HL Deb 13 June 1862 vol 167 cc536-7

said, there was another subject of the greatest importance on which the Governments of England and France ought to come to some understanding. In consequence of the American concession of the right of search, he was informed that an attempt would be made to transfer the slave trade to a French port, and to carry it on under the French flag. It was well known that the profits of the trade were enormous; so that if one ship out of five or six escaped the cruisers, and landed her cargo, great gains were made by the traders. In this very city men were taking steps to engage in the slave trade, in proof of which he would read this letter from a highly respectable merchant of London— The circumstances to which I alluded arose in the following way. A gentleman, with whom I am intimately acquainted, named to me that an offer was made to him to join others in the African trade. I immediately made observation that I trusted it was not in the slave trade, to which he replied that it was, and I therefore declined. I remarked, how will this affect the right of search established with England and America? Upon which he snapped his fingers, and said it was the intention to sail under French colours, and the point of departure Marseilles. My friend further stated that a very large amount of money was at command, but that every movement was conducted with the utmost secrecy; so much so that upon one occasion a check had to be changed by one of the parties. He had no doubt that the French Government would hear with indignation of this attempt to make Marseilles a slave-trading port, and to carry on this traffic under the French flag; but, under the circumstances, it was absolutely necessary that some communication should take place between the two Governments, so that France might extend permanently the right of search to us, which she had done for a few years.


could assure his noble and learned Friend that this subject had not escaped his attention. As soon as the treaty with the United States was ratified, he wrote a despatch to Her Majesty's Ambassador at Paris, stating the probability that now that the United States flag could be no longer used for the purposes of the slave trade, other flags would be resorted to, more especially that of France, and urging the French Government to enter into some treaty or convention upon the subject. It appeared that the treaty of 1845 put an end to all former treaties on this subject which had been in force between the two countries. It was provided that that treaty should last ten years, and that then, if not renewed, it should expire. In 1855 there was no proposal on either side to renew the treaty, which therefore expired. It was certainly necessary now that some new arrangement should be entered into between the two Governments, and his noble Friend might rely upon Her Majesty's Government to do all that was in their power for the suppression of the slave trade.