Abbildungen der Seite

port, when they should have brought their | islands, but' to that intermediate state of inquiries to a conclusion, in order to enactenfold misery which they suffered in their ble all concerned, to form a judgment of transportation from the coast of Africa to what was proper to be done respecting the the West Indies. · He was ready to call subject next session, He wished there evidence to the bar to prove the fact. fore to know how soon they would be able When put on ship-board, the poor unhappy to print their report? With regard to the wretches were chained to each other hand abolition of the Slave Trade, he thought it and foot, and stowed so close, that they unnecessary, visionary, and impracticable; were not allowed above a foot and a half but he wished some alteration and modi. each individual. Thus crammed together, fication of the Trade to be adopted. In like herrings in a barrel, they generated considering the subject, however, he hoped putrid disorders, and all sort of dangerous the House would not forget the trade, diseases, so that when their overseers came commerce, and navigation of the country. to look over them in the morning, they

Mr. Rolle said, he had received instruc-had daily to pick numbers of dead slaves tions from his constituents to inquire if out of their rows, and to unchain their the grievances alleged to result from the carcasses from the bodies of their wretched Slave Trade were founded, and if it should fellow-sufferers, to whom they had been appear that they were, to assist in applying a fastened. Nor was it merely to the slaves remedy. He was glad the hon.member had that the baneful effects of the contagion put off the discussion till the next session, thus created was confined; it affected the as it would give gentlemen an opportunity ship's crew, and numbers of the seamen of considering the subject with more employed in the horrid traffic died every mature deliberation.

voyage. This called aloud for a remedy, Mr. Martin asked, supposing the slaves and that remedy ought to be applied were treated ever so humanely, when they immediately. If they did not apply some were carried to the West Indies, what remedy without delay, Letween the present compensation there was for their being session and the beginning of the next, torn from their nearest relations, and from 10,000 lives would be lost. He therefore every thing that was dear to them. He wished this grievance to be taken into hoped that no political advantage, no consideration, independent of the general national expediency, would weigh in the question; and that some regulation, such scale against the eternal rules of moral as restraining the captains from taking rectitude. When the subject therefore above a certain number of slaves on board, came to be fully discussed, he should think according to the size of their vessels, himself the wickedest wretch on earth, if | obliging them to let in fresh air, and provide he did not do every thing in his power to better accommodation for the slaves during put a stop to the Slave Trade.

their passage, and such other regulations Sir W. Dolben said, that although the as should suggest themselves to the House, university of Oxford had not presented any should be adopted, petition for the abolition of the Slave Trade, Mr. Young thought it extremely proper they had instructed him to assist in attain that the consideration of the subject should ing that desirable object, and with a piety go over to the next session. becoming that venerable body, to propose, Lord Penrhyn said, that he only spoke by the distribution of religious books and for himself and his constituents, when he other means, the taking of some steps to- pressed for an immediate inquiry into the wards the improvement of the minds of Slave Trade. The African merchants the African slaves, and inculcating a due felt their characters hurt, and therefore sense of their moral and religious duties. they had an undoubted right to call for an He did not intend, at present, to enter early investigation of the subject, that into the discussion of the abolition of the their reputation might be cleared from Trade but he wished to say a word or two the ill-founded calumny which had been on a matter that in his mind was a most thrown upon it. With regard to the facts crying evil, and called for an immediate stated by the hon. baronet his' argument remedy, and that was the intermediate proved too much, because the whole profit state of misery suffered by the slaves. He of the voyage of the captains employed in neither alluded to their sufferings at home the Slave Trade arose from the number at the hands of their cruel countrymen, of negroes they could bring to the Westnor to their sufferings from their unfeeling India market in good health; and theremasters, the planters in the West India fore it was so much their interest to

preserve them that it was not likely they that the House might know what time should suffer them to generate mortal dis- they had to spare for this purpose, he cases in the manner described.

| desired to learn how often in the year the Sir James Johnstone professed himself a ships employed in the Slave Trade sailed friend to the abolition of the Slave Trade, to Africa. and said that it was highly necessary that Sir W. Dolben answered, that ships the House should, as soon as possible, were sailing from the various ports of the come to some decision on the subject, as kingdom to the ports of Africa ev ry the news of the intention of the legislature fortnight. to adopt some measures in their favour Mr. Whitbread professed himself a , had reacbed the West-India islands, and strenuous advocate for the abolition of the

unless ascertained, the poor creatures Slave Trade. hopes might be raised too high, and bad Mr. Pelham said, that he had not sufficonsequences might follow. He had lately cient confidence in his own abilities and heard from the island of Grenada, and information, to bring forward a proposition there the slaves were so full of the subject on the Slave Trade, unless he thought that that the common exclamations among he should be bonoured with the support them were, “ Mr. Wilberforce for negro! and assistance of the House; but he had Mr. Fox for negro! The Parliament for very maturely considered the subject, and "negro! God Almighty for negro!” ..had he not known, that the business was · Mr. Lorraine Smith was an advocate for in the hands of an hon. gentleman, whose the abolition of the Trade, and observed, absence from the House, and the cause of that those gentlemen who admitted that it, no man lamented more sincerely than some regulation was necessary, by impli- himself, he should have ventured to have cation admitted that some abuses did exist proposed a plan for the regulation of the in that traffic, because of necessity, if Slave Trade, that appeared to him likely regulations were proper, there must exist to produce some salutary effects. somethiog that required regulation. Mr. Pitt declared, that he should be

Mr. Pitt said, he was almost certain extremely happy, if he thought the circumthat the committee of privy council would stances of the House were such as to enable not be able to bring their inquiry to a them to proceed to an immediate disconclusion in time to print their report cussion of the subject; but as that did not before the session ended

appear, from the reasons he had before Mr. Bastard said, the whole country stated, to be the case, he could only assure had petitioned; and was it any satisfaction the hon. gentleman, that the same motives to the country to say, the committee of that would induce him to oppose an inquiry privy council are inquiring? Who knew into the subject early in the next session any thing of what was doing by the com- of parliament, would make him rejoice to mittee of privy council, or what progress receive any information and assistance in they were making? The inquiry ought the interim from every gentleman who to have been instituted in that House, would so far favour him, and help to bring and ia the face of the public, that every the matter to a point. body concerned might know what was Mr. Pelham said, that if it were judged doing. Petition after petition had been improper to abolish the Slave Trade en. presented, and was it any answer fitting tirely, the sooner it should be regulated that House to say, “ We cannot attend to the better ; and therefore, after what the your petition to-day; to-morrow we hope right hon. gentleman had said, he would to have a holiday; and we must defer take an opportunity of submitting a pro. inquiring into the allegations of your position to the House on the subject in the petitions till next session.” How re- course of the present session. ' proachful was such a delay, when an hon. 1 The Resolution was agreed to nem. con. baronet had stated facts which were shocking to humanity, and called for an Debate in the Commons on the Petitions immediate remedy. The hon. baronet relative to the Government of Quebec.] May had offered to prove the facts at the bar 18. Mr. Powys moved, that the Petition of the House. He hoped, therefore, be of the ancient and new subjects of bis Mawould move, that a committee might be jesty, the inhabitants of the province of appointed to inquire into their existence, I Quebec, which was presented to the that a remedy might be applied before the House on the 11th of March, might be sailing of the next ships to Africa; and again read. The same was accordingly

[ocr errors]

read, setting forth, '“ That, after the con- | Bill, allowing such privileges as are already quest of the province of Canada by the granted to the Roman Catholic Religion, arms of Great Britain, the Petitioners, as being inadequate to the government of in compliance with his Majesty's Pro- this extensive province, the cause of much clamation, bearing date the 7th day of confusion in our laws, and fraught with October 1763, settled and became estab-trouble and uneasiness to his Majesty's lished in the new-acquired colony of loyal subjects here, and that the House Quebec, in full reliance on the faith of will be pleased to concur in establishing the Crown of Great Britain, as expressed his Majesty's affectionate subjects of this in that Proclamation, for the enjoy- province in the full enjoyment of their ment of those laws, that freedom and civil rights as British subjects, and in security in Canada, which the principles granting them a free elective house of of the English Constitution afforded in assembly: in these hopes they presume every part of the British dominions in to suggest that clauses of the following America; and that the petitioners and import may be inserted in the Act of Parthe inhabitants of the province have cheer- liament, which shall be made to confirm a fully, on every occasion, obeyed the con- free constitution to this country. trolling powers of the Parliament of Great 1st. “ That the House of representBritain, and with patience have suffered, atives or assembly be chosen by the during a period of anarchy and war, rather parishes, towns, and districts of the than wound his Majesty's feelings, or em- province, to be composed of his Majesty's barrass the Parliament with remonstrances old and new subjects, in such manner as and petitions, at a time when the safety of to the wisdom of Parliament may seem the nation made sacred every moment of most proper; that the assembly be tripublic deliberation. The actions and con- ennial, and the members elected every duct of the petitioners, when truly repre. | three years. sented, will best express the sincerity of 2nd. “ That the council consist of not their loyalty and attachment to the Crown less than thirty members, and, in case of and Government of Great Britain ; and division on any measure before them, that that the petitioners look with concern on no act shall be passed unless at least twelve the burthen of Great Britain, and with members agree to carry the vote; that great pain and commiseration they see the appointment of the members may be the distresses of his Majesty's loyal sub-during their residence in the province, jects, who, driven from their estates, and for life, yet subject to temporary leave - wealth, and possessions, are daily taking of absence, as mentioned in the 11th ar. shelter in this British colony, though ticle, and that they serve as counsellors their unsettled and distressed situation may, without fee or reward. . for the present, hinder them from bringing 3rd. “ That the criminal laws of Engforward their petitions and their claims; land be continued as at present estabthe House will readily perceive that a lished by the Quebec Act. government similar, or superior, to that 4th." That the ancient laws and customs under which they were born, had lived, and of this country respecting landed estates, were happy, must be considered, by those marriage settlements, inheritances, and his Majesty's unfortunate subjects, as an dower, be continued, yet subject to be affectionate proof of his Majesty's paternal altered by the legislature of Quebec; and care, and of the parliament's regard for that owners may alienate by will, as prothem, and as the first comfort which, in vided by the tenth section of the Quebec relief to their distresses, can now be Bill granted to them; and the more so, as it 5th.” That the commercial laws of Eng. will be a blessing not merely granted to land be declared to be the laws of this them, but extended to their children and Province, in all matters of trade and posterity; and that the petitioners, fully commerce, subject to be changed by the persuaded that the welfare and happiness legislature of Quebec, as in the preceding of all his Majesty's subjects are peculiarly article. objects of the serious and benign consi 6th. “ That the Habeas Corpus Act, of deration of the Commons of Great Britain, the 31st of Charles 2, be made part of the they therefore beg the attention of the constitution of this country. House to this their petition, and ardently 7th. “ That optional juries be granted request that the House will interpose in on all trials in courts of original jurisdiction, their favour for the repeal of the Quebec that they be regularly balloted for, and a pannel formed as in England, either in the 13th. “ That appeals from the courts of case of an ordinary or a special jury, at justice in this province, to the crown, be the option of the party applying for the made to a board of council, or court of same; and that pine members out of the appeals, composed of the right honourable twelve may in civil causes be sufficient to the lord chancellor, and the judges of the return verdicts, subject to be modified by courts of Westminster-hall. the legislature of Quebec, as in 4th article. 14th. “ The petitioners beg leave to

8th. “ That the sheriffs be elected by represent to the House, that, from their the house of assembly, and approved proximity to the United States, who from and commissioned by the governor at the situation and climate have many advantages annual meeting of the legislature, that over them, the internal regulations for they hold their appointment during the promoting the trade, agriculture, and period elected for, and their good beha- commerce of this province, are now beviour, and that they find reasonable secu- come more intricate and difficult, and will rity for a faithful discharge of their duty. require great care and attention, on the

9th. “ That no officer of the civil go- part of the legislature here, to watch over verament, judge, or minister of justice, the interests of this country; they therebe suspended by the governor, or com- fore request that the assembly may bave mander-in-chief for the time, from the the power of laying the taxes and duties honours, duties, salaries, or emoluments necessary for defraying (the expenses of of his appointment, but with the advice the civil government of the province, and and consent of his Majesty's council for for that purpose, that the laws now existthe affairs of the province, which suspen- ing, laying taxes and duties to be levied sion shall not continue after the annual in the province, may be repealed. sitting of the council, unless it be ap- “ Such are the intreaties and prayers proved by the same; the cause of com- of the loyal subjects of this province, and plaint, if approved, to be thereafter re- in full confidence they trust that the ported to his Majesty for hearing, and House will relieve them from the anarchy judgment thereon.

and confusion which at present prevail in Toth. “ That no new office be created the laws and courts of justice of this proby the governor or commander-in-chief vince, by which their real property is for the time, but with the advice and con rendered insecure, trade is clogged, and sent of his Majesty's said council, and to that good faith which ought and would be approved at their annual meeting, as in subsist among the people, and which is the preceding article.

the life and support of commerce, is totally ilth. “ That all offices of trust be exe destroyed, and be pleased to secure to cuted by the principal in the appointment, them a constitution and government on unless by leave of absence from the go. such fixed and liberal principles as may vernor, with advice and consent of his promote the desire the inhabitants of this council, which leave of absence shall not province have of rendering this mutilated extend to more than twelve months, or colony a bright gem in the imperial crown be renewed by the governor, but with the of Great Britain, and that may call on the approbation of the council at the annual present generation for their unceasing acsession.

knowledgments and gratitude, and upon 12th. “ That judges be appointed to the future to feel as the present that the preside in the courts of the province to security and happiness of the people and hold their places during life, or their good I province of Quebec depend on an union behaviour, and that they be rewarded with, and submission to, the crown and with sufficient salaries, so as to confine government of Great Britain." them to the functions of administering The petition of the merchants trading justice; that every cause of accusation to Quebec, and the petition of Adam for a removal, proceeding from the go. Lymburner, agent from the province of vernor, shall follow the rule laid down in Quebec, being also read, Mr. Powys the 9th article; and every cause of accu- moved, that the House should resolve sation for a removal, on the part of the itself into a committee to consider of the public, shall proceed from the house of said petitions, and that Mr. Lymburner assembly, and be heard by the council, be heard on the matter of the said which, if well founded, shall operate a petitions. This being agreed to, the suspension, and in either case be decided House went into the Committee, Mr. in appeal and report to his Majesty. Lymburner was then called to the bar, and read a variety of written documents, and on whom the stigma would attach? stating the proceedings which had taken On the contrary, did not every inhabitant place before the judges in Canada, from of that province avow the principle of whence it appeared, that their decisions loyalty? Were they not therefore entihad been formed on vague and indeteríi- tled to protection Mr. Powys men. nate principles, one deciding according to tioned, that Canada came into our hands the Roman law, another according to the in 1763, that soon afterwards GovernFrench law, a third according to the Eng- ment published a proclamation, declaring, lish law, and a fourth, without regard to that as soon as circumstances would admit, any code of law, but solely in conformity | British laws should be extended to Canada, to the dictates of his conscience. The and a suitable system of government documents also afforded proof of the ex- adopted. Under the faith of that procla. istence of a variety of acts of oppression mation, many persons bad settled in Ca. and injustice in the practice of the law in nada. He then stated that rash and fatal Canada, which called aloud for remedy. . measure, the Quebec Act (as it was · Mr. Powys now rose. He said, that he called) which passed in 1774, that in. well knew that the subject to which he stituted a new form of government, creatmeant to call their attention was not, in ing a legislature, council, judges, and spite of its magnitude, likely to engage officers, under, certain rules and regula. the general attention of the House, be- tions. No man had contended, when the cause it did not immediately affect their Bill was under discussion, against its being interests, nor those of their constituents. merely a Bill of experiment, and meant It however involved the prosperity of a only to have effect for a limited period. whole province; a province great in ex. Having read some passages from the Act, tent, considerable in population; a pro- and quoted the words “ for a certain time,” vince which the House and the country as an unanswerable proof, that the Bill had been taught to look up to as likely, was meant only to be a temporary law, in some measure, to recompense the loss Mr. Powys pointed out powers that the of the colonies that now constituted the Bill gave, under which a certain number United States of America. The part of it of persons were invested with peculiar aucalled the province of Quebec was inha. thorities, without any limited time, and bited by three different descriptions of had the authority not only of making the persons; first, the ancient inhabitants and law, but of declaring and administering it. natives; next, the multitude of settlers He asked if that was not the precise crifrom Great Britain, and the other parts of terion of a despotic, government. He Europe; and lastly, the great number of could quote one of the highest and most loyalists, who, having forfeited their es- respectable opinions for declaring that it tates, and been forced to abandon their was. He alluded, he said, to Mr. Gib. situations, in consequence of their loyalty bon, who, speaking of the fall of the Roto the crown of Great Britain, and their man Empire, stated, “ that the form of a affection and love for our government and free government was totally lost, from the laws, had fled for refuge to the pro- moment that the executive department vince of Canada. These loyalists were of became the legislative." -Mr. Powys next two sorts, those under sir John Johnson observed, that a variety of nice and inin the upper parts of Canada, who had teresting questions must nécessarily derequested his Majesty to form them into pend on the due decisions of the courts in a distinct settlement; the others, persons Canada, in cases of civil right; that per of a different description, but who feeling sonal liberty was a civil right; and what equally the pressure of the law, as it now sort of security had the subject for his stood, had petitioned that House for re- personal liberty where the law was undelief, and had been joined in their prayer fined, loose, and unfixed ? In cases of by the merchants resident in Canada, and property, the laws of Canada were so trading to that province. The object of vague and uncertain, that, from one or the petition was, to relieve them, and two of the documents read at the bar, it emancipate them from that absurd code was proved, that neither the judges nor of laws which was unjustly called the the lawyers pretended to know what the Constitution of Canada. Was there, law there is. He reminded the Committee among the various descriptions of persons that it had been proved that some judges resident in Canada, any to whom the governed their decisions by the municipal principle of disloyalty could be imputed, or Roman law, others by the French law,

« ZurückWeiter »