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a later despatch (given below) of Lord Salisbury, the Foreign Secretary, which led to the repeal of the Ordinance. The despatch has a further importance as exhibiting the existing constitutional attitude of the country towards slavery, or towards what the Government apprehend may be interpreted as slavery. Before the promulgation of the Ordinance,—that is, on the 9th of September, 1878,—Sir Garnet Wolseley, writing to Lord Salisbury, says: 'I would propose to discuss this 'matter in the Legislative Council, and, acting upon 'the advice of the three island members, to bring out a 'law upon the subject, taking care in no way to inter'fere with the farming operations. I should not like 'to discuss the subject at Council unless I was assured 'that the Ministry would consent to the general prin'ciple involved, namely, of insisting upon the people 'supplying labour for public works of general utility— 'a principle which is acted upon in India, and, I believe, * in all Eastern countries. Under the Turkish law 'every man is obliged to give to the public a certain 'number of days' work on the roads—twenty consecutive 'days' work every five years—during the period exfcend'ing from the 1st of May to the 1st of November of each 'year. Do you approve of my introducing a law with 'this object in view, or may I act on the Turkish law 'existing without any fresh legislation?'
On the 20th of March, 1879, Lord Salisbury writes as follows to Sir Garnet Wolseley:
'Foreign Office, March 20, 1879. 'I have received your despatches of December 17 'and February 3, inclosing to me an Ordinance on 'Public Works passeil by the Legislative Council of
Repeal of the Compulsory Labour Clause. 193
'Cyprus. In your despatch of December,17, you stated • that the Ordinance in question was one which would 'be seldom if ever brought into operation, implying 'that at that time you did not contemplate any imme'diate employment of the powers conferred by it. It 'did not seem, therefore, a matter of urgency to com'municate with you in respect to it, and it has been 'postponed to more pressing questions. Within the 'k»t two days, however, I have received information 'from a private source, to the effect that the Ordinance 'has been put into operation in one locality, and there'fore it is desirable that I should without further delay 'place you in possession of the views of Her Majesty's 'Government in regard to its provisions. On October '25, in reply to a semi-official communication from 'you, I sent to you a telegram, from which the follow'ing is an extract: "You may requisition labour either '" under old law or a new one, as you please. But we '" think punishment in default should be a fine on '" village and not fall on individuals; otherwise we shall '" be charged with setting up slavery." The Ordinance 'as it has actually passed, in so far as the greater part 'of it is concerned, is substantially in harmony with 'these instructions. One clause, however, in the Ordi'nance (the tenth) is not entirely in accordance with the 'principle laid down in my telegram of the 26th 'October. It provides that persons electing to con'tribute by way of labour instead of payment shall be 'compelled to perform the labour they have undertaken 'by imprisonment, if necessary. They are not forced 'to labour in the first instance; but they are forced to 'complete their tale of days' labour when they have 'once elected that their contribution shall be in the 'form of labour. Provisions as to forced labour for the 'construction and repair of public roads, &c, have 'been very generally introduced in the legislation of our 'North American, West Indian, and Eastern Colonies, 'as well as in India, and are not unknown to the laws 'of this country and of Scotland. If, therefore, this 'provision were to be judged merely by the precedents 'which are furnished by other of Her Majesty's posses'sions, no objection would betaken to the course which 'you have pursued. Nevertheless, Her Majesty's Govern'ment think it, on the whole, wiser to adhere, in the 'present instance, to the policy laid down in my telegram 'of October 25, and they do so on the grounds stated 'in that instruction. Any arrangement which would 'give the opportunity of imputing, however erroneously, 'to the English Government a practice which could be 'represented as being akin to slavery, might weaken its 'authority in dealing with neighbouring countries where 'slavery still exists. The geographical situation of 'Cyprus lends a special importance to this considera'tion. An equally cogent reason is to be found in the 'circumstance, that in executing any law of this kind, 'your Excellency will be compelled to rely on the in'strumentality of agents who have not been trained 'under an English Government. I have to request you 'therefore, at an early meeting of your Legislative 'Council, to propose the repeal of so much of the tenth 'clause as sanctions the use of imprisonment for the 'purpose of" compelling the performance of labour. The 'person absenting himself from work, after electing to 'make his contribution in labour, should, of course, still 'remain liable for a moderate pecuniary penalty im'posed upon him for failing to fulfil his engagement.'
T/ie Fugitive-Slave Circulars. 195
That the public feeling of the country and the current interpretation of the Constitution are still able to present a vigorous and effective reaction against the reintroduction of slavery, or the patronage of the system of slavery in any form, was manifested in the course of the years 1875 and 1876, on the occasion of the Admiralty attempting, through the medium of what became known as the 'Fugitive Slave Circulars,' to deny to slaves escaping on board one of Her Majesty's ships within the territorial waters of a slave-holding Power so much as even a temporary right of asylum. The first of these Circulars was issued on August 21, 1875, and among other things, it peremptorily directed officers in command of Her Majesty's ships that a fugitive slave, in the case alluded to,' must not be allowed to 'remain on board after it has been proved to the satis'faction of the officer in command that he is legally a 'slave.' Another Circular, modifying the severe terms of the first, was subsequently issued, in deference to the strong expression of public opinion which had been elicited. A Royal Commission was then appointed to ascertain the state of the law, and the consequence was the final substitution of a Circular of a wholly different and innocuous kind. It is to be noticed that the public objection was not grounded on any supposed moral or legal duty binding on all officers in command of Her Majesty's ships to recognise an absolute right of asylum in all slaves taking refuge from their masters on the adjoining territory, but on the generality of the direction that in no case was the officer to grant an asylum, and the implication in the presence of foreign Powers to the effect that for the purpose of retaining fugitive slaves Her Majesty's ships in foreign ports had no
longer, as they were believed to have, all the privileges of British territory. The inconvenience also of imparting to naval officers a judicial character, for the purpose of determining the 'legality' of a condition which both the English Constitution and English traditions of the most unmistakable sort combine to abhor, was too obvious to stand a few moments' popular criticism, and still less the searching ordeal of a Royal Commission.
The principle of extending the authority of the British Government beyond the territorial limits of the British dominions has been recognised in the case of India by the Acts of 1861, 1865, and 1869.1 The Act of 1861 enables the Governor-General in Council to make 'laws and regulations for all persons, whether 'British or native, foreigners or others, and for all 'Courts of Justice whatever, and for all places and 'things whatever, within the Indian territories now 'under the dominion of Her Majesty, and for all ser'vants of the Government of India within the domi'nions of Princes and States in alliance with Her 'Majesty.' The Act of 1865 enables the GovernorGeneral of India in Council to make laws and regulations for all British subjects of Her Majesty within the dominions of Princes and States in India in alliance with Her Majesty, whether in the service of the Government of India or otherwise. The Act of 1869 enables the Governor-General in Council to make 'laws and 'regulations for all persons, being native Indian subjects 'of Her Majesty, without and beyond, as well as within 'the Indian territories of Her Majesty.'
1 24 and 25 Vict. cap. 67; 28 Vict. cap. 17 ; 32 and 33 Vict. cap. 07.