HL Deb 03 July 1882 vol 271 cc1215-27

, in rising to call attention to the Papers lately presented to Parliament with reference to the proposed visit of Cetewayo to England, said, he must first express his regret that his noble Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies had not been able to give their Lordships the subsequent despatches to those already on the Table.


said, he intended, as soon as possible, to lay them before the House.


said, he had obtained his information from the despatches in the Blue Book, and from the statement made by the Under Secretary for the Colonies in "another place," though that course had been inconvenient. He now learnt for the first time that some telegrams had been laid on the Table. He might state that it was about 10 months ago that the rumour spread that it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to allow Cetewayo to visit England. The report was received at first with incredulity, and when it was found to be correct, it was regarded with considerable anxiety. The country had, however, as far as he was aware, received no official information on the subject until the presentation of the Blue Book about 10 days ago. The first despatch was from Cetewayo in May, 1881, containing a request to be allowed to come to this country, and then followed several despatches from the Government to the effect that they would consider what arrangements should be made. Subsequently, they said that they could not fix any time, and then Cetewayo was told that his visit must be postponed for a time. It was clear that the object of Cetewayo in visiting this country was to obtain his restoration to his country, and if his visit did not secure that result false hopes would be raised. They learnt from these Papers that the difficulties and dangers of his coming were well known to his noble Friend before he made any promise, and there were not only social, but legal difficulties. There was the difficulty as to what should be done with him. He was now incarcerated under a local Act of Parliament; and it appeared to the noble Earl and his legal advisers that if he were removed from the Colony he would be at large, and therefore another Act would be required to enable the authorities to keep him in prison at the Cape; but the Government of the Cape had refused to pass such an Act, and the noble Earl was left in a dilemma—there would be no alternative left but to send Cetewayo to the Mauritius or some other place—that was to say, assuming that the noble Earl had no idea of restoring him to his former authority in Zululand. As time went on, the noble Earl appeared to acknowledge the dangers which surrounded this enterprize, and how it might affect the peace of South Africa; therefore it was thought that the subject could be dealt with by delays and postponements from time to time. That was, however, a course most fatal to success in dealing with the Natives of South Africa. He would remind their Lordships that the rule of Cetewayo was of the most savage description, and that his name represented violence and bloodshed. He held absolute sway and power in his country— the power of life and death—and his consent to the marriage of his subjects was required. Though he did not originate, he strengthened the military system, which had been the curse of Zululand. After the war, Cetewayo found himself a prisoner in the Cape Colony, and at the mercy of his former foes, and no doubt he fully realized the weakness of his present position, and that caused him to write to Mr. Gladstone and others to ask that his case should be reconsidered. Now, if he (Earl Cadogan) understood the real objects of the policy which had been adopted by the late Government, and which the noble Earl had carried out since he came into Office, it was that the military despotism established by Cetewayo should be overthrown, not only for the sake of the Europeans interested in Zululand, but for the sake of the peace and prosperity of the English Colonies which it threatened. If the noble Earl had fully resolved on permitting the visit to England of Cetewayo, which those who knew best foresaw would be a source of very great danger, all he could say was that he had been wanting in the first duty of a Colonial Minister—namely, that of consulting the prosperity and the welfare of the English Colonies in South. Africa. The last development of the curious Correspondence which they had before them consisted of the telegrams which passed between the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Sir Henry Bulwer, on the 21st and 23rd of June. The noble Earl, in his first telegram, remarked that the postponement of Cetewayo's visit did not appear to avert the disturbances in Zululand. Then, after a communication from Sir Henry Bulwer, the noble Earl consented to permit the visit on the understanding that it in no way committed the Government to any particular course with regard to Zululand. A reason for permitting the visit, which had been alleged by the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies in "another place," was that, as Cetewayo suffered from heart disease, great danger was caused to his life by the shock he sustained when informed of the successive postponements of his visit to England. If all those who were informed that the pledges of the Government were not to be fulfilled were afflicted in the same manner, then the number of the vic- tims of their policy would be very great indeed. What was to be the effect of Cetewayo's visit? For his part, he saw no future for Cetewayo than possibly a prolonged existence in the Mauritius or some other British possession. If the Government had any ulterior motives, or any stronger motive than that of bringing Cetewayo to England, then his object in bringing this subject forward would be fulfilled if the noble Earl would state what those motives were. He had no wish in any way to embarrass the Government. It was, perhaps, too much to hope that the noble Earl would renounce the policy he had adopted, for he had himself stated, with reference to his reversal of policy in another part of South Africa, that it required more courage to change to new than to adhere to former lines. There was no one upon the opposite side of the House in whose sound administration of Colonial matters he, and he believed many of his noble Friends on that side, had so much confidence as in that of the noble Earl. He did not think, however, that he was straining the interpretation of the despatches when he stated that the dispatches of the noble Earl himself showed that he had serious misgivings on the matter, because he never once telegraphed without referring to the "sufficient reasons" for Cetewayo's coming to this country. He would, therefore, entreat the noble Earl, while there was yet time, not to adhere to his determination.


said, that the gist of the speech of the noble Earl who had just sat down was to oppose the visit of Cetewayo to England, and his possible return to Zululand, and he had dwelt much upon his name being identified with bloodshed and violence, and on the danger to Natal of his return to his country. But until the late Government had allowed Sir Bartle Frere to have his own way, Cetewayo had always been friendly to England, and Sir Henry Bulwer had had no apprehension of danger from him to Natal. Justice and expediency were both in favour of Cetewayo's visit to England. There was no right to retain him any longer as a prisoner, and it appeared from the Blue Book that his health was in danger from his imprisonment. Expediency was all on the side of his being brought to this country, even if he should afterwards go to Mauritius; but if he returned to his own country he would be quite a different man after visiting England, and meeting with a good reception here. His return to Zululand and re-establishment there would be the best check that could be put upon the Boers. He would remind the noble Earl who had just spoken that the Mamertine Prison at Rome was more infamous for having been the scene of the death of Jugurtha, than for having been the scene of the imprisonment of two Apostles.


said, that it was obvious from the Papers which had been presented that Cetewayo was strongly opposed to taking a long sea voyage, and that he was only anxious to go to England as a means of returning to his own country. The Blue Book was of a most extraordinary character, containing letters from Lady Florence Dixie, with interpolations, and others on a variety of subjects. What he wanted to know was, what was the object of bringing Cetewayo to this country? Was it to make an exhibition of him in St. James's Hall, with Lady Florence Dixie on one side and Bishop Colenso on the other? They had heard, too, that Cetewayo was complaining that certain of his attendants were kept away from him, and he wished to know if these were to be restored to him. If the Government had made up their minds to sanction his return to his own country, why was he not sent there instead of being brought to this country? He wanted to know upon what grounds the Government had determined that Cetewayo should come to England, and whether he would not cease to be a prisoner after his arrival on these shores with the young people whom he wished to have with him?


, in answer to the observations of the noble Earl opposite (Earl Cadogan), said, that he had presented Papers on this subject as soon as it had become possible for him to do so. The noble Earl had referred to the Correspondence on the subject of Cetewayo's visit to this country, and had accused him of vacillation. To that charge he could not plead guilty; but he admitted that there might have been a change of purpose at the last moment. When Sir Henry Bulwer telegraphed to him from Natal, recommending a postponement of the visit, he did not feel that he could take upon himself the responsibility of setting that opinion aside. But afterwards the Government watched the course of events, and from information with regard to what was occurring in Zululand, he came to the conclusion that there was no adequate reason to justify a further postponement, and, therefore, intimated by telegram that Cetewayo would be allowed to come here. Sir Henry Bulwer could not be fairly charged with having changed his opinion. On being asked whether there was any urgent reason why the visit should be again postponed, he had merely said that, in the circumstances of the case, he would defer to the views of the Government. His attention was, in the first instance, drawn to this question by a statement that the ex-King desired to come to this country, Cetewayo being represented as suffering from the effects of his captivity, and desirous of laying his case before the Government. Now, when considering the whole matter, people ought to have before their minds the actual position of Cetewayo. Many persons seemed to think that he was a criminal who had been convicted, and was now suffering punishment. But he was, of course, nothing of the kind. Cetewayo was in reality a captive King whom we had dethroned, and whom it was necessary to keep in captivity so long as it might be dangerous to liberate him; but it would be very unjustifiable to retain him in captivity when he could no longer be dangerous. He (the Earl of Kimberley) had never concealed his opinion that the Zulu War was unjust and unnecessary, and if the country shared that view we were incurring very serious responsibility in keeping Cetewayo languishing in captivity; and that responsibility would be greatly increased were we to refuse him permission to come to this country to lay his case before us. Then a very important and paramount question must be considered—namely, whether the present settlement of Zululand was such as to insure the safety and welfare of the neighbouring Colonies. The noble Earl opposite seemed to think that a despatch which had been read laid down once for all that Cetewayo should not return to his country. But what the despatch really conveyed was that by their consent to his visiting England the Government did not intend to create expectations on the subject of his return to Zululand. At the same time, the despatch did not lay down the principle that he should not return to that country. He now came to the Questions asked by his noble Friend behind him (the Duke of Somerset). The noble Duke wished to know what the Government intended to do with Cetewayo when he came to this country—whether they intended to make an exhibition of him? Nothing could be further from their intention. Every care would be taken to prevent anything of that sort. Then his noble Friend asked, Why should he be brought to this country if he must be sent back to Zululand at some time or other? Well, if there really did exist an intention to send him back to Zululand, its existence would be a very good reason for bringing Cetewayo to this country. He was told that it was most important that Natives should deal with principals, and that Cetewayo would feel far more bound by statements made to Members of the Government in person than by declarations made to officials employed by the Government, however high their position. That alone constituted very good ground for bringing Cetewayo to this country. But there was another reason for doing so. Changes would have to be made in the condition of Zululand, and in view of such changes it would politically be very advantageous to have direct communication with Cetewayo, he being a very remarkable man, who was by no means devoid of ability, and who had possessed great influence. Personal communication with him, then, seemed to be plainly desirable. Further, if it should ever be decided to set him at liberty, good could only result from his having learnt the power and resources of this country. Noble Lords asked—"Are you going to send him back to Zululand?" If a decision had been come to on that subject, it would have been already announced. The present position of the question was this—the Government had been forced to the conclusion that the condition of Zululand was extremely unsatisfactory under the settlement arrived at by Sir Garnet Wolseley. He (the Earl of Kimberley) had endeavoured to give that settlement fair play in every respect, although from the first he had felt the strongest doubt whether a settlement which created 13 petty Kings in Zululand, and placed over them a Resident, with power to advise them only, could possibly be satisfactory. He had been actuated in adopting that attitude by the knowledge that it was very undesirable to make constant changes among Native populations. But it was of very little use to give advice unless somebody could enforce its acceptance. It had been foretold that when the Natives should find out that the advice of the Resident amounted to no more than a suggestion, the country would again fall into a state of anarchy, and he had no doubt that the country was approaching that condition by degrees. That being so, it was evident that for the safety of our Colonies it was necessary that there should be some supreme authority in Zululand. The Government, therefore, had the choice of two alternatives—either they must take steps which would amount virtually, if not nominally, to an annexation of the country, or they must reconstitute some Native authority strong enough to preserve order. Sir Henry Bulwer had been instructed to examine the whole question carefully. He possessed special knowledge of the circumstances of the case, and his opinions must carry great weight; and, consequently, he (the Earl of Kimberley) had not thought it right to come to a final decision on this subject before learning the views of Sir Henry Bulwer. The Report of that official had been delayed; but, no doubt, good reasons existed for the delay, important affairs in Natal having occupied his attention and prevented the despatch of the Report. He had urged Sir Henry Bulwer to communicate his views to him as soon as possible, and Her Majesty's Government would then come to a definite conclusion as to the change to be made in Zululand.


wished to ask whether the Act of the Cape Legislature for the detention of Cetewayo would not expire on his departure from the Colony? If that was so, he wanted to know by what authority he could be afterwards held in captivity, and whether he would not be a free man, entirely independent of any control?


said, the noble Viscount had reminded him of a point which he had forgotten to mention. The Act passed by the Cape Legislature for the detention of Cete- wayo would lapse the moment he left that country. The Law Officers of the Crown held that Cetewayo was a prisoner of war; and that he would remain a prisoner of war to whatever place he was taken. They thought it right, therefore, to leave the matter in the hands of the Cape Government. Further, Cetewayo had distinctly bound himself—and he had no doubt he would adhere to his engagement—to obey all the orders Her Majesty's Government might give him, and to conduct himself in such a manner as they might require.


said, he regretted sincerely the final decision of Her Majesty's Government to bring Cetewayo to this country. Such a course appeared to him likely to lead to great public inconvenience, if not to considerable risk. When once Cetowayo came it would be very difficult to stop his admirers from evincing their sympathy in a very inconvenient manner. He would remind his noble Friend that the experiment had been tried more than once of bringing West African Princes to this country in order to adapt them to an English career and send them back more capable of carrying out our policy in that part of the world. He could not recall a single instance in which that policy had been a success; on the contrary, in the majority of cases, it had led to failure, and, moreover, there had been a strong suspicion of treachery excited when those Princes returned to their country. Not only from what they could judge themselves, but from the evidence of the Blue Book, the visit of the late Zulu King appeared extremely likely to excite agitation and do mischief in Zululand. Nothing could be stronger on that point than the expressions of Sir Henry Bulwer. His noble Friend denied that there had been any change in Sir Henry Bulwer's opinion. It was perfectly clear, therefore, that Sir Henry Bulwer adhered to the opinion which he distinctly expressed in the Blue Book, but simply waived it in deference to the view of the Secretary of State at home. This visit of Cetewayo clearly meant one of two things, either that he was to be removed to some other place or to be restored to Zululand. He could not remain here, for a winter in this country would kill him. Was it intended that he should he sent to Borne other place of banishment? The Act under which he was detained at the Cape would expire the moment he left the Colony, and the Cape Government had intimated their intention not to renew it. The only course which seemed possible was to send Cetewayo back to Zululand, and the remarks of his noble Friend opposite pointed to that conclusion. The Blue Book said he was not to expect that this visit was to mean his restoration. But Sir Henry Bulwer said that Cetewayo would expect it, and that the Zulu nation would expect it. Cetewayo said that he would come here in order to appeal to the Queen for his immediate restoration to Zululand. Therefore, they must accept the fact that his coming here meant, in his opinion, restoration to his own country. His noble Friend said that the state of things in Zululand pointed to this, that change was inevitable, and that the present settlement was not likely to hold. But with what fairness could they propose to depose those Chiefs whom they set up in Zululand as petty Kings in order to make way for Cetewayo? There was one, who was best known as John Dunn. When he first heard that John Dunn was to be placed in his present position he entertained a doubt whether he was fit for the post. But he believed John Dunn had succeeded far better than could possibly have been expected. He had certainly made his part of the country far more prosperous than it ever was under the rule of Cetewayo. He doubted whether his noble Friend could give any evidence to show that Cetewayo's return was desired by more than a mere fraction of the people of Zululand. It was all very well, now that the events of four years ago had faded into the distance, to forget what the character of Cetewayo was. Could his noble Friend state that he would restore a man like Cetewayo in the interests of civilization and humanity? It was notorious that Cetewayo in his system was the imitator of two most bloodthirsty ruffians. His was an enormous and dangerous military system. Every man able to carry arms was enlisted and celibacy was enforced—none but the older soldiers being permitted to marry. Could anyone state a single act of good faith, truth, or justice proceeding from Cetewayo? He had replenished his exchequer from time to time by plunder. He was not reigning long, but during the time his Kingdom was drenched with blood. He began by the slaughter of his brothers, and then put to death women who had married against his orders, and finally he murdered those of his relatives who had disobeyed him by burying these women. When he came to the Crown Cetewayo promised to govern well, and yet, when Sir Theophilus Shepstone remonstrated with him for his misdeeds, he made the remarkable answer—"It is the custom of our nation, and I will not depart from it." No doubt he remained for all intents and purposes the same and unchanged. In the very latest Blue Book he was reported to have said—"I am at a loss to know why all this pain is caused; I have done no harm at all"—a speech that made it perfectly clear that he was totally unconscious of having sinned against either the moral law or the principles of civilization. In that case he would still be a curse to his own nation and a danger to his neighbours. It was most singular that Bishop Colenso should have made in Cetewayo's name, but without his authority, statements which Sir Henry Bulwer declared to be of the most dangerous character. If those who knew the difficulty of managing Native tribes committed such indiscretions, he could not but forebode trouble and disaster in Zululand.


said, that the point of the noble Earl's speech consisted in his objection to the proposed visit of Cetewayo to this country; but he held that those objections were outweighed by the arguments of his noble Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The noble Earl who had just spoken seemed to be afraid that when he came here the ex-King would have his head turned. He could not help thinking that perhaps the best remedy against that formidable evil would be to bring Cetewayo down to the House of Lords and get the noble Earl (the Earl of Carnarvon) to repeat his speech. No one, probably, thought that Cetewayo could be described as a perfect Christian gentleman; but he could not help thinking that in several respects the dark side of his character had been exaggerated; but there was no doubt that he was a person of very influential character and of great force of mind, as he had shown both in the plenitude of his power and in his misfortunes, when his people, instead of reviling him as a tyrant, clung to him to the last. The noble Earl opposite mentioned that there was a difficulty with respect to the other Chiefs; but the House would not suppose that the Government had taken the steps they had without being fully aware of their responsibility. He did not think it necessary to go into the other points raised by the noble Earl, because the evils referred to were fully apparent in the Correspondence which had been laid on the Table.


said, that it was very desirable to know how Cetewayo was to be treated during his stay in this country. The noble Earl opposite said that he would submit to the orders of the Government, and so far that was very satisfactory; but what was the noble Earl's meaning when he described Cetewayo as a prisoner of war, when at this moment no war was going on? Was Cetewayo to be a prisoner of war for life; and, if not, what authority could the noble Earl have for detaining him as a prisoner of war?


said, that, speaking with a knowledge of the country, he did not know upon what authority the Secretary of State for the Colonies stated the present condition of Zululand could not be maintained. That view was not to be discovered in the despatches of Sir Henry Bulwer, which, on the contrary, set forth that the accounts of bloodshed in the country were greatly exaggerated. He believed, indeed, that, annexation being forbidden, Sir Garnet Wolseley's settlement was the only possible one under existing conditions. He was satisfied that the tranquillity of Zululand would not continue if Cetewayo got back there again. For himself, he had never concealed his opinion that annexation would have been the right course to pursue. It would have been an act of kindness to the Zulus, and it would have afforded greater safety to the Colony of Natal; but, if that could not be done, we had no choice but to avoid the danger of permitting one man to be supreme over the whole country. There seemed to be some misconception as to the early history of Cetewayo. An account of Cetewayo before these troubles occurred was to be found in George M'Call Theal's History of South Africa. It was there stated that Cetewayo's father, King Panda, was a mere roi fainéant, and that he himself was the real Ruler during his father's lifetime. No sooner did Cetewayo obtain a certain amount of power than he got rid of all probable claimants to the Throne by killing them. For some years, however, after Panda became King the country was in a state of great commotion, and it was not till 1856 that a battle was fought in which Cetewayo triumphed over all his rivals. So sanguinary a conflict was that, that nearly one-fourth of the whole Zulu nation perished. From that time Cetewayo began to consolidate his power. Out of the 33 regiments which opposed us during the late war, 26 were practically raised by Cetewayo himself. In his (Lord Chelmsford's) opinion, Cetewayo, if released, would again become a military despot, and would be again a standing menace to the safety and tranquillity of South Africa.


said, that he regretted to notice that there was a tendency in the speech of the noble Earl (the Earl of Kimberley) to minimize the position of a Governor of a Colony. He thought that it was desirable that nothing should be said calculated to sink the Governor of a Colony from the position of representative of the Queen to that of a mere diplomatic agent.