« ZurückWeiter »
Bill? The hon. baronet had talked a great / ration of the general question till the next deal of the petitions, and had stated many session, it became their duty to provide strong facts against the petitioners. After against the possibility of any abuse arising what had been said, might not the petiti- in consequence of their suspension. He did oners have a wish to clear themselves; and not know that any of the abuses that had was not that a reasonable wish? The hon. been stated existed, but he saw a possibility baronet doubted whether they would come of those abuses, or some other arising out to the bar. Did he think they would not of their latter resolution; and surely the have their characters cleared ; most un- petitioners had no right to object against doubtedly they would. The hon. baro- a Bill calculated to prevent the growth net had urged the great necessity of pass- of such abuses. He wished, therefore, ing his Bill in the present session. What that the motion had been for the petitioners effect could it produce? The greatest not to be heard against the second reading, part of the ships employed in the African but in a committee, where the facts which Trade were already sailed; it could not they might reasonably question, or the therefore have any operation upon them; propriety of the regulations could alone be and those captains who were yet to sail, gone into. In his mind, the best mode after what had passed in that House parliament could adopt, would be, to keep would be cautious in what they did from the subject entire till the next session, and, principles of prudence, if they were not therefore, he should wish to make as little influenced by motives of pure humanity. alteration in any part of the conduct of What inducements any persons might the Trade as possible; but if, upon inquiry, have to disperse calumny he knew not, it was proved that it was carried on in a but he was certain the merchants of Liver- | manner free from abuse, merely to take pool had been grossly calumniated. The care to secure that it should so continue petitioners considered the Bill as an attack to be carried on till next session. upon them, which was not justified by Mr. Fox could not see without concern either fact or necessity. It singled them the species of opposition which had arisen out from every other description of mer- against the present Bill. From what he chants, and therefore, feeling it to be as knew of his noble friend's mind, he was sure unwarrantable as it was. ill timed, they he did not mean to oppose the principle of were determined to dispute its principle the Bill, but to dispute the truth of the throughout.
facis alleged as the reasons and grounds Mr. Pitt observed, that the noble lord of the Bill. 'That being, he was persuaded, had said the petitioners were determined his noble friend's opinion, he wondered he to dispute the principle of the Bill through- should make that a reason for opposing out: now, he would take upon him to the Bill upon the second reading. Such assert, that no man could dispute the a Bill was not to be answered by high principle of the Bill; for what was the sounding words, and by saying, these principle, but an endeavour to prevent a abuses that are stated to prevail are calumcertain number of persons, sent on board nies. Out-door reports might be called of ships from Africa to the West Indies, I calumnies; but no man could call those from being ill-treated during their passage? calumnies, which were facts stated by a The petitioners might dispute the facts on member of that House, in his place, who which the Bill was professedly founded, was ready to call witnesses to the bar, to and question whether they existed at all; prove the truth of them. That being the or, if the facts were admitted or proved, case, he, for one did assume the facts, and they might dispute the propriety of the it would be extremely unjust to the petiregulations contained in the Bill; but no tieners, were he not to make such assumpman could say, that if the facts actually tion. He did not think there was a man existed, it was not proper to meet those in that House, who wished an opposition facts with adequate regulations. For his to the Bill, if the facts stated by the hon. own part, he should not agree to any re- baronet were true, and therefore the petigulation the Bill might contain, which tioners should have said—what? Not that opposed indirectly the Trade itself, when they meant to dispute the principle of the the general question of its abolition was Bill, but desired to come to the bar of that not before the House. With regard to | House to disprove those facts; and the time the present Bill, its object was such as the to do that was when the Bill should be in House were bound to take up; because, a committee. He could not, therefore, having resolved to suspend the conside- avoid observing, that the mode of applica, tion which the petitioners had adopted | hon. baronet had asserted facts which was somewhat suspicious, and looked like might or might not be true: his poble a desire to delay the passing of the Bill, friend had said, they are not true ; but he rather under the hope, in consequence of didnot say, “Let us go into them, but let us the advanced period of the session, to get it not oppose the second reading of the Bill.” thrown out, than from any confidence in Mr. Fox said he wished the petitioners to their being able to prove, that the alleged be heard before their Committee, where abuses did not exist. The Bill might un- they might bring forward their evidence doubtedly be a bad bill; the facts on with effect. He had heard a great inany which it was grounded might be false; the facts of a similar nature with those stated regulations of the Bill might be unwise, by the hon. baronet; but he sincerely and unfit to be adopted; either might be hoped that upon examination, they would wrong or right, but the Bill ought not be found to be greatly exaggerated. He to be postponed. It was not a measure hoped and believed so. In the first place, on the African Trade in general, but a he entertaioed the presumption, that manmeasure of a separate and distinct nature, kind, who certainly were not naturally which, that House having resolved to cruel, would not be cruel where there could suspend the consideration of the whole be no end; and, in the next, he could not of the general question, were bound to conceive that the facts alleged were true adopt, if, upon examination before the to the extreme extent that was alleged. Committee, it could be made applicable to If any thing could convince him of the . its object. The right hon. the Chancellor badness of the cause of those concerned in of the Exchequer had anticipated a good the Slave Trade, it was the sort of argudeal of what had suggested itself to his ments that were resorted to for its defence. mind, when he remarked, that, however The hon. baronet had stated some of these, much inclined they might be to believe and he had heard a variety of others of a that the persons employed in the branch similar nature; not only the situation of of the African Trade then in question, the negroes on their passage had been exwould not, after what had passed, venture tolled as a happy situation, but it had been to countenance or practice abuses respec- confidently asserted, that in the West In
ing the treatment of the negroes from dies they were happier and better treated Africa to the West Indies, they ought not to than the common subjects of this country. confide in the prudence of individuals in Such a mode of reasoning led him to susa case of importance, but apply a proper pect that the cause would not warrant legislative security as a guard against the better arguments, and thence he naturally possibility of abuse. Mr. Fox asked, if inferred, that it was almost indefensible. every gentleman did see that there would There was another sort of argument which be great enterprises and speculations in he must deprecate, and this was, that the any trade, liable to a less odious construc- present Bill was an attack on the merchants tion than the Slave Trade, if, from any of Liverpool. If that species of reasoning proceeding of that House, there was an were allowed, there would be an end of apparent probability that the Trade, what every possibility of reform, let the abuse ever it might be, would be either abolished, 1 to be regulated be ever so enormous. In or so regulated during the course of the the present instance no such attack was ensuing session as to be effectually altered. meant, nor was there any thing personal That being the case with the African mixed with the consideration of ihe Bill, Trade, it was the undoubted duty of that the object of which was not past animadHouse to take care, if no abuse prevailed version, but future regulation. Its object in the conduct of the Trade at present, was the measure, and not the men con. that no abuse should prevail in it for the nected with it. ensuing six months, and even that, if any Mr. Gascoyne said, that when the subabuse did prevail, greater and additional | ject was first agitated in that House, he abuses should not be practised. He had entertained but two wishes respecting thought that the fair way for those gentle. it; his first wish had been, that the submen who conceived that the facts stated ject might undergo a full, fair, and temperate were not true, would be to say, “Bring discussion ; and as he was persuaded there fortb your facts, that we may see what would not be time for the House to obtain those facts are, and perhaps we shall prove sufficient information in the course of the that you have been misled, and when you present session, for that purpose, he had thought yourself well-informed.” The closed with the right hon. gentleman's proposition to postpone its consideration thought it was for the benefit of their till the ensuing session. His second wish clients, they might wave all opposition to had been, that the question might be the Bill then, and after letting the Comreserved entire, and not prematurely mittee fill up the blanks, oppose it on the broken in upon. Since, however, he report, and show that the Bill, filled up as found it to be the wish of the House to it was, would produce such an effect on inquire into that part of the subject, the Trade in general, that it ought not to which referred to the treatment of the pass into a law. Africans during their passage from their Mr. Pitt concurred in opinion with Mr. own coasts to the West Indies, he was wil. Fox, but hoped, after the opposers of the ting to meet gentlemen on that investiga- Bill had of themselves first desired to be tion. The hon baronet had asserted, that heard against the Bill at the second a variety of abuses existed in the treatment reading, and afterwards consented to be of the negroes on ship-board, but he was heard against it before the Committee, that informed that no such abuses existed. On they would not again alter their mode of that question, therefore, they were fairly proceeding, and postpone the evidence at issue.
they meant to call still longer. At length it was settled, that the Bill Mr. Gascoyne spoke of the difficulty the should be read a second time on the 30th merchants laboured under, having first to instant.
state evidence against the Bill, and that
evidence remaining to be afterwards June 2. The House being in a Com counteracted by evidence to be brought mittee on the Bill, Mr. Whitbread in the in support of the Bill. chair, counsel were called to the bar. Sir W. Dolben conceived it to be in
Mr. Piggott opened as counsel against cumbent on the petitioners to state in the Bill, and began with stating himself to argument by their counsel, or in evidence be under a considerable difficulty in by their witnesses, whatever they had to respect to the sort of case that he ought say against the Bill. He should afterto lay before the Committee, in conse- wards proceed to lay evidence in support quence of the patrons of the Bill not of the Bill before the Committee. having previously stated the evidence they! The counsel were directed by Mr. meant to call in support of it. He desired Whitbread to proceed; and they called to be instructed by the Committee, Mr. Norris to the bar, who stated himself whether he should proceed to prove, that to have been in the African Trade about if the number of negroes to be shipped five years, but that he neither had at were to be governed by the tonnage of present, nor meant to have, any farther each versel, and that only one was to be concern in it. Mr. Norris underwent allowed to each ton, the Trade would be an examination of upwards of four hours impracticable; or whether he was to continuance, after which the chairman make out a case of another kind, and was directed to report progress, and ask prove a negative, by showing from evi- leave to sit again.On the following day, dence, that the inconveniences which had and also on the 12th and 16th, the House been talked of did not exist ?
went again into the Committee when Mr. Fox said, that in his opinion, the several witnesses were examined. counsel against the Bill had their option of one of two modes of proceeding, by June 17. The House went again into adopting either of which they might the Committee. The evidence on the equally promote the interest of their part of the petitioners being closed, the clients; they might either prove to the Committee proceeded to fill up the blanks. Committee, that any reduction of the Mr. Pitt moved that the operation of the number of Africans now put on board Bill be retrospective, and that it comeach vessel, would go the length of ruining mence froni the 10th instant; which was the Slave Trade altogether, or they might, agreed to. When the Commitiee came by evidence, instruct the Committee how to fill up the blank respecting the tonnage to fill up the blanks of the Bill, by showing of the ships, and the number of the Afwhat was the number of Africans that ricans to be carried in the different sized they might be limited to, without putting vessels, those who were concerned in the Trade Sir W. Dolben proposed to apportion in any danger of being material sufferers five men to three tons, of every ship of by the regulation; or if the counsel 150 tons burthen, or under five feet between decks, with a cabin fitted up for the proposes to enact, will or will not amount reception of slaves; three men to two to an abolition of the Trade? These are tons in all vessels above 150 tons, with the two points to which the counsel wbo equal accommodations ; and one man to pleaded this day at your bar, on behalf of one ton, in all other vessels, without such the African merchants, directed his prinaccommodations. Sir William said this cipal attention, and they do in reality proportion diminished a little upon the comprehend the whole of the business average of three years; that he was aware before us. it was not equal to two men to a ton, but In his arguments on the first of these that no man in his senses could believe it points the counsel declared, that the apto be really detrimental to the Trade. pellation of abuse could only be given to
Mr. Gascoyne said, that less than two such a mode of conveyance as is dan. men to a ton was less than could be con- gerous to the lives or health of the sistent with the continuance of the Trade. negroes. I accept his definition, narrow Such a mode of filling up the blanks would as it is, and shall make it the basis of my prove an abolition of the Trade, and there- reasoning. To the question then, is the fore he must take the sense of the Com- present mode of transportation compaa mittee upon it.
tible with a due regard to the lives and Lord Penrhyn contended against de- healths of the Africans, what has been the priving persons, so interested as his con- evidence at your bar? what the lana stituents were in the Slave Trade, of their guage of witnesses? They told you, that rightful advantages by an “ ex post facto" five feet six inches in length, and sixteen law. The measure would abolish the inches in breadth, was as much as their Trade, as far as the present traders were practice, upon an average, allotted to each concerned in it. On the African Trade, slave; that this space was all the room it ought to be remembered, that two- they could allow for the African and his thirds of the commerce of this country irons, and that in order to accommodate depended. The Committee might pre- him to this extent, which they described vent Great Britain from carrying on the as liberal, recourse is bad to every posTrade, but they could not prevent other sible contrivance. In the first place, the countries from carrying it on: they would lower deck is entirely covered with bodies : therefore not befriend the Africans. in the next, the heighth between the floor
Sir W. Dolben affirmed, that he had not of that deck and the roof above (a heighth asserted things incapable of being substan- which they acknowledge seldom amounts tiated by proof. He was ready to call to five feet eight inches) is divided by a witnesses, and adduce evidence, both by platform, which is also covered with bodies. documents and facts.
Thus the distance from the floor on which Mr. Gascoyne wished that the witnesses some of the Africans are laid, to the platin support of the Bill had been produced; form on which others are spread, is but though to have them then, might be un- two feet in many cases, and but two feet parliamentary.
| and a few inches in the rest; and from Sir W. Dolben said, they were ready to the platform to the upper deck, which appear, and were very respectable people. constitutes the roof, there is but a similar
Mr. Beaufoy said : The remarks of the space. The same ingenuity of package, noble lord in support of the veracity of and perfection of contrivance, is employed the witnesses whom the friends of the Af. according to the witnesses' account, in rican Trade thought fit to call to your bar, filling every other part of the vessel in I am not inclined to dispute. Their evi- which a human body can be stowed. Such dence is clear, the facts they have estab- is the mode of conveyance. Now, what lished are important, and the natural con. from the evidence of the witnesses at your clusions from these facts, bow.ever oppo- bar (an evidence given with reluctance, site to those which they intended should on a cross-examination, and therefore of be drawn, are, in my judgment, decisive decisive credibility) is the effect of that on the case. On this occasion two ques-conveyance on the lives and health both tions arise : the first is, Whether in the of the negroes and the seamen ? " I do present mode of transporting to the West confess," says one of the witnesses, “ that Indies the negroes which are purchased when I was master of the Tartar, I lost in Africa, such abuses exist as require in one voyage a third of my seamen, and the restrictions of law? the second is, 120 negroes, which was also a third of the Whether the restrictions which this Bill whole." Was this the total of your loss? “ I cannot say it was, 12 negroes perished | tality even in vessels from the windward by an accident, they were drowned.” Had coast of Africa ; but in those of Bony, you no other mortality, except that of the Benin, and the Calabars, from whence 120 ncgroes, and that of the twelve? “No the greatest proportion of the slaves are other upon the voyage, but I lost between brought, the mortality is increased by a 20 and 30 negroes, by different diseases, variety of causes, of which the greater before I left the coast.”—Thus it appears, length of the voyage is one, and is said that 120 Africans, being a third of the to be twice as great, which supposes that whole, died upon the voyage, that 12 more in every hundred the deaths annually were devoured by different diseases before amount to no less than 86. Yet even the his cargo was compleat. Such is the evi- former comparatively low mortality, of dence of one of the witnesses at your bar; which the counsel speaks with satisfaction, yet the very counsel who called that wit as a proof of the kind and compassionate ness there asserts, that no abuses deserv. treatment of the slaves, even this indolent ing the notice of parliament, none which and lethargic destruction gives to the endanger the lives or affect the health of march of death 17 times its usual speed: the negroes, exist in the African Trade. it is a destruction, which, if general but The counsel, indeed, who is paid by his for ten years, would depopulate the world, clients, and who does not conceive that blast the purposes of its creation, and exhis honour is pledged to the truth of his ar- tinguish the human race. After these guments, or that his character is concerned proofs of the horrors of an African voyage, in the justice of his cause, may think him- what shall we think of the persons who self at liberty to contradict the common have the confidence to tell you that the feelings, and affront the common sense of conveyance of the Africans from their mankind; but I cannot persuade myself, native land, is a mercantile concern with that such of the members of this House as which you should not interfere, and while have hitherto opposed the Bill, will venture they presumptuously caution you against on the same desperate assertions. On this an officious intermedling, likewise tell you point of mortality, what is the language of that you cannot be judges of the subject the other witnesses ? Though interested | _“You form," says the counsel, “ your in the Trade, and parties against the Bill, opinion of the feelings of the negroes by their confession is, that of the negroes of those that belong to yourselves; a misthe windward coast, who are men of the taken and inapplicable test; for though in strongest constitutions of any which Africa their situation you might be miserable, yet affords, no less, on an average, than five in to them the circumstances of the voyage each hundred perish in the voyage-a are not inconsistent either with comfort voyage it must be remembered of but six or happiness.” Stronger still upon this weeks continuance. In a twelvemonth, point is the language of the witness. We, then, what must be the proportion of the whose feelings have never known the dead? no less than 43 in every hundred; hardening influence of an African sun, 17 times the usual rate of mortality; for naturally thought that if a man, be his. all the estimates of life suppose, and Dr. complexion what it may, be suddenly torn Price expressly declares, that except in from his family and friends, and be viovery particular situations (of which as we lently wrenched from his native soil, his find from the history of Captain Cook's suffering must be great, and that, if to Voyages, the sea is not one) no more than these afflictions be added the perpetual a fortieth of the people, or two and a half loss of freedom, his misery must be inin the hundred die within the space of a tense. "Just the reverse," say the wit. year: such is then the comparison. In nesses; “ the direct contrary is the fact; the ordinary course of nature the number the voyage from Africa is the happiest of persons (including those in age and period of his life.” I should almost be infancy, the weakest periods of existence tempted to conclude from the evidence at who perish in the course of a twelvemonth, the bar, that the fetters on the hands of is at a rate of but two and a half in a huna the Africans and the irons on their feet, dred; but in an African voyage, notwith- are intended to check the wild expres. standing the old are excluded, and few sions of tumultuous and frantic joy, rather infants are admitted, notwithstanding the than counteract the gloomy purposes of people are in the firmest period of life, the despair. Some of us imagined, that when list of deaths presents an annual mortality to the burning atmosphere of the Torrid of 43 in a hundred : it presents this mor- Zone is added the suffocating beat of