Abbildungen der Seite

that had the good fortune to be under prevent their being crowded too close tohis command.

I gether; the securing to them good and Mr. Dundas said, that po man was more sufficient provisions, and other matters willing than himself, to admit the merits of conducive to their health and their aca sir John Macpherson, while he held the commodation. He should not have thought government of Bengal, and therefore he of bringing in the Bill at that late period begged that his not having expressly taken of the session, were he not convinced of notice of that gentleman, might not be in the existence of grievances to a considerterpreted into any unwillingness on his part able extent, and satisfied, that by applyto do him every possible justice. He had ing an immediate remedy, some thousand not mentioned that gentleman, because the lives might be saved before the next sesa nature of his duty did not make any such sion of parliament. He concluded with mention necessary, nor could be have done moving, “ That this House will, immediit without going more into matter not in. ately, resolve itself into a Committee of mediately connected with the facts it was the whole House, to consider of the state his business to state, than he felt it right for and condition of the natives of Africa him to go, because in that case he must during their passage, in British ships, from not only have mentioned the merits of some the coast of Africa to their landing in but the demerits of others. He had there. | America, the West India islands, or elsefore thought it more wise to avoid any such where." allusion altogether. Sir John well knew Mr. Whitbread seconded the motion. his sentiments respecting him, and that Mr. Gascoyne said, that when the hop. there was not a single dispatch sent out to baronet had first given notice of his intenhim, while in India, that did not convey tion for leave to bring in a Bill, he had him approbation and thanks for the firm- declared his determination to oppose it, ness, integrity, and wisdom of his conduct because he considered it as highly imjo many instances. What he had said often proper to interfere with the general quesin private, he had not the smallest objec. tion, which the House had unanimously tion to declare in public, and to affirm in agreed it was too late in the session to the face of that House, that the conduct bring under discussion, and had therefore of sir John Macpherson in India, had been wisely reserved it for consideration next highly meritorious.

year. When he found, however, that the The resolutions were then agreed to hon. baronet meant only to remedy the

evils stated to exist in transporting the inDebates in the Commons on the African habitants of Africa to the West Indies, he Slave Bil.] May 21. Sir W. Dolben should not object to the bringing in of the rose in consequence of bis notice, to move Bill. He begged, however, not to be confor leave to bring in a bill for the relief sidered as pledged to support the Bill, or of those unhappy persons, the natives of to oppose it. Africa, from the hardships to which they The motion was agreed to, and the were exposed in their passage from the House having resolved itself into a Comcoast of Africa to the colonies. He had mittee, sir W. Dolben moved, That it was been honoured with the conversation of the opinion of that Cominittee that a Bill those gentlemen who had officially spoken ought to be brought in to regulate the against the introduction of such a Bill transportation of the natives of Africa to as he had given notice of, and upon find. | the West Indies. ing that he meant merely to confine the 1 Mr. Cornwall asked, what laws already object of the Bill to regulating the treat- | existed on the subject, and what facts the ment of the African natives while on ship-hon. baronet had to state to the Commitboard, and to keep it totally clear of the tee, to induce them to vote the resolution general question, that the House had re- į moved? solved to take into their consideration 1 Sir W. Dolben answered, that there next session, those gentlemen had said, / were no laws in existence on the subject; that if he would not bring in the Bill till that as to facts he had a large body of Monday next, they would have no objec- evidence ready to be adduced, if it were tion to its being introduced. The regula deemed necessary to prove that the Aftions attempted by the Bill, would regard | rican natives did suffer very great and inthe number of Africans put on board each tolerable hardships on their voyage to the ship, limiting that number in proportion West Indies. He said he could call paval to the tonnage of the vessel, in order to officers, captains of men of war, captains of Guinea-men, the mates and surgeons of a consequence might grow out of their such ships, and various other respectable late resolutions, during the intervening witnesses, to prove that the grievances months, between the end of the present endured by the natives of Africa, while on and the commencement of the next session, their passage to the colonies, were in. was a sufficient parliamentary ground tolerable.

for them to provide immediate means to Mr. Hamilton said, that the word “ re prevent the existence of such an evil. On gulate" convinced him that by such a Bill ihat ground the Bill should have his the House would, for the first time, support. He wished, however, in order sanction that most abominable traffic, un- to mark the Bill as a measure distinct from authorized by the doctrines of divine law, the general question, that the hon baronet and so repugnant to human feelings. He would alter the title, and instead of “ A therefore deprecated the voting of the bill to regulate," call it “ A bill for proresolution as a measure that would be mis. viding temporary regulations, &c.. construed as an indirect declaration on The resolution so amended was agreed the part of the House, that they approved to ; and the House being resumed, leave of the Slave Trade, and recognized it as was granted to bring in a bill for prolegal.

1.viding certain temporary regulations resSir W. Dolben observed that, as a pecting the transportation of the natives member of parliament, he could not say of Africa, in British ships, to the West that the Slave Trade was an illegal traffic, Indies and elsewhere. because no parliamentary declaration, either by statute or otherwise, maintained May 26. Sir W. Dolben brought in the this doctrine. He therefore wished, by said Bill, which was read a first time. On a Bill, to provide some temporary regula- | the motion that it be read a second time, tions in the transport branch of the Slave Mr. Gascoyne insisted that the Bill was Trade, for the comfort of the unhappy not likely to be productive of any good sufferers.

consequences, and that it could not pass Mr. Pitt reminded the House that, on without bringing forward a premature a former 'occasion he had cautiously discussion of the general question. He 'avoided giving any opinion respecting the objected to the mode of regulation prolegality or illegality of the Slave Trade, posed in the Bill, even if regulation were or whether it ought to be suffered to be necessary, as being neither practicable in continued, and if so, under what regulations, itself nor adequate to its proposed object. He meant strictly to adhere to the same If the Bill proceeded, his constituents rule with respect to the Bill then moved must, he conceived, be heard by counsel, for; but without precluding himself from and such a variety of evidence must be declaring his sentiments on either side of gone into, as would unavoidably occupy the general question, when it should come more time than the period of the session properly under consideration, he thought would admit. He therefore moved, “That be might fairly support the present motion. the Bill be read a second time upon that There was undoubtedly a possibility (and day three months." a bare possibility was sufficient ground for Mr. Brickdale seconded the motion, the argument he meant to state), that in Mr. W. Smith regarded the Bill as consequence of the resolution lately come indispensably requisite to answer the pura to by the House, those persons who poses of humanity, and put & stop to the carried on the branch of the Slave Trade cruel practices which were stated to to which the Bill referred, might, from the prevail in that branch of the African knowledge of the intention of the House Trade, to which alone the Bill pointed. to examine the subject of the Slave Trade If those who opposed the Bill designed to fully next session, put the natives of Africa examine witnesses against it, he hoped they into a worse situation during their trans- / would bring forward their evidence in as portation to the colonies, even than they compact a shape as possible. He hoped were in before, by cramming additional no gentleman would attempt to mix the numbers on board their vessels, in order question of the present Bill, with the to convey as many as possible to the West general question of the policy of the Slave Indies, before parliament ultimately de Trade, with which, in its provisions, it had cided what was most fit to be done upon no necessary connexion. He urged the the general subject of the Trade. Cer- | Becessity of interfering, without delay, in tainly, therefore, the possibility that such a case that called for reform, and to which an easy and immediate regulation was existed. It was absurd to suppose that applicable; and reasoned upon the ap- men, whose profit depended on the health pearance that the conduct of those who and vigour of the African natives, would opposed it must bear in the eyes of every purposely torment and distress them durreasonable man, maintaining that an ob ing their passage, so as to endanger their stinate resistance to the granting any lives. . He faily denied the fact. The relief to the sufferings of our fellow merchants of Liverpool were anxious for creatures in Africa, could only be imputed an inquiry; but, for what sort of an in. to a consciousness of the existence of the quiry? Not a hasty, intemperate discusgrievances in question, and an interested sion, but a full, candid, and sober investidesire to avoid inquiry, in order to pro- gation, for the sake of truth, and the crastinate regulation and reform.

satisfaction of reason. Whenever such an · Mr. Young supported the postponement inquiry took place, it would be found that and observed, that when the mind should all the idle stories of cruelty, reported to expand so as to embrace the whole of the be common on board the African ships, objects taken in by the present Bill, were groundless calumnies. He had full without at all looking at the more exten- authority from the merchants and traders sive general question, he was persuaded of Liverpool to say, that they would themgentlemen would see the extreme difficulty selves come forward with a bill during the or rather the utter impossibility of passing ensuing session, or assist the House in the Bill in the short period of the present forming one, to put the Trade under proper session. The hon. baronet had undoubt- regulation. edly proposed it with the best views and Mr. Drake said, that the hon. baronet under the most liberal and humane notions, deserved the thanks of the House for wishing to afford relief as early as possible having introduced the Bill. It did him to our suffering fellow creatures in Africa; the highest honour, and that House ought but, he was sure the hon. baronet was not to receive it with gratitude, and foster it aware of the wide field for discussion and in their bosoms. The preamble stated, inquiry his Bill would lead to. The hon. that it was to prevent the inconveniencies, gentleman who spoke last had called upon that were supposed to exist in the mode the hon. gentlemen who opposed the Bill, of conveying the natives of Africa to the to come forward and clear themselves, West Indies. He said, inconveniencies from the suspicions which they had was, in his mind, much too mild a term. incurred. It was neither fair nor parlia- | It had, he supposed, been adopted as a mentary to charge any set of gentlemen conciliatory word; but hardships, severiwith being liable to suspicion, on account ties, cruelties, or any other strong exof their public conduct as members of that pression, would be a more apposite term House. Every gentleman had an un- to be adopted; and when the Bill got to doubted right to act upon his opinion, a committee, he would move such an and upon the information he had received amendment. He reasoned upon the nefrom those most conversant with any sub- | cessity of carrying so humane an instruject before the House. He was persuaded, ment into immediate effect, stating the that the prematurely passing the present severe hardships that the poor Africans Bill would defeat its own object.

suffered, and must suffer, if six months Mr. Smith said, he had not talked of were allowed to pass over before any atthe suspicions under which the opposers tempt was made by that House to relieve of the Bill laboured, but had merely ob them; and described the miseries of an served, that as they had, a few days since, infinite number of poor wretched human professed themselves extremely anxious beings crammed together in unventilated for inquiry, in order to clear the mer- | ships, and without the benefit of any of chants of Liverpool from the suspicion of the humane regulations proposed by the countenancing the cruel practices which Bill. were reported to prevail in the conduct of Mr. Brickdale said, that, connected as the Slave Trade, it particularly behoved he was with gentlemen immediately conthem to bring forth their evidence now, cerned with the African Trade, he had and assist the House in putting the pre felt it his duty to second the motion; but sent Bill into a proper and practicable his own private sentiments led him to wish shape.

that the Trade were put under some reguLord Penrhyn denied that the cruel | lation; that regulation, however, he con· practices asserted to provail had ever ceived could not be hastily agreed' on (VOL. XXVII.]

12 P]

with any prospect of success. It would , petitioners. All he desired was, that the require more cool investigation, than the Bill might meet with fair play, and that if House could give it during the present evidence against it was listened to, he session.

might be permitted to bring evidence in Mr. Whitbread very humanely urged support of it. The purpose of his introthe House to go on with the Bill.

ducing a bill on the subject of the Slave Mr. Rose desired gentlemen, before Trade was not to bring forward the con, they resolved to continue a debate on sideration of the immorality of that Trade; so important a subject, to ask themselves it was not indirectly to accelerate a prewhether it became the cause, or would i mature discussion of the general question tell in its favour without doors, when it concerning the policy and propriety of should be known that it was agitated in continuing the Slave Trade under certain so thin a House? He therefore advised, regulations, or of abolishing it altogether; that all parties should agree to let the dis but to call the attention of parliament to cussion stand over for the morrow.

a particular and distinct object, which The Attorney General, observed, that might properly be made the ground of the House had, in a manner, been taken immediate regulation, without involving by surprise, no notice having been given any of the larger or more general conthat there was any intention to bring for siderations to which the subjeci might ward the motion. He said that there lead. It was, in fact, to save the lives of might be a stop put to the House pro- | hundreds and thousands that must necesceeding to debate a minute longer, by sarily perish, if some such regulations as he moving to have it counted; but it would had adverted to, were not adopted without be more decent in itself, and more re-delay. When he had first asserted, that spectful to a subject on which the public so many lives were liable to be lost by the attention was fixed, that the matter should continuance of the practices which had be put an end to, by withdrawing the obtained in the transport of the natives of motion.

Africa to the West Indies, he had been Upon this, sir Charles Middleton moved called upon to bring proof of his assertion. that the House might be counted, which He had answered, that he was not then being done, and forty members not being prepared to bring forward the necessary present, an adjournment took place. evidence, but that he would undertake to

| do so on a future day. It was now some May 28. Lord Penrhyn brought up a days since he had declared in his place, petition from the merchants and traders that he was ready to produce many of the of Liverpool, stating the long existence of most respectable characters; in short, the African Slave Trade; the essential witnesses out of number, and of almost benefits the country had derived from it; every description of persons likely to be the encouragement that the legislature conversant with the subject, who would held out to individuals to embark their prove at the bar, beyond all contradiction, fortunes in it; and the injury that they that the grievances he had complained of must necessarily suffer from any sudden actually existed, and that there was such measure being taken respecting it. Hav- a stowage of the persons of the unfortuing heard, therefore, that a bill was in the nate Africans, on board the transport House for the purpose of operating a par- vessels, for the sake of saving a penny, as tial regulation, which they conceived to must shock the humanity and rouse the be founded on facts that were not true, | indignation of that House, and of every they prayed to be heard by themselves man of feeling in the country. These and their counsel against the said bill. I miserable wretches had not a yard square The petition was ordered to lie on the allowed them to live in, while, in that nara table, and the petitioners were ordered to row space they were loaded with shackles, be allowed to be heard by their counsel and fastened hand to hand and foot to foot on the second reading of the Bill. Mr. to one another. When he had said he was Ewer brought up a petition from the mer- ready to prove these facts at the bar, he chants of London to the same effect with bad understood, that the hon. gentleman, the Liverpool petition, and similar motions who had appeared to be adverse on the were put upon it, and agreed to.

first mention of the Bill, had declared, they Sir William Dolben said, that he was would not object to the Bill, if such facts far from harbouring the most distant in- could be substantiated, which they did not tention of thwarting the prayer of the believe was very probable. He would do them the justice to observe, that they had them unite hand to hand, and foot to foot, only made that declaration on behalf of as well as unite interest and purse, and themselves, and had reserved the right of thus chained to one another, let them farther opposition, in case their constituents continue upon the waves during dangerous should so instruct them. It now appeared, storms and perilous gales, rolling about their constituents had so instructed them, with shackles upon them, in their own and two petitions had that day been pre- sickness and its consequences, fiuxes, pessepted. If the petitioners could contro- tilential distempers, and the danger of vert the facts he had stated, they ought premature death ! After experiencing to be heard; but if the throwing in peti- those extraordinary proofs of happiness, tions, and desiring to be heard by counsel, let the Liverpool merchants come to the was merely a manœuvre to put off his bar of the House, and substantiate their question for another year, in order to assertions, and he would readily give them enjoy another year's advantage of such in- credit, and so, no doubt, would the House! human practices, it would be a shameful in-Sir William concluded with declaring, that sult on that House, and no answer at all to he hoped the House would not suffer any those who declared they were ready to artificial or interested delay. He was bring evidence to the bar to prove the facts. ready to move that the Bill be read a He had heard several extraordinary things second time on Friday, or Monday, or asserted in defence of the subsisting mode any other early day, so that he should not of stowage of the Africans on board of be deprived of the opportunity of passing ship, in their passage to the West Indies. it during the present session. Many had said, that the ships most crowded Mr. Martin said, that when the subject were the most healthy, and others, that was last under the consideration of the the time passed on board a ship, while House, he had heard a noble lord talk of transportiog from Africa to the colonies, the calumnies that were cast upon those was the happiest part of a negro's life. concerned in the Slave Trade: now, he Strange as these assertions were, they had could not conceive what motive those been gravely urged as excuses for the who professed themselves friends to the prevailing practices, although it was un- present Bill could have, to calumniate the deniable that the negroes were in shackles merchants of Liverpool and London. and bound hand and foot all the time of For his part, he had the highest respect their passage. He had no object what- | for the character of a British merchant. ever but the cause of humanity: he had Did gentlemen who wished to put off the all along meant to avoid any thing like present Bill, consider that several thou. personality, and he trusted that he had sand lives might be saved by its being done so that day. He had a very great carried? If so, should they persist in respect for the merchants of Liverpool opposing it? He hoped gentlemen would and London. He should be a most un reflect on the importance of the subject. grateful man, if he did not profess and if after the facts that had been stated, any feel liberally towards the former, since he gentlemen could refuse to give their conhad been most hospitably entertained at sent to the present Bill, let them retire to Liverpool. Indeed, he believed that he rest - with what appetite they may." had eaten more turtle there, than he had Lord Penrhyn said, that the hon. gen. ever eaten in the course of his life; but he tleman had asked, what grounds there would readily give up their turtle and could be for opposition to the Bill? For burgundy, for mock turtle and plain port, his own part, he could declare, that his if they would consent to forego some part constituents, under the sanction and faith of their profits, for the sake of accommo- of parliament, had continued for many dating the poor negroes better while on years to carry on the African Trade; that ship-board The merchants of Liverpool, they had every reason to think it a legal he verily believed, were not aware of the Trade, and such as they might pursue hardships the natives of Africa suffered without imputation of inhumanity. Such while on board of their ships ; but in order ships as had not yet sailed, were equipped to enable them to judge of the pleasant and ready, and his constituents thought ness of their situation, he said, let some of it hard that they should be prevented from them take a summary voyage to Africa sending them on their voyages, when they and the West Indies, under similar cir- had committed no crime, and because the cumstances. And, as he understood there credulity of some persons had been imposed were generally two houses concerned, let upon. Was that no ground for opposing the

« ZurückWeiter »