The BISHOP of OXFORD
said, he rose for the purpose of moving the appointment, pursuant to the notice which he had given, of a Committee of their Lordships' House, to take into consideration the best means which Great Britain can adopt for providing for the final extinction of the African slave trade. As no opposition would, he believed, be offered to the Motion, it was not his intention to enter at any considerable length into the subject. He was glad to have the cordial support of Her Majesty's Government in making this Motion, but at the same time he thought it was only respectful to their Lordships that he should say a very few words as to the grounds on which he thought it necessary that this Committee should be appointed. He believed that he said no more than what every one would admit to be true, in stating, on the somewhat bare page on which were inscribed high acts and principles, the efforts of Great Britain stood recorded in the brightest colours, for what she had done of late years in this direction in restitution for her long and cruel injustice towards the African race. Her efforts first in putting a stop to the slave trade among her own subjects, and afterwards in the emancipation of the negro population in her West India and other colonies, were praiseworthy, and in a right direction; but he thought it would be admitted that still more was required of her; that as she had carried on the crime herself, and had led other nations, by her fatal example, into partaking of the same great atrocity, she was bound in duty to set an example as marked and decisive in her opposition to slavery as she had before set an example in guilt, and that she should leave no effort untried to induce other nations whom she had led into crime to abandon with her the course of guilt which she had herself left, and to aid her in putting an end to it wherever it prevailed. For this purpose, and with this view, she entered into treaties with other maritime Powers for the establishment of a blockade, by which alone the suppression of the slave trade could be carried into vital effect on the African coast. But the history of this system had reached a now phase. With nations, as with men, it was far easier, in the first impulse of generous sentiment, to effect a great act, than to continue to maintain year after year a great strife against an evil, especially when the struggle is costly, and not in the first instance 1079 recommended by any great apparent success. This had been the conduct of Great Britain; but it was, he believed, useless to deny the fact that there had sprung up an apathy in the public mind compared with its state in times past with regard to this question. The press of this country, that so often led, usefully, the public mind, could not be mistaken in the views which it so generally put forward, and it had latterly expressed a certain coldness on the question, and a certain readiness to go back from the position which this country had previously taken, which was far too plain to be mistaken by any unbiassed reader. In this crisis of this great question it seemed incumbent on their Lordships' House to examine carefully into the plan upon which this country had hitherto been acting; that they should closely investigate the objections which were urged against that plan with regard to the alleged impossibility of putting down the slave trade by such means; and that they should arrive at a conclusion as to the wisdom of maintaining the present blockade, or of modifying or altering it so as to render it more efficient. It was in consequence of his conviction of the necessity of some such course as this, that he now moved their Lordships to appoint this Committee. He did so from a conviction in his own mind that the result of that examination must have the effect of convincing them, that without maintaining that blockading squadron, any other measures that they could adopt would be insufficient. But whether any alteration were to be made in the present plan, or whether the blockade were to be maintained just as it was now conducted—these were matters on which it would be for their Lordships to inquire, and with regard to which he should not for the present venture to give an opinion. But this much he would say, that in the evidence that had been obtained in another place, with the exception of the evidence of those who had been themselves engaged in the slave trade, and whose statements were naturally to be viewed with suspicion, there was a remarkable concurrence of opinion with regard to the fact, that just in proportion to the efficacy of that blockading squadron had been the diminution or intermission of the slave trade, and that just in proportion as measures had been taken to render that blockading squadron less effectual, just in the same proportion would the nefarious traffic increase and prosper. There was nothing plainer from the evidence than this, that 1080 up to 1840 the blockading squadron had not, in point of fact, been able to carry out its purpose; that, owing to restrictions which prevailed with regard to the right of search south of the equator, and owing to other difficulties, the squadron was able to do very little indeed in effecting the object for which it had been sent out; but that, on the contrary, from 1840 to 1842, the squadron did effect a vast amount of that good for the sake of which England had consented to institute these operations. It appeared from the evidence, that more than half of the vessels engaged in the trade within this period had been captured, and that those who were engaged in the trade had become so disheartened that they were preparing to abandon it altogether as a hopeless undertaking; and it was owing to the misfortune of a misapprehension of the instructions sent out from this country, which misapprehension tended to thwart the officers in command on that station, that this most desirable result had not followed. In consequence of this misapprehension, it was at once imagined that the zeal of England in this cause was flagging; and means were taken to extend the most exaggerated misrepresentations on this point along the coast, so as to make it be believed even that England had determined to reinstitute the slave trade for her own colonies. The trade had, in consequence, sprung up with new vigour; and since that period the number of slaves imported into the Brazils had been even greater than the number imported before that temporary lull to which he had alluded. All this appeared on the face of that evidence; and he desired that their Lordships should appoint the Committee for which he now moved, in order that they might carefully go into the whole question. They would hear all that could be urged on either side, so as to be placed in a position to meet idle objections, if the objections were idle, against a great principle; to listen to valid arguments, if valid arguments could be urged; and to devise such means as it became them to devise, to meet the difficulties with which they had to contend—the greatest, in carrying out their object, which a nation ever bound itself to carry into execution. And just in proportion to his conviction of the comparative apathy which prevailed in the public mind on the question at this moment, was his desire that their Lordships should go carefully into this inquiry; because he was well convinced that that 1081 apathy proceeded from no change in the English mind with regard to this great question of the suppression of the slave trade, but was based on other impressions altogether. In point of fact, it was a natural consequence that the minds of men, constituted as they were, should, from the continuance of a great evil, begin gradually to forget the details of the evil. He believed that it had taken many years to arouse the mind of England into a full view of the enormity of those details—that it had taken many years of enduring toil before the greatness of the crime was fully seen; but as soon as it once became fixed on the minds of the people of England, the decision became implanted in their breasts, that no advantage whatever, of a material kind, should induce this country to be mixed up any longer with a system of such enormity. He believed that that feeling was still strong in the minds of the people of England, and that it would be aroused into action again by such an inquiry as that which he demanded, and by having such evidence as that taken in another place brought prominently forward. Could it be otherwise, while they had such facts before them as those stated in that evidence, by the men who were engaged in the traffic, of human beings lying three deep in the holds of vessels while proceeding across the ocean, under the equator—of their being so packed together that it was impossible for them to move from side to side except by a general agreement of the whole dock—of this being their state in the early part of the voyage, until, by attenuation and by deaths, they came to have sufficient room to turn from one side to another as they pleased? And when the witness was then asked, if they did not suffer much from the tossing of the vessel and from thirst, he replied, that they did so at first, but that they soon became so attenuated as to be incapable of suffering from bruises. Whether England will or will not abandon the attempt to prevent such atrocities as these, was a question on which he could entertain no manner of doubt. He was convinced that the reply would be as one voice from the whole country, "Show us if you can that this is the only way, or is a reasonable way, for putting an end to such a frightful system, and no secondary considerations will induce us to refuse our warmest assent to it." This was the question on which he wished their Lordships to inquire. It was with nations as it was in 1082 the life of man—it was a fearful thing to decline from high and noble principles, and to take up local and secondary remedies. He wanted them to prevent this great injustice and indignity to so large a proportion of the human race. He trusted that they would not allow the centre of Africa to be filled with rapine, and murder, and bloodshed, in order that the plantations of Brazil might be cultivated with greater facility. He trusted that they would not let these evils be unredressed when God had given them the means, and with the means had given them the charge of preventing it. He therefore thought that it was due, on the part of their Lordships' House, to enter into this inquiry, in order to see whether the existing plan could be effectually carried out before it was abandoned. They were told that the slave trade could be put down by the extension of lawful trade; but those who said so forgot what was the very nature of this traffic. Like all great crimes, it was full of innumerable incidental evils, as well as charged with its own direct iniquity; and it was one of those incidental evils which would continue as long as the slave trade existed, that it would render all lawful traffic absolutely impossible. The two could not exist together. The stronger must destroy the weaker. They had it in the evidence of one of the parties engaged in it, that the slave trade, as it was now conducted, was the most lucrative trade under the sun; and that, so far from there being any tendency in the trade to wear itself out, if it were given time, there was a certainty of the trade continuing if let alone. In proof of this, it was stated that no less than 65,000 slaves had been imported into the Brazils in the year 1846–7, and yet that that vast number by no means met the demand for that particular year. Further, it was stated that there was in Brazil an unlimited amount of fertile soil, which could be brought by slave labour into a state of the most lucrative production. This great importation took place, while the expense of importing slaves was such, that the slaves brought 50l. a head in Brazil; whereas they had it in evidence that if the trade were thrown open they could bring them across to Brazil at an expense of under 10l. a head. To suppose that a trade would wear itself out which produced such returns as that, was altogether to forget the deep lust of gain and the great carelessness of life which were found together 1083 in those degraded specimens of their common nature which were engaged in that traffic. Therefore he would say, that the slave trade, if left to itself, would go on still more actively than before; that it would render all useful and legitimate trade impossible in Africa, by the cruel and destructive affliction which it maintained in the interior of the continent; and that an unbounded field would be opened for its extension in the cultivation of new lands in the Brazilian territory. There was one subject which he would not more than touch upon at present. It was, that England was now even more bound than before to maintain her efforts for the suppression of this trade, because she was liable to some charge of inconsistency in having stimulated this accursed traffic by opening the British market to slave-grown sugar. Humble as he was, he had not hesitated to declare already before their Lordships his deep conviction that, in applying the doctrine of free trade in this particular case, they were committing one of the greatest instances of encouragement to crime that a nation could be guilty of—that they were suffering themselves to be entangled again in the guilt of that slave trade which they had abolished. From the day when he uttered that opinion in their Lordships' House, he had never seen cause to doubt its truth. Certainly, in the evidence that had been given in another place, the witnesses attributed the great stimulus that had been given to the Brazilian slave trade, to the Sugar Act passed in this country in 1846. Now, he believed that those who brought forward that measure, contemplated that result as little as they could have desired it. He believed further, that the people of England would have cared as little for that miserable penny a pound which they were to save in the price of sugar as he did himself, if they knew that it would have the effect of stimulating the trade for the suppression of which they had already made such sacrifices. But if they carried that measure on grounds which they never ought to have entertained, and in opposition to principles which they had forgotten at the time—if they had forgotten that there were interests which no questions of finance should interfere with, that there were national duties which no economic views should be allowed to set aside—then it became the more essential for them not to flinch now, even though they should subject themselves to increased 1084 expense in so doing, in preventing that evil which they had indirectly assisted to increase. Therefore, he would earnestly call upon those who had supported that change in the law to which he alluded, to join with him, to the utmost of their power, in preventing that which seemed to be the natural result of their former legislation; because if, on the one hand, they were to admit slave-grown sugar, to the ruin of their own colonies, in order as they fancied that they might have sugar a trifle cheaper, and if in the next step of their career they shrunk back from the comparatively small expense of maintaining the squadron on the African coast, and thus using their national greatness and national power, as far as the laws of nations allowed, in putting down that accursed traffic, surely they would be following that law which led men step by step from high principles and great sacrifices, down the beaten path to ruin and to sin. Let them look to the breaking up of the great Roman empire for an example. They would see that when that great Power had forsaken its former resolution of defending its colonies from the attacks of barbaric warfare, the wave advanced step by step until it finally overwhelmed the imperial city itself. So it was that he could not doubt that if England, in one such great matter as this, objected to act longer on those high principles that had before influenced her, she could not forsake those principles without meting out for herself some such chastisement as God always held forth against such courses. Already it was whispered abroad that though on one side England was omnipotent by sea, yet that she was baffled on the other by those slavers; that when she could have given the slave trade a blow by burning the barracoons, she desisted, because she would be at the same time burning her own calicoes. Here were their actions measured by others. Those who knew the strength of England could not believe that she was sincere in her opposition to this traffic; they were disabused of the notion of England's omnipotence; and was it not one of the signs by which the decay of nations became known, when they abandoned high grounds and lost the prestige of noble and successful actions? Was it not a sign that such a country was about to assume a second place, instead of the first place among nations? It was because he believed their Lordships were not ready to permit these high principles to be abandoned, and because he felt convinced that 1085 the occasional examination of this question would tend to prevent that downward tendency which seemed to threaten the greatness of the country, that he had now to move for the appointment of a Select Committee to consider the best means which Great Britain can adopt for providing for the final extinction of the African slave
§ The MARQUESS of LANSDOWNE
thought he could almost venture to anticipate that there would not be, on the part of that House or almost any individual in it, a disposition to oppose the Motion which the right rev. Prelate had with so much ability and eloquence offered to their notice. It would be painful indeed in him even to express his assent to the Motion of the right rev. Prelate, if he were to found this assent upon any doubt as to the necessity of convincing the people of England of their duty to maintain with resolution and firmness the course in which the right rev. Prolate had truly stated that they had, upon the highest principles of duty and conscience, been engaged. He did not believe that there had been any alteration in public opinion upon that subject. If there had been any alteration of opinion connected with it, it had not been upon the importance of that duty or the value of those exertions which had been made, effectually or ineffectually, for putting down this trade, but there might have been doubts—unquestionably not as to the duty, not as to the value of the object to be attained, but—as to the efficiency of those methods in which, under treaty with other Powers, and tried by our own desire, we had been engaged for some years past. It was because there had been more or less difference of public sentiment as to the efficacy of those means, that he, for one, thought the Motion of the right rev. Prelate peculiarly well qualified at this time to engage their Lordships' attention; and, without pledging any of their Lordships as to the mode of accomplishing this great duty, to supply the means of a fair and impartial inquiry, giving ample opportunity to those who might think they could make out a case to show that those means had not been as efficient as could be wished, and subjecting them to the test of careful examination. It was first to be ascertained what had been the effect of the means hitherto employed, and whether or not those means could be made more effectual; but they should not lose sight of the great duty incumbent upon them—that by 1086 some means or other this nefarious traffic, if it were within the power of this country to accomplish, should be effectually put down. New facts had certainly come to light, and fresh experience been afforded on this subject. Steam navigation had introduced a new element into the consideration of the subject, and the amount of force to be employed on the African coast ought to form a main object of the inquiry by the Committee, which he trusted would be an impartial guide both to their Lordships, the other House of Parliament, and the Government. If we were to be baffled in our exertions, he agreed with the right rev. Prelate that it would lower this country in the scale of nations from that high position she had hitherto proudly occupied, by setting herself, with all her efforts and all her influence on other countries, both as regarded her own dominions and those of her allies, to extinguish, if it could be extinguished, this detestable and nefarious traffic.
§ The EARL of ABERDEEN
should not have troubled their Lordships with any words on this occasion, seeing the universal assent of the House to this Motion, had it not been for the reference made by the right rev. Prelate to certain instructions sent by Her Majesty's Government (those instructions having emanated from himself whilst holding the office of Secretary for Foreign Affairs), which the right rev. Prelate said had been misunderstood, and had consequently produced injurious effects. First, let him say, he was extremely happy that this inquiry should be instituted; because he considered that the main object of the Committee would be to inquire into the efficiency of that great step which had been taken in the increase of the force employed on the coast of Africa for the suppression of the slave-trade. He considered himself to be responsible, mainly responsible, for those means which were now employed. When he came into office, in the year 1841, he found 800 or 900 men employed upon the coast; when he quitted office, in 1846, he left 3,000 men employed upon the coast. Consequently he was more interested, possibly, than any of their Lordships, in examining correctly and ascertaining what the real efficiency was of the squadron employed on the coast; and how that efficiency, if it were practicable, might be augmented. The instructions to which the right rev. Prelate had referred arose from the zeal of officers employed upon the coast in destroying the slave 1087 depôts, or barracoons, in which not only slaves were confined, but merchandise, belonging as well to British subjects as those of foreign Powers. It had been found necessary on two or three occasions to make compensation, under the direction of the law officers of the Crown, to subjects of France and America, for merchandise belonging to subjects of those Powers which had been destroyed by our cruisers. The letter of which the right rev. Prelate spoke was never intended to be published; it was addressed to the Admiralty, with the view of having it communicated to the officers employed on the coast, and to the end that they should be instructed in the careful execution of their duty. It informed them that they were not authorised to destroy merchandise on the coast, unless they had the sanction of the chiefs in employing those means for the repression of the slave trade. For great as was the object before them, and earnestly as they should strive to accomplish that which this country had so long pursued, depend upon it we should lose much if, in doing so, we violated those laws of nations by which we were bound to order our proceedings. Having been obliged to accede to the demands of the French and American Governments in two or three instances, it was thought highly necessary to warn officers in Her Majesty's service as to the line of conduct they should follow. There was a mistake into which persons were very apt to fall, as the right rev. Prelate had done this evening, of calling the watch kept upon the coast a blockade. A blockade was a belligerent measure, which, whilst it gave rights, imposed duties; but our police measures on the African coast were not properly a blockade. That the publication of the letter to which he alluded might have produced injurious effects, he readily believed. He feared such had certainly been the case; at the same time he had no doubt that the effect had been greatly exaggerated. At the time of the publication of that letter the trade did not exist to more than one-third its present amount. He would recall to the recollection of the House that, in regard to the squadron, we were not free agents, because we were bound by treaty with France to preserve a certain amount efforce, and, until we were released from the obligations of that treaty, we could not even make any alteration, if it should be thought necessary or desirable. It was probable certainly that Her Majesty's Government might not find the same 1088 difficulty in obtaining a diminution of the force from the French Government which he himself had in procuring the acceptance of the terms of the treaty, for he really believed that such was the want of feeling in France upon this subject, that perhaps no man but the bold and virtuous Minister then at the head of the French Government would have ventured into such a treaty with this country. In fact, his doing so very nearly occasioned his overthrow, for the universal hostility of the French journals and orators in the Chambers was to such as to make it difficult for the French Government of the day to maintain their places. Fortunately for them, he (the Earl of Aberdeen) was exposed to similar attacks in this country; but they were so miserable in their kind as to be of very little consequence, and to the sensible portion of both countries the names of the Due de Broglie and Dr. Lushington were ample guarantees that while the interests of humanity would be consulted, the true interests of neither country would suffer any detriment.
said, he would not detain the House but for a very few moments, and with a very few remarks. He concurred in the strong desire expressed by the right rev. Prelate for the final extinction of the detestable traffic in slaves. He concurred, too, with the noble Marquesa and the right rev. Prelate in thinking that the present was the fitting time in which might be devised the most efficacious means that could be resorted to, for the suppression of the slave trade; but whilst he agreed with his noble Friend who had just sat down that it was a proper point to inquire whether effectual means had been resorted to on the coast of Africa, by the squadron employed on that coast, for the suppression of slavery, still he thought that the Committee would fall far short of its duty if it shrunk from an inquiry into the causes which impeded its efficiency, and the obstacles which that squadron had to encounter, and the difficulties that had been thrown in its way. He thought this was a matter of very great importance; and he trusted that the Committee would direct a careful examination upon the progress made—the stages of advance and of retrogression that attended the labours of the squadron. He trusted that the Committee would take into consideration that which had been adverted to by his noble Friend—the state of the traffic in the year 1840—the gradual and direct success that 1089 followed that period—and the greater efficiency of the squadron between the years 1840 and 1846. He trusted, however, that the inquiries of the Committee would not stop there; but that whilst they traced with a fearless hand the comparative state of affairs from 1840 to 1846, they would report not only upon the facts themselves, but also upon their causes and their consequences—the fact that there was an increase in the slave trade, notwithstanding the vigilance of their squadron—the fact that there was an increase in the amount of the traffic in slaves, and an increase in the horrors of the mode by which it was carried on, from the year 1846 to 1849. His opinion had been often stated on this subject, and he did not hesitate to repeat it—namely, that whilst he gave every credit to the Government for the measures resorted to by them relative to the squadron on the coast of Africa, he also believed, at the same time, that whilst they increased the amount of the squadron for the purpose of putting down the traffic, they had been guilty of a most unhappy inconsistency that more than neutralised all their efforts, by giving an increased stimulant to the slave trade, and increasing the facilities by increasing the motives for carrying it on; and this they had done by the alterations they had been induced to make, upon the wretched plea of a most mistaken economy, by the alteration of the sugar duties. Up to 1846 the measures taken by the Government, of which his noble Friend (the Earl of Aberdeen) and himself had been Members, had been attended with success. Their energetic efforts had had a corresponding result. He doubted much that Her Majesty's present Government could point to their efforts as being attended with equal success. He had no doubt that their efforts were equally sincere and equally energetic, but still there was no progressive decay in the slave trade from 1846 to 1849; and he trusted that the Committee which was now about to be appointed would deem it to be their duty to point out what had been the causes during that period of an increase in the slave trade. The officers were as zealous, the crews more numerous, the service as well performed, in the one period as in the other; and yet the fact was—if it was a fact—that not only the slave trade had increased, but there was also this melancholy reflection for every friend of humanity, that every increased effort to suppress the slave trade had not produced the 1090 slightest diminution in the number of slaves, but it had increased the supply of persons to be sold as slaves, and by this cause a far greater number of unhappy persons were exposed to still greater hardships, and to much greater horrors, and to far more afflicting sufferings, than any they had been subjected to previous to the intervention of the squadron on the coast at all. The right rev. Prelate had pointed distinctly to the year 1846, when he stated that not less than 60,000 slaves were landed on the coast of Brazil under circumstances of increased and aggravated horrors. The right rev. Prelate had not taken that year without a just cause. He trusted that the Committee would direct its inquiries as to the events of 1846, and their effect in increasing the import and sufferings of slaves; and whether in the years 1847 and 1848 there had not been an increase both in the import and sufferings of slaves, notwithstanding the enormous expenditure in money and in life made by the British Government on the coast of Africa; and whether that Government did not exhibit itself to this country and to the world with an appearance, he would not say, of hypocrisy, because he did not believe there was hypocrisy—but if they did not exhibit themselves as manifesting a gross, grave, and glaring inconsistency by attempting to put down the slave trade by their squadron on the one hand, and of upholding it by their fiscal measures on the other. This Committee should see whether, with a sincere desire on the part of the Government to represent and co-operate with the feelings of the people to put down the slave trade, they did not by their fiscal regulations increase that very slave trade of which they had given the proof it was their desire to put down.
§ EARL GREY
remarked, that the speech of the noble Lord who had just sat down, was a striking specimen of the value that ought to be attached to his opinions. The noble Lord's speech was a characteristic specimen of the impetuosity with which he would come to a judgment upon the matter submitted to him; and, certainly, if the noble Lord were placed upon the Committee about to be appointed, the speech which he had just delivered Would very greatly diminish the value of any opinion which he might arrive at. Their Lordships were about to appoint a Committee—that Committee was to inquire into facts; and yet the noble Lord, in his extreme impatience to pronounce sentence, 1091 and in his burning desire to deliver himself of his philippic, could not be at case until he had rid himself of his pent-up feelings; and, therefore, did, in a manner which was quite characteristic of the noble Lord, tell them that Ministers had been guilty of a monstrous inconsistency—taking that facts were as he stated—although he added, to use his own expression, "if they be facts." The noble Lord declaimed against Her Majesty's Government for the policy they had pursued, and the effects that followed from a certain state of facts—that is, as he said, if the facts be so and so. He thought that this mode of proceeding did not confer any great honour on their Lordships' House. He thought that when they had determined to appoint a Committee to make an inquiry, it would be well to wait until that inquiry had been made before an opinion was expressed. He said to the noble Lord that if he desired to make an attack on Her Majesty's Government, he ought to adopt a more straightforward and manly course of attack—that the noble Lord ought to make it in such a manner as that he might be enabled to take the opinion of the House on the subject. He was in no degree shaken in the opinion which he originally entertained with respect to the measure of 1846; he believed that, apart from all other considerations, it was a wise measure, and that it would ultimately tend to the extinction of the slave trade and slavery. He was confident that this would be the real result of the measure when it came to be developed; and so he believed it to be understood by the House and the country, notwithstanding the taunts of the noble Lord. Whenever the question came to be regularly discussed, neither he nor his Colleagues would shrink from it. But when they were about to institute an inquiry of this kind; when the object they had in view was one of the greatest importance; and when there was an honest desire to extirpate the slave trade, and the only question was, as to the means by which that could be attained; when they were only concerned with this point, and when they were going into an inquiry as to the manner in which that object might be attained, it was not for Her Majesty's Government to look to any other subject, and it was not for any noble Lord to take upon himself to cast out taunts and reflections such as those in which he had indulged. He wished also to refer to a circumstance that had occurred in the early 1092 part of the evening, and with regard to which he had some reason to complain. In consequence of Her Majesty's levee, and of a meeting of the Cabinet that followed, he was not able to be there until twenty minutes after the House met, and yet, when he arrived, he found that a noble and learned Lord (Lord Brougham) had, in his absence, although told he was coming down to the House, thought fit to make remarks when he was not there relative to the affairs of Ceylon. He had not heard what were the remarks that the noble and learned Lord had made. All he could say was this—that he protested against the noble and learned Lord, without due notice, adopting any means which were likely to prejudice their Lordships' minds. Let the noble and learned Lord, if he desired to censure any proceedings of theirs, do it in such a manner as that the attack and the defence might be heard. Let the noble and learned Lord give due notice of his vote of censure. He (Earl Grey) was there, and so were his Colleagues, and they, he said, were prepared to defend what had taken place. Not only did he not shrink from an encounter with the noble and learned Lord, but he was ready to meet it, and would even consider it as a favour conferred upon him, if the noble and learned Lord called upon their Lordships to pronounce an opinion on the subject to which he had adverted. But it was most unjust to a noble Lord who was a servant of the Crown, and who was filling a most arduous post in a distant province; and it was most unjust to Her Majesty's Government, who were responsible for the acts of the noble Lord—it was, he said, most unjust, as well as most irregular, for a noble and learned Lord to cast out carping reflections implying blame upon that noble Lord and the Government, as he understood the noble and learned Lord had done in commenting upon their proceedings, and this, too, in a manner which did not admit of any answer being made to them.
said, he had not any intention of interfering in this debate but for the remarks that had just fallen from the noble Earl, and which he thought their Lordships must have heard with some surprise. But for these remarks he would have allowed an unopposed Motion to be put to the vote, and carried without a division. This he would have done without any observation but for what the noble Earl had just said. If he had any reason 1093 to doubt what the noble Earl had stated—namely, that he was not present when a few observations were made by himself (Lord Brougham), the proof was afforded that the noble Earl was not present, by the remarks in which he had just indulged. The noble Earl alluded not to a fact, but a fancy, and was indignant at imaginary remarks that had never been made by him, or by any other human being. If the noble Earl had been in his place, he would have known that what he (Lord Brougham) had said amounted to a general notice, and that it was a notice, not for a discussion at a short date, but a deferred notice on account of a pending debate in another House. He had made no remarks, he had entered into no discussion; but perhaps it would be better for him to repeat what he had said. He must apologise to their Lordships in general for making them hear again what he had said before. To the noble Earl no apology was due; for to him these remarks must have the charm of novelty. To such of their Lordships as only took their notion of his remarks from the noble Earl's statement, apology was still less due, for they were put by the noble Earl in a state worse than being uninformed; they were left by that statement altogether misinformed. He had said that he abstained for the present from submitting to their consideration the conduct of the Governor of Ceylon—he made no reference whatever to the noble Earl. His reason for abstaining from making any observation was, that proceedings had taken place elsewhere, which might possibly, and he fervently hoped would, end in an explanation of that conduct. That surely was not a very prejudiced view to take of the subject. He had said, further, that if the inquiry did not end in a satisfactory explanation, that was an additional reason for his not broaching it to their Lordships, as they might peradventure be called upon in the discharge of their other functions to decide upon it; and he added that whoever had read the blue book that was before them would understand, if he did not share in, the feeling which impelled him to give that notice of the subject to which, under such circumstances, he adverted. He believed those were the very words that he had used, and which he then repeated to their Lordships. If neither event happened, then only should he be obliged to bring forward the subject of his general notice. And as the noble Earl said that he would allow him—which indeed the 1094 noble Earl could not prevent—but that he (the noble Earl) would deem it a favour if he brought forward a Motion on this subject—he said to the noble Earl, "Don't be uneasy; for that is a favour which, if I be spared, shall be conferred upon the noble Earl." As to the noble Earl not being present when he gave the notice, wishing him to be present, he had waited until he saw the right rev. Prelate about to bring forward his Motion, which he expected might lead to a long debate, to the conclusion of which he should not be able to remain, having engagements elsewhere; and therefore he had no choice but to give the notice previous to the commencement of the debate. While he was addressing their Lordships, let him say one word upon the Motion of the right rev. Prelate. For himself, he felt no occasion for further inquiry, but others had to be satisfied. It was to be borne in mind that besides the Parliament and the Executive Government, there was the country to satisfy upon the question. He entirely agreed in every word which had fallen from the noble Lord behind him (Lord Stanley)—he was quite prepared to avow the same opinions to which he had given utterance; but that would not preclude him from going into the Committee without the slightest bias upon his mind. The noble Earl had said, that his noble Friend (Lord Stanley), with his characteristic impetuosity, had given an opinion, which he had long entertained, one which he had never ceased to maintain, that the alteration of the sugar laws and the increase of the slave trade were intimately and closely connected. It was a fact which could not be controverted. The facts bore out all the most gloomy predictions of himself and his noble Friend (Lord Stanley) in 1846 as to the increase of the horrors of the slave-trade being closely allied with the legislation of that year. When the noble Earl talked of impetuosity—but he was in a mood to confer a favour—he had already promised one to the noble Earl, he would then confer another without a promise. The noble Earl might suppose he had been bitter on his noble Friend; but all he said was an eulogy upon him. When the noble Earl spoke about the personal characteristics of his noble Friend, why really there was nothing could be said more complimentary than to pronounce that a man spoke and acted characteristically, as it showed at least consistency. No doubt his noble Friend took it as it was meant—enlogistically. 1095 He was about to return the compliment to the noble Earl—he was about to eulogise him, and so earn his thanks. The noble Earl, with his characteristic—what should be call it? If the whole dictionary were floating before his mind, still it would be difficult to find a fitting word to express his meaning without giving offence—with his characteristic—perseverance—with his characteristic courage and perseverance—the noble Lord said, as he expected, that he was quite satisfied with all that had taken place—it was perfectly satisfactory, and the events had only tended to confirm his former opinions—not to shake them. The noble Earl said so, notwithstanding all the events which had occurred. He was utterly un-teachable: if not of the number of those whom no experience can teach, assuredly all experience was thrown away upon him. He was most happy in the possession of a very sanguine temperament, and the most manifest want of success, and failure the most glaring and complete produced on him the same effect as the most triumphant victory did on other minds.
§ LORD BEAUMONT
said, the noble and learned Lord might have intended to give notice of his desire to bring the subject of Ceylon before the House, but he certainly had not done so. No notice whatever had been given relative to it. Great interests were at stake in that colony. The Governor had just terminated an insurrection, and the people had returned to obedience. Yet at such a moment the character of the Governor was attacked; and the noble and learned Lord rose in his place, not for the purpose of giving a notice, but of stating that the whole question was under consideration in another place, and that if the result was not satisfactory to his mind, or if sufficient explanations were not made, he would bring the case before the House. That was no notice.
§ LORD BEAUMONT
contended, that it was not because the noble and learned Lord expressly said he would not give notice until he saw the result in another place, when, if it were not satisfactory, he would bring it before their Lordships in another capacity. The noble and learned Lord seemed to throw out the hint that it was possible a noble servant of the Crown, the Governor of a distant colony, might be called upon by that House to account for his conduct. If the noble and learned 1096 Lord's speech did not imply that he had so far prejudiced the conduct of the Governor of the colony in question, he (Lord Beaumont) was at a loss to understand the motive of his speaking at all. Why had he not waited, as he said he would, until the proceedings in another place were terminated? It was, at all events, unfair to let the idea go forth to the country, and to the colonies, that the Governor of Ceylon would be summoned to the bar of the House. Feeling the deepest interest in the colony of Ceylon, he should have been better pleased if the noble and learned Lord, instead of making remarks of that sort, had at once announced his intention to bring the question before the House. Such a course would have been but fair to Her Majesty's Government, and, above all, fair to the noble Lord who was now serving the Crown in that distant island.
said, the noble Lord who had just sat down was far more ignorant of what he had said, although he had heard it twice, than those who had not heard it at all. What he had said was, that he hoped and trusted a satisfactory explanation would be given, and that, if not, their Lordships might have to deal with it in another way. But he had not prejudged the question. God forbid that he should!
§ EARL GREY
felt bound to say, as the noble and learned Lord seemed to think he had unnecessarily taken notice of a conversation in his absence, that the noble and learned Lord's explanation of what he did say was more utterly unjustifiable than what he had said before. If the noble and learned Lord had any notice to give, he (Earl Grey) should say nothing against it; but if circumstances had not reached the point at which a notice should be specially given, the natural and ordinary course was to say nothing about it. The noble and learned Lord, however, under cover of an explanation which no one asked for, made a speech—a very unusual thing with him—and said he hoped a satisfactory explanation would be given of certain transactions, because, if not, he intimated pretty distinctly, Lord Torrington would be brought to the bar of that House as a criminal. It was exactly of this that he (Earl Grey) complained. He did not object to the noble and learned Lord making a straightforward manly attack which he could meet front to front, and face to face; but he did object to explanations of conduct which required no explanation, under 1097 cover of which the most offensive insinuations were conveyed.
repeated that he had expressed a hope that satisfactory explanations would be given of Lord Torrington's proceedings; and that, if not, then they would be brought before their Lordships' House. He now hoped there would be a satisfactory defence of them. He did not often read the debates which took place in another House; but he had read that in the papers of yesterday, and he found the case made much worse by the Governor's defenders than if no defence at all had been made for the noble Lord.
The BISHOP of OXFORD
, in reply, begged the noble Earl opposite (Earl Aberdeen) not to suppose that he did not feel the utmost gratitude to him for the zeal and determination be had shown to put down the accursed slave trade.
§ Motion agreed to. Committee appointed.