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for that time. Now, when the Crown granted a franchise or liberties of any description, whether to the inhabitants of a district or of a colony, the grant was irrevocable; it could only be put an end to by surrender, by Act of Parliament, or by forfeiture established by proceedings in a court of justice; and there was neither of these here. That grant, then, of May, 1850, by which the then Legislative Council was to continue for the period pointed out in the letters-patent and not yet expired, whatever construction might be put upon other clauses of the Commission, deprived the Crown of the right of interfering till the arrival of the period referred to.
But it had been argued that there was a reservation of certain powers to the Crown. When there was a reservation of this description, the power could not be extended beyond the nature of the reservation. What was the reservation here? Why it gave a concurrent power of legislating. It did not import that the Crown might rescind the acts of the Legislative Council; the words did not go to that extent, nor would they admit of it. The manner in which the power was to be exercised was pointed out in the reservation—by the Privy Council or by Parliament. But there was nothing of the kind here; nothing but instructions under the signmanual. Instead of a Council having a popular element in it, the popular element was taken away; instead of consisting of ten persons at least, the Council might consist only of six, and those six be all official men. A free Legislature was turned into an arbitrary one.
Departing from the mere ques
tion of law, Lord Lyudhurst concluded with an eloquent peroration calling upon Lord Grey to break through these uncertainties and perplexities, to complete the work at once, and seize the opportunity of framing a constitution adapted to the colony; so that the colonists might at least see it before the end of the Caffre war. Why not send out the constitution to be proclaimed as soon as the circumstances admitted? It was to this constitution, these institutions, the people were aspiring. This simple course would restore peace and tranquillity.
The Lord Chancellor controverted the legal positions taken up by Lord Lyudhurst. He argued that the Grenada case did not apply, because the letters patent of 1847 were not the grant of a constitution, but only the promise to grant a constitution, and authorizing certain measures for that purpose to be taken by the officers of the Crown. He called upon the House not to weaken the hands of Government. The carrying of the motion would be but a party triumph, and would increase the feelings of animosity now existing in the colony.
The Duke of Argyll said, he did not believe that the motion had been brought forward in a party spirit, yet he could not give his vote in favour of it, because, although the noble mover had not proposed it with the view of a vote of censure, some of his supporters had advocated it in that sense, and such was the light in which it would be regarded by many minds, and more especially in the colony itself. In such a vote of censure on the Government he, the Duke of Argyll, was not inclined to concur, because he thought that, with the exception of the convict case, in which some mistakes had been committed, the conduct of Earl Grey towards the colonists had been marked by a liberal spirit. With regard to the proposed constitution, although he could not approve the plan of making the Upper House a partly elective body, he should not feel justified on that ground alone in passing a censure on the Government. the conduct of Sir James Brooke, the Governor of Sarawak. These charges reflecting deeply on the honour and humanity of the eminent man who was the object of them; though generally discredited by well-informed persons, could not fail to make some impression on the public mind, and, although the mover of the resolution now referred to was apparently actuated by no friendly spirit to the party accused, yet the discussion to which the motion gave rise unquestionably redounded to his advantage. Mr. Hume moved that the House should pray the Queen, first, that she would issue a Royal Commission to inquire into the proceedings of Sir James Brooke, and especially into the attack by the East India Company's forces under his direction upon the wild tribes, called the Sakarran and Sarebas Dyaks, on the night of the 31st of July, 1849; and secondly, that she would take the opinion of the judges on the legality of the holding by Sir James Brooke of the following apparently incompatible
Lord Wharncliffe said, he could not concur in a vote of censure, but he expressed himself dissatisfied with Earl Grey's assurances.
The Duke of Newcastle was disappointed at the statement of Lord Grey. If he could have given an assurance that, by orders in Council, we could now send out to the colonies not merely draft ordinances, but a constitution, the matter might well be left in the hands of the Executive. But by the plan now proposed a new apple of discord would be thrown down in. the colony. In the next session it would be found that the constitution was no farther advanced, and the feelings of the people would be more exasperated than ever. He (the Duke of Newcastle) desired to pronounce no vote of censure on the Government. He desired nothing but legislation upon this subject with a view to the settling of differences in the colony. The Governor himself had stated, in the strongest manner, that this question must be settled in England. He said it would be impossible to revive the Legislative Council, and that any attempt to do so would only be to expose the Government to aggravated defeats. He (the Duke of Newcastle) thought that the peculiar position in which the Government
was placed rendered the proposed mode of proceeding justifiable, if not desirable. The Government was placed in this position, that, being obliged to submit to constant defeats upon questions of importance, it had not sufficient control either to prevent or to enforce legislation.' It was far better that legislation of this kind should emanate from individuals in authority, and under the sanction of a Committee, than as a Bill introduced in that House by the noble Lord who stood in the position of leader of an opposition party, or by any independent members of that House.
The Earl of Derby replied.— He characterised the Lord Chancellor's answer to Lord Lyndhurst as a play upon words, unworthy of the occasion. He intended to rake up no party quarrels, nor to pass any censure upon the Government, or upon Lord Grey: but he believed legislation to be indispensable, and he thought that a very few days would enable a Select Committee to lay before Parliament a Bill which would obtain general approval.
On a division the numbers were—
Non-contents .... 74
offices:— "namely, of
sovereign ruler of Sarawak, he being a British subject; of Her Majesty's Commissioner and Consul-General to the Sultan and Independent Chiefs of Borneo, he, Sir James Brooke, residing at Sarawak, where there is no independent chief; and also of the appointment of Governor of the British settlement of Labuan, distant 300 miles from Sarawak, at which British settlement Sir James Brooke has not been actually present more than a few months during the last three years."
Mr. Hume reprehended the attempt made on the last occasion when this subject was introduced, to give a public question the ap
pearance of a squabble between two individuals; and he explained that any seeming delay which might have occurred was due to the extreme difficulty he had experienced in obtaining the documents which ought to have been forthcoming. Stating how his attention had been first called to the subject of the slaughter of the Dyaks by an extract from a Singapore paper, he narrated the successive attempts which he had unsuccessfully made to procure information from Government. Finding it impossible to get information from the Government or the East India Company, he resorted to naval officers who had commanded on the Bornean stations: from the letters he had received in reply he read a great number of extracts, proving, in the opinion of the writers, that the Dyak tribes, unlike the Malays, were not pirates, and that their expeditions of boats were only the means of carrying on intertribal wars. Some of these officers he named; the others, he said, would be ready to give their evidence before a Commission. He then argued, that even if these Dyaks were pirates, they had been slaughtered with unnecessary promise cuousness, instead of being captured and condemned judicially. In reference to the various offices held by Sir James Brooke, Mr. Hume argued, that as an English subject he could not legally hold those relations to the Sultan of Borneo which he held as Rajah of Sarawak; for he had not the sanction of the Crown to do so.
The case in defence of Sir James Brooke was opened by Mr. Headlam, who said that, before last year's discussion, he had had no knowledge of the subject, nor acquaintance with Sir James. He considered the proofs that the Dyaks were pirates to be overwhelming. Mr. M. Milnes and Mr. Henry Drummond vindicated with great warmth the personal motives and character of Sir James Brooke. Mr. Cochrane produced a letter from Admiral Sir Thomas Cochrane expressing in very strong terms his approval and admiration of that gentleman's acts.
Mr. Gladstone remarked on the evident personal animosity that existed in some quarters against Sir James. Expressing his own admiration of that distinguished man; expressing also his objections to the motion, both that it was too multifarious, and that it too obviously took the tone of a personal charge against Sir James Brooke, although he was not in command of the forces whose tactics were condemned; and giving his opinion, after an examination made with all the pains in his power, that the balance of testimony was in favour of the opinion that the tribes destroyed bore the character of pirates, though not formidable ones; he yet acknowledged the painful conclusion that the work of destruction was promiscuous, and to some extent illegal—a large portion of 500 human beings having been put to death without legal warrant. With this impression, he thought there should be inquiry.
Lord Palmerston replied to Mr. Gladstone, that he had assumed the Dyak pirates to have been destroyed after they ceased to resist, whereas it was the peculiar character of those pirates never to surrender. He concluded a brief but emphatic speech, by expressing his conviction that the House would, by an overwhelming majority, "proclaim to the world that Sir James Brooke
retired from the investigation with untarnished character and unblemished honour."
Mr. Cobden recapitulated the allegations of Mr. Hume. He denied the piratical character of the Dyaks-, and maintained that Rajah Brooke was not putting down piracy, but, by the aid of the nation's ships, waging war with his own neighbours for the purpose of possessing himself of their territory.
Colonel Thompson said, he utterly disbelieved in the existence of Dyak pirates in Borneo.
On a division the numbers were as follows—
For Mr. Hume's motion 19
A statement of some interest regarding the progress made by naval and diplomatic operations towards the extinction of the slavetrade, was made by Lord Palmerston, towards the close of the present session, in Committee of Supply. Mr. Hume having asked for some explanation touching the vote for 60,000/. on account of captured slave-ships, Lord Palmerston gave the following statement:—
'' On the coast of Africa, the trade may be said to have been almost extinguished north of the line, for the moment at all events, with the exception of the two points Lagos and Porto Novo. The propensity only survives among the chiefs: the people are learning to trade with us, and are anxious to extend the legitimate traffic in the products of the country. Besides oils, ivory, &C., hitherto exchanged, a good species of cotton has lately been reared with such success as to promise a large supply to this country. The Portuguese Government has co-operated with us heartily; at Loaudo and the other chief Portuguese stations on the coast, the slave-trade is so paralyzed that most of the slave-traders have suspended their business, and many have altogether transferred their ships, their capital, and their energies, to trade of a legitimate character. On the eastern coast of Africa, the Imaum of Muscat has given us facilities never before conceded; the consequence has been, that in the rivers towards the southern extremities of his dominions, where a great slave-trade has hitherto been carried on for the supply of Brazilian and Portuguese traders, barracoons have been lately destroyed capable of holding several thousands of slaves.
"On the coast of Africa, then, by the vigilance of our cruisers, by the effect of our treaties with native chiefs (treaties, I am happy to say, observed almost universally with the greatest fidelity), by the progress made by Liberia, within the extensive territories of which country the slave-trade was suspended, and by the hearty co-operation of the Portuguese, French, and American officers,—for whose zealous, active, and intelligent aid, our Commodore expresses the deepest gratitude,—very much indeed has been done towards effecting the great object for which this country has so long and so energetically laboured."
The chief point to which slaves hitherto were sent was Brazil. But early last year our cruisers concentrated on that coast, and Lord Palmerston addressed "earnest communications" to the Brazilian Government: the consequence of which was, that the Brazilian Government, in September last, passed a law making the slave-trade piracy;
and otherwise exerted that vigour, and put forth that power in the suppression of the trade, which they ought long since to have exerted. In the last eight months they had almost extinguished the trade with Brazil; so that in 1850 the number was not one-half of what it was, and in the first quarter of this year it would be hundreds in place of thousands. In a word, the Government of Brazil had cooperated most efficiently with us towards effecting this great object. We had laboured under a great misconception in supposing that the Brazilian nation, as a nation, were clinging to this trade. The only persons active in promoting it had been certain Portuguese factors. There had been in the course of the last few years a powerful, active, and intelligent anti-slavery party, growing up in Brazil, acknowledged by the Government, supported by newspapers, and having representatives in the Parliament of Brazil. The result of all this was, that the Brazilian Government had lately employed several cruisers to co-operate with the British in seizing slave-traders on the coasts, in destroying barracoons, and in releasing slaves; and many slavedealers had been banished. As many as 140 slave-dealers had transferred their capital to legitimate trade; one, a member of the Fonseca family, had lost, in consequence of the late active operations, no fewer than 81 vessels, each of the estimated value of MON., or nearly 200,000/. in all. Floating capital in Brazil, to the extent of 1,200,000/., previously engaged in the slave-trade, had been lately withdrawn from that pursuit and invested in a bank in Lisbon. This statement was received with much cheering.