Page images

ginal note of the clause-" Drunkard compellable to declare the place where the liquor was obtained." The result was, that if a man were found drunk in the street, he might be taken charge of by the police, and when sober might be called upon to swear where he got drunk; and if he declined, he was to be confined during the pleasure of the magistrates. It was said that there was a precedent for such legislation in the Gaming-house Act. How this might be he did not know; but if so, it showed how careful Parliament should be not to adopt exceptional legislation even to accomplish a good object. Instead of agitating for an Act of Parliament, the advocates of the new law should confine themselves to the legitimate means which were at their disposal. They had the pulpit, the platform, and the press. Let them use these to inculcate temperance. In such a work he wished them God speed, for he was a sincere opponent of drunkenness; but let them not attempt by legislation to deprive the labouring man of the power to buy a glass of beer.

MR. WHALLEY said, the proposal advocated by the hon. Member for Carlisle (Mr. Lawson) was to modify the system of liceusing the sale of liquors, which had been in existence for a long period, and the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ker Seymer) himself admitted that it might be improved. But the hon. Gentleman, with his great in fluence and ability, had been trifling with the subject. There could be no doubt that one of the greatest evils of the day was the facility afforded for obtaining intoxicating drinks by the humbler classes of society. It was the cause of nearly all the misery which existed in this country. He was willing that the decision of the question should be left to the drunkards themselves, being assured that in their sober moments they would vote in favour of any measure which would prevent them from doing that which destroyed their character, and deprived their families of comfort, and who, he believed, would earnestly desire to be relieved from the temptations of the beer and liquor shops.

which they lay down, and upon which they found the remedy they propose, but which I believe to be a mistaken one. I agree with them that the abuse of intoxicating liquors is productive of infinite mischief; that it is the parent of many other crimes ; and that to diminish these crimes would be to confer the greatest benefit upon the country, and especially upon the working classes. I agree also in thinking that there are great defects in the licensing system, and I very much concur in the recommendations of the Committee which was presided over by my right hon. Friend (Mr. Villiers), and which suggested very material changes in that system. There are great difficulties in dealing with that question, owing to the extensive interests engaged in the trade; but I am quite willing to admit that it is a subject which deserves consideration, and I shall be glad if at some future time, I am able to bring forward a measure for improving the licensing system. I cannot, however, hold out to my hon. Friend any hope that such a measure would embody the opinions entertained by those who are anxious to see the Maine Liquor Law established in this country. It would be entirely useless to make such an attempt. You cannot legislate effectually in opposition to the feelings and habits of a great majority of the people, and unless the law harmonizes with the settled opinions and babits of the people you cannot enforce it. It is said that the majority ought to control the minority. In many cases that is perfectly true. For instance, some years ago, as the House is aware, an Act was passed which left it optional with the parishes to establish public baths and washhouses; and where this is done, however strenuous may be the opposition of the minority, they are bound to contribute by the payment of rates towards the maintenance of those places. That is all the hardship; but the proposal of my hon. Friend is a totally different one. He would not merely impose upon the minority the payment of a rate, but would force them to change their habits of life, and to abstain from doing what no one can say is an unlawful act from using beverages which are no doubt injurious when taken to excess, but which, taken in moderation, are wholesome and invigorating. For the majority to use such compulsion as this would be an act of tyranny, and far exceeds any fair application of the principle that the minority should yield to the will of the majority. I

SIR GEORGE GREY: Sir, as there is no Motion before the House, I should hardly have thought it necessary to trouble the House at all upon this question, if it were not that I might be supposed to be wanting in respect to my hon. Friend and to those of whose opinions he is the exponent. To a certain degree I entirely sympathize with them in the premisses Mr. Ker Seymer

be said that Calcutta had risen from a small village into a great city, with a trade. of £20,000,000 annually, and that until recently we had lost no Governor General in India, except Lord Cornwallis, who was an old man and infirm in health when he arrived. As to the first argument, it might be replied, that according to the opinion of many old Indians, whether from a change of habits among the residents, or from the extension of the city, Calcutta was becoming more and more unhealthy. With respect to the second argument, he might be reminded that we should be in future sending out a greater number of men of mature age to carry out the working of our new institutions in India. In was also said that it was important that the

The seat of GovERNMENT IN INDIA. seat of Government should be within easy reach of reinforcements from this country; but they were told that next year the Government subsidy to the Peninsular and Oriental Company would cease, and that Company's steamers would also cease to run to Calcutta. Mr. Marshman, the great advocate of Calcutta, had given several reasons why that city should be continued as the seat of Government, but none of them appeared to be unanswerable. The removal of the records, which was put forth as a difficulty, was merely a matter of detail. But it was said that it would be impossible to remove the Financial Secretary, the Treasury, and the Mint from Calcutta ; but he could not perceive the impossibility, especially as he believed there was also a mint at Bombay. It might be that in removing the seat of Government from Calcutta private interests might suffer; but even if that were the case, it could not be set against a strong public necessity. It was said that it would be expensive to erect new public buildings in the new seat of Government, and to throw away the money that had been expended in Calcutta ; but he was informed that most of the Government buildings in Calcutta ere merely rented. The time might come before long when we should be so committed to the chance capital of Calcutta that we must accept it as an accomplished fact; but he did not think that that period had yet arrived. No doubt Calcutta would always remain, not only a great commercial centre, but a great military post which must be held strongly with a view to the preservation of our Indian Empire; but that was no sufficient reason why it should continue to be the seat of Government. The Commander-in-Chief was generally at

have not had the advantage of seeing in print the Bill which is supposed to embody the principles of the law advocated by my hon. Friend, but I have not been able to satisfy myself that those principles should be sanctioned in this country; and if they were embodied in an Act of Parliament, I do not believe they could be practically enforced. Even in America I believe that drunkenness exists to a great degree, and that by prohibiting legitimate means of purchasing drink you only drive people to illicit means of obtaining it, and perhaps, thereby lead them to indulge in it to a greater extent than they would have done if the sale of these liquors had been placed under proper and reasonable restrictions.


MR. GRANT DUFF rose to call the attention of the House to the expediency of transferring the seat of Government in India to some place more eligible than Calcutta. When they had so recently laid that great man, Lord Canning, in the grave, he thought it was not inopportune to ask Her Majesty's Government whether it was not possible to make arrangements for carrying on the central administration of India in some spot which would induce a smaller sacrifice of European life. If the death of Lord Canning had been an isolated event, no argument could have been drawn from it, but it was by no means an isolated event. He would refer the House to a letter which appeared a few days since in the leading journal, signed "Mountaineer," in which it was said, "Wilson, Ritchie, and Lord Canning are dead; Mr. Laing is ill; Mr. Beadon has been in disposed; Colonel Baird Smith is dead, Lady Canning is dead, Lady Wells is dead, Lord and Lady Dalhousie are dead." was not surprising that Calcutta should be unhealthy, standing as it did upon a delta, with salt water on one side and a lake upon the other, raised but a little above the level of the sea, with a supply of water which, if copious, was far from wholesome. All deltas were unhealthy, and the only great city so situated besides Calcutta was the notoriously unhealthy city of New Orleans. Sir R. Martin spoke of Calcutta as enjoying three seasons-the hot season, during which all new arrivals suffered; the cold season, in which all old Indians suffered; and the wet season, in which everybody suffered. It was true that it might


Simlah, Calcutta being about the last climate. As to the letter in The Times place which he thought of entering. But from "Mountaineer," he knew from priif Calcutta were no longer to be the capital, vate information that its author had never what other place should be chosen in its resided at Calcutta, but spoke of it in stead? To Agra, Simlah, and Mussoorie entire personal ignorance. There was as there were strong objections. Bombay, good water at Calcutta as could be found too, though healthier than Calcutta, had in all the world. The hon. Member had not such a decided advantage in that re- referred to the evidence of Sir R. Martin, spect as to justify its selection as the new who had lived as a physician for years in capital. There remained, however, Poonah, Calcutta. He did not know a healthier one of the most salubrious of our military man than Sir R. Martin himself, who stations in all India. It had a great his- certainly spoke of the comparative healthitoric name as the scat of power of the ness of the capital at different seasons Peishwah, once the head of the Mahratta of the year. It was impossible to transConfederacy. It was only eighty miles from fer the whole system of the Indian GoBombay, and was not likely to be cut off, vernment to the Upper Provinces. Aleven temporarily, from communication with lusion had been made to the evidence of the sea, which must ever be the true basis Mr. Marshman, who had been so many of our power in India. These and other years in India. He stated, that if the seat advantages induced him to think Poonah of Government were removed for the sake entitled to the preference. He did not, of health, it must be removed to the hills; however, pretend to speak dogmatically on but if they were to remove all the officers, that point, nor even to assert absolutely Government would collapse. Besides, there that they ought to leave Calcutta. But were diseases in the hills which would he hoped, that if that capital were to be re-render it unadvisable for the Government tained, good reasons would be shown for to reside there all the year round. Lady doing so. He trusted also that at least Canning died of the hill fever, coming from the Council would no longer be obliged to the hills. The Governor General ought remain in Calcutta, but would be permitted, not to be in the hills, secluded from all as contemplated by the Act of last Session, society. As a proof that the climate at to move from time to time, so that the the seat of Government in India was not so most valuable European lives need not ne- bad as had been represented, he could name cessarily be exposed to the unhealthiness several Governors General who had lived of that capital during the worst part of the many years after their return to this country. Warren Hastings, Lord Cornwallis, Lord Teignmouth, Lord Wellesley, the Marquis of Hastings, Lord William Bentinck, all lived many years-Lord Teignmouth 38, Lord Wellesley 37 yearsafter they left India; and there was Lord Ellenborough, who was still living, and he was happy to say looked extremely well, when he saw him in the House of Lords the other evening. The Secretary of State for India had now in his Council five men who had been in India more than thirty years. Sir James Hogg, formerly a Member of that House, had been thirty-three years in Calcutta; Mr. Elliot Macnaghten, Mr. Ross Mangles, Sir Frederick Currie, all twenty-five to thirty years at Calcutta. Then there were Governors of Bengal-Mr. Wilberforce Bird, who was thirty years at Calcutta, and died at seventy-two; Sir Frederick Halliday, thirty years at Calcutta, and who was more like a farmer than a man who had been long in India. The late Governor of Bengal, Sir Frederick Currie, was still in perfect health. Then there were the

wet season.

MR. GREGSON said, that having resided for some years in Calcutta, he could speak from personal experience of its climate, which he thought had been represented as worse than it really was. He fully shared the feeling of universal regret excited by the untimely deaths of the last two Governor Generals, which the hon. Gentleman had instanced as proving the deleterious effects of the climate; but he (Mr. Gregson) believed they were only isolated cases. Lord Dalhousie had suffered from a constitutional complaint, and had worked very hard-perhaps too hard -in this country before proceeding to India. Lord Canning, he understood, was perfectly well when he arrived at Marseilles on his way home; but he caught a very severe cold, and having undergone immense anxiety and some exhaustion in India, his system was unable to resist the attack. The deaths of these distinguished persons were therefore rather due to the wear and tear of mind, occasioned by the labours and responsibilities of office, than to the Mr. Grant Duff

Indian judges-Sir Edward Ryan, Sir Lawrence Peel, Sir James Colville, Sir Arthur Buller, who had been all ten years in Calcutta to entitle them to their pensions. The hon. Member then read a letter from a gentleman who must have been ten years in Calcutta, and who gave it as his opinion that Calcutta was on the average just as healthy as any other part of India. He described the Government House at Barrackpore, the grounds extending over 260 acres, and the drives as most attractive and beautiful. He could also from experience speak of the climate of Calcutta as salubrious, and he did not think it was at all desirable that any change should be made in the seat of Go


MR. ADAM said, he was glad that this subject had been brought forward, though it was not likely to be attended with any immediate practical result. No one would deny, that if we had just obtained possession of India, Calcutta was the last place that would have been selected for the capital. It was the most distant point of the empire and the most difficult of access; and although the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Gregson) had given so glowing an account of its salubrity that any one would be led to believe that it was the healthiest place in the world, and that hon. Members who were suffering from the labours of the Session could not do better than hasten to Calcutta to seck the restoration of their health, he could hardly admit the truth of the picture. He admitted that the question of the seat of Government must be decided, not on considerations of health alone, but also by reasons of policy; and he thought that the question of distance alone was sufficient to settle the question against Calcutta. In his opinion, no better place could be chosen than Poonah, the climate of which, although like that of all other parts of India, uncomfortably hot during the summer, was during the cold weather and the rains most charming. He did not wish to press the Government for any immediate decision upon this subject, but he hoped that they would take it into their most serious consideration.

MR. T. G. BARING said, that all must regret the risk to which our officials were exposed by service in India in consequence of the unhealthiness of the climate; but this risk was not confined to Calcutta, which was not the most peculiarly unhealthy part of our Indian Empire. Al

though we had recently lost Lord Canning and Mr. Wilson, we had also been deprived of the services of Lord Elphinstone, the Governor of Bombay, Sir Henry Ward, the Governor of Madras, Colonel Baird Smith, who had spent most of his time in the North West Provinces, and Generals Anson and Barnard, who had both lived in the most healthy parts of India. The question of the removal of the capital of a great empire could only be decided upon grave and serious considerations; and, as it appeared to him, the hon. Gentleman who had introduced this subject had not come to any conclusion in his own mind either as to the policy of removing the capital, or as to the place to which it should be removed. He had himself decided against both the Hills and Bombay; and although he appeared rather to favour Poonah, yet the arguments which he had advanced against Bombay would apply equally to Poonah. Governors General of India would, of course, upon sanitary considerations, be inclined to select for the seat of Government the healthiest spot in the empire, and yet the last four Governors General had all given their opinions against the removal of the capital from Calcutta. Lord Ellenborough and Lord Hardinge were both examined before the Committee of 1853, when Lord Hardinge said

"I should not advise a change of the seat of Government from Calcutta. With the prospect of having railways and electric telegraphs, and the present seat of Government is not liable to be also looking to the other great consideration, that attacked, is close to the sea, ready to receive reinforcements, and far removed from those emergencies and crises which will occur in India, such as occurred on the North Western frontier when I was there, the further the Government is kept from these emergencies the better for the tranquillity of India."

Both the succeeding Governors General, Lord Dalhousie and Lord Canning, have expressed similar opinions. Under these circumstances he thought that the House would be of opinion that no sufficiently strong reasons had yet been advanced for making a change in the capital of India. The loss of Lord Canning might partly have been occasioned by the circumstances of the time having required that he should remain for a very long time continuously at the seat of Government at Calcutta. Such a necessity did not exist in ordinary periods, and it was hoped and anticipated that in future, in quiet times, the Governor General would be able to visit other parts of the empire, and make himself acquainted both with the country

and with those who were carrying on the Government in various parts of India. On the whole, he hoped that the House would be of opinion that it was not at present desirable to change the capital of our Indian empire.

say, were subjected to the proper course of law in Russia, and condemned to the punishment which they afterwards underwent by competent legal authority. I do not stand up here to maintain that the legal arrangements of Russia, are not capable of improvement; I have no doubt that they are; but with regard to the treatment of Jews as a body, I am happy to say that the present Emperor has very much relaxed the severity to which they had been previously exposed; and I have no doubt that the enlightened mind of the Emperor of Russia-which. appears to be directing itself to various improvements in his great and extensive empire-will, from being coupled with the goodness of his own disposition, lead him to go still further towards placing the Jews on a footing of equality with the other subjects of his realm.

Main Question put, and agreed to. Supply considered in Committee. Committee report Progress; again on Monday next.


VISCOUNT PALMERSTON: I have to apologize to my hon. Friend (Sir F. Goldsmid) for not having replied to his observations when he sat down; but I was waiting for another Question, from the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Freeland), which I now understand is, on account of the lateness of the hour, not to be put to me to-night. My hon. Friend drew the attention of the House to the case of two Jewish soldiers in the Russian service, who, according to his view, had been very unjustly punished for crimes. of which they had not been guilty. I quite agree with the observation of my hon. Friend, that although it is not desirable that this House should, without some strong cause, offer opinions as to matters which pass in other countries, yet there are cases which fully justify such a course-cases like those which he has mentioned. As regards broad principles of government, by which large masses of men have their interests affected, it is easy to express an opinion; but when you come to scrutinize particular instances in which individuals have been brought before a judicial tribunal for an offence of which they were supposed to be guilty, and begin to discuss the value of the evidence and the justice of the sentence, this House, even in cases which occur in this country, feels a disinclination to pronounce a decision; because, whatever opinion we may entertain upon the general view of the matter, so much depends on the details of the evidence, which can only be judged accurately by the tribunal adjudicating upon the case, that it is exceedingly difficult for the House to be very satisfied that any opinion they may give will be right. With regard to this particular case, our Ambassador at St. Petersburg was instructed by my noble Friend to make inquiries, in order to ascertain the history of the case. Of course, he could only institute those inquiries with great delicacy and forbearance; and he was informed that these persons, whether rightly or not I do not pretend to Mr. T. G. Baring

to sit



Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."

MR. ELLICE (St. Andrew's) said, he wished to bring to the attention of the House the fact that a clause in the Piers and Harbours Act Amendment Bill, which had been defeated by a considerable majority, was re-introduced totidem verbis in this measure. That clause gave to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests the same power of interfering in relation to works connected with existing harbours as was properly enjoyed by the President of the Board of Trade. Communications had taken taken place between himself and the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouverie), and the result was that the Government consented to withdraw this and another clause; but now a clause was introduced which would have the effect of directly reversing the decision of the House. This re-introduction of the clause seemed to him rather sharp practice; and if technical reasons had compelled the President of the Board of Trade to make the proposition anew, he ought to have called attention to the point on the second reading of the Bill, and not have exposed the

« PreviousContinue »