said, he rose for the purpose of asking a Question of the Government, and, as he intended to make a few observations, he should, in order to put himself in Order, conclude with a Motion. He did not often trespass upon the attention of the House, and on the present occasion he should be as brief as he generally was. It was his duty in February last year to ask the Government a question with respect to certain prosecutions then conducted against General Nelson and Lieutenant Brand. He merely asked, without entering into the circumstances of the case, whether those officers, having really obeyed orders to the best of their ability, and being brought by a legal quibble before the Courts of Law in this country, the Government proposed affording them the fullest legal assistance? The answer he received from the right hon. Gentleman, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, was that he had no doubt whatever that when an officer in her Majesty's service, obeying the commands of his superior officer, performed acts which were afterwards legally impugned, it would of course be the duty of the Government to defend him. The officers whom he had just named were accordingly defended by counsel appointed by the Treasury, or some Department of the War Office. These prosecutions had now taken a new phase, and a Governor, whom a large portion of the people of this country considered to have done his duty, and to have saved one of the most noble colonies which England possessed, and which this country had held for nearly two centuries, was now arraigned before a Court of Justice for doing that which he had deemed to be his duty. It was not his intention to enter into the merits of the case, which had now gone before another tribunal; but he would simply ask the Government whether, after having sent out a Royal Commission to inquire into the conduct of this Governor—a man who had raised himself entirely by his own ability to the situation he held, and who, whether rightly or wrongly, considered that he was only performing his duty in what he did— they meant now to leave him to subscriptions raised through the medium of advertisements in the newspapers, or whether 837 they were prepared to undertake his defence? The Royal Commission reported that Governor Eyre was entitled to praise for the skill, promptitude, and vigour he displayed in the early stages of the insurrection; and whether or not h exceeded the limits of discretion at any period was a question to be tried. He, therefore, wished to know whether Governor Eyre would receive from the Government that asaiatance to which he was entitled for his defence, or was it to be understood that any man undertaking the government of a colony would in future have to fall back on public charity for his defence should he be placed in a felon's dock on trial? He begged to move the adjournment of the House.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed. "That this House do now adjourn."— (Colonel Jervis.)
said, he thought it much to be regretted that these persistent Questions should be put in the House at a time when the matter to which they referred was sub judice. If it were not for that circumstance, he should not have waited for Questions from hon. Gentlemen opposite before he called attention to the case of Governor Eyre, and the position in which he now stood. It must not be supposed that Members on the Opposition side of the House, as well, he believed, as some on the other side, who, for the sake of English justice, were desirous of proving that the poorest subject of England's Queen had a right to due protection, were in any way influenced by bitter feeling towards Governor Eyre. ["Oh,! oh!"] He pitied hon. Gentlemen opposite if they could not suppose that that was so. He had read most carefully and attentively every word of the Report of the Commission, of which the gallant Colonel had only read a very small part, and the Commissioners did not say that there was not ground for further inquiry. It had been stated, and he believed truly, that after the rebellion had been put an end to, as declared in the Proclamation of the Governor himself, 350 persons, having as much right to the Queen's protection as the gallant Colonel himself, were put to death unnecessarily; and it had been further stated that, the Governor of Jamaica took the opportunity of a local insurrection to seize a political opponent who was not then living within the jurisdiction of martial law.
rose to Order. The hon. Gentleman was answering that which he had never stated. He had carefully avoided all references to the Jamaica dispute.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, the gallant Colonel was out of Order. The gallant Colonel could not limit the observations of another hon. Member upon the subject he had introduced.
said, he had no previous intention of addressing the House on the subject; but he felt keenly in reference to it, and took an opposite view to that taken by the hon. and gallant Member. He would rejoice if a jury found Governor Eyre not guilty of those charges. All that he claimed on behalf of the humanity and justice of England was that Governor Eyre should have a fair trial, in order that the poorest of our colonists should know that the protection of the Queen was over him, whether lie lived in her Eastern or her Western dependencies.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, in answer to the Inquiry of my hon. and gallant Friend, I would remind him that this question had been considered by the Government somewhat more than a year ago, when he made an inquiry of me in this House. Her Majesty's Government have seen no reason whatever to doubt the judiciousness of the course they then took, and which was officially, I believe, communicated to Governor Eyre. General Nelson and Lieutenant Brand were, without doubt, officers obeying the command of a superior officer; and it was the opinion of the Government, that it would be their duty to defend any officer in that position if his conduct were attacked, and if he were subjected to a prosecution. But the case of Governor Eyre appeared to be quite of a different character; and without going, on a question like this, unnecessarily into detail, Her Majesty's Ministers were of opinion that it was not part of their duty to undertake the defence of Governor Eyre; but that it was their duty to watch the proceedings at the trial, to make themselves acquainted with the evidence brought against Governor Eyre, and otherwise produced; to form their opinion when in possession of that evidence; and if they thought, after the trial, that it was their duty to make a proposition to Parliament to support Governor Eyre in the defence he had made, they would not shrink from performing their duty in those cir- 839 cumstances. In the present case, they intend to take the same course, reserving to themselves the right, when the trial is concluded, of forming an opinion as to the course they will take.
COLONEL STUART KNOX
said, that on Friday evening he rose to put a Question to the hon. Member for Westminster which the rules of the House prevented him from doing, of which, no doubt, the hon. Member (Mr. Stuart Mill) was very glad. He now wished to ask the Government whether their attention had been called to a letter in The Times of to-day signed "Charles Buxton;" and whether in their opinion the statements in that letter were justifiable? The following passage occurred in it:—"It would be very painful to me to suppose that these proceedings would entail pecuniary ruin upon Mr. Eyre's family." No doubt it would. "Happily it is notorious that sums vastly beyond all possible costs are at his disposal. [Cries of"Order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
So far as I understand, the Question proposed by the hon. Member is a Question addressed to a Member of the Government, whether they have formed an opinion of a letter written by a Gentleman on a subject not connected with anything before this House?
COLONEL STUART KNOX
My object is that the people of this country shall know that a Gentleman called Charles Buxton,—["Order!"]—I believe a Member of this House, has written such letter— ["Order, order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
There is a Motion before the House upon which it is competent for any Member to address the House; but I pointed out that to address a Question upon such a subject to the Government is not pertinent to the argument of any Question before the House, and I think it ought not to be introduced.
COLONEL STUART KNOX
My object is that the country should know that the Jamaica Committee wish to have it supposed that there are large sums at the disposal of Governor Eyre, and that no money is required for his defence. In that respect the letter was most unfair to Governor Eyre, and I trust it will be reported to the whole country that the statement is not correct.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.