§ LORD MONTEAGLE
was desirous of taking the earliest opportunity of asking his noble Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies a question, of which he had given him notice, and which related to a subject of considerable interest and importance at the present moment. Its importance arose not only from its connexion with interests of a commercial character, but from its political consequences, especially as it affected the consideration of our means of protecting our colonial dependencies. Advices had been received this morning from the Cape of Good Hope, giving an account of a series of transactions in that colony, which, if true, 1094 were of the greatest interest and importance. It appeared from these advices that a new Kaffir war had arisen in South Africa, which was said to have already produced both loss of life and of property. If his noble Friend could, without public inconvenience, communicate to their Lordships any despatch or information he might have received on the subject, it would be a relief to much private anxiety, and would also be of the first importance to the mercantile interests connected with that colony. Because, whatever might be the truth, it was better that it should be told—if disasters had really occurred, it was better that they should be unreservedly made known, than that vague reports should be allowed to go forth, producing their effect on the public mind without either confirmation or contradiction. It was, however, certain that the Governor, Sir Harry Smith, had issued a proclamation, dated "December 26th, 1850,"at King William's Town, Cape of Good Hope, from which it appeared, that the gallant officer who combined the office of Civil Governor with that of Commander in Chief, felt under the necessity of declaring martial law, including within the terms of that proclamation the greater part of the area of that colony. The proclamation not only introduced martial law into the colony, but it also required the colonists between the ages of 15 and 50 to rise en masse to aid Her Majesty's troops in defending the frontiers of the colony against the Kaffir war, which was now actually in progress. A variety of letters had appeared in the papers in reference to this question, stating facts which were extremely alarming to all those who were connected either by commercial interest or by the ties of affection with the residents in that colony. Under these circumstances, he begged to ask his noble Friend whether he had received any official communication on this subject, and whether the Government was prepared to give any information to Parliament as to the present state of the colony? He also wished to ask his noble Friend what were the measures of defence taken, both in regard to the number of men, and to the amount of munitions of war, which the Government of the Cape of Good Hope at this moment possessed? He moved—That an Address be presented to Her Majesty for a Copy of the Proclamation of Sir Harry G. W. Smith, Governor of the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope, proclaiming martial law in 1095 the Eastern District of that Colony, on the 26th December, 1850.
§ EARL GREY
said, that, unfortunately those advices to which his noble Friend had alluded had been received in this country, although the latest official report from the Cape of Good Hope received by the Colonial department, was dated the 3rd of January. By the kindness, however, of various gentlemen in this country who were connected with that colony, he had been favoured with private letters and newspapers up to the 4th of January, from which it appeared that there had taken place a most unexpected and a most unprovoked outbreak on the part of the Kaffirs. Every effort had been made by Sir Harry Smith to conciliate and benefit the natives of the province of British Kaf-fraria; and up to the very last moment, in spite of occasional indications to the contrary, he felt the utmost confidence in their friendly disposition. However, the state of things in that province at length became sufficiently alarming to induce him to proceed to that district himself. When he arrived at Fort Cox, he held a meeting with the Gaika chiefs and people, whose professions were considered fair enough. Unfortunately, one of the principal chiefs, Sandilla, was an outlaw, and was not present at this meeting, and it was considered necessary to arrest him. A considerable force was accordingly sent out from Fort Cox to effect his arrest; but that force failed in accomplishing its object. By the non-official information it appeared that Sir Harry Smith had been surrounded at Fort Cox by great bodies of Kaffirs, and that all communication with him was cut off. The Kaffirs acted with great determination, and an action of some importance took place between them and a force under the command of Colonel Somerset, which was proceeding from Fort Hare to open a communication with Fort Cox, in which he (Earl Grey) was sorry to say, that on the part of the British, there were two officers and twenty men killed, and one officer and twelve men wounded, and the attempt to open up the communication failed. But by later accounts received, he was happy to find that Sir Harry Smith had succeeded in making his way, at the head of a large escort, through numerous bodies of Kaffirs, from Fort Cox to King William's Town. All the important posts in British Kaffraria were occupied by regular troops, which had made them perfectly secure. Sir Harry Smith considered 1096 it of the last importance that those posts should be maintained, and therefore he had called upon the colonists to aid Her Majesty's troops in restoring order. This was the general state of affairs at the Cape, as well as he could at present understand it; but of course he should take the earliest opportunity of laying the papers on the table of the House. He had already given directions for the preparation of those papers which would enable their Lordships to know-how the matter stood. With regard to the amount of force maintained for the defence of the colony, it was true that a reduction had taken place within the last two years, but not below the amount which Sir H. Smith considered necessary for the protection of the frontiers; and there was by no means a deficiency in the munitions of war; and it was Sir Harry Smith's opinion that our military position in the colony was now stronger than it had ever been before, owing to the number and strength of the outposts recently erected in various districts of Kaffraria. At the same time, measures were in progress to forward from this country a reinforcement both of men and guns, so that the means of defence should be equal to what they originally were in that colony before any reduction took place.
observed, that unless the measures taken by Her Majesty's Government in the first instance to put down the extensive outrage committed by the Kaffirs were of a most effective character, it would, no doubt, materially increase the difficulties which they would have subsequently to encounter, by giving encouragement to the various hostile tribes to engage in a fierce and protracted war against the Government of the colony. He must infer from what had fallen from the noble Earl, that the whole of the troops in the colony at the present time were not more than sufficient to garrison the fortified posts; and that they were not in a condition to maintain active operations for the suppression of this outbreak. But the noble Lord had stated that steps had now been taken for sending out reinforcements from this country to the colony. The noble Earl must be aware that a considerable time would necessarily elapse before any such reinforcement could reach the Cape; in the mean time, therefore, he (Lord Stanley) should be glad to know what reduction had taken place in the amount of the troops at the Cape within the last two or three years; and also whether the noble Earl 1097 could not from any other and a nearer quarter than this country send troops to strengthen the hands of the Governor of the Cape of Good Hope?
§ EARL GREY
replied, that it was not in his power to state, from memory, what the precise reduction in the force of the colony had been; but, as well as he remembered, the reduction which took place was merely that of bringing back the force to what it was previously to the last insurrection. He was sorry to say it was impossible under the circumstances that he could have any information to communicate to the House. Sir H. Smith being in Kaffraria, he had received no letters; and the only means he had of knowing the latest proceedings was from the Proclamation and General Order published in the Graham's Town newspaper subsequently to the date of the last official accounts received from the Cape. This outbreak by the Kaffirs seemed to have been so unexpected, that many persons even well acquainted with the habits of the Kaffirs, were taken by surprise, and had unfortunately fallen a sacrifice to the barbarous proceedings of those savages. It appeared that a great number of those Kaffirs went to some of the "military villages," where the peaceful inhabitants were seated at their Christmas dinners. They were most hospitably received and entertained; but suddenly, on a signal being given, they rushed upon their hosts, and murdered them in the most barbarous manner. This would show their Lordships the unexpected nature of this outbreak. It appeared, from the public notices given to the colonists, that it was thought of importance that the regular troops should be retained in Kaffraria itself, rather than attempt to follow the barbarians beyond the outposts. Though small bodies of Kaffirs might have entered the colony, he believed no considerable number had done so; and he might state that large tribes of Kaffirs had remained faithful, and that strong expectations were entertained of powerful assistance from the natives in the neighbourhood of Port Natal.
§ LORD MONTEAGLE
said, the explanation his noble Friend had given was so far satisfactory, that it would relieve the public mind from one great source of anxiety, namely, the fate of Sir Harry Smith, who was reported to have fallen a victim to the attack. He was glad to find that his noble Friend was able to contradict that most alarming report. He was not prepared to adopt the standard suggested by his noble Friend, or to admit the pro- 1098 priety of reducing the military force within the colony to the same amount at which it had stood before the previous outbreak. It should be remembered that the territory over which that force would now have to operate had of late been greatly extended. Another question deserved attention. He believed that, by the law of the Cape, it was illegal to supply the barbarians with munitions of war. If that law were rigidly enforced, and if the British merchants at the Cape did not themselves lay the groundwork of future aggressions by supplying the Kaffirs with arms, the attacks of the barbarians would be much less formidable. He would withdraw his Motion for a copy of the Proclamation, as that document must, of course, be included in the papers which the noble Earl had promised to lay on the table.
§ Motion withdrawn.