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some parental care for the colonies with | had proposed, as an instrument to enforce their ardour for the general interests of obedience to our decrees, to menace them humanity; and to send out a commission with independence. The right hon. sealong with the bill, to inquire into the cretary animadverted warmly on this examount of the damage which would be pression, and to show the importance of sustained by individuals, and the mode in the islands, he called upon the House to which it might be most easily repaired. attend to the following statements. The He shuddered when he anticipated the ef- imports from the British West India fects of an immediate abolition. The islands in 1795, amounting to 8,800,0001. trustees of infants would naturally be led the revenue arising from which was to look sharply after the revovery of that 1,624,0001. The shipping was 664 vesproperty of which they were the ap- sels, employing 8,000 seamen. The expointed guardians; and, if that was the ports from this country to the islands in case, did they really mean that all mort- 1794, amounted to 3,700,0001., employing gages should be for ever foreclosed, with. 700 vessels and 12,000 seamen.
And the out stepping in to prevent it? Courts of produce of the West India islands imequity had sometimes thought fit to in- ported into this country and exported, terfere, in order to prevent foreclosures; amounted to 3,700,0001., forming a great and such interference was, in his opinion, proportion of our foreign export trade. no less worthy of the legislature, when He asked, if these were objects worth the they considered the lamentable effects consideration of the legislature or not? which accrued from them in the present if it was not a crime to talk of policy in instance. A considerable part of the the House of Commons, was not some property in the West India islands caution necessary before we attempted to rested on credit, and an immediate abo- try experiments on an object of such imlition of the slave trade would expose the portance? Were the gentlemen who used planters to all the rigour of their credi- such language quite clear, that if we were tors. Some of the planters in the island to abandon our colonies, America would of Tobago were bound to keep a 'certain not take them under her protection, or number of negroes upon their estates ; that no other power would reach out a and when that island was taken by the fatherly hand to offer them protection? French in the last war, some of the estates The Americans could scarcely fail to avail were seized by a judgment of a French themselves of that occurrence, and incortribunal, because they had not the proper porate or ally themselves with the colonies; number. In such instances, the abolition and then, although the effect would not be of the trade would amount to a confisca- immediate, our trade and commerce would tion of the estates.—He hoped it would rapidly decline. It was preposterous for not be said, that the last four years in a grave assembly of legislators, or, inwhich the planters were left at liberty to deed, any set of men, past the rash and import negroes without restriction, was a giddy period of youth, to treat that pose sufficient reparation to them for the inju- sible contingency with indifference. ries which they would sustain. For, from He could not, for these reasons, avoid the particular situation of the islands, it warning the House against passing the had so happened, that those islands which bill, without taking some steps to convince most needed supplies, were not in a con- the planters that their interests should not dition to receive them. Jamaica, in which be injured. To give the planters only a there was abundance of negroes before, little longer time, would be doing no good had remained quiet. But, had St. Vin- to them, but much injury to the country. cent's, which had been in a state of devas- | It might benefit, indeed, a few African tation; had Grenada, which had been in a ship-captains and slave-jobbers; but, by similar situation; or had Dominica, which encouraging a great and rapid importahad been in a state of rebellion, reaped tion of aged negroes into the colonies, it the benefit of the suspension? They cer- would endanger their peace and security. tainly had not.
There was only one way in which, in his Bút this was not all. He had heard it opinion, the abolition could be safely efstated as a matter of doubt, how far it fected-instead of limiting the number of was sound policy in this country to retain slaves imported; to confine the description her West India islands, because we had to those under a certain age. For this not suffered from the loss of America ; purpose none ought to be imported above and one gentleman, on a former evening above the age of twenty. The practicability and expediency of this measure he that I am not to be shaken by reasoning, vindicated from a proposition made by the but so intimately interwoven is my conassembly of Jamaica to the British go. . viction, that I cannot easily be persuaded, vernment, that it would allow them to lay that any reasoning can be found to induce a tax of 71. upon the importation of every me to alter it. There were many parts negro above the age of thirty. This of the speech of the right hon. gentleman, proposition was not acceded to by the go- which must be considered as highly favernment; but it showed the opinion of vourable to the cause of those who are the assembly, both as to the practicabi friends to the abolition. The whole of lity and propriety of the scheme. And his argument is a complete answer to if it was practicable to distinguish such those advocates on the other side, who as were under thirty, it would be much contend, that the question ought to be easier to distinguish those who were left at rest, that the discussion is highly under twenty. Formerly, there was a improper, under the peculiar circumgreat disproportion in the sexes of the stances of the present time, and that it slaves, because the planters had no other ought not at all to be agitated.
I am idea of keeping up the population than by happy to find that the right hon. gentleimportation; and, therefore, the popula- man and myself agree in our premises, tion was certainly not now in a state, that however we may differ with respect to promised an internal supply sufficient for our conclusion. He admits that the the purposes of the plantations. These trade is not only inconsistent with humanity were the grounds upon which he should and justice (and I should suppose, when oppose this bill, which he did most ear. I had got that I had not much to ask), nestly and emphatically. He applauded but with policy and prudence in time of his hon. friend's godlike endeavours to war. It appears, then, that we only differ abolish the trade, and believed him to be as to the mode of abolition. actuated by the best of motives; but he The right hon. gentleman states a hoped he would weigh these circumstances powerful objection to our mode, if it be before he proceeded any farther. The well founded; namely, that it is impractiworld must decide upon the conduct of cable. Let us examine it, as contrasted those who took different sides upon this with that mode of abolition which he has great question. The principles of a man himself proposed, and see to which of the were not shown by having fine speeches two this objection of impracticability may in his mouth about humanity and justice ; most justly be applied. First, the right they were shown by his conduct. He hon. gentleman states that our mode trusted he had as much feeling as those cannot be carried into effect without the who were perpetually talking about it; consent of the planters, which we canand he should treat an insinuation to the not expect to have. I have no hesitation contrary with the contempt it deserved, to state, that if to the accomplishment of He gave his opponents full credit for the the abolition of the slave trade, we attach, goodness of their intentions, and trusted as a necessary condition, the consent of they would act with the same candour to- the planters, we do not see the question wards him.
in a fair and manly light. What ground Mr. Fox rose and said :- As the right of hope have we, even from their profeshon. gentleman seemed, in some part of sions, that they will ever be induced to his speech, particularly to allude to me, give their consent to such a measure ? I am desirous to take this opportunity And if we advert to what has been their shortly to give my opinion on the subject conduct in every former instance, we canof the debate. When, Sir, we consider not have th allest prospect that such hir abilities, his opportunities of acquiring an event is ever likely to take place. On information, and the great attention which a former occasion, I trust I 'may make he has paid to the subject, we may flatter the allusion without any irregularity, ourselves that we have now heard the [Mr. Fox here alluded to the line of arguwhole force of the argument against us. ment adopted by Mr. Dundas, when he When I say against us, I am aware that I proposed his plan of gradual abolition], do not use the most parliamentary way of i remember great pains to have been speaking ; but I must confess, that I have taken to hold two different languages to been so long engaged on one side of the the different parties in this question, to question, that I have now formed a strong persuade the planters that if they did not predetermined opinion. I do not affirm accede to terms of gradual abolition an im[VOL XXXII.]
mediate abolition would be effected; and of little consequence, let them go;" he the enemies of the trade, that if they did merely answered a speculation that the not accept of their object upon the same consequence of the abolition of the slave terms, there would be no abolition at all. trade would be the loss of our West India This attempt to persuade both parties com- possessions ; a speculation which, by-thepletely failed. It did not succeed with | by, is very uncertain. To the assertion me, because I was persuaded that the on the one side, he only opposed an asserabolition might be effected in a different tion of his own, that even if the speculation manner; and I have not understood that of the loss of those islands should be true, it has gained one proselyte among the we should be as well without them: and West Indians. The right hon. gentleman then came in the case of America. On says, that whatever laws may be passed that subject, I confess that I hold a differthe traffic in slaves will not be extirpated, ent opinion. I consider the loss of Ame. and that the whole of the navy of England rica as a grievous misfortune to the cannot prevent illicit intercourse. I am British empire. I always should be fully aware of the truth of this position, inclined to coincide with those prudent and of the inefficacy of laws to suppress men, who are not disposed to risk any any commerce which holds out the tempt- great stake on the chance of speculation; ing prospect of high profit ; but this and if even, in the contest between Great refutes the reasoning of those who con- Britain and her colonies, I had been of demned the severity of penalties imposed the opinion of the Dean of Gloucester, by the present bill; as it is evident that that the independence of America was the rigour of the penalty ought to be in desirable, I should not have ventured to proportion to the difficulty of suppressing have acted on that opinion. But in this the offence. In this respect, therefore, case, if the West India planters should the right hon. gentleman made the fullest present the alternative, “ either we will defence of those penalties, which have separate from Great Britain, or continue been so much reprobated. On the penal- the slave trade," I should have no hesities themselves he did not dwell much ; tation. I would say, “ Separate, go to in fact, he did not seem to take them at America, or if you think proper, go to all into his consideration. When he France.” When I threaten them thus, I asked, “ Will it not be practicable to mean to convey, that the separation would smuggle, notwithstanding the operation of be infinitely more inconvenient to them the law ?” ought not another question than to Great Britain, and that they are to have suggested itself, “ Is it not also but little prepared for such a step. possible that those concerned in smuggling The right hon. gentleman entered into may be detected?” Mayit not be expected, a detail of the amount of the importations, that the law will at least have some effect but was afterwards obliged to admit, that in securing the object in view ; that in not much stress was to be laid on a calcusome instances the vigilance of its opera- lation of that sort. He entered also into tion will arrest the criminal; and that in a speculation with respect to the rivalship others the contemplation of its penalties of America in point of manufactures. will prvent the offence ! But another The probability of what this country may objection is, that these laws cannot be suffer from such a rivalship, I consider to executed without the co-operation of the be very remote. The extent of land to West Indians themselves. "Are there not be cultivated in America, compared even already laws in force, prohibiting any with the increasing rate of population, intercourse between the West Indians and must retard such an event for a great North America, for the purpose of procur. number of years. But when I venture to ing provisions ? Was there been found any put the case of the loss of the West Indies, deficiency with respect to the observance I talk so from a certainty that there is of those laws? And yet provisions may no danger of such a separation, and from be purchased more easily than slaves. a firm conviction that it cannot be the
Allusions have been made to an expres- result of the present bill. As to the point sion brought forward by me on a former of right, I affirm that, from the nature of evening, and repeated this night by an the connexion, no right can be more hon. friend of mine. From the construc- unquestionable than for the legislature of tion put upon that expression, I conceive Great Britain to interfere in regulating that it has been misunderstood. My hon. the external commerce of her colonies. friend did not say, “ the West Indies are The right hon. gentleman says, that if you cut them off from one branch of trade, particular purposes, I certainly shall reyou become yourselves bound to supply gret its operation, and sincerely wish that the deficiency. In point of fact, the argu- any other mode of disposing of them ment is not founded, for you have already could be suggested. It is urged against interdicted them from many branches of us, “ You say, that they are unjustly torn commerce, which you do not supply. But from their friends and their country: what is the extent of his argument, as why, then, do you not take the means applied to the present case? To say that to restore them?” If it were possible to you are bound to supply the West India secure this object, I should grudge no planters with slaves with your own hands expense with which it might be attended. and your own capital, till such a time as But one of the evils of this robbery is, those gentlemen are convinced that no that it leaves no means of restitution. fresh supplies are necessary, is to suppose Should we attempt again to convey these that you have formed something like the poor wretches to the coast of Africa, worst of all contracts. It is to suppose they might only be left to perish by fa. that you have sold yourselves to the devil mine, or be exposed to a repetition of the to the end of time, and are engaged to do sufferings which we now deprecate ; and his service, without the possibility of this circumstance in itself I can only conredemption. When the right hon. gen- sider as a fresh stigma which attaches to tleman talks of the danger to be appre- this abominable traffic, and a more conhended from slaves newly imported from vincing proof of its foul atrocity:-As to a country, where neither from religion, the practicability of the different plans, morality, nor philosophy, they have ac- so far as they are connected with the quired any laudable sentiment or good question of the co-operation of the colodisposition, where neither precept nor nies, if the plan of abolition can be carexample has concurred to form them to ried into effect with the consent and coamiable manners and habits of virtue, operation of the colonies, my plan is full what is the obvious inference? If there as easy and practicable as that of the right is one country in the world so peculiarly hon. gentleman; but if it must be en. unfortunate, so totally depraved, is not forced without their consent, his plan is this wretched picture of our nature owing more difficult in execution, and less cer. to the existence of tbat abominable traffic, tain in its operation than mine. Evasion which thus tends to eradicate from the becomes easy, in proportion as distinction character any thing amiable, or even hu- is difficult. Would it be harder to puman ? Can there exist any obligation to nish a man for importing negroes, or for be the conductors of such a trade? We only importing them above a certain age ? cannot have made such a contract. If | In the one case, the enactment is broad we have, it is one of those few contracts, and positive, and removes at once all which ought to be violated. The right difficulty and deception; in the other, hon. gentleman, in taking notice of the the distinction is matter of intricacy and particular elauses of the bill, lamented doubt, and opens a wide door for impothat there should be one, enacting, that sition and subterfuge.-But is the right those slaves, who are already in the hon. gentleman authorized by the West islands should be taken from one island India planters to state their co-operation to another, and thus separated from the in the plan which he has proposed ? Have connexions they may have formed. If they not constantly opposed the utmost be conceives the attachment which binds obstacles to every step which has been them to the place they bave once inha- taken in this business ? Did not the act bited to be so strong, with what sentiments to prevent the exportation of negroes to must he contemplate the separation which other islands meet with the opposition of they, in the first instance, experience those who are enemies to the abolition ? from their native soil-that separation Their co-operation we cannot hope for, which breaks asunder all the bands of na- and never shall have.-Doubts have been ture, which tears them from every object attempted to be raised with whom the of sympathetic fondness, from every scene right rested to decide upon this question. of early endearment ?-With respect to Unquestionably, the assembly of Jamaica the clause which enacts, that those ne- may decide upon matters of internal jurisgroes who shall be attempted to be brought diction, but it belongs to the parliament over for the purpose of illegal commerce, of Great Britain to regulate the concerns shall be sold, and the money applied to of external trade. It is not fit that the as. sembly of Jamaica should take upon itself has always been considered as its best the province of the British legislature. Yet criterion, the national laws, we shall such is the scope of that reasoning, which form no very favourable conclusiod. goes to affirm, that this trade cannot be What can be more detestable than the abolished without the consent of the co- laws of Barbadoes? And if any thing can lonies. With respect to the existence of exceed tbe letrer of the law of Barbadoes, a supposed engagement sanctioning the it is the practice of Jamaica, as described trade, and pledging the faith of parlia by Mr. Bryan Edwards, a man justly enment for its continuance, whenever par- titled to every praise. I do not impute liament at any time thinks proper to en. that spirit of cruelty to individuals; it is courage a trade, it by no means binds it. the inevitable consequence of slavery. self either to carry it on, or to compensate This trade, it is said, has existed a hun. for its abolition. When I opposed the dred years. Slavery, it is to be lamented, commercial treaty with France, on the is much older. We have had writers upon ground that it would be prejudicial to our slavery among the ancients, and there trade with Portugal, I never pushed the we can trace the same effects, produced argument so far as to contend, that be- by this detestable practice, that we have cause by a former treaty, we had encou- occasion to witness in modern times, raged the trade with Portugal, we were The authority of Aristotle has been indispensably bound to afford it the same quoted; and what does he say on the subcountenance, and not to divert commerce ject ? “ The Barbarians are slaves by nginto any other channel. But what have ture, and made for the service of the we done this session and the last ? We Greeks." Finding the practice subsisting have, on the ground of the scarcity of among his countrymen, this occurred to provisions, entirely stopped a great trade, him as the most satisfactory mode of ac. the distillery trade. No proposition can counting for its origin; and in another be more evident, than that whenever any place he says: “ You must not introduce motive of policy requires a trade to be sup- what is too improbable, even in fiction ; pressed, the legislature is immediately au- | therefore you must not represent a slave thorized in employing measures to sup- as a good man ; for the character, though press it. But the suppression of this trade not impossible, is contrary to nature and is called for not only by motives of po- to general experience." Nothing, indeed, licy, but of humanity; and by what is far can be more true than that all the virtues superior to any considerations either of of man are allied to liberty : in the gepolicy or humanity-the principles of jus- nerous soil of freedom they take deep tice. The right hon. gentleman admits, root, and acquire full vigour and matuthat without some regulations the trade rity; their vices foster on the dunghill of not only cannot be carried on, consist. slavery, and shoot forth with nauseous ently with policy and prudence, but con- luxuriance.—But the right hon. gentleman sistently with humanity and justice says, that even if we were to abandon the When he admits this right of regulation, trade from a principle of justice, we should all question with respect to the right of gain nothing on the score of humanity. interference is at an end. If we have a I will not repeat the argument so often right to stop the importation of all slaves enforced, that we ought to abstain from above twenty, why not stop the importa. crimes without any consideration of the tion of all ? The right hon. gentleman consequences: but I will ask, if we abanhas taken notice of the unfounded calum don the trade at the present moment, who nies circulated against the planters. Un- are likely to take it up? Will the French, doubtedly, a great body of evidence has will the Dutch, will 'the Americans embeen brought forward to prove, that many bark in such an undertaking ? If, from a acts of cruelty have been perpetrated, principle of justice, this great country under the sanction of this odious traffic. takes the lead in renouncing this abomi. This, indeed, is no good reason why the nable traffic; if America bears testimony planters, who partake of the characters of to the same cause, and France, already any mixed body of men, should be branded pledged by her own declarations, persewith one general stigma. It cannot, veres in the course she has adopted, may however, be denied, that wherever there not this powerful example bethe most effecis slavery, there will be abuse. If with tual step to a final abolition ? I ask those respect to the West Indies, we judge of who questioned your right to legislate for the national character from that which Jamaica, what right you bave to legislate