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sincere abolitionist, and he had never given
a vote with more pleasure than the one
he had given on that question.
He was
also anxious to relieve the present race of
slaves in the West Indies; but he was of
opinion, that any measure having that
object in view should be dictated by pru-
dence and reason, and not by the new
lights of enthusiasm and madness. To
bring forward the subject of the abolition
of slavery in that House, was to shed
blood in the West Indies, and to cause a
rebellion.

The several petitions were ordered to lie on the table, and to be printed.

LAW MERCHANT.] Mr. J. Smith moved for a committee, "to inquire into the state of the Law relating to Goods, Wares, and Merchandize, intrusted to Merchants, Agents, or Factors, and the effect of the Law upon the Interests of Commerce, and to report the result of that inquiry with their opinion thereon, to the House."

Mr. Serjeant Onslow said, he could not allow the motion to pass without returning his thanks to the hon. member who had brought it forward.

Mr. Marryat doubted the expediency of altering the law on this subject. A great deal had been said about the situation of merchants and factors, but the truth was, that neither merchants nor factors were materially interested in the question. Those who stirred in this matter were the brokers, who were in the habit of ad

without inquiring of those from whom they obtained them, whether they were their own property or not. By such practices they sometimes made great gains, but being exposed to occasional losses, they came to parliament to ask that they might be screened from the effects of their own imprudence by an alteration in the law of the land. He contended, that the evils under the law might be easily obviated.

Mr. Baring presented a petition from the agents of the West India colonies against any interference with the existing laws respecting Slavery. The hon. member said, he would not then express any opi-vancing large sums of money on goods, nion upon the question which was to be discussed that evening; but he could not refrain from observing, that it was one of the greatest importance, and involved the security of property to an immense amount, belonging to subjects of this country, as well as the lives and means of subsistence of all the West India colonists. The petitioners had no objection to the amelioration of the condition of the slaves. Indeed, they considered that amelioration as essential to the welfare of both parties; Mr. Sykes thought that some alteration but it was another question, whether pro-in the present law was absolutely necesperty, which had been acquired under the sary, as he had known instances in which sanction of that House, should be taken the grossest frauds had been committed away. If that property was to be said to with impunity. be stamped with the character of immorality and injustice, he should be glad to know what improved morality and justice there was in the arbitrary deprivation of property, the acquisition of which the laws had allowed? He had always been a

Mr. Robertson was opposed to the measure, and deprecated the intention of giving the consignee the power of making immediate money of the goods of the consignor under certain circumstances.

Mr. J. Smith said, that all he wished.

for was an inquiry into the present state of the law, as he was confident that under it the greatest frauds and evils occurred. The motion was agreed to.

ABOLITION OF SLAVERY.*] Mr. Fowell Buxton rose, and addressed the House nearly as follows:—

or against any individual of the body of persons connected with the West Indies. I consider them as eminently unfortunate; particularly the hereditary proprietors, in this, that their predecessors were tempted to embark their property in a species of investment which, at that time, was considered to be moral and consistent with justice; but which, when the subject has been thoroughly sifted, is found to be irreconcileable with the principles of justice and humanity. With these feelings towards the West-Indians, deeming them rather unfortunate than culpable, I do consider it no slight matter to introduce any motion painful to their feelings.

Sir; I feel so sure, that every gentleman is prepared to ask me one obvious question, that I cannot do better than save the time and curiosity of the House, by affording that question an immediate answer. The question which, as I suppose, gentlemen are anxious to put, is, Why do you move in this question? What right have you to interfere in this great cause? Is there not in the House, and even by your side, a man to whom, when a motion on slavery is to be made, all eyes naturally turn; a man who now, for a period very little short of forty years, has been the faithful, indefatigable, eloquent, and, upon one great occasion, the victorious advocate for the negro? I hope there is no one, who deems so meanly, and I will say so unjustly of me, as to suppose that I encroach uninvited on the province of my hon. friend. It is in compliance with the earnest request-it is in obedience to the positive injunction of him whom I honour as the father of the cause, and who, no matter who may introduce the subject, must ever be recognized as its truest and best advocate" -it is at his express bidding that I now rise.

Before, however, I enter on the important, and, as some gentlemen deem it, the very perilous question of which I have given notice, I feel myself called upon to advert to the advice which I have received, and to the warnings with which I have been favoured, of dreadful_evils likely to be produced in the West Indies by the agitation of this subject. It is no slight matter, I have been told, and I admit it, to agitate the question at all. It is no slight matter to excite apprehensions, even the most groundless, in the minds of persons so respectable as those who signed the petition which has just been presented by the hon. member for Taunton. I can truly say, that I feel no degree of animosity, I harbour no species of prejudice, either against the whole body,

*From the report published by the
Society for the Mitigation and gradual
Abolition of Slavery.
VOL. IX.

It is no slight matter to drag into public view before the nation, and before surrounding nations, jealous of the reputation of this country, the worst, perhaps the only capital stain, on British policy; at a moment, too, when we have felt so keenly, and expressed ourselves so warmly, and all but incurred the hazards of war, for the sake of a nation threatened with political servitude: it is, I say, no slight matter to divulge the fact, that, of British subjects, there are one million living in personal slavery-not Spaniards, but our own fellow subjects; not threatened with, but enduring, not political interference, but personal slavery,-"personal slavery, in comparison of which," said Mr. Fox, political slavery, much as I hate it, is a bare metaphor."

I have heard much privately-and the House has heard somewhat publicly-of the responsibility which I incur by the agitation of this question. And I admit, that a man ought to be pretty sure that his cause is good, as I am; and not only that his cause is good, but that the time is discreetly chosen, as I am; and that he is free from all personal considerations and prejudices, as I am; before he ventures to reject such advice, and to incur such responsibility. Why, then, do I incur that responsibility? First, because I am quite sure that the dangers, if not absolutely groundless, if not utterly imaginary, as I believe they are, have been much over-rated: and, secondly, because I am sure, that it is impossible to over-rate the real and substantial blessings that will accrue to a million of men, by the agitation of this subject in this House. I have not a notion that slavery can endure investigation. It must perish when once brought under the public eye. And I

feel confident that a few minutes ago, we commenced that process which will conclude, though not speedily, in the extinction of slavery throughout the whole of the British dominions.

these men thus thought, spoke, and acted; when they did so, in despite of those very arguments, and, as I will presently show, in defiance of those very warnings which have been offered to the House this night, I should feel that I betrayed a good cause if I suffered myself to be intimidated by any such extravagant apprehensions, or amused from my purpose by predictions which the fact, hitherto, has never failed to falsify.

It is at least a singular fact, that no motion was ever made in this House, on the subject of negro slavery, which has not been met with just the same predictions. No matter what the motion was; it was always attended with the same predictions in almost the same language.

The good, then, to be obtained is incalculable. Now let us consider, for a moment, the price we are to pay for it. We have heard a good deal of late of the danger of insurrection in the West Indies. If this were the first time that slavery had ever been mentioned in this House; if I were the first rash man who had ever ventured to commiserate the condition of the negroes, perhaps there might be something alarming in the allegations of danger. But, it does so happen, that this same subject of slavery, and that infinitely more delicate subject of emancipation In the year 1787, a very feeble attempt from slavery, to name which in this was made to abate the horrors of the House, said the hon. member for Taun- middle passage-to admit a little more ton, is to shed blood in the West Indies, air into the suffocating and pestilent holds have been debated again and again and of the slave ships. The alarm was inagain within these walls. It does so hap- stantly taken. The cry of the West-Inpen, that a committee of this House sat dians, as we have heard it to-night, was some thirty years ago, took evidence on the cry of that day. An insurrection of this subject, and, what was unusual then, all the blacks-the massacre of all the published it to the world. A committee whites-was to be the inevitable conseof the House of Lords did the same. A quence. In the House of Lords, a man committee of the privy council did the of no mean consideration in point of rank, same. And it does so happen, that dur- the duke of Chandos, besought their lording those thirty years, every man of di- ships not to meddle with this alarming stinction in this House, without excep- question. He might, he said, pretend to tion, has put forth his opinions on these know a little more of the subject than subjects not only the men professing to their lordships- that his pockets were be the most eager for liberty, and who, filled with letters from his correspondents therefore, might be supposed to overlook in the West Indies, who declared, that all dangers in pursuit of their favourite the English newspapers were read by the object-such men as Mr. Fox, Mr. She-negroes as regularly as the ships brought ridan, Mr. Whitbread, and sir Samuel Romilly-but the very opposite of these in every point, except in point of talents; men, whose whole strength was opposed to the pursuit of ideal good, at the expense of present danger. When such men as Mr. Burke, Mr. Dundas, Mr. Pitt, Mr. Windham, and my lord Grenville when such men as these unreservedly and repeatedly avowed their sentiments on the condition of the slave; when they saw no danger in the avowal; when, of these cautious men the most cautious, Mr. Dundas, and the least ad dicted to change, Mr. Burke, each of them prepared, and one of them introduced into parliament, a bill for emancipation of the negroes, which, if it had passed, would have been in operation three-and-twenty years ago, and would have liberated, by this time, half the slaves in the West Indies-when, I say,

them; and that, so soon as they should come
to the paragraph announcing that their
lordships had thought it fit to lessen the
sufferings of the middle passage, they
would burst out into open rebellion! The
bill passed, however; and, somehow or
other, the prediction was not verified.
About the same year, my hon. friend
commenced that career with which his
name will always be coupled ; and which
he brought to a glorious termination
twenty years afterwards. Let any gen-
tleman look to the proceedings in any one
of those twenty years, and he will find
three things:-First, an effort made by
my hon. friend on behalf of the negro:
next, on the part of the West-Indians, a
prediction of insurrection amongst the
blacks: and, thirdly, that prediction con-
tradicted by the events of the year.
only was each separate prophecy falsified
by the fact; but, it is really remarkable to

Not

of the same kind. In 1817, little more than five years ago, governor Maxwell stated in a letter to lord Bathurst, that, many acts of undue and unlawful seve

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observe, if you place the whole train of prophecy on the one side, and the whole train of events on the other, how fully the latter refutes and overturns the former. Those twenty years, which, if the West-rity towards the slaves had come to his Indians are true prophets, ought to have knowledge, and particularly some cases been marked with perpetual violence, where iron collars and chains had been bloodshed, and desolation, were, in point added to their punishment, after they had of fact, remarkable for a degree of tran- undergone a severe whipping." He then quillity in the British West Indies, un- states the following "cases of negroes, exampled in any other period of their who were brought to governor Maxwell history. in chains, in which they were obliged to work, by their owners or managers, during the last three months:

Again at that time, this country was so greedy of the gains of slave-trading, that she not only supplied her own colonies with slaves, but became the carrier of other nations. My hon. friend, with his usual vigilance, discovered this; and introduced a bill to stop the practice. The cry of danger was revived. "If you stop that trade," said, in this House, the agent of one of the West-India islands, 66 you will occasion an insurrection of all the blacks. You will cause the murder of all the whites." But this-perhaps the fiftieth prediction of the same kindutterly falsified by the fact. Our negroes actually did not rebel because we ceased to supply rival colonies with slaves.

-was

In the year 1802, lord Seaforth discovered a series of the most horrid and shocking murders that have ever been brought to light. I will not vex the feelings of the House, by detailing the barbarous particulars. But many hon. gentlemen will, no doubt, remember themparticularly the fact of the boy, who was killed in the gully. In short, never were there greater cruelties, than those perpetrated at that time in Barbadoes, by white men upon black. Some persons were brought to trial; convicted upon the clearest evidence; and punished with all the rigour of the law. And-what was all the rigour of the law? A fine, some. what less than we, in this country, impose upon a man for killing a partridge: eleven pounds, four shillings, was the fine for these detestable murders. The governor proposed to the legislature of the island, that murder should be made a capital offence. The answer was precisely the same as that contained in the petition laid upon the table this evening-"It will cause a rebellion." The negroes, no doubt, would have been so shocked at the possibility of a white man suffering death, merely for killing one of themselves, that they would have taken to arms!

I will only notice one other prediction

"1st, A boy, about fifteen years of age: a large iron chain round his neck, fastened with a padlock, total weighing 22 lbs.

"2d. Two girls, of twelve years of age, much marked by the effects of the cartwhip; fastened together with iron chains round their necks, padlocked, weighing 18 lbs.

3d, A full grown man, after a severe flogging with the cart-whip, loaded with an iron collar and chains, weighing 21 lbs.

"4th, An old man, apparently sixty years of age, after having been severely beaten by his master, was placed in the stocks, with an iron collar round his neck, and chains, weighing 20 lbs.

"5th, A boy, about twelve years of age, loaded with an iron collar, chains, and log of wood, weighing 26 lbs."

What was the effect of the discovery of this abuse? The effect was, that the grand jury of Dominica, who met a few days afterwards, presented their governor as a nuisance. Here is the presentment of the grand jury of Dominica, dated 26 August, 1817.

"The grand jury of our sovereign lord the king do present: first, That they find the gaol in the same state as in February last, notwithstanding the repeated presentments of former grand juries: secondly, The grand jury lament, that they are under the necessity of noticing an improper interference, on the part of the executive, between master and slave, which has caused considerable agitation and discontent amongst the negroes, and if persevered in, is likely to lead to the most ruinous consequences."

Now, Sir, if the grand jury had said, that these whippings, and "iron torments," as the governor calls them, had produced agitation amongst the blacks, and that the interference of the governor

had produced dissatisfaction among the whites, the presentment would have been very intelligible. But, when they sayand in such a formal manner too-that the slaves would be dissatisfied at the interference of the governor, which was intended for their protection-as if they felt themselves, as of right, entitled to be flogged, chained, ironed, and padlocked; and as if they were so tenacious of this, their precious right, that they would burst into rebellion, if any symptom were shown of a disposition to rob them of it; this is really a little too much for English ears!

the West Indies-if we wish to avoid a dreadful convulsion-it must be by restoring to the injured race, those rights which we have too long withheld.

I must notice one point requiring consideration, both from the West-Indians and from the members of his majesty's government: I mean the great change which has taken place during the last twenty or thirty years. What does the negro, working under the lash on the mountains of Jamaica, see? He sees another island, on which every labourer is free; in which eight hundred thousand blacks, men, women, and children, exercise all the rights, and enjoy all the blessings-and they are innumerable and incalculable-which freedom gives. Hitherto, indeed, no attempt has been made, from that quarter. The late emperor Christophe, and the president Boyer, may have been moderate men; or they may have found at home sufficient employment. But, who will venture to secure us against the ambition of their successors? It would be singular enough, if the only emperor who did not feel a desire to meddle with the affairs of his neighbours should be the emperor of Hayti. I touch lightly upon this subject. Let government-let the West-Indians— justly appreciate the danger with which they may be menaced from that quarter. It is a danger, however, which is aggra

Precisely parallel, however, to this is the argument against me. I interfere, it is true. I shall offer suggestions, tending to improve the condition of the negroes. But, I should be glad to know which of these is likely to produce agitation and discontent amongst them. One of our first propositions is, That the slave shall have Sunday for rest and religious instruction; and that another day in the week shall be allowed him for the culti vation of his provision-ground. Is there any thing irritating in this?-Next, we say, That all Negro children, born after a certain day, ought to be free-free from their birth-never subjected to be bought and sold, and whipped, and brutalized. Surely, such a provision will be far from producing discontent! I am informed, on what I consider the best authority-vated by all the hardships you inflict that of a person intimately acquainted upon the slave, and is abated exactly in with the feelings of the negro population proportion as you abate the misery of his -that he knows of no bond, so likely to lot. secure their fidelity, as benefits conferred

their children-the advantages of education-and freedom.-Next, we propose to get rid of the cart-whip. Will the negro be offended at that? Is he so fondly attached to the cart-whip, that, in order to secure the continuance of its use, he will rise in rebellion? In point of fact, all we propose to do is this-to ameliorate the condition of the negro-to give him something like the protection of British law-to reduce, not so much the power, as the possible abuse of power, in the master-and, above all, to rescue his children from that terrible condition, of which he well knows the bitterness. And, what is there in all this, calculated to rouse the furious passions of the negro? On the contrary, I am fully persuaded, that security is to be found-and is only to be found in justice towards that oppressed people. If we wish to preserve

Look at America. She may send at her own leisure, and from the adjacent shore, an army to Jamaica, proclaiming freedom to all the slaves. And-what is worse still-she may do-so in exact conformity to our own example; not only in the first American war, but in the recent contest of 1813. Surely there is a lesson in this. And what is the lesson it teaches? That we ought to grind down the negro, until almost any change will be for the better-or that we shall upraise him in the scale of being, till almost any change will be for the worse? Mr. Pitt declared, that "it was impossible to increase the happiness, or enlarge the freedom, of the negro, without, in an equal degree, adding to the security of the colonies, and of all their inhabitants."

I do not mean to say, that there are not very great perils connected with the present state of the West Indies. On the

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