HC Deb 23 May 1873 vol 216 cc375-96

in rising to call the attention of the House to the Chinese Coolie Trade, remarked that, although the forms of the House prevented his moving the Resolution of which he had given Notice, he should proceed with his Motion, because the discussion would do good. The mortality on board the coolie vessels was dreadful—the average being 7 per cent, while in some it ranged from 20 to 30 per cent, most of the deaths being caused by suffocation. The following were instances of the fearful mortality which he had stated:—In the Ville de Grenada, 83 died out of 253; in the America, 114 out of 690; in the Antares, 82 out of 263; in the Louis Cornevara, 192 out of 739; in the Rosalia, 64 out of 456; and in the Onrust, 45 out of 453. Those statistics were partly furnished by our Consul at Callao, and partly taken from a Peruvian newspaper. The coolies, who were kidnapped and inveigled to the port of embarkation, at Macao, were there placed in barracoons under a strong guard. Thence they were taken in boats, still closely guarded, to the ships in waiting to receive them. On their arrival on board, they were battened down under the hatches in such numbers that they were almost suffocated from the want of air and the horrible stench that ensued. They were only allowed on deck once a-day in squads of 30, while loaded cannon were kept constantly pointed at the place of their confinement. On several occasions, maddened by their sufferings, they rose and murdered the captains or officers placed over them. In one instance, a ship, the Dolores Ugarte, with 600 coolies on board had run short of water, and they could only procure it by buying it at the rate of a dollar a cup from the sailors. The result was, that out of the 600, 207 died, 18 jumped overboard, while 50 were landed at Honolulu in almost a dying state. The same vessel, having changed her name to the San Juan, again set out for Macao, under the Peruvian flag, and took fire; but the coolies were left battened down below the hatches, and out of 600, all but 50 were burnt. Having referred to the Correspondence in the Library, he found no less than four cases in which coolies had risen and murdered the crews of the vessels, and those were all British ships, because 15 years ago four-fifths of the tonnage employed in this traffic was British, but now not one British ship was concerned in it. Of the cases which occurred on board Peruvian and other ships he had no statistics. Last year a Peruvian vessel had been forced by stress of weather into Yokohama, and a coolie jumped ashore, and claimed the protection of the Japanese authorities; but he was sent back. The matter had, how- ever, been taken up by our Minister, Mr. Watson, and the result was that the Japanese Court of Inquiry had sentenced the captain to receive 100 lashes, or to be imprisoned, while the coolies were liberated. Why could not the British authorities follow the just and courageous example set them by the Government of Japan? Many of these coolie ships, on their way to Cuba, put in at the Cape; why were they not examined, and the coolies liberated if found to have been kidnapped or cruelly treated? An instance had occurred last year of 1,000 coolies being kept under hatches while the steamer which was conveying them was coaling off Table Bay, during which time they endured the most terrible sufferings. The hon. Baronet went on to relate other atrocities of this traffic, and affirmed that the description he had given was attested by all our countrymen in China. Consuls Winchester, Sir D. Robertson, Sir Rutherford Alcock, Sir Harry Parkes, Sir John Bowring, Sir Frederick Bruce, all unite in denouncing the crimes, miseries, and horrors of this traffic, and in attributing them to the employment of crimps and recruiters. The condition of the coolies when they reached Peru was that of slaves; they were bought and sold publicly; it was a common practice to brand them upon the cheeks and other parts of their bodies; they underwent corporal punishment; they were employed in the guano pits—a most disgusting and unhealthy labour—and in the plantations they were overworked, ill-fed, confined at night in large barracks, which were guarded by soldiers; and were completely at the mercy of masters who were beyond the restraints of law, while all hope of ever returning to their own country was cut off. In Cuba the condition of the coolies was much the same, and our Consul General at the Havannah, as well as the Special Correspondent of The Times, in a series of letters from Cuba, had stated that the unfortunate Chinese in that island were not in any way to be distinguished from negro slaves. The coolies were nominally under contracts for eight years, but by an edict of the Viceroy Valmaseda, they must leave the island in 40 days, or enter into a new contract, the result of which was that their slavery was perpetual, and the correspondent of a New York paper had shown how that law worked, for out of 600 coolies waiting at a port for ships to convey them home, 400 were seized by the Spanish Government and sold to planters for a long term of years. Representations as to the cruel treatment of the coolies had been made through the American Representatives in Peru and Cuba, and by the American Minister in China, to Prince Kung. The Prince thanked them. He said Macao is now the only seat of this traffic, and he hoped other Powers would not allow it to be carried on under their flags. At the same time, he sent a Proclamation to the Chinese in Peru, expressing pity for their sufferings, and regretting he could not alleviate them. Last year, the noble Lord the "Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs said, in reply to a Motion that was made on this subject, that Her Majesty's Government had made friendly representations to the Government of Portugal, and he asked what other course Her Majesty's Government could take. After what had taken place, it was a mockery on the part of Lord Granville to profess to entertain confidence in the sentiments of humanity entertained by the Portuguese Government, and in their hatred of anything like oppression. To remonstrate, to expostulate with a Government so dead to every sentiment of humanity, was to beat the air. The only way in which the Portuguese Government could put an end to this traffic was by putting down altogether the crimps, recruiters, and barracoons employed and maintained in connection with it. This, the Portuguese Government would not do, as the petty settlement of Macao flourished on this slave traffic. It had been said that they ought to direct their efforts to the place of demand rather than the place of supply; but they could pretend no right to interference at Cuba or Peru, and what he thought we ought to do was to endeavour to prevent men being sold into slavery in the first instance. He believed that the continuance of this infamous coolie traffic, which was slavery in its worst form, would imperil our commercial relations with China, and what he asked the Government to do in the matter was to give the Chinese Government such moral support as would embolden them to demand the suppression of the traffic altogether. It would be a great mistake to suppose that because the traffic was now confined to Macao the evil was diminishing. The statistics furnished by our Consuls in Peru and Cuba showed that 25,000 Chinese were annually sold into slavery in those countries, and the number would increase, for Cuba, in anticipation of the abolition of slavery had imported largely, and a proposal had just been submitted to the Peruvian Parliament that a grant of public money should be made for the increased importation of coolie labour. His hostility to the emigration of Chinese was confined to this emigration, under contract from Macao, and was not directed against the emigration, as it was carried on from China to Singapore, Australia, and the United States—that was when the Chinese go without solicitation, and pay their own passage. There was a large and constant flow of emigration from China to the United States, but the difference between the nature of this emigration and that of which he complained was shown by the fact that in the vessels employed for this service there had never been a single rising of Chinese, and the mortality was no greater than it was on land. It sometimes happened that a few Chinese returned to their own country, and the accounts they gave of the horrors of slavery were a main cause of the hostility which existed to foreigners, and the dislike to their settling in the interior of China for the purposes of trade. He, however, urged the adoption of his proposal on higher grounds than those of self-interest—namely in the interests of humanity. He asserted that the traffic in question was slavery in every stage of its progress—in the kidnapping—in the voyage—in the life of slavery to which they were doomed. It was simply a traffic in human flesh, maintained to enrich the corrupt officials and demoralized population of a petty settlement—Macao. He trusted the Government would not look with indifference upon the fact that 25,000 individuals—a number which would soon reach 50,000 —were being annually sold into slavery in defiance of the protest of their own Government, whom one word of encouragement from us would embolden to put a stop to such an outrage. Slavery once stirred the heart of the people of this country, and if they seemed indifferent to it now it was only because they were under the impression that, owing to the exertions of their ancestors, the hateful institution had been extinguished. When they realized the fact that slavery existed in all its most hideous features, he had no doubt the people would be moved by the same generous impulses as their ancestors had been, and would appear in their old characters as the most uncompromising foes of slavery. It would be no answer to his proposal to say it could not be effectual if adopted. If Her Majesty's Government knew of any more effectual method that would attain the end he had in view let them propose it. He only asked them to try and put a stop to horrors, to which it would be difficult to find a parallel in the most barbarous ages. Really when he thought of this coolie traffic, he was reminded of the words Lord Brougham used to stigmatize a great political crime. Referring to the partition of Poland, Lord Brougham said—"It vexes the faith of pious men to witness scenes like those, and not see the flames of Heaven descend to smite the impious and guilty actors." He thought this language equally applicable to the crimes he had described.


said, he was glad that that the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir Charles Wingfield) had not fallen into the error committed by some persons, of confounding the Slave Trade from Macao to Cuba with emigration from Hong Kong to the British West Indies. It had often been erroneously assumed that Chinese emigration to the British West Indies had been attended by the same abuses as those by which the emigration from the Portuguese port of Macao to Cuba and Peru had been disgraced. An assumption more unjust to the Colonies was never made. What were the facts? In 1859, the Allied Commissioners of whom Sir Harry Parkes represented this country, arranged with the Chinese Government the terms under which coolies might be engaged for the British Colonies, and a Government agent was sent to China to commence operations. At that time a strong feeling existed in China against the Macao emigration, and it was thought probable that a properly conducted British agency would be the means of stopping, at least to some extent, the unlawful practices at Macao. The British agent opened a depôt at Hong Kong, under such regulations as to place the character of his proceed- ings beyond dispute. The success of his measures was complete. While the authorities wore proceeding with the utmost severity against kidnappers, the English depôt was crowded with voluntary applications for emigration. The contract entered into with the Chinese provided for a free passage to the West Indies in British emigrant vessels under the provisions of the Passengers Act; the protection of the immigrant by the Colonial laws, as confirmed by the Secretary of State, and carried out under the supervision of Government officials; all disputes between employer and labourer being settled before the stipendiary magistrate, who was appointed by the Crown; a service of five years' agricultural labour, payment of money wages at the rate prevailing in the colony; and, in addition, house, garden-ground, and medical attendance during the term of service. In order that the emigrant might be induced to take his family with him, the females entered into no obligation except to reside on the estate; and they were to be supplied, free of cost, with suitable lodging, medicine, and hospital accommodation when necessary. At the close of their five years' service, the emigrants were free to choose their mode of life. Some entered into new indentures, receiving a large bounty; others preferred to make their own terms with employers for independent service on the estates; others engaged in retail trade, or cultivated provision grounds, or pursued any handicraft they might have been accustomed to in China; all enjoying as much real freedom and protection as they could have in England. Under this system emigration was carried on up to 1866, with the concurrence of all classes, and notably of a German missionary, who, after a voyage to Demerara and Trinidad, returned to China fully convinced of the advantage the Chinese would gain by emigrating to those Colonies. About this time, however, Sir Rutherford Alcock entered into a Convention with China, containing new and onerous conditions, the practical effect of which was to put a stop to the emigration to British Colonies. On the other hand, it had thrown no obstacle in the way of emigration from Macao, for since the closing of the British agency there had been an increased activity at that port, and emigrants were still engaged in different parts of China, carried to Macao, and practically sold into slavery. With reference to the subject of the back passage, and as a distinguishing mark between the two different races, it must always be remembered, that wherever the Chinese went, he went as a colonist, married and settled in his new home, while the practice of the Indian coolie, as a rule, was to return to his native land. The British West India Colonies urgently needed labour, and offered advantages to the Chinese at least equal to any other countries—advantages secured to the emigrant on the good faith of the British Government, and for that reason, he trusted there was a prospect of the Convention being modified so as to allow the emigration to be resumed. The British Colonists, moreover, had long felt it a great hardship and injustice, that, while disposed to enter into and fulfil proper engagements, they had been debarred from obtaining labourers from this source, at the same time that other countries were procuring thousands every year, either by evading the terms of the Convention, or entering into engagements which they did not intend to carry out. This was one point upon which he hoped they should have an expression of opinion from the noble Lord. What the other was he would proceed briefly to state. The slave trade Blue Books recently issued contained a despatch from Lord Granville to Mr. Layard, the British Ambassador at Madrid, dated the 10th of April, 1871, referring to suggestions for the introduction of coolies into Cuba from British India. It stated that the Government— Can only consider a scheme for the introduction of British immigrants, when slavery is absolutely abolished in that island, and then only under the protection of a Treaty. This pointed to the possibility of a Convention with Spain similar to those made, unfortunately, as he (Mr. Stephen Cave) thought, with the French and Dutch. The official Correspondence of 1872 had not yet been distributed, and he should like to know whether any negotiations to that end had been commenced, or whether the question had advanced at all since Lord Granville's despatch written two years ago. Now, the main objection to such a plan was that when once landed the immigrants were beyond the protection of this country. In our West India Colonies, the Government had thought the most stringent regu- lations necessary for the protection of the people, and a direct supervision over every detail of the system. But none such were possible in Cuba. The immigrants to British Colonies were conveyed in emigrant ships under the provisions of the Passenger Acts; they lived under colonial laws securing their rights and liberty, laws approved by the Secretary of State and carried out by Government officials. Questions between them and their employers were determined by magistrates appointed by the Crown and sent out from England. Contracts and renewals of contracts were verified by the Immigration Agent General, who had power to prosecute employers and to act in every way for the protection of the immigrant. Their houses were to be of a specified character, the hospitals were under Government medical Inspectors, and the estate doctors were henceforward to be Government officers too. There might be, of course, from time to time cases of fraud and oppression, but he would venture to say not more frequently than in this country. Such regulations would be still more necessary in Cuba, where the planters had been accustomed to deal with slaves; but, evidently, the British Government could not enforce such a system there. The case of Réunion showed that the British Consul would be unable to act as an efficient check, and no security would exist for the proper treatment of the immigrants, or for the fulfilment of the contracts. The sufferings of the Chinese in Cuba, nominally free immigrants, but practically slaves, afforded a strong argument against placing British subjects in a similar position. He did not wish to say anything harsh of Spain, especially in her present difficulties; but her extreme negligence, to say the least, in carrying out her various Treaty engagements respecting the slave trade, showed that she was not yet to be trusted in these matters, and he should be glad to hear that the idea of sanctioning emigration from British India to the Spanish colonies, if ever seriously entertained, had been finally abandoned.

Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,


said, he thought the circumstances of the coolie trade were such that anyone who had any knowledge on the subject ought to address the House. He concurred in the inutility of a Convention with the Spanish Government, and he trusted a strong opinion would be expressed by the House against the emigration from British India of any of our fellow subjects there, as there were in India thousands of square miles of territory which required labour. He entirely endorsed all that the right hon. Member for Shoreham (Mr. Stephen Cave) had said on this subject. The noble Lord the late Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had only withdrawn his prohibition against the coolie traffic at Hong Kong on the conclusion of a Convention by which Chinese labourers had been carefully provided for under a system of rules and regulations which had been strictly and uniformly adhered to, and from information he had received, he could say that no complaint had ever been made with regard to any of the vessels on which they had been carried. The coolies had returned with considerable sums of money, having received ample wages for their labour. The hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir Charles Wingfield) had referred to the Convention proposed to ourselves and other foreign nations by China, but it was obviously never intended by China to be carried out. The edict was in force only on paper, and hence the state of things in Macao which he had so graphically described, and which there was no doubt was conducted as cruelly and horribly as it possibly could be. The hon. Member had said that our conduct in the past with regard to China was not calculated to inspire confidence on the general subject of the prohibition of slavery. [Sir CHARLES WINGFIELD must protest against the hon. Member for St. Ives (Mr. Magniac) putting words in his mouth which he had never uttered.] He (Mr. Magniac) could only say that he had taken down the hon. Member's words and was prepared to maintain that our conduct in regard to China had been particularly forbearing and worthy of being followed by other nations. The position of Hong Kong itself was a proof of this. At the present moment, no charge in regard to the improper shipment or emigration of coolies could be brought against anyone connected with Hong Kong. On the other hand, he was happy to say that a strong community of feeling was growing up between those who resided at Hong Kong and the natives of China. The hon. Member very much overrated the goodwill of the Chinese Government in this matter. That Government was content to sit by, and see what occurred under their noses without any interference, and a reason for that was to be found in the fact that the Government at Pekin looked to the governors of the various provinces only for a certain amount of tribute, and if that was forthcoming, the provincial governors were allowed to govern as they pleased. The Chinese officials were the worst paid in the world and, as a consequence, they made their gains as they could, and in that might be found the simple explanation of what occurred at Macao. The Chinese Government might put a stop to these proceedings to-morrow if they chose to carry out their own laws. Nothing was more beautiful than Chinese law on paper, but in practice nothing could be less effective. It was not carried out. The hon. Member recommended that we should pursue a vigorous course; but a vigorous course was too often a dangerous course, and in this case it might result in creating greater evils than those which we now sought to redress. The only way to deal properly with this horrible trade was to treat China as an independent nation, to give her good example, to support her where we could do so justly, and to remonstrate with her when her conduct might call for remonstrance.


said, that his hon. Friend the Member for St. Ives (Mr. Magniac) who had just sat down seemed to intimate that though these proceedings were very horrible, there was nobody to blame for them. His hon. Friend was, no doubt, a great authority; but an authority second to none in this country had shown in a letter to The Times, under the signature of "Veritas," that he was of a very different opinion, when he asked— Why had all these horrors of kidnapping and slavery been allowed to continue year after year without any effort being made by civilized States to put an end to them? What was done by the Spanish buccaneers 200 years ago had been revived in China without interference. The United States alone, of all civilized countries, had interfered in the cause of humanity by passing an Act for the suppression of this new slavery. The writer showed that much might be done by this country if they would earnestly take the work in hand. Last year he himself called attention to this subject, and one of the statements which he then made was that gambling houses were permitted to exist in the British Colony of Hong Kong, that the Chinese, having lost in those houses everything that belonged to them, finally staked their persons, and that was one of the ways by which this horrible traffic was prolonged. He was sorry the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies (Mr. Knatchbull Hugessen) was not now in his place, as he was happy to acknowledge that within the last 12 months Lord Kimberley had taken steps to put down that evil, and his principal object in rising was to thank the noble Lord and his right hon. Friend for what had been done. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Shoreham (Mr. Stephen Cave) seemed to object to our paying the passage home of these coolies; but he had answered the objection himself, and shewn its fallacy, in the statement he afterwards made, that the Chinese were invariably colonizers, and in that event would be disposed to continue where they were. He certainly thought it was only justice that the return passage should be paid.


said, he had listened to the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir Charles Wingfield) with some surprise and perplexity, because throughout the whole of his speech there ran a vein of accusation, not only against the present Government, but against all Governments, for having been careless and indifferent as to the horrors of slavery. The hon. Member drew a distinction between this country and the United States very much to our disadvantage; but he must have forgotten that this very year we were incurring great pecuniary, and possibly moral, sacrifices in carrying out the mission to Zanzibar, which had for its object the suppression of the slave trade on the East Coast of Africa. If he interpreted the hon. Member's speech aright, the conclusion which he would have Parliament and the country come to was nothing less than a declaration of war against Portugal. The hon. Member had brought various accusations against former Governments in respect of the Chinese Coolie traffic. But what were the facts? The question of the coolie traffic had attracted the attention of British Governments since 1853, and ever since they had endeavoured with various success to mitigate its horrors. But before going into the point he would join issue with the hon. Member and say that emigration and immigration of coolies, properly conducted, was not slave trade. He would recall to the House what had been done since 1853. The British Government had acted consistently both alone and in concert with other Powers for the defence of humanity in this particular question. Briefly mentioned, the results of its labours were as follows:—First, the Chinese Passenger Act of 1855; then the emigration system established in 1860; thirdly, the obtaining the assent of the Chinese Government to proper regulations in the Treaty of Tien Tsin; and fourthly, prohibiting Hong Kong from being a depot for emigration to any but British Colonies, and in any but British ships. The statements made with regard to the horrors perpetrated on board the two ships mentioned by the hon. Member were quite correct. But when the case of one of these ships, the Don Juan, formerly called Dolores Ugarte, was brought to the notice of Her Majesty's Government, Lord Granville wrote a despatch to Mr. Doria, in Portugal, in such emphatic terms, as conclusively proved that there was no indifference on his part to the horrors perpetrated on board that ship. He (Viscount Enfield) regretted to say that the Portuguese Government thought it their duty not only to defend themselves, but inferentially to attack the Hong Kong Government and our emigration regulations. But we had a complete refutation of these accusations in a despatch of Sir Richard Mac-Donnell, dated January 8, 1872. The only drawback to the system was, that the immigrants suffered from violence on the part of loafers, who regarded the importation of such industrious competitors with jealousy. Sir Charles Murdoch also confirmed the report that the system had much improved under the Governor of Macao, Admiral da Souza. Changes had been made between 1859 and 1866 with regard to the regulations affecting Hong Kong, and the remarks of the hon. Member for St. Ives (Mr. Magniac) speaking as he did from personal acquaintance, must have been listened to with satisfaction. Great care was now taken to prevent abuses, no native recruiting was allowed, the depôts were under strict surveillance, the emigrant ships were examined as regards seaworthiness, the emigrants were questioned as to their willingness to emigrate, their destination and conditions of service, and many of them returned home, having saved money. The House should know the character of these men. The writer of a private letter from Hong Kong said:— The greater part of the men obtained are either men of indifferent character, more or less at variance with the local authorities, who have been in prison or quarrelled with their parents or are given to drink, and of extreme stupidity. The majority are boatmen, about a third being agriculturists, or men employed on shore. These men are either deceived by delusive promises, by threats of being split on for some real or fancied offence against the authorities, or are induced by a continued round of dissipation and drink to promise anything. Many sell themselves to pay their gambling debts. The agents, who are natives, run great risks, for if found out by the authorities they get but a short shrift and and a long rope. The hon. Member for Gravesend seemed to think we had refused to assist the Chinese Government. On the contrary, Sir Brooke Robertson, our Consul General at Canton, had acted with energy. He had observed large bodies of coolies leaving Canton every morning by steamers under British flag for Macao. He arranged with the Viceroy to appoint officers to examine all coolie passengers, and invited all who did not wish to go to Macao to step out and say so. On the first morning, 30 availed themselves of the privilege, next day nine, and others landed on subsequent occasions. That happened last year. Sir Brooke Robertson had again acted vigorously this year. About the beginning of March several junks with Europeans on board were reported on the coast opposite the Island of Hainan, and the Viceroy of Canton, at the recommendation of Her Majesty's Consul, sent a gunboat with orders to bring them to Canton. Three were captured; the Chinese crews were delivered up to the local authorities, but the European captured claimed to be a Portuguese, and a resident proprietor at Macao. The Viceroy accordingly proposed communicating with the Portuguese Government respecting him. In the end of March the Viceroy was going to despatch two more gunboats to sweep the coast for Macao kidnappers, of whom it was stated there were above 20 vessels fitted out for that purpose. The hon. Member for Gravesend had also referred to the case of the Maria Luz. That was a Peruvian ship, with 200 coolies, and it was driven by stress of weather into Yokohama in July last. One coolie, who had jumped overboard, was taken on board Her Majesty's ship Iron Duke and handed over to the Japanese authorities; but he as sent back to the Maria Luz, beaten, and had his pigtail cut off. Mr. Watson, the British Secretary of Legation, on hearing of this, paid a visit to the vessel, and, ascertaining that he and other coolies were detained against their will, brought the matter under the notice of the Japanese authorities. After inquiry, the coolies were liberated and sent back to China and the Chinese Government had thanked Mr. Wade for the friendly intervention of the British authorities on behalf of the coolies. The questions arising between the Portuguese and Chinese had created some difficulty, but the good offices of Sir Brooke Robertson had prevented any serious collision between the two countries. The fact was, that the Portuguese claimed jurisdiction over Macao by right of conquest; but the Chinese denied it. Some Portuguese adventurers obtained a footing there in 1516, and in 1557 permission was granted to the Portuguese to erect storehouses. In 1582 a ground rent was stipulated for of about £166, so it seemed clear that Macao was not ceded to the Portuguese. A private letter received from Canton stated that— Mutual concessions might lead to Portugal being admitted as a Treaty Power, and with a Minister of that nation at Pekin, much might be done to ameliorate the condition of the coolies and rectify abuses. The United States had lately suggested united action on the part of America and Great Britain, and a reply had been made in the sense that we advocated coolie emigration when properly conducted as beneficial to the coolies themselves and to the countries in which they were employed; that all emigration under contract to places not within Her Majesty's dominions was strictly forbidden from Hong Kong; that we were fully alive to the evils of emigration as practised at Macao, and were willing to co-operate with the Governments of other countries with a view to put a stop to those abuses. The House would probably wish to know what assurance he could give as to the future action of Her Majesty's Government in that matter. It would be improper for him to indulge in any language savouring of menace towards Portugal; but anyone who carefully and dispassionately considered all that different Governments of this country had clone in reference to that subject, and how they had urged the matter upon the attention of the Chinese, the Portuguese, and other Governments, would recognize the anxiety they had shown for the suppression of that coolie emigration, conducted in so lamentable a manner as it was from Macao to Cuba. They would continue to urge their representations, for they could not be insensible to the horrors of that traffic which had been brought under their notice. He hoped the House would believe that Lord Granville, faithful to the traditions he had inherited from Lord Palmerston, was as keenly alive as the hon. Member for Gravesend himself to those evils, and would do all in his power by friendly communication with other Governments which had a voice in the matter to put a stop to them. In conclusion he (Viscount Enfield) thought that we might look with honest pride upon the exertions which had been made by the present and by past English Governments in the interests of humanity and justice.


said, he believed that the statements of the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir Charles Wingfield) in respect to the Chinese coolie traffic were not at all exaggerated—a traffic more cruel than any carried on in slaves from the Coast of Africa. These Chinese coolies were a civilized and intelligent race. They were much more sensitive than the poor negroes deported from Africa, and there was no doubt they were deceived and entrapped into those contracts. He therefore thought we had a right to complain on this occasion of the conduct of the Portuguese Government, and he hoped that some representations of a much more stringent character than any that had hitherto been employed would be made by Lord Granville upon the matter.


said, he regretted that the question of the the emigration of coolies from Hong Kong had been introduced into the debate. The Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend referred to the emigration from Macao, and it was a pity that the discussion had deviated from that point and thus had given occasion to some rather severe remarks by the hon. Member for St. Ives (Mr. Magniac), and the noble Lord the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs on his hon. Friend the Mover of the Resolution. It was true that we might have confidence that coolie emigration from our ports and under the supervision of British officers would be fairly and justly managed. At the same time the Report of the Commissioners sent to British Guiana, stating that the planters, having made a dear bargain with regard to Chinese immigrants, had tried to extricate themselves in not the most creditable manner, showed that even in our own colonies, with all the care displayed by the Government, questionable proceedings occurred, and that unremitting vigilance was necessary. He thought, too, that the Chinese Government had shown that they were not indifferent in regard to the matter of Chinese emigration by having expressed to Mr. Wade their thanks for the course taken by Mr. Watson, our Chargé d' Affaires in Japan, with reference to the coolie traffic. If that gentleman was able to do so much to put down this abominable traffic, as far as the Japanese Government were concerned, he should like to know why we did not exert ourselves with equal success to interfere with it at the Cape of Good Hope. As to Spain and Portugal, the latter an old ally, and with whom any hostile feeling was undesirable, he was bound to say their conduct was reprehensible in the highest degree. The noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs very properly used the diplomatic expressions of courtesy which must be used by those employed in a responsible position towards Foreign Powers; but he (Mr. Eastwick), as an independent Member, could imagine nothing worse than their conduct. Ever since the debate of February 16th last year he had been on the watch for some indication that this revival of the slave trade—this hateful Chinese coolie traffic from Macao for the benefit of the Spanish and South American Governments—was on the wane. But he confessed that so far from discovering any reason to hope that that would be the case, he had, on the contrary, seen much to confirm him in the belief that unless some such course as that now recommended was taken, the traffic would increase. Some persons might, perhaps, derive comfort from the fact that negro slavery had just been extinguished in one of the Spanish Antilles, Porto Rico, and bore the appearance of giving way in Cuba, which had for so many years been its stronghold. Porto Rico, indeed, was a remarkable exception to the other Spanish Colonies, for there slavery had been abolished, not only with the assent of the Deputies, but even on their petition; but the circumstances of that island were so exceptional that no argument could be derived from what had been done there. Porto Rico had a population of 700,000 people on an area of 4,000 square miles, and but a seventh of that number had been slaves, and Consul Bid well said that— Slavery would not there, as in other countries, be succeeded by any sort of forced labour, the existing population being ample for the work it has to do, and there being a unanimous feeling of opposition to any immigration of labourers—whether Chinese coolies, or negroes. Large quantities of sugar and tobacco were produced, and there was a surplus revenue, which, he was sorry to say, was taken by Spain to carry on the war in Cuba. In the latter Island the Governor and planters; according to the Report of a Committee reprinted in the Diario a Havana paper of October 20, 1871, stated that since the 3rd of June, 1847, 109,092 Chinese coolies had been introduced into Cuba, not one of whom had returned. The cost of their introduction was $340 each, or something like $37,000,000 in the aggregate. The Governor of Cuba argued that the intelligent proprietors and merchants of Cuba would not have laid out a sum so vast inconsiderately, and that, therefore, Asiatic colonization must be a wise measure. In his eyes the wisdom of the system was further demonstrated by the arrival during the last and present year at Havana of 2,715 Chinese, who were sold for $400 each, "notwithstanding the unhappy state of the island." Lastly, he brought, as a conclusive argument as to the fitness of this state of things, the fact that an association of rich planters had been formed with a capital of $1,000,000, "for the sole object of importing Chinese labourers exclusively for their own estates." The Report then went on to say— The insurrection is expiring. The Government should therefore prepare itself by profound and thoughtful study and meditation on the past and present, for the duty of setting the country in the way of material and moral progress. The scarcity of labour will be greater than ever, because of the great number of men who have perished, and the natural distrust of employing those—that is the slaves—who have been employed in the insurrection. It is necessary then to have recourse to measures already well known and accepted, and the resolution, therefore, is come to that Asiatic immigration—that is, the Coolie trade—is useful and of absolute necessity, and must be continued and increased.

And this more especially, because— Whilst free labour can find in manufacturing and mercantile pursuits, a comfortable recompense, it is not likely that it would engage in the rude and toilsome tasks of agriculture for the benefit of a third party.

Now, he asked, what hope could be entertained of the mitigation of the coolie traffic by the Spaniards, when its necessity was logically reasoned out, and its existence shown to be in the eyes of the Governor and the ruling class in Cuba essential not only to material but moral progress. In the same way the Portuguese Government of Macao, in spite of the notorious atrocities committed on board the Dolores Ugarte, and other slavers, coolly invited Mr. Baily, the United States Consul, to conic over and see with his own eyes the perfection of the emigration system of that place. He did this in reply to such remonstrances as the following on the part of the Consul:— May I be so bold as to ask that your Excellency will permit me to officially inform my Government that you will interpose your authority to prevent that infamous ship having an opportunity to repeat the horrors of her last passage to Callao, and again flout her crimes in the face of the world, to the scandal of Christian.

The reply was— Come and verify with your own eyes how the acts of emigration take place. You would certainly be convinced that in no part of China is this proceeded with with more exemplary regularity in objects of such high common interest.

The vessel was allowed to go forth, and 600 human beings were trampled to death, burnt, or drowned. After that, he asked what was the use of appealing to the Spanish or the Portuguese. The diplomatic correspondence with such a people, on such a subject, was a solemn farce. What further proof was required of the futility of such appeals? But if such proof were asked, they had only to turn to Consul Hutchinson's Report on Peru for 1871–2. He said that such advertisements as the following were common in the journals of Callao:— To be sold for what he cost, a young Chinese, healthy, strong, and intelligent in his profession of carpenter. Whoever wants such may apply at the Calle de Lima, No. 69, bringing with him 450 dollars.

The Consul added— It occasionally happens that Chinese mutiny on the passage, although this is said to be a voluntary emigration. Whilst their engagements are accredited to be from five to eight years, I cannot ascertain that a shipment of any back to their own country has ever been made.

Well, it was the fact that in 1862, for example, 713 died on the passage out of 1,716, that is, more than 40 per cent. When to this we added the brandings of the unfortunate coolies with hot irons like cattle, and the burning of them alive by the populace of Peru, when they were goaded by their oppressors into some crime, he must say he was astonished at the forbearance of the Foreign Office in dealing with such a state of things. He was astonished that Lord Granville did not reply with an indignant rebuke to that large Cuban proprietor, Senor Raey, who proposed to import from British India three coolies, to make up for each one of the emancipated negroes, whom since the insurrection the Cubans could no longer trust in their barracoons. He was inclined to exclaim, "Oh! for one day of the more vigorous policy of Lord Palmerston," and to wish that we had no more of diplomatic correspondence with these slave-dealing Governments. There was a better alternative, and that was the course proposed by his hon. Friend, which, he hoped, would be generally supported, and that the Chinese Government would be enabled, with our assistance to establish an emigration office of its own, and put an end for ever to the deceptions and mock tribunals at Macao. He agreed with the right hon. Member for Shoreham (Mr. Stephen Cave) that Lord Granville's despatch to Mr. Layard appeared to encourage the idea of importing coolies from British India; but in another despatch Lord Granville referred to the scheme as impracticable. Possibly one despatch was meant to be shown to the Spanish Government, and the other not. It was difficult to know what to do with Governments with which we wished to remain on good terms, and which yet were determined to carry on this traffic. We might, as indicated by the noble Lord, act in concert with the United States, which had shown a willingness to do anything they could to put down these nefarious practices. Influence might also be brought to bear on the Chinese Government at Pekin. The warmth shown by the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir Charles Wingfield) in such a matter was only natural, and he thought the hon. Member's Motion had not deserved to be treated with quite the severity with which the noble Lord had treated it. It was only reasonable that philanthropic men should speak strongly upon such a question as this.


said, he was satisfied with the reply given by the noble Lord the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs (Viscount Enfield), and begged the Government not to slacken their efforts for putting an end to the hideous evils resulting from the kidnapping of Chinese, and from their transport to Spanish and South American possessions. Having considerable acquaintance with Macao, and with the great facilities for bringing thousands of Chinese coolies to that place by the numerous channels leading thereto from various parts of the mainland, and knowing the openings for corrupt commerce which existed at Macao, from the double system of government in that place between Chinese and Portuguese officers, he was afraid he could not hold out any hopes that the Government would be able entirely to prevent the kidnapping which was mainly carried on at that port. He trusted, however, that, in attempting to suppress it, they would not put an end to the free emigration of Chinese. He had had considerable experience in the Straits of Malacca of the great value of Chinese labour, which not only benefited the Chinese who there emigrated yearly in thousands, but rescued fine and extensive tracts of country from the jungle which covered the Malay Peninsula. He suggested that the most effectual mode of putting a stop to the existing evils would be to encourage the free emigration of coolies to our Colonies, under a well- regulated system of transport, whereby both parties would be benefited; and to cheapen as far as possible, the cost of their conveyance, whereby the inducements for kidnappers to supply coolies under the present detestable system would be lessened, if not entirely removed. When once the coolies were landed in large numbers in our Colonies, they were so intelligent, and so ready to band themselves together in brotherhoods or trade unions, as to be quite able to take care of, and to provide for, themselves.