HC Deb 16 February 1872 vol 209 cc529-48

, in rising to call attention to the Chinese Coolie Traffic, and to move an Address for Papers, said, he must ask the indulgence of the House for what must be a painful, and he feared would be a long statement. Systematic plans prevailed in the neighbourhood of Hong Kong for kidnapping Chinese, which for cruelty rivalled the practice on the African Coast, or even the Middle Passage, against which Wilberforce and Clarkson raised their voices. In support of this statement he referred to the destruction of the Dolores Ugarte, a vessel which sailed from the Portuguese Settlement of Macao for Peru in May of last year. There were 656 coolies on board, and a disturbance of some kind having taken place the hatchways were fastened down. Owing to an insufficiently explained cause a fire broke out in the hold; and, as the flames could not be extinguished, the captain decided to abandon the ship. The 600 Chinese below were left to their fate; while the crew, and a few of the coolies who were on deck, escaped in the boats, which were only capable of holding 40 men. During a previous voyage of the same vessel 18 coolies jumped overboard in consequence of ill-treatment; 25 died from want; and 43 were in such a hopeless state of disease that they were landed at Honolulu. The statements of the few who managed to escape from the burning wreck of the Dolores Ugarte showed that they had been induced by acquaintances, on pretence of work, to make the journey to Macao; but that, instead of having their expectations realized, they were cruelly treated and threatened by emigration agents; that they signed papers which were neither explained nor read to them, and which, if even they were read to them, they could not understand, owing to their ignorance of the language, and were afterwards carried off on board ship against their will. One of these unfortunate men, Low Asow by name, deposed as follows:— I am 36 years old; I am a native of Sun-on A friend of mine named Awong said he could get me work in Hong Kong. I went with him, but he took me to Macao. At first I could not tell whether that was Macao or Hong Kong, but he told me it was Hong Kong. I have never been out of my village. He took me to a barracoon. Awong told me that the regulation of the place was I must be registered at an office before I could be engaged as servant, and that I must say 'Yes' to every question. I signed a contract; it was not read to me, and I did not know what it contained. I was not told where I was to go to either at the barracoon or Emigration Office, and I was under the impression that I was to be a servant in Macao. I was sent on board a Coolie ship under an armed escort. The ship sailed on the 15th, and on the 17th she took fire. I was picked up by a fishing junk. I am a widower, and have no children. I have no father or mother. My father died last year. I was a farmer in Sun-on, doing job work only. Another coolie, named Lai Awom, who had been induced to visit Macao by the promise that employment should be found him in a mill-maker's shop, told a similar story. He said— On arrival at Macao, two foreigners came to our boat in a sampan, and took us away. I was taken to the Man Hop barracoon. At first I did not know it was a barracoon; I thought it was Ayee's shop. Therefore I did not question him why he took me there. I arrived at Macao on the 19th day of the 2nd moon. One day I wanted to go out, but a foreigner keeping guard at the door refused me egress. I then concluded the house was a barracoon. I saw Ayee in the barracoon, and I asked him why be took me to such a place. He replied that he was going to be an 'emigrant' also, and that I need not fear his selling me. He told me that I was only to answer to the call of a name, and then I would get eight dollars for doing so; that he would just row me off to a ship and take me back ashore again. But in order to get the eight dollars, I must state before an officer that I was willing to go. If I said I would not go, I would be put under chains and placed in a dungeon. Ayee assured me that he would also go before the officer and state the same things, and then get his eight dollars. On the 6th day of the 3rd moon I was taken before the emigration officer. I was asked if I knew where I was to go. I replied that I did not. I was then informed that I was to go to a foreign country to get four dollars a month. The name of the country was not mentioned. My name in the barracoon was Lai Asam. I answered to that name at the Emigration Office, I put my finger-mark to a document: it was not read to me. I marked two places. My finger was held by a Chinaman in that office, and he guided my finger to impress the marks on the places. I was paid eight dollars after marking that paper. I slept two nights in the Emigration Office. On the third day—that was, the 8th, I was escorted on board a ship. Ayee did not row me back as he promised, neither did he go before the emigration officer as he assured me. When I got on board I knew then that I was 'sold,' and I cried the whole of the first night I was on board. He narrated other cases to show that frauds of such a nature were practised as to identify the Macao Coolie traffic with the slave trade. He was glad to say that Chief Justice Smale, whose name he could not mention without paying his humble tribute to one who was an honour to his country and the service of the Crown, took a similar view, for when a kidnapped Chinaman who had headed a mutiny against the captain of a French Coolie ship, in which the latter was killed, was brought before him on a charge of murder, that honourable and high-minded Judge refused to allow the man to be tried, but ordered him to be liberated, on the ground that he had only obeyed both the natural and the written law, which placed kidnappers beyond the pale of protection. The miseries of the Coolie labourers on arriving at Peru were revolting beyond description. Their condition and treatment at the Chincha Islands had been vividly pourtrayed in a letter which had been published in one of the public journals. The writer said— These islands, covered to a great depth with guano, are perfectly barren, from the excessive quantity becoming destructive of vegetation; and those employed in transporting the manure to the loading-places are Chinese, whilst negroes and the lowest of the mixed races of Callao and Lima are employed in stowing the cargoes. The Chinese, who, under specious promises, are inveigled to the islands for a term of three years, seldom live to complete the term of their slavery, for the nauseous dust and the overpowering effluvia of ammonia in which they work are of themselves rapidly destructive of life. Sometimes they embark in China, and often at Melbourne, where they find nothing to do; and it is well known that shippers receive so much per head for every Chinese they land at the Chinchas. There they are detained by an armed force, hutted in the most miserable manner, fed only after performing a certain amount of labour, and subject to a treatment, of which some idea may be gathered from the following facts:—Whilst we were at the islands, a poor Chinaman threw himself off the rocks, and was dashed to pieces, rather than submit to the tortures that awaited him for having accidentally broken some tackle he was using in his course of labour; and we can form a good notion of the severity of the punishment they are subjected to by the horrible howling constantly heard on the islands. The following are some that are constantly inflicted on the labourers, by order of the commandant, for the most trivial offences, under the eyes of Englishmen and other reputed civilized people; and certainly nothing more devilish, nothing more ingenious, could be invented—namely, hanging in ropes and chains round the waist, and in other ways, from sunrise to sunset, without food during that period, one, two, or more days, in proportion to the magnitude of the offence; and lashing to half-tide buoys, subject to exposure to the water in addition to heat and cold. These punishments we saw inflicted in several instances; and it was reported that one man, whom we saw suspended daily for fully a week, had already suffered a fortnight previously to our arrival. We were also shown a refined instrument of torture, combining the fabled labour of Danaides, with the penalty of death staring the culprit in the face if he failed from exhaustion, or otherwise, in performing the task allotted to him: this was a lighter, with a large hole in the bottom, in which the offender was fastened, with a bucket to save his life by incessant baling. We were also credibly informed that one of the punishments inflicted on the Chinese on the islands is that of placing them on a small point of rock to which they are chained; so small that sleep or change of position must result in their falling off, to hang in their manacles, severely bruised, perhaps, until the period of relief. The treatment of coolies in other parts of Peru was equally cruel. He was indebted to a friend of his, well known to that House, both as a literary man and a politician—he referred to Mr. Jenkins, the author of Ginx's Baby, for a statement made by a well-informed Englishman resident at Callao. The writer began by remarking that— England and the United States have abolished slavery, and profess to prevent the carrying of it on; yet here, under the name of 'emigration,' it exists in its worse form—Norfolk Island in its convict days being an improved state of existence. Every year thousands of Chinamen are kidnapped and induced under false pretences to leave their country; many die; many destroy themselves; they mutiny and burn the vessels, proving they are not willing emigrants. On arrival here, if in good health, they are sold at a high price, for eight years; but many are sent to the hospital where they die partly through ignorance of the language, and also from want of a will to live, The few who are bought for house and business purposes are fortunate in comparison with their 300 or 400 brethren purchased by some large farmer and sent miles into the interior, where they are locked up in an inclosure at night, turned out at half-past four in small gangs, each with its armed and mounted driver. They get two meals a-day of rice or beans, and on some farms meat twice a-week. Work being over, they are driven back and locked up at six, and this goes on from week's end to week's end, from year's end to year's end; they have no note of time, the Sabbath being like any other day. Those who exist—I will not say live—out their contract have become so degraded and ruined in health that they would be afraid to ask their liberty, having been flogged for much less. The owner of the farm is the only judge, in his absence his overseers; they whip, imprison, put in the stocks, and even kill with impunity; there is no one to interfere. Happy is the Chinaman who dies on the way; to whom can he apply for redress? He does not speak the language, and, after years of residence, only knows the names of the articles used on the farm, and the oaths that have been addressed to him. It was to the slave owner's interest that his slaves were healthy and increased, as each young slave was so much added to his stock—so many dollars more to his cash; but these poor creatures do not see a woman; the farmhouse is a fortified castle with iron bars, the inmates well armed; but the low feeding and hard work leave little spirit in poor John Chinaman to disturb his master. To this painful statement he would add the fact that a few years ago some of these unhappy men were enabled to place a Memorial in the hands of the American Government, which was afterwards forwarded to the American Minister at Pekin, when Prince Kung felt very strongly about the miseries inflicted upon his poor countrymen, and expressed a hope that the great American Government would interfere on their behalf, because the Chinese Government was powerless to do so. The state of things in Cuba was equally deplorable; and on this part of the question he was fortified by the high authority of a Cuban gentleman, who had supplied him with accurate and reliable information. From him he learnt that— The Chinese trade for the importation of Chinamen into Cuba for agricultural purposes commenced about the year 1849 or 1850. The first immigration consisted of about 4,000. At first they were not found useful in the sugar plantations; but, subsequently, when it became difficult to obtain negroes from Africa, these disadvantages were overlooked, and the demand for Chinese was revived. One firm then imported 7,000 of them, and the Administration at first exhibited every disposition to adopt and enforce regulations for their protection. Since then the trade has attained very large proportions, some going into it for the sake of profit, and others from the illusory notion that Chinese labour would prove a death-blow to slave labour. Agents are stationed in China, at the public expense, for the purpose of engaging the labourers, who are required to sign contracts undertaking to work in Cuba at the place and in the manner appointed on their arrival there—that is to say, according to the usages of the country—for a period of eight years. The agent or his representative (for the contract is transferable like a bill of exchange) undertakes to pay the Chinaman wages amounting to four dollars a month, less the money advanced in China, and the days (in excess of eight) lost by sickness or other causes. Victuals and clothes are to be supplied to him, and at the end of eight years he is entitled to his freedom, but must either re-indenture himself, or leave the country within 60 days. There is reason to believe, especially in the item of wages, that there is a difference between the Chinese and the Spanish version of the contracts. The vessels employed in this trade resemble those with which the 'Middle Passage' has rendered us familiar. The poor Chinese are confined on board in great crowds, with hardly air enough to breathe; and the miseries of their condition often lead to revolts, followed by sanguinary massacres. On arriving at Havana the Chinese are treated exactly like the negroes. They are confined in large barracoons, and sold individually or in lots by a mere endorsement of their contracts, and then taken to the sugar plantations. On the plantation the Chinese labourer is treated as a slave. His scanty wages—a fourth less than is earnt by many of the negroes—hardly suffices to supply him with the necessaries which, from the poverty of his own fare, he is compelled to buy. The frequency with which the Chinese commit assassination or suicide is the best proof of their desperate condition in Cuba. While the proportion of criminals is only 1 in 1,663 for slaves, it is 1 in 175 for Asiatics. In most of these cases, however, the Chinese endeavour to get rid of the intolerable burden of existence by flight, and frequently perish in the woods. In spite of protecting laws, the Chinese are subjected to cruel punishments on the sugar plantations, the overseers being both judges and executioners. Formerly the Chinaman recovered his liberty of action on the expiration of his original period of service; but recent ordinances imposed by Spain compel him to be always under a master or patron, or at once to leave the country—which, of course, for want of means he is unable to do. He is put in jail until he gets a new master, who is compelled to pay the military authorities a sum of money—not long ago 34 dollars—for the privilege. Thus the servitude of the Chinese practically becomes lifelong. Marshal Serrano has given the following testimony:—'As to the Asiatic colonization I cannot but repeat what I have heretofore said, and condemn it (the Coolie trade) as the source of many evils and abuses similar to those inherent in the slave trade. Asiatic colonization, as now carried on, and in spite of regulations, is a temporal slavery, with all the inconveniencies of perpetual slavery. In whatever manner it may be prosecuted, it will prove to be a calamity for Cuba, when all our efforts should be directed to assuring the preponderance of the white race, and when the mingling of a third race with those now peopling the country must inevitably raise a new and darker cloud over the horizon of our unfortu- nate Antille.' The evils of Chinese immigration to Cuba are aggravated by the enforced celibacy of the labourers. They are accompanied by no women, and there is a mutual repulsion between them and women of the African race. Thus a state of society is being built up which can only be described as infernal. There are 50,000 Chinese now in Cuba, but their number is constantly increasing. The African slave trade is abolished, but the Chinese slave trade has taken its place. Having shown, he said, that the Coolie traffic both in Peru and in Cuba was stained by the worst crimes of the African slave trade, he would next proceed to point out the connection between it and the gambling practices carried on at Hong Kong in houses licensed by the British Government. The poor Chinamen who had lost all their money at these gambling-houses fell easy victims to the agents of that so-called emigration system, and sometimes staked their persons on a last throw. He could not understand how the sanction of our Government should be given to gambling-houses in a British colony, in spite of remonstrances of the Chief Justice and the local merchants. It was certainly remarkable that such a thing should be allowed to go on under our protection at Hong Kong, at a time when it was forbidden not only by every respectable Christian State, but was also excluded from Japan, and even from every part of China where there was an honest and an energetic governor. In reading the Parliamentary Papers on the subject, he had been greatly astonished to find that when General Whitfield, a man who, to judge from the Papers, seemed to him a high-minded gentleman and an honour to the public service, who had been left in temporary charge of the government of Hong Kong, notified to Lord Kimberley that in his judgment the licensing of gambling-houses should be brought to an end, his Lordship answered him in the following telegram:— Your despatch, No. 66, received. Issue fresh licences on expiration of old ones. Make no alterations without instructions. He confessed that that telegram was to him inexplicable, and he could not imagine what explanation would be offered. He felt sure that neither Lord Kimberley nor the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) wished to encourage gambling. There must be some explanation which his hon. Friend could give, but he confessed it surpassed his ingenuity to conceive what it was. Now, the question was, what was it in the power of the Government to do? There were three points that he would suggest for the consideration of the Government. First, that they should use their influence with the Portuguese Government for the purpose of putting a stop to this trade at Macao; secondly, that they should endeavour to induce foreign Governments to adopt the principles of the Bill brought in by the Under Secretary on the preceding night, for the prevention and punishment of criminal outrages upon natives of the islands in the Pacific Ocean; and, lastly, that they should suppress the gambling-houses in Hong Kong. It was a sad and lamentable state of things, when they had fondly hoped that the slave trade had been put down by the exertions of their fathers, that they found themselves still obliged to apply to the Chinese Coolie traffic the words of a poet who wrote nearly a century ago, and they were the last words with which he would trouble the House— The tender ties of father, husband, friend, All bonds of nature in that moment end, And each endures, while he draws his breath, A wound more fatal than the scythe of death.


, in seconding the Motion, tendered his thanks to Her Majesty's Government for the passage in the Queen's Speech, which showed that they were alive to the pressing importance of this subject. If the Bill which would be introduced should prove such a Bill as was promised by the noble Lord the Secretary of State for the Colonies (the Earl of Kimberley) last year, it would have the effect, as far as England was concerned, of stopping the system of kidnapping which had been referred to. The fact was, that at no period had the position of what were called the inferior races been more critical than at the present time. It was supposed that in 1863 a death blow had been given to slavery and the Slave Trade; but it had since been found that slavery was a hard beast to kill, and that it was growing up like a hydra in different parts of the world under the euphonious names of the Apprentice System and Coolie Emigration. The Slave Trade was now practically flourishing in the Fiji Islands, on the East Coast of Africa, in Peru, in Cuba, and more than anywhere else in China, at the Portuguese settlement of Macao. On the other hand, there never was a better time than the present for taking this matter strenuously in hand. What ever might he our differences with the United States in other respects, we were sure of the cordial co-operation of that country in putting down the Slave Trade in all parts of the globe. They had paid much more for the emancipation of their slaves than we had, and they were as proud of their emancipation as we were, and he felt convinced that they would co-operate with Her Majesty's Government in the endeavour to give a final blow to the system. He was sure all the leading nations of Christendom would co-operate with this country in such an object. But it was necessary to go to them with clean hands. The Bill which had been introduced by the Colonial Secretary, and to which he had already referred, would enable us to do this with respect to the Pacific Islands; but we had still a reform of a very pressing nature to carry out at Hong Kong before we could feel satisfied that we had done our duty. With reference to the gambling-houses at Hong Kong, it was perfectly clear from the evidence he had been able to collect, that that system of gambling had fed the Coolie Traffic at Macao. He would not attempt to fix responsibility upon any particular Government, and he would admit that when gambling was first licensed, it was thought that the system would have a beneficial operation upon the natives of Hong Kong. This hope, however, was now entirely frustrated. He must trouble the House with a short sketch of what had taken place in the last two years. The Return which had been already referred to, stated, in September, 1870, that the Lieutenant Governor of Hong Kong, General Whitfield, sent home an announcement that he had received a Minute from the Executive Council advising that the gaming-houses should be closed on the 1st January, 1871; that he had consulted with them, and in accordance with that Minute he had notified to Wo Hang and others that they might continue to hold their licences until the 31st December then next, and no longer. Wo Hang was the Chinaman who was the licensee of the gambling-houses for Hong Kong, and he had paid into the Imperial Exchequer $13,340 a-month on account of these licences. In answer to his despatch, General Whitfield received from the Colonial Office a telegraphic despatch, which probably astonished him not a little. By it he was ordered to issue fresh gambling licences upon the expiration of the old ones, and to make no alteration in the system without instructions. The Secretary for the Colonies wrote also, explaining that a temporary occupant of a Governorship, like General Whitfield, should not, except in a case of great emergency, have taken upon himself to alter the policy of the Governor whose place he was for the moment filling. In consequence of this communication, notices for fresh tenders for licences were issued; but General Whitfield wrote that he had been fully under the impression that no more acceptable action could be taken in the colony than to put an end to the legalization of public gambling. He also said that by the licences being put up to open competition, he believed that an increase of $4,000 or $5,000 a-month, or even more, could be obtained. He was right to some extent, because for the new licences the payment rose to $15,000 a-month. The Lieutenant Governor took no further step in the matter except to send home a memorial, signed by 947 Chinese householders, in March, 1871, remonstrating against the system of having public gambling-houses. He (Mr. Hughes) believed a new Governor was about to go out to Hong Kong, and he trusted that he would take with him peremptory instructions to put an end to this licensed system of gambling. It oppeared that no less than $680,000 was paid on account of the public service of 1871, out of a fund which consisted only of the accumulation of fees for licensed gambling in Hong Kong. Their only course was to put an end to the system. There had been a great outcry against re-introducing into France a system of gambling under the authority of Government, and surely it was worse that we should provide for what were called the inferior races in our colonies a system of gambling established under the authority of the British nation, but which Englishmen were prohibited from using themselves. He hoped, not only that the system would be put an end to, but that the $680,000 would be returned, and expended in some way for the benefit of the inhabitants of Hong Kong, who had been so seriously injured by us in this matter.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House, Copy of Papers relating to the Chinese Coolie Traffic,"—(Mr. Robert Fowler,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, he supposed that no one would deny the horrors incidental to the Coolie traffic from Macao to Peru and Cuba, though perhaps some persons would be inclined to ask why we should be so Quixotic as to interfere in the matter. The first answer to this was that our foreign policy had never been guided by a pounds, shillings, and pence interest in reference to such things as these, and beyond this we had a direct interest in the matter, because the Chinese Government was disposed to acknowledge with gratitude any influence exercised in favour of their subjects abroad. No doubt, also, the inhabitants of the Celestial nation were inclined to lump together all foreigners under the head of "outer barbarians," and, therefore, the odium of this Coolie traffic, whilst it existed, would fall partly upon us. We had, moreover, a direct interest in the subject, inasmuch as our Australian colonies had been greatly benefited by the introduction of Coolie labour. He trusted, therefore, that Her Majesty's Government would give their earnest attention to this matter, and would adopt a course consonant with the generous policy of this country.


trusted Her Majesty's Government would make representations that would induce other Powers to co-operate with them in the suppression of this nefarious traffic. Accordingly, believing that the Portuguese authorities were the most to blame, it seemed to him that a remonstrance addressed to that Government might have a good effect. What was required was a well-regulated system of emigration, which would put an end to the grave evils of the re-apprenticeship system. If the inhabitants of the Pacific Islands were convinced that they would be protected under a system of free Labour, emigration would be stimulated, and much good would result to our colonies.


said, that when the Portuguese Consul at Peru reported that certain coolies had been branded with a hot iron, the Government of Macao had immediately interdicted Coolie emigration from that port. He did not know how the Portuguese Government had met that allegation; but he trusted that Her Majesty's Government would make such representations to that Government as would induce them to put a stop to such a practice, and that they would endeavour to prevent the regulations relating to this traffic from degenerating into mere formalities. The belief that Europeans were engaged in kidnapping Chinese had led to the perpetration of many crimes on the part of the latter people. He thanked Her Majesty's Government for the Bill they had introduced to afford protection to the Pacific Islanders.


said, he should be very sorry were he to underrate the importance of the subject, which had been introduced by the hon. Member for Penrhyn (Mr. R. N. Fowler), in a speech that was worthy of the highest admiration for its humane character; but he wished that the hon. Member had pointed out what steps other than friendly representations and counsel could be taken by Her Majesty's Government with regard to the Portuguese Government in reference to this matter. Since 1853 successive Governments in this country had done their best with regard to the Chinese and other Governments to secure proper regulations being adopted with respect to Coolie emigration. In 1853 the subject attracted the attention not only of the French and other Governments; but Papers were laid before Parliament on the Coolie traffic containing a statement of those negotiations, and in 1855 an Act was passed for the better regulation of the emigration of Chinese in British vessels. That was communicated in a Circular to Her Majesty's Consuls in January, 1856, urging upon them its strict execution. That answered as far as British vessels were concerned; but, unfortunately, it did not prevent the crimping of emigrants in a country like China. Chinese laws forbade the emigration of these natives; but it was connived at, and atrocities were committed, as related in Papers laid before Parliament in 1860. The occupation of Canton in 1859 resulted in establishing a better system of emigration, and Mr. Austin, the Commissioner of the West Indian Labour Agency, founded depôts at Whampoa to replace the crimping which had existed at Canton. The Chinese Governor General recognized these depôts by proclamation, and early in 1860 similar establishments were formed at Swatow. In addition to that, moreover, the free emigration of Chinese was formally stipulated for in the 5th Article of the Treaty of Tien-tsin in October, 1860. In 1865 Prince Kung proposed to Mr. Wade, their Chargé d'Affaires, a set of regulations protecting Chinese emigrating as hired labourers, and on the return of Sir Rutherfurd Alcock these were embodied in a Convention, signed on the 5th of March, 1866. Objections were, however, taken to some of these provisions, both by the French Government and by our own Colonial Office. These objections were the limitation of engagements to five years, the proposal to secure the emigrant a return passage, the restrictions upon the hours of labour, the employment of youths under age, and the probable discontent of the coolies now in the British Colonies, of whom there were 12,000 in British Guiana and Trinidad alone. After various communications, Sir Rutherfurd Alcook was told to propose a modified form of Convention, and it was expected that the old regulations would still remain in force. In June, 1868, the Chinese Government replied to these fresh proposals; they abided by the Convention of 1866, but declined to sanction emigration under the old rules. A long correspondence ensued, and the negotiations were partially suspended owing to the absence of instructions to the French Minister at Pekin. The French Government were now renewing negotiations, which were proceeding at Pekin. As regarded the Chinese Government, it should be remembered that the Treaty of Tien-tsin provided emigration regulations; that the Chinese Government proposed another set of regulations in 1865; that a Convention was made out of them in 1866, which still remained in force; that the Convention was not rati- fied by the British and French Governments, and that negotiations were still proceeding at Pekin as to the exportation from Macao to Peru. In October, 1866, Lord Clarendon instructed Sir A. Magennis to represent to the Portuguese Government that the mortality attendant on emigration from Macao to Peru might be lessened by the adoption of proper regulations. Their reply was, that they would adopt the regulations of the Convention recently signed at Pekin. It did not appear, however, that a stop was put to these abuses. Public attention on the subject had culminated in March, 1869, when Lord Clarendon received a despatch from Mr. Jerningham, stating that 48 Chinamen had been branded as slaves in Peru. The Governor of Macao thereupon prohibited emigration to Callao, and Lord Clarendon directed Sir Charles Murray to remonstrate. In January, 1870, the Portuguese Government informed Sir Charles Murray that the story of the branding was untrue. Meanwhile Her Majesty's Government had determined, as far as in them lay, to discountenance these emigration atrocities, and in 1869 Lord Clarendon informed the Colonial Office that, looking at the way in which Chinese crimps obtained Chinese emigrants, and the sufferings they endured in other countries, and especially in Peru, they intended to prohibit the departure from Hong Kong of Chinese subjects in any other than British vessels to any place not within the dominions of the Queen. This was now in force, and had been communicated to Peru. In November, 1870, occurred the case of the Coolie vessel Nouvelle Penelope, and about the same time the tragedy on board the Dolores Ugarte, stranded at Honolulu, with the sufferings of many coolies on board. Earl Granville addressed a despatch to Lisbon on the subject, calling attention to the continued cruelty and suffering to which the Chinese coolies were subjected, expressing the earnest hope that the Portuguese Government would continue to support and assist the attempt of the Chinese Government to put an end to such atrocities. A further report received from Her Majesty's Consul at Canton in May was communicated to the Portuguese Government last June. But, unfortunately, that was not the only case of atrocity that occurred, for circumstances came to the knowledge of the Government, showing that the Dolores Ugarte, under the name of the Don Juan, was again employed in the Macao Coolie traffic, and was subsequently burnt with 500 coolies on board. On intelligence of this, Earl Granville on the 28th of last July sent an instruction to Mr. Doria to remonstrate in friendly but earnest terms, and he (Viscount Enfield) hoped to be able to produce that despatch, or extracts from it, at a later period of the Session. The Portuguese Government, in reply, excused themselves from the charge of inhumanity, and enclosed a copy of their regulations at Macao for 1871, maintaining that those regulations were sufficient for their purpose if they were properly carried out. As a summary of what England, through her Government, had tried to do, he would mention the Chinese Passenger Act of 1855, the emigration system established in 1860, the formal assent of the Chinese Government to emigration under proper regulations in the Treaty of Tien-tsin, the prohibiting of Hong Kong as a depôt for emigration to any but British colonies and in British ships, and the remonstrances on all occasions with Portugal against the atrocities at Macao. This was how the matter stood up to the close of last year. With regard to Cuba, no very recent accounts had been received by the Government of the treatment of the coolies there; their numbers were very great, but there was reason to believe that they were not exposed to as great sufferings as the coolies in Peru. Our agents did not speak in their reports of any cruelties being exercised towards them. They received much better wages, a cook, he was told—and the Chinese were very expert in cooking—getting something like £10 a month. They were, moreover, subject to no punishments except at the hands of an overseer of their own nation, and if not paid well they would commit suicide, fear of punishment having no effect upon them. Our representative at Cuba reported that the condition of the coolies there was far better off than was the case, from what he had heard, in Peru. He thought the efforts of successive Governments in the way of conventions and friendly remonstrances had not entirely failed of effect. With regard to the Motion, he hoped the hon. Member for Penrhyn would be satisfied with his promise that he would endeavour to present further Papers at the earliest opportunity. The subject was one in which the Foreign Office took a deep interest, and he trusted that, as time went on, their efforts would produce the desired effect, so that the feelings of Englishmen would not be shocked in future years by a repetition of atrocities on which the hon. Member had dwelt with so much force and good taste.


wished, on behalf of the West India planters, to make some observations on the matter. It appeared to him that there were two subjects mixed up together which were wholly different in their character—namely, the emigration of coolies from Hong Kong to the West Indies, and the traffic in coolies from Macao to Cuba and Peru. With regard to the former, nothing could be more beneficial to the Chinese themselves, as well as the West Indies, than this emigration; but, unfortunately, the Convention of Sir Rutherfurd Alcock, unauthorized and still unratified, though very well intended, imposed conditions so onerous upon the system, as to prove almost a complete obstacle to the continuance of that emigration. Those conditions related to the free back-passage of coolies to their country at the termination of five years' service. The practical proof of the success of this emigration, until in 1866 it was so stopped, was the fact that the Chinese brought to the West Indies, after the expiration of their services, remained generally in the West Indies, and many of them entered into fresh indentures after their apprenticeship expired, while others continued to work there as free labourers, and some, after going back to China to invest their savings, returned to service in the West Indies, bringing out their relations. It was only, therefore, to be desired that Sir Rutherfurd Alcock's Convention might be so far altered as to prevent its being an obstruction to this emigration. The West India planters would consent to a free back-passage given after 10 years, instead of five years as required by the Convention. The statement of atrocities incident to the Coolie traffic from the Portuguese Settlement of Macao to Cuba and Peru was no doubt fully borne out—reviving many of the horrors of the old African slave trade. But the regulations of the Portuguese Government on the subject were very much the same as those which the British Government had made in respect to the emigration of coolies from Hong Kong. The evil was the want of power on the part of the Portuguese Government to enforce them. The prevalence of the gambling system in Hong Kong was no doubt to be deplored; but he did not think that the connection said to exist between that system and the Macao traffic in coolies had been satisfactorily made out, unless, indeed, the Chinese, on being ruined by gambling at Hong Kong, sold themselves as coolies to Macao exporters. He, however, concurred in the desirability of putting down those gambling-houses in Hong Kong, as a separate question from that before the House. He doubted whether legislative action could be taken analogous to the measure proposed for checking the Fiji atrocities, for in that case we had one side of the traffic in our own hands—namely, the arrival of the kidnapped slaves in Queensland, a colony where the British authorities could inflict the penalties enacted against such an offence. But when they were dealing with matters under the supervision of the Portuguese Government, and in no part of it coming under our own, he did not see what power the British authorities had except to make remonstrances to that friendly Power, which appeared as anxious as ourselves to attain the same object. The only step we could take beyond remonstrance would be actual treaty. It appeared to him that in this and every opposition to slave trade, our efforts ought rather to be directed to the place of demand for slaves than to that of supply. In all our endeavours to put down that horrible traffic, we might feel assured of the co-operation of France and America on the seas as well as that of the Portuguese Government on the spot. The present check by increased expense to the legitimate and beneficial well-regulated emigration of coolies from Hong Kong, was promoting the objectionable traffic from Macao.


said, he would admit the possibility, that while one of two kinds of coolie emigration referred to was wholly bad, the other might be, to a great extent, good. He hoped the hon. Member for Penryn (Mr. E. N. Fowler) would be satisfied with the Returns offered by the hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies, and with the way in which the offer was made. He was glad the subject had been brought before the House, because it had called attention to a crying evil which had been too much lost sight of. The fact was, that the slave trade, under various forms and varying names, was at this moment as rife in the world as it ever was in the worst times, when so much was heard of the horrors of the Middle Passage. With reference to the coolie traffic from Hong Kong, and the influence of the gambling-houses upon it, he would put it to his hon. Friend the Under Secretary whether it was not a fact that a high official at Hong Kong, who was discharged some years ago for complicity in this traffic, was not only back again in the service of the Government, but using his influence to encourage the coolie traffic as well as to promote gambling-houses? It might be safely left to the Foreign Office to bring the weight of English opinion to bear upon Portugal and Spain in the matter; but though, no doubt, there was a great difference between emigration from Hong Kong and that from Macao, he could not agree with his noble Friend as to the happy state of the coolies in Cuba. Macao had very little trade with any other part of the world, but was maintained almost solely by the gambling-houses and the coolie traffic, which they persisted in carrying on in a manner which was said to be in defiance of the Portuguese authorities.


said, that if he had had any notice of the point which had been raised in regard to the Convention of Sir Rutherford Alcock, he should have been prepared with a detailed statement on the subject. He quite agreed with the propriety of drawing a distinction between the coolie traffic from Macao to South America and that to the West Indies. That task had been so well fulfilled by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Staffordshire (Sir Charles Adderley), that it was only necessary to say, with regard to the importation of Chinese labourers to the colonies of this country, that, if any amendment could be introduced, hon. Gentlemen might rely on the action of Her Majesty's Government, as it was their most earnest desire to do everything to countenance better treatment of the coolies, and to afford increased facilities for their returning home. He had risen on account of the pointed reference which, had been made to the gambling-houses at Hong Kong, and to the telegram which appeared to have excited so much uneasiness in the mind of the hon. Member for Penryn (Mr. B. N. Fowler). With regard to the gambling-houses—supposing that question to be properly connected with the Chinese coolie traffic—hon. Gentlemen must not suppose that that question was entirely one-sided. The Chinese were addicted to two vices—gambling and opium-taking—and it was doubtful whether any law could prevent them from indulging in one practice or the other. Some people were of opinion that the suppression of licences would bring about effects similar to those which they apprehended would result in this country from the passing of the measure of the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson)—that it would lead to a great deal of illicit traffic—and he was bound to say that the information in the possession of the Colonial Office went a great way towards justifying that supposition. That was the theory on which Sir Richard MacDonnell acted, and he must say that the Papers which had been presented to the House somewhat justified that policy. In a despatch dated 12th April, 1870, he stated there was a large diminution of crime. In March, 1870, the Chief Justice of the colony, in his charge to the grand jury, also stated there had been a great diminution of crime in the colony during the administration of Sir Richard MacDonnell—that was, since the establishment of licensed gaming-houses. The Colonial Office instructed General Whitfield not to revoke the licensing system. No doubt he was actuated by the best motives in his intention to do so; but they considered it was a strong measure for a Deputy Governor to suddenly reverse the policy of his predecessor, who was likely at the expiration of his leave to return to his office. Another reason was that the Chief Justice had sent a despatch reflecting on the state of the police, and it was the opinion of the Government that the sudden suppression of these licensed gaming-houses would be productive of great evil in the colony until the police had been reformed. Since that time they had been reformed, and he believed that now the gaming-houses might be reformed without any danger to the public peace. Ever since he had been connected with the Colonial Office, he and his noble Friend (Lord Kimberley) had been of opinion that the encouragement of gambling was an offence against public morality, and they had never wavered in their policy. He heard with regret the remarks of his hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Gilpin). He must say, with great deference to his hon. Friend, that if he had occasion to find fault with any colonial officials, he should name them; or, if he would communicate with him (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen), he would endeavour to obtain for him such information as would prevent him from making any statement against an individual which might afterwards turn out to be unjust.


said, he was in full possession of the information; but he purposely abstained from mentioning any names and addresses, which, however, he was fully prepared to do.


, in conclusion, said, Sir Richard MacDonnell had full instructions to suppress the licensed gambling-houses, and he was now engaged in putting an end to those houses in the colony. He regretted he had not been able to make a full statement upon the general question of coolie labour traffic in moving the introduction of the Pacific Islanders' Protection Bill on the previous evening, but hoped to do so at a future stage of the Bill. He could assure the House that wherever the traffic in slaves existed, Her Majesty's Government would do their best to put it down.


, in reply, said, he would withdraw his Motion, and in doing so would suggest that the Government should communicate with foreign Governments, with a view of making the carrying on of the coolie traffic a breach of International Law.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.