who had a Notice upon the Paper that he would call attention to the proceedings of His Excellency the Governor of the Windward Islands (Mr. John Pope Hennessy) in reference to the Island of Barbadoes, and move an Address for the following Papers:—
said, that when he gave Notice a month previous that he would call attention to the proceedings of Mr. Hennessy in Barbadoes, the telegrams, which had excited so much alarm, had not reached this country. His object was to take a calm and dispassionate review of the course adopted by Mr. Hennessy to carry out the policy of Confederation, a course, in his judgment, most impolitic, and which, in a few days, he might almost say hours, had rendered that policy odious in the eyes of the Legislature of the island. If there were good grounds for calling attention to the proceedings of Mr. Hennessy a month ago, there were still stronger grounds for calling attention to them now, when those proceedings had been followed by riot and bloodshed. Mr. Hennessy assumed the Governorship of the island under peculiarly favourable circumstances, his predecessor—Lieutenant Governor Freeling—having retired under a cloud of unpopularity, on account of his suddenly dissolving the House of Assembly on the question of the validity of a Member's election—a question on which all Representative Bodies were peculiarly sensitive. On the 23rd of November last Mr. Hennessy received quite an ovation when he opened the Legislative Session of the island after the General Election, in a speech which was described by the local journals as "manly, independent, and well-timed."He spoke of the Legislative Bodies as being "intelligent and patriotic," and congratulated them on the extraordinary aptitude for business which they had displayed during the previous short Session. He concluded his address with these remarkable words—"Copies of speeches of His Excellency the Governor of the Windward Islands (Mr. John Pope Hennessy) to the Council and the House of Assembly of Barbadoes on the 23rd day of November 1875, and the 3rd day of March 1876; of the answers of the Council and the House of Assembly thereto; of the Replies of His Excellency the Governor of the Windward Islands to the answers to his Speech of the 3rd day of March 1876; of the Message of His Excellency the Governor of the Windward Islands to the House of Assembly of Barbadoes dated the 18th day of January 1876, and Reply of the House of Assembly thereto; and, of the despatch of the Earl of Carnarvon to His Excellency the Governor of the Windward Islands, dated the 28th day of January 1876,"
Both Chambers delivered Addresses in reply to the Speech, thanking the Governor for the terms in which he addressed them. The House of Assembly said that the Governor would receive from the House the most emphatic and cordial acknowledgments. The House of Assembly rejoiced that His Excellency "recognized so distinctly the essential importance of paying a studied regard to local circumstances and local history in conducting the government of the country."In order to clear up the existing situation, it was necessary to refer very briefly to the constitutional history of the island. Barbadoes was one of the few West Indian Islands which was taken possession of by Europeans without bloodshed. It became ours by first occupation. When in 1605 an English colony first landed there and proclaimed James I. as owner of the island there were no inhabitants upon it; it was not, however, until 1625 that the island was permanently colonized by the English and the first Governor was elected. In 1627 Charles I. conferred patent rights upon the Earl of Carlisle over the island, and the patent expressly provided that the consent of the inhabitants should be necessary to the enacting of laws, and that these laws should be in conformity with the laws of England. In 1645 the island possessed the same constitution that it now had. In 1649 the slaves secretly conspired to massacre all the White inhabitants and make themselves masters of the island. The conspiracy was only disclosed at the last moment, through the fidelity of a slave to his master. Notwithstanding this untoward event, the island progressed in prosperity and in wealth, and its fame spread over Europe. In 1650, the English Parliament declared that all trade should cease between Barbadoes and foreign countries. The Legislature of the island indignantly protested against this, and said that they would adhere to freedom of commerce. Shall we be bound," they said, "by the Government and Lordships of a Parliament, in which we have no Representatives?" and they concluded by declaring that they would rather choose a noble death than forsake their old liberties and privileges." In 1651 Sir George Askew appeared off the island with a fleet and demanded its surrender to the Commonwealth. Lord Willoughby, once a Parliamentarian, but who then adhered to the Royal cause, was Governor of the island. He made a stout resistance, but owing to the disaffection of some of his officers the Parliamentary forces effected a lodgment in the island. Articles of capitulation were signed, which did infinite credit to both parties. They had ever since constituted the Magna Charta of Badian liberties. Some of the passages, indeed, followed almost literally the great Charter of England—"In an old and contented community like this, I believe that a Governor should not underrate local experience, that he should not lightly disregard the Conservative spirit of local traditions, that he should take ample time to form his own opinion, independently of the influences of class, creed, or colour; and, above all, that he should scrupulously respect the constitutional rights and privileges of the local Legislature."
Clause 1 guaranteed that there should be liberty of conscience;Clause 3 laid down the principle that there should be no taxation without representation; Clause 9 was in favour of freedom of commerce; and free emigration was guaranteed by Clause 11. Clause 19 declared that "the Government of the island" should be "by a Governor, Council, and Assembly, according to the ancient and usual custom" there; and it was declared that the Assembly should be "chosen by a free and voluntary election of the freeholders in the several parishes."In 1660 the Legislature of the island passed an Act limiting the duration of the Assembly to one year, and it had ever since been elected annually. In 1672 it was made imperative on the Governor to transmit to England all laws for the Royal approbation or rejection. Every person who paid parochial taxes for two years to the amount of £5 (equal to £3 6s. sterling) was entitled to the franchise; and more than half of the electoral body consisted of coloured persons and negroes, who were small freeholders. The managers of many large estates, on the other hand, were unenfranchised. The Legislative Council, in returning thanks to the Governor, referred to the various institutions of the island—"for the alleviation of suffering," the "administration of justice," the "punishment and repression of crime," the "preservation of peace and order," and the "education of the young."There were institutions for the alleviation of distress, such as the general hospital at Bridgetown, to which the colony contributed £6,630 per annum; a lazaretto, a lunatic asylum, and lighthouses to prevent shipwrecks on the coral reefs, by which the island was surrounded. For the punishment and repression of crime and the administration of justice there were six stipendiary magistrates, who had civil and criminal jurisdiction, and the verdict of a jury was necessary where cases were sent for trial. A summons in a civil case cost 1s., in a criminal case nothing. The negro population was fond of going to law. If the manager of a sugar plantation boxed the ears of a negro, he would be liable to an action of assault within 24 hours. A negro, on a summary conviction by a stipendiary magistrate, had an immediate right of appeal on the law and facts; first to a Court of Appeal, composed of three Judges; and, secondly, to the Chief Justice of the island; and was thus in a better position than an English workmen. All decisions, moreover, were sent, each fortnight, to the Court of Appeal, who re-considered them in the interests of the prisoners and suitors. For the "preservation of peace and order"there was a police force, which was established in 1835, and consisted of 260 men, and the island was the chief military station in the West Indies. The population was very dense, there being no fewer than 1,000 persons to the square mile; but that led to this—that every negro who wished to live must work, and therefore the capabilities of the soil were developed to the utmost extent. The island had the appearance of a well-kept garden. The exports in 1874 amounted to £1,140,000, whilst the imports were £1,040,000, this being nearly equal to the imports and exports of all the rest of the Windward Islands put together. The public debt of Grenada was £7,000, and that of St. Lucia, £15,000; but Barbadoes had no public debt at all. Provisions were extremely cheap, costing only a moiety of what they cost in the Leeward Islands. A shilling in Barbadoes went as far as two shillings in Demarara. Every facility was offered for emigration; but there being plenty of work and cheap provisions, the number of immigrants was larger than the number of emigrants. With regard to "the education of the young,"there were 162 primary and infant schools, in which there was payment by results, the average attendance of children being 1 in 18 of the whole population; and there were also two Colleges with University men as masters, and a collegiate grammar school. He thought that the Legislative Council might justly feel proud of the institutions of their little island, which was only about as large as the Isle of Wight. He would now turn to the other and less pleasant side of the medal, to Mr. Pope Hennessy's proceedings during the present year. The first document he asked for was the Message which the Governor sent to the Assembly on the 18th January last. In that Message he made no direct allusion to Confederation. He simply called on the House of Assembly to pass measures the practical effect of which would be to throw open the various institutions of Barbadoes to the inhabitants of the whole of the Windward Islands. The Assembly saw that the proposal meant Confederation, although the word was not used by Mr. Hennessy, and they made a "spontaneous request" that no such proposal should be pressed on them. They said that they had no power to legislate for the other islands, and they had no intention to become part of a Federation. The next document of importance which he moved for was the despatch of the Earl of Carnarvon dated the 28th January last. This document did infinite credit to the statesmanship of Lord Carnarvon, being of a thoroughly constitutional character throughout. In it the noble Lord, while advancing reasons in favour of Confederation, said that "Her Majesty's Government would take no steps towards Confederation except at the spontaneous request of each Legislature concerned," and that he "did not desire to press that question on the reluctant consideration of the colonists, as it was a proposal which should proceed from their own sense of what was right." That despatch was communicated by Mr. Hennessy to the House of Assembly on the 2nd of March, he being at the time aware that they had spontaneously protested against Confederation. On the following day, however, he delivered a speech in the Council Chamber to the two Houses of the Legislature, the Chamber being filled on that occasion with a number of roughs, some without jackets, and some even, he had been told, without trousers. These persons interrupted the proceedings with their applause at various passages of the speech. Mr. Hennessy skilfully began his address by referring to the Sugar Convention of 1864, which the planters considered pressed heavily upon them, and held out hopes to them that their grievances would be removed. That pleased the planters; but he went on to say that notwithstanding these difficulties, the planters and manufacturers were prosperous and rich. Then suddenly turning round on the two chambers of the Legislature he rebuked them for neglecting the poor of the island—"the people" as he called them. Speaking of "the people," as something distinct from the "other classes," he said they were "discontented," although in his first speech at Barbadoes he spoke of it as "an old and contented community. "He went on to say that vagrancy and crime prevailed in the island, and practically he laid the blame of this upon the Assembly. He said that the lowering of taxation and an abundance of employment would follow from the panacea which he presented to them and which was Confederation. Having in his first speech spoken of the Legislature as "intelligent and patriotic," and the House of Assembly having presented to him a "spontaneous request"against Confederation, Mr. Hennessy concluded his speech with these words, which had been styled by a London periodical "perilously direct"—"That no man shall be imprisoned or put out of the possession of lands and tenements or of goods and chattels without due proceedings, according to the known laws of England and the statutes and customs of this island in the Courts of Justice here first had, and judgment for the same obtained, and execution thence awarded."
thus holding up the House of Assembly, which had protested against Confederation, to the execration of the population. At that moment all the year's wealth of the planters was wasting in the fields. Incendiary fires immediately broke out in all parts of the island, causing great destruction of property. Riots and bloodshed followed. All this was distinctly traceable to the inflammatory language of the Governor. The House of Assembly, in their reply to this second speech, said that the rate of wages depended upon economic laws, altogether "beyond the control of any legislation;" and that the best thing for trade was to let it alone—to leave it "free and unfettered." Taxation in the island was only at the rate of 18s.6d. a-head, while in British Guinea it was £3 8s. 4d. a-head, and in Trinidad £2 4s. 10d. a-head. The great mass of the labouring population was exempt from "parochial"—that was, local—taxation. The lowest fiscal duties possible were imposed on imported articles in ordinary use by the masses. Facilities were afforded for emigration to those who could not obtain employment in the island. There had been a Commission sitting on the subject of the education of the children of the people before Mr. Hennessy's arrival, and "the House of Assembly would gladly accord to its recommendations a favourable consideration."The criminal statistics of the colony could bear favourable comparison with those of any other colony. They pointed to the Leeward Islands as a proof that Confederation did not mean social and material improvement, and they pointed with gratitude to the constitutional utterances of Lord Carnarvon, that—"I feel confident that no intelligent person who loves Barbadoes will take the serious respon- sibility of standing between his poorer countrymen and the wise policy of the British Government"—
"the Government could not proceed with any measure of Confederation, except at the spontaneous request of the Legislature." "Barbadoes," they added, "it is true, is a small colony, but for upwards of 200 years, as the House of Assembly must be excused for again reminding your Excellency, it has enjoyed representative government, and on that account alone it is entitled to the same respect for its constitutional rights as the most favoured possessions of the Crown. And the House of Assembly entertain a solemn conviction that the Secretary of State and the English people would strongly deprecate any attempt to carry a measure of Confederation in these islands by setting class against class, or by arousing a spirit of discontent and schism in this ancient and loyal, and withal peaceful and contented colony."
rising to Order, asked the Speaker, whether the hon. and learned Gentleman was not transgressing the Rules of the House in reading long extracts from the newspapers?
said, he understood the hon. and learned Gentleman to be quoting from official documents.
said, he had been reading extracts from the records of what passed between the Governor and the Assembly. The language used by the Governor in addressing the Legislature had in some other respects been imprudent and unconstitutional. He took occasion, for instance, in the course of his rejoinder to the Assembly, to tell them that he could not give his assent to the Prisons Bill before that Bill had yet passed. He further told them that Confederation would "come about by the initiative of 'the people' themselves." The Legislative Council, in their reply, having quoted a statement of Earl Granville in the House of Lords, to the effect that "a colony having representative institutions, though it may be a small one, should be as punctiliously treated as the largest of the colonies," Mr. Hennessy, in his rejoinder, said—
thus trying to cut off all hope of succour from England. The Chamber of Commerce of the island were desirous of presenting an address against Confederation. Mr. Hennessy refused to receive it. In it they referred to the taunt that the "cat" had been used in the prisons, and they pointed out that that was done under instructions from Lord Cardwell, and that its use was in each case sanctioned by the ExecutiveGovernment. They deprecated the action of the Governor in setting convicts free as dangerous to the peace of the island. The statement contained in the private telegram, which had been received in this country, that 500 prisoners had been taken, and that 40 persons had been shot, had been denounced as highly coloured; but Mr. Hennessy himself, in answer to a telegram from Lord Carnarvon requiring definite information on the subject, stated that the number of prisoners taken actually plundering was 90, and of those apprehended afterwards on suspicion of rioting and of having received stolen goods 320, making a total of 410 prisoners; and that the number of killed was 1, of those who had died of their wounds 2, and of those who had been wounded 16; making a total of at least 19 persons shot. Mr. Hennessy, in his earlier telegram, stated that "the troops had not fired a shot," but in a later one he admitted that the police had fired twice—statements involving at least a sort of mental reservation on the part of Mr. Hennessy. He thought he had clearly shown by the State documents he had cited that the conduct of the Governor of the Windward Islands had been wanting in tact, and was calculated to bring representative institutions into contempt. He had brought forward this subject at the present time because delays were proverbially dangerous, and because Mr. Hennessy showed no disposition to depart from the unconstitutional course he had adopted of forcing the Legislature of Barbadoes to assent to Confederation, in distinct violation of the promise given by Lord Carnarvon that the Confederation should only be brought about on the spontaneous request of the local Legislation. He was informed that Mr. Hennessy had actually threatened to dissolve the Legislature if they petitioned for his removal. He did not ask for Mr. Hennessy's recall, but he trusted the Government would lose no time in interfering in the matter. He had been pressed on a former occasion by a Lagos merchant, a leading constituent of his, to call the attention of the House to Mr. Hennessy's proceedings on the Gold Coast, and he had refused to do so on the ground that Mr. Hennessy, when in that House, had acted with the Party to which he belonged; he now regretted that refusal, because, in the opinion of many well-informed persons, the proceedings of Mr. Hennessy on the Gold Coast largely contributed to bring about the Ashantee War."You refer to a recent debate in the House of Lords, and quote a few words from the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Earl Granville). The sentence you quote may lead to misapprehension if it were imagined that his Lordship was speaking of representative institutions connected with the Legislatures of the Windward Islands. It is better to terminate at once any illusions you may have as to the views of so eminent and influential a man;"
regretted that the House had been called upon to discuss that important subject without full and adequate information, and he was disinclined to follow the hon. and learned Member for Salford (Mr. Charley). But, knowing personally something about the island, and having been privately informed of the present state of excitement there, he was able to say something about it, and he was glad it was so, for it would be productive of mischief to allow the strong and one sided speech of the hon. and learned Member to pass with only an official answer. The hon. and learned Gentleman, in stating that the constitution of Barbadoes was the same now as it was 200 or 300 years ago, must have forgotten that a considerable change had of late years taken place there. The constitution of the past might have been considered satisfactory in the days of slavery, but it was unfitted to the days of freedom. He was not so satisfied as the hon. and learned Gentleman with the condition of the people of Barbadoes, and the ministers of religion there stated emphatically that they never saw a community in which there existed such intense and apparently hopeless poverty as in Barbadoes, and where the people were so ignorant. It was said that the agitation had been caused by the ill-advised proceedings of the Governor. Well, he was not there to defend Mr. Pope Hennessy, for his defence naturally rested with Her Majesty's Government. Be that as it might, however, he believed Mr. Hennessy was not even the chief, much less the sole, cause of the agitation that had taken place in the island, because months before Mr. Pope Hennessy arrived in the island considerable agitation existed there upon this question of Confederation. One of the largest landowners in the island and the last and present Governors were in favour of Confederation. The excitement was so great about it that it was stated that the result would be the imposition of a poll-tax, and that the negroes would be again reduced to slavery, and the popular feeling was so strong that the life of the gentleman he had referred to was in jeopardy. When Mr. Pope Hennessy arrived, he, in obedience to instructions received from the Colonial Secretary, laid the Earl of Kimberley's and the Earl of Carnarvon's despatches before the Assembly at the same time—the Earl of Carnarvon having adopted the views of his predecessor in office. He did not believe that Mr. Pope Hennessy was responsible for the popular agitation that existed, but the opponents of Confederation, who had formed themselves into a Defence Association and summoned meetings in all parts of the island by calling upon the inhabitants to "Come one; come all—no Confederation!"That excited the people, which it was neither wise nor prudent to do, for the result was the disturbances which they all deplored. The people, however, found that they had been deceived by agitators, and that the scheme of Confederation, if adopted, would tend to lighten taxation and also to improve the administration of justice. Immediately after Mr. Pope Hennessy had delivered his speech to the Assembly a dead set was made at him, the opponents of Confederation being determined that he should be re-called for carrying out the Earl of Carnarvon's instructions. One newspaper, The Barbadoes Agricultural Reporter, characterized the Governor as a political firebrand, under whom there could be no peace, and who must be quenched, and also spoke of the West India islands as communities which, in time of war, so far from uniting for purposes of defence, would be happy to be captured by any foreign Power from which they might hope to receive justice. The Barbadoes Defence Association he had before referred to afterwards endorsed, through their secretary, the sentiments expressed in that newspaper by thanking it for its support of their cause. He could not help thinking that testimonials from the Press of that character threw a little light upon the deputation to the Colonial Office a few days ago, and showed that the excitement which had arisen in the island was not confined to one section of the inhabitants only, but that the White population had equally lost their heads with the negroes. Whatever course the Home Government might think fit to adopt, he hoped they would stand by the policy of Confederation—a policy essential to the welfare of those islands, which, though rich in natural resources, were too small separately to provide the means of good government, and ought for that purpose to be united together. It had been the opinion of successive Secretaries of the Colonies, and a large number of the inhabitants of these islands had proposed, that there should be a confederation of the islands, and nothing could be more dangerous to society in Barbadoes than that what should be declared by successive Governments to be for the benefit of those islands and by the population to be necessary should be stopped by a small oligarchy. It had been proposed by Governor Hennessy to make no change as regarded the Constitution of Barbadoes, but things had now reached that point at which the scheme of Confederation must either be given up or that Constitution must be altered.
said, that as an owner of land in Barbadoes, he wished to make a few remarks. He was able to state that up to the time of Mr. Pope Hennessy going there the island was in a flourishing condition, but it was now in an unsettled and unsatisfactory condition. It was unfortunate that these disturbances should have taken place at a period of the year when the sugar crop, which was valued at £1,000,000, was being got in. The negroes of Barbadoes could not be so dissatisfied and discontented, because emigration agents had been trying for some time to induce them to emigrate to Demerara, Trinidad, and other adjacent places where there was a want of labour, and those negroes who had gone there had returned again to Barbadoes, showing that they were not dissatisfied with their wages and their position in that island. The negroes, unfortunately, could not be got to work longer than was necessary to earn enough to live upon, which they could do in three or four days a-week. In Barbadoes, as in England, large bodies of the working population were very ignorant; but there was a school on the average for every square mile in the island—a fact which showed that education was not so much neglected there as some alleged. It was said that although 3 persons had been killed and 16 wounded, the riots could not be called serious, because they had been quelled by the police without the action of the troops. But it should be said that the police in Barbadoes were armed with rifles, and were soldiers in everything except the name. He (Mr. Thornhill) had heard that a telegram was read yesterday, stating that the Assembly had resolved upon an Address to the Crown, asking Her Majesty to remove Governor Hennessy; and that he, in return, had stated that he would dissolve the House. If that were true, it would show that dissensions and disturbances were still going on, and that they were likely to continue, unless the Home Government took some action. That was a reason why an inquiry was wanted now instead of waiting for proofs. A statement had been made that nine-tenths of the coloured population were in favour of confederation; but he (Mr. Thornhill) could not credit that, because Mr. Reeves, the Solicitor General, who had resigned because he could not agree with the views of Mr. Pope Hennessy, was a coloured gentleman, and there was good reason for believing that the coloured people were as much opposed to it as the White inhabitants of the island. He trusted that after what had occurred the noble Lord the Secretary of State for the Colonies would abandon the policy of confederation as far as Barbadoes was concerned, and that he would give the colony back its old Executive Council which it had had since 1652. He thought it would be most unjust to remove Mr. Pope Hennessy from his present post on a mere telegram; but he must say that until pressed by the Secretary of State, the telegrams which he had sent were as scant and understated as the private telegrams could have been overstated and exaggerated. The Secretary for the Colonies had said that he would not force confederation on the islands, but that it must come from the spontaneous action of the Legislatures. Here, however, was a Governor who went about touting for confederation. Surely that could not be considered "spontaneous action, "and he hoped such conduct would not receive the support of Her Majesty's Government. It would be most unjust, he admitted, to remove Mr. Hennessy without giving him an opportunity of defending himself; but as it was evident that Mr. Hennessy had brought on those disturbances by the injudicious and hasty manner in which he had sought to promote confederation, it would be for Her Majesty's Government to give the matter their most serious consideration, as it would be most difficult after what had occurred to restore good feeling between the Governor and a large proportion of the inhabitants of the island.
put it to the House whether they were in a position to con- tinue a discussion upon the conduct of Governor Hennessy and of the question until the Papers had been presented to Parliament. He wished to abstain from giving any opinion, either on the conduct of the Governor, or on the merits of the case;and he simply wished to state that he had received communications from the Chairman and deputy Chairman of the West India Committee, who had been active in the matter, that they entirely shared in the view that it would be premature and unjust to all the interests concerned if, in the present state of the question, there should be opinions formed by the House of Commons. They felt that it would be most improper to endeavour to elicit any opinion from the House of Commons as to the conduct of the Governor in the present state of the information before it. That there had been political and social agitation in the colony, and changes in the Constitution, both actual and contemplated, they had no doubt, and under those circumstances they considered that it was their duty to communicate to the Colonial Office the telegrams which they received. The information which they received induced them to believe that matters were sufficiently serious for the duty of restoring peace and order to be placed in the hands of one who was not connected with the local political questions which had produced the agitation; but they wished him to state in the House of Commons and to the Colonial authorities that they regretted that it should for one moment have been supposed that they wished and asked for the recall of the Governor without his having the opportunity of offering an explanation. For such explanation they understood Lord Carnarvon had telegraphed, and the West Indian Committee considered that in the meantime the matter had better be left in his hands. Under the circumstances, he hoped the debate would not be continued.
agreed with the right hon. Gentleman that it would not be desirable in the present state of their information to prolong the discussion. He wished to say, however, that he considered that the hon. and learned Gentleman who had introduced the subject (Mr. Charley) had in the hour which his speech had occupied done great injustice to the Governor, whose career at its outset it was attempted to destroy. Mr. Pope Hennessy was neither a political nor personal friend of his, but he was aware of a number of circumstances which would mitigate, if it was required, any judgment pronounced upon his conduct. He thought it somewhat hard upon the Governor that he should be attacked in that House by his own political Friends on incomplete and one-sided information.
said, he did not wish the debate should be prolonged, but he thought his hon. and learned Friend was justified in what he had done, seeing that his statements were founded on official documents. He hoped Her Majesty's Government would re-consider the policy of confederation.
said, the House would readily understand the difficulty which he felt in entering into any lengthened explanation with regard to the affairs which had been brought under the notice of the House. He could not join in attaching any blame to his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Salford (Mr. Charley) for having drawn the attention of the House to the subject, for the language which he employed did not lay him open to any animadversion. As far as he understood the case, his hon. and learned Friend had alleged that agitation was still being carried on at the instance of the Governor, and if the hon. and learned Gentleman believed that to be the case he was fully justified in bringing the subject under the notice of the House; but he (Mr. Lowther) believed there was no foundation for the statement. The House had heard from the hon. and learned Gentleman and other speakers reference to the subject of confederation, a subject which no doubt had been the cause of the present excitement. It was frankly admitted by his hon. and learned Friend, and also by others, that on this question of confederation there had been no divergence of opinion between successive Colonial Secretaries. The despatches of Lord Granville, Lord Kimberley, and his noble Friend now at the head of the Colonial Office had coincided in recommending a scheme of confederation to the earnest attention of the Legislature of Barbadoes. Lord Carnarvon also stated distinctly his opinion that any scheme of confederation which should be submitted to the Legislature should be left to their own spontaneous action, and that he could be no party to the forcing on of such a policy contrary to the wishes of the Legislature. This despatch had already been cited and need not be repeated; but to show that this guiding principle had not been lost sight of during the last few weeks, he would quote the following despatch from Lord Carnarvon to Governor Hennessy:—
That telegram was sent in consequence of allegations to the effect that the Governor was personally conducting the agitation contrary to the distinct injunction contained in the despatch previously quoted. This brought him to a delicate part of the subject, the alleged individual action of the Governor with regard to the agitation; and he confessed that, if he felt there was any truth in it, he should experience the greatest difficulty in defending the conduct of the Governor. He could not bring himself to think that, with the distinct injunction of the Secretary of State before him, in addition to the ordinary feelings which should actuate a person occupying so high and important a position, the Governor could in any way have lent himself to such a proceeding. In consequence of renewed representations made from the West India Committee, another telegram was sent to the Governor—"Representations coming from many quarters as to the great and alarming excitement arising from Confederation, such as burning of canes, &c., make me anxious. Telegraph whether there is any truth in the reports. You must clearly understand that no scheme can be forced on the Colony, and you must exercise the greatest caution to prevent political agitation among the native population."
The Governor replied in the course of a long telegram—"Fresh statements made to me to-day of very serious riot at Prospect plantation. Death of one man, wounding of others; apprehension of dangerous disturbances through alleged Government agitation. I have permitted and can sanction no such agitation, and I trust statement is wholly unfounded. Telegraph immediately true facts of case and what steps taken."
Another telegram contained the assurance of the Governor of Barbadoes that neither the action of the local Government nor the protective action of Her Majesty's Government had been made use of in favour of agitation. This showed that Governor Hennessy was well aware of the views of the Colonial Office and expressed his intention to act accordingly. In another telegram his noble Friend said—"From the first I have prevented agitation or meetings in favour of Confederation. I only allow meetings against it, not wishing to coerce the free action of those opposed."
That showed that, so far as the Government were concerned, and so far as they had every assurance from the Governor of Barbadoes, the action either of the local Government, or the reflected action of Her Majesty's Government, had in no way been made use of in favour of agitation on the subject. At any time and under any circumstances he, for one, should deeply regret attempts to coerce the free and independent action of any Legislative Assembly. Members of that House, upon whatever side they sat, would join him in deprecating any such action;and he could only say that if a policy of confederation did not commend itself to the Legislature of Barbadoes, it was a result which he should regret, but it would be the duty of Her Majesty's Government to bow to the decision. With regard to the statement that the Governor had made indiscreet speeches to the Assembly, it certainly was a matter of serious consideration for any Governor, addressing a Legislature, as to what language he might or might not rightly adopt, according to circumstances. The language which had been quoted certainly required explanation. Without expressing any opinion upon it, he would simply inform the House that the special attention of the Governor had been drawn to certain passages in his speech, and that he had been invited to give a full and complete explanation of the circumstances attending their use. As to any disorderly scene in the Assembly during the delivery of the speech, he had no information to guide him upon the subject. He had seen the rumours to which reference had been made;but be was not aware what were the regulations with respect to the admission of strangers into the Assembly. It was possible that some of them had not conducted themselves with perfect decorum. At any rate, whatever the facts were, he could hardly think that the Governor could be held personally responsible for the admission of the strangers who were said to have created a dis- turbance. And he could not help remembering that the Assembly of Barbadoes was not the only legislative body in the world which had found the question of the admission of strangers one of difficulty. Then it was said that an invidious use had been made by the Governor of the word "people," as applied to only one class of the people. It was impossible to speak on this point without the explanations which had been requested, and would, in due time, he trusted, arrive from the Governor. A far more serious branch of the question was the allegation put forward on the authority of a most respectable and influential body—the West India Committee—that the Governor was personally conducting agitation. It was only fair to say that, so far, he had heard no confirmation of this very serious accusation, and to point out that appeals had for some time previously been made to the inflammatory population of Barbadoes by the very persons who now complained of such appeals. He confessed that he was alarmed on hearing that any appeals whatever had been made to so excitable a population. The negroes of Barbadoes were scarcely an audience to which very passionate appeals should be made; and this made him wonder that persons who were interested in the preservation of property in the island—the planters and estate agents—should so address this highly inflammatory element. It had been stated that, in the course of his speech in the Legislature, to which exception had been taken, the Governor alluded to the condition of the public institutions in the island, including gaols and hospitals. The Governor did not appear to have exceeded his duty in that respect, for he seemed to have simply drawn the serious attention of the Legislature to the state of those institutions. As to the rate of wages, which was also alluded to in the Governor's speech, he must remind the House that the population of Barbadoes was a dense one; and that it appeared to be one of the few West India islands in which the people would condescend to work to any great extent. He could not assent to the doctrine that because wages were low, it would of necessity be an act of kindness to the labouring classes to raise them to any great extent. The modern panacea for almost all ills was high wages; but recent experience in this country showed that high wages did not invariably redound to the advantage of a community. On this point, also, however, it would be well to wait for further information before the House came to any conclusion. In a mixed community like Barbadoes, where the Black portion of the community outnumbered the White, it was only natural that panics should from time to time arise, and it was impossible perhaps for people at a distance to avoid forming strong opinions on one or the other side. Some could not avoid giving expression to their natural sympathy for men of their own race surrounded by a ferocious negro mob, while there there were others whose proclivities always led to their constituting themselves the champions of the inferior race under all circumstances and conditions; but a Member of Her Majesty's Government as such could allow himself to have no sympathies, and it had always been the policy of Her Majesty's Government to study the wants and requirements of all classes, sections, and interests, without distinction of race, colour, or creed; and on this, as on all occasions, it was desirable that the Government should say nothing which could in any way be converted into a feeling of special or undue leaning to one section of the population at the expense of the other. The difficulties of a Governor in such a colony could hardly be overrated, for he had to display impartiality in every action of life. On previous occasions Governors who had adopted a line which might have been approved by the ruling race had been persecuted by those who differed from them. It was our duty here to consider dispassionately the difficulties in which a Governor was placed and to say nothing which could add to his embarrassment. Since these difficulties had arisen Mr. Hennessy had pursued a conciliatory line in regard to those who differed from him, naming a distinguished opponent of Confederation as President of the Council, and allowing the Solicitor General to vote against the scheme. Mr. Hennessy once occupied a honourable position in this House, and was generally looked upon as a rising Member, and he transferred his services to his country to another sphere. While it was the duty of the Government fully to consider the serious charges which had been brought against him, he was as yet fully entitled to the benefit of any doubt. The House would be glad to hear that, so far as the last advices went, Her Majesty's Government had reason to hope that there was no cause to fear any further alarm respecting the preservation of order. The latest telegrams, from official and private sources, made no allusion whatever to any form of disturbance; and he trusted that these unhappy circumstances might be considered at an end. The force at the disposal of the authorities was some 600 strong, a large proportion of whom were Whites, which, in an island of about the size of the Isle of Wight, was a considerable force. Besides that, there was within reach a very large contingent in the neighboring islands. His hon. Friend the Member for West Suffolk (Mr. Thornhill), whom he must congratulate upon the success of his first speech, alluded to a telegram stating that the Governor had threatened a dissolution if the Assembly adopted a petition to the Home Government; but it was impossible to conceive that a Colonial Governor would do anything so unconstitutional. In conclusion, he might state that the Papers which the hon. and learned Member asked for would be included in others now in course of preparation, and the whole would, he hoped, be in the hands of hon. Members without unnecessary delay. Under the circumstances, he had no doubt that the hon. and learned Member would not press his Motion."Urge earnestly on all parties to cease from political agitation, for which there is no justification after my despatch, and which must be put down firmly for this very reason."
said, that from the little information which had been given to the House there was not reason to suppose that Governor Hennessy had failed in his duty. He saw, however, one thing to which he must take exception. Mr. Hennessy declared that he had not permitted any meetings in favour of Confederation, but had permitted meetings against it. That appeared to him to be a very one-sided proceeding, and he hoped it would not be sanctioned by the Government. Nothing could be more difficult than to hold the balance equally between the White and Black Traces, where their interests were to some degree antagonistic. It had been said that a Governor who took the part of the whites was subjected to malignant persecution in this country. He knew of no instance of that kind, but thought the case was exactly the reverse. Whenever Governors passed laws that pressed hardly on the coloured population, they were loudly praised by the local Press and promoted; whereas the Governors who took the side of the Black population had had islands made too hot to hold them, and were obliged to resign. The hon. and learned Gentleman who had introduced the Motion (Mr. Charley) had spoken of the Constitution which had been given to Barbadoes, and which conferred on the people the right of self-government. But who were the people? What was the population of the island which exercised this right of self-government?It was what might be called a planter oligarchy. It had been stated, and it had not been denied, that those persons who had the whole control of the Government consisted of 1,300, out of a population of 160,000. Could there be a more patent case of an oligarchy, and was not this Constitution similar to that which it had been found necessary to abrogate in Jamaica? Under these circumstances, the position of a Governor who had impartially to administer justice to all classes was one of the greatest difficulty; and it seemed to him, he must confess, highly improbable that a gentleman of Mr. Hennessy's acknowledged ability should have committed the imprudences which were laid to his charge, or that he should be unable to give good reasons for the course which he had pursued. As matters stood, it might be found necessary that reforms in Barbadoes should come from pressure from without, for it was, in his opinion, extremely doubtful whether its present Legislature could carry them from within, and he hoped, therefore, the Government would hold themselves free to correct any faults in the Constitution which might exist there with the support of that House, so that equal justice might be secured to all the inhabitants of the island.
as a personal friend of Mr. Hennessy's, wished to say a few words. That hon. Gentleman, who, when he entered the House, was a very young man, was entrusted with the conduct of many important subjects, and had earned the highest opinion from all Members for the judgment, moderation, and tact with which he took part in the debates, He (Sir George Bowyer) was certain that when full information as to recent occurrences in Barbadoes reached this country it would be found that he was justified in the course which he had taken. He regretted, he might add, that the subject had been brought before the House at all, because what fell from hon. Members in debate was not confined within the walls of the House, nor even within the limits of the country, but went forth to distant places where matters were not so well understood and where frequently a bad effect was produced. When Party spirit ran high, nothing could be more dangerous than debate on imperfect materials; and he was afraid that when the report of this discussion was read in the colony, the difficulties of the Governor would be greatly increased. There had been examples lately of speeches made of a most mischievous description calculated to lead to the worst results when they came to be translated into the native language of one of our great Dependencies, and when a colony happened to be in a position of difficulty nothing could, in his opinion, be more inconvenient than that the subject should be discussed by the House with imperfect information, and on the faithof contradictory telegrams calculated to mislead. He trusted a generous interpretation would be put on the acts of the Governor, who he had no doubt whatever had acted for the honour of the Crown and the safety of the Dependency which was committed to hiscare.