HL Deb 30 May 1853 vol 127 cc762-77

rose to present a petition from ladies, inhabitants of Kingston and its vicinity, in the island of Jamaica, and to put a question to Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs respecting the observance of the treaties relating to the slave trade by the Government of Spain. He said: Your Lordships are aware that it is not much my disposition to obtrude myself unnecessarily upon your Lordships where I feel that I have no especial duty to perform; nevertheless, I felt myself called upon even before the recess to give a formal notice of my intention to present the petition which I now hold in my hand, both because it is upon a subject with reference to which it seems to me that any appearance of indifference would be almost criminal, and also because I should have much liked to know whether my noble Friend at the head of the Foreign Office of this country, or any Member of Her Majesty's Government, could Lave communicated any fresh information upon the point to which it mainly refers, and which constitutes its prayer. This last object has, indeed, in some degree, been met by the conversation which took place upon the first evening when your Lordships reassembled after the recess, upon the occasion of a petition being presented by my noble and learned Friend now on the woolsack (Lord Brougham), and in whose wake, not for the first time in my life, I shall be proud to follow on the subject of the slave trade. He will not forget that I had the honour of sharing his triumphal return for the county of York—an occurrence which I shall always regard as the turning-point in that great emancipation struggle which has been brought to a victorious issue in this country. Events which have occurred since that conversation give me a fresh inducement to offer a few observations in addition to the statements which were then made. I should first of all state that the petition which I hold in my hand is very numerously signed, and comes from "the undersigned ladies, inhabitants of Kingston and the vicinity, in the island of Jamaica;" and I certainly feel, my Lords, that slavery is a question upon which women have every motive, as they have shown that they have good qualifications, to bear their part. Those ladies state, that it is under a deep conviction of the enormities of slavery and the slave trade, as they exist in various parts of the world, but more especially in the adjacent island of Cuba, that they express their confidence in your Lordships' desire to enforce the fulfilment of those treaties with the Government of Spain, by which it was provided that that inhuman traffic should be finally extinguished. They say that "nothing but a deep sense of the amount of the injury sustained would have induced them to come forth from the privacy of domestic life to endeavour, by every legitimate means, to rescue these unhappy persons from the wretchedness of their condition." They also state that they "deem it their duty to add their testimony to the many representations already made by the clergy, ministers of the Gospel, and other inhabitants of Jamaica, in reference to the present depressed condition of all the interests in the island;" and "while they would not pretend to enter into the various causes to which it may be attributed, they cannot resist the conviction that the evils of which they complain have greatly in- creased since the alteration of the imperial policy respecting the British colonies, and the encouragement it gives to the cultivation of slave-grown productions." I, my Lords, of course, cannot deny my own complicity in the adoption of that policy; and, at this time of day, I still feel great doubt whether, in the course I took in this matter, I was right or wrong. This I know, that in the whole course of my Parliamentary experience I never acquiesced in any measure with so much doubt or hesitation, and there is none with regard to which at this day I should be so glad to be quit of all responsibility. However, my Lords, after several successive Administrations, consisting, like the last, of persons wholly opposed, or, like the present Administration, of many who were also opposed to those original measures—after the results of that policy have been repeatedly under their consideration, and they find themselves unable to move in the matter, I certainly cannot entertain any expectation that there is any probability, or I will say possibility, of such policy being now reversed. The petitioners go on to state that "they therefore implore your Lordships to adopt such measures as in your wisdom may appear effective with the Spanish Government, in order to put an end for ever to the iniquitous operations still going on with the connivance of the Spanish authorities in Cuba, to the detriment of their own Government, and in violation of the solemn convention into which that Government entered with Great Britain for the extinction of the slave trade." My Lords, I think it cannot be said that the ladies of Jamaica, in expressing these complaints, have not great reason for doing so. It would be superfluous in me to remind your Lordships, even apart from the conversation which look place the other night, of the engagements, under which Spain is now bound with this country in reference to the suppression of the slave trade. If your Lordships needed to be reminded of it, I could not refer you to any better quarter than to the despatch of the noble Earl the present Prime Minister, dated the 31st of December, 1843, in which the whole question is most fully, clearly, and forcibly set forth. It appears that by a treaty which dates so far back as 1817, which came into operation in 1820, and which was further confirmed and enlarged by subsequent treaties—in one of which the noble Lord now at the head of the Foreign Office took a dis- tinguislied part—Spain solemnly stipulated to suppress the slave trade upon the part of Spanish subjects; and in consideration of that treaty and that undertaking Spain received from this country the sum of 400,000l. Now, my Lords, I fear there is no reason to doubt that ever since the passing of that treaty its provisions have been systematically, wilfully, and all but continuously violated. I fear that in the long series of captains general, or governors of Cuba, very few indeed can be named who have not received bribes or hush money, to use the plain terms, for every single slave landed upon the island of Cuba, through their guilty connivance. I believe, indeed, that Generals Valdes, Concha, and Tacon, might be quoted as honourable exceptions to a course so unworthy and so deserving the most serious animadversion; and, considering the universality of the practice which had obtained, and the amount of temptation held out to them, these three officers do deserve to be mentioned with honour; but you can judge how dreadful that state of things must be when honour, in our opinion, does attach to persons merely because they have refused to enter into partnership with those whom I must look upon as the worst "manufacturers" of their species, and because they have not derived unlawful gains from fostering a traffic which, in my conscience, I believe has been the cause of more wrong and suffering than any other curse which ever blighted our globe, and which, in my mind, is sufficient in itself, even if revelation and reason had been altogether silent around us, to prove the necessity of a future state of retribution in which redress may be afforded for wrongs perpetrated with so much impunity in this life. But, my Lords, I am bound to say that when I mention the long series of captains general who have so grossly violated the engagements of their country with ours, it is still more painful to me to state that I fear suspicion does not stop with them, but that it ascends to persons who occupy much higher positions. Of course I do not pretend to address any inquiries to my noble Friend opposite respecting the justice of such suspicions; and I admit that no one ought lightly to infer the "deep damnation" which must be the consequence of their truth. But true is it, my Lords, that no sooner does any Captain General of Cuba show a disposition to respect the faith of treaties, and the laws alike of humanity and honour, than very speedily, for some reason or other, he is sure to be removed in order to give place to some less scrupulous and more accommodating functionary in his stead. True it is, too, my Lords, I hear that under the present Captain General, Don Canedo, the slave trade is being carried on with unexampled vigour and audacity on the coasts of that unhappy island of Cuba, which, I can depose to by my own experience, our God has fitted to be a paradise, but which ever since the white man first set his foot there he has converted, I can use no softer phrase, into a hell. I do not propose to dwell now, except for one moment, upon the case of the Emancipados—a class of men consisting of those who were taken into the island since the treaty, and who were fully entitled to freedom under the stipulations of that treaty in their regard, but who, with a few exceptions, have been retained in slavery from that hour to the present, that slavery being the field labour of Cuba. I am aware that an announcement has lately been made that the Government of Spain would undertake to set immediately at liberty those who were entitled to their freedom in 1828, and, as to those who up to 1835 had been under contracts of service, that they should be sot at liberty at the expiration of their respective periods of service. But, my Lords, I feel that that concession, miserably short as it falls of what we had a right to expect and to exact, must be considered wholly illusory, as your Lordships will, I am sure, admit, when you remember that the calculation is, that the slave population of Cuba employed in field labour dies off in every recurring period of ten years. [A Noble LORD: Seven years.] Seven years! But even if it were ten years, you may judge how few of those who were entitled to their freedom in 1828 and 1835 respectively will now be found able to avail themselves of this "timely" boon. But if we direct our attention to the new and ever recurring importation of fresh negroes, what is the state of the facts of which we hear at present? I am informed that between the months of November and February last 5,000 slaves were landed in Cuba—that is, were known to be landed—and I fear that a great many landings take place in retired parts of the island of which we never hear. Then, since I gave my original notice, there has been a landing of 1,100 negroes, who were kidnapped from a part of the Portuguese dominions in Africa, which has already been the subject of conversation in the House, and to which I need not further allude, except as to one point. I believe upon that occasion my noble Friend opposite (the Earl of Clarendon) stated that, through the exertions of our Consul in Cuba, to whose zeal and activity he paid a very just tribute, 300 of those slaves had been rescued from bondage. Now, I do not pause to inquire how satisfied we ought to feel at 300 being rescued, and 800 being left in hopeless servitude, because our experience of the proceedings of the Spanish Government has taught us to be thankful for small mercies. But, my Lords, can we be sure even that those 300 are effectually rescued—that they have been effectually restored to that liberty to which they are entitled? I should be glad to learn from my noble Friend that they are. I see, however, that such is not the opinion entertained by the persons who wrote the account of the transaction which appeared in the American journals. After giving an account of the landing of the slaves, of the exertions of our Consul, and of the inquiry consequently instituted, the account goes on to say:— The Government inquiry, as was to be anticipated, ended in additional fraud and corruption. Neither the captain nor any of the crew have been arrested. The investigation was confined to the partners, and the defendants agreed to compromise their crime by delivering 300 of the negroes to the Government. The result has only made the insular Government a larger participator in the profits of the iniquity. Some few of the negroes were released, and the rest allowed to pass into the mass of hopeless negro servitude. I understand, from the account which I perused of what transpired the other evening, that my noble Friend himself stated that by the laws of Cuba—such laws as are observed there—it is impossible to follow the slaves into the interior when they have once passed into the possession of any proprietor, and are there enrolled among the rest of the gangs. I find it is part of the law of 1845, passed in Spain professedly with the view of putting down the slave trade, that it is in fact an express stipulation that in no case, and at no time, shall it be permitted to institute any proceedings against, nor molest in their possession, the proprietors of slaves, under pretext of their origin or precedency. A precious stipulation for relief that is, which effectually shuts the door to all inquiry after those poor wretches are consigned to the miseries of a tropical servitude! Then it is suspected that in the island of Cuba this system—I was inclined to call it a "dodge," were it a proper word to apply where so much suffering forms the topic—is frequently resorted to. On those plantations on which Emancipados are employed upon contracts of servitude, when one of the original slaves whom it would be lawful to keep in servitude dies, the name of an Emancipado is returned to the Government in his stead, and the Emancipado is transferred into the name and place of the slave who died, so as effectually to put a stop to all further inquiry. Now, when we are told that these things take place—and I fear where there are slavetraders and slaveowners, and, I must add, where the Spanish Government are concerned—you must take for granted that all that may be done or can be done, will be done. I would very earnestly recommend it to the attention of Her Majesty's Government whether they could not give directions—I cannot take upon myself to say whether, under the existing law, they have not the power; but if they have not the power, whether they could not, by negotiations with Spain, acquire the power—to send the captured slavers, not into the slave courts, or before the mixed commission of the Havanah, where, even if a condemnation takes place—and I do not believe that so much complaint exists upon that ground, or that the mixed commission court, on the whole, does not perform its duty—but even if it does do its duty, it turns out out to be much the same thing for the slave as if no capture or condemnation had taken place at all—but into some free court for adjudication. I wish to know whether, instead of sending the captured slavers into a slave port for adjudication, they cannot be sent to some free port, before some untrammelled mixed commission, where justice is sure to be done? I have mentioned the 5,000 slaves who were imported into Cuba between November and February, and the 1,100 who were the subject of conversation here the other evening. Since then I have read in an American paper that 600 more slaves have been landed in Cuba in the open day, near Matanzas—the same slaves, I imagine, whom my noble Friend incidentally mentioned the other night. Amid all these disgraceful and revolting proceedings it is most satisfactory and refreshing to find how efficiently our gallant naval service is discharging its duty in these seas. The noble Lord mentioned the other even- ing that in the course of this year six slavers have been taken on the coast of Cuba. Three of these slavers were taken in one day by Captain Hamilton, of Her Majesty's war steamer Vestal; and I have had the good fortune to read an account of the transaction, written by an eye-witness, which presents some of the most striking illustrations I have ever perused of British heroism on its most congenial element, and which I cannot refrain from describing to your Lordships. There was in port with the Vestal a steam-schooner, the Venus—so named, I suppose, from its being the model of piratical beauty in naval architecture—a schooner noted as the fastest vessel in those seas. It was reported to Captain Hamilton that the Venus, taking advantage of the Vestal's undergoing painting and repairing, intended to slip out of harbour, and be off on a slaving expedition. Captain Hamilton did not mention the information thus received to any one, but kept himself prepared for the contingency. That same night a tornado, accompanied with heavy thunder, springing up, the Venus seized the opportunity, and at daybreak it was reported to Captain Hamilton that she was off. The captain immediately sprang out of bed, and in less than three minutes the Vestal was under press of canvas, on her way out of the harbour in pursuit. There were 11 ships of war in the harbour at the time, and among them were some vessels belonging to the American navy; and the American crews, like good brethren, saluted the Vestal on her way with three cheers. As soon as the Vestal got outside the harbour, several vessels were discerned in the distance, mere white specks on the horizon, and at first it was not known which of these was the chase; but the Venus was presently identified by the peculiar whiteness of her sails, and pursuit was eagerly directed after her. The Vestal gained upon her; but in the course of the night another tornado came on, and the Venus was once more lost sight of. Thereupon came the question, which way should the Vestal direct her course? After some consultation it was conjectured that the Venus would steer for the Bahama Shoals—a locality of dangerous navigation for vessels of a larger description than herself. At sunrise it was found that this conjecture was accurate, for the Venus was seen in the shoals. The Vestal proceeded after her until, the lead giving as the soundings only a quarter less four, it was impractica- ble for the Vestal to get nearer to the chase, and the sea was roaring with breakers. Under these circumstances Captain Hamilton thought he would try the effect of a long gun enormously charged. The shot told upon the slaveship, and she came to. Captain Hamilton at this moment discovered two slave schooners further on among the shoals. He could not follow them in the Vestal, hut, proceeding without hesitation on board the Venus, he put his revolver to the captain's head, and compelled him to steer after the two schooners, which were speedily captured. They were found laden with arms, slaving implements, &c., and there were on board one of them documents which implicated a number of persons besides those taken upon the occasion, and which authorised Captain Hamilton, on his return to the harbour, in taking possession of a large brig there, La Arragonese. As the Vestal came into harbour, towing her three prizes, she was received with loud cheers by the shipping in port, and one of the American captains made this speech in honour of her exploit:—"Well, it made my heart run over to see the old country come out so proud, and the ship pass through the Spanish fleet so silent and calm with her prizes." But, what I want your Lordships to consider is this: If these things are done in the harbour of Havannah, in the capital of the island, under the guns of the Mole, and before the very windows of the Captain General, what may not be going on along the wild and unfrequented coast of the island—an island as large as England? In bringing these statements under the consideration of your Lordships, I have no inteution of casting the slightest reproach on Her Majesty's Government for the course they have pursued in reference to this question. I know the arduous and indefatigable exertions that were made by Lord Palmerston, when he was at the head of the Foreign Department, on every subject connected with the suppression of the slave trade; I have no reason to believe those efforts were slackened under the late Administration, and I am sure I have no suspicion to express that there will be any slackening on the part of my noble Friend opposite (the Earl of Clarendon). Indeed, I am not without hope that his intimate acquaintance with, his profound knowledge of, the Spanish people, their habits and character, may give him some facilities and advantages in the matter, which were not enjoyed by any of his predecessors. My noble Friend will, I am sure, not deny that gross derelictions of their duty have been frequently manifested on the part of the Spanish Government. Why, talk of causes of war with Spain, sure I am that this country has been over and over again embroiled in long and ruinous war on grounds which, in my judgment, were absolutely paltry in comparison with this. Let me not be understood as expressing an opinion that this country is called upon to go to war with Spain, even for the suppression of the slave trade. I know the apathy and indifference which prevail among a large proportion of the inhabitants of this country on all such external topics, and that many of those who feel most zealously and ardently on the subject would be the foremost to discourage our having recourse to a violent physical mode of interference. But Spain ought to be told that if she does not observe her treaties—if she, almost alone of all the nations of the earth, persists in this infernal traffic—she must, if her possession of Cuba is ever endangered, be at least prepared to find this country neutral in the conflict. I do not either desire to throw the sole blame upon the Spaniards, for I am not sure that the United States, considering the liberties they possess, considering their freedom of origin, have not, by their abominable Fugitive Slave Law, committed an even greater outrage upon liberty. I will not, however, detain your Lordships by dwelling upon that point. I wish to ask my noble Friend if he has any additional facts or information to give us relative to the question of the slave trade in Cuba? I wish further to say, that I should be very glad if the Government would take into their consideration the practicability of carrying captured slavers into some free port for adjudication. Above all, this they can do, and I hope they will be disposed to do it—I trust they will maintain, nay, more, increase the efficiency of that naval force, which has done, and is doing, such admirable service on the coast of Cuba. I have now only to present the petition I hold in my hand, and to apologise for having trespassed upon your Lordships at such length.


My Lords, I should be wanting both to my noble Friend and to my own opinion, did I not, in the first place, express my admiration of the eloquent speech which he has just delivered, and bear my testimony to the perfect correctness of all the melancholy and appalling facts which he has brought under the consideration of the House. I only wish it were in my power to give my noble Friend a much fuller answer than I was able to give the other night to my noble and learned Friend now sitting on the woolsack (Lord Brougham). I have nothing further to communicate; but I must repeat the same regret I then expressed, that the treaties to which my noble Friends alluded have been constantly, scandalously violated. What has been said with regard to the past Captains General of Cuba, I cannot deny to be the melancholy fact. I was glad to hear my noble Friend mention with honour the honourable exceptions to that conduct in the instances of Generals Valdez and Concha. I have not much additional information to give to your Lordships beyond that which I gave you the other night, but that little is not altogether of an unsatisfactory character. I will first refer to the suggestion of taking captured slavers into free ports for adjudication. The fact is, that Her Majesty's cruisers have no option in the matter. By the treaty it is provided that there shall be two mixed courts of commission, one in the colonial possessions of Spain, the other on the coast of Africa; and the naval officers who capture Spanish slavers, are therefore bound by their instructions to take their captures either into the port of Havannah or into Sierra Leone, whichever is the nearest to the locality of the capture. Of the vessels which my noble Friend has described as having been taken by Captain Hamilton, two out of the three were condemned in the Court at Havannah. With reference to the present Captain General, Canedo, it cannot, I am sure, be expected that I should pass any very warm eulogium upon that functionary. It is right, however, that your Lordships should have placed before you everything that officer may have to urge in justification of the course he has taken. Anticipating that allusion might be made to this functionary, I have brought down with me two despatches, which I may be permitted to quote, considering the great importance of the subject, and the desire of the country to have all possible information on it. The first document I will cite, is an extract from a letter which the late Foreign Minister of Spain addressed to Lord Howden, in which that Minister says— I think it expedient to state that the Captain General tells me he is making every possible effort to cheek the slave trade, and that in consequence of those efforts the slave traders are becoming very disheartened. Had these words not been followed by action in corroboration of them, I should not have thought it worth while to occupy your Lordships' time with repeating them; but I have just received another despatch from Lord Howden, containing a letter from the new Foreign Minister of Spain, which conveys the actual intentions, as announced by the Government of that country, on this subject, and I am inclined to think it deserving of your Lordships' attention. It is dated the 7th of May, and the Minister says— In consequence of the peremptory instructions lately transmitted to the Captain General of Cuba to spare no exertions in putting down the slave trade, we have received a communication from that functionary assuring us that he was putting into execution the most energetic means for the purpose of fulfilling his instructions; and he added, that, finding the observance of the strict letter of the law impede this object, he had not hesitated to adopt extreme measures, and that, suspending the penal law of 1805, which forbids the pursuit of newly-imported slaves after they have once passed on to their purchaser's estate, he has resolved to pursue such slaves wherever he can find them, and to release them from their holders. The Minister added, that he trusted this course of proceeding would be taken as a proof of the desire of Spain to fulfil the engagements she had made. My noble Friend may, perhaps, consider this communication as merely a promise of something that may or may not be done. I have, however, this afternoon received a further letter from Lord Howden—whose zeal in this matter has never been surpassed by any Minister of this Urown in Spain—in which he states that a communication had been received from the Captain General of Cuba, in which he informs his Government, acting upon the announcement he had made, having received information that some negroes having been landed on the island from some slave ships that had escaped the vigilance of our cruisers, and been conveyed to the estate of their purchaser, he had followed them thither, and released them, to the number of 100. I, therefore, think—however we may be disposed to withhold for the present an implicit confidence in this reformation—we may, at all events, concede that the Captain General appears disposed to act more honestly towards this country—more consistently with the honour of his own. I have only further to advert to that portion of my noble Friend's speech which had relation to the emancipados. On this subject I have the satisfaction to state, that I have received a despatch from Lord Howden, in which he informs me that the Spanish Government has agreed to settle the question which has been so long matter of discussion, and that the emancipados will be placed at liberty before the expiration of the present year, on the terms which have been severally agreed upon with regard to them—the Government even, in some respects, conceding something beyond that point. The emancipados who were entitled to their liberty under the treaty of 1835, will be set at liberty at that time; and with respect to those who do not come under that class, they will obtain their liberty at the expiration of their term of servitude, or before that time, if possible. My noble Friend has expressed the wish that the Government of Spain may become more alive to the honour of their country and its true interests in this matter, than they have hitherto, in his opinion, shown themselves. I have the satisfaction to inform my noble Friend that I have received a despatch from Lord Howden that bears upon that point, and is of considerable importance; it tells me that there is a growing desire on the part of Spain to listen to the just expostulations of England, or, I may express it, to consult more its own honour; and that as a proof of this, the Foreign Office has received from the Royal Council a recommendation to furnish the Captain General of Cuba with the larger powers requisite to enable him effectually to deal with the evil—the first time, I believe, that any such recommendation has issued from that Council. I trust that the information I have now given, small as it is in amount, will not be considered altogether of so unsatisfactory or hopeless a character as that which I supplied to your Lordships the other night. I will only repeat, in conclusion, what I said on the former occasion, that it is mainly to our own exertions we must look for the effectual suppression of this abominable traffic. I have lately been in communication on the subject with my right hon. Friend at the head of the Admiralty, and instructions have been, and will continue to be, given by him to the officers on the station to insure that nothing which can aid this great object shall be omitted.


said, he rose to return his thanks to his noble Friend on the cross benches (the Earl of Carlisle) for calling the attention of their Lordships and the country to this subject. Nothing struck him more in his noble Friend's eloquent speech than the graceful way in which he expressed his regret for his complicity in a political movement which must be regarded as a fatal step in this country in respect to these unfortunate slaves. He could acquit himself of any share in that Bill. He felt then that the question of free trade ought no more to have been permitted to enter into the question of the admission of slave-produced sugar, than it should have in a question of the purchase of the property of pirates, or of sharing the produce of robberies; and the more he considered the question the more did it appear to him that we were bound, as a nation, to use all lawful means in our power to undo the evil which had been incidentally done. He rejoiced, therefore, to hear that the Government were prepared to adopt a more manly tone towards the Government of Spain on this question. He could not agree with the noble Earl who had introduced this subject, that the people of this country were so apathetic upon foreign subjects, that they would not hold a Government justifiable in taking any very strong measure upon this subject. For his part, he believed that, great as might be the general apathy of the people upon all foreign and distant matters, this had always been a subject excepted from that apathy, and always would continue to be so. He believed that if the people of this country knew how they had been mocked as a nation on this subject—how treaties solemnly made had been feloniously evaded, they would, as one man, maintain any Government in any reasonable, right, and justifiable measures which they might propose for the enforcement of those treaties. He believed it was our duty to take every possible means to deliver ourselves from any complicity in this greatest of all national sins. So intermingled now-a-days were commercial and financial matters throughout the whole world, that he believed it would be capable of demonstration that that slave trade which our cruisers were endeavouring to put down upon the coast of Cuba, was, at least indirectly, if not directly, maintained by British capital; and, therefore, bethought that it became the duty of a nation which supplied capital for eyery lucrative speculation to take all possible means for compelling the enforcement of treaties so religiously and solemnly entered into.


said, that having on a recent occasion brought charges against the Government of Cuba, he thought it right to express his gratification at hearing from his noble Friend (the Karl of Clarendon) the account he had just received of the good intentions of the Captain General of Cuba. He must, however, be permitted to wait some little time before he could be at all disposed to withdraw his charge against his Cuban Excellency; for, as they all knew, there was a place which was proverbially paved, not more with good intentions than with broken promises. However, he would wait to see whether these good intentions were followed up by performance. As to the charges against the other Captain General, two exceptions had been made; but he was still disposed to limit the exceptions to one of those generals, and that one, General Valdes. With respect to Concha, that he differed from O'Donnell and the others in one material particular, might be admitted—Concha was free from the foul stain of having profited by receiving any share whatever in that detestable traffic. It was notorious that the slave trade was carried on in Cuba—so much so, that a case mentioned that evening had occurred in open day. His noble Friend had mentioned the Americans with just praise, as having shown a proper feeling not only towards this country, but also on the subject of the slave trade, on witnessing the slaves brought into the Havannah as prizes by a British ship of war. He trusted that feeling was not confined to these individuals; he hoped that it was prevalent in the United States. But if it was so, then must be wholly groundless those accounts which we had heard of the bulk of the slave traders employed by other nations having been fitted out in the ports of the United States with American capital, manned by American seamen, and commanded by American captains. He hoped that there was no foundation for those statements; but he knew that they were rife and general throughout the country at large.


thought both their Lordships and the country were indebted to his noble Friend for having brought forward this subject, and thus elicited the information which had been communicated. It was no small step to have obtained a promise that the liberated slaves should be followed to the estates on which they were settled; but he thought the noble Earl the Secretary for Foreign Affairs underrated the importance of the information he had received; for no small step had been gained by the promises obtained from Spain by this Government, to which the noble Earl had referred. The existence of the slave trade at Cuba depended entirely on the conduct of the authorities, as was evident from the fact, when slaves could no longer be landed at Porto Rico, they were taken to Cuba under false papers. After hearing such information as he had done that evening, he thought there was a chance of improvement even in Cuba. Of all the infamies practised in Cuba, none exceeded the treatment to which the Emancipados were subjected; and he feard that if the island fell into the hands of the United States, neither their position nor that of the actual slaves would be at all ameliorated.

Petition ordered to lie on the table.