to Mr. Fish.
Lisbon, July 15, 1875. (Received August 12.)
Sir: The debate which took place in the British House of Commons on the 8th instant, on the African slave trade, in which Mr. Bourke re-ferried to the effective co-operation of the Portuguese government in the suppression of this disgraceful and inhuman traffic, gives me an opportunity of briefly referring to the action of this country in this respect. I have much pleasure in saying that the government is in earnest in its endeavors to put down this trade, and that the governors of its colonies on both the east and west coasts of Africa have been directed to use their best efforts to that end. Not long since the governor of Mozambique asked for naval aid to enable him to assist in suppressing the traffic then being surreptitiously carried on by Arabs along that coast; and not only was this request granted to the fullest extent of the naval power of the government, but, in one important instance, where he had spontaneously permitted British vessels of war to follow slavers into the creeks and bays of the colony, his action was cordially approved.[Page 1012]
It is true that this proceeding was exceptional, and its frequent repetition would be sure to result, sooner or later, in a violation of national jurisdiction; but it resulted in important captures, and in the discomfiture of the slavers in that part of the world, to the extent of the partial destruction of their nefarious trade.
I have heretofore reported to you the condition and force of the Portuguese navy, and it is to the credit of the government that out of the vessels which compose it, a fair number, and those the most effective for the purpose, are engaged in lending aid to put down the slave-trade in the seas adjacent to Mozambique and the other Portuguese colony in that direction.
This action is in harmony with the spirit of the act passed by the Cortes, in March last, for the emancipation of the people known as freed-men; and gives proof that the Portuguese government is in earnest in its purpose to destroy the slave-trade wherever it can reach it.
I have, &c.,