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for the termination of the Slave trade, or selfish as to desire even so beneficial a by his assertion, that if it were now a boon at the expense of their fellow question, whether the Slave trade should creatures in Africa ; and the heart shudbe, for the first time, established, he ders to conceive what must be the state would be the man to oppose it.
of Africa without the Slave trade." He now came to the arguments of some Really, if any stranger had come into the gentlemen who had been chiefly instru. House during that part of the debate, he mental in introducing into the debate that must have conceived that the West degree of novelty and variety, which Indians had been, petitioning to be rehad eminently distinguished this debate lieved from the burtlen of importing anfrom any other that he remembered nually vast numbers of dangerous, rebelupon the same subject. Not content. lious, unprincipled barbarians: and that ed with insisting, in the first place the hon. gentleman, as agent for Africa, that the declaration of the assembly of was stating to the House, in terms of the Jamaica, that they had no view to the ter- utmost pathos, the cruelty of depriving mination of the Slave trade, was to be ac- that country of so advantageous an excepted as a proof that they had the termi- port for its superfluous population. The nation of the Slave trade, constantly in British parliament must not be so hardtheir view and near their heart, not con- hearted. It must continue the traffic in tented with contending, that in limiting human beings, the commerce of flesh and the age of imported negroes, and adding blood, out of mere humanity. It was not to the salaries of the clergy of the island, indeed the first time that the inhabitants the assembly of Jamaica had done all that of Africa had been the victims of humahuman wit could devise, and all that hu- nity. The first importation of them into man legislation could enact, towards the the West Indies was traced to a good accomplishing the purposes of the friends Spanish bishop, who obtained the title of of the abolition : the gentlemen who had Friend of the Indians, by proposing to contended against the motion, had added import negroes to relieve the native inhato these ingenious arguments another and bitants of America from the toil with a broader and still bolder one, which, if it which their new inmates overwhelmed be true, leaves very little room to question them. But the hon. gentleman went be. and very little reason to care, whether yond the Spanish bishop in humanity; the either of the other statements be true bishop began the Slave trade for the ador false; namely, that for the sake of vantage of the native inhabitants of the Africa the Slave trade ought to be con- West Indies; the hon. gentleman would tinued. And to illustrate and adorn this continue it, for the benefit of Africa, even topic, the hon. gentlemen had availed though the present inhabitants of the themselves of all those common places of West Indies were, as he said, averse to its humanity and philanthropy, all those ap- continuance. peals to the feelings of the House, which Next to the hon. gentleman, in kind have been usually supposed to belong to consideration for the unhappy natives of those who contended on the other side of Africa, came an hon. baronet (Sir W. the question, and upon which they (the Young), and an hon, gentleman (Mr. friends of the abolition) bad, by these pa- Dent), whom he classed together, because thetic reasoners themselves, in this very their iwo arguments, though in some dedebate, been accused of relying exclusively. gree contradictory to each other, made He appealed to the House, whether (when taken together) a complete dehe had not been right in ascribing the fence of the Slave trade system in all its character of novelty to a debate, in which parts. The hon. baronet took upon himall the topics of fine feelings were found self the defence of the system of treatforcibly enlisted on the side of the Slave ment in the islands : the hon. gentleman, trade. Ove hon. gentleman (Mr. Petrie), as connected with a slave trading town, had informed the House, that as a plan- | had to prove the propriety of the expor. ter, he was most anxious for the abolition tation from Africa. And this was the of the trade, but as a cosmopolite, as a way in which they went about it. " Slafriend of human nature and of the world very, according to the hon. baronet, was at large, he must oppose it. “ If you taken in a vulgar sense by those who would confer a boon on the West Indies," talked in so lamentable a strain upon the said the hon. gentleman, “ abolish the subject-the nature of slavery was not trade; but the West Indians are not so correctly understood-there was nothing in reality so afflicting or depressing in it. I found to prevent the dangers of African A state of slavery had produced great literature, except in the practical philosomen among the ancients. If gentlemen phy of the West Indies." The hon. barowould look into their Macrobius, they net had taken fire at an expressiou in the would find that half the ancient philoso- speech of his hon. friend, who had averred phers bad been slaves.” Such was the that the regulations for the better treathon. baronet's statement. Mr. Canning ment of slaves in the islands belongprofessed he was not so much surprised at ing. to Great Britain did not, even in it, as some gentlemen appeared to be. their present improved state, equal the When he had seen the word “ right” ap- Code Noire of the old French governplied in the manner in which it was ap- ment. The hon. baronet felt the utmost plied in the Jamaica address in describing indignation that the laws, by which the a system of oppression, cruelty, and ra- colonies of a free country were regulated, pine, he had guessed that its companion should be compared with any body of le“ philosophy" would not be far away. gislation emanating from an absolute moRight and Philosophy were the two sur- narchy. He might refer to the papers names of eyranny and injustice in the vo- upon the table, to prove that be the Code cabulary of French freedom: and the Noire of France as bad as the hon. barotransition from that system of freedom net was desirous it should be thought, the to the system of absolute and abject sla- laws in the English West Indies had, at very, was no violent or unnatural transi- least, been found as susceptible of amend. tion.
ment: he might refer the hon. baronet But wbile thé hon. baronet was crying to the maimings, and mutilations, the up the philosophy of slavery on the one scourges, and spiked collars, the use of hand, how did it happen that the hon. which was prohibited or regulated by the gentleman (Mr. Dent) could reconcile papers upon the table. But as he really his feelings to such a mode of reasoning? wished to avoid any invidious or harsh toThe hon. gentleman had found great pics, he would confine himself to more fault with his hon. friend (Mr. Wilber- general observations upon the hon. force), for having mentioned in his open- baronet's way of treating this part of ing speech that there were parts to be the subject and he would ask him, found in the interior of Africa where ci- whether, in point of fact, he had never vilization had made such a progress, that found, in the whole extent of his various books were not uncommon among the reading in ancient and modern history, inhabitants. “ Books !" exclaimed the that the colonies of a free country were in hon. gentleman, “ books! the blacka-general worse regulated and worse admimoors have books! and this the hon. mover nistered, than those of more absolute gogives as a reason for not exporting them as vernments? That this might be an extraslaves ! I think if the hon. gentleman had ordinary truth, a painful truth, and one recollected all the mischief that books which well deserved the examination of have done, especially of late years, in the the philosopher and the politician, to disworld, he might have spared this argu- cover its causes, and remedy the effect, ment at least. What produced the he was not disposed to deny. But that it French revolution ? Books! The House was a truth, all history showed. If, will not be induced to put a stop to the therefore, his hon. friend had ventured Slave trade, in order that the inhabitants this assertion, without such strong proof of Africa might stay at home to be cor- to support it, in the particular instances, rupted by reading books." Now, he as even the papers upon the table would must complain of a little unfairness in the afford, he would have asserted nothing arguments of the hon. baronet and the that could call for the sort of indignant hon. gentleman, thus contrasted with each reprehension, which the hon. baronet had other. • Export the natives of Africa,” bestowed upon him; nothing that resaid the hon. gentleman, « lest they flected personally on the gentlemen of the become literati at home." “ Bring them West Indies, nothing that reflected upon away," said the hon. baronet,°" that the character of this country; but a plain they may become philosophers in the uncontradicted fact, true in general, true West Indies.” He much doubted whether in the particular instance, and for which the remedy or the disease were the worst the proceedings now laid before the for the patient; but undoubtedly it did House furnished ample and indisputable seem a little hard that no means could be vouchers.
But the 'hon. baronet's argument pro- | there had even been no doubt upon the face ceeded on still broader grounds. “ Tell of the papers upon the table, of the sincere not me,” said he,“ of the superiority intention of the colonial assemblies to of the French Code Noire, a code framed carry the wishes of this country into efby a despotic government. It cannot be; fect: if there had been no doubt that the it is not in the nature of things that it | termination of the trade was the object to should be superior, or equal to the laws which the regulations (such as they may enacted by the government of a free be) were intended : if there had been no country. However specious in appear- doubt that these regulations were in fact ance, there must be some radical defect calculated for the purpose ; if the assemin the laws enacted by despotism which bly of Jamaica had professed as distinctly prevents their beneficial influence." Was its anxiety to terminate the trade, as in this so? Was the hon. baronet then pre- point of fact it had expressed its resolu. pared and contented to argue, that there tion to continue it; still according to the was something in the nature of the rela- hon. baronet's argument, no trust could tion between the despot and his slave, be reposed in these appearances and prowhich must vitiate and render nugatory fessions. There was something in the and null whatever laws the former might nature of absolute authority, in the relamake for the benefit of the latter which tion between master and slave, which however speciously these laws might be made despotism, in all cases, and under framed, however well adapted they might all circumstances, an incompetent and appear to the evils which they were intended unsure executor even of its own proto alleviate, must infallibly be marred and visions in favour of the objects of its defeated in the execution? Was this the power. hon. baronet's argument? He thanked But then came the general argument; him for it. He admitted the truth of it, that it is the interest of the proprietor that up to any extent that the hon. baronet his slaves should be well treated, that they pleased. And let the House, let the hon. should not be overworked, that they baronet himself, mark how it bore upon should produce a natural population ; and the question before them. The question that any reasonable man would see a sufis, whether in what is to be done towards ficient security in these circumstances alleviating and finally extinguishing the against cruelty and oppression in the horrors of the Slave trade, the proper islands. In the first place, this argument agent was the british House of Conimons, proved too much. For as the interest of or the colonial assemblies? The hon. the planter in the prescrvation and probaronet contended, that the colonial as- pagation of his slaves had at all times been semblies, and not the British louse of the same, it would go to establish that Commons, were the agents most proper the slaves had at all times been treated as to be employed. But what was the hon. well as possible, with a view to their prebaronet's argument ? “ Trust not the servation, to the propagation of their race, masters of slaves in what concerns legisla and to the consequent discontinuance of tion for slavery! However specious their importation : Suppositions which manilaws may appear, depend upon it, they festly were not well founded; else where must be ineffectual in their application. would have been the necessity, and what It is in the nature of things that they would be the benefit of the laws now upon should be so." Granted. Let then the table of the House, upon the benevothe British House of Commons do their lent intention and efficacy of which so part themselves! Let them not delegate much stress was laid? But in the second the trust of doing it to those who, place, the argument is perfectly fallacious. according to the hon. baronet's testimony, It was particularly unpleasant to go at cannot execute that trust fairly. Let the large into this part of the subject, both evils of the Slave trade be remedied by an because it was in its nature liable to be assembly of Freemen, by the government construed as invidious, and because it was of a free people, and not by those whom not the part of the subject to which the the hon. baronet represents as utterly un- motion of his hon. friend applied ; but qualified for the undertaking, not by the when points were stated so boldly, as conmasters of slaves! Their laws, the hon. taining incontrovertible truths, as setting baronet had avowed, could never reach, all doubt at rest, and making all remedy would never cure, the evil. So that, ac- useless and absurd, it was a little necesa cording to the hon. baronet's argument, if sary to examine into them. He was not
here contesting the fact, that slaves upon ful times in which we live-an argument our islands were well treated.
of great weight and wisdom in general, combating the assertion, that from the but not bearing very happily upon the interest of the proprietors they must of question in debate. The House were necessity be so. First, then, that man's gravely cautioned to beware how, in these strongest permanent interests were liable times of turbulent innovation, when the to be overborne by his passions, need old establishments of the world were hardly be argued at length. Let gentle- shaken to their foundations, and many of men look at the laws upon the table, and them tumbling in hideous ruin about our see what sort of evils they are intended to ears ; to beware how they laid their unremedy. Next, the interest of the pro- hallowed hands on the ancient institution prietor, resident in the island unencum- of the Slave trade! Seduced by plausible bered with debt, and looking to his estate theories, and seeking after fancied peras a permanent and improving provision fection, would they rashly subvert a fabric for his family, is one thing: but that of the reared by our ancestors, and consecrated absentee proprietor who wishes to lay the by the lapse of ages? He had already foundation of a fortune elsewhere--that had occasion to say something of the anof the embarrassed proprietor, who wishes tiquity of the Slave trade, in apology for to discharge incumbrances—and lastly, the want of novelty and of variety in the that of the overseer, who is anxious to arguments which he might have to bring realize a sum of money as quickly as pos- against it. Those arguments he had adsible to purchase an estate for himself; mitted could not choose but be old; he all these might in the nature of things be had admitted they must necessarily be interests of a very different kind indeed, always the same, because they were foundfrom that steady and permanent interest, ed in what was eternal truth, because they which contenting itself with moderate re- were allied to what was immutable justice, turns, would insure mild and considerate and they partook of the immortality of the treatment to the labourers, whose work one and of the unchangeableness of the was to produce them. All these might other. But little, indeed had he expected require increased labour, and rapid pro- to hear the remote origin and loog duraduce; all these might, in the nature of tion of the Slave trade brought forward things, be less solicitous about the even- with triumph; to hear the advocates of tual exhaustion of the soil, or of the the Slave trade put in their claim for the workers of the soil, than about the extent venerableness of age, and the sacredness of present profit. And when the pro- of prescription. What were the prinportion of these classes to that of the re- ciples upon which we allowed a certain sident, and unembarrassed proprietors claim to our respect, to belong to any were considered, what became of the ge. institution which had subsisted from neral statement that the interest of the remote time? What was the reason, why owner must in all cases secure the good when any such institutions had, by the treatment of the slaves ? That the slaves change of circumstances or of manners, were in general well-treated he was far become useless, we still tolerated them, from being disposed to deny: he hoped, nay cherished them with'something of affecand believed they were so. But that they tionate regard, and even when they became must be so, from any necessitating and burthensome did not remove them without unalterable cause, he could not agree. regret? of affectionate regard ? What ? This, however, after all, was not the ques- but because in such institutions for the tion before the House. However well most part we saw the shadow of departed slaves might be treated, he did not be worth or usefulness, the monument and lieve there were many persons who were memorial of what had, in its origin, or disposed to contend that the importation during its vigour, been of service or of from Africa was to be continued, merely credit to mankind ? Was this the case to furnish objects for colonial benevolence, with the Slave trade? Was the Slave trade And he saw nothing therefore in the me originally begun upon some principle of liorated treatment of the slaves in the public justice, or national honour, which West Indies, that called for the conti- the lapse of time, which the mutations of Duance, though much that diminished the the world have alone impaired and done necessity of the Slave trade.
? Has it to plead former merits, There remained only one argument, services, and glories, in behalf of its predrawn from the circumstances of the aw- sent foulness and disgrace? Was its in
fancy lovely? or its manhood useful ? | it was professed loudly, that but one opi. though in its age it is become thus loath- nion could be entertained), but whether some and perverse ? No. Its infant lips the papers upon the table contained such were stained with blood. Its whole ex- proofs of disposition on the part of the istence had been a series of rapacity, cru- colonies, to bring about the termination elty, and murder. It rested with the of the Slave trade, that the House would, House to decide, whether it will allow to notwithstanding the distinct disclaimer of such a life the honours of old age, or en- the assembly of Jamaica, of any such indeavour to extend its duration. What tention on their part, think itself justified were the grounds on which the plea of in leaving the business wholly in the hands prescription usually rested ? And in of that assembly, instead of themselves what cases was it where any existing order taking the necessary steps for securing of things, though violent and unjust in its the execution of their own purpose. original institution, had by lapse of time Mr. Windham, after complimenting Mr. been so meliorated and softened down, Canning on the happy use he had made of and reconciled to the feelings of mankind, his wit, called the attention of the House had so accommodated itself to the manners to what appeared to him to be a common and prejudices, and interwoven itself with sense view of the subject. He observed the habits of a country, that the remem- that there were two descriptions of sentibrance of its original usurpation was lost ments entertained upon this question : in the experience of present harmlessness one was that of a short and compendious or utility. Conquest was often of this mode, and was recommended by those who nature: Violent and unjustifiable in its first called for the immediate abolition of the introduction, it did often happen, that the trade: gentlemen of that side of the quesconquerors, and the conquered, became tion contended that, as the trade was un. blended into one people, and that a system just and inhuman, that was enough to call of common interest arose out of the con- for its immediate and unqualified aboliciliated differences of parties originally tion. This was deciding the matter upon hostile.
this the case with the the abstract right; and, as an abstract Slave trade? Was it in its outset only, point, supposing that to be the only one, that it had any thing of violence, of injus- that determination was right: but he ap tice, or of opposition? Were the wounds prehended there was to be considered which Africa felt in the first conflict, something beside the question of abstract healed and skinned over? Or were they right, and that was, the question of convefresh and green as at the moment when nience and expedience; and in considerthe first slave ship began its ravages upon ing that point a great variety of objects the coast? Were the oppressors and made their appearance before the reflectoppressed so reconciled to each other, that ing mind--and the real question at last, no trace of enmity remained? Or was it. would be, by what possible mode was the in reason, or in common sense, to claim least evil to be suffered? for a great evil a prescriptive right, not to the fruits of an must follow such a trade as that of the antient and forgotten crime, committed Slave trade, and the utmost effort of long ago, and traceable only in its conse- human wisdom could only choose the quences-but to a series of new violences, least. Those who were fond of abstract to a chain of fresh enormities, to cruelties rights, were apt to make very consideranot continued, but repeated, and of which ble mistakes. They generally determined, every individual instance inflicted a fresh when they found out an evil, to stop the calamity, and constituted a fresh, a sepa- cause of it immediately. They often rerate, and substantive, crime? He could commended the immediate adoption of not conceive, that in refusing to sanction the reverse of that which was the cause of the continuance of such a system, the the evil. But such sudden and violent House would feel itself, as in the smallest remedies often created a greater evil than degree, impairing the respect due to the that which they intended to remove. It establishments of antiquity, or shaking was not difficult to show the absurdity of the foundations of the British constitution. this system of reversing the cause of an -Mr. Canning concluded, by reminding evil by way of remedy to it: thus, for the House, that the question, however, instance, if a man were thrown out of immediately in dispute, was not, whether a high window, and had a fractured the Slave trade ought, at some time or bone, or a dislocated joint, it would be other, to be terminated, (for upon that, but an indifferent made of cure to