« ZurückWeiter »
he had himself previously admitted to be present war. And where are we to look inconsistent with justice and humanity. for it? In the West Indies. So that we After this admission, it might have been shall want fresh cargoes of slaves, in supposed that few epithets could have order to cultivate our new territorial acbeen added of more severe obloquy, or quisitions, and so to render them produce more general condemnation. The right tive as to constitute an adequate indem.. hon. gentleman objected that the trade nity. Consequently, it turns out at last, ought not to be abolished immediately, that the reward of those crusaders in the and instanced Grenada, which was by no cause of social order, justice, religion, and means in a state ripe for the abolition, humanity, is to be an increased profit on and would require for that purpose a the slave trade! I, for one, never can period as long as had been granted from consent that the country should purchase the date of the former resolution. That an indemnity at such a price. Whether was a point which would come regularly the motion shall succeed or not, I beg to be discussed in the committee, and leave to express to the hon. mover my there, if it should be found expedient, the thanks for bringing it forward, and my period of the abolition might be fixed for contidence that he will never suffer the the year 1799. As to the plan of the question to rest till it is finally decided. right hon. gentleman to effect the aboli- | If we are influenced by any sense of duty tion by calculations with respect to the to ourselves, by any honourable principle ages of the negroes imported, I must re- of action, we shall not suffer a session to mark, that those who think it impossible pass over without bringing forward the at once to abolish the trade, and yet con- subject for consideration. It is a subject ceive that the object may be effected by which becomes peculiarly urgent from the such regulations as these, strain at small situation of the West Indies. Whence difficulties, and swallow large ones. It arises our weakness in that quarter ? has been stated, that it would be desirable Why are we so extremely vulnerable on for us to proceed with the concurrence of every side? From the existence of that the gentlemen interested; experience, abominable slave trade; which is as mihowever, has shown that we cannot hope serably impolitic as it is odiously unjust. to obtain it. We do not pretend to legis. The motion is for leave to bring in a hill late for them on the point of emancipa- ' to abolish the slave trade, at a time to be tion, nor ought we, so far as relates to the limited. In the committee I certainly abolition, to suffer them to legislate for us. shall vote for the earliest day that shall be The question is, whether the House, by proposed. It is now about eight or nine its present decision, shall show itself to years since the subject was first brought have been hypocritical or honourable in forward, and if the House keep their word, its former declaration. It is even of more they cannot avoid taking some decisive importance. It is whether the nation, step. It was matter of joy to us, when after pretending to spend oceans of blood we learned, that the slave trade was to and millions of money, in the cause of re- be abolished in Denmark; but when afligion, social order, and humanity, shall terwards we understood that the period continue to carry on this shameful and of the abolition was not to take place till unprincipled traffic, and by a conduct so the year 1800, our satisfaction on the ocinconsistent with its professions, so inju casion was converted into contempt and rious to its bonour, incur the charge of ridicule. At present I see no probability the vilest simulation, or the most nar. that the century will put an end to this dened effrontery. It is surely a point of shame of Great Britain. I cannot submit no small importance, whether, under these to sanction this infamous traffic by mere circumstances, the legislature shall per- regulations; there are some things so bad, mit (and to permit is in some cases to that even to regulate them, is in some enjoin), the continuance of a trade, measure to participate in their criminwhich, after a long and laborious in- ality. Let us send the bill to the House vestigation, they have pronounced to be of Lords ; if it is there rejected, let us inconsistent with humanity and justice. send it up session after session. Satis.
But the hon. baronet has discovered a fied with the grounds on which we have new reason why he should not agree to brought the measure forward, let the perthe abolition. He has said that we must severance of our exertions correspond look to an indemnity for the expense we with the justice and humanity of our lave incurred in the prosecution of the cause, and let us at least prove that we shall not be wanting to vindicate the much more must they now have sufficient honour of our character, and the consis- for that purpose! He would next advert to tency of our proceedings."
the worn-out topic, that other nations Mr. Addington said, that had he then would take up the trade if we relinquished had the honour of a seat in that House, he it. Since the time when it was first urged, should have voted for the resolution of had not the Danes announced a future 1792, because he detested the trade, and abolition ? Had not the French emanci. thought it ought to be abolished, but that pated their slaves in the West India islands, it should be abolished gradually. It and of course indirectly abolished the slave struck him, that it might be abolished by trade ? Did not the Dutch seem likely to an improvement in sir w. Dolben's bill, adopt the same system; and above all, by making a rapid increase in the propor- had not the Americans prohibited the tion of the tonnage of ships, carrying carrying on the slave trade for the supslaves, so that it might become impossible ply of foreign nations; and had not to carry on the traffic.
every individual state, except perhaps Mr. Barham said, no man was more Georgia, either abolished or suspended anxious to alleviate the distresses of any the slave trade, even for their own sup. condition of humanity than himself. But ply? And yet, in the face of all these before he could give his consent to the facts, this argument was brought for motion, he must be convinced that the ward with as much confidence as ever. stale assertions respecting the sufferings This wretched pretext he supposed would of the negroes in the West India Islands
never cease to be urged, whilst there were true. So far was this from being remained a single nation upon earth, by the fact, that he would affirm, that the which the slave trade was carried on. slaves in the West Indies were better fed Much had been said concerning the and cloathed, and enjoyed more of the calumnies circulated against the West comforts of life, than the generality of the Indians. Every great cause would have labouring class throughout Europe. If the warm and over eager adherents; but he fact, however, were otherwise, no time appealed to the House, whether he had could be more unhappily chosen than the not himself uniformly abstained from present, to introduce the motion before the every thing of that nature. But what he House. The motion, if carried, would had always insisted on was, the various create universal rebellion in the islands. evils necessarily attendant on a state of It was a remarkable fact, in the teeth of slavery, and that degradation to which those who pictured the miseries of the ne. the negroes were reduced below the groes in such deep colours, that none could dignity of moral agents. “ Are not the be more averse to the abolition of slavery slaves,” said an hon. gentleman, “well fed in the islands than the slaves themselves. and sufficiently cloathed and lodged?" If the measure was abruptly adopted, that what then, were these the only claims of part of our territory must be lost. a rational being ? Were the feelings of
Mr. Wilberforce observed, that the ar- the heart nothing? Was intellectual and guments in favour of his motion had been moral improvement nothing? Where, too, so ably and eloquently urged, that he were family endearment and social interwould not take
of the course, and the consciousness of indetime of the House in availing himself of pendence and willing services and gratethe right of reply. It was impossible for ful returns, and, above all, the cultivation him, however, to forbear touching shortly of knowledge, and the light of religious on a few topics which required some truth, and the hope full of immortality ? farther illustration. The papers on the So far, then, from thanking the hon. gentable showed that the nuniber of slaves ' tleman, on the part of the slaves, for his imported into the islands during the last feeding and clothing and lodging, which four or five years, was much greater than i were talked of, he must protest against the average importation. If, therefore, it the manner in which they were mentioned, was to be considered as a benefit, that as degrading man to the level of brutes, they might glut themselves with slaves, and insulting the higher properties of our this was a benefit which they had enjoyed nature.--An hon. friend" of his had exin a greater degree than parliament had pressed his wish, that this motion had been intended. If in 1792 the ablest men in suspended till the termination of the war, the House thought that they had slaves There was something not a little provoksufficient to keep up their population, how ing in the dry, calm way in which gen
Hemen were apt to speak of the suffer- f ordered, that the said committee be a seings of others. Suspended! Was the lect committee. A committee was acwork of death suspended in Africa? Werecordingly appointed, who were to have all the miseries of that devoted country power to send for persons, papers, and resuspended? Had they not been going cords ; and all who came to the committee on as he had shown, even in an aggra- were to have voices. On the 19th of vated degree? He therefore could not December it was or ered, that the comfeel himself at liberty to suspend his mo- mittee have power to report the Evidence, tion, or for a moment to delay his endea- as it shall appear to them, to the House. vours to rescue that much injured country from the oppression under which it February 9, 1796. Mr. William Smith groaned. What man who believed in a made the following Report : superintending providence, and a moral
« The SELECT COMMITTEE, appointed governor of the world, could dare to lend his aid, in the present circumstances of
to inquire into the circumstances of this country, to the support of a system,
the Negotiation of the late LOAN;
and who were impowered to report which, even by its advocates, was con
the Evidence, as it should appear to fessed to be contrary to the rights of human nature, and the laws of God ? He
them, to the House; conjured the House in an exigency like “ Have proceeded to inquire into the the present, not to insult the forbearance matter to them referred; and have deterof Heaven, and practically disclaim every mined to report the Evidence in the form hope of the divine favour.
in which it has been taken, except, that The question being put, “ That the they have forborne to insert in their reother order of the day be now read," the port the lists of the persons among whom House divided :
the contractors or subscribers appear to Tellers.
have distributed portions of their respec
tive shares of the Loan ; because it has General Tarleton Ytas
67 Sir William Young
been represented that the disclosure of the
names in those lists may,in some instances, S Mr. Ryder
be prejudicial to the mercantile interests of
the parties; and because, on inspection of Leave was then given to bring in a the lists, as well as from the examination bill for the Abolition of the Slave trade of the parties, your committee see no at a time to be limited.
ground to suppose, that any interference
took place on the part of any persons conDebate on Mr. William Smith's Resolu- nected with government in the distributions respecting the Loan.] On the 15th tion of any part of the Loan.” [Here of December 1795, Mr. William Smith follows the voluminous body of Evidence moved, “ That a Committee be appoint- taken before the said committee, a copy ed to inquire into the circumstances of of which will be found in the Commons the Negotiation of the late Loan.” Mr. Journals, Vol. 51, pp. 310-360]. Pitt agreed to the Motion, and thanked the hon. gentleinan for bringing it for- Feb. 22. The said Report being again ward. Mr. Smith next moved, “That read, the said committee be a committee of the Mr. William Smith said, that before he whole House.” To this Mr. Pitt objected, came to the immediate discussion of the because it would occasion a total inter- loan, he begged leave to offer a word or two ruption of public business. He was will. upon the Report, which, as the House would ing that it should be an open committee, see, was pretty voluminous, owing to the and that all should have Voices who at repetition of similar questions and answers tended it. Mr. Sheridan disapproved of relative to persons upon the list of subany other committee than a committee of scribers. It might appear extraordinary the whole House, because it would defeat to those who had formerly remarked, that inquiry. If they were sent to scramble he completely exonerated the chancellor up stairs, a few gentlemen in the confi. of the exchequer from any charge of perdence of the minister might attend, though sonal corruption, that he should enter others would not; and thus they would into that examination; but to remove have a partial report. The House di- every kind of pejudice on that score, he vided : Yeas, 19; Noes, 56. It was then assured the House that that examination
was not instituted by him, but by another the 23rd of November. On the 23rd of hon. gentleman then present. There was November, however, the open competi. one view in which he considered the busi- tion was announced, when Mr. Boyd beness, which would prevent him from fixing gan to be alarmed : and on the 24th he any such charge on ministers. Had it been had an interview, when he stated his claim necessary for them to have had recourse more particularly, and afterwards put it to corruption, with the power in their down in writing. The validity of the hands, they would not have acted so clum- claim was founded on a promise of the sily, as to have made the negotiation of a right hon. gentleman that no other public Joan the instrument of their venality. loan for this country should be made until They would not have had recourse to the period fixed for the last payment of means that would subject them to ex- the preceding loan should have elapsed. posure, when they had an establishment, Now, Mr. Boyd asserted in his letter, that whose gigantic influence surpassed all for-“ this was not one of those rights of mer example. With respect to the loan, which litigious people sometimes avail nothing was more distant from his mind themselves, for the mere purpose of givthan to accuse ministers of corruption. ing trouble; it was a right which was But where there were such enormous pro-founded on justice and the nature of fits on alóan, it mustbe admitted, that those things, recognized by constant practice who were favoured would be apt to sup- and public opinion, and which he could port and abet a war, from the profits of not relinquish without evident loss." which they derived such enormous ad- That this might appear perfectly clear, vantages. This he begged to be consi. " he begged leave to state that there was dered as a general observation, as he did at that moment still floating in the market not wish to cast the slightest imputation the value of five millions of money in on any of the contributors to the loan, scrip, which remained to be converted among whom there were several who into stock.” Now, Mr. Smith said, he were incapable of being influenced by could show as many mistakes, in point of any mean or sordid motive. He men- confusion in these passages, as there were tioned however, as a most extraordi- misstatements in point of fact, notwithnary coincidence, that among those per- standing, the palpable care and pains sons who signed the requisition for the bestowed in writing it. In the first place, meeting at Grocers'-hall, and addressed it was an extraordinary assertion of the the House in favour of the Treason and contractor to say, that his claim was a Sedition bills, a sum of not less than right founded in justice and the nature of 800,0001. was divided, from which they things, and recognized by constant pracderived a profit of not less than 90,0001.- tice and public opinion. Could Mr. To enter into the negotiation itself, every Boyd imagine the right hon. gentleman's0 one agreed with the right hon. gentleman, ignorant of the practice of bargaining for that a fair and open competition ought loans, after having been so long in the baalways to be encouraged. Now it would bit of it? But in order to show this was appear, from the testimony of every per- the case, the contractor asserted, that son in the report, that in last autumn, a there was at that moment still floating in competition was invariably persisted in the market the value of five millions of notwithstanding some allusions to a claim money in scrip, which remained to be of preference addressed by Mr. Boyd to converted into stock. Now, not to say the right hon. gentleman in the month of that not one syllable of this was true, it October, and that an open competition was the most extraordinary claim he ever was formally announced in November by heard of, as would appear by the whole of the governor of the bank. After this, it Mr. Boyd's evidence.--He then recapituwould be natural to inquire how and why lated the state of the market on the 24th it was abandoned. It appeared to have November, to show that instead of five been abandoned on the ground of a claim millions of scrip of the preceding loan made by Boyd and Co. upon the right of remaining, there was not more than preference, and although this right had 2,300,000l. upon which the greatest loss been claimed in a short conversation be- would have been 445,7181., the whole of tween Mr. Boyd and the right hon. gen- which, he contended, ought to have been gentleman in October, the right hon. gen- given up rather than enter into a negotiatleman was then determined to admit no tion, which has been of greater loss to claim whatever. Thus it rested till after the public. He observed that Mr. Boyd maintained a separate right from the payment of a new loan was commonly other contributors, which he was not more than was necessary; while Mr. Giles able to prove in any part of his evi- and Mr. Mellish were both of opinion, dence, and the only grounds on which he that the knowledge that a loan to any claimed it were, the risk, trouble, and duty given extent was coming into the market, of the original contractors. He was at a affected the price of the existing funds.loss to find what the duty of the original He desired the House to compare, in contractor was, unless it was to see that what manner the holders of scrip were afthe minister fulfilled his contract; and fected upon the negotiation of a new loan with respect to the trouble, the only before the last payment of the old loan, trouble he knew was the selection of such as it applied to the answer given by Mr. of his friends, upon whom he meant to Boyd. In 1794, when the chancellor of confer the favour of putting their names the exchequer bargained for a new loan down to his list of subscribers, and ac- with Mr. Boyd, he bargained for it a cepting or rejecting the solicitations of month previous to the last payment of other people. He found no trouble in Messrs. Morgan and Angerstein, who providing this loan of eighteen millions, were the contractors for the preceding for the whole capital was not sufficient to loan, and in December 1794, the funds meet the numerous solicitations of his were materially affected by the first payfriends to shower down his benefits upon ment of the new loan. Did Mr. Boyd them. He had the trouble, to be sure, of then think such a conduct improper, and waiting upon the chancellor of the exche contrary to justice, to constant practice, quer : but he supposed he did not think and public opinion ? Certainly not. Did much of that, since be thereby had the the chancellor of the exchequer think it power to choose how much of the con- improper?. Certainly not. But how contract he would keep himself, and how much trary was the conduct of the contractors he would divide among his friends, ac- at that period to that of Mr. Boyd on the cording to the advantages that were likely present occasion! They felt no alarm, to arise from the bargain. As to the risk, nor did they make any objection to it; and there was only risk in one point, namely, the reason was, because they considered that if the loan fell below 10 per cento dis- their loan as wound up. In the present count, the contractors would be obliged to instance we must recollect also that three fulfil their engagement when the contribu- parties met as conipetitors, and consetors would be released if they had made quently the value of the existing funds the first payment; for Mr. Giles, the de- must have been more depressed than if puty-governor of the bank, being asked, there had been but one contractor. No To Is not all risk to the contractors from person would presume to deny this, nor the subscribers at end when that was there any immediate pressure
for the deposit has been paid ?" replied, “Cer- first payment; for although the terms tainly not, for if the loan was to fall under were concluded upon the 25th of Novem10 per cent., which is generally the amount ber, the subscribers were not called upon of the first payment, the contractors would to make good their first payment till the undoubtedly be responsible to the public.” 10th of December following ; near a fortHe had known it fall 6 per cent., but the night therefore intervened. It might be risk was then not worth mentioning. alleged that the public service wanted And here, if, by any unforeseen accident, money; but it was evident from this that the loan should fall to such an enormous it did not press for it immediately: and discount as would ruin the contractor and thence another consideration was to be his friends, could it be imagined that the deduced-it was always customary to country would insist on the bargain? bargain for a loan only two or three days Certaioly not. If it did, they would not before the opening of the budget, and it be able to pay, neither if they could, was had often happened that an interview did it a clear point that they could be obliged. not take place between the chancellor of Such was the superstructure on which the exchequer and the contractors till the Mr. Boyd built his claims to a right of very day before that on which the budget preference.—He next came to the ne
was to open, and it had been usually the gotiation of a loan. The negotiation of practice to require the first payment in à loan threw down the price of the two, three, or four days after at the farexisting funds, as soon as it was talked thest. Now, what was the longest period of. Mr. Boyd himself said, that the first for the minister to have waited before he