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Earl Fitzwilliam said, that if ever there may one day be abolished and forgotten. was a time when we should revert to the
« PONSONBY, sure practice of wisdom and moderation,
“ HOLLAND." it was the present. The principle of confiscation was the principle acted upon by Slave Trade Limiting Bill.] July 5. the revolutionary tyrants of France. If On the order of the day for going into a plunder of property was looked forward committee on the Bill"" to prohibit the to by domestic traitors, we should be cau- trading for Slaves on the Coast of Africa, tious of setting the example. They could within certain Limits," not be more gratified than by having the The Duke of Clarence said: - My doctrine of confiscation acknowledged lords; When contemplating the vast imand established ; from thence they would portance of the present question, I feel endeavour to draw a justification of their concerned and perplexed that it should own views. Seeing it in this light, he fall to my lot to open a discussion of such could not assent to the present bill
. Be- magnitude. The noble secretary of state sides, he conceived it incapable of reme- has frequently thrown out the idea, that dying the evil it was expected to cure. the delay originated with those peers who If the duke of Orleans was not to be de. had taken a decided part against the bill. terred by such considerations, what weight If professional knowledge and local excould they be expected to have with per- perience have extended the examination sons of little comparative interest ? at the bar to a length that may, in
The House divided : Contents, 8; Not- the opinion of some noble lords, have contents, 4.
been much more than what was satis
factory, I, for one, plead guilty. It Protest against the Forfeiture for High was my wish, by the most minute research, Treason Bill.] The following Protest to produce such a body of evidence as was entered on the Journals :
would convince your lordships of the rec“ Dissentient,
titude and policy of those with whom I 1. “ Because this statute, which it is have the happiness to act. To persons so by this bill proposed to make perpetual, well acquainted with the history of this appears to us to be unjust and impolitic, country as your lordships, it would be and contrary to the mild spirit of the laws great presumption on my part to engage of England unjust, because it reduces your attention, by a detailed account of to poverty and ruin children for the the African trade carried on by the Eucrimes of their ancestors ; impolitic, be- ropean nations; suffice it to say, that in cause, instead of healing the divisions 1442, the Portuguese began it. In 1471, and animosity occasioned by civil war, it the Portuguese built the first forts on the tends to make them continue.--It appears Gold Coast, and had 37 vessels in the trade. to us to be contrary to the express decla- In 1502, the Spaniards commenced the ration of Magna Charta, which says, that same trade; and in 1517, Charles V no person shall be disinherited or deprived allowed the Portuguese to furnish Hispaof his franchises unless he be heard in his niola, Cuba, Jamaica, and Porto Rico, defence; for in, this case we disinherit with 4,000 slaves annually. That able napersons who cannot be heard, and who vigator, Hawkins, in 1562, first sailed to have committed no crime.
Sierra Leone ; and at that time the Afri2. “ Because it does not appear that can trade was considered of such imporany urgent necessity calls for the imme- tance in this country, that queen Elizadiate adoption of this law at this late pe- beth, the ensuing year, sent Hawkins to riod of the session, when it cannot re- trade there. He gives an account of their ceive the due consideration which a ques. barbarity, and states, that the people .tion of this sort deserves, and when the were at that time mere slaves. He also attendance is so thin in this House, mentions, that he found the French trad
3. “ Because we have the satisfaction ing in that quarter of the world; so that of thinking it is not necessary for the even so early as the latter part of the sixpreservation of his majesty, whose throne teenth century, the different nations of cannot be more secure by severe penal Europe that had possessions in the West statutes: we therefore will not agree to Indies, considered the slave trade as abdestroy the hope which sir William solutely necessary for the existence of Blackstone exultingly says our posterity these colonies. It is said that queen Elimay entertain, that corruption of blood zabeth gave the first charter, and I believe the fact. In 1618, James 1st granted a peace. Queen Anne, in her speech of charter to sir Robert Rich and others. June 6th, 1712, says, “ the apprehension In 1631, Charles 1st granted another ; but that Spain and the West Indies might be the troubles opened the trade till 1660. united to France, was the chief induceThe dreadful events of the civil war, ment to begin this war; and the effectual during the latter part of the reign of the preventing of such a union was the prinunfortunate Charles, and the ca of ciple I laid down at the commencement of the island of Jamaica, during the protec- this treaty. The division of the island of torate of Cromwell, are historical facts St. Christopher between us and the well known to your lordships. But even French, having been the cause of great these calamities did not annihilate the inconveniency and damage to my subtrade. Upon the capture of Jamaica, jects, I have demanded to have an absoCromwell promised to send a supply of lute cession made to us of that whole isAfricans; and highly requisite indeed it land; and France agrees to this demand. was, for the British settlers would not un. But the part which we have borne in prodertake to cultivate the lands in Jamaica, secuting this war entitling us to some unless encouraged and protected by this distinction in the terms of peace, I have promise of the usurper. To confirm the insisted and obtained, that the assiento or settlers in their opinion of that necessity, contract for furnishing the Spanish West those of Barbadoes had, by fatal experi. Indies with negroes, shall be made with ence, ascertained the impossibility of us for the term of thirty years, in the carrying on labour in tropical climates by same manner as it has been enjoyed by whites. In 1662, Charles 2nd granted a the French for these ten years past." new charter to the African Company ; his After these pertinent quotations, I need brother, the duke of York, was at the scarcely farther impress on the minds of head of it. In 1665, the company's fac- ny auditors the vast importance of the tors settled at Jamaica. In 1672, another West India settlements. The treaty to African company was formed, the king supply the Spaniards with 4,800 negroes himself, the duke of York, prince Rupert, annually, lasted till 1750. Upon the with others, appeared as the patrons, and peace of 1763, the assiento contract was many of high rank, amongst whom was not renewed; and Mr. Burke wrote in the the celebrated Mr. Locke. In 1688, the strongest manner against the impolicy of revolution put an end to the company, the peace of 1763, because this country because all monopolies were contrary to not only neglected to supplythe Spaniards, its spirit and principles. In 1698, the but even the French, with negroes; and first assiento contract was entered into in 1765, upon the change of adminiswith the Spaniards, and encouraged by tration, he in his first free-port act, king William. In the same year the and which has continued to be adopted famous act was passed, " for the protection by the government down to the present of that trade, and for the advantage of moment. It may, be thought singular, England, and the preservation of its colo- that in the latter part of Mr. Burke's nies.” This act is considered by the life, he should have voted for an aboli. West Indians as their birth-right. Now, tion of the slave trade; but in his chamy lords, who were the men that passed racter, like that of many other great this famous act? They were those illus- men, there are several shades irrecontrious characters, who secured to this cileable with the prominent features. I country the happiness of the constitution perfectly well remember, that when I under which we now live. During the thought it my duty as a member of parlatter part of king William, and the whole liament to take a decided part in this imof the reign of queen Anne, the parlia- portant business, I had occasion to menment from 1707 to 1713, are records to tion to the right hon. gentleman his change support the trade. Your lordships may of sentiments. He acknowledged that recollect the war of succession, carried on my observation was just, as referring to in the reign of queen Anne, and that the his former conduct; and emphatically treaty of Utrecht was the consequence of concluded" my own words must rise that war. The commissioners appointed up in judgment against me.” I recur to by her majesty for the peace, were the this great and enlightened authority for earl of Strafford and the bishop of Win the rectitude of my position; and if in chester. In their instructions, the assi- the vale of life he chose to deviate from ento, contract was one of the articles of his previous principles, sanctioned by years and fortified by experience, I have were taken up by the Sierra Leone comyet to learn the cause of his conversion. pany, to be transplanted as a colony on · But we shall, my lords, take a more their part of the African shore. Can minute survey. At the very moment in your lordships be surprised, that with all which I address your lordships, the state the logical arguments of Mr. Stevens, the of the African trade is thus: 183 vessels, learned counsel should be obliged to admeasuring · 49,065 tons, navigated by mit, that the imports from the establish6,276 seamen. Having given this account ment of the colony of Africa is 4,0001. per of the African trade, and brought it down annum, while their expense is 10,0001. to the present moment, I beg leave to call Your lordships will observe, that the your attention to the Sierra Leone com- Sierra Leone company set out with a pany, who are the petitioners in favour of capital of 250,0001. ; that Mr. Stevens has This bill. Mr. Stevens has informed us, laboured to prove, that at present they that the object of the company was not so are worth 50,0001., though I have the much that of commerce, as a total and strongest reason to believe that they are complete abolition. While I bestow en not worth more than 30,000l. By Mr. comiums on the power of the honesty of Stevens's own account, there is an annual his avowal, I implore your particular at- deficit of 6,0001. a year; so that these tention, to the interest of the West-India great and flourishing colonists, as they merchants and planters, who adventure in wish to be thought, must shortly dissolve colonial commerce, on the solemn pledge partnership, or continue trade at an imand honour of the British government. mense loss. From what I have submitted to your Considering the manuer in which this lordslips, it is evident that the traffic in investigation has been carried on by those slaves is congenial with the manners, laws, noble peers who support the bill, I am and customs of Africa. No wonder, confident that if Mr. Mungo Park had therefore, that the chiefs, princes, and the been favourable to the abolition of this different native powers of that country, trade, he would have been brought to should set their faces against the new your lordships bar. I am, therefore, not settlers at Sierra Leone. Mr. Dawes a little surprised to hear Mr. Stevens and Mr. Macaulay, the only'two evidences quote certain pages in Mr. Park's very produced at the bar in favour of the bill, excellent work. And nothing could so are men of the most accommodating me- completely refute Mr. Stevens's different mories. Mr. Dawes, does not recollect quotations, as the simple, but elegant and what both these gentlemen chose to call forcible passage, quoted from the same the Nova Scotia blacks. These blacks author, by my valuable and learned friend, were slaves in the American colonies, and Mr. Law. The interior of Africa is at promised their freedom by royal procla- best but very little known to Europeans; mation, upon condition of serving the nor indeed can it be a matter of astonishwhole war with the army. On the peace ment, when, with one exception or two, of 1783, these negroes were carried to the only occasions on which that coast has the remaining part of the British settle- been visited by Europeans, were for the ments in North America, where the go- purposes of traffic; and it is well known, vernment of this country, with great libe- that on such adventures, the whole time rality, gave them tools and utensils for of the merchants and masters of vessels is the erection of houses and the cultivation occupied by, objects of commerce. But of their lands; in addition to these cherish- it is to me highly gratifying, that the uning acts, they were also supplied the first digested and simple account, presented at year with twelve months provisions; the your lordships bar by the African mersecond year with a sufficiency for six chants, agrees with the statement of Mr. months; and the third year with what Park, relative to the intended prohibited, would answer for three months consump. district. It is therefore but fair to pretion. But in this instance, the fostering sume, that had Mr. Park, or any other hand of government was stretched out in impartial traveller, visited the other parts vain; these negroes, after the wanton con of the slave coasts, the evidence produced sumption of the provisions so humanely upon the general investigation by the Afribestowed upon them, sold their utensils of can merchants, would have proved equally husbandry, relapsed into a state of idle. true and correct. For the sake of humaness and dissipation, and by various stra- nity, therefore, my lords, this trade ought tagems arrived in this country, where they to continue; for how many millions of lives have been saved in the kingdom of|tures bartered for a ton of ivory. It is a Dahomy; and how much bloodshed has very specious, though a very fallacious been spared amongst the wretched and argument, in support of the idea intended miserable victims in that quarter of the to be impressed upon your lordships globe, thus rescued from the knife!—Mr. minds by the friends of the bill, that the Macaulay has given a very minute account slave trade is not so materially an object on the subject of kidnapping, in which he with the natives, as that of other producdoes not dare to insinuate that the British tions in Africa. Mr. Macaulay and Mr. trader is indirectly concerned. As for Dawes are obliged to admit, that the wars being the cause of slavery, it is | ivory brought down to the markets is proved by Mr. Park, that whether upon suspended upon the backs of the slaves the coast or the interior, so far from that for sale, and, consequently, that it cannot being favourable to the slave trade, in be brought down from the interior in any either situation the trade for the time is other manner : from my own experience, utterly suspended ! therefore it is not the amongst the Indians in North America, interest of the British trader to encourage the use of any beast to carry burthens is wars amongst the natives.
equally as unknown as in Africa. The In all climates, where food is easily ob- reason I take to be the same with the Intained, cultivation is little attended to. dians as with the Africans, namely, that Mr. Park bears strong testimony to that the conveyance is water-carriage ; and fact. For having been in the East Indies, that the Africans, as well as the North on mentioning to the inhabitants of the American Indians, have only a few carry. interior of Africa the advantageous uses to ing places between their great water comwhich the elephant and bullock are ap-munication : therefore, it is evident that plied on that continent, the natives laugh- these goods, bartered in lieu of ivory, are ed at him, and observed, that the only only carried short distances by men, and beast of burthen was the ass. Whenever transported chiefly by water. Far be it a famine arises in any country where cul- from me, my lords, to draw any insidious tivation is little known, the consequences inference from the evidence of Mr. must indeed be fatal : and during dearths, Macaulay or Mr. Dawes, relative to gruMr. Park mentions several instances of the mattees, or domestic slaves employed by natives selling themselves for food. As the colony, notwithstanding that the for crimes being the cause of slavery in charter does not permit such a conduct, Africa, it is, my lords, even no more than directly or indirectly; but slavery is so the law of this country; for what are the congenial to the laws, habits, and customs convicts that are annually transported to of Africa, that even Mr. Park was not Botany Bay but slaves? The last cause able to distinguish the freeman from the of slavery in Africa, is the crime of witch- slave. craft. Now, though this country has I do not wish to make any wrong imbeen for many centuries under the benign pression on the minds of your lordships ; influence of christianity, at the close of but a man less suspicious than myself the last century, people were tried and might have good grounds for insinuating, convicted of witchcraft. Can your lord that some members of the Sierra Leone ships, therefore, be astonished, that the company view, with an envious eye, the wild, ferocious, and ignorant African, advantageous traffic now carried on beshould frequently consider persons guilty tween the African and British trader. If of a communication with evil spirits? the grand object of the company, like -I have heard that the staple commodity every other commercial association, be of Africa is slaves. Every other article gain rather than loss, I have a right to of commerce, even including ivory, is think that some of the members lament very small; and many of these articles, it their exclusion from the slave trade. If has been satisfactorily proved at your there be no cause for this suspicion, why lordships bar, have lain upon the hands of molest and annoy the British trader in the merchants of this country at a consi- the exercise of that traffic, sanctioned for derable loss. It has been stated by Mr. such a long series of years by custom and Macaulay and Mr. Dawes, that the grumat- by parliament ? Surveying the subject in tees, or domestic slaves, who attend the this view, I have a right to maintain, that caravans of slaves down te the coast, the British legislature, on the passing of must be in great numbers, in order to the act for incorporating and establishing carry back the different British manufac- the Sierra Leone company, renewed and
confirmed all thelr former acts in favour | miserable and devoted wretches experiof the slave trade. So tender was the ence for the gratification of their Mahoparliament of 1790, about the acknow- medan and Eastern masters. And here ledged right of the British trader to Africa, I have a right to draw a contrast between that fearful of affecting the interest of the the humanity of the West India traders, West India merchants and planters, by and the atrocity of those now described. the monopoly or prohibition of the slave in one case, we find the milk of human trade, they cautiously introduced in the kindness : in the other, acts of turpitude bill, for the establishment of the Sierra and violence which outrage the sensibiliLeone company, the following protecting ties of nature, and mortify and disgrace clause : “ Provided also, that it shall not mankind. The Portuguese transport be lawful for the said company, either 40,000 annually to the Brazils. The directly or indirectly, to deal or traffic in French, previous to the revolution, supthe buying or selling of slaves, or in any plied their own islands with negroes from matter whatsoever to have, hold, appro- the eastward of the Cape of Good Hope. priate, or employ any person or persons, The Portuguese and native merchants in in a state of slavery, in the service of the India, carry on at this time the slave trade said company.” In another part of the through Bombay. Since that period, a same law is a clause, expressly “ securing tax has been laid upon the importation of the British merchants to Africa from the negroes into that place by British meroperations of the act.” What am I to chants. I dare say, the East India comconclude from this protecting clause, but pany were actuated by the most laudable that the wisdom of parliament, penetrating motives, when they imposed a duty upon into futurity, had resolved that all the the importation of negroes in British botformer acts of the legislature should be toms; but with all deference to that rerespected and confirmed beyond the pos- spectable association, I think it a matter sibility of a doubt? I confess my asto- of great national importance, seriously to nishment at the presumption of the men consider, how far it is prudent to encour. calling themselves the Sierra Leone com- age not only the Portuguese, but even pany. They audaciously appear at your the native powers, in efforts for the im. lordships bar, and arrogantly insinuate, provement of navigation, and the consethat you are incapable of deciding on the quent increase of seamen, in seas so remerits or demerits of an important case of remote from our home possessions. And legislation. On the ill-founded plea of here, my lords, I wish to remark, that this humanity, they desire you to relinquish observation arises from pure motives of your colonial wealth, the sinews of our patriotism, as I am fearful of impolicy commercial existence, and sink into insig- and danger from such rival powers, when nificance and contempt in the eyes of usurping and armed with the authority of Europe and the world, by the adoption the moment. Permit me, my lords, to ilof their new system of philosophy and lustrate these observations by some addi. humanity. They call upon you to dis- tional truths. It is a fact, well known to franchise the West India merchants and every British officer of the army and navy planters, to depopulate Liverpool, and who has been at Gibraltar, that the emto deprive some thousands of industrious peror of Morocco has a very large black and respectable men of their birth-right army within his dominions, the number of as British subjects.
which he regularly maintains by sending It has been falsely asserted, that Eu- down armed moors to bring away, by ropean nations only carry on the slave force, the negroes from their wives and trade with Africa. "Even Mr. Stevens al families, without the advantage of barter, lows, that blacks are carried into Turkey, and without the most distant respect to for the purposes of state, of luxury, and the customs and manners of the Africans. even for the seraglios of Mahometans. I shall conclude my remarks on Africa As to the fact, I will admit that gentleman with the memorable words of Mr. Park: to be right; but he is erroneous as to “ Such are the general outlines of that numbers; for, my lords, the numbers an- system of slavery which prevails in Africa; nually transported by the Eastern chan- and it is evident from its nature and ex. nels to Turkey, to Egypt, to Russia, and tent, that it is a system of no modern date. to the East Indies, are immense. I will It probably had its origin with remote not shock your lordships minds by the ages of antiquity before the Mahomedans horrid cruelties and barbarities which the explored a path across the desert. How