HL Deb 19 June 1863 vol 171 cc1118-62

I rise, my Lords, according to Notice, to call the attention of the House to the state of our Relations with Brazil, and to move for two documents, one of which the noble Earl (Earl Russell) says he will produce, and which will explain the ground on which he assessed the damages demanded from the Brazilian Government—and the other one which I think ought to be presented, because it contains the first claim made by Her Majesty's Government on the Brazilian Government in the case of the Prince of Wales. I think your Lordships will not think that I am trespassing on your time uselessly, when, after having made this Motion, I proceed to make a few observations with respect to the state of our relations with Brazil. It is impossible that some remarks should not be made on the subject in both Houses of Parliament. I think it plainly the duty of some Member of this or the other House to bring the subject forward; and I am sure that the noble Earl will allow, that having laid the papers on the table, he has challenged your Lordships' attention to it. Your Lordships will remember that two months ago I gave notice that I would bring on this subject; and that then the noble Earl begged me, for his own personal convenience, to defer it; and he afterwards informed the House that he considered the matter settled. I therefore thought it better to leave well—or rather ill—alone, and say no more on the subject. I was in hopes that the question had somehow or other been settled, and that the Brazilian Government had yielded in some way or other to the demands of Her Majesty's Government. But, my Lords, we now find that such is not the case. The noble Earl himself has been as much disappointed as your Lordships; for after the opinion he gave, that the matter was settled, I find that the Brazilian Minister has actually left Her Majesty's Court, believing that he could no longer consistently with his honour remain. My Lords, this is a very serious event to have taken place as connected with any country; but I consider that there is no country, great or small, with whose interests we are connected, a rupture with which would be of greater importance than with Brazil. My Lords, we must remember that an envoy of a foreign country cannot be driven away, or leave this country, as a swallow at the end of the summer to seek a more genial climate, without attracting our notice:—we cannot allow a Minister to depart from this country, declaring that he has been unjustly treated, and that he cannot, consistently with the dignity of his Sovereign, remain here; and it behoves the noble Earl this evening, if he can, to show that he has been right in all his claims—that he is not only right in what he did claim, but that when making reprisals, when the claim was refused, he did so in the most conciliatory and in the manner least offensive for a transaction of this kind, when we are dealing with an old ally and a friendly nation. Now, my Lords, I consider this subject of very great importance in a national and a political point of view. Looking at the commerce with this country, there is hardly a country that is of greater value in her relations to England than Brazil. It is said—and, I believe, truly said—that our commerce, exports and imports, amounts to at least £20,000,000; and it is, I believe, perfectly true that the English capital invested in that country amounts to £15,000,000 or £16,000,000. But beyond the commercial interests, we have to look at the political interests involved. Brazil is a country with which it is of great importance that we should maintain friendship. Supposing that unfortunately we were at war with the United States—or what were once called the United States—of America, there is no country in the world of greater importance to us as an ally or as a neutral power than Brazil. There is no country who, if she went against us, or if she acted unfairly towards us, while we were engaged in such a war, could do us more harm than Brazil. What is the state of that country now? They are exasperated to the greatest degree—to such a degree, that forgetting all party dissensions, which are very strong in Brazil, the whole of their Houses of Parliament went unanimously to the foot of the throne to condole with His Majesty the Emperor on the insult which had been offered to him. But not only the representatives of the people, but the people themselves, are exasperated with what has been done—and I think I shall be able to show your Lordships there is nothing more natural than that they should he exasperated. Mr. Consul Christie was anything but correct in his anticipation that all passion on the subject would soon die away. I hold in my hand a letter written on the 10th of last month by a person at the head of a rich and powerful English house in Brazil. He says— As I foresaw, the English question has raised a most powerful opposition to the present Ministry, and at this moment there is little doubt that they will retire, and it may be that the Emperor will be compelled to dissolve the Chamber…. I assure you the dispute with England is far more serious than you believe it at home. Indeed, so far as I can judge from the English papers, you know nothing about it. Here, absurd as it may be, all is warlike—a national subscription coming in every day, and the Emperor eternally inspecting fortifications and superintending artillery practice. The National Guard, also, are called upon to do permanent service as soldiers. In the speech from the throne on Sunday last, the Emperor said he was waiting indemnities and satisfaction from England. I do not believe anybody knows how it will all end. Now, I ask your Lordships whether that is not a painful state of things to exist in the only country which is a model for South American nationalities—the only country in that part of the world which has survived its childhood uncorrupted by the democratic institutions which prevail every-where else there? It has survived even the great States in North America. And this is the country which the acts of England have placed in such a position that it is as likely as not we may see the Republican party at the head of its affairs.

My Lords, in proceeding with the question, I have four charges to make against the acts of the noble Earl opposite. My first charge is, that he made no allowance whatever for the peculiar state of the country in which those events took place. My second charge is, that he abdicated his own judgment and responsibility to his subordinates in Brazil. I am ready to admit that in some instances the noble Earl has been as much sinned against as sinning; but a person in the position of the noble Earl is a sinner when he allows himself to be sinned against. My third charge against the noble Earl is the imperious style in which he addresses an ally of Her Majesty. I charge him with not having used his personal exertions to settle this question, but left it to be settled by his subordinates. And my fourth charge against him is that of having committed illegal and impolitic acts when he executed the reprisals; and I hold, that even if those reprisals were justifiable, the manner in which they were executed cannot be justified.

Now, my Lords, as to the first point, the noble Earl made little or no allowance for the circumstances of the country. He forgot the history of Brazil; he has forgotten to consider its immense size, and how wild and almost unpeopled a great part of that vast continent is. He has also forgotten to consider what I may call the youth of that country. It is only forty years old. It is the offspring of one of our oldest allies in Europe, but its existence as a separate nation dates to only forty years back. And, my Lords, what was the history of other countries when only forty years old? What was the history of our own? I will not go back to the time of the Conquest, or to the time of the Edwards, or to the time of Elizabeth; nor shall I go back even to the time of the Stuarts; but I shall take that period to which the noble Earl himself is so fond of referring—the beginning of our constitutional history, 1688, when certainly we had fallen into something like organization, and from which our existing liberty may be said to date. What were we forty years after that date, which brings us down to 1728? What were we then as respects our police and the organization of our society? Why the days of 1728 were those of Jack Sheppard, Jonathan Wyld, and Captain Macheath. The state of things existing among us then was no more to be compared to that which exists at Rio now than a society of wild Indians is to that of a civilized people. At that time burglaries, highway robberies, and assassinations were of frequent occurrence in the suburbs of London. And what were the country parts of England in those days? What was Cornwall? What were the people there? What was Hampshire, my own county, where every magistrate was a smuggler? Then go to the Hebrides—see what they were. Read the accounts given of them by Sir Walter Scott and Lord Macaulay. In fact, what was this country forty years after 1728? Yet the noble Earl treats Brazil, which is not one quarter civilized and one fifth populated, as if it were an old established nation, which should have its police arrangements cut and dry as they are in this metropolis. Again, what is the position of the very spot on which the occurrences, which led to this diplomatic rupture, took place? Al-bardao is no less than 900 miles from Rio. It is eighty miles from the little capital of the province in which it is situate. The arm of the Executive must be very long indeed if it can reach effectively to such a distance. Such was the stage on which this unfortunate shipwreck took place—this unfortunate dispute arose. Let us now look at the actors. The first actor was Mr. Consul Vereker. I have not the honour of knowing him, nor do I think that when in office I had much official communication with him; but I have before me what has been stated about him by his colleague Mr. Consul Christie. Speaking of Mr. Vereker, Mr. Christie says— It is of course known to the British Government, as it is to your Lordships, that Mr. Vereker when he lately came from Rio Grande on his way home, was in a state of nervous excitement, with a delusion about attempts to assassinate him. It is a disagreeable thing to have to mention these circumstances; but they are perfectly notorious, and it is impossible to omit them in the consideration of the case, because the opinions of Mr. Vereker, as transmitted to the noble Earl, have a very strong bearing on the part which the noble Earl took in the matter; and in the progress of the case I think I shall be able to show that Mr. Vereker very much misrepresented the case to the Foreign Secretary. The next actor on the stage is Mr. Christie himself, our Minister at Rio. With respect to this gentleman I am not going into the history, which, I regret, was brought forward in another place, with respect to his correspondence with his American colleague. Papers on the subject were Bent to me. I suppose Mr. Christie sent them, for they are in vindication of that gentleman. I have nothing to do with the cause of the dispute to which they refer; but, whether it was his misfortune or his fault, he was not on good terms with the Brazilian Minister nor with colleagues of his in Brazil. I say it may not be his fault, but certainly it is a very great misfortune not only to him but to his Sovereign. There can be nothing so fatal to our interests in a foreign country as that the English representative at the Court of that country should not be on good personal terms with the Foreign Minister of that Government. If he is not, and any dispute arises, it is hopeless to think of settling it. It is equally to be deplored that a diplomatic agent should not be on good terms with his colleagues from other countries, for they may have it in their power to materially assist him in settling any dispute that may arise. I recollect that in 1858, after my noble Friend who had preceded me in the Foreign Office and myself had failed in obtaining the release of Poerio and his fellow prisoners, I had the honour to attend Her Majesty in a journey which she made to Berlin. There I met the representative of the Sicilian Court, and I had some conversation with him on the subject of the liberation of Poerio, and I believe that it was in consequence of that conversation Poerio obtained his liberty. I do not know how the desired result was brought abont. I suppose the gentleman to whom I refer had considerable interest with the Sicilian Government or with the King himself; but, at all events, the fact shows how useful a colleague may be in assisting an English Minister at a foreign Court. Unfortunately, Mr. Christie's position in Rio was such as I have described, and it appears evident from the papers that this was the case; for in no instance can I make out that he had any personal communications on this subject with the Brazilian Minister until just before he was going to make reprisals. He seems to have had but one mode of proceeding, and that, as all your Lordships who know anything of diplomacy must be aware, is not at all a conciliatory one. Mr. Christie begins with a note, goes on with a note, and ends with a note. Now, a note in diplomacy is very much what a cartel was in the days when gentlemen quarrelled and meant to fight. When two Ministers have a conversation, it is common enough for one to say, "Don't send me a note. We will talk the matter over again." A note is a very formal and solemn proceeding, and certainly is anything but a friendly one. But this is the way in which Mr. Christie carried on his communications with the Brazilian Minister; and of personal communications, with the exception I have mentioned, he seems to have had none. However, the noble Earl seems to have placed implicit confidence in Mr. Christie, and I think he will himself now confess that his confidence was to some degree misplaced. The noble Earl also seems to have placed implicit confidence in Admiral Warren. No doubt Admiral Warren is a useful officer; but it is not for Admirals to settle what demands one Government shall make upon another; and yet the noble Earl accepted Admiral Warren's advice as to the demands he ought to make upon Brazil. Independently of this, the noble Earl committed a very grave error. He took the advice of men who stood, as it were, on the field of battle, who were heated with the dispute, who considered themselves offended, and who, of course, felt and were writing in that sense. In the quiet chambers of the Foreign Office, the noble Earl, with his excellent judgment, if he had taken the question into his own hands, might have settled all difficulties, and yet not have bated one jot the honour of his country. At that period the calmness and the judgment for which I, and many others around me, gave the noble Earl credit, during the dispute with the Cabinet of Washington, were especially needed. Am I going too far when I say that in that dispute with the Cabinet of Washington, the noble Earl behaved like an English Minister, and in this dispute with Brazil like a Yankee Minister? Looking at the despatches which passed in the two cases, no one would suppose that they were written by the same hand; for the one is all dignity and calmness, and the other all violence and injustice, both as to words and acts. Let me now recapitulate, as shortly as I can, the loss of the Prince of Wales. This vessel was lost on the desert shore of Albardao, on the 9th of June 1861, A few days afterwards, a gentleman named Soares, a sort of rough magistrate residing on the coast, reported that such a wreck had taken place. On the 12th it was reported to the sub-delegate of police, twenty-four miles off. Mr. Vereker left Rio Grande on the 14th, and reached Albardao on the 16th—so that not much time was lost—and he returned to Rio Grande on the 18th. The delegate gave orders for an inquest and inquiry on the 19th, and on the 22nd of June—that is to say, less than a fortnight after the wreck—an inquest was held on some of the bodies. Mr. Vereker, however, having these delusions, I suppose, from the first, magnified the case to a great extent. I do not for an instant doubt that there was wrecking—that part of the cargo was washed ashore, and part of it plundered by the wild people of the coast; but I do not believe in the murders of which those persons are accused; and even in this country, if there was no more evidence of murder, we could not obtain a verdict against any man. Mr. Vereker's conduct was most strange. He got what in England we should call a posse comitatus to accompany him, and went on horseback to the scene of the wreck. He there met with another posse comitatus, which belonged to the Inspector of the district, Senhor Fans tino. What comes into his head? Not that Senhor Faustino and he had the same object in view, but that this person and his comrades were his enemies. So he began to count which had the larger number of men, and finding that he had fewer men than the other—though he seems to have been a bad arithmetician, and precisely the reverse was the Fact—he said he thought it dangerous to go inland and make any further search. Being now very hungry and tired, he went to the house of M. Soares, a sort of yeoman magistrate, like many who in 1728 were to be found in this country. There he found two Bibles, and—what he was perhaps just as glad to find—two young ladies. They looked very grave and extremely bored by seeing Mr Vereker and his posse comitatus; and because they showed it, he noted this fact, which was afterwards quoted by the noble Earl in his demands as a proof that the people on the coast were guilty of the crimes charged against them. Really, if this were not a very serious matter, one would be inclined to laugh, in reading Mr. Vereker's despatches, at the foundation for the charges made. Mr. Consul Vereker communicates with Mr. Christie, who takes all for gospel, and proceeds ac cordingly, he himself never having been within 900 miles of the place. The next mistake was in accusing the Brazilian Government of a disinclination to go into the matter; and another was in immediately sending two English ships of war to the coast—why, I do not know, but it was said that they were to assist the investigation. Now, that was a very great mistake. The Brazilian Minister says— Those embarrassments and difficulties were, I can assure Mr. Christie, increased by the presence of the foreign force in the port, a force which, the public voice said, had come to support the claims of the British Consul, and which, arousing the susceptibilities of the population, who regarded it as offensive to the national independence and dignity, would render unavailing, if not impossible, the efforts of the authorities, because no one would be ready to give such information as he might possess, it being more probable that, from pique, the flight of those compromised would be facilitated. That is perfectly true, and afterwards he describes how jealous the inhabitants of the coast were when they saw these ships arrive. Mr. Christie, indeed, says that they were gunboats, and only had a gun apiece. But, my Lords, if a single-barrelled pistol is put to my head, it is just as much a menace as if a revolver were held there. It was the insult and the appearance of menace these vessels brought with them which was felt by the Brazilians. This was the first, though not the least, mistake made during these transactions. With regard to the alleged murders, there was no proof to be got, but there is considerable evidence on the other side. Four bodies were found stripped, it is true; but there was no mark of violence found on them. I should say the probability is that these bodies had been found on the beach near high-water mark, that they had been dragged a little way up, and then had been stripped. Two were found clasped in one another's arms, and that is not in the position of murdered men. One remarkable passage is contained in the papers with regard to the murders. Mr. Stephens, the owner of the vessel, who seems to have pressed the noble Earl pretty hard during the eighteen months which the negotiations lasted, writes deliberately to the Foreign Office, and says— I have ascertained that the captain, his wife, and crew, landed safely with his boats on the Brazilian territory, with his British flag, chronometer, nautical instruments, log-book, clearance, and his British register in his pocket, with provisions, and all other necessaries, except firearms or weapons of defence. These were all taken possession of, and the captain and the crew were immediately plundered and murdered, and four of the crew, who escaped about four miles inland, were then murdered and partially plundered. Mr. Stephens, living at Glasgow, supplies this information, and Mr. Layard naturally asks him how he has ascertained it, to which he replies— I had my information from the captain and crew of the schooner Hound, wrecked in the same gale, who saw five of the bodies with knife-cuts and other wounds, and some of them with their heads battered, their clothes rent, and evidence of violent struggles. I would gladly go to London any day after this week you could spare time to go into the matter. Where is that captain whose name is mentioned by Mr. Stephens as describing the details of a most horrible murder? When an offer is made to the Foreign Office that he should attend and state all he knows, we hear no more of that captain? Where is that man who knows all the circumstances? The noble Earl, no doubt, will tell us what has become of this witness, of whom, at present, we know nothing further. Now, my Lords, with respect to the acts of the Brazilian Government. They did, it appears, hold an inquest upon the four bodies; but they said of those bodies buried on the sands, owing to the shifting of the sands, they could not be found. A verdict was returned according to the laws of the country. Now, these are points which it is essential should be borne in mind in considering the bearing of international law upon this subject. The Brazilian Government dismissed two officers for being slow or negligent, and they imprisoned eleven persons, but they could not bring any culprits to justice for murders which they denied—and, I think, justly denied—had been committed. There is a little episode comes in here, which I do not think is creditable to the British Government. It appears that after these four bodies had been disinterred at the request of the British Government, and carried eighty miles also at their request, they were again buried with Protestant rites. The expenses of this melancholy duty amounted to £32 1s. 1d.; that enormous amount was the first reclamation which England made of Brazil. Your Lordships will hardly believe, that for these acts, which were done at the request of England, the British Government refused to pay £32 1s. 1d. I need not say more upon that point, except that it shows, unfortunately too clearly, the animus which was influencing Mr. Christie and Mr. Vereker. My Lords, the noble Earl, not having been satisfied with the decision of the coroner's inquest, nor with the oft-repeated declarations of the Brazilian Government, that notwithstanding all their efforts they could not bring any of the malefactors to justice, the noble Earl thought it his duty to insist upon compensation. Now, it appears to me a very grave question, whether the noble Earl had any right to ask the Brazilian Government for compensation under such circumstances. The Brazilian Foreign Minister, in page 29 of the correspondence, after speaking of the international law upon the subject, and reminding the British Government that, at its request, an inquest had been held upon the bodies, goes on to say— No Government, as Mr. Christie well knows, can be answerable for prejudices caused by outrages committed without its concurrence or instigation in its territory, or by its subjects, against foreigners. The duties and efforts of a just and conscientious Government cannot go further than the employment of the whole means within its reach to insure the conviction of the fact, and the punishment of those proved to be the criminals. I think that is a proposition that cannot be disputed, and I am supported in that opinion by the authority of Vattel and of Dr. Phillimore. Vattel says— International law does not permit reprisals, except for a cause evidently just, for a debt clear and undoubted; for he who puts forward a doubtful pretension can only ask at first an equitable inquiry into his right. In the second place, before a recourse to reprisals, one must have uselessly demanded justice—at least, have good reason to believe that it would be demanded in vain; then only may one obtain justice by one's own bands. Reprisals ought to be grounded on a denial of justice, either an actual denial or one which there is good reason to apprehend. In all cases susceptible of doubt, a Sovereign ought not to listen to the complaints of his subjects against a foreign tribunal, nor to attempt to screen them from the effects of a sentence passed in doe form, for that would be the means of exciting continual troubles. The law of nations directs that States should reciprocally pay that kind of deference to each other's jurisdiction, for the reason that definitive sentence shall be esteemed just. Dr. Phillimore lays down the same doctrine. He says— Letters of reprisal are not to be granted without a full knowledge of the causes that justify them. Moreover, it must be res minime dubia, in which justice has been denied, and it must have been absolutely denied by all the tribunals of the country before which the cause could be brought. An erroneous sentence conscientiously given by free judges, unbiassed and unintmidated by any judicial authority, affords no just ground for reprisals. And the escape of a malefactor is by no means so unusual a thing as the noble Earl supposes. Even in this country malefactors sometimes escape. There are at this moment several malefactors whom we cannot apprehend. A murder was recently committed in St. Giles's early in the day, and the murderer has not yet been taken. The noble Earl opposite would have said, "We have done our best; our police have used their efforts, and we can do no more." Well, but supposing that the murdered woman to whom I allude had been a Brazilian woman, and that the Brazilian Government should demand of us the capture of her murderer. Could they not, with much greater reason, express themselves dissatisfied with our statement that with all our efforts we have been unable to arrest the murderer? Would they not express their surprise that in such an immense city as London, where there was so large and so efficient a body of police, that a person guilty of such a hideous crime could escape from the hands of justice? Well, but that is precisely our charge against the Brazilian authorities, who have not at their command anything like the means possessed by this country for carrying out the ends of justice. Well, I think that the noble Earl should be satisfied with the explanation of the Brazilian Government both in respect to the coroner's inquest and their inability to capture the robbers, if robbers there were.

Then, again, I do not know how the value of the cargo is arrived at. I beg your Lordships to remember that the ship is said to have been partly laden with iron, and that she went down at her anchors outside. A great deal of the cargo must have been sunk with her, and, of course, all the iron. Surely the value of that portion of the cargo cannot be an element in the calculation in the amount of compensation demanded? The Brazilian Minister says— It appears that the Imperial Government, neither for its own acts nor from the proceedings of the local authorities, ought to be answerable for the disasters occasioned by the shipwreck of the barque Prince of Wales; and therefore the demand of the Government of Her Britannic Majesty cannot be entertained. In the first place, for which bodies does his Excellency demand compensation? It cannot certainly be for the four which were taken to the city of Rio Grande, which it was proved that the cause of their deaths had been asphyxia from submersion; nor can it be for the six who were lost, because it is not known to what souls they belonged, nor are there any means of distinguishing them from those who were swallowed by the waves. As to the pilferage of the goods saved, if the demand of the British Government were justifiable, it would appear that the Imperial Government could only be responsible for the species, quantity, and value of the plundered articles; but it does not appear how many and what they were. Every word of the next paragraph is true, I believe— If this principle be admitted, people will be found to assume the responsibility, not only for the crimes of depredators, but also for the imbecility of captains, and even for the fury of the winds and waves. The Imperial Government will apply a remedy to all these disasters, or the insurance companies will not have a better auxiliary than the coast of Albardao, or than any other desert coast of the empire. Speaking of the insurance companies reminds me to ask whether the noble Earl can tell us whether Mr. Stephens has received an insurance as large as the £3,200 which the noble Earl has demanded. If that is the case, then Mr. Stephens has made a good thing of the shipwreck. If he has not received it—if the insurers, in consequence of the noble Earl's proceedings, have refused to pay the amount—then it appears that the underwriters alone will be the gainers by his proceedings. I am sorry to say that at this stage of the difficulty, when the noble Earl has made his demand, and long notes have been passed on both sides, there arose another matter to envenom the dispute, and that was the case of the officers of the Forte. It appears that the question has changed its aspect, and that it is now sub judice, being referred to King Leopold for his decision, not on the points which at first might have been discussed, but as to whether it was a national insult to the British navy. I must say, in passing, that the noble Earl has, I think, entirely mistaken the causes of complaint and the grounds upon which that complaint was made. He might have put it as an outrage or assault upon three British citizens—that would have been all very well—but to ask King Leopold whether an attack upon three gentlemen in plain clothes could be regarded as an insult to the British navy appears to me to be the most extraordinary question I ever heard put. I am quite certain what the answer of King Leopold will be. But, with respect to the transaction itself, I cannot altogether omit it, because it proves the animus that pervaded all the officials—minister, admiral, consul, and every one of them. Two officers and the chaplain of the Forte had been dining in the country; in coming home, they passed a sentry. For some reason or other they got into a squabble with the sentry, were taken to the guardhouse, and remained there that night. I have seen some private letters giving an account of the matter, and might go into detail as to what the officers said to the sentry; but, if I were to translate them into English, I feel the expressions used would not be suited to ears polite—the effect however was to make the sentry very angry. The officers were kept in the guardhouse during that night. They were very well treated there. Next day they were taken to the police-station, where they were remanded for the hearing of evidence, and on the third day, when the evidence came, showing who and what they were, they were released. The noble Earl drew a parallel between the coast of Albardao and the coast of Cornwall; allow me to draw an analogy between the present case and what would have occurred if a similar squabble had taken place in Parliament Street. Conceive, for instance, that a Brazilian frigate was lying at Chatham, and three of its officers came up to London to amuse themselves, and having dined very well, they proceed down Parliament Street to the Horse Guards. They go through, see a sentry, and ask him some of those questions I have often heard asked by ragged boys of a sentry—questions of a peculiarly affectionate nature as to the parents of the sentry—whether he felt very cold, &c. Now, however kind these questions may be, they are not well taken—the English sentry tells them to walk on; they do not walk on; the sentry shoves them on, and there would be a squabble. It might last five minutes; in due time the officers on guard would come down. This is just what occurred in the case of the officers of the Forte. Great complaint is made that the officer did not make his appearance for ten minutes. I think that is very likely. God forbid that I should say anything to the prejudice of the British army, but I think that under the circumstances it was not likely that the officer would appear in less time than ten minutes. The officer might perhaps have been seated peaceably in his room with his coat off, smoking a cigar; and when aroused by the noise below he would occupy probably some minutes in putting on his harness, and putting out his cigar before he could come down. I confess I do not see any cause of complaint in such a matter. Well, to pursue the analogy still further, supposing the officer did come down, and not knowing the Brazilian language he would naturally turn to the sentry concerned for an explanation as to what it all meant. On ascertaining something of the matter, he would order the Brazilian officers to the guard room. From thence they would be probably taken to the police station, where they would be made to spend the night, and the next morning be introduced to the presiding magistrate at the police office. Explanations would thereupon be demanded, and the Brazilian consul would arrive, and inform the magistrate who and what those gentlemen were. The result would be that the officers would be released and ordered to their ships. This is exactly what happened in the case of these officer of the Forte. Yet, this having happened, the Admiral takes on himself to write to the noble Earl and tells him what to do. The first thing demanded is, that the officer commanding this detachment should be dismissed—that was actually demanded at first by the noble Earl; and nothing, in my opinion, could be more unhandsome and unfair. More than this. This very officer, who had given them writing materials and cards to play with, which they asked for, and actually gave them his own bed, was, at their instance, to be cashiered and have his prospects ruined for ever. I am not going further into this question, but I mentioned this to show the animus of the Admiral, of Mr. Christie, and of every one of the noble Earl's employés in that country. My Lords, I am quite certain that the noble Earl is not in the habit of imitating the language uttered in another place, and which is assumed there by a noble Viscount, who is very fond of resorting to a description of argument which I do not know well how to characterize, but which consists in resting his case upon the old claim, "Civis Romanus sum." Now, of all the foolish misapplications of a dead language of a semi-barbarous country to a living and civilized nation, I never in my life heard of a worse. There is not the slightest analogy between the circumstances of ancient Rome and the present day. Rome had made herself master of the whole known world, from the Grampians to the Atlas, and from the Tagus to the Euphrates, and her citzen had great privileges and immunities. But he is constantly held forth as the prototype of the Englishman, who has nothing in Europe but his own British islands, the island of Heligoland, and the fortress of Gibraltar. The pride of the English citizen should be that he belongs to a nation in the vanguard of civilization—a civilization founded on respect for municipal and international law. But, translated as the noble Viscount translates it, it would appear "Civis Romanus sum" means I am an Englishman, and when abroad I mean to do what I like. I am sure, my Lords, that I am not less anxious than the noble Earl to give every proper protection to British subjects and to British interests; but what I complain of is that in these transactions there is a great want of judgment on the part of those concerned in them, and that the noble Earl yields his own judgment to others who do not possess the same power of judgment. The second question, as I stated, has very much envenomed the first. There were now two sets of demands made upon the Court of Brazil. The noble Earl recapitulates all his grievances and insists upon his agents demanding the following compensations:—£3,200 for the property assumed to be plundered at the wreck of the Prince of Wales; the dismissal of the officer who arrested the British officers, the punishment of the sentry, and the public reprimand of the head of the police. The noble Earl was very energetic in the first instance, but afterwards he modified his demand. Up to the 4th of November the noble Earl emphatically believed all that he had heard from the fertile imagination of Mr. Vereker, the somewhat acid temper of Mr. Christie, and from the very erratic nature of the Admiral. But since the 4th of November he seems to have thought over the matter again, for he wrote two most excellent despatches to Mr. Christie. Here is one of those excellent despatches—it is very short, but it shows extremely good sense, and is most judicious. The noble Earl says— Her Majesty's Government are very reluctant to proceed to extreme measures against Brazil, except as a last resource, and any proposal on her part for arbitration on the questions at issue may be referred for the consideration of Her Majesty's Government. Now mark, my Lords—the noble Earl had before insisted on arbitration, not as to principle, but only as to amount. He now modified his demand; and I give him credit for having done so; I only regret he did not do so sooner. The noble Earl seemed so determined to modify his former view that he writes again to Mr. Christie only four days afterwards in these words:—"That the demand will be enforced by reprisals in case no proposal is made by Brazil for arbitration." But—will you believe it—Mr. Christie writes, indeed, to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Brazil, but never makes the slightest mention that the questions are open to arbitration, totally ignoring the noble Earl's orders, totally ignoring his instruction, totally ignoring the modification of his view. How can I speak of this without indignation? Having in his pocket the means of a reconciliation, he conceals the fact, and the word "arbitration" is never mentioned by him until after the reprisals have been executed. Am I wrong, then, in saying that the noble Earl opposite has been betrayed—that he has been ill-served by his own subordinates? I do not think such an act was ever committed against a Minister since the Foreign Office was established. Nor is that the worst. When Mr. Christie sent in his ultimatum, what did the Brazilian Minister then offer to do? He said, "Let us remove the question from this scene of passion and of anger; let us send it to London; let us refer it to the noble Earl opposite" (in whom he states that he has confidence), "and to M. Moreira to settle between them." And it is certainly remarkable that the noble Earl did not try some such plan before. I am informed, on no less authority than that of M. Moreira himself, that the noble Earl for months—for more than a year—had no communication with him personally on this subject. I am quite convinced, that if he had met M. Moreira in his own room to consider the difference, the whole matter would have been settled, and a rupture avoided between two friendly countries. Is it creditable that Mr. Christie, with that permission, or I may say with that instruction, in his pocket should, when M. d'Abrantes offered to refer the case to London, have refused any such reference and never have given a hint, that if arbitration were proposed, it would be entertained? My Lords, I suppose it is from a high feeling of honour, which I can respect, that the noble Earl has spared Mr. Christie on this point—if it be so, I certainly respect the motive that actuated him—but that does not excuse the noble Earl before the country. On the 29th of December, Mr. Christie having sent in his ultimatum, the reprisals took place;—and how were they carried out? Unfortunately, again the noble Earl positively left it to Mr. Christie and the Admiral to choose the best means of executing them. Why, if ever a Minister ought to have stood by his own responsibility, it was at such a grave moment as that. He should have described when, where, and how those reprisals should be carried out, instead of leaving them to the discretion of two men, excited by all that had taken place, whose conduct has in its consequences driven the Brazilian Minister from the British Court. My Lords, our ships of war were sent out from the harbour of Rio, and for six days, Mr. Christie says, that harbour was virtually blockaded—an act of war. And what a magnificent spectacle was witnessed when our great men of war came in, towing after them into the harbour of Rio six miserable Brazilian merchantmen! Talk of the humiliation of the Brazilians! It was the English residents at Rio who must have been humiliated by seeing the navy of their country prostituted in the perpetration of an injustice. I know I may be asked what I would have done under the circumstances, and I do not hesitate to answer that question. I should say that in the first place it was imperative on the noble Earl to remove the dispute from Brazil to England; secondly, referring to the protocol agreed upon at Paris in 1856—for which the noble Earl sitting above (the Earl of Clarendon) ought to have eternal credit—referring to and acting upon that protocol, he ought to have settled the question by mediation or arbitration. Why, it was the Government of which the noble Earl opposite himself was a Member, which proposed the civilized policy embodied in that protocol; and when it was assented to by all the nations then in congress, Brazil was invited to adhere to it. We invited Brazil to adhere to that protocol, and she did adhere to it. Yet, in five or six years afterwards, you ignore the protocol, and have never made any use of it. Well, then, thirdly, as to the manner of the reprisals. For the sake of argument, I grant that the noble Earl was justified in making them. Reprisals are a most serious thing; for, mark you, they can only be practically made by a strong country against a weak one. That is a very great objection to reprisals. If they are made by a strong country against one as strong, or nearly as strong, that is war—there must be war, because they will not be suffered. But, if reprisals were to be made, why did the noble Earl not make them in the least offensive, and not in the most offensive form? With the hundreds of Brazilian ships in our harbours, was it not easy for the noble Earl to have quietly sent half a dozen policemen to lay an embargo upon some of them. That would have been no insult to the Brazilian people; it would have equally been an assertion of international law and right, and equally a lesson to the Brazilian Government. Why, instead of doing that, did the noble Earl leave his employés, acting on their own judgments, to adopt the most offensive way possible of carrying out the most offensive policy which one country can pursue towards another? Well, this having taken place, M. Moreira—a diplomatist who has lived long in this country, and whose high character and moderate disposition are well known—received orders from his Government to ask an expression of regret from the noble Earl as to the manner in which the reprisals had been carried out. My Lords, I think that a great nation like this might have afforded, through the noble Earl opposite, to express that regret as to the manner as well as the necessity of that proceeding. It was only the other day that I was much struck by the impressive language used by the noble Earl as to the reparation of acts of injustice. He said that "the second honour of a nation is the reparation of an injustice;" and I think he could not have illustrated his own words and sentiments better than by saying to the Brazilian Minister, when he came to him, that he did regret, not only the act itself, but the way in which that act was performed. So far, however, from that, in his last instructions, which we saw yesterday, the noble Earl defends what was done, and even goes a great deal further, because he says the sole object of the reprisals was to obtain some security for the lives and property of Her Majesty's subjects who may have the misfortune to be shipwrecked on the coast of Brazil, and to insure due respect to the persons of Her Majesty's naval officers in that country. Why, that last point was still sub judice, and reparation was not surely asked for that. I shall not, my Lords, be lured into discussing the quite new question contained in the noble Earl's last despatch. It appears, however, that the noble Earl has some misgiving that he has exacted hard measure from the Brazilian Government, and that the acts of that Government do not entirely justify the course he has pursued. He therefore goes, in an ex post facto manner, into a quantity of old grievances which he seems to have had against the Brazilian Government. These are matters of which we have not heard before; but they are now heaped like hot coals on the heads of the unfortunate Brazilians, to justify the noble Earl's acts, which cannot otherwise be justified. I will not for a moment believe what has been said by speakers in another place and by some of the newspapers, that the noble Earl has two measures—one for the weak and another for the strong. But assuming that he has only one measure, observe the danger we are in. If the policy of the noble Earl, as now exercised by some of his subordinates, were carried out on the coast of some powerful country, and suppose that one of our vessels were wrecked on the coast of a distant colony of France or Russia, if Mr. Christie, Mr. Vereker, and Admiral Warren were on the coast of Russia or France, what in that case would have happened? Why, inevitably there would have been war. We should now have had the cannon thundering at both ends of the Channel, If, therefore, the noble Earl has but one measure for all, see the risk we run of being brought into collision any day with some great Power. I think, then, that the noble Earl has made a great mistake. He has not paid that attention from the beginning that he ought to have paid to this subject. He has allowed his subordinates to supersede his own individual judgment and thereby to betray him. He has not examined sufficiently into what is the state of international law, nor studied how it might be applied in the least offensive manner. He may have intended to exact reparation, and to give a lesson to a recusant Government, but he has insulted, exasperated, and alienated an innocent and friendly people. The noble Earl concluded by moving an humble Address to Her Majesty for— Copies of any Papers showing on what Ground the reduced Demand for Compensation from the Government of Brazil was assessed at the Sum of £3,200; and also to move for, a Copy of the Despatch alluded to by Mr. Christie as having been written to the Brazilian Minister for Foreign Affairs on the Wreck of the Prince of Wales, and not published in the Brazilian Papers.


My Lords, I think it must be allowed by your Lordships that it is part of the general law of nations, and that it is part of the municipal law of almost every civilized nation, that the persons and property of foreign subjects shall be respected in the other country. This is the only principle upon which the proceedings of Her Majesty's Government have been founded. We have not thought it right to connive at the plunder and suspected murder of British subjects without seeking of a foreign government all the reparation in their power. This has been the principle on which we have proceeded; the facts I will presently state to the House; but I must say that I do hope that the commercial importance of Brazil is not put forward as a reason for not seeking a remedy for a grievance when we have a grievance against that Government. I am ready to admit that it is a serious matter to make any demands on Brazil with which she may hesitate to comply: I am quite ready to admit that it is desirable we should be on most friendly terms with Brazil;—but I cannot admit that any desire to be on friendly terms with Brazil, on account of her commercial importance, should make us blind or indifferent to the wrongs of British subjects when a strong and satisfactory case is made out. I do not say that the noble Earl, but Borne organs of public opinion, seem to maintain that the lives of a few sailors signify nothing, when we consider the millions of property involved in the trade with Brazil. I cannot argue this question upon that foundation. I must argue it upon the foundation upon which we have always acted in this country—that if any wrong has been committed, we should first ask in temperate terms for a remedy for that wrong; but if that wrung does not receive a remedy, then we must proceed to some measure of force. Now, I find in looking at the proceedings which have taken place for some years past, that there have been, from 1831 to the present time, twenty one cases in which France has adopted coercive measures in order to obtain redress; twenty-two eases in which Great Britian has adopted coercive measures in order to obtain redress; and twenty-three cases in which the United States have adopted similar measures for that purpose. This shows at least that in the case of these great maritime countries measures of a coercive nature are sometimes used if they cannot obtain redress without them. What are the facts with regard to this particular matter of the wreck of the Prince of Wales? Mr. Vereker, our Consul, heard at his residence that there had been a shipwreck of a British vessel on the coast of Albardao. The noble Earl disputes the authority of Mr. Consul Vereker, on the ground that at a later period his mind became unsettled. Now, that is certainly quite true; but at that time, when this shipwreck took place, I must say with regard to the observations of Mr. Consul Vereker, that there is nothing which indicates other than the mind of a calm and sensible man, and I see nothing at all to justify the supposition that his mind was at all unsettled at that period. Mr. Consul Vereker proceeds to the place—a journey of some difficulty, eighty or ninety miles distance—in order to obtain the information. The noble Earl treats with some pleasantry his going to the house of a justice of the peace in order to investigate this case. I own that it does not appear to me to be a matter for pleasantry. I think, when an English Consul, an officer of Her Majesty's Government, hearing of a shipwreck goes to ascertain the facts of the case, and whether there has been any wrong suffered, it is not a matter of pleasantry, but a matter of commendation, and I am glad the British officer so well performed his duty. Well, he goes to the house of a justice of the tice of the peaee, and he proceeds the next morning early to the coast. He finds there a portion of the wreck and two boats of the ship with the oars in them. He finds also that there are many chests on shore, and that the insides of those chests do not appear to have been wet; but they were all empty, the contents having been taken out of them. He asks where were the bodies of the sailors, and for an inquest upon those bodies. Now, who is the person with him? The noble Earl has represented that Mr. Consul Vereker had taken a party of armed men with him, and gone there relying upon this force; but the person with him was the commercial judge of the district the proper person to examine into such transactions. Therefore, it was not upon his own authority that he was acting—he was acting with the authority of this commercial judge, and he asked that commercial judge to institute an inquest. What could be more proper? The wreck took place on the 9th; he was there on the 16th. The bodies of the men would have been found on the shore or near the shore if there had been no foul play, and the natural answer would have been that an inquest should be immediately held. But such was not the answer. The commercial judge said he could not institute an inquest. Mr. Vereker supposes it is on account of the presence of a certain Senhor Silveira, who is the inspector of the district, who was there with a larger body of armed men than the commercial judge had with him. Mr. Vereker may be wrong in attributing that as a reason why the commercial judge re-fused to comply; but it was a natural supposition, and, at all events, Mr. Vereker was quite right in demanding an inquest, and regarding it as a suspicious circumstance when the inquest was refused. Well, what does he do then? He goes back to his usual place of residence. Some time after a ship of war—a gunboat—is sent. The noble Earl seems to think that that was a great mistake; but, considering the state of that district—that it was a wild part of the country—I think he was quite right in asking for the protection of a British gunboat, and the officer in command, in order to give greater effect to the proceeding. Well, about that time a judicial inquiry is held. The noble Earl speaks as if all the bodies of the crew of the ship had been brought before that inquest. The truth is, there were four bodies produced, and the noble Earl entirely suppresses the fact that there were six other bodies, including one woman, not accounted for.


The noble Earl could not have heard me, for I distinctly said that the four bodies were found at some distance from the beach, and the others were not found, in consequence of the sands.


With regard to these four bodies, although they were a good deal injured, it was the opinion that they had died from drowning. With regard to the other six, the noble Earl says they were lost in the sands. I think it requires an immense amount of credulity to give any credence to so frivolous a pretext. Mr. Christie and Admiral Warren support Mr. Vereker in his judgment that it was a mere frivolous pretext, and that the Brazilians did not choose to produce the bodies for fear of the tale which those bodies would tell; and that is the natural inference which Her Majesty's Government draw from the pretence as to not finding the bodies. Some time afterwards, when Mr. Vereker was proceeding along the coast, he found that the inhabitants of all the houses denied that they had ever heard of any wreck, or that they knew what had become of the persons who had perished. The noble Earl may believe that, but I do not; and Mr. Vereker had this reason for not believing it—that he heard a boy who came into the house of Senhor Silveira say something about a corpse. They inquired of the boy what it was, and he said it was the last of the bodies which had been found, and which orders were being given to bury. It was quite clear, therefore, that those persons who pretended never to have heard of the wreck were endeavouring to conceal the truth, and that they knew perfectly well what had happened. In the house of this magistrate, as the noble Earl calls him, was found a portion of the plundered property, and there was every reason to believe that he was at the head of the gang of plunderers who had plundered this British ship, and that this Senhor Silveira, who was his son-in-law, and all the rest of them, were employed in concealing the facts. That there should be such persons on a wild coast is not what I complained of to the Brazilian Government, nor did I say that they should at once have brought this coast into a state of civilization. What I did complain of was that they were themselves accomplices in concealing these facts, that they did not order a vigilant and effective inquiry, and that they left this man, who as magistrate would be the chief authority of the district, in the same position in which he was before, and that they never attempted to remedy the state of things which existed there. As to the excuse which the noble Earl makes, that it was a wild uncivilized part of the country, I say that a foreign Government must take one course or the other—they must, either be ready to investigate any crime which is committed in that part of the country, or they must say that the district is entirely uncivilized, that they have no authority in it, and that foreign officers, such as captains of ships, must take such measures as they think necessary to obtain redress. I cannot conceive any third course. But the Brazilian Government, at the same time that they pretended to have authority in this district, did everything they could to pre-vent justice being done. The owner of this British ship, I think, had a just cause of complaint against them. He had sent out a ship on a commercial venture, with a captain whom he could trust, and a crew of seven or eight men. He finds that the captain and his wife and the crew are dead, and that the cargo is plundered; he makes his complaint to the British Government, and I think he has a right to claim from the British Government that they should protect his property, and that they should procure a searching investigation into the deaths of the captain and his crew, and to obtain for him redress. Under these circumstances we were bound to make some inquiry, and indeed to insist that some searching inquiry should be made in Brazil, or to confess that the British Government had no power to obtain redress for a grievous wrong. We could not, with any sense of what is due to the lives and property of British subjects, allow this matter to remain uninvestigated. The noble Earl says that I demanded this redress in an imperious tone; and as this is one of his four charges, I must request permission to read the terms in which I first asked for redress. On the 6th September 1861—this offence having been committed in June 1861—I wrote to Mr. Baillie thus— Should you not have done so already before the receipt of this despatch, you will lose no time in calling the serious attention of the Brazilian Government to this case, and you will request that a strict inquiry may be instituted into the circumstances, and that the parties convicted of such culpable negligence may he suitably punished, and that those who may be convicted of outrage upon the survivors from the wreck may be brought to justice. Surely there is nothing imperious in the tone of that despatch. Then, again, on February 8 I say— I cannot consider the explanations which have been given by the Brazilian authorities in this matter as being satisfactory, and I concur in the opinion which Mr. Vereker has expressed as to the culpability of the authorities of the district, and as to the insufficiency of the inquiry instituted, considering the serious nature of the case. Under these circumstances, I have to refer you to the instructions conveyed in my despatch of the 6th of September last, and to desire you to state to the Brazilian Government that Her Majesty's Government expect that a more searching investigation shall be instituted, with a view to the punishment of the parties actually concerned in the outrage, and of the local authorities who may be convicted of negligence in dealing with the case, as also with a view to adequate compensation to the owners of the vessel, whose property, by the admission of the Brazilian authorities themselves, has been plundered or wantonly destroyed, and to the surviving relatives of those who may be proved to have been murdered. There was a great authority in the India Office who used to say that the style of the Company's despatches was "humdrum"—and I must say I do not think the style in which I wrote here rises above the "humdrum." I confess I did think, that having tried every sort of evasion for more than twelve months, the Brazilian Government ought to make some compensation. The noble Earl says I left the case entirely in the hands of subordinates—that I left the demand to be framed by Mr. Christie, Mr. Baillie, and Mr. Vereker. The duty of these gentlemen was to inform me of the facts, and it was upon their statement of facts, and not upon any proposals of Mr. Christie or Admiral Warren, that I framed my demand. It was not in Admiral Warren's department to make any proposals as to the request which was to be made. When I thought there was a demand to be made, I made it, quite irrespective of the opinions of Mr. Christie or Admiral Warren. I cannot agree with the noble Earl as to the manner in which Mr. Christie acted. Mr. Christie acted in entire conformity with the instructions which I gave him, I think he argued the question with great temper and ability; and it was not until I instructed him to make a positive demand for reparatinn that that demand was made. The noble Earl goes on to complain that I told the Brazilian Government, that if reparation were not given, the whole question would he put into the hands of Admiral Warren, without waiting to see whether the Brazilian Government would consent to an arbitration. I never I told Mr. Christie to offer an arbitration. I told him, in a despatch of the 8th October, that further orders would be given. Further orders were given on the 4th November, and I then said that if the Brazilian Government should propose an arbitration, Her Majesty's Government would be quite ready to consent to one. Mr. Christie was not told to make an offer of arbitration, because I did not think that it lay with Her Majesty's Government to make it. If we had made such an offer, the Brazilian Government might have said, in its evasive way, "This shows that you are not confident of your case," and they would have tried some further delays; but what I said was, that if the Brazilian Government thought they had a case sufficient to refuse reparation, and proposed an arbitration, we should consent to it. In that respect I think we showed a readiness to treat the Brazilian Government with the utmost fairness. But the Brazilian Government did not make any such offer, and it was not until the end of December 1862 that measures of coercion were employed. The noble Earl finds fault with the manner in which the reprisals were made, and he draws a distinction which I cannot find has been drawn by any writer on the subject. What was done was this:—Admiral Warren sent his vessels six miles from the port of Rio Janeiro. He did not execute reprisals in the port. On this point I imagine that the doctrine laid down by Martens is the true one. He says— The kind of reprisals most common is the seizure of the persons or the goods which are found, whether on our own territory, whether on the high seas, whether on the territory of the Power against whom this mode of redress is used. In fact, Admiral Warren executed the reprisals in the manner calculated least to injure Brazilian commerce, and least to disturb pacific relations. If Admiral Warren had sent out his vessels some 200 or 300 miles, it is evident that there must have been a great disturbance of commerce, and until you took the ships back, it would be most uncertain how the fact of reprisal would have been dealt with. As it was, there could be no question of resistance, and no question of collision, but within six days the whole affair was settled. I will not follow the noble Earl into the question of the Forte, which has been referred to arbitration; but I may observe that it was not until the reprisals had been commenced that the Brazilian Government consented to that arbitration. I do not think it is becoming in any Member of this House, when such a Sovereign as the King of the Belgians has undertaken the arbitration—when the Brazilian Government on its part, and the English Government on its part, has laid the matter before the King of the Belgians for arbitration—to make an attack on the British case, to try and diminish the value of our case, and show himself so nervously apprehensive as the noble Earl seems to be, that the King of the Belgians, weighing fairly all the circumstances, may give a decision in favour of the British navy, I am quite satisfied, without saying a word on our part in addition to what has already been said, to leave to the judgment of an enlightened and impartial Sovereign, like the King of the Belgians, the point in dispute between the two Governments, The noble Earl says that on the whole question we have exercised an extreme degree of pressure on Brazil, and he speaks as if we had done something quite unusual in demanding redress immediately. I have already mentioned, at the commencement of my address, that Great Britain, France, and the United States have in more than sixty cases demanded redress under circumstances such as those in which we have been called upon to act. Lord Aberdeen was not a lover of war, nor an intemperate Minister; he weighed calmly the cases that came before him; but in the case of the proceedings of Rosas at Montevideo, which, doing great injury to European commerce, he, in conjunction with the French Government, sent an order that these proceedings should be put an end to; and the English Admiral, in conjunction with the French Admiral, took possession of the whole of the fleet which was acting under Rosas. This is one instance—and it is the only instance I shall quote. As to these South American affairs, it is often necessary to have recourse to force to protect your commerce and obtain justice. The noble Earl speaks of the proceedings of the Brazilian Government as if it were the model Government of the continent of America. It is true that Brazil, having wisely, as I think, chosen a monarchy for its form of Government, has not, like the South American Republics, been the prize of different military chiefs, who have successfully fought for the supremacy; and therefore the Brazilian Government has been far superior to most of the South American Republics. But it is very far indeed from being a model of justice in its tribunals, or of freedom from corruption in its administration. It requires, no less than other Governments, to be under the control of opinion. The noble Earl says that the "Civis Romanus sum" position is a very disputable one—that the doctrine is not applicable to us, for we are not in the same position as the Romans. I have no ambition to set up the Roman example—but certainly a great man said, without using a Latin phrase, but adopting plain English, that he was determined to make the name of an Englishman be as much respected as ever that of a Roman had been. He was a true Englishman. During his rule the name of England was respected; and no one can to this day mention the name of Oliver Cromwell, without coupling with it a tribute of respect for the manner in which he upheld the name of England. It is not a thing to be ashamed of, that we should wish to see the British name respected; and where the life or property of a British subject is in question, we think it a duty to interfere. The noble Earl said, that if these reprisals had been made against a great Power, they would have cost us a war; but may not there be something in this—that weak Powers, having confidence that their weakness will save them from the consequences of their acts, may be disposed to do things which a strong Power would never think of? For instance, with regard to the taking of two persons out of a British packet, which occurred last year, the American Government, conscious in its own strength, and conscious in its sense of justice, had no hesitation in yielding at once to our request, that those two Commissioners should be delivered up. Conscious of its own strength, it knew that it might do justice to our demands without the least humiliation. Why did not the Brazilian Government act in that way? Is the Brazilian Government to suppose, that because she is a weak Power, she is to be allowed to wink at the murder of British seamen and to conceal the fact that those four men and two women were actually murdered? Does Brazil think, that because she is weak, impunity for such acts can be allowed to her? No; whatever taunts may be thrown out, and whatever may be said on demands of this nature, we, when a wrong is done, must, without regard to the wrong-doing Power being strong or weak, demand redress; and by demanding redress, depend upon it, we shall insure the protection of our commerce in all parts of the world. I was told the other day by the captain of the Madagascar, who has recently returned from the waters of Brazil, that not only was it the general impression in Brazil that those sailors were murdered, but that, a wreck having occurred the other day at nearly the same spot on the wild and unfrequented coast which the noble Earl described, the authorities immediately took active measures, and made every exertion to recover the property from the wreck, and the whole of the crew were saved. This, it may be presumed, followed from the just assertion of our rights. My Lords, as long as I remain at the Foreign Office, while ready to make request after request and to urge remonstrance after remonstrance, I cannot suffer flagrant acts of the kind to be committed on British life and property without demanding redress. One of the papers asked for by the noble Earl I can produce at once. The other is a despatch written while Mr. Baillie was Chargé d'Affaires, and I find that it is not in the Foreign Office. It is for the noble Earl, therefore, to say whether he will ask for it. If he does, we shall procure and lay it on the table as soon as possible. My Lords, I cannot help thinking, that if the Brazilian Government had acted in this matter in the same spirit and temper as the British Government have done, it would before this have been settled, as I hope it will be settled. I shall be glad to see M. Moreira again in this country—a gentleman with whom I have always been happy to hold communication; and I can assure your Lordships that no one will be more gratified than myself at the renewal of diplomatic relations between the two countries.


My Lords, the subject before us is of such great importance that I will not apologize to your Lordships for detaining you for a short time. The interruptions of friendly relations with Brazil is a matter likely to be so very prejudicial to the commercial interests of this country, that it is the duty of Her Majesty's Government to take care that the House and the country should be fully Informed of all the circumstances that have led to this unfortunate result. I regret to say that the perusal of these papers has left on my mind a painful conviction that the unhappy differences that have arisen are attributable, mainly, if not entirely, to the conduct of our diplomatic agents in the Brazils; that that conduct has been approved and sanctioned by the noble Earl; that the treatment of Brazil from the beginning to the end has been in the highest degree harsh, overbearing, and unjust, and that we have made a most ungenerous use of our superior power against a State which is comparatively weak, and unable to offer any opposition except a moral resistance. In support of this opinion I will ask your Lordships to consider two questions: first, whether it was a case that justified reprisals at all; and if it did, secondly, whether the mode in which that right has been exercised was just and proper. In entering on the first question, I think that it will be convenient that I should, in addition to extracts from those writers upon international law who have been already referred to, give a few others in order that your Lordships may perfectly understand the principles of law with regard to the making of reprisals. The first authority, quoted by my noble Friend—Vattel—says— Reprisals are used between nation and nation, in order to do themselves justice when they cannot otherwise obtain it. If a nation has taken possession of what belongs to another, if she refuses to pay a debt, to repair an injury, or to give adequate satisfaction for it, the latter may seize something belonging to the former, and apply it to her own advantage till she obtains payment of what is due to her, together with interest and damages, or keep it as a pledge till she has received ample satisfaction. I cite the authority of the next writer, the Queen's Advocate, because I take it for granted that the noble Earl has sought the advice of my learned Friend in the course of these proceedings. The Queen's Advocate said— Letters of reprisals are not to be granted without a full knowledge of the causes which justify them. Moreover, it must be res minime dubia, in which justice has been denied, and it must have been absolutely denied by all the tribunals of the country before which the cause could be brought, and also by the Sovereign in the last resort. And the Queen's Advocate quotes in a note a letter from the Duke of Newcastle to the King of Prussia in 1753, in which he says— The law of nations, founded upon practice, equity, convenience, and the reason of the thing, and confirmed by long usage, does not allow of reprisals except in cases of violent injuries directed or supported by the State, and justice absolutely denied by all the tribunals, and afterwards by the Prince. In another passage Vattel writes— The Sovereign who refuses to cause reparation to be made for the damage done by his subject, or to punish the offender, or finally to deliver him up, renders himself, in some measure, an accomplice in the injury. But if he deliver up either the property of the offender as an indemnification in cases that will admit of pecuniary compensation, or his person, in order that he may suffer the punishment due to his crime, the offended party has no further demand upon him. Now, the explanation which my hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General gave was this:—If the Sovereign does any of these things—that is, if he executes justice to the utmost of his power, either by paying a pecuniary compensation, or if that cannot be done by the executing punishment on the offender—it is enough. Now, I hope your Lordships will bear these principles in mind in considering the first question to which I desire to draw your Lordships' attention. I do not propose to do more than to consider the circumstances of the wreck of the Prince of Wales. I think my noble Friend (the Earl of Malmesbury) who introduced this discussion was perfectly right in considering the case of the insulted officers, because the noble Earl's demand of reprisals extended to that supposed injury; but inasmuch as that case is sub judice, I am willing to waive the discussion as to that part of the case. The wreck of the Prince of Wales occurred on the 8th or 9th of June 1861—the noble Earl says the 9th, which is rather more to the advantage of the local authorities. It took place on a wild inhospitable coast, in the district of Albardao, which is occupied by a scanty population, thinly scattered over a very extended country; and we have heard that the inhabitants of that district, very like the Cornish men of no distant date, are in the habit of flocking to the shore when there is any prospect of plunder, and they remove the spoil they collect on those occasions into the interior. Of course, in such a district as this, it is hardly to be expected that justice should be administered as promptly, as regularly, and as efficiently as in a country where men dwell closer together, and in a more civilised state of society; and there can be no doubt that when the wreck of the Prince of Wales took place the inhabitants resorted to their usual practices to a certain extent—to what extent it does not appear—of plundering the property, and that they stripped the bodies of the unfortunate persons which were cast ashore—nay, there may be just ground of suspicion that they did not stop short of the murder of some of them. As the noble Earl, however, has asserted his belief that some of the persons were actually murdered, it is fair to say that of that there was not the slightest proof at the inquest that took place at Rio Grande. Only one of the four bodies examined exhibited marks of violence; and with regard to that body Consul Vereker, who was not a very lenient judge of these proceedings of the Brazilians, stated himself that the man did not come to his death by the hands of another person. The noble Earl has stated that he believes that six persons—four men and two women—were murdered. Now, does the noble Earl believe this upon the evidence of the captain of a vessel called the Hound, or does he not? The noble Earl has not noticed the supposed evidence of the captain of the Hound, who, according to Mr. Stephens, had seen several persons land alive, these being afterwards, it is said, murdered in the woods. The noble Earl did not advert to this evidence at all on the present occasion, and I am bound to think that the noble Earl does not give the slightest credit to the statement, because, if he did, what in that case would have been the duty of the noble Earl? It would have been to have instituted an investigation into the evidence. There being no proof whatever that murder had been committed, the noble Earl had no right to assume it as part of the case of the British Government. Well, it was the duty of the inspector of police, the moment he had intelligence of the wreck, to hasten to the spot for the purpose of protecting the property. When he received intelligence of the wreck does not appear, but he was there on the spot on the 11th of June, and with a small force of five men, for the purpose of protecting the property. The complaint is made against the inspector, that it was his duty, when he knew that the vessel was British property, to have communicated the fact of the wreck to the British Consul at Rio Grande; but the utmost that that could amount to was a failure of duty on the part of the inspector. The consequence of his misconduct is that the Brazilian Government has dismissed him from his office. Mr. Consul Vereker was informed of the wreck in a conversation that he had with Soarez on the 13th of June, and on the 16th he went to the place of the wreck. Consul Vereker, who chose to suspect all the Brazilian authorities of a failure of duty and a connivance at the offences that had been committed, insinuates that the inspector, when he came to the spot on the 11th, had utterly disregarded his duty of protecting the property, and that a number of barrels and crates had been broken open. Mr. Consul Vereker had not the slightest proof of that charge. He makes a similar charge against the sub-delegate of police, whose duty it was to collect the goods for the custom-house, and he says that by this person's orders many cases were broken open; but he admits that he cannot prove the allegation. Now, your Lordships are entitled injustice and fairness to assume that the work of plunder had been done between the 8th and the 11th, when the inspector came to the spot. There was ample time for the plunder to have been carried away into the interior, according to the practice of the inhabitants of the district. Why do I say this? Because it appears that Consul Vereker came with the municipal judge, who it is admitted discharged his duty faithfully. They searched the district, the municipal judge going one way, and Consul Vereker the other; and they found no property of any kind, only two Bibles and the Commentary in the house of Soarez. Consul Vereker says he strongly suspects that the property had been conveyed into the thicket near the house. But why does Consul Vereker say that, when he could have ascertained whether his suspicions were well founded by searching the wood, as there could not be more danger in doing that than in searching the houses? Certainly, my Lords, it seems to me that the property having been all conveyed away is a circumstance not unimportant in considering the conduct of the noble Earl and the Brazilian Government. Now, let the House consider what, under the circumstances, could have been done, had the most prompt and vigorous measures been adopted. All that could have been done was the restitution of any part of the property that might have been found in the possession of those who were suspected of having stolen it, and the conviction and punishment of those offenders. I hold that consideration to be most important, because I find scattered through the papers complaints that in consequence of the delays of the Brazilian Government in pursuing and prosecuting the offenders a great deal of the property had been entirely lost. Now, I was in hopes that the noble Earl would have been kind enough to have told us, in support of what he called his moderate and reasonable demands on the Brazilian Government, what was the nature of the cargo, in order that we might judge how much of it was likely to come to land and to fall to the plunderers. The noble Earl has stated that part of the cargo consisted of iron; but besides that I am informed there were kegs of nails, coals, iron fastenings, tierces and barrels of beer, and barrels of soda; so that your Lordships may pretty well imagine how much of a cargo of that description was likely to be swallowed up by the waves, and how email a portion of it would reach the land. I observe that Consul Vereker, when he came to the spot on the 16th, found many crates and barrels that had been broken by the waves, and yet the noble Earl's moderate and reasonable demand amounted to the restitution to the owner of the entire value of the cargo. It is important to follow the action of the Brazilian Government and the local authorities in the matter. Let us see what was the first application that was made by Consul Vereker for the interference of the local authorities. He applied, when he returned to Rio Grande on the 18th June, to the chief of the police, to remove the bodies to Rio Grande, in order that they should be interred in the cemetery there, and that an inquest should be held to ascertain whether the deaths had been occasioned by the violence of other persons. He admitted that his request was promptly complied with. He says the chief of the police was an houourable roan, and was anxious to perform his duty. Now, my Lords, it is true that four bodies only were carried into Rio, and Consul Vereker treated it as a ridiculous allegation that the rest of the bodies could not be found in consequence of the shifting of the sand. It is all very well for Consul Vereker to treat everything said in favour of the authorities in this off-hand manner, but you must remember that he has admitted that the person under whose orders the bodies had been removed was an honourable man, anxious to perform his duty, and there was no reason to believe that he was desirous of concealing any body. I, like my noble Friend, cannot possibly conceive on what ground it was that the noble Earl insisted, under these circumstances, on the Brazilian Government paying the expenses of the conveyance of the bodies to Rio for the inquest and for interment in the cemetery. But it must be satisfactory to the nation to think that the firm manner of the Foreign Minister had secured that sum of £32 1s. 1d., being the amount of the expenses incurred. Whether, if it had been refused, the noble Earl would have resorted to reprisals must, of course, be left a blank in history. What is the next application? It is on the 10th of July, before the inquest had taken place, and was made to the President of the province. It is not insinuated, from the beginning to the end of these papers, that the Presidents were not all of them honourable men, and most anxious to do their duty in this matter, having no desire whatever to screen anybody. The application having been made, what does the President do? He immediately gives orders to the chief of the police, and tells him to proceed with the utmost rigour against any person or persons suspected of plundering the wreck, and to institute a strict inquiry into the alleged murders. That is on the 20th of June; and on the 11th of July the President reiterated those instructions to the chief of the police. Now, let us pause for a moment to see the situation of things at the time when the active measures of the Secretary for Foreign Affairs were begun against the Brazilian Government. There had been no delay, no neglect of duty; but in the month of September Mr. Stephens, the owner of the vessel, interferes. Now, the noble Earl the Secretary for Foreign Affairs has styled Mr. Stephens a thorough Briton. If strong, not to say intemperate language, if vehement assertion of exorbitant demands entitle a person to that distinction, then Mr. Stephens may claim it. Mr. Stephens, on the 22nd September, wrote to the Foreign Office that the time had arrived when the Brazilian Government ought to give him "retribution," and he claimed from them £5,500 for the cargo and stores; but he forgot the freight. He, however, supplied the omission three days afterwards, when he claimed £1,025 for the freight. The noble Earl does not seem to have paid immediate attention to this demand; and accordingly Mr. Stephens wrote another letter on the 19th of October to the Foreign Office, in which he urged his claim not only to the value of the cargo and stores, but to an additional sum on account of the persons murdered, and called upon the noble Earl, if the claim were not immediately settled, to take active measures against Brazil, so that he might no longer be humbugged. My Lords, no doubt your Lordships are prepared for the grave, solemn, and statesmanlike rebuke with which the noble Earl visited Mr. Stephens. Did the noble Earl tell him that this was not the way transactions with Governments, especially with Governments that were not strong, were carried on, and advise him to leave the matter in the hands of the Foreign Office? My Lords, I could hardly believe my eyes when I found, on looking at the date of the despatch, that the noble Earl had actually anticipated the eargerness of Mr. Stephens, as will be seen by the letter of September 6, 1861, in which the noble Earl directs Mr. Baillie to lose no time in calling the attention of the Brazilian Government to the case and to insist upon a strict inquiry. Could anything be more insulting? And your Lordships will find that it was followed up by an energetic measure suggested by the noble Earl. Mr. Baillie is also directed to communicate with the Admiral on the station, as it would be desirable that one of Her Majesty's vessels of war should visit the coast upon which the wreck occurred. The Admiral was communicated with on that occasion by Mr. Baillie, but it appears that Mr. Consul Vereker thought interference at that time would not be beneficial, and therefore the matter was allowed to sleep. I now turn to the proceedings of the local authorities. Consul Vereker remained quiet till the 27th of November, when he requested the President to inform him the result of the application that the inquiry should be proceeded with in the most energetic manner. A few days later the reports of the delegate and sub-delegate were sent to him. These disclosed the difficulties connected with the investigation. When they endeavoured to procure the attendance of the witnesses, some became ill, others left, some escaped, and a general reluctance to come forward manifested itself, a number of the wealthiest persons having been concerned in the plunder. [Earl RUSSELL: Hear, hear!] I give the noble Lord the full benefit of that. Only one person, of the name of Pinto, in the employ of Soarez, had been apprehended. Orders were given to proceed against those persons who refused to appear, to investigate the matter thoroughly, and to bring the parties to justice. It was fair to consider the difficulties which existed in the way of this investigation not through the heated imagination of Consul Vereker or the prejudiced judgment of Mr. Christie. The difficulties arose from the character of the district, and from the desire of the many who participated in the plunder to shelter each other from detection. The first application which was made to the Brazilian Government was by Mr. Baillie, on the 27th of November; and I must say, that in common with my noble Friend I was struck with the fact that it does not form a portion of the papers on your Lordships table—the only reference to it is in the first communication of Mr. Christie of the 17th of March. Now, that Mr. Christie is about to appear for the first time on the scene, I am anxious to point out the menacing attitude he displayed. The noble Earl had armed him with his thunderbolts of war, and it seems that he was not disposed to leave them unlaunched. On the 17th of March he wrote to Senhor d'Abrantes, the Brazilian Minister for Foreign Affairs, and he says— I write under Lord Russell's instructions to the Admiral commanding Her Majesty's naval forces at this station to request him to send one of Her Majesty's vessels to the spot with some experienced officer capable of advising and aiding Mr. Vereker in this afflicting case; and this officer will be ready to co-operate in the investigation, if such co-operation is considered agreeable to the Imperial Government. What answer did Senor Taquez make to this proposal? He said— As regards the offer made by Mr. Christie in his note to which this is an answer of the co-operation of a naval officer, who will proceed in one of Her Majesty's ships to the place of the shipwreck, in order to assist the consul in this deplorable affair, the undersigned returns thanks to Mr. Christie, but cannot understand what assistance the authorities of the country could receive from a British officer, nor what he could do in furtherance of the ends of justice, and he declines to accept the Minister's offer. Before this, Captain Saumarez had made his appearance in the neighbourhood. The first act of Mr. Christie was to send off to the Admiral to ask for a gunboat or two, and Captain Saumarez arrived on the 6th of April. And his arrival was announced in a very curious manner. "Captain Saumarez, of Her Majesty's ship Forte, 51 guns, has arrived." The number of guns carried was, of course, intended to show what an imposing force would be ready to back the application which had been made. Now, what was the object of sending these gunboats? In a despatch to the noble Earl, Captain Saumarez said— Thinking the presence of one of Her Majesty's vessels thus far in the province would carry greater weight with the President and strengthen the inquiry. The President said he could not recognise the intervention of Captain Saumarez in any official capacity; but he says, "I am ready to allow him to attend the proceedings as a private person, and to obtain whatever information he can." It was agreed that an inquiry should take place before the chief of police, and that notice should be given to Mr. Vereker; and Mr. Christie, who is always seeking occasion of quarrel, actually made this a ground of complaint against the Brazilian Government, and he demanded an apology for their treatment of Captain Saumarez. Having waited from the 8th of April to the 18th, Captain Saumarez rejoined his vessel, and then complained that he had been treated with indignity, because, during the whole of that time, no notice was given him of the inquiry. The explanation was, that the appearance of the vessels—for there were not merely the gunboats, but there was a large vessel, the Oberon, cruising where the water was deep enough—had excited a great deal of feeling on the part of the people, to such an extent that apprehensions were entertained of a resort to violence, and consequently the inquiry had been deferred till the vessels had left. Your Lordships will see that the noble Earl, who says he has exhibited so much patience and forbearance in the transaction, after this renews the expression of his wish that a British officer should be present at the inquiry. At length Consul Vereker, finding that the inquiry was to take place before a sub-delegate instead of the chief, thought it would not be consistent with the dignity of his position to attend such inquiry. He did attend it however; for in a despatch he says— I left the inquiry with the irresistible impression that the proceeding was not undertaken for the purpose of discovering the guilty, but rather to satisfy the British and Brazilian Governments by hushing up, through a mock inquiry, that part of the question which relates to the possible violence offered to all or some of those who had been in the vessel. I venture to ask your Lordships whether there is the slightest pretence for saying, as the noble Earl asserted in unmeasured terms, that the Brazilian Government endeavoured in every possible way to prevent a fair investigation of this matter? Unless the noble Earl can establish, that after the matter passed from the hands of the local authorities into those of the Brazilian Government, there was a denial of justice on the part of that Government, the noble Earl was not in a position, by the well-known law of reprisals, to demand compensation, and to follow up that demand by reprisals. Your Lordships should bear in mind that we have had the matter investigated wider persons of honour, credit, and character—namely, the chief of police, the President of the province (of whom Mr. Christie wrote, "I hear that he is a man of good reputation"), and the Brazilian Minister of Justice. Of the Minister of Justice, on the 5th of May 1862, Mr. Christie wrote— I had an interview with the Minister of Justice, to whose department this question more particularly belongs, and he gave me very strong assurances that everything which can be done in the way of inquiry and punishment shall be done, and I have much confidence in the rectitude of the present Minister of Justice. What possible interest could the Minister of Justice, in whom Mr. Christie had confidence, have to abstain from the most searching inquiry into all the circumstances connected with the unfortunate affair?—what desire to screen any one of the offenders? And what was the result of the inquiry before that officer? It was the dismissal of two of the officials—the inspector of police and the sob-delegate—the conviction of eleven persons—not, as my noble Friend supposes, the apprehension of those persons, because many of them had escaped across the frontier—and a demand to be made for the extrndition of those who had so escaped. This was done by the Minister of Justice, the person in whom Mr. Christie had confidence; and this was the mode in which the noble Earl made out his charge against the Brazilian Government, and on which he founded his right to make reprisals. The noble Earl says his original demand for compensation was modest and forbearing; but in October his peremptory demand was made. I ask your Lordships whether, up to this time, there is any proof whatever that those persons to whom the inquiry was intrusted, and who had this important duty to discharge, failed in any respect in their duty? I apply the question to the chief of police, the President of the province, the Minister of Justice. The noble Earl is not satisfied with the slow pace of justice. He forces it on, and he asks to be allowed to co-operate and assist in the inquiry which was to take place—an interference with the administration of justice in a foreign country—an interference which, as the Brazilian Minister very properly said, would be an insult to the country. The noble Earl also insisted on singling out the persons to be accused. I now come to the case of Soarez, upon whom the noble Earl made some very strong observations. Soarez, he said was "captain of a lawless band of depredators." That is the way in which he is described by the diplomatic agents. Two persons engaged in the plunder were in his employ; and therefore it was urged he was connected with them, and not merely as a sharer of the spoil but as the instigator of the plunder. But let us be just. There is no proof that Soarez was on the spot at the time of the wreck, on the 9th of June. On the 12th he was seventy or eighty miles off, at Rio Grande The suspicion was that all the other property was conveyed away, so that there was no trace of it but two Bibles and a Commentary found in his house; and it is also stated—though that was not mentioned at the commencement of the proceedings—that two empty cases were found in his yard. But would a Roman Catholic, as Soarez was, have selected two Bibles and a Commentary, the Bibles being English moreover, for his share of the plunder? Besides, if the books were plunder, how easy would it have been to conceal them. But the Bibles were found openly; there was no attempt at concealment whatever. Soarez was examined; and the result was that there was no proof against him. Then what took place? Why, Mr. Vereker, on his part, said, "Unless Soarez is put into gaol or signally disgraced, we can expect no result from this inquiry." I do not suppose that the noble Earl wished, even on a rough magistrate, to inflict such rough punishment as that. Then comes Mr. Christie, who is a little more moderate in his demand than Mr. Vereker. He said, "The Government ought to prove Soarez's innocence or dismiss him." That is rather reversing the order of things at home. But the noble Earl approves of all that is done, and says, "The Brazilian Government ought to put Soarez on his trial." The only objection I have is that the noble Earl should select his own criminal. Senhor d'Abrantes, the Minister, said, "On exanimation of the plunderers no proof was found against Soarez; how is it possible to put him on his trial, when there is no evidence against him?" Will the noble Earl be good enough to give an answer to that question, instead of merely charging the Brazilian Government with having sought to elude inquiry and prevent the punishment of offenders? Before I go to the claim of the noble Earl for compensation, I should wish to call attention to the tone and style of all the correspondence. It is of a most offensive and insulting character to the Brazilian Government. Even the noble Earl himself has used strong expressions towards the Minister of a weak Power, which I confess I should like to have seen a little diluted. Her Majesty's Government, being annoyed with what they considered the evasive replies of the Brazilian authorities, proceeded to enforce their demands. Now, what are those demands? The first demand for compensation was made on the 8th of October 1 862, and the amount claimed was £5,550 for the plunder of goods and stores. There was then a demand made for the freight, amounting to £1,025, with the intimation that it would be subject to the owner producing a certificate of the value of the cargo and stores. Now, the Brazilian authorities, in objecting to those demands, complained of the absence of any valuation of the property in question. I submit that it was the duty of the noble Earl to obtain from Mr. Stephens a full account of the value of the cargo and goods before that claim for compensation was made. It is not, in my opinion, a very dignified proceeding for a great Power like England to make such demands upon a weak one when those demands were unsupported by evidence. I ask the noble Earl whether he took any advice upon the question before he forwarded his claims to the Brazilian Government? Did the noble Earl know that Mr. Stephens lost no freight at all upon which he could claim compensation? Mr. Christie, who had been some years practising at the bar of this country, ought to know better than to act as he has done. When the noble Earl proceeded to seek fur reprisals, he ought to have recollected the case of M. Pacifico, where our navy was also instructed to make reprisals. In that case the claim of M. Pacifico amounted to £21,200; but upon an investigation, by arbitrators appointed for the purpose, the amount actually awarded him was only £150. There was another circumstance connected with these claims upon the Brazilian Government which was very ominous. On the 8th October 1862, when the noble Earl wrote to Mr. Christie making the demand of £6,625 on the Brazilian Government, and offering to refer the matter to arbitration, he also sent instructions to the Admiral on the station to make arrangements to prepare for reprisals in case the Brazilian Government declined to entertain these claims. Now, I ask whether this disposition of the noble Earl to proceed to extremities does not show a dangerous desire on his part to proceed hostilely and arbitrarily? In despatches of the 4th and 8th of November it is true that the noble Earl instructed Mr. Christie to say that the English Government were willing to attend to any reasonable offer to refer all questions to arbitration; but Mr. Christie never communicated those instructions to the Brazilian Government, merely sending in the claim, with the intimation that Her Majesty's Government were ready to accept an offer of arbitration as to the actual amount of compensation. I cannot help feeling that Mr. Christie had reasons for not communicating the terms of the despatches of the 4th and 8th of November, and that he was heated by the communications which had taken place between him and the Brazilian authorities, and was desirous of concealing the offer of arbitration until the very latest moment.

The Marquis d'Abrantes, the Brazilian Minister, refused to acknowledge the responsibility of the Imperial Government; and declared that if force were used to enforce the claims of the British Government, the Brazilian Government would act as circumstances suggested. The claim was subsequently reduced to £3,200. The claim for freight was, of course, abandoned, but it was not clear how the claim came to be further reduced. No answer has been given by the noble Earl to the question of my noble Friend, as to whether Mr. Stephens had received from the underwriters any part of the money to be received for the cargo; and it is still an open question whether the noble Earl had not been fighting this glorious battle on behalf of the underwriters, and whether the greater part of the money recovered will not have to be paid over to them. Now, this is what the noble Earl chooses to style a moderate indemnity and a reasonable demand. I say that the noble Earl has acted in a harsh and oppressive manner, and I agree with my noble Friend that when he found that his diplomatic agents were getting heated by the controversies with the Brazilian authorities, he should have called the case home. If the noble Earl had trusted to his own calm and dispassionate judgment exclusively, the matter, no doubt, would have been settled satisfactorily to all parties. I think I can show your Lordships that this was no case for reprisals. Reprisal is a proceeding extremely hazardous in its character, and very closely bordering upon war. I insist, that in the present case reprisals ought never to have been resorted to, inasmuch as there was no denial of justice on the part of the Brazilian Government. I say that that Government has acted as promptly as they could have done under the difficult circumstances of their position with a view of satisfying the fair demands of this country. But if the right existed, what was the mode adopted to enforce it? The noble Earl has quoted Vattel to show that you may seize the property and persons of an offending State for redress of injuries. No one denied that, but the question was, should not that right be exercised with the prudence and precaution which ought to accompany every act verging so closely upon war? [Lord KINGSDOWN: It is war.] My noble and learned Friend says it is actual war. But in what manner have we proceeded in this matter of reprisals? As was suggested by my noble Friend, an embargo might have been laid on some of the Brazilian vessels in British ports, and all appearance of flagrant hostilities would have been avoided. But it appears that orders were given to the Admiral on the station to be in readiness for resorting to reprisals. Mr. Christie having given the instructions to proceed, the Admiral hastened to the spot with his squadron, and actually blockaded the port of Rio for six days. That certainly is not the mode in which the perilous act of reprisals should be exercised. The noble Earl has had a good deal to do with blockades lately, and nobody knew, or ought to know, better than he that blockades are only put in force in case of actual war It is also the practice to give notice to the vessels of neutral Powers of the approach of such a measure. No such notice was given on the present occasion. Five Brazilian merchant ships, valued at £13,000, were captured by our squadron. Was such a transaction ever before heard of, where the waters of the offending State were made a sort of pound to keep all vessels confined there until the claims were satisfied? But from the beginning to the end the communications with the Brazilian Government have been made in the most insulting manner. Let me call attention to the unfortunate circumstances resulting from these proceedings. The noble Earl asked whether we were to allow British subjects to be murdered because we were commercially interested in our relations with Brazil? But the noble Earl forgets the utter abscence of proof of those alleged murders. Like Mr. Vereker, the noble Earl is fond of assertion without proof. For a long time this country has carried on a most advantageous commercial intercourse with Brazil; and we have been upon such friendly terms with Brazil that a jealousy had arisen amongst foreign nations, in the belief that England had been treated by the Brazilian Government with greater favour than any other Power. But this rash movement on the part of the noble Earl has destroyed all the good effects of that intercourse. It is not merely our commercial interest that is concerned, but the character of the nation. Other nations will not look with careless eyes upon these proceedings. They will be apt to contrast our conduct towards the strong and the weak States. They will compare the language used by Her Majesty's Government towards America with that which the noble Earl has used towards Brazil. [Earl RUSSELL: The case of the Trent for instance.] Possibly the occasion may be considered to have arisen when the same remonstrances might be addressed to this country as were addressed on an occasion of similar reprisals being resorted to by Russia upon an equally weak Power as that of Brazil, and when it may be said, "It remains to be seen whether Great Britain, abusing the advantages afforded her by her immense maritime superiority, intends henceforth to pursue an isolated policy, without caring for those engagements which bound her; whether she intends to discharge herself from every obligation, as well as from every community of action, and authorize the Great Powers upon every opportunity to recognize towards the weak no other rule but their own will—no other right but their own physical strength."


said, he had long enjoyed the private friendship of Mr. Christie, and he was sure that he would discharge the duties of any post intrusted to him with honour and fidelity.


said, he only asked for the Correspondence with a view of verifying the facts of the case in question.

Motion agreed to.

  2. cc1161-2