HC Deb 08 July 1872 vol 212 cc798-854

SUPPLY—considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

  1. (1.) £14,483, to complete the sum for Temporary Commissions.
  2. (2.) £2,800, Deep Sea Exploring.
  3. (3.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £4,133, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1873, for the Costs incurred by Ex-Governor Eyre in the various Criminal Prosecutions instituted against him.


said, he thought it right at once to explain under what circumstances it was thought proper to submit this Vote to the Committee. It appeared from the Correspondence which had been laid on the Table, that on the 20th of February, 1868, the late Government undertook, in a letter to Mr. Eyre, to consider the evidence given at his trial, and to see whether that evidence would justify them in making a reasonable payment towards his expenses incurred at that trial. By a letter of the Solicitor to the Treasury, dated the 6th of June, 1868, and written by command of the then Colonial Secretary, the Duke of Buckingham, it was announced to Mr. Eyre that the Government had come to the conclusion that he might send in an account of the expenses he had incurred, with a view to their coming to a decision as to the amount to be paid to him; and in a subsequent letter from the Treasury, the writer of the preceding letter was directed to place himself in communication with Mr. Eyre, for the purpose of ascertaining what amount should be paid him. These circumstances appeared to the present Government to constitute an undertaking on the part of the late Government that they would make a reasonable payment to Mr. Eyre on account of the expenses incurred by him. Under these circumstances, the present Government had to consider what course they ought to pursue, and he apprehended that it was quite clear that, though rival parties succeeded each other in administering the Government, still the Government was one and the same—that was to say, it was the Government of the Queen, and it was necessary that that Government should be carried on continuously, and that the acts of the persons composing the Government should be carried out by their successors, without reference to political feeling. Were it otherwise, it would be impossible to carry on the Public Business, because any person entering into engagements on the assurances or faith of the Government, would always have to decide the question in his own mind whether the Government was likely to continue long in office. Moreover, if that understanding did not prevail, the entering into transactions of any kind would be made very difficult, and the cost of them greatly enhanced. The present Government, consequently, did not feel justified in departing from the practice established as long back as constitutional government began to exist, and they had, therefore, felt it their duty to propose the present Vote.


said, he begged to move the omission of the Vote, although he confessed that it was with regret that he felt himself impelled by a sense of duty to adopt that course. He could at any rate say with truth that he was able to approach the consideration of the question without passion, prepossession, or prejudice. At the time when the Jamaica insurrection took place, and when the terrible circumstances connected with its suppression were agitating—he might almost say convulsing—the country from one end to the other, he was not taking any active part in politics, and he had never expressed any public opinion on the merits of the case, still less was he ever a member of the Jamaica Committee. When he commenced four years ago the canvass of the constituency he had the honour to represent, and when he was asked what he thought of the conduct of Governor Eyre, so entirely did he look upon the subject as even then finally disposed of, that he begged to be excused from going into it. Moreover, he was not one of those hon. Members who addressed strong representations to Her Majesty's Government when, for the first time, at the fag-end of last Session, they placed the Vote upon the Table. He intended in his remarks to confine himself to the questions directly connected with the grant to Mr. Eyre of this particular sum of £4,133 for legal expenses, and he had no objection to offer to the payment to him of the various other sums which the Correspondence laid before the House this Session showed to have been already made. He therefore did not object to his having been paid by the late Government the sum of £300 for his passage money home, even before he applied for it himself; he did not object to his having been allowed by that Government to retain a sum of £200 advanced to him many years previously for a certain journey to England, which circumstances prevented him from undertaking; nor did he object to the late Government paying him £246 for certain furniture purchased by him for Government House, Jamaica, although he understood that that sum, with other items, had previously been disallowed by the Jamaica Assembly. He had nothing to say on the subject of the grant of a retiring pension to Mr. Eyre—a matter frequently referred to in the Correspondence—nor would he offer any remarks respecting his re-employment in the public service, which re-employment, although finally, if somewhat tardily, decided in the negative by Her Majesty's present Advisers, was a question which he thought the correspondence showed plainly enough was likely to receive the favourable consideration of the party of hon. Gentlemen opposite when they returned to office. He also wished to bear testimony to the services rendered by Mr. Eyre to the Crown previous to the assumption by him of the Governorship of Jamaica. He believed him, moreover, to be a man of strict integrity, a gentleman of personal honour and conscientiousness; and he had no doubt that even in these sad Jamaica transactions he was actuated by a sense of what he fancied to be his duty. He (Mr. Bowring) wished to consider to-night what was the nature of the so-called promise made by the late Government to Mr. Eyre to pay his legal expenses, and whether it was accompanied by any conditions which had or had not been fulfilled. He would also ask whether, under the peculiar circumstances of the case, such a promise ought to be considered as binding upon the present Government, and when he used the word "promise" he wished it to be clearly understood that he meant, not a legally binding promise—for of that there was not the slightest trace—but a promise morally or in honour binding. He would then ask whether such promise would in any way bind the free discretion of the House of Commons; and assuming all these points to be disposed of, he would in the last place ask—and this was the most important point of all—whether the merits of the case itself were such as to make it right and proper on the one hand, or even justifiable on the other, for the Committee of Supply to grant to Her Majesty's Government to-night the sum for which they had applied. The hon. Member said that owing to the long time that had elapsed since the occurrences to which his Motion related, it would be necessary that he should lay before the Committee a statement of the facts connected with the Jamaica insurrection and its suppression. The hon. Member then proceeded to narrate from official documents the dreadful history of the outbreak, the outrages perpetrated by the rebels, and the appalling severities with which the insurrection was suppressed and punished. He should scarcely exaggerate, the hon. Member said, if he applied to these transactions the famous words— There ensued a scene of woe the like of which no eye had seen, no heart conceived, and which no tongue can adequately tell. The island of Jamaica was about the size of Yorkshire: it contained a population of about 450,000, of whom 13,000 or 14,000 were whites, 70,000 or 80,000 mulattos, and the remaining 350,000 negroes. The first disturbances occurred in the parish of St. Thomas-in-the-East—the South East extremity of the island, where there was a riot on the 7th October, 1865, at the town of Morant Bay. The action of the magistrates in restoring order led to the more general outbreak which had been called the insurrection or rebellion, but which practically never extended much beyond its original district. The rebellion was entirely crushed on the 20th October. In his address to the Legislature on the opening of the Assembly on November 8th, Governor Eyre stated that— The rebellion was headed, checked, and hemmed in in three days; within a week it was fairly crushed. So wide-spread a rebellion, so rapidly and so effectually put down, is not, I believe, to be met with in history. Martial law, however—which had been proclaimed by Governor Eyre at the first intelligence of the outbreak, and which extended over the whole island except the city and parish of Kingston—remained in force for 30 days. The severities which had excited so much indignation extended over the whole period—439 persons (including both men and women) were executed—but of these 114 were put to death before the 20th October, 52 on that day, and 273 on the 25 following days: 600 persons were flogged—many with great barbarity. The hon. Member here read from the Report of the Commissioners reports and letters from officers engaged in suppressing the outbreak which induced the Lord Chief Justice of England to declare, in his famous charge to the grand jury on the trial of Colonel Nelson and Lieutenant Brand, that— This hunting up of rebels by the soldiers, this prolonged martial law, and this fearful amount of execution, these terrible scourgings with instruments of torture hitherto unknown and unheard of, are things which bring a reproach not only upon those who were parties to them, but upon the very name of Englishmen. But it would doubtless be asked—Did Governor Eyre really make himself responsible for all these terrible proceedings? Unfortunately, the only answer was, Yes! He (Mr. Bowring) had searched in vain for any evidence of his having repudiated or even regretted them. On the contrary, he wrote to the Government on October 20th—"The whole responsibility of what has been done rests with me." In opening the Assembly on November 8th, he spoke in the highest terms of all employed, especially Colonel Nelson, Lieutenant Brand, and Colonel Hobbs. On December 8th, he wrote to the Colonial Secretary as follows:— I do not consider that the punishment has been greater than the crime merited, or than was necessary to prevent a recurrence of it. And lastly, from the retirement of his country seat, he wrote, in January, 1866, again claiming as a merit the entire responsibility of what had occurred. In this assumption of responsibility for every act of every subordinate we may respect the chivalry of the official chief willing to shield all these subordinates, but we can scarcely recognize in it the humanity of the man, or trace in it the sagacity of the statesman able to grapple with great emergencies. The hon. Member then referred to the appointment—in consequence of the strong feeling that had arisen in England on the subject—of the Royal Commission, in December, 1865. It was composed of the present Surveyor General of Ordnance (Sir Henry Storks), the Recorder of London (Mr. Russell Gurney), and the Recorder of Leeds (Mr. Maule); with Mr. Roundell as Secretary. A more admirable body could not have been found; and the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) had borne them this testimony—that It would be generally admitted that by their acuteness and assiduity these eminent persons had quite justified the confidence placed in them by the Sovereign and the country. The hon. Member then quoted a summary of the Report of the Royal Commission, and called attention to the fact that the praise given by them to the conduct of Governor Eyre was distinctly confined to the early stages of the insurrection, making their condemnation of his later proceedings still more marked. The justification for the measures taken by him in the first instance was to be found in their immediate and complete success. In one week, from the proclamation of martial law on October 13th, all danger requiring its continuance was at an end, and the insurrection fairly under control. But, on the other hand, the Commissioners strongly condemned the long-continued enforcement of martial law, their concluding finding being that— By the continuance of martial law in its full force to the extreme limit of its statutory operation, the people were deprived for a longer than the necessary period of the great constitutional privileges by which the security of life and property is provided for. Similarly strong language was used in the debate in that House of July 31st, 1866, by the right hon. Gentleman now Secretary for War, and by the hon. and learned Member for Richmond, and the following Resolution was unanimously agreed to by the House on that occasion, on the Motion of his lamented Friend, Mr. Buxton, after the late Government had unsuccessfully moved the Previous Question— This House deplores the excessive punishments which followed the suppression of the disturbances of October last in the parish of St. Thomas, Jamaica, and especially the unnecessary frequency with which the punishment of death was inflicted. The sole excuse for this incredible severity was the alleged deep-seated disaffection in Jamaica. But how could that be reconciled with the great prosperity and loyalty of the colony ever since Sir Peter Grant had replaced Mr. Eyre in the Governorship? Sir Henry Storks reported in August, 1866, that "perfect tranquillity prevailed throughout the island of Jamaica," and Sir Peter Grant made a similar statement at the end of 1867, adding that— A state of contentment and willing obedience to the law, in striking contrast with the state of feeling reported to have existed in 1865, has shown itself, not only in an absence of all riotous spirit, but in a great diminution of ordinary crime. A similar satisfactory state of affairs existed up to the present moment. In consequence of the Report of the Commissioners Mr. Eyre was removed from office. The hon. Member then narrated the case of the execution of George William Gordon. He believed that Governor Eyre was honestly under the mistaken conviction that Mr. Gordon was at the bottom of the insurrection; and it was certain that he at once issued orders for his arrest. Mr. Gordon surrendered himself in Kingston, which was not under martial law, and he was then placed on board ship, and, in direct opposition to the advice of Mr. Westmoreland, a member of the executive committee, Governor Eyre ordered him to be conveyed to Morant Bay, which was under martial law. Mr. Gordon was tried by a court consisting of Lieutenant Brand, another lieutenant, and an ensign. A letter sent to him, suggesting what line of defence he should adopt, was purposely with held from him by the officer in command. He was not allowed counsel, and the postponement of the trial, which was asked for, for the production of an important witness, was refused. Mr. Gordon was sentenced on evidence which the Lord Chief Justice described as "utterly inconclusive and worthless," and was hanged, with 18 others, on October 23rd. The Commissioners declared that the evidence against Mr. Gordon was wholly insufficient to establish the charge upon which he took his trial; and the Colonial Secretary of the day, Lord Carnarvon, his successor in office under the late Government, the right hon. and learned Member for Southampton (Mr. Russell Gurney), and the Lord Chief Justice had all spoken in the same sense. The Lord Chief Justice in particular used the following noble words on the subject:— No one, I think, who has the faintest idea of what the administration of justice involves, could deem the proceedings on this trial consistent with justice, or, to use a homely phrase, with that fair play which is the right of the commonest criminal. All I can say is that if, on martial law being proclaimed, a man can lawfully be thus tried, condemned, and sacrificed, such a state of things is a scandal and a reproach to the institutions of this great and free country; and, as a minister of justice profoundly imbued with a sense of what is due to the first and greatest of earthly obligations, I enter my solemn and emphatic protest against the lives of men being thus dealt with in the time to come. These being the facts of the case, was it not natural that the conscience of the country should be deeply stirred, and that a strong desire should be felt to test the legality of acts thus condemned by the Commissioners, two successive Governments, and the House of Commons, and which were only protected by an Act of Indemnity passed by the Jamaica Assembly with the concurrence of Mr. Eyre himself on November 10th, 1865, whilst the panic still continued, martial law still existed, and executions were still in progress? The necessity of such legal proceedings was recognized in the debate of July, 1866, by several speakers, and the late Government again and again declined to defend Mr. Eyre. The Lord Chief Justice employed the following significant words:— If Mr. Gordon had not been put to death, but had been subjected to some minor punishment, some of those scourgings or other things that we have heard of in Jamaica, if he had come to England and had brought an action for damages against Governor Eyre, it may well be that a jury of Englishmen, presided over by an English Judge, would have awarded him exemplary damages for the wrong that had been done him. He (Mr. Bowring) presumed that in that case no man in his senses would have proposed that the country should pay the cost of Mr. Eyre's defence; and yet because, instead of being merely flogged, Mr. Gordon had been put to death, and a verdict could not be obtained against Mr. Eyre owing to legal technicalities, the public were asked to pay all his legal expenses! The hon. Member then detailed the various proceedings, civil and criminal, instituted against Gover- nor Eyre, and showed that in no single instance had a decision ever been arrived at upon the merits of the case after a full investigation and examination of witnesses on both sides. Coming now to the pecuniary question before the Committee, he quoted an extract from a speech made by the First Lord of the Treasury on August 11th, 1871, to the effect that the Government felt themselves bound by a recorded pledge given to Mr. Eyre by the late Government to pay his legal expenses. He must protest against the doctrine that in such a matter any Government could be held as in any way bound by the promises of its political opponents. The letter from the Colonial Office to Mr. Eyre, dated February 7th, 1867, on which the whole question turned, merely said that the then Government Held themselves free to consider how far the evidence adduced in the course of the proceedings might justify them in re-imbursing him any reasonable expenses which he may have incurred, and even this statement was made on Mr. Eyre's complaint of the "enormous expenditure" to which he would be put in defending himself. On June 6th, 1868, the Colonial Office asked Mr. Eyre to send in "for their consideration" a statement of the costs incurred by him, and on June 15th he forwarded a demand amounting to £3,790 14s. 8d. without any particulars. On July 1st he was requested to supply a detailed account of the costs. This was the last communication that passed between the late Government and Mr. Eyre. The Correspondence between the Colonial Office and the Treasury up to the very last showed that no decision whatever was arrived at by the Treasury as to the payment of the whole or any part of Mr. Eyre's expenses. So little did Mr. Eyre himself consider that any promise had been made to him, that he wrote to the Duke of Buckingham on March 21st, 1868, complaining of Having been left unaided and unsupported by the Government to struggle, as he best could, against misrepresentations and against prosecutions, both civil and criminal, by which he had been assailed. He (Mr. Bowring) had already shown that one of the conditions on which the late Government undertook to consider the question—namely, that a jury of Mr. Eyre's countrymen should pronounce a verdict on the merits of the case, had never been fulfilled. But what of the other condition—namely, the enormous sum which Mr. Eyre expected to be out of pocket by these trials? The hon. Member here quoted the prospectuses of the "Eyre Defence and Aid Fund" and the "Eyre Testimonial Fund" respectively, and said that he had reason to believe that £13,000 had been raised for the former by public subscription, and £3,000 for the latter. He knew that a relative of his own had contributed £300 to the Defence Fund. His contention was, that under these circumstances no claim whatever could be advanced by Mr. Eyre, based on the so-called promises of the late Government. As respects the present Government, he regretted that they did not make inquiries as to the notorious fact of the existence of these funds before embarking in the question of the payment of these expenses, and so escape their present difficulty. No communication, however, passed between that Government and Mr. Eyre implying any promise on their part to pay these expenses until June 30th, 1871, when they informed him that "in fulfilment of the undertaking given by Her Majesty's late Government," they would propose the present Vote. He (Mr. Bowring) had shown that no such undertaking had been given by the late Government, and he contended that the proposition forming the basis of the Prime Minister's speech of August last had fallen through. It remained for him to call attention to a remarkable delay which had taken place on the part of the late Government in dealing with this matter. The Colonial Office wrote to the Treasury on July 31st, 1868, asking for their decision; but for three whole months no notice was taken of this letter, not even to the extent of referring the Papers to the Treasury Solicitor in the same building, and the Colonial Office had to send a reminder to the Treasury on October 27th. It was not for him to suggest a reason for the delay; but he thought that it required an explanation from the late Government, especially when it was remembered that it coincided with the period of the General Election, when the questions relating to the conduct of Governor Eyre were likely to be—and were, in fact—much discussed. In any case the result had been, not only that the claim on the part of Mr. Eyre had been increased by some hundreds of pounds—namely, from £3,790 14s. 8d. already mentioned, to the present Vote of £4,132 0s. 4d.—but that the present Government had had cast upon them the odium of proposing the present Vote. It was unnecessary for him to argue the question as to whether the House of Commons was in any way bound by any promises made by the Executive Government. It was universally admitted that they were absolutely free agents, and it would, indeed, be monstrous if it were otherwise. He would now state, in one or two sentences, what were his objections to the present Vote. He objected to it because it re-opened an unfortunate controversy, which all supposed had been many years ago closed for ever; he objected to it because it would be misunderstood by the public, and especially by the working classes, who, he had reason to know, were watching this debate with keen interest. ["No!"] Hon. Gentlemen who cried No! were not aware of the interest taken by them in the subject. He could state, as a fact, that within the last few hours earnest remonstrances against this Vote had been addressed to the Prime Minister by the leading representatives of those classes. They did not understand fine-drawn distinctions, but had a rough-and-ready manner of their own of weighing political questions, and they would assuredly look upon this Vote as tantamount to an approval of the conduct of Governor Eyre, and to a cancellation of the Vote of Censure of 1866. He also objected to this Vote because, if it passed, he did not see how Parliament could in honour refuse to pay to Colonel Nelson and Mr. Brand the heavy legal expenses to which they, as Governor Eyre's subordinates, had been subjected in the trials brought against them. He objected to the Vote because it might raise the question of Parliament paying the costs of the prosecution as well as of the defence. He objected to it because it would be unfair to grant it after successive Governments had declined to make any compensation to Mrs. Gordon or the other innocent sufferers by the rebellion, although the principle of such compensation had been distinctly admitted by the right hon. Member for Staffordshire, as the organ of the late Government, in his speech on the 30th of July, 1866; and, in the last place, he objected to it be- cause it would set an evil precedent to those in authority in our distant Possessions, who might be unfortunately called upon to exercise what was an undoubted prerogative of the Crown—namely, the suppression of rebellion with a firm and heavy hand, but who might be encouraged to take shelter under Acts of Indemnity, passed, it might be, at their own instigation, and then disregard the sacred rights of humanity and be forgetful of that which after all was the highest and noblest prerogative of the British Crown—the meting out of equal justice to all classes of Her Majesty's subjects, whatever might be their rank, their race, or their colour. He begged to apologize most sincerely for the great length at which he had detained the Committee—it being equally against his custom and his inclination to make long speeches. But he submitted that he had established all the propositions which at the outset he stated he should bring forward; he had shown that on the merits of the case it was not expedient that the Committee of Supply should grant to the Government the sum now applied for; he had contended—what was not disputed—that the House of Commons was a free agent to act in any manner which it thought proper; he had shown that the present Government under the peculiar circumstances of the case could not be considered as in any way committed by any promises made by its predecessors in office; and lastly, he had proved that the so-called promise made to Mr. Eyre by the late Government was in reality no promise at all, and that such as it was, it was made contingent upon the joint and several fulfilment of two conditions, neither of which had been fulfilled, the one being that Mr. Eyre should be a large pecuniary loser by the actions instituted against him; the other that a jury of his countrymen should arrive at a verdict on the whole question after hearing evidence on both sides. In conclusion, he asked the Committee to reject this Vote primarily on what he would call the lowest—namely, the pecuniary ground, seeing that it was the especial function of the Committee of Supply, whilst freely granting to Her Majesty all the sums really required for the public service, at the same time jealously to watch over the public purse and protect the interests of the British taxpayer. But he also asked the Committee to re- ject the Vote on other and higher grounds. He asked them to do so because to grant it would in effect be to compel the whole population of the country, to the great distaste and repugnance, to say the least of it, of vast numbers amongst them, to make a forced contribution to that special testimonial fund which was organized by the friends and admirers of Mr. Eyre, seeing that those legal expenses to which it was nominally to be applied had many years since been defrayed two or three times over by voluntary private subscriptions. He also asked the Committee to reject the Vote because to grant it would virtually be to cast to the winds, as idle and unmeaning words, that solemn Vote of Censure which this House deliberately and unanimously placed upon its Journals in 1866—a Vote of Censure which up to the present moment had remained alike uncancelled and unchallenged. And lastly, he asked—he would almost say he implored—the House of Commons to reject this Vote in the name of the best and truest interests of civilization, in the name of the noblest instincts of humanity, and in the name of truth, which was undying—of mercy, which was heaven-born, and of justice, which was eternal.


said, the hon. Gentleman had asked the Committee to reject the Vote under notice, on the ground that it re-opened the whole Jamaica question. He (Sir Charles Adderley) deprecated the renewal of that question after seven years, and thought the Motion of the hon. Gentleman ought to be peremptorily rejected for the selfsame reason, for he had re-opened the whole Jamaica question in a manner which could only tend to injustice and cruelty. The hon. Gentleman said that the people of England were waiting to learn the result of the discussion, thereby assuming that the people sympathized with him; but he (Sir Charles Adderley) believed the people of England would stand by the House of Commons in doing justice to a public servant who, in a crisis of the greatest peril and difficulty, had, even in the opinion of his worst enemies, only erred in judgment, and honestly done his duty, who, after being tried by every sort of tribunal, had been acquitted by them all, and who being now a doubly-ruined man, by the loss of office and promotion, and by the loss of fortune incurred in defending himself from the persevering persecution to which he had been so cruelly exposed, now came to this House for the payment of expenses, which he should show was invariably made under similar circumstances. The hon. Gentleman talked of justice, and to show his own notions of it had raked up the whole history of the Jamaica insurrection, without connecting any of the facts with guilt on the part of Mr. Eyre. They all deplored the facts; but had the hon. Gentleman, or his friends who cheered him, a monopoly of humanity, or did they even equally with Mr. Eyre himself deplore what had occurred in Jamaica in 1865? He stated that Mr. Eyre had been prosecuted twice for murder, but twice prosecution had utterly broken down; and now the hon. Gentleman set up a new and more venomous imputation, told them that Mr. Eyre had a grudge against Gordon, whom he allowed to be hung. [Mr. BOWRING said, he had only quoted a Parliamentary document.] The hon. Gentleman quoted the extract to make an impression on the House to the prejudice of Mr. Eyre; but it now seemed that he did so gratuitously, although he did not adopt the quotation himself. However the fact might be, he (Sir Charles Adderley) earnestly protested against the gratuitous imputation of such a grudge on the part of Mr. Eyre. Yet, after all, the hon. Gentleman acknowledged that Mr. Eyre had been guided by a sense of duty. Such was the hon. Gentleman's notion of a sense of duty. The question they had now to consider was this—whether Mr. Eyre should be re-imbursed the expense he had been put to in defending himself against prosecutions and proceedings for his conduct of the government of Jamaica? The official practice was this, so far as he could ascertain—when a public servant was brought to trial for his conduct in a public duty, his expenses were repaid. That was so not only in the case of an acquittal, but even if the public servant was condemned, provided his misconduct went no further than an error in judgment, his expenses were repaid to him. He challenged any hon. Member on the Treasury Bench to deny that such was the usage and practice of the office. Why should that usage be in this case departed from? He must accuse the Government of what he ventured to call, with all respect, rather shabby conduct on this occasion. The Chancellor of the Exchequer rose to move the Vote. He knew it was about to be challenged, and how did he sustain it? Not by expressing his own opinion of the merits of the question, or the justice of the Vote, but simply by stating that they were bound by the conduct of previous Governments. Was that the line which the Government ought to take on such a question? If they thought the Vote ought not to pass, let them have the courage to come forward manfully and say so, and not say that they were bound by the promise of the previous Government. He said that was, in any case, unworthy of them. But were they bound by the promise of the previous Government? He disputed the fact, and on the part of the late Government, so far as he was able, he had no hesitation in releasing them from any obligation they might consider themselves under. In what way could they be bound in honour to Mr. Eyre to carry out expectations wrongly raised by their predecessors? He maintained they were in no way bound by any such promise of a previous Government if they thought the Vote ought not to pass. They were not doing justice to the public if they allowed a Vote to pass of which such was their opinion. At least, they should give their opinion one way or another. The promise made by the late Government amounted only to a request on the part of the office for the documents on which they could make up their minds what expenses should be paid. Of course, where a Government asked for an account, unless there was something found against it, they would be bound to pay it. But after the present Government succeeded to the possession of that letter, was any demur ever made or any question raised about it by the right hon. Gentleman opposite? Supposing anything to be due to Mr. Eyre, it was a cruel injustice to him to have kept the matter in suspense so long, and yet the First Lord of the Treasury last year postponed the Vote, merely because a Question from below the gangway indicated that it would be opposed—an example of that sensitive obsequiousness to hon. Members below the gangway, which caused them habitually to address the House with their backs to the Chair. The hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Bowring) said he brought the subject forward with pain and without prejudice; by his speech he should have thought the reverse: he did not know whether the hon. Member had anything to do with a document circulated that morning, which contained simply a mass of prejudiced misrepresentation. [Mr. BOWRING: Nothing whatever.] That memorial misrepresented the case from the beginning to the end. He would not weary the House by re-entering upon the whole question of the Jamaica Insurrection, and he hoped this would not be treated as a party question. If that were to be so, the occupants of the Treasury Bench would have to defend their own part in the proceedings, for it was only in its later stages that the late Government had anything to do with the matter. Nothing was by the late, or preceding Government, attributed to Governor Eyre but error in judgment, and when the contemporary debate took place that had been considered venial by the House of Commons, who knew the difficulties by which he was surrounded. The present Secretary for War (Mr. Cardwell) was Secretary for the Colonies, when the Royal Commission, of which the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Russell Gurney) was the head, was issued. That right hon. and learned Gentleman could tell the House a great deal upon this subject. The Report was not condemnatory of Governor Eyre, but rather showed that praise was due to him for the vigour with which he put down the Insurrection, while deploring the excesses which took place under martial law, and the too long continuance of it. Mr. Eyre continued martial law under a mistaken impression that he could not terminate it by the local Act in less than a month; and the punishments that were inflicted were not within his personal knowledge at the time, nor under his responsibility, and were inflicted by persons in a state of panic whose conduct had, nevertheless, since been condoned by Act of Indemnity. He (Sir Charles Adderley) complained that the self-constituted Jamaica Committee always spoke of the Insurrection as a mere disturbance, with aview of diminishing its importance, and so exaggerating the excess of violence used in subduing it. He appealed to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Recorder whether, in his opinion, if it had not been for the unexpected fidelity of the Maroons, it was not probable every White man in the whole island would not have been massacred. He believed that was the opinion of all the best judges who were in the island at the time. Writing calmly and impartially, the then Colonial Secretary (Mr. Cardwell) did not condemn Mr. Eyre even for the execution of Mr. Gordon, but merely said that Mr. Eyre ought to have acted with more hesitation, which was equivalent to charging him only with error of judgment and inconsiderate mode of proceeding; and after this lapse of time it was cruel injustice to Mr. Eyre to revive the accusations against him which were proved unwarrantable at the time, and now were unmitigated malice. But the Jamaica Committee consisted of Abolitionists, who were in sympathy with the Baptists in the island, and they did not think anything could justify the execution of a Baptist any more than in the case of the Ceylon riots the present Premier could be persuaded that anything could justify the hanging of a priest. When the question was brought before the House on the proper occasion, the parts of the Resolutions moved by Mr. Buxton reflecting on Mr. Eyre were struck out; and it was incumbent on those who now revived the memory of those atrocities with a view to the prejudice of Mr. Eyre, in a still calmer distance from the time and scene in which he had to perform his difficult part, to set up a new theory to connect him with the commission of those atrocities more than they had previously done. The Jamaica Committee attempted to prosecute Mr. Eyre for murder; but, after a most able argument by eminent counsel, the decision was that there was no case. Then the magistrates of the metropolis dismissed another attempted case. Then Mr. Eyre was tried before Justice Blackburn and acquitted. And now the hon. Gentleman opposite thought that the people of this country had forgotten all those things, only recollected the Jamaica tragedy and the name of Eyre, and that he, in the name of humanity, could so far prejudice the minds of the House of Commons as to induce them practically to inflict a fine on Mr. Eyre by refusing this Vote of £4,000, by all usage, and by strict justice due to him. All the injustice the hon. Member accused Mr. Byre of would, if true, hardly be equal to the cold-blooded injustice of such a proceeding, and he (Sir Charles Adderley) did not see how the hon. Gentleman could for a moment expect the House to consent. But the most ungenerous argument of all was that Mr. Eyre had a sum of money subscribed by his friends for his defence, and that the public need not pay over again what had been so provided. He appealed to those friends—many in the House—who, very much to their honour, had come forward with money to assist Mr. Eyre, whether it was not true that they raised that sum of money not only to pay the cost of his defence, but in order to give him something to fall back upon in lieu of the professional income which he had lost, and the loss of which left him a ruined man? When these humane men had raised some £10,000 in hand they all knew that that leech—the legal profession—as long as there was any blood to get, was not likely to let go their chance, and they proceeded with successive attacks until the money was wholly exhausted. He only wanted to say one thing about Mr. Eyre personal to himself, because it had been inferred that as he dated letters from "Adderley Hall," he (Sir Charles Adderley) had some interest in him. Now, the fact was that he had never seen Mr. Eyre or Adderley Hall in his life, and had no personal interest in him or in that place whatever; but he hoped that every honourable man in the country would sympathize with him in the treatment he had received at the hands of a very small and prejudiced number of his fellow-countrymen, and which had been kept up with unexhausted malignity for seven years, and was now attempted to be re-invigorated by fresh scandal being thrown in to set the House against him.


said, he was not going to enlarge on the matter of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down; but in reference to its tone, he would appeal to the House whether the right hon. Gentleman had set it an example of the calmness which he wanted to inculcate, or whether, to the utmost of his power, he had not attempted to stir up feelings which the right hon. Gentleman professed—he had almost said pretended—to deprecate? There were still men in this country who deemed that the proper position of a Briton was to have his foot on the neck of somebody, and if that somebody possessed a skin not coloured like his own, that that foot should rest the heavier and weightier. But he (Mr. Gilpin) told the right hon. Gentleman that he appeared as a sympathizer with the oppressor, and not with the oppressed. He had to ask him, when he said that ex-Governor Eyre had received a Vote of Indemnity from his own Assembly in Jamaica, what that Vote would have been if the representation of the people of Jamaica had rested on the same bases as the representation of the people of England? What did the right hon. Gentleman think would have been the result of the Vote of Indemnity then? He (Mr. Gilpin) was as unacquainted as the right hon. Gentleman with ex-Governor Eyre. He therefore defied him to point out one single reason that he (Mr. Gilpin) could possibly have for malignity in entering into this discussion. From his very earliest life he had endeavoured to do justice between man and man; but there was this difference between the right hon. Gentleman and himself—that he recognized man as man, whether they were Governors or governed, and claimed equal rights for all. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Recorder for London. There was no man in this House to whose judgment he (Mr. Gilpin) would rather bow in a matter of this sort. ["Divide!"] The hon. Gentlemen below the gangway who were hungry might as well go at once; but this debate was not going to end before dinner-time. They were going to have it argued out. And if the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Charles Adderley) thought that only a small number of the working classes was represented in the circular which had been sent round that morning, and which he knew as little of as the right hon. Gentleman, he could tell him that many of the names attached to it were the names of representative men—men representing a large number of the working classes of this country. The right hon. Gentleman had used terms which, considering the position he had held in Her Majesty's Government, and might yet hold, and in which he might have to do with Colonial Governors, were not wise. It was not wise to point the finger of scorn at the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Bowring) and talk to him about being the apostle of humanity. His hon Friend claimed no such distinction. When the right hon. Gentleman said that the fund raised for Mr. Eyre was not a defence fund, he (Mr. Gilpin) could, in reply, point to a circular he had received, headed "Eyre Defence Fund." ["Oh, oh!"] Well, they might "oh" away, but these expenses had been paid already, and therefore that Vote would be so much out of the pockets of the taxpayers of this country. He extremely regretted that the Government had brought forward this proposal. Where Her Majesty's Government had shown weakness, was in adopting the proposal of the former Government on this subject. It was said that Mr. Eyre had been tried and honourably acquitted; but, as far as he knew, he had never been fairly brought to trial. He (Mr. Gilpin) would willingly wipe out as with a sponge much that had taken place; but making every allowance for his acts during a time of great excitement, there was yet the name of George William Gordon which must live in letters of fire in the memory of Governor Eyre as long as he lived. George William Gordon was an educated man and a Member of the Assembly, and he had uniformly and strongly opposed Governor Eyre and the Government. He was in a place as safe as London if the law had been respected—namely, in Kingston, which was not proclaimed. Mr. Gordon having offered himself for arrest, Governor Eyre took him in his vessel, the Wolverine, from Kingston, where he was safe, to Morant Bay, and handed him over not for fair trial, but for execution. Making all the excuses they could for the behaviour of Governor Eyre during the Saturnalia of blood that reigned throughout a portion of Jamaica, there could be no doubt in the mind of any Englishman loving truth and justice that Mr. Gordon was a murdered man. The evidence given against him was not enough to have convicted a child charged with pocket-picking in this country. He (Mr. Gilpin) called upon certain Members of the Government not on this occasion to go into the lobby in support of this Vote. He called first upon the President of the Local Government Board, who sympathized with liberty all the world over; secondly, upon the Vice President of the Council of Education, whose honoured and revered father laid down a martyr life in the anti-Slavery cause; thirdly, upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, if he had any money to spare, should rather expend it in repairing the mischief done in the villages which, under the orders of Governor Eyre and his subordinates, were desolated; and, lastly, he called upon his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government, who had shown his sympathy with human suffering and woe in a foreign country, to vindicate the principles which he had so long professed and adorned, and to object even at the last moment to the carrying of a Vote which would be regarded out-of-doors as giving the sanction of that House to deeds such as that of the murder of Mr. Gordon.


said, the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Bowring), who had brought forward the Motion, said in his opening statement that he had brought it forward in the interest of the ratepayers, for he (Colonel North) found that the hon. Member in 1850 was appointed précis writer to the Board of Trade at a salary of £300 a-year. In 1854 the hon. Gentleman was promoted to the registrarship and librarianship of the Board at a salary of £800 a-year. But the office was found to be useless, for in 1864 the office of registrar was done away with, and instead of the hon. Gentleman continuing the office of librarian at a reduced income, it appeared by the Returns of the House that the ratepayers had to pay £426 a-year for the very distinguished, services of the hon. Gentleman. [Mr. BOWRING: No, no!] Why, he (Colonel North) saw in the Returns which he held in his hand that a sum of £426 13s. 4d. was paid to the hon. Gentleman. [Mr. BOWRING: Not one farthing of that Vote will ever reach my pocket.] In that case he would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer into whose pocket it did go. ["Question, question!"] The hon. Gentleman ought to have been the last Member of the House to have brought forward such a Motion out of consideration for the pockets of the ratepayers of this country. Now, the Correspondence which he held in his hand was about the most disgraceful to this country of any Correspondence which was ever laid on the Table of that House. It was an official account of the seven years' persecution of a most distinguished public servant, whose only crime had been to save the Colony of Jamaica to the Crown, and the lives of thousands of his fellow-countrymen. On the 11th of August last year they had come down to the House for the purpose of considering the Vote now before it, but it was withdrawn, and the discussion had been postponed till the present Session. He would draw the attention of the Committee to a letter from the right hon. Gentleman the present Secretary of State for War, who was at the time Colonial Minister, addressed to Governor Eyre, and dated 17th November, 1865. In that document Mr. Cardwell admitted the skill and vigour with which the disturbance had been suppressed, and the large degree to which that result was owing to Mr. Eyre's personal exertions and promptitude; he agreed that the Council of War had good ground for recommending the proclamation of martial law, and that that course had been justified; that the naval and military operations were prompt and judicious, and had been wisely planned and superintended by Mr. Eyre; and it was only after these just tributes to his conduct that the reasons were given why in the opinion of the Government it was not desirable that he should return to his government of the island. But how could Mr. Eyre or any man have supposed that such a letter meant that he was not to be employed in the public service again, and that even the expenses now included in this Vote would be so long refused him? Now, it was admitted that the fate of Jamaica, when the disturbance broke out, depended upon the course that was adopted within the first 48 hours. Among the many exaggerations that had been circulated on the subject one of the most flagrant concerned the number of troops that were under Mr. Eyre's orders at the time. Mr. Buxton had estimated it at 3,000 men—the truth being that there were 1,234 non-commissioned officers and men (of whom 91 were in hospital and 50 in prison); that 542 of that number were negroes, upon whose fidelity no great reliance was placed at the time, though, in fact, they behaved admirably; and that there were five garrisons, including that of Spanish Town, which had to be garrisoned by detachments from these troops. No as- sistance was obtained until more than 20 days after the outbreak of the disturbance. In regard to the strength of the available naval forces, Mr. Buxton's statements were equally exaggerated. He had said that there were 13 vessels with 1,700 men, who could have been called upon at very short notice for assistance; whereas the number was really only eight vessels and 1,200 men. It was difficult, therefore, to over-estimate the danger and difficulty of Mr. Eyre's position when the outrages of the negroes first began. Governor Eyre entered the public service in 1841, and was made successively Lieutenant Governor of New Zealand, of St. Vincent, South Australia, Governor in charge of the Leeward Islands, and Lieutenant Governor, and finally Governor of Jamaica; but what had his reward been? These: In 1866, a civil action in the Exchequer Court; in 1866, another action in the same Court; 1867, criminal proceedings at Market Drayton, on a charge of murder; in 1867, a civil action in the Court of Queen's Bench; in 1867, another action in the same Court; in 1868, criminal proceedings against him before Sir Thomas Henry; in 1868, criminal proceedings against him before the Bow Street magistrate; in 1868, a criminal indictment in the Court of Queen's Bench before the Grand Jury (who threw out the Bill on all its points); in 1868, various steps in the civil actions; in 1869, the judgment of Chief Justice Cockburn in his favour; and in 1870, the unanimous decision of the Judges of the Exchequer Chamber in his favour, which ended the business as regarded the Law Courts. In addition to all that, a Royal Commission was sent out, and pending its inquiries he was suspended from his appointment, and finally removed upon the completion of that Commission's labour, and the presentation of their Report. Such was the welcome Mr. Eyre had met with after a quarter of a century of distinguished and conscientious service. As he had himself stated in his Memorial to the Treasury, the result was that he had been deprived of pension, of re-employment in the public service, and had been put to such heavy and incessant expenses that he had been compelled to live upon the small principal that he had possessed, and thus to provide for the necessities of the present at the cost of the future. The undue prolongation of the period during which martial law prevailed had been brought as a serious charge against Mr. Eyre; yet after Sir Peter Grant had been installed as Governor the regular tribunals had sentenced two persons to death, 15 to penal servitude for life, 11 to penal servitude for 20 years, two to penal servitude for 10 years, and one to penal servitude for two years (among them being seven women), for having taken part in the disturbances—a sufficient proof that in spite of the reign of martial law many undoubted criminals had escaped. To those, then, who were inclined to take an unfavourable view of Governor Eyre's proceedings during the Jamaica Rebellion, he would recall the facts stated in the Commissioners' Report. The Commissioners found that a fortnight before the final outbreak the negroes were arming, drilling, and loudly proclaiming that they were about to commence a war of colour. At the same time the Civil War was raging in America, and the Black population of Hayti were in actual insurrection. It was upon the advice of the Council that the proclamation was issued, and the exception of Kingston from its operation went to show that martial law would not be continued one moment longer than was necessary; and it should also be borne in mind that in the proclaimed district the control was in the hands, not of the Governor, but of the general officer. He hoped that the result of the discussion would be not only the payment of the amount proposed, but that the country would feel that this distinguished man, who had served for several years in the colonies, would not only receive the grant of a pension but another appointment.


said, he rose to speak upon the subject with great reluctance, for he would at once admit that Governor Eyre had earned a fair and honourable reputation, and that he was appointed Governor of Jamaica in consequence of having earned that reputation. He was sorry—painfully sorry—that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government was not present to hear the sentiments which he was about to utter. It would be a heavy blow or destruction to the Government if they carried this Vote, because it gave a history of the transaction, which would be simply this—that a Governor, who had acted with cruelty, was to receive a large sum of money because he had become a barbarian. These might appear strong words; but his right hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Russell Gurney), who went out as a Commissioner, had denounced Governor Eyre as next to, if not absolutely, a barbarian. He went out to govern a colony, and suddenly there was a riotous meeting, but no insurrection. ["Oh, oh!"] It was no such thing. The administration of the law was entirely in favour of a particular class, and by reason of that the so-called inferior race, or the negro class, thought they were not fairly dealt with. And what was the result? They had a man, an unfortunate half-caste (Mr. Gordon), who stood up for their rights, and meetings of the oppressed coloured population were held. The Governor took the part of the other class. In consequence of these meetings being held the Governor got immensely terrified, and believed there was a tremendous insurrection and rebellion. He lost his head, and was induced to take an illegal course and proclaim martial law in a particular district, and then proceedings took place which would be a blot on our future history. Some people supposed that martial law was no law at all, and that soldiers when let loose might do whatever they pleased. Now, when the Governor sent out his soldiers, his duty was to do everything he could, and to watch the time to stop the wholesale power of massacre of the population. It was also his duty to have asked the opinion of the highest Law Officers in the colony before declaring martial law. But he did no such thing. It was happy for Governor Eyre that he did not live in the time of Governor Wall. He (Mr. M. Chambers) thought Governor Wall was unlawfully hanged; but he was hanged because he had been found guilty of an act of cruelty contrary to English law. His defence was this—that what he did was done in order to prevent a mutiny. [No, no!"] Who said "no?" Let him stand up and deny it. Governor Wall said he did that which was essential for the preservation of the colony, and caused a sergeant to be flogged to death. Governor Wall was indicted at the Old Bailey, and was hanged. If the transactions in Jamaica had occurred in such times as that, it might have been that for the execution of an English subject Governor Eyre might have been tried at the Old Bailey for murder. Why did he say that? Because Governor Eyre did an illegal act. Could any man stand up against him as a lawyer and deny his assertion, that the treatment of Mr. Gordon was such an illegal act as might in the times to which he had referred have led to Governor Eyre being indicted at the Old Bailey for murder, found guilty, and condemned? What he did was an illegal act—it was the unlawful execution of a British subject. Martial law was proclaimed in one district. Mr. Gordon was in another district; and was not subject to martial law. Whatever might have been the merits of the case, even if there were any, Governor Eyre had no more right to send Mr. Gordon into the district where martial law existed than to send anyone to be tried in a foreign jurisdiction. The moment Governor Eyre sent Mr. Gordon into that district he lent himself to that man being unjustly executed, and acted contrary to the law of England. If the Attorney or Solicitor General could come forth and deny that opinion let them do so. Now, how was the wretched court martial established which sacrificed Mr. Gordon? There was an ensign in the Army, and a lieutenant in the Navy. He was not sure whether there was a captain or not. They proceeded to try Mr. Gordon. Mr. Gordon said he could show them that he had nothing to do with the outbreak. They, however, would not allow him to call a witness, and went through the ceremony of saying Sunday should be a sacred day, and he should be executed on Monday. He contended that the execution was next to murder, because it was an unlawful execution and Governor Eyre was a party to it. He hoped the Government would not press the Vote, and he maintained that it would be a disgrace to the nation if it were agreed to. Governor Eyre declared martial law, but did not stop it early enough, forgetful of the fact that a man who had power to declare martial law should be perpetually vigilant, so that at the earliest possible moment he might withdraw the sword which was held over all the people of a given district. Nobody could doubt that Governor Eyre was not sufficiently vigilant, and that many cruelties were per- petrated and many lives lost in consequence of his not putting a stop to that system of martial law which he had declared. As for the Vote before the Committee, it was in fact a request that so much money should be given to Governor Eyre for the performance of acts of which every one disapproved. He hoped that if the Government insisted on dividing on the Vote they would be effectually beaten.


said, it appeared to him that the Committee was in some danger of losing sight of that which was the real issue—namely, whether a Colonial Governor against whom no worse was alleged—even if that much was admitted—than that in a moment of considerable excitement he had committed an error of judgment, for which he had been removed from his Governorship, was to be still further punished? It was said that when Mr. Eyre proclaimed martial law there was no rebellion in the island. But, notwithstanding what had been said, he (Mr. Wheelhouse) believed there was a rebellion, and nothing less. It was all very well for hon. Gentlemen, who did not like the circumstances, to use the milder term "insurrection;" but euphemisms would not make any alteration in the fact. He (Mr. Wheelhouse) was convinced that had it not been for the promptitude with which Governor Eyre acted, it was most likely that in five days a White man would not have been left in Jamaica. It was not reasonable that a Colonial Governor situated as Mr. Eyre was situated should be called on to pay the expenses of the criminal and civil proceedings instituted against him, and it was hard measure to revive, after this interval, the whole story of the disturbances and Gordon's execution, to prejudice the House of Commons against a Vote of money to which Mr. Eyre was as much entitled as any occupant of the Treasury bench was entitled to his salary. There was no charge of personal cruelty against him. Grand juries of his countrymen had declared that there was even no primâ facie case against him. That being so, we ought not to break faith with a public servant who had tried to perform his duty to the best of his ability in a great emergency, nor was the country absolved from its liability merely because of the existence of an Eyre Defence Fund, but for which he would have been overborne by a bitter and relentless persecution.


said, he entirely agreed that the question was how far the present Government were bound to support the Vote under consideration. Now, the Government, so far as he could understand the Chancellor of the Exchequer, maintained that they were so bound, on account of some pledge given by the last Government to defray the costs incurred by ex-Governor Eyre. If that theory were sound, at any rate the facts did not fit in the present case, for the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Charles Adderley), who in this matter represented the late Government, had just now most positively declared that no such promise had ever been given by them. He therefore trusted that the House would not, upon this subject, be forced to give a vote, which he believed would be one of the saddest votes given in his time. It had been said that Governor Eyre had been acquitted by every tribunal before which he was summoned, and, to a certain extent, that assertion was true. He had been acquitted, no doubt, so far as a man can be acquitted by a grand jury. But it must be borne in mind that Governor Eyre had never been tried in this country on the merits of the case, and it was only upon technical points that he had ever been acquitted by a Court of Law. He thought that the refusal to put Kingston under martial law, and the seizure of a Member of the Legislative Assembly in that very district, where martial law had not been proclaimed, and where, therefore, no one pretended that the civil law had been superseded, was a flagrant violation of the law of England. Nevertheless, if Governor Eyre had been acquitted of that charge by a jury of his countrymen, he (Mr. Hughes) would never have spoken on the subject, nor opposed the Vote now under notice. But, under the circumstances as they stood, and there never having been a trial on the merits, if the Vote were now agreed to, the opinion of 99 persons out of 100 out-of-doors would be that the passing of the Vote was a distinct condonation of all the terrible proceedings which had occurred in Jamaica, and a declaration that the House did not disapprove the way in which martial law was carried out in that island. He admitted that the conduct of Governor Eyre in Australia was "magnificent"—he showed immense firmness and courage in exploring expeditions, and was rightly promoted for what he had done there. The honour of England had been placed in his keeping as a Colonial Governor, and he (Mr. Hughes) felt that the responsibility cast upon the Governors whom this country sent out to distant possessions was very onerous. At the same time, it was very honourable, and if, through weakness, or by the influence of a violent and almost savage will, or through panic, any of those Governors were led to transgress the laws, and commit acts condemned by all civilized nations, then it was the duty of that House, stern and unpleasant as that duty might be, to say that we would hold our Governors distinctly responsible for their acts. It was in vain to refer to the time of Charles II., or to 1798, as a reason why Parliament should assent to what took place seven years ago in Jamaica. The times were happily changed, and he trusted better, so far as such acts as these were concerned. The House ought not to sanction the terrible acts which were done to subdue what was called an insurrection, but what he considered was a small and obscure rising—which, in fact, was put down by 35 soldiers. As a steady supporter of the Government he felt great regret at the course they had taken on this subject, and hoped, after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, they might re-consider their course, even at the eleventh hour. If not, it would do much to obscure, if not to mar, the great work they had accomplished for the country by way of legislation. He should certainly vote with his hon. Friend the Member for Exeter.


said, he wished to state the grounds of his vote, as it had been remarked to him that, as he had brought forward the Chinese Slave Trade early in the Session, he might be expected to vote against Mr. Eyre on account of his conduct to the negroes. He might remark, on the other hand, that in his earlier life Mr. Eyre had been distinguished by his kindness to the Australian natives, and had then been associated with a distinguished philanthropist—his lamented friend, Dr. Hodgkin. But the question was not as to Mr. Eyre's character, but what was the duty of the Committee of Supply with respect to this Vote? He was un- able to concur either with the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Bowring), or with the right hon. Member for North Staffordshire (Sir Charles Adderley). He did believe that Mr. Eyre was a monster of iniquity on the one hand, and an heroic pro-consul, who saved a province, on the other. And what he wanted to put before the House was this—whether, assuming everything that had been stated by the hon. Members for Exeter and Northampton to be correct, they were justified in refusing this Vote? He must say that he viewed the proceedings of Governor Eyre in Jamaica with deep regret, because he thought they were marked by unnecessary severity to our fellow-subjects in that island. Had he been a Member of the House in 1866 he should heartily have concurred in the Resolution then arrived at, and he did not consider the vote he was about to give to be in any sense a reversal of that Resolution. But however much Governor Eyre had erred, he had been most severely punished for his mistakes, and it did not become that House to make the punishment greater. Was the House prepared to go further, and to prosecute a ruined man? Mr. Eyre was practically ruined. He was as much ruined as the officer who lost his sword; as the barrister who was disbarred; as the Member of that House who was ignominiously expelled from it. It was always usual that Colonial Governors on their return should receive some honour at the hands of the Crown, and they looked forward to further employment. Her Majesty, under the advice of successive Ministers, had declined to confer on Mr. Eyre the Order of the Bath, and he had been refused another appointment. If it was designed to prosecute him, he ought to have been prosecuted by the Ministers of the Crown. When Governor Eyre returned to this country there was at the Colonial Office a man in whom the colonies and the country had great confidence (Mr. Cardwell), and to him the Earl of Carnarvon succeeded; but neither Government prosecuted, and it was not for a body of private gentlemen, however distinguished—and he admitted the high character of a body which included his late lamented Friend, Mr. Charles Buxton, and Lord Alfred Churchill—to undertake such a task; and if Government did not prosecute he thought no prosecution ought to have been undertaken. As the Government did not think that Mr. Eyre's offences were suitable subjects for prosecution, they, on the other hand, when he was prosecuted by private individuals, and when that prosecution came to nothing, should reimburse him the expenses of the prosecution. He could not join in the vindictive persecution of a man to whom this country in former times was greatly indebted, and thought that in agreeing to the Vote the Committee would be tempering justice with mercy.


Sir, I cannot but think that the Government have adopted a most unwise course in this matter. The Motion cannot but be most unwelcome to many Members of the Government itself, for if I recollect aright some Members of the Government were actually members of the Jamaica Committee, and I am quite sure that many others have felt a sympathy—an honourable sympathy—with the proceedings of that Committee. It cannot, I think, be otherwise than unwise of the Government to do violence to the thoughts and sentiments of the great mass of the people of this country. It cannot but be ill-judged and unwise for them to reopen this question, seeing that their existence depends upon the country; and because the Government collectively, and every individual Member of it, will be called to account for their vote wherever there are large and popular constituencies all over the country. But if they be most ill-judged and unwise, the friends and admirers of Governor Eyre are still more unwise in insisting upon dragging this unhappy Jamaica affair again before the House of Commons. The mistakes made by ex-Governor Eyre in Jamaica have probably been visited upon him with some severity—and in using a word so mild and ineffective as mistake, I do so that I may not prematurely rouse an opposition. His mistakes in Jamaica have been probably visited upon him. He has lost in reputation and in character, and he has irrevocably shut upon himself the doors of official occupation and official promotion. But there was a misfortune which has not come to ex-Governor Eyre, and that is because the transactions in Jamaica have never been brought before the High Court of Judicature in this coun- try; and if they have been brought before this House, it has not been since light has been thrown upon that transaction by the Lord Chief Justice. Sir, when these occurrences took place in Jamaica, a very great feeling of indignation and shame pervaded the great mass of the population of this country, and a number of gentlemen constituted themselves a committee who should be the representative of that great feeling of indignation and shame. The Jamaica Committee thought it their bounden duty—and I am here to take any amount of responsibility for their act—the Jamaica Committee felt it their bounden duty—a duty they owed to justice and humanity, and that they believed they owed to the honour of their country—to bring these transactions within the purview and before a high Court of Law in this country, that they might know, and that the world might know authoritatively, whether the deeds done in Jamaica were legal and justifiable or not. Sir, we failed in every point; we failed through a series of what I may call secondary or even tertiary causes, or technicalities. We never failed upon the real question at issue, for it was never tried at all. Hampered and harassed with a series of technicalities, beginning with the impossibility of serving the summons upon him, down to that final one which whitewashed him, and all the transactions in Jamaica, the Bill of Indemnity passed by that contemptible—and, thank God, dead—body, the Legislature of Jamaica. Sir, I repeat, all the talk that we have had about repeated verdicts of acquittal—about ex-Governor Eyre's having been repeatedly acquitted by the Courts of the country—is a mistake. Unless the bench of magistrates of Market Drayton are a High Court of Judicature, or unless a grand jury are a High Court of Justice, there has been no acquittal. I have nothing to say against these grand juries, but they do not pretend to be judges or lawyers; and, be it remembered, the case was never argued before them. In their own private chamber they decided upon the case; and if we want to know what was the previous impression upon the minds of one at least, it is evidenced by the fact that they returned no true bill against the overwhelming charge of the Lord Chief Justice. We (the Jamaica Committee) failed, and having failed were content to let the matter drop. We had neither right nor interest in continually dragging these matters before the country. We were content to let these transactions pass down the stream of contempt into the ocean of oblivion. But now the question is raised and must be discussed again, and I beg hon. Gentlemen to remember not only that ex-Governor Eyre but the Jamaica Committee are upon their trial. Unless we can give effective reasons why this Vote should be refused, and why we took the course we did, it can be justly said of us what has been unjustly said of us hitherto—that we were cruel persecutors of an innocent man. In the history of our transactions with alien and inferior races, there have been many transactions which have not received the approval of good men of the time, and of which posterity has ratified the disapproval. We have been violent, cruel, tyrannical; but there has often been something to palliate and excuse. There was the courage, devotion, chivalry of a small body of men pitted against a whole host of barbarians. In the case of Jamaica, there is neither excuse nor palliation. The case of Jamaica is a case of cowardice which magnified a trumpery riot into a widespread insurrection, and then drowned the phantom it had created in an ocean of murder, anarchy, and blood. The country a short time ago was startled by the killing of the Kooka prisoners in India; and as to that, I have nothing to say, except that it falls far short of the cowardice and cruelty shown by England in this matter. But what said the late lamented Lord Mayo? ["Question!"] This is the justification of the Jamaica Committee. He said— While every officer will be fully supported in any measures, however rigorous, which he may be justified by law in adopting for the maintenance or restoration of the peace, no one will be permitted to supersede the law at his own discretion. Ex-Governor Eyre did supersede the law at his own discretion, and that dictum of Lord Mayo's is an ample justification for the attempt of the Jamaica Committee to make him answer for it before a tribunal of his own country. I will not weary this House by repeating the debates of the atrocities which were committed through those days and weeks—three weeks at least—of shameless barbarity. They have been well recounted by the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Bowring), and I will not read again the shameless, infamous cynicism of the officers, boasting of their cruelty. It would raise a shudder were I to mention it, and it will raise a shudder of indignation and shame throughout the country when it is known to-morrow. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir Charles Adderley) seems to think he needs only to give his view of the matter. He seems to think—"I am Sir Oracle, and when I ope my mouth, let no dog bark;" he is constantly professing that he is no humanitarian or sentimentalist, but I am not aware that anyone is likely to mistake him for either. He told us almost in one breath that ex-Governor Eyre had saved the island, and in the next that terrible atrocities were committed, but which no one had regretted more than ex-Governor Eyre. In regard to the statement that but for these severities not a single white man would have been left upon the island, I prefer, like him, to refer to some authority on the subject, and not to some story which has been picked up. The Lord Chief Justice stated— The mere presence of a handful of soldiers sufficed to put an end to what appeared at the outset likely to prove a formidable insurrection, but which in the result turned out to be of a totally different character. Nevertheless, martial law continued to be put in force. It appears from the Report of the Royal Commissioners that 439 persons were put to death; 354 by sentence of courts-martial, 85 (most of them) wantonly and unnecessarily in the pursuit. Six hundred persons were flogged, some under circumstances of the most revolting cruelty—many of them women. Some of the scourges used were produced before the Commissioners, who observe that 'it was painful to think that any man should have used such an instrument for the torturing of his fellow-creatures.' Practically, the rebellion was over within 24 hours after martial law was proclaimed. Now, Sir, what said the Commissioners in regard to Mr. Eyre? I appeal to any man to state frankly, whether in a Royal Commission going to a British Colony to examine into alleged mistakes of a Government personage, whether it is not expected, however high may be their character, however thorough their intentions to do justice with impartiality—whether it is not expected that there will not be that cool and impressive weighing of evidence which is characteristic of our Courts of Justice? There will be a tendency to stretch or excuse— to make every palliation that can be made. I have the highest respect for the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Russell Gurney), and the Gentlemen who composed that Commission; but I do say, on the very face of their Report, there stands the evidence that they proceeded in this official groove. There was no black man upon that Commission. We know the difference whether the picture is painted by the lion or the man. The facts they elicited, the charges they substantiated against ex-Governor Eyre, were a full justification for what the Jamaica Committee did; and yet they find in them something for excuse, and even for praise. But what does the Royal Commission say— By the continuance of martial law in its full force to the extreme limit of its statutory operation, the people were deprived for a longer time than the necessary period of the great constitutional privileges by which the security of life and property is provided for. But that is our case. When a man, responsible for the security of a colony, proclaims martial law when unnecessary, or prolongs it longer than is necessary, he becomes justly amenable to the tribunals of his country. They go on to say— That the punishments inflicted were excessive. That the punishment of death was unnecessarily frequent. The punishment of death unnecessary! That, I suppose, is a Royal Commission euphuism for wilful murder. That the floggings were reckless, and at Bath positively barbarous. That the burning of 1,000 houses was wanton and cruel. When barbarous acts are committed, it is no great wonder that we should call upon him by whose orders they were committed, and demand that he shall acquit himself, or show the necessity for them before the Law Courts. I will just say a word or two in reference to Mr. Gordon, but it will not be necessary for me to say much, the subject was so well handled by my hon. Friend the Member for Exeter. The right hon. Baronet (Sir Charles Adderley) seems to find extreme difficulty in understanding what was alluded to when it was said that ex-Governor Eyre persecuted to the death a political opponent. He said this was some rumour—some gossip roused which he had never heard of before. But so far from its being a mere rumour that they were political enemies, Gordon had repudiated and denounced the acts of Mr. Eyre. Mr. Eyre had dispossessed him of his commission as a magistrate for alleged reasons, so obviously false that he called down upon himself a well-merited rebuke from the Duke of Newcastle. Well would it have been for Mr. Eyre and for his victim had he well weighed the words of that rebuke. The Duke of Newcastle, writing to him on September 2, 1862, says— I desire to caution you against rejecting Mr. Gordon's complaints as unworthy of your attention; and writing again on the 31st of October, 1862, the Duke says— The enclosure contains a series of reflections upon the private characters of persons who attended the meeting in favour of Mr. Gordon, into the truth or error of which I have no disposition to inquire; and I take this opportunity of observing to you that I feel sure you will find it most conducive to the public interests you have at heart to occupy yourself rather with the substance of acts and proceedings with which you have to deal than with the private characters or the persons who may assail or defend them. Mr. Gordon, a Member of the Legislative Assembly, who denounced the acts of the Governor, was taken to the proclaimed districts and hanged. Now, I declare as I read this evidence—the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Russell Gurney) will follow, and he will correct me, and I will submit if I am wrong—that there is no ground whatever for asserting that Gordon had anything whatever to do with the riot. ["Oh, oh!"] Hon. Gentlemen do not assent to my opinion; I will give them that of the Lord Chief Justice of England. He says— I think it, therefore, next to impossible that Gordon contemplated the outbreak which took place. But so far from there being any evidence to prove that Mr. Gordon intended this insurrection and rebellion, the evidence, as well as the probability of the case, appears to me to be exactly the other way. That letter of his, written to a private friend, and which he could not expect would be intercepted, and which I have no doubt was a genuine one, fully shows that his feelings on hearing of the outbreak was that of surprise and sorrow. Many a political antagonist has been murdered under the forms of law; George William Gordon was murdered with no form of law at all. What say the Commissioners? They do not charge Mr. Gordon with any connection whatever with the insurrection. They say— Upon a careful review of this evidence we have formed the opinion that the true explanation of Mr. Gordon's conduct is to be found in the account which he has given of himself. 'I have gone as far as I can go, but no further. If I wanted a rebellion I could have had one long ago. I have been asked several times to head a rebellion, but there is no fear of that. I will try first a demonstration of it, but I will first upset that fellow Herschell, and kick him out of the vestry, and the Baron also, or bad will come of it.' Mr. Gordon might know well the distinction between a rebellion and a demonstration of it. He might be able to trust himself to go as far as he could with safety, and no farther. But that would not be so easy to his ignorant and fanatical followers. They would find it difficult to restrain themselves from rebellion when making a demonstration of it. That is to say, a political agitator used violent language, and other people not understanding it, went the length of a rebellion. That is constructive treason with a vengeance. That would have brought Daniel O'Connell to the gallows; would have brought my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham to the gallows; it is a doctrine that would have taken the life of many a man who sits upon these benches. [Cheers.] Yes, that cheer shows the question we have to solve to-night. Shall we pay Mr. Eyre for doing in Jamaica what the rabidest Tory dare not propose for us? I will read you the final words of the Lord Chief Justice— No one, I think, who has the faintest idea of what the administration of justice involves could deem the proceedings on this trial consistent with justice, or to use a homely phrase, with that fair play which is the right of the commonest criminal. All I can say is, that if, on martial law being proclaimed, a man can lawfully be thus tried, condemned, and sacrificed, such a state of things is a scandal and reproach to the institutions of this great and free country, and as a Minister of Justice profoundly imbued with a sense of what is due to the first and greatest of earthly obligations, I enter my solemn and emphatic protest against the lives of men being thus dealt with in the time to come. And shall the man who called forth this solemn appeal to all that Englishmen hold sacred be paid twice over for the wrong that he had done? He has been paid by his friends and admirers, and there are plenty of them; but the great mass of the population of this country loathe and execrate the Jamaica deeds, while that which is called "Society" finds in them much to be approved. It likes that summary mode of procedure; it likes that which may be called a system of blood and culture. They have subscribed twice and thrice over for Mr. Eyre, and why should taxpayers be called upon to pay again? If the Chan- cellor of the Exchequer could find some scheme by which all the revenue should be raised by subscription, each apportioned to its particular service, what an advantage it would be. The Quaker would not have his conscience hurt by subscribing towards the costs of war, nor the Republican by being taxed for the trappings of Royalty. Well, that is an impossible dream, but so far as this Vote is concerned, it has actually been done. The friends of ex-Governor Eyre have put their hands into their pockets and paid his expenses, and why should the ratepayers of England, who loathe and execrate his deeds, be called upon to pay him again? I have defended to the best of my poor ability the acts of the Jamaica Committee. I have not a word of apology to make, not a word of apology to utter. Were the case to occur again, I would endeavour again to bring the actor to the bar of his country. The hypothesis is needless, for it will never occur again. The Jamaica Committee, failing in all its direct aims, and almost overwhelmed amid a storm of obloquy and misrepresentation have done their work—have fulfilled their mission; they have stamped out a policy. Never again in a British colony—whatever may be the result of the contemptible vote of to-night—never again in a British colony shall be enacted the policy of ex-Governor Eyre, nor the world stand aghast at the atrocities of a Jamaica massacre.


said, the shield of public protection should not be thrown over a public servant who had committed acts which had been condemned by the conscience of the nation. Never was there a transaction that more nearly approached judicial murder than that of Mr. Gordon since the days of ex-Governor Wall—but what did they find? Ex-Governor Wall was hanged, whereas ex-Governor Eyre was to be rewarded by a grateful country for flogging thousands of people in Jamaica, and putting down a simple riot in a manner that had horrified the world. A bench of Shropshire magistrates had expressed their opinion that ex-Governor Eyre was not guilty; but he (Mr. Osborne Morgan) declined to accept the opinion on this matter of a Shropshire bench of magistrates, however able. This matter was never sifted and tried before the only tribunal competent to try it—an English jury. But whose fault was it that it was not so sifted and tried? It was the fault of ex-Governor Eyre and his friends, who stopped the course of justice, and he now wished to be repaid the expenses of escaping from a trial. He (Mr. Osborne Morgan) deeply regretted that the Government, by proposing this Vote, had accepted this damnosa hereditas from the late Government, and protested in the name of humanity against the atrocious acts committed by the ex-Governor.


Sir, the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Bowring) courteously informed me that in bringing forward this matter, he was about to refer at considerable length to the Report for which I am responsible. I therefore felt obliged to be present, and since I have been here I have been appealed to by two hon. Members in such a manner that it is impossible for me to remain silent. To those appeals I do not profess to make a direct answer in detail; the best answer I can make to them is to refer to the Report for which I am responsible, and to every word of which I still adhere. It was after a very long and anxious inquiry, presided over by my right hon. and gallant Friend opposite (Sir Henry Storks), by a tribunal of which I was a Member, that this Report was adopted. We went very carefully into the matter after a long examination, and we were perfectly unanimous on the Report. Therefore, I may fairly refer to that Report as being a sufficient answer to the appeals made. I cannot go much into detail, but I will refer to the substance of that Report, which is perfectly clear. By that Report we declared our opinion that there had been a planned insurrection for obtaining what were called the Back Lands; that that had been the great object of conspiracy; and that it was a clear and decided conspiracy; that it extended over a small district, yet such was the state of the country that it immediately spread over a very extended district; and that if it had not been at once put down, it would ultimately have had to be put down at a much more fearful loss of property and life than that which actually occurred. To all that I perfectly adhere; and I adhere at the same time to the conclusions that have been referred to in the course of the debate—that although Governor Eyre was perfectly justified originally in the proclamation of martial law, it was unnecessarily and improperly prolonged, and that, during the latter portion of the time, although martial law had remained in force, no trials or executions ought to have occurred. We adhere to the conclusion, therefore, that "the punishment of death was unnecessarily frequent," which is spoken of as an improper and mild mode of expressing our opinion. I do not know in what other way we could have expressed it. We adhere also to the opinion "that the floggings were reckless, and at Bath positively barbarous," and "that the burning of 1,000 houses was wanton and cruel." The hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. P. A. Taylor) has referred to the proceedings of the Royal Commission as if they necessarily set about the inquiry with no other desire than that of throwing some sort of screen over the proceedings of officials. [Mr. P. A. TAYLOR: I beg pardon; I did not.] ["Oh, oh!"] I do not profess to give the hon. Member's exact words, but I think the impression they produced is substantially conveyed by what I have said. I can say for my Friends, as well as myself, that we commenced that inquiry with no such feeling; we entered upon it with no other feeling than that of eliciting the truth; and we were fully determined to declare the truth when elicited. I think the expressions referred to in the conclusions of the Report show that we were not looking out for the gentlest words which could be used to describe the scenes which occurred. When we speak of things as being "cruel and positively barbarous" it is hardly fair to say we looked out for words that would convey the most gentle description. Although, therefore, I still adhere to the conclusions at which I arrived as to these cruelties having been committed, they seem to me to bear little upon the question before the Committee. It is not whether great cruelties were committed—of that I do not entertain a single doubt; but the question is, to what extent the Governor was responsible. I know well that in the despatch he wrote in January, 1866, he took upon himself the responsibility for that which happened; but he does not refer to those particular cases of cruelty which were never known of until our inquiry was instituted, and which were a perfect surprise to everyone. ["Gordon!"] Do not think I am going to miss his case, I shall come to it directly; but the evidence respecting the cruelties and the barbarities to which I have referred was a perfect surprise to everyone connected with the Government at that time. Therefore it is somewhat too hard to seize upon an expression made use of by him in the despatch of January, 1866, wherein he takes upon himself the responsibility of the measures that were adopted, and to suppose that in using that expression he referred to those cruelties, those burnings, those floggings, and those other acts as being those which he approved and for which he declared himself responsible. What, then, was the fault of Governor Eyre? I do not mean to shrink from stating it fully. In the first place, it was the continuance of the trials which were held under martial law. I believe a still greater fault was this—having put a most fearful machinery into operation, he did not take care to be informed every few hours of what occurred. Another fault, which I do not at all propose to screen, was his proceeding with reference to Gordon. The first fault in this case was taking Gordon out of a district where the ordinary law was in force to the district where the offence was supposed to have been committed, and where he became subject to martial law. Let us remember, however, there are differences of opinion upon that point. I have here the Charges both of the Chief Justice of England and of Mr. Justice Blackburn; and a very serious difference of opinion exists upon this subject between those two learned Judges. I confess I think that martial law being in operation in one district and the laws of England in the other, it would have been far better, if the Governor had thought at all on the subject, to have left Mr. Gordon where he was, to be tried by ordinary law. I do not defend his removing Mr. Gordon; but, remember, it was a time when there was a great insurrection going on, and the full conviction in the mind of Governor Eyre, of every White man, and of almost every coloured man in the island was that Gordon was concerned in it. I believe the impression was a wrong one; but I believe the impression was so strong that Gordon could not have had a fair trial in any part of the island. It was the universal impression and belief that he was at the head of the insurrec- tion, and the Governor thought it was of importance that, while the minor agents and humble people were being tried and executed, Gordon should be tried in a similar way. That was his reason. I believe fully he entertained it honestly; though I believe he was wrong in his belief as to Gordon's complicity, for after all the inquiry we made subsequently, culpable as his conduct was, I do not believe he was a party to that particular insurrection, nor do I believe he was engaged in any general conspiracy. The next fault of Mr. Eyre was that he did not stop the execution of Gordon. He did not confirm the conviction; he was not called upon to do so; but there was a short time during which he could have directed that the execution should not have taken place, and he might have used the time thus gained in calmly reading over the evidence affecting the case. If he had done so, I think he could scarcely have come to any other conclusion than that the evidence given before the Court Martial was insufficient to justify an execution. But we have to look to other matters in this case. It is not true, as stated by the hon. Member for Leicester, that this was a trumpery riot. The hon. Member for Leicester, no doubt with kindly feeling towards the Commissioners personally, felt it was hardly possible for us to come to a right conclusion on such a point. But there were other trials subsequently, which took place before the Judges of the island in Courts in which the ordinary laws of the country were in force; several persons were tried, convicted, and sentenced to penal servitude; and Sir Peter Grant, in giving an account of the result of the evidence adduced, says— The judicial evidence in the case proves that the march and attack upon the Court-house on the 11th of October were premeditated as part of an intended insurrection; that there had been previous swearings-in and drillings in order to this movement; that the assailants were to a certain extent an organized body, having drum and flag, marching under previously appointed commanders, and capable of dividing into two and of advancing in two lines under-separate captains when it was so ordered; that occasionally in the course of the evening a sort of attempt to use military words of command, such as 'order arms,' 'load,' was made, and that the murder of certain persons who were murdered on that occasion was openly spoken of before the day of the occurrence among those engaged in the attack, and was boasted of afterwards by others so engaged. This evidence throws no light on the cause which may have led to the con- spiracy, but it proves that the assailants proclaimed, upon making their attack, their object to be war; that the war announced was a war of colour, and that they themselves understood, the day after the slaughter, that what they had undertaken was 'war.' Such was the nature of the rebellion existing in the south-eastern districts of the colony, and such was the liability of its extending to other districts. At this time there were not more than 1,000 troops in the colony, of which one-half were required to garrison and protect Kingston and the neighbourhood, and the other half were operating in the disturbed districts. Had insurrection arisen in any other part of the island, there was not a soldier disposable to send to quell it. At the same time the Black and coloured population were, in round numbers, 400,000 to 13,000 Whites, the latter, too, being isolated and scattered throughout the length and breadth of Jamaica, with few or no facilities for rapid intercommunication. These were the conclusions of Sir Peter Grant, months after we had left the island, upon investigations which had taken place before the regular tribunals. That being so, I think hon. Members will hardly deem it fair to speak of this event as a mere trumpery riot. We have to consider what is to be our course on the Vote proposed. I feel it will be my duty to support that Vote. I do it without shrinking in the slightest degree from the statements I have made and the conclusions I had previously formed. I do it upon this ground: though Governor Eyre made a serious mistake, from which grievous mischief arose, he acted honestly in the matter; and that it is not right that he should bear the expense of defending himself against a charge of wilful murder which ought never to have been preferred. But it is said—Are you going to reward him for making such a mistake from which such consequences arose? Reward! What is the idea of hon. Members opposite as to reward? Why, it is perfectly ludicrous. Who can think that reward is being apportioned to Mr. Eyre? He has been dismissed from his appointment rightly, by my right hon. Friend the present Secretary of State for War. His career is cut short; after 25 years spent with honour and credit in his profession, he is placed in the position of an officer who is cashiered. It is idle to speak of a reward in such a case as this. I was glad to hear from the hon. Member for Leicester the admission that we need be under no fear that our vote will encourage a repetition in future of the acts which we now deplore. We have heard much, and very rightly so, of the Charge of the Lord Chief Justice, but if the House will permit me I will refer to one portion of that Charge which bears not a little upon the subject of the question which we are now discussing. The learned Chief Justice, after going through all the circumstances that occurred at the time of the insurrection in Jamaica, says— Having entered so largely into these matters I feel bound to say—for I should be sorry not to do justice to an absent man—that, looking to the general consternation and alarm which pervaded the island—looking to the circumstances in which the White population and the authorities of the country were placed with reference to the proportion—the small proportion which the White population bore to the Black, to the mere handful of military force that there was, and to the consequences, too horrible to think of, which might have ensued if this insurrection had not been suppressed, to the threat by the insurgents of destroying the White men, and their reputed intentions as to the White women—I think, if ever there were circumstances which, if it be lawful to put martial law into force, called for the application of it, it was this case of the insurrection in Jamaica. That is the deliberate judgment of the Lord Chief Justice, after having gone through all the matters connected with this case. Although he had expressed himself in no light terms with regard to the cruelties which had been committed, still he saw the difficulty of the position in which Governor Eyre was placed at the time, and the allowance that should be made for the conduct he then pursued. If an affirmative vote on this subject were calculated fairly to convey the impression that we intended to condone what occurred in Jamaica, and to lead men to suppose that we wished to throw a veil over those occurrences, I should not give my voice in its favour; but it is because I believe that it can have no such effect—it is because I believe that the circumstances in which Governor Eyre was placed have not been fairly considered—that he is not to be held responsible for the cruelties and barbarities which were committed at the time, that he has been justly and properly, but at the same time grievously, punished for what he has done, that I feel bound to give my voice in favour of this Vote.


said, he was anxious, as a native of Jamaica, and as one acquainted with its internal affairs, to give the House his views on this question. He had been present at a slave insurrection in that island many years ago, and therefore he could enter fully into the feelings of panic by which the White inhabitants were carried away during the insurrection in question. It must, moreover, be recollected that there was but a handful of Whites as compared with 500,000 of Blacks, and therefore it was not wonderful that the former should have fallen into a state of consternation. But, having admitted so much, he must add that it was the duty of a British Governor to moderate and calm that feeling, instead of encouraging and giving way to it himself. He entirely agreed with the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Russell Gurney), that nothing could have been better than the course pursued by Governor Eyre during the first fortnight after the insurrection broke out, for had not the rising been at once checked, it would had spread throughout the country, and all the Whites would have been massacred. No one had ever found fault with Governor Eyre for having established martial law during that fortnight, but what was complained of was, that after he had effectually crushed the insurrection he had allowed cruelties to be practised. The insurrection had been "crushed"—those were his own words; and yet he continued martial law three or four weeks afterwards, during which all those fearful massacres took place, and those floggings with wire whips and other atrocities of which they had heard. Nothing, in his opinion, could excuse, or even palliate, the execution of Mr. Gordon. He was a coloured man, but a man of position and education, and a Member of the Legislature. He was the political opponent of Governor Eyre, and therefore was it the more unfortunate that he should have been put to death as he had been. He was arrested on the 20th, tried on the 21st, and hanged on the 23rd of the month, with 13 other persons. He could not as an Englishman but feel a blush of shame when he thought of those judicial murders, and he could not but think that the taunt of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir Charles Adderley) against the Baptists was as vicious in taste as it was unfounded. It was from the Baptist missionaries that the negroes were first instructed in religion, or received any kind of education. Until they and the Wesleyans went to Jamaica the negroes had been wholly uncared for, and had been kept in a state little short of absolute barbarism. A good deal had been said in the course of the debate about sympathy with ex-Governor Eyre—but no one vouchsafed any consideration for the widowed Mrs. Gordon, her bereaved family, or the murdered negroes. He regretted that the Government had brought forward that Vote, and he trusted the House would not assent to it.


said, he had listened with great attention to the speech of his right hon. and learned Friend the Recorder—a speech to which he could pay him no higher compliment than to say that it was worthy of him. His right hon. Friend had stated with judicial impartiality the position of that question. He had told them first of all what were the difficulties in which Governor Eyre was placed, and had also expressed the judgment of the Commission on his conduct under those circumstances. Now, he himself desired not to enter into any discussion of the details of those unfortunate transactions. The Executive Government of the country had been called upon to take their course in reference to that matter, which was not a party question. Not one Government, but two successive Governments, had had to judge that transaction; one Government dismissed and removed Governor Eyre from his position in Jamaica, and another, if he recollected rightly, had declined to replace him in that position, or appoint him to any other situation of responsibility. Therefore, the Government had acted on their responsibility in that matter. Now, the House of Commons, representing the people of England, were also called upon to take a responsible part with respect to it, and therefore he could not regard it as a small question; but as one which governed not that case alone, but the position of the House of Commons with reference to those great responsible officers who in distant parts of the world, and in very difficult circumstances, exercised the responsibilities of the English Empire. He made every allowance for the situation in which Governor Eyre was placed. He believed there was at the time a general sense of great danger, which was shared by Governor Eyre himself. He, for one, was not disposed to judge severely any conduct—however harsh it might seem to those who judged after the event—that was adopted by a man acting in a position of great responsibility in regard to men who looked to him for the defence of their lives and their property, at a moment when he felt that some catastrophe, of which he could not measure perhaps either the imminency or the extent, was at hand. But they had a right to expect from a man in such a situation the conduct which they had witnessed in their time with admiration on the part of a man who added lustre to a great name by adding to the title of Canning an epithet which was applied to him in obloquy, but which would remain to all posterity as his greatest claim to the gratitude of his country, when he was called in the panic-stricken journals of the day "Clemency Canning." Why was the late Lord Canning so called? Because he was a man of cool and calm courage, who knew how to resist the panic by which he was surrounded, and to be merciful when others were terrified into cruelty. It might not be given to every man to emulate the calm heroism of Lord Canning, but that was an example which the House of Commons ought to hold out to our colonies and dominions abroad as that which they wished to see imitated. His right hon. and learned Friend the Recorder, in passing judgment—for he did pass judgment in his speech—on Governor Eyre, had pointed out that it was not in the moment of danger that those severities were practised, it was after the danger had passed away. That, to his own mind, was the great difficulty in the case. He would have pardoned everything in the moment of danger; but it was the transactions which occurred when the danger had passed and the insurrection had been quelled which it was impossible to justify. His right hon. and learned Friend the Recorder had told them that there were unnecessary severities, that there was barbarous conduct, that thousands of houses were unnecessarily destroyed; and to whom were they to look for responsibility under such circumstances if it was not to the man they had placed at the head of affairs? And if they came to the conclusion that those things had been done, then they could only take the course which two Governments in succession had taken, and condemn the conduct of the person who ought to have checked the acts which his right hon. and learned Friend himself had strongly condemned. The only point in regard to which he differed from his right hon. and learned Friend was not the legal or judicial sentence which he pronounced, but the political conclusion at which he arrived. The hon. Member for Falmouth (Mr. R. N. Fowler) had laid down the very strange doctrine that if the Government were not prepared to prosecute Governor Eyre criminally, they were bound to defend him. He could not agree to that doctrine at all. It seemed to him that where they were unable to justify the conduct of a person they might look to him to defend himself; and that appeared to him to be the conclusion which should follow from what they had heard from his right hon. and learned Friend the Recorder. If he could approve, with some hon. Gentlemen opposite, of the conduct of Governor Eyre throughout all these transactions, he should be in favour of voting that sum of money for his defence. But he could not understand how those who, without wishing to speak harshly of Governor Eyre, yet thought he had done wrong, could justify voting money out of the taxes of the people for the defence of conduct which they themselves felt to be indefensible. On those grounds, without desiring to say one unnecessary word against Governor Eyre's conduct, yet believing that, after making every allowance for him, his conduct was erroneous, and could not be defended, he must oppose the present Vote.


Sir, at the commencement of this discussion my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in a very brief statement, explained the footing upon which it was the desire of the Government to refer this matter to the judgment of the House, and to rest their own conduct with respect to the reference so made. My right hon. Friend scarcely touched the merits of the case, and stated that the motive which had governed us in asking the House of Commons to vote the sum which we now request from them, was the circumstance that we had found what we deemed to be a substantial engagement contracted with Governor Eyre on the part of our predecessors, and that we thought ourselves bound in honour and in policy to fulfil that engagement. The statement of my right hon. Friend was severely commented on by a right hon. Gentleman who is sometimes, but rarely, severe in this House—I mean my right hon. Friend the Member for North Staffordshire (Sir Charles Adderley), who said the course that we pursued was rather a shabby one. He complained of our want of courage in declining to state our opinion upon the merits; and, further, he entirely denied the existence of the engagement on which we rest this proposal. As was to be expected, that portion of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman drew forth animated cheers from the opponents of this Vote, and I did not think, considering the earnestness, 1 might say the vehemence, with which my right hon. Friend pleaded the cause of Governor Eyre, that in denying the existence of that engagement he showed in as conspicuous a degree the skill of an advocate which he sometimes exhibits in this House. But does my right hon. Friend really think that it was owing to the want of courage on our part that we said nothing on the merits? Did it never occur to him that our reason for saying little on the merits might possibly have been that if we had entered upon them we should have been compelled to treat them in a way not the most favourable to the success of this proposal? Now, I do not at all shrink—I think after this discussion it would not be right to shrink—from stating, in the measured terms and the candid spirit of which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Harcourt), and many other hon. Gentlemen have set an example in this debate, the light in which the question presents itself to us. But I do think that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have grievously erred if at the commencement of this discussion, and antecedently to the manifestation of the general disposition of the House, he had entered on a course of observation which would have diminished the force of the proposal he was about to make, and certain, as I think, to cast doubt on the sincerity of that at which we intended at least to aim—namely, the fulfilment of the engagement that we acknowledged to exist. As far as the merits are concerned—apart from the warm feelings it is so difficult to control in a matter of this kind, we must all admit that the subject is one of great and real difficulty. We must set out with a consideration of what was due to Mr. Eyre before these unhappy occurrences. It had been my lot in the course of my official life to become acquainted with him, and to contract a real respect and regard for him at the period of his very remarkable journey in South Australia to which the right hon. Gentleman opposite has referred. And, undoubtedly, there was no one who was better entitled before the rebellion in Jamaica to claim all the credit and honor which can attach to the honorable and effective discharge of public duty in the service of the country. With these feelings I would also point to some speeches which we have heard in this debate. I may mention for one the speech of the hon. Member for Falmouth (Mr. R. N. Fowler), which was most creditable to his temper and his feelings, but one which serves to exhibit to every candid mind the great and real difficulties of this question. Therefore, whatever conclusion we could have come to upon the merits, we certainly should not have come to it in the spirit or with the disposition of casting reproaches upon those who had arrived at an opposite result. But I am bound to say that if the question had been submitted to us free from all consideration of prior engagement, while admitting these conditions, while entirely forbearing to censure those who might have taken a different course, we should not have thought it our duty to be the authors of a proposition such as this. And, therefore, my right hon. Friend will see it was not want of courage towards those who are opposed to the Vote we now submit which prevented the Chancellor of the Exchequer from entering upon the question of the merits of the case. The discussion which has occurred, apart from any argument we might have felt called upon to offer, has sufficiently informed the House of the grounds upon which a decision may be come to. The right hon. and learned Member for Southampton (Mr. Russell Gurney), who had conferred upon the Government and the country great services in the prior stages of this question, has rendered another service by his speech this evening, because all those who listened to that speech, whether they agreed in the conclusion to which he arrived or not, must have felt how valuable a contribution it formed to the materials for the formation of an accurate and impartial judgment. It was so recognized most justly by my hon. and taught Friend the Member for Oxford, who treated the subject in a similar spirit of impartiality, although he arrived at an opposite conclusion. I am sure that is the general opinion formed of it by the House. But, notwithstanding what has been said, it is necessary to make good the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was said by the right hon. Member for North Staffordshire that he released us from our engagement; but it is not in the power of my right hon. Friend to do so if the engagement existed. Whether it exists is not to be tested even by his opinion, but by a reference to the documents now in the hands of the House. The case is very simple. In the first place the late Government announced to Mr. Eyre that when the trial has been concluded and they have had the opportunity of considering the evidence, they will then proceed to consider the further question whether they will undertake the payment of the whole or a portion of the costs. The trial reaches its conclusion, the Government resumes consideration on the case, and then on the 6th of June, 1868, Mr. Elliott writes to Mr. Eyre as follows:— With reference to the concluding paragraph of the letter written to you from this department by direction of the Duke of Buckingham's predecessor, on the 7th of February, 1867, stating that Her Majesty's Government held themselves free to consider how far the evidence adduced in the proceedings against you would justify them in reimbursing you any reasonable expenses incurred by you, I am directed by the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos to request that you will submit, for his Grace's consideration, a statement of the costs incurred by you in your defence in the criminal prosecutions which have now been brought to a close. If the case rested upon that letter alone following the prior intimation that the subject of costs would be weighed, I do not see how my right hon. Friend can satisfy himself that it does not constitute something in the nature of an engagement. My right hon. Friend speaks of courage in this matter. I do not wish to meet it in the way of crimination and recrimination; but I see no great evidence of superfluous courage on the part of my right hon. Friend, or those concerned with him, in the fact that having given that intimation to Mr. Eyre on the 6th of June, it was not until the 6th of November that any further definitive act was taken by the Government in the case. Certainly, if there was abundance of courage, the interval of four months which was allowed to elapse showed that there was not a superabundance; that there was not that redundance of courage which sometimes drives men on in a precipitate career. On the 6th of November conies another letter, which to my thinking clinches the engagement. At that date we find the Secretary of the Treasury writing the following letter to the Solicitor to the Treasury:— I am directed by the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury to transmit to you herewith two letters from the Colonial Office respecting the payment by Her Majesty's Government of the costs incurred in the defence of ex-Governor Eyre, and I am to desire that you will put yourself in communication with the solicitor of Mr. Eyre, as suggested in the Colonial Office letter of the 31st of July, and advise my Lords as to the amount to be defrayed by Her Majesty's Government. The only question remaining after that letter is noted is whether that injunction of the Secretary to the Treasury was immediately obeyed, and those who are curious on the subject may find on page46 a letter from the Solicitor to the Treasury, dated the 22nd of April, 1869, which refers to the letter of the 6th of November, and states that, in obedience to their Lordships' command, he put himself immediately in communication with Mr. Eyre's solicitor, requesting to see his bill of costs. The Government, therefore, promised consideration of the case after they had had an opportunity of considering the evidence; when they have had that opportunity they write to say the case will be considered; they then arrange the matter between the Colonial Office and the Treasury, doubtless—I cannot question it from the importance of the matter—with the assent of the entire Government, and then, in the month of November, the Solicitor to the Treasury receives his directions to place himself in communication with the solicitor of Mr. Eyre, to ascertain the amount of his bill of costs. It is impossible to conclude from this that anything short of a perfect engagement has been formed, which it is certainly for the honor of the Government to redeem. Under these circumstances, and giving the matter the best consideration we can—while admitting the difficulties with which the case is beset at every step, neither claiming any credit for ourselves nor casting any blame upon others in the matter, yet we believe we should best discharge our obligations to the country by giving to the House of Commons an opportunity of freely examining and weighing the whole matter. It has been said by one of the speakers that we have endeavoured to overcome the difficulty by a technical consideration, or that we are influenced by a point of honour between the two Governments. That, however, is an entire misapprehension of the case. There is no point of honour between the two Governments. It is not as a matter of honour towards the former Government that we take up this engagement; it is as a matter of honour towards Mr. Eyre, and on a question of the general principles upon which the service of the country must be adopted. I am bound to say, and I am quite sure that hon. Gentlemen opposite would state as frankly as I do now, that the fact of this having passed through the hands of two Governments does not bind the House of Commons. The fact that we recognize the acts of the late Government leaves the matter where it was; and if, according to a just and true statement made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Recorder, and by the hon. Member for Falmouth, and in accordance with any representation of the many cares and anxieties and losses which Mr. Eyre has gone through in conjunction with the errors into which he has undoubtedly fallen, this Vote be passed or rejected, it will be a perfectly free, unbiassed, and independent judgment of the House.


Sir, I will only detain the Committee a very few minutes. I entirely concur with the right hon. Gentleman as to the conduct of the former Government, and I do not agree that there was no promise. There was certainly something equivalent to a promise, for there was a promise of consideration; and when the Colonial Office had received these accounts they were forwarded to the Treasury, not to consider whether anything was due, but how much was due. There was, therefore, an admission on the part of the then existing Government that something was due. It has been said that no steps were taken by the Government in the matter between June and November, but of that delay the clearest expla- nation is afforded in the Papers. The sum total of the costs was sent in upon receipt of the letter dispatched by order of the Duke of Buckingham. The Colonial Office then asked for particulars; but it was not till late in November that Mr. Eyre's then solicitor sent in the items, and I may observe here that Mr. Eyre had reason to complain of his solicitor—for neglect I suppose—and subsequently changed his solicitor. At all events the Government had nothing to do with the delay. Passing now to another point, I wish that some hon. Gentlemen opposite who, from the best motives, have taken a strong part against this Vote had been animated with the same spirit as the late Mr. Charles Buxton. In writing to one of his constituents Mr. Buxton said—"I, for one, should be glad to learn that the present Government had undertaken Mr. Eyre's defence." Mr. Buxton, therefore, took a different view from that which is taken by his friends here. His anxiety was that everything should be done for Mr. Eyre, but at the same time that there should be a full and fair trial. I have been much surprised at some of the remarks of the hon. and learned Gentlemen (Mr. Osborne Morgan and Mr. Serjeant Simon). They stated that Mr. Eyre shrank from a trial before a jury of his country. Now, a man cannot be tried except through a Grand Jury, and upon two occasions the Jamaica Committee presented their own witnesses, and put before the Grand Jury the strongest primâ facie case they possibly could, and had to meet no rebutting evidence; yet the Grand Jury ignored the bills. What followed? Mr. Eyre was brought before the magistrates as an accessory to the murder, and it is said that a technical objection was taken. But the Grand Jury had ignored the bills upon the charge for murder, and it would have been absurd, therefore, to try Mr. Eyre for being accessory to a murder when the Grand Jury were of opinion that no murder was ever committed. Then Mr. Eyre was indicted for misfeasance of office, upon an elaborate indictment embracing various offences short of murder. In the other case we had the Charge of the Lord Chief Justice, which the hon. Member for Leicester admits to have been most effective on his side of the question, and yet the Grand Jury ignored the bill. Afterwards we had the Charge of Mr. Justice Blackburn. It is said that the Lord Chief Justice disagreed with that Charge. It is true he disagreed as to the presentment of some of the facts; but if it were not for fear of wearying the Committee, I could show, from the mouth of the Lord Chief Justice himself in the Court of Queen's Bench, that in laying down the law of the case he and the other Judges concurred with Mr. Justice Blackburn. Practically, the Grand Jury of Middlesex received the whole judgment of the Court of Queen's Bench as to the law, but they did not find a bill. Then it is stated that Mr. Eyre avoided the service of the summons. The fact is that he lived in Shropshire; the Jamaica Committee had an opportunity of again presenting the case before the magistrates there; and again they failed. Are you to impute to magistrates, to Grand Juries, and to Judges who charge Grand Juries, a failure of justice, and say that it resulted from their bias—that you were right and that everybody else was wrong; or are you not to say that magistrates, Grand Juries, and the country at large came to a sound conclusion when they held that, whatever Mr. Eyre's mistakes had been, he acted to the best of an honest judgment under difficult and trying circumstances; that if he failed, he was endeavouring to serve the Crown to the best of his ability, and that they would not, therefore, condemn him for certain excesses committed without his cognizance or direction? The hon. Member opposite (Mr. Gilpin) told us that he found no fault with Mr. Eyre's conduct up to October 20. Now, I accept the judgment of the Royal Commissioners that martial law was protracted for too long a period; but is that to be a ground for condemning Mr. Eyre? Remember the difficulties in which he was placed. Remember that every magistrate, every missionary and clergyman—["No!"]—well, geat numbers of them—supported him in the proceedings he took. Is it not just that we should endeavour to put ourselves in his place, and say whether a man of ordinary firmness and discretion—because that is the test you must apply—would have done otherwise than he did? We have heard an argument as to the suspension of particular laws. Let us take the case of Westmeath, where the ordinary law was suspended long after quiet was restored and agrarian crime had ceased. But when the ordinary law was re-established in Jamaica what occurred? Sir Peter Grant had still to treat the disturbances as an organized conspiracy and a regular insurrection. I find that there were then tried for acts growing out of the insurrection 2 prisoners who were condemned to death, 15 to penal servitude for life, 11 to penal servitude for 20 years, 2 for 10 years, and 1 for two years, 7 women being among these criminals. Here, then, were over 30 people against whom it was thought necessary to proceed long after the time when, you say the insurrection was suppressed. There is no question here of giving to Mr. Eyre any reward or testimonial; the question is—Are we not to prevent a man from being overwhelmed by the pressure of these costs? Mr. Eyre is a man who, up the time of those occurrences, had been for 25 years a good, honest, straightforward servant of the Crown. He had no personal object to serve in what he did. In Jamaica His sole duty, and his sole object, were to preserve the colony for the Crown. He succeeded in preserving it; and when you tell me of the good order which was afterwards preserved there under Sir Henry Storks and Sir Peter Grant, you must take into account the severe measures which were necessary to repress the insurrection before. When a public servant had been attacked and prosecuted by an irresponsible body who could not find a groundwork on which to bring him before a jury in a Court of Law, and when it is admitted that this man had served his country well for a long period and still intended to do so to the best of his ability, I, for one, maintain that at least he should not be ruined by the cost he has been obliged to incur, and therefore I shall give my hearty support to the Motion.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 243; Noes 130: Majority 113.

(4.) £5,485, to complete the sum for Miscellaneous Expenses.

Resolutions to be reported.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £976,468, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1873, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Customs Department.


said, he had a statement to make on the subject of this Vote which would occupy him some considerable time. The hour was already late, and he should therefore move that the Chairman report Progress.


said, he would suggest that the hon. Gentleman might make his statement then, and Progress could be reported later on.

After short discussion,

House resumed.

Resolutions to be reported To-morrow, at Two of the clock;

Committee also report Progress; to sit again upon Wednesday.