HC Deb 10 July 1838 vol 44 cc114-7
Mr. W. E. Gladstone

rose to call the attention of the House to a petition from the inhabitants of Albany, in the colony of the Cape of Good Hope, presented by him on the 15th of June last. That settlement had been founded as a frontier post, for the protection of our colony against occasional predatory incursions of the Caffre tribes, previously bordering on the inlands of our ancient settlements. The tract of country inhabited by these advanced colonists had received additions from time to time and was denominated the ceded territory. It was peopled by British subjects of an honest and industrious character, who conveyed thither their skill and capital during the Government of Lord Charles Somerset, and they remained there on the faith of receiving protection and support from the British Government. The colonists complained that faith had not been kept with them, and made various representations of the losses they sustained from being immediately in contact with a barbarous enemy. These representations had been neglected by the Government at home, and the interests of the colonists had been sacrificed, so much so that the ceded territory had been entirely given up to the Caffres, who now mingled with the farmers, to the great prejudice and injury of the quiet and peaceable subjects of Great Britain. Feuds and contests were of frequent occurrence, sometimes attended by bloodshed and consequences of the most lamentable character. The feeling of insecurity thus generated among the colonists caused many of them, and particularly the Dutch boors, to emigrate. The resources of the colony were thus left without employment, and great part of the land remained uncultivated. Agricultural produce had greatly risen in price, and, as regarded the great staple of corn and meal, to the extent of 300 per cent. Fatal collisions with the natives constantly occurred, and in 1837 from this cause the colonists sustained a loss of twenty-two of their own number, besides 384 horses and 2,800 head of cattle. The Dutch boors, disheartened by their misfortunes, withdrew from the colony into the desert, and placed themselves beyond the pale of society. Such was the precarious and unsafe position of the eastern portion of our South African territories, the evils attending which it was the bounden duty of Parliament to remove. He should, therefore, move an address to her Majesty praying her Majesty to appoint a commission of inquiry to investigate on the spot the past and present state of the relations of our colonists on the eastern part of the Cape of Good Hope with the Caffre tribes, together with the best means of preventing a recurrence of the recent emigration of the population beyond the frontier.

Sir George Grey

said, the case before them had already been sufficiently gone into by means of the inquiry instituted, and the documents submitted in consequence of the inquiry to the consideration of the House. It was a lamentable fact that the state of this part of the colony could hardly be worse than it notoriously had been for some years past, owing in a great degree to the aggression of British subjects upon the aboriginal inhabitants, and their endeavours to extend their territory in this quarter for selfish and interested purposes. The pretext for these enlargements of territory from year to year had been, the presumed necessity of increasing the security and safety of the colonists, by placing an intermediate territory between them and the Caffre tribes. The result was aggression on the part of the colonists often causeless and unpro- voked, and, on the part of the aborigines, irruption and massacre. Bloodshed had been the feature of this attempt at acquiring that which the aggressors had no right to, and it was not till within the last two years that measures could be taken by the colonial government there, with a chance of success, to put a stop to this sanguinary contest. Having said thus much, he might also confess he could not see, that any advantage could be derived from instituting a fresh inquiry into the causes of these transactions, so disgraceful to the British name, and prejudicial to British interests. A full investigation had already taken place, the report was before the House, and the colonial government had taken steps which encouraged Lord Glenelg to hope, that there must be a speedy end put to a state of things so much to be regretted. Where, then, was the necessity for the Government to incur heavy expense by consenting to a fresh commission of inquiry? For his part, he must express the most perfect confidence that no measure in the colony would be left untried to carry into effect the recommendation of the colonial government for establishing a system of broad policy in this colony which might prevent a recurrence of the evils which had taken place by a departure from such a line of policy hitherto. General Napier had been sent out to this portion of our territories, with full instructions and ample powers to restore the affairs of the colony to a wholesome condition. He trusted he had said enough to convince the House this was not an occasion upon which the British Parliament could be induced to sanction, under any pretext, the application of persons who had placed themselves in trouble and peril by means of their aggressions. The charge against the Government, that it had surrendered the track called the ceded territory to the Caffres, was a charge which, though true, redounded to the credit of the colonial government, which had insisted upon the relinquishment of a territory acquired by arms and unauthorised hostilities. The prompt cession of the ceded territory was calculated to show that, whatever had been the conduct of individuals, its subjects, the Government of Great Britain would be just when appealed to, and respect the rights of property, fully conscious that by so doing it must inspire a confidence as to its future conduct in the minds of the brave though barbarous people who had been encroached upon; and also that the cession must add to the security and inviolability of the property which had been fairly acquired by the colonists at this part of our settlement at the Cape of Good Hope. He must, on the grounds he had stated, oppose the motion.

The House divided. The numbers were—Ayes 32: Noes 41; Majority 9.

List of the AYES.
Bagge, W. Knight, H. G.
Barrington, Viscount Lascelles, hon. W.
Bateson, Sir R. Lefroy, right hon T.
Blackstone, W. S. Litton, E.
Bolling, W. Mathew, G. B.
Clive, hon. R. H. Packe, C. W.
Darby, G. Packington, J. S.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Palmer, R.
Dungannon, Lord Palmer, G.
Egerton, W. T. Powerscourt, Ld. Vis.
Egerton, Lord F. Richards, R.
Ellis, J. Scarlett, hon. J. Y.
Estcourt, T. Thompson, Alderman
Fitzroy, H. Wood, T.
Gibson, T.
Grimsditch, T. TELLERS
Hughes, W. B. Gladstone, W. E.
James, Sir W. C. Praed, W. N.
List of the NOES.
Ainsworth, P. Parker, J.
Alston, R. Pease, J.
Barnard, E. G. Pechell, Captain
Blackett, C. Phillips, M.
Brocklehurst, J. Rice, E. R
Brotherton, J. Rundle, J.
Bruges, W. H. L. Salwey, Colonel
Campbell, Sir G. Scholefield, J.
Crawley, S. Sinclair, Sir G.
Duke, Sir J. Slaney, R. A.
Elliot, hon. J. E. Smith, B.
Fergusson, Sir R. Style, Sir C.
Grey, Sir C. Somerville, Sir W.
Hawes, B. Tollemache, F.
Hobhouse, Sir J. Turner, W.
Howard, P. H. Vigors, N. A.
Hume, J. Warburton, H.
Hurt, F. Williams, W.
Lushington, C. Wood, Sir M.
Lynch, A. H. TELLERS.
Paget, F. Grey, Sir G.
Palmerston, Lord Stewart, R.
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