection was implied in the very name—protectorate, and had been recognized as an obligation by successive Governments in this country, by Acts of Parliament, and by ordinances of the Crown. To show how entirely that was acknowledged he would read the observations of a Governor of the Gold Coast and an eminent Colonial Secretary. Sir W. Winniett wrote as follows:—Collectively, these States lend a willing deference to English authority; because, but for the English power, they would fall a prey to the ambition of the King of Ashantee, who is ready to find a pretext for war whenever his own strength warrants it, and the weakness of the Fantee tribes tempts him to the effort to extend his dominion to the sea coast, which is an object which the Ashantees are known to have at heart.Earl Grey also said—Thus for several years internal wars have ceased, and the dread of British power and the knowledge that the united strength of all the chiefs in the district we protect, directed by British officers, and supported by a small disciplined force, would be promptly exerted to punish aggression upon any part oft this territory, has been sufficient to restrain even the most powerful of the surrounding tribes or nations from attempting to injure those who acknowledge our authority.1993 Such was the state of things which existed when recent events occurred at the Gold Coast. He had heard some remarks from the hon. and gallant Member whe brought forward the Motion, which seemed to mean that the Governor of the Gold Coast was in the wrong, and the King of Ashantee in the right as to the origin of the differences which had arisen. He could not conceive a more extraordinary assertion. What were the facts as to the origin of the dispute? In the beginning of 1863 the King of Ashantee—evidently as a pretext for a raid on the protected territories, because he changed his story several times — claimed the surrender of two of his subjects from the Governor of the Gold Coast. One was a slave-boy, who had fled from the cruelty of his master, the other was an old man, who was accused, without a tittle of evidence, of having appropriated some gold found in the dominions of Ashantee. The King, through his envoy, who came in great state, alluded to some supposed treaty under which these persons ought to be delivered up; but if such a treaty had existed, as it did not, it would have been more honoured in the breach than the observance. The Governor and the Executive Council of the settlement unanimously resolved that they could not consistently with common humanity and the honour of England give up these two Natives. The Governor, however, said that if the King would produce a shadow of primâ facie proof that either had been guilty of any crime, he should be delivered up. No extradition treaty that ever was imposed the condition of surrendering criminals, under the circumstances of the present case, even to a civilized Government, far less to one which would certainly consign them to torture and death. His noble Friend the late Secretary of State approved the course which the Governor had pursued, and he trusted the House would see that he could have done nothing else. Such was the first step in these proceedings. The Governor and the Executive Council anticipated with some feelings of alarm that the course they had taken would subject them to invasion by the King of Ashantee and before long such proved to be the case, for the King of Ashantee soon invaded the protected territory, burning and destroying all that came in his way. The Governor had then to consider what he should do, and fortunately he had the advantage of a very 1994 valuable adviser — Commodore Wilmot. He should like to read a passage from one of the Commodore's despatches to the Admiralty. It was not in the printed papers, because it did not come within the terms of the Motion, but it would be printed as soon as possible.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he rose to order. He apprehended it was a letter or a despatch that every one would be anxious to see and read, but as it was not in the hands of hon. Members he submitted the right hon. Gentleman was out of order in referring to it.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
If the right hon. Baronet did not wish for information, he was ready to withhold it, but the right hon. Baronet would find that the opinion of Commodore Wilmot was so candid that perhaps, as a mere matter of party defence, it was rash to use it. The letter was not in any way connected with the terms of the hon. Gentleman's Motion, and it was only on the previous day that he knew of its existence. However, it should be at once laid on the table. This opinion was given on the 7th of April, 1863, before any hostile operations were undertaken, and when it was quite uncertain whether the King of Ashantee meant to invade the protectorate. Commodore Wilmot was most anxious that nothing should be done to involve the colony in war except it were absolutely necessary. In his letter he said—I placed before the Governor the great objections the English Government would have in entering upon a war With the King of Ashantee at any time, much more at the present moment; that their responsibilities would be very great, and who could see the end of such a war with one of the greatest Kings of Africa? Probably he would be joined by Dahomey and the Kings in the neighbourhood of Lagos and other places, who were always ready (urged on by Europeans adverse to English influence in Western Africa) to take up arms and keep us in a constant state of disquietude and alarm. I showed what the expense would be, the probable loss of life, the destruction of trade, and that whatever the result might be the future of this colony must be greatly retarded. I implored them to do all in their power, compatible with the honour of England and a sense of justice to those who claimed our protection, to avoid a war if possible, and at all events not to commence hostilities with their eyes shut before they had communicated with the King of Ashantee and found out what his intentions were. In the meantime I recommended preparations of every kind, and that arms, ammunition, &c., should be got ready with all despatch.This advice was given on the supposition that the King of Ashantee did not really intend to invade our territory, but on the 1995 13th of April this opinion was given by the Commodore—My opinions were asked and freely given. I said anything is better than this uncertainty. If you believe the rumour that the King's soldiers have passed the rivers and committed these unfriendly acts, despatch immediately a messenger to the King, and ask him why he permits this and what he means by such Conduct. Ask him in plain terms if this is to be considered a declaration of war and give him a certain time for the messenger to return. Should the messenger not return on the specified day, instantly form a camp in the country, call the tribes around you, and drive the rascals back again.It soon became quite certain that the Ashantee troops were ravaging the protectorate, slaughtering and burning in all directions. Upon that the executive Government unanimously decided that the small force under Major Cochrane should take the field for the purpose of putting themselves at the head of the Native levies and protecting the tribes of the protectorate, with instructions at the same time to avoid hostile collision as far as possible, and not to assume that the Ashantees meant to encounter the British power. That was the least the Governor could do. When the Ashantees had invaded, the protected territory, we were bound to, do all in our power to co-operate with the protected, tribes to resist the invasion. Then came a period, of two months, of which it was difficult to give any clear account, A large force of Native levies was organized: along with our small force under the command of Major Cochrane. He was far from wishing to dogmatize on Major Cochrane's management of the affair, for he knew perfectly the difficulties under which he laboured; but the result undoubtedly was that nothing effectual was done. The protected territories were laid; waste, the inhabitants slaughtered, and the prestige of the British Government was seriously injured. So serious was the state of things, that on the 20th of April, 1863, Commodore Wilmot wrote—I am quite certain that had the Ashantees made a determined push two months ago towards the seaside they would have captured all our forts and desolated the country.They did desolate the country although they did not take the forts. Major Cochrane, under circumstances of great difficulty, failed to make any effectual resistance, though Commodore Wilmot was not of opinion that, with good management, it would have been difficult to have at- 1996 tained a different result. On the 23rd of May, Commodore Wilmot wrote—A reinforcement of soldiers has been sent from the Gambia, and if the commanding officer of the troops now in the field will only act with vigour and judgment, I am quite certain that the Ashantee King will very soon be brought to terms, and that the future peace of the colony will be secured.Governor Pine, thus disappointed at the result of the operations and miserable at the condition of the protected territory, wrote to the Duke of Newcastle in rather exaggerated language, asking him for large reinforcements, for the purpose of marching to Coomassie the Ashantee capital, which application was refused by the Duke. The Colonial Office had every reason to consider Governor Pine a gentleman of great judgment and experience, and his difficulties; certainly were enormous, with hardly a European civilian to support him. In the course of the winter of last year, it became evident that the King of Ashantee would repeat the process of the previous year, and, unless measures were taken to prevent him, would invade and lay waste the protectorate. Under those circumstances, the Governor again assembled his Executive Council, and laid before them a plan which Colonel Conran, who had succeeded Major Cochrane as commander of the troops, had framed for the purpose of preventing an invasion. It was to defend two points on the frontier, so as to close the most accessible portion of the country to the invader. The plan was unanimously adopted by the Council, and in pursuance of it Colonel Conran advanced and formed a camp on the frontier, every possible precaution being taken for provisioning and hutting the troops. That camp had been established on the Prah before a conditional permission had been given by the Duke of Newcastle, which went the length of allowing the Governor to cross the frontier, if necessary. That permission was, however, of the most cautious and careful character. It was rather the removal of a prohibition than a direct permission. The Ashantee invasion was expected to take place, and the Governor was instructed to inflict such a severe punishment on the invaders as would remove the disastrous impression caused by their previous impunity, and the Duke of Newcastle went on to say—Should no opportunity be found of striking such a blow without entering the Ashantee terri- 1997 tory, you are not to regard yourself as absolutely prohibited from doing so under any circumstances.The idea of the Duke of Newcastle was this, and he was sure it would commend itself to the House—he thought Colonel Conran might find himself on the frontier of the protected States, and that the Ashantee army might be on the other bank of the river which divided the two parties, and that he might thus have an opportunity of striking a blow; while, if he had stringent orders absolutely forbidding him to cross the frontier, he might be obliged to forego that opportunity. It was to save the Governor and the officer commanding the troops from finding themselves in such a difficulty, his noble Friend gave that qualified permission. But that qualified permission never was acted on. The Colonel, hearing that a reinforcement of several companies of a West Indian Regiment was expected to arrive, thought it was not then advisable to cross the river. No enemy appeared in the shape of fighting men; but in the beginning of March the Colonel found a more formidable foe than the Ashantees. The rains set in most unexpectedly. [Ironic cries of "Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members appeared to be incredulous on that point, but he was positively informed, on the highest authority—on the authority of persons well acquainted with the Gold Coast, that the rains were not expected before the 1st of May, while it appeared from the despatches that they had come on so early as March. On the 11th of March the Governor wrote to say that the rains had already commenced; and a month after there was the correspondence between the Governor and the Commanding Officer, showing that serious sickness had set in amongst the force in camp, and that it was thought desirable to withdraw from the frontier to Cape Coast. That was done; but certainly there was reason to regret that it had not been done sooner, because the moment the rains began the sickness also commenced. It might be said that the expedition was a failure. It was a failure as regarded any victory in an engagement; but the reason was, that no enemy showed himself; but it was the means of protecting the territory for which we were responsible from any renewed devastation by the Ashantees. Those acquainted with the state of things on the Gold Coast were of opinion that the demonstration made by Colonel Conran had 1998 read a lesson to the Ashantees, which would deter them from a repetition of their former incursion. That was the end of the expedition; but the charge remained that the mortality occasioned by it, and by the arrival of the reinforcements, was excessive. It appeared, as his noble Friend the Under Secretary for War had shown, that there had been great exaggeration in the statements made on this head. No doubt there had been a deplorable loss of life. There often was a deplorable loss of life in African service, and he was inclined to think that the mortality was greater when the troops were doing nothing than when they were in action. He was sure that every hon. Member felt a deep regret at the loss of life which had resulted from this expedition, and especially for the loss sustained by the hon. and gallant Gentleman who had brought forward the present Motion. Considering the affliction which the hon. and gallant Member had suffered, his speech was generally of a temperate and moderate character. But the House ought to understand that this loss of thirteen officers of the West Indian Regiment had not occurred in consequence of this expedition alone, but had been spread over a period of more than twelve months, and had occurred in two campaigns. In accounting for the mortality they must not forget how much was to be attributed to the ordinary nature of the climate of the Gold Coast, and that among the number who died were officers who had not been engaged in active service at all.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
I must correct the right hon. Gentleman. The mortality to which I referred did not extend over twelve months, because the Return is from the 1st of July.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said he did not understand the hon. and gallant Gentleman; certainly the time during which those deaths occurred was as much as twelve months, and there were two campaigns within that time.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
The Return is distinctly from the 1st of July, and does not include the first campaign.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, he was entirely at issue with the hon. and gallant Gentleman on that point; but, at all events, one lesson which they had learnt from the expedition was this— that these West Indian troops as now recruited suffered from the climate of Africa as much as Europeans. Formerly those 1999 regiments were recruited from, newly liberated slaves, but now they were made up in a great degree from negroes born in the West India Islands. He had further to observe that the idea of moving black troops into the interior of the country for the purpose of enforcing our authority was not a new one, for before now we had been obliged on several occasions to move our troops with that object, although so far was his noble Friend the Duke of Newcastle from looking upon such expeditions as desirable, that some years ago he addressed a despatch to all the Governors on the West Coast of Africa, desiring that they should never engage in any such movements without the permission of the Colonial Department; but the operations of last year were undertaken for the defence of territories for which we were responsible and which had been assailed. Under these circumstances, he submitted to the House that the permission of his noble Friend was given in consequence of an unprovoked incursion by the Ashantees on the Gold Coast, and that which he did was warranted by our obligations to the protected territories, and by previous practice. He believed his noble Friend was right when he said to the Governor of the Gold Coast, "You would do wrong to surrender those unhappy fugitives." He believed he was right when he sanctioned the first expedition; and he believed he was right when he gave that most cautious permission to the Governor for further proceedings; and he was still of opinion that the mortality was greatly exaggerated. The measure had been so far successful as a means of defence that it had prevented any repetition of the outrages of the Ashantees; and whatever might have been the mortality which unfortunately had resulted from the expedition, he submitted to the House that his noble Friend was only doing his duty when he gave permission to the Governor to defend those territories for which the British Government had deliberately rendered itself responsible.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
Sir, I wish to say a few words before this debate closes, simply with the object of asking an explanation from Her Majesty's Government on two or three points which have been only very slightly adverted to this; evening. I do not intend to say a word on the policy of the Ashantee war, if that can be called a war in which there 2000 was no fighting. I think the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies was a very natural one for him to make; and at this moment I am glad that we are spared the necessity of using any language which might appear to convey an attack on the policy of the Duke of Newcastle. The speech of the right bon. Gentleman is a most natural one, but its tendency has been to divert the attention of the House from the question really before us. The Motion of my hon. and gallant Friend does not, as I submit, raise any question as to the policy of the noble Duke. It raises this one question alone—when the Government decided, upon the representations of Governor Pine, to send troops to the Gold Coast, did they adopt such precautions for the safety of those troops as it was their bounden duty to take, considering the deadly climate of that country? At the beginning of last year, when these troubles commenced, we had a body of about 700 men at Cape Coast Castle. Subsequently reinforcements were sent out in two divisions—between 400 and 500 men in August, and a further force of nearly 700 men in April. The noble Marquess has told us that the 400 or 500 men landed from the Megæra in August had nothing to do with these troubles; but surely on this point he must have spoken under some misapprehension. He would not of course wish to mislead the House, but I think I can recall to his memory facts that will bear out my statement. Twelve months ago the lamented brother of my hon. and gallant Friend was in England. Being a very able and distinguished officer, he was sent for on purpose to be despatched to the West Indies to aid in getting ready the troops who were to proceed to the coast of Africa. He went to the West Indies accordingly, and he accompanied to the coast of Africa the troops who were sent there, as I say, on account of the troubles. But, even supposing the noble Marquess to be right, he makes the case of the Government rather worse than it was before, because, if these troops were only sent to strengthen the force which it was thought politic to keep on the coast of Africa, the remissness of the Government in not providing for the health of the troops when they arrived there would have been greater than it they had been sent out on some sudden emergency. The question therefore, is not whether the troops who had arrived in August were 2001 seat in consequence of the Ashantee war or not, but whether, when they arrived on the coast of Africa, they found proper precautions taken for their safety? Have the statements of the noble Marquess been satisfactory upon that point? Has he made any answer to the able and touching statement of my hon. and gallant Friend? The noble Marquess told us a great deal about a Major Clarke, an engineer officer, who was sent out to make the necessary arrangements; but with what appeared to be unfortunate candour he added, that Major Clarke had neither enough money nor enough material to permit of his doing anything when he arrived. One of the great dangers to which our troops were exposed on that coast is from the unwholesome water, there being no fresh water. The noble Marquess told us a distilling machine was sent out; but unfortunately it would not work when it arrived. [Mr. DENMAN: No!] The hon. and learned Member for Tiverton does not seem to like this statement.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
I am sure the hon. Gentleman will not deny what I say. It is a question of fact. I am informed—and I am sorry my hon. Friend is so much annoyed about the matter—I am informed that when the machinery arrived it would not work. If I am wrong, nothing can be easier than to expose the statement. Passing from this point, which seems to cause so much disturbance to hon. Gentlemen opposite, let me ask when this machine arrived out? Why, not till February—the first reinforcement of our troops, swelling the whole number to 1,200, having arrived in the previous August. During the interval our troops had to suffer the miseries and calamities caused not only by the destructive climate, but by the want of proper comforts. The painful and horrible results we all know; but as to the Return, I must really make some complaint of the carelessness with which it has been prepared. The number of the officers on one page does not correspond with that on the other. In the first page a list is given of the number of officers, and they amount to 64. We then find that no less than 35 are either dead or disabled by sickness; but in the next page the number given as effective is 48, which would raise the whole 2002 number of officers to 83 instead of 64. Which statement is right I do not know, but the discrepancies show a want of care. We have now heard the statements made on both sides. We have had the melancholy facts of the unparalleled number of men who have died or been disabled probably for life; and I will leave the House to judge whether the noble Marquess has at all got rid of the charge, not that this was an impolitic war—a point upon which I offer no opinion—but that, having commenced hostilities, the precautions necessary for the safety of our troops were not taken. I should like to have from the Secretary for the Colonies an explanation on another point. Four weeks ago, when I called attention to the Ashantee war, and to the dreadful havoc which was being made by the climate among our officers and men, I thought the answer of the right hon. Gentleman perfectly satisfactory, and accepted it as creditable to the Government. But I am sorry to say that, on the part of the Government, he made premises which have not been fulfilled. I am quite sure that nothing was farther from his intention than to make any promise which he did not mean to perform; but this was what the right hon. Gentleman said—I may be fairly asked what is the course we intend to take in these circumstances? The last mail, as I have said, has only reached me within the last few days, but since its arrival I have been in communication with my noble Friend at the head of the War Department, and also with His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, as to what ought to be done in the present state of affairs; and now I have to inform the House that the determination at which we have arrived, and which I propose to announce to the authorities on the spot by the mail which leaves England on Monday next, is this—that transports shall be immediately dispatched to remove from the coast troops to the amount of those who have recently been sent there, so that the number may be reduced to that which can be accommodated with the means ordinarily available upon the Gold Coast, due regard being had to health and comfort.Here are two distinct pledges—one that transports should be immediately sent, and the other that the troops should be reduced to the number which could be accommodated with the means ordinarily available upon the Gold Coast. In one respect the right hon. Gentleman fully acted up to his undertaking. In a despatch dated May 23, four days after making the speech from which I have just quoted, the right hon. Gentleman wrote as follows;— 2003It appears that the number of troops upon the coast will now be more than double the number for which the buildings will afford accommodation, and that the removal of a considerable number will be necessary for their own health and comfort, and for the health and comfort of those who are left, behind. Immediate arrangements, therefore, are intended to be made by the War Department, for reducing the force at your disposal to its normal strength, and removing the remainder from the coast,These unhappy men, then, were to be immediately removed at this critical time of year; the wet season, when they were dying from disease; and how do we find the pledge fulfilled? Why, last night we were told by the noble Lord the Secretary to the Admiralty that the orders to the Gladiator to proceed to the coast of Africa were never given till yesterday. There is very good reason to believe that those orders were not given yesterday until my hon. and gallant Friend had called at the Admiralty and had given notice of his question. When we asked what transport was to be sent, my noble Friend could not even tell us the name, but could only say that it was a sailing ship. Then I think I have a right to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, and to ask him whether he considers that after a month has elapsed it is a fair redemption of his promise to Parliament when we find that no vessel has yet been sent to fetch away these men, and that now a steam-vessel is to be sent, a vessel which, as my hon. and gallant Friend says, is not capable of conveying 550 men a distance of 2,000 miles. I think that is the worst part of the case. The pledge was given to the House deliberately, and, I have no doubt, in good faith, by the right hon. Gentleman, but it has not been fulfilled; and, therefore, I call upon the Government to give some explanation for such a deviation from the promise give to the House in language so distinct. Then, I will ask a second question—whether it is fair, after the language of the right hon. Gentleman, that only 500 men should be removed? The additional force sent to the coast of Africa was 1,100 men. The force there at the beginning of last year was 700 men. This inquiry is the more important after the Statement of the noble Marquess — a statement which, in common with many other hon. Members, I heard with surprise and apprehension—that it is the intention of the Government permanently to increase our force upon the Gold Coast. I wish to hear a clear explanation of their intentions upon that point, as the words 2004 of the right hon. Gentleman were that the force was to be reduced to its normal strength. My construction of those words is that that force was to be maintained at the same strength as existed before these additional troops arrived. The reinforcements amounted to 1,100 men, and, excepting those unhappy men who are dead and gone, that number will have to be removed, if the pledge given by the right hon. Gentleman is fairly carried out. I will detain the House no longer. I wish to have an explanation on these points. I have heard as yet no language on the part of the Government which shows that any proper precautions were taken to fulfil the promises that were given, and, therefore, I feel bound to support the Motion.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
Before I reply to the grave accusations which have been made against the Admiralty by the hon. and gallant Gentleman and by the right hon. Baronet, I wish to point out two errors—unintentional, I am sure — on the part of my hon. and gallant Friend. First, as to the number of men, my hon. and gallant Friend says that the Return bears upon its face proof of incorrectness, inasmuch as the number, of officers in the first page does not correspond with the number in the second page. But I am informed by my noble Friend the Under Secretary of State for War, who has already spoken and cannot therefore answer by himself, that in the first page only the officers and men landed from the transports were mentioned. That, I am informed, is the cause of the apparent discrepancy; besides which officers have since been changed from other stations. The other misstatement is as to the number of deaths among the officers. My hon. and gallant Friend said that the Return did not include the deaths for the whole year, but I find that the first death mentioned in this Return is that of Ensign Bryan, who died on the 16th of May, 1863, so that it appears that the Return, does include the deaths for the whole year. Now let me state to the House what has been the course of the Admiralty with respect to the removal of these troops. The first intimation which we received of the intended removal of troops was on Saturday, May 21. The War Office stated that all troops in excess of ordinary peace garrisons were to be removed. On Monday, May 23, the Director of Transports asked the Horse Guards for an approximate statement of the numbers to be removed. On the 26th 2005 of May—received on the 27th—the Horse Guards sent the number of troops, 19 officers and 448 men. Advertisements were issued on the 28th for a ship to convey those troops. Let me state that we pursued the usual course with regard to advertisements. We do not usually advertise for steamers, or we should enhance the cost per man. [Murmurs.] If hon. Gentlemen like to condemn the Admiralty after hearing my statement, they can do so, but pray listen to my explanations. We issued notice for tenders in the usual way. No steam vessel was tendered at first, but a sailing vessel. The best that was offered — the Waubojeez of 1,400 tons—was taken up. Since then we have been continually pressing the owners to get her ready, and the brokers have informed us that every exertion has been used, and that men have been working on her night and day. I want to show that there has been no delay in hiring and fitting a vessel after my right hon. Friend had decided to remove the troops. Now I come to the question of what took place yesterday. My hon. and gallant Friend came to me at the Admiralty yesterday in a very excited state; I do not wonder at that, for he has sustained a very grievous loss of a near relative. He came to me and said that the matter was pressing, immense numbers were sick and dying, and that the vessel we were going to send would not be sufficient. He told me we should send a steamer. I am bound to say that statement did not tally with the accounts we have received, and my noble Friend the Under Secretary for War, has told the House that the real mortality in consequence of this war has not been greater than the normal mortality on that coast. He has given a Return which shows that at the latest date only 64 soldiers out of 1,300 were unable to do duty, and I will appeal to the House if that does show a very deplorable state of things? We took up the vessel I have mentioned, intending to send her in tow of a steamer until she fell in with the westerly winds which usually prevail outside the chops of the Channel. We had every reason to suppose that that vessel would arrive at Cape Coast Castle in about six weeks. But when my hon. and gallant Friend gave me yesterday that deplorable account it moved me very much, and I at once went to my colleagues, and not because of his notice of Motion but in consequence of his sad statement to me, we ordered that the 2006 Gladiator should be prepared at once for sea, and she will sail to-morrow for Cape Coast Castle, The right hon. Baronet cannot be expected to know the carrying capacity of such a vessel; but it is unpardonable in my hon. and gallant Friend to make such a statement about the Gladiator as he has done. He said the Gladiator is a sickly ship. It is true that on one long antecedent occasion a good many men died on board of her in the West Indies. Does my hon. and gallant Friend wish the House to believe that we chose a ship that was remarkable for her sickly condition? Then we are told that the Gladiator was unfit to carry 500 men. Well, ships of her class have carried 600 or 700 at a time. ["Where?"] On many occasions, in the Black Sea, for instance. There is, I may add, a report of the captain of the Gladiator in which she is represented as being able to carry 400 soldiers for four or five days' voyage. [A laugh.] I wish hon. Gentlemen would be kind enough to hear me out. This is no laughing question. Her Majesty's Government are charged with having deliberately done an act of cruelty, and it is, I think, but right that I should be allowed to state frankly the whole case. The House will then be in a position to judge whether the Admiralty have or have not acted wrongly in this matter. The Gladiator, as I said before, is reported by her captain as being able to carry 400 troops for four days in all climates. [Sir JOHN HAY: On deck?] No, below. She is well calculated for a troopship, and we have supplied her with a double awning and all the preparations necessary to carry the required number of men in this instance. My gallant Friend says that Cape Coast Castle is very unhealthy, and that our troops die there by hundreds. Those who are well acquainted with it, however, represent it as comparatively one of the most healthy places on the coast. I have two despatches, one from Commodore Wilmot, in which 150 seamen and marines stationed there during the whole of the unhealthy season last year are reported as having enjoyed health. Commodore Lord John Hay, who visited the coast, says, in allusion to this unfortunate war—It was stated that much sickness had prevailed among the troops while away from Cape Coast Castle; but the patients seemed to have generally recovered quickly after their departure from the interior. I have been unable to ascertain that any serious amount of sickness need be apprehended as long as the men are actively employed.2007 All our officers; I may say, concur in the opinion, that if you keep the men employed and keep them away from the interior, comparatively little apprehension need be entertained for their health. I have been much pained to find that my hon. and gallant Friend has thought it his duty to make a statement which impugns the honour of one of our best offlcers—I allude to Captain Stirling, of the Tamar He says he sailed away from Cape Coast Castle, refusing to assist in removing those poor dying men.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
I did not say he refused to do anything. On the contrary, I spoke of him in the highest terms. I blamed the Admiralty system which prevented orders from being given to Captain Stirling to meet the contingency.
§ LORD CLARENCE PAGET
I am glad to find that I have misunderstood my hon. and gallant Friend, and as to his remarks on the "Admiralty system" he is perfectly aware that officers in command can, and do take upon themselves the responsibilities of giving passages unless orders are given the contrary. I can assure the House that having looked over every despatch, we can find no mention made of anything of the Sort. My hon. and gallant Friend has spoken of Cape Coast Castle as if it were some perfectly isolated part of the world, and seems to forget that a steamer goes backwards and forwards there every month. We have besides our own cruiser there, and are, in fact, in constant communication with the place; so that it is idle to tell me that officer who might be sick have no means of getting away from it. I think when we look into this matter and examine it carefully we shall find that the mortality is much exaggerated, and I may perhaps be allowed to refer to a statement made by the captain of Her Majesty's ship Ranger to show how uncertain is the coming of the rains. He made a Report to the Admiralty from Cape Coast on the 17th of May last year, in which he says, "The rains have not yet come though they have been fifteen days expected." Now, we know that the rains this year began in March, almost unprecedentedly early, and this was undoubtedly a misfortune; but I cannot accept any blame upon the Admiralty. We have, I think, done all we could do under the Circumstances of the case. We have at considerable inconvenience detached a ship from the Channel squadron knowing how very undesirable it 2008 is at the present moment that we should detach vessels from it.
I will not detain the House more than, a very few minutes. My object in rising is to endeavour to ascertain—information which I have in vain endeavoured to extract from the papers before us or from the speeches which have been made to-night—on whom the responsibility of these transactions rests. Is it to be the old story over again? Are these things to happen and nobody be responsible? I have heard the statement of the noble Lord the Under Secretary for War, and I am sorry to say that it by no means removed from my mind the impression made by the papers and the statements of the hon. and gallant Member, that there has been the greatest neglect somewhere, and that we have had in a minor degree a repetition of the blunders that took place in the Crimean war. Perhaps no Member of the House has spent so much time as I have in inquiring into that matter. I served as a Member of the Committee over which the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield so ably presided in connection with the Crimean war, and I was a member of that board of officers which afterwards sat at Chelsea, and heard everything so minutely described, that I think I could find my way almost blindfold about Balaklava but the evidence in this instance is, in my opinion, quite as strong. On the face of the papers the management of this business has been quite disgraceful; for they show that the Government have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. What I want to know is, where the responsibility of the Colonial Office ends, and where that of the War Department begins? As to the policy of the war itself, that rests with the Government. I do not believe that the Secretary of State for the Colonies would undertake to involve his country in a contest like this without having previously obtained the sanction of his colleagues. But having obtained their sanction, the next step is to communicate to the Secretary of War that such a war was to be undertaken; and from that moment I should say that the Secretary of State for War is responsible. I cannot ascertain at what time the Secretary of State for the Colonies communicated that the troops were required. She Secretary of State for War denies that they were sent; for warlike purposes, and yet the Secretary of State for the Colonies draws the attention of the Secre- 2009 tary of State for War to the despatch in which the "enemy" is mentioned. Good God, what is the meaning of the word "enemy" in that despatch. And yet the Secretary of State for War denies that the troops were sent for war. Now, I solemnly declare that no Governor Pine, no Secretary of State for the Colonies, would ever induce me to land troops on that coast at the very moment of the rainy season. It is very well to say that the rainy season does not usually commence so early. Governor Pine wrote to you, saying that "there are intimations that the rainy season is coming on earlier than usual." If my hon. and gallant Friend had moved for a Committee of Inquiry sure I am that not one could refuse it. My only difficulty is to say who is to blame. Had I been asked what should be done, I should have said, move for every paper, correspondence, and minute between the War Office, the Colonial Office, the Admiralty, and the Horse Guards, and see when requisitions were made for troops, and when they were ordered to go out. The noble Lord the Under Secretary says there was an excellent commissariat officer, but that officer is not to be expected to make bread out of stones. Give us a list of the transports that were sent there; how many of the 50,000 Natives were fed at our expense. We want to know more than the papers tell us. Then the noble Lord the Secretary for the Admiralty says, as an excuse for not having sent out the Gladiator sooner, that it was only yesterday that my hon. and gallant Friend called on him with a most deplorable story; but the most deplorable part of the story is, that the Admiralty appear to have been obliged to rely on the information of an individual as to what had taken place. Surely that is not the proper way of conducting the business of the Admiralty or of the Government. But we are told this proceeding has had a very great effect — the Colonial Secretary says that the troops landing there had a very good effect. Well, but unfortunately that was said before. Governor Pine was told in case the invasion took place, to inflict a blow which would remove the disastrous impression caused by previous impunity. But what will be thought now, when our force was obliged to withdraw without inflicting a blow? My belief is it will tend rather to increase the confidence of the King of Ashantee, and thus free from his terror the 2010 only monarch in, the world who appear to fear us.
§ MR. CARDWELL
I rise to answer the two questions put to me by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington), whose view of the policy of these transactions differs so widely from that of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down. The right hon. Baronet entirely approves the despatch which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman says is calculated to give so much confidence to the King of Ashantee. The right hon. Baronet says that the statement I made on a former occasion in answer to his question was perfectly satisfactory, provided it was carried into effect, and then he asked me how the pledge given had been performed by the Government. He approved the despatch, but then he asked how that despatch tallied with the course of the Secretary of State for War? That despatch was written, as it purports, in concert with my noble Friend the Secretary, of State for War, and the answer which my noble Friend the Secretary to the Admiralty has given to the House shows that on the following day a letter written by my noble Friend carried into effect, and into full and complete effect, the statement I made in this despatch. The right hon. Baronet asks me what is meant by the normal state of the force on the Gold Coast. Now the normal state of the force on the West Coast is two battalions. Of these two battalions, one is divided between Lagos and the Gold Coast. These details are not within my immediate cognizance, but I am informed when the men sent for by the Admiralty are carried to the West Indies, and when the detachment sent to Lagos are withdrawn, the number left will be under 600 men, corresponding precisely with the answer I gave. I think I have completely answered the two questions put to me by the right hon. Baronet. Now, in answer to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down, and who says that these papers show very great neglect on the part of the Government, let me be permitted to ask him whether he has seen that the commanding officer, up to the latest moment, speaks in language entirely at variance with that which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has just addressed to the House. So late as the 12th of February he speaks of "the whole force being safely 2011 encamped on the-banks of the river Prah in excellent spirits and in a satisfactory condition." So late as the 11th of March he speaks of "the officers and men being in good spirits and fair health," and in the very last account I have from him he says, after the rainy season had began—He regrets not being able to carry out our original intention of invading the Ashantee country, for which I was in every other respect well prepared, having at these camps seventy days' meat for 1,200 men, and forty-two days' biscuit in store for a similar number.Here is the Commander-in-Chief of the forces saying he was in every respect well prepared. That is the answer in these papers to the statement of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. I have had the opportunity also of speaking to the Colonial Secretary, who has recently come home. He was a member of the Executive Council, and his words are these—Whether the declaration of a war with the King of Ashantee was right or wrong is a question of local policy; but that the Home Government has failed in making provision for preserving the health of, the troops is an assertion which I deny.He says—The Tamar transport anchored at Cape Coast on the 8th or 9th of; April, but tents were ready for the accommodation of the troops. The troops did not suffer in the least by being placed under canvas, for by the 14th of April Colonel Conran had got nearly every one of the men into houses.And with regard to the scarcity of food, he says—With the food and the mode of hutting at the Prah no fault can be reasonably found. Assistant Commissary Blanc, the commissariat officer in charge at Cape Coast, had made such excellent arrangements, that long prior to the month of April the rations at the Prah amounted to a supply of fifty or sixty days for 1,200 men, the whole available force.Then, With regard to transport, he speaks of 1,000 carriers receiving daily wages. He says, the Commissariat Officer,Mr. Blanc, told me, that the preserved meat brought so abundantly from England for the troops was the best that he had ever seen. Staff Assistant Surgeon Hammond Spoke also in the same laudatory strain. He informed me that he did not recollect to have witnessed so much care and forethought displayed in the packing and selection of medicines as was displayed in the packing and selection of the medicines transmitted from his department.Now, I have shown by the authority of the commander-in-chief—I shown by the authority of the late Colonial Secretary—I have shown by the authority of the Commissariat Officer—one of the 2012 most able in the service, and by the authority of the Staff Assistant Surgeon, what was the case with reference to the provisions, with reference to the medical supplies, and with regard to the position of the troops at the very latest accounts. I think, therefore, I have answered the questions put to me with reference to the promise I gave; and the statement I have made is my answer to the remarks of the right hon. and gallant General.
said, it was impossible to have heard the statement of his hon. and gallant Friend without being deeply impressed; more especially when they remembered under what circumstances of domestic bereavement it was made; and if the gallant brother he had lost had the same ability, energy of character, and worth as his hon. and gallant Friend, the country had indeed sustained a severe loss. He (Mr. Corry) did not intend to enter on the general question under discussion, but he wished to make a few remarks in consequence of what fell from the noble Lord the Secretary of the Admiralty, who he did not think had improved the case as it stood against the Government. His speech afforded an admirable illustration of the Circumlocution system. Communications were made by the Admiralty, first to one office, and then to another; and, at last, tenders were called for, but not for steam-transports, because the price was so high per man. The noble Lord talked of the price per man when the troops were dying like flies on that pestilential coast. At last a sailing transport with an unpronounceable name was taken up, and at the end of a month she was not ready for sea. His hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth told him that when he commanded an East Indiaman he had sailed from the Channel to the equator in sixteen days, and therefore had this vessel been despatched at once she might at that moment hive been embarking our soldiers. He contended that the Admiralty as soon as this cry of distress reached them from the coast of Africa, Ought not to have issued advertisements for sailing vessels, but they ought to have communicated with the directors of the great steam companies, and, no matter at what cost per man, have taken up one of the most powerful, capacious, and rapid steam vessels that could be obtained. And supposing that the mercantile marine could not have furnished such a vessel, had they not their steam reserve, including magnifi- 2013 cent first-class frigates of 3,000 tons burden and 800-horse power, and several line of-battle ships of great size and speed and good ventilation, which were admirably adapted to such a service? In the coastguard service there were already in commission three vessels — the Trafalgar and two others of the same class — any one of which might have been sent to sea in a week. As it was, they were now, at the end of a month, told that a transport was to sail on the following day or the day after. He could confirm all that his hon. and gallant Friend had said about the Gladiator. He was a Lord of the Admiralty at the time she was built, and knew her well. A vessel less adapted to the service could not have been found if the Admiralty had exercised their ingenuity to discover the worst possible ship. Although nominally a ship of 1,200 tons, deducting the space occupied by her machinery, she was really of only 800 tons burden, and had neither speed nor the capacity for the service for which she had been selected.
§ MR. DENMAN (who was received with cries of "Divide")
said, he claimed in justice to be heard, because the right hon. Baronet who addressed the House a few minutes ago pointedly alluded to him. The right hon. Baronet challenged him to make good his words, because he chose to take notice of the dissent which he uttered, perhaps somewhat loudly, but he believed not indecorously. When he expressed his dissent the right hon. Baronet was misrepresenting, of course unintentionally, what had been stated by the noble Lord the Under Secretary for War. The right hon. Baronet represented the noble Lord as saying that the attempt to supply the troops with water had utterly failed. What the noble Lord really did say was, that the moment the Government was aware that there was a lack of water, which they had not had reason to anticipate, they sent out a condensing apparatus, guaranteed to supply 1,200 gallons a day, and which actually supplied 500 gallons per day. The real question was, Whether the Government, when they knew there was a lick of water, did that which became them as prudent men to supply the need? He would not further trouble the House.
§ SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE
observed, that the noble Lord the Secretary for the Admiralty had told them that the Gladiator had that afternoon been ordered to proceed 2014 upon the service; and he further stated that a ship in the West Indies had been ordered to hold herself in readiness to proceed to the Cape de Verd Islands. Then he (Sir J. Elphinstone) asked him whether the Gladiator was to act as a go-between in reference to these two points, and how many trips she would require to make to carry these troops from the coast of Africa to the Cape de Verd Islands? He had in view that the Cape de Verd Islands were exceedingly unhealthy, and had an exceedingly stringent quarantine law; and also the size and description of the Gladiator. Now, the Gladiator was a ship of not more than 800 tons, and when she had provided for her own men she was incapable of carrying more than 250 men with any degree of comfort. He listened with great pleasure to the statement which was made by his hon. and gallant Friend (Sir John Hay). The only part of that statement which he regretted was that containing the two sentences at the conclusion of his speech. Standing in the relation which he did to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, he hoped that he would pardon him if he offered an apology on his part for having left the subject in hand and entered upon others which were not before the House. The noble Lord the Under Secretary for War was put up to defend the Government, and he made a speech which showed the greatest possible ignorance of the state of matters in a tropical climate. He told the House of the dietary provided for these troops, of the beef and mutton they were to have. He totally forgot that the greater portion of these troops were engaged at a distance from the coast, and that neither cattle nor sheep could travel in that country, and that meat could not be kept fresh for more than two days at the utmost. They were told that the troops received the greatest attention and had no wants whatever; but though strong men might in such a climate stand salt meat and biscuit for forty days, yet to men upon the sick list it was death. The Return on the table seemed to relate to the troops within sight only, but took no account of those in the interior. They also sought for quarters for the troops at a place where all the buildings had been twelve months before destroyed by an earthquake. It also seemed that unless the men died upon the very line of march they were not supposed to die in connection with the expedition; and the gallant officer who had been re- 2015 ferred to was actually operating on one of the flanks of the army and yet the noble Lord denied that he had anything to do with the expedition. The Government were now on their trial with regard to the occupation of that pestilential coast at all; and unless they could satisfactorily defend that occupation and justify their relations towards the savage tribes whom they protected, he, for one, must vote for the Motion.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
We have heard it, Sir, in the course of this debate, more than once stated that this is not a party question. I should like to know what name you are to give to a Motion which casts censure upon the Government. The word "censure" has, indeed, been withdrawn from the Resolution, but the censure itself has not been withdrawn from its spirit and substance. The Resolution is no doubt a Vote of Censure on the Government generally. The right hon. and gallant Officer who spoke on the other side said he was anxious to censure, but complained that he did not know whom to censure. He told us he wanted to know on whom he could justly throw the blame which he thought belonged to somebody. I contend humbly that the statements which have been made by my noble and right hon. Friends in the course of this debate show that, at all events, the assertion contained in the Resolution—namely, that the Government have not adequately provided for the comfort and health of the troops landed for the purpose of carrying on war against the King of Ashantee—has been completely and conclusively disproved. Why, Sir, it has been over and over again proved by documents, that every precaution was taken to provide the troops with shelter when they arrived; that they did obtain that shelter, notwithstanding a calamitous accident, which deprived them of the use of those buildings on which they might have reckoned; and that in the course of a few days after they landed they were all placed where they could find protection against the inclemency of the weather. It has been shown by my right hon. Friend, from authentic documents, that the supplies of food of all kinds were ample, whether of meats, of biscuits, or of flour. It has been shown that the medical arrangements were as good as it was possible to make them. It has been shown that every effort was made to procure for the troops a supply of distilled water. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich forgot that it 2016 had been stated by my noble Friend that the distilling apparatus, instead of supplying a very large quantity of water, supplied 500 gallons a day; and then the right hon. Baronet gets up and says that the apparatus broke down, and was of no use whatever. That is a specimen of the broad and groundless assertions which have been made on the other side. It is very easy to conduct a debate when you reiterate statements which are disproved by every Member who speaks against you, and when you say you have made out your case, although, in fact, your case has utterly broken down.
Well, the Resolution calls upon the House to say it laments the want of foresight on the part of the Government. Sir, we are ready to join in affirming that we lament the loss of life which has unfortunately occurred in these operations, and if that had been the Resolution moved—if the hon. and gallant Officer had moved a Resolution stating that this House lamented the loss of life which was occasioned, not by a war against the King of Ashantee, because no such war actually took place, but by preparations to resist such a war, and had followed that up by the expression of a hope that in future matters might be so arranged with the King of Ashantee as to prevent the recurrence of such circumstances, we might have accepted it. However, that would not have suited the taste of hon. Gentlemen opposite. But I say we cannot agree, and I trust the House will not agree, to this Resolution, founded as it is on untruth, and on assertions which have been refuted, and imputing blame which we have shown that we have not deserved. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich has well said that the Motion before the House does not involve the question of the policy of a war with the King of Ashantee. It was very wise of him to say so. Why, how did this war originate, if indeed war there has been? It originated in the duty devolving on the British Government to defend the protected tribes in that region. Who was it who first established that protectorate on behalf of those tribes? Was it those who sit on these (the Treasury) Benches? It was the Government of the Earl of Derby. That principle was followed up by all successive Governments, and the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich is himself one of those who sanctioned and acted upon it. Well, but if England formally takes under its protection tribes of men, and if those 2017 tribes are attacked by a foreign enemy, I say the honour of the country may require, and ought to require, some step to be adopted to make that protection not an empty word but a reality in favour of those to whom it is extended. Does any man say that the Governor of Cape Coast Castle ought to hare given up the two negroes who fled to our protection? I am sure there is not a man in this House who would contend that the Governor would have been justified in delivering up these fugitives to certain death. Well, the refusal to do that was the cause of the attack made on the protected tribes by the King of Ashantee; and that attack led very naturally and necessarily to some counter demonstration in their favour. But it is said that we ought to have foreseen that the rainy season would commence two months earlier than usual; that a convulsion would destroy the port of Accra; and, in short, that we should have foreknown things which we could not possibly have foreknown, but which, when they did happen, were so guarded against by the precautions taken, that, as I maintain, the statements which have been made of the loss sustained by the troops in this service are greatly exaggerated. That has been proved by my noble Friend the Under Secretary of State for War, and the Returns also showed it to be so. Great art has been employed in mixing up casualties wholly unconnected with these operations and in ascribing them all to a service to which they did not properly belong. I say, therefore, that hon. Gentlemen opposite are wise in having abstained from that which would perhaps have been more candid Motion—namely, a condemnation of the policy of protecting these tribes and making war in their defence; because that policy was theirs, and though we afterwards adopted it, not ours. They feel themselves precluded, therefore, from condemning that which was the real cause of this expedition into the interior being undertaken, and which has resulted in the losses which we deplore. I say, then, that I trust to the justice of this House, and I hope it will not be carried away by the unsupported assertions that have been made. As to want of foresight and want of proper precaution, we have been told, and it has been proved, that every precaution was taken. The loss also was greatly exaggerated, and does act is reality amount to more than might have 2018 been expected under ordinary circumstances in a tropical climate. The right hon. Baronet said he had been a Member of the Committee with reference to the Crimean war, and that this expedition reminded him ["No, no!"]—I beg pardon, it was the right hon. and gallant Officer beside him. Such a statement might have been pardonable in the right hon. Baronet, because he is only a yeoman, but I think it was hardly fair on the part of a Gentleman who ought to be better informed as to the nature of military arrangements, and better able to compare assertions with details that entirely contradict them. I say this is undoubtedly a censure upon the Government. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, who is now like a greyhound in the leash, always likes to have the last word. I see him now anxious to start upon his legs. But I trust that the House will take a more serious view of this matter. No doubt the question is one involving considerations of the most serious character. The position is one of embarrassment for any Government. When they find tha by a long course of policy the country is embarked in a particular course, and when they find that course cannot be adequately followed up without entailing a great sacrifice of life, the position must be a very painful one. All that any Government can be required to do under such circumstances is to act according to the best of their judgment in following out the line of policy to which in some degree the honour and character of the country is pledged, and to take every means which may render the enforcement of its obligations attended with as little as possible of unnecessary sacrifice of life. It was thought the best troops to employ on this service were those troops of colour whom we had in our West India regiments. Unfortunately it has turned out that those born in the West ladies have lost that immunity from the effects of African climate which their ancestors enjoyed, and they suffered almost as much as Europeans could do under similar circumstances. It was a duty incumbent upon the Government, a duty which, I contend, has been performed, to take every precaution, medically or through, the commissariat, which could prevent the troops sent upon this enterprize from feeling unduly the effects of the tropical climate. The Government felt this duty more peculiarly incumbent 2019 upon them, because though it was imagined their colour might protect the troops, the officers, being Europeans, could not be expected to enjoy equal immunity. I contend that any one who will read these papers, any one who has listened to this debate, will see, and if he is candid and impartial will acknowledge, that there was nothing the Government could have done that they did not do. [Cries of "Oh! oh!" from the Opposition Benches.] Oh, I do not expect hon. Gentlemen opposite to agree with me. I am not addressing myself to those who came to this debate with foregone conclusions, prepared to vote censure whether it be deserved or not. I appeal to the body of the House. And I say they ought to make allowance for the position of a Government which, having to pursue a line of policy traced out for a long course of time by those who went before, and finding that policy imposed a duty which could not be performed without incurring sacrifice of life, still felt that the honour of the country demanded an effort, that duty called on them to make that effort, an effort which having now been made has not proved so fatal to those employed in carrying it into execution as some have represented and others have feared. I will only add that I trust this House will act according to its deliberate judgment. In that event I am confident it will not agree to the Vote of Censure which the hon. and gallant Officer proposes, but will, on the contrary, go with the Government into Committee of Supply, setting aside the Motion of the hon. and gallant Gentleman.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, I cannot refuse, the challenge of the noble Lord, although, so far as I am concerned, I should be glad if the debate were now to close. I am glad that the noble Lord in the latter part of his speech addressed the House in a tone of gravity which somewhat became the subject. For my part, I prefer the tone of the noble Lord when he gives us the advantage of his long experience, and speaks Without that affectation of unnecessary levity, which he, the leading statesman of the greatest Empire in the world, seems to think is indispensable as a compliment, I suppose, to the House of Commons to introduce into every debate. The noble Lord says it is very easy to make loud and unfounded assertions. I quite agree with the noble Lord. I have listened to him often, and admired 2020 the manner.—in speaking of any one else I should say the happy effrontery—with which he makes his unfounded assertions. But I think to-night the noble Lord has exceeded himself, and, I shall show to the House has far excelled any achievement of that class which has before illustrated his name. The noble Lord dwelt for some time, for some quarter of an hour, on a subject which need not have engaged our attention this evening, and that was the policy of war with Ashantee. The noble Lord was not content to leave his opponents untouched, his vindication of the conduct of his own Government being that they followed the policy which had been traced out and established by the Government of the Earl of Derby. Now I must say, that having been an humble Member of that Government, I am perfectly unaware—
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
If I said the Government of the Earl of Derby, I made a slip of the tongue. I ought to have said the Government in which that noble Lord was Secretary for the Colonies.
§ MR. DISRAELI
The noble Lord has now made another slip of the tongue. His first statement was, that it was the Government, of the Earl of Derby. He now recalls that statement, although he charged my right hon. friends, and particularly the hon. Member Droitwich, with being the Secretary of State; who carried that policy into execution. But this master of bold and unfounded assertions, when I ventured to correct one misstatement, takes up another, position. He now says it was not the Government, of the Earl of Derby, but another Government in which the Earl of Derby was Secretary of State for the Colonies—I presume he means the Government of Sir Robert Peel in 1841. But, unless, I am entirely misinformed—unless what I have read on the subject entirely deceives me, the, protectorate, of the Fantee tribes and of all those tribes which have engaged our attention to-night, leading to the permanence of our occupation of Cape Coast Castle, was established in. the year 1826, at the conclusion of the war in that country. Therefore, I say, when a person, and a person of the great eminence and position of the noble Lord, after a debate of much interest on a subject unquestionably of very great national importance, rises in his place and scolds and flounces about the evening having been taken up with bold and unfounded assertions which are easy to make, and, when refuted, to 2021 repeat, and in answering those to whom he is replying, himself comes forward with a statement so entirely unfounded upon a subject happening within his own official experience, not only as a Member of this House, but as a Minister of the Crown, I must say I think the noble Lord under the circumstances should look a little at home before addressing the House with the confidence he has evinced this evening. The noble Lord, with that command of Parliamentary language which distinguishes him, says that the Resolution which has been tendered for the consideration of the House is false—that it is founded in untruth. Well, that is strong language. The noble Lord may not clearly remember the language of this Resolution, which he says is founded in untruth. The Resolution asserts two things. It first declares that no sufficient provision was made for preserving the health of the troops employed in this particular service. Now, is it the opinion of the House that sufficient provision was made? No one can for a moment pretend that question is open to a doubt. Why, have we not been told that if we had only asked for a Committee of Inquiry in to the subject, and had not introduced a censure on the Government, the facts themselves are so generally known, the statement is so accurate and undeniable, that it would have been impossible for any one to resist it? What is the next statement in the Resolution? Why, that there was a want of foresight, which has caused this large loss of life. The noble Lord says sufficient provision was made, and that there was no want of foresight. Sufficient provision was made to produce the disaster. If that was your foresight, if your prophetic vision foresaw the calamities which have occurred, we may grant you that virtue of sagacity which some are disposed to say you do not possess. On the other hand, if you wish to prove that sufficient provision was made by the wretched state in which the troops found themselves, we may form an opinion of what is your definition of a proper equipment for a warlike force on the Gold Coast. It appears to me that the somewhat blustering statements of the noble Lord can only end in the refutation of the very position which he had endeavoured to assume. The House has been told two or three times to-night that this is not a party question, and the noble Lord has taunted us as if that statement had been made particularly from this side. I own that I have not 2022 heard it from this side of the House. Indeed, I do not recollect having heard it at all except from the hon. and learned Colleague of the noble Lord in the representation of Tiverton (Mr. Denman), who a few minutes ago addressed to us that peculiar speech which I confess I did not understand. But I contend that if great disasters occur in the conduct of a military expedition, it is the duty of an Opposition to call attention to them, to inquire into their cause, and to ask who is responsible for results which fill the country with mourning. We should be ashamed of ourselves if such incidents could pass unnoticed; but if the noble Lord means to say that there has been any concerted scheme to use this particular case in order to give a trial of strength, he speaks with very inaccurate information on the subject. Nothing was more natural than that the hon. and gallant Member for Wake-field should call attention to this lamentable affair. He drew his Resolution himself, and the only reason why that word which the noble Lord has taunted this side of the House for omitting was left out when the question was put from the Chair was, because I understand the hon. and gallant Gentleman was told by some friend that it was not a Parliamentary phrase. Surely, it is expedient that in asking the opinion of the House upon any question we should always, as far as possible, follow those precedents of language, by acting upon which we generally manage to conduct our affairs without any unnecessary acerbity of expression. But the hon. and gallant Member never for a moment meant to conceal that the object of his Resolution was to pass a censure upon the Administration that is either guilty or not guilty of being responsible for the calamities which have occurred, and which, I submit, the House could not pass over without notice. The mode in which our opinion has been asked is one perfectly Parliamentary and constitutional. No art has been used in making the statements which have been advanced to-night; no answer has been given to those statements, and I maintain that the tone of the Prime Minister himself has been quite unworthy of the very grave subject which has engaged our attention.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
What I meant to say was that in 1842, when Lord Stanley was Secretary for the Colonies and Sir Robert Peel was Prime Minister, the protectorate of the African 2023 tribes was resumed. It was commenced long before, but had been given up for a short time.
§ MR. DISRAELI
The noble Lord omits to state that it was resumed on a Report of the House of Commons recommending its assumption.
§ Question put,
§ The House divided:— Ayes 233; Noes 226: Majority 7.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.