Bernardo de Sá Nogueira de Figueiredo Sá da Bandeira.

The slave trade and Lord Palmerston's bill online

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Another fact is, the claim made upon the Portuguese Govern-
ment for the immediate payment of the amount owing for the main-
tenance of the English Auxiliary Legion, which was lent to Portu-
gal in 1827 ; a sum which the noble Lord did not attempt to pro-
cure from the Government of Don Miguel.

Of the same kind are the greater part of the pecuniary claims of
British subjects, exacted by the noble Lord, which are devoid of
any just foundation, either in the treaties existing between the two
countries, or in the universal principles of the laws of nations ; in
addition to which, the noble Lord, without any previous consulta-
tion with the Portuguese Government, and, consequently, of his own
will, had decided upon some of the claims preferred, thus (as it
would seem) arrogating to himself the extraordinary power of im-
posing forced contributions on an independent and friendly state.



(1 ) The Mirror of Parliament, — Debates of the House of Commons, 1 1 ih July,
1831.



19

Claims, such as many of these are, of sums not due or liquidated,
thus preremptorily exacted, resemble, if obtained, a veritable spoli-
ation, aggravated also by the knowledge which the noble Lord must
have of the exhausted state of the Portuguese finances.

If these and other facts furnish presumptive evidence of the noble
TiOrd's hostile spirit towards the interests of Portugal, his language
both in his official correspondence, and in his place in Parliament,
tends no less to give credit to the supposition ; language very dif-
ferent from that employed by the noble Lord in the parliamentary
debates occasioned by the capture of the English ship Vixefi, by the
Russian cruisers in the Black Sea; by the question of the territorial
boundaries of the LTnited States, and the British Province of New
Brunswick; and that between Great Britain and France respecting
the trade in Gum Copal on the coast of Africa, near to Portendic ;
in which debates he made use oFnone of that opprobrious language
towards the Governments with which England had disputes, as he
did in the case of Portugal.

In fact, it does not appear that the noble Lord has kept in view
the preservation of that spirit of mutual sympathy, friendship, and
benevolence, which for so many centuries has existed between Great
Britain and Portugal, cemented by long alliance and numerous
treaties, and manifested during many a stubborn fight, in which the
banners of the two countries have floated side by side with each
other. It would, nevertheless, be productive of much mutual benefit
that this spirit of friendship and benevolence should be preserved
and respected between the two nations.

The Government of Portugal was placed in the following dilemma
— either to accept, without discussion, the proposed treaty, dictated
by Lord Palmerston, to subscribe to conditions hurtful to Portugal,
and thus to incur disgrace with the Portuguese nation, — or, to reject
the treaty, and thus expose itself to loss of reputation in the eyes of
Great Britain and of the civilized world.

This is proved by the speech of Lord Palmerston, and by the dis-
patch which, under date of the loth February, 1839, (1) was for-
warded to him by Lord Howard, in wliich, referring to the hypo-
thesis of the treaty not being accepted, he mentions having informed
me . . . . " That Portugal would be denounced by all the civilized
" world, as the protection of Slave Traders, and the abettor of the
" Slave Trade ; that in the British Parliament the strongest measures
" adopted against Portugal would be hailed with acclamation, while
" speeches there pronounced, most injurious to the character of the
" Government and of the nation, would go forth to all parts of the
"world unanswered; that he and his friends might cry out and
" declaim against us in reply as much as they liked in the Cortes ;
" that nothing they said would be heard of or read out of Portugal."



(1) Vide Class B. {Further Series) pag. 48.

D



20

These threats were realized by the speeches of liord Palmerston
and others.

Lord Howard de Walden, after his return to Lisbon, had several
conferences with me, in which the negotiations were continued for
the suppression of the Slave Trade, and a few extracts of what passed
at these conferences, taken from the correspondence of Lord Howard
with Lord Palmerston, (1) will also show that the Portuguese Go-
vernment was ready to sign the treaty previously negotiated.

On the 26fh N'ovember the British Plenipotentiary wrote that he
had had a conference with me, and that I, evincing a strong repug-
nance to the proposed treaty presented by Mr. Jerningham, declared
to him my " readiness to conclude a treaty for the object of rendering
" the abolition of the Slave Trade effective, but added, that it must
" however be such as was suitable to the dignity of the nation. He
" then declared his willingness to sign the treaty in the shape it was
" left by me in May last, abandoning for the present the proposed ad-
" ditional or secret Article, leaving this object to be treated apart."

On the \st December, the noble Lord wrote that he had a confer-
ence with me, and that on proposing to enter into an examination
of the treaty presented by Mr. Jerningham, I objected to doing so,
stating that I " was ready to renew the negociation on the project
" of treaty, as it stood on his departure for Lisbon ; but that, in
" consequnce of the declaration, in the name of Her Majesty's Go-
" vernment, with which the last project had been accompanied, it
" was impossible for me to negotiate upon the latter." (2)

On the 24th January, 1839, the same Minister wrote to his Govern-
ment, that he had Informed me that " he had no authority to make
" any concesssion whatever on the last points of difference." (3)

On the 2]st Febi-uary, referring to a conference with me, he wrote
thus : " His Excellency then said that, to prove his anxious desire to
" bring to a termination all such differences as had been referred to,
" he had considered how the main difficulties in the way of the con-
" elusion of a suitable treaty for the suppression of the Slave Trade
" could be brought about, and he showed me some notes he had
" made on the various principal points. The proposed guarantee of
" the safety of the colonial possessions, required by Portugal, to be
" reduced to a general engagement of naval assistance, from the

*' Cape of Good Hope, to be afforded in case of emergency

" The Viscount de Sas counter project (that which was signed by
" Lord Howard) to be admitted as the basis." (4)



(1 ) Vide Class B. pag. 331,2.

(2) Ibid, Class B. pag 335.

(3) Ibid, Class B. {Further Series) p. 40.

(4) Vide Class B. {Further Series) p. .'>3-4.



21

And he adds, " On reading; these memoranda, I at once told the
" Viscount de Sfi, tliat such propositions were utterly inadmissible;
" that I could not now open any fresh negotiation as to terms;. . . .
" that I could make no alteration in the i)roject which had been
"submitted to the Portuguese (Government; and that, if a treaty
" was to be signed by me, it must be in strict conformity to the draft
" in his Excellency's possession." ( 1 )

These facts render it evident —

1. That at the time when I held the Office of Secretary of State
for Foreign Affairs, the Portuguese Government was prepared to
sign the treaty negotiated between me and Lord Howard ; to modify
that treaty, and even to set aside the additional article, to be dis-
cussed separately, after the treaty should have been concluded.

The same disposition existed also in the administration of the
Baron da Ribeira de Sabrosa, as appears by the papers which have
been published.

2. That Lord Howard not only did not accept that proposition,
but declared most positively that he would not sign any treaty which
was not in strict conformity with the draft sent from London, and
drawn up there.

It appears a necessary deduction from all this, that the British
Government had no desire to conclude the treaty. Without staying
to inquire into the motives for such a proceeding, I may here state,
that the non-conclusion of the treaty has already furnished a pretext
for the British Government to legislate for the subjects of Portugal.
Time must show by what other motives the noble Secretary of Slate
was actuated, w hen in the same Parliament, he made use of that
pretext to endeavour to render the Portuguese nation and Govern-
ment odious in the eyes of the civilized world.

In the despatch already cited, of the 21st February, 1839, ad-
dressed to Lord Palmerston by Lord Howard de Walden, he
says (2)

" In concluding my report on the long conversations I have had
" lately with the Viscount de S4 da Bandeira, I think it right to
" state, that I look upon them as entirely without any practical re-
" suit, as I consider his Excellency to be controlled by some over-
" whelming influence."

The noble Lord at various times wrote in the same strain, and on
one occasion he said, that the non-conclusion of the treaty was ow-
ing to my deference to . ..." the interest taken in the continu-
ance of the Slave Trade by some of my political adherents." (3)



(1) Ibid, Class B. {Further Series) p. 54.

(2) Ibid, Class tt. [Further Series) p. 54.

(3) Vide Class B, page 337



22

In another despatch he expresses himself thus: " I do not attri-
" bute to the Viscount de Sd da Bandeira the desire to protect the
" Slave Trade : as 1 believe him to be impressed with a high idea
"of the value and resources of the African colonies of Portugal;
" and that, if well directed, on the abolition of the depopulating
" system of exportation of negroes, they might be made to replace
" to the mother country the loss of the Brazils. I am however con-
" vinced, that delay is now the object of Viscount de Sa, in order
" to relieve himself from daily persecution from those who, through
" active intrigue, are opposing the abolition of the Slave Trade ;
" and that he thinks he can in some measure conciliate certain par-
" ties, whom he looks upon as still important politically, by al-
" lowing them a somewhat longer period for their transactions, pre-
" vious to cutting off the source of extensive advantages to them, the
" loss of which might provoke vindictive hostility, inconvenient to
" the Government during the ensuing elections." (I)

This idea was also expressed to me personally, by Lord Howard,
on more than one occasion ; to which I replied that no one had
ever said a single word to me during our negociation, either for or
against the subject; that I was not acquainted with an individu-
al in Portugal, who was engaged in the trade ; that even the Bri-
tish Government, which had been so strongly solicited to forward
accusations to the Portuguese Government against certain persons
in its employment out of Portugal, had not till then manifested any
suspicion on such grounds, against any individual resident in
Portugal.

That the only suspicion manifested by the British Government
had reference to a Society which appeared to exist among some
foreign persons, established in Lisbon and elsewhere.

And that therefore, whatever had been said in that respect, either
to Lord Howard, or to Lord Palmerston, was false: as would be
evident to both of them, if they reflected on what 1 had done against
the Slave Trade, and that there had never been a minister of the
Crown in Portugal, who hud more perseveringly opposed it than I
had done. And I remarked, as a proof that I had no intentions in
favor of the dealers in slaves, that in 1835 I proposed in the Cham-
ber of Peers, of which I was a member, the total abolition of the
Slave Trade.

That while minister, in 1836, I proposed the decree of the 10 De-
cember, imposing severe penalties on slave dealers, to which her
Majesty the Queen was pleased to affix her royal signature, and
which was countersigned by all the ministers.

That I had also myself recommended to the Portuguese Consuls,
and to the Governors of Colonies, the literal execution of the decree



(2) Vide Class li, page 183.



23

of the 16th January, 1837, which defines what vessels were to be
considered Portuguese.

That it was by the Office of the Secretary of State for Foreign
Affairs, over which I presided, that the Portuguese Consul at the
Havana had been dismissed, and the exequator of the Danish Con-
sul at Cape Verd withdrawn, in consequence of their having con-
nived at that infamous traffic.

That it was myself who had issued the most positive instructions
to the Commanders of the Portuguese men-of-war for the strict exe-
cution of the decree of the 10th December, 183


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