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shall, “ upon conviction," and if the direct recourse to the power of parliament prosecution be commenced in one year and the injustice of resorting to any after the offence, pay double damages other, one general consideration of the and costs to the party grieved.”. By subject remains to be stated, and with the 47th clause, if a slave, in pursuit of a that I shall conclude. The population runaway, “ shall be only maimed or much of the islands consists of the many, who hurt, proportionable allowance shall be are black, and of a few who are white. made by the public.” Now who do you The few legislate for the many, without understand to be the party aggrieved, to their consent or knowledge. The ne. whom some compensation and allowance groes, I take it, are not represented in ought to be made ?- The maimed or mu- the assemblies, whose authority, howe tilated negro? No, Sir. In the eye of ever, would not have been disputed, if it the law, the owner is the only sufferer. had been exercised with any tolerable reHe suffers in his property. He loses the gard to justice, reason, or humanity. The labour of his slave. If he be reimbursed, nature of the case requires that there the justice of the island is satisfied. By should be somewhere a compulsory power a law of the Bahama islands, passed in over both parties. The highest attribute 1784, it is enacted that any person, who of parliament is to compel the guilty and shall apprehend a runaway negro, dead to protect the innocent.' The station and or alive, shall be paid twenty pounds. the trust are inseparable. Renounce Then comes the trial of the runaway, be your office, or perform your duty. fore two magistrates and three freeholders, With the assistance of a near relation, who, on conviction shall order execution, whose studies I hope will be successful as unless it shall appear toʻthem “ that such long as they are directed by generous slave has received such cruel usage from principles to honourable ends, a bill for his or her owner, as to have been the the purposes, which I have submitted to cause of his or her running away.” Ob- the House, is in some degree of forward. serve that the reward is given for taking ness. I am glad I did not foresee the undead as well as alive; that is, for shooting common difficulties that belong to it, and a slave, who inight have been driven to the extent of the labour I was about to run away by that cruel usage, which, undertake. I fear it would have deterred they say, would save him from punishi- me from attempting to do any thing. Supment if he had been taken alive. Re-posing I were at liberty to proceed as I dress, compensation, or protection to the thought fit, my desire would be to have negro is never thought of.
leave to bring in the bill, to read it once, In other islands, the proof of inno- to have it printed, and to let it lie over cence, or freedom is always put upon the till the ensuing session. Even they, who accused negro.
If he cannot prove affir- might wish to promote the objects of the matively, that he did not commit the bill by other means, would find some adfact, or that he is not a slave, conviction vantage, I hope, from having it before follows of course. The laws of Mont- them. They might take the materials, serrat take special care of provisions. A and make a better use of them. Though negro, who steals any, “ to the amount I should not have a seat in parliament, I value of twelve pence,” shall, upon due shall be ready to devote my time and my proof thereof, before the governor and labour to assist any man, who will undercouncil, “ suffer such death as they shall take to prosecute the measure. think fit to award!“ Again ; “ If flesh With this act I am content to close my of any sort shall be found in the house of parliamentary life. I set out with a fixed a negro, unless he or she can make it principle, and have adhered to it faithplainly appear they came by it honestly, fully, without looking to the right or left such negro shall undergo a whipping, for advantages. I am not conscious of .and have one of their ears cut off.” having pursued any interest at the expense
I ask pardon of the House for dwelling of any duty. I saw my way, and I knew so long, on such odious examples of de- where it would lead me. For profit or liberate legislative barbarity. It was ne- preferment I should have taken another cessary, in order to show you what sort of course. For honour and happiness I shall legislators you are referred to; into what not think that I have lived in vain, if, at hands you are to delegate your justice and the period of my existence, I should be your mercy, and how fit they are to be able to look back, as I do in this place, to irusted. To establish the necessity of a a life of unrewarded service, and to end it with an act of benevolence to mankind. I would seem to indicate a recognition of I move you, Sir, “That leave be given the principle which had been denounced to bring in a Bill for the better Regula- by the House after the fullest examination tion and Improvement of the State and upon the point of propagation, he was Condition of the Negro and other Slaves induced, from the facts upon the subject, in the Islands, Colonies, or Plantations in to differ. The state of the slaves had not the West Indies or America, under the operated totally to defeat this object. dominion of his majesty, his heirs, or But if all the advantages which should successors."
result from this propagation were not en. Mr. Serjeant'Adair said, that though he joyed, what an argument for the total concurred in the principles and object of abolition of the trade, and a complete the hon. gentleman, the general plan he prohibition of any new importation ! So had proposed was attended with such in- long as cultivation was cheaper from consurmountable obstacles as would induce tinued importation than from care and athim to give it his decided opposition. tention in rearing the children of the neHe would not, however, like the hon. groes, no pains would be taken to make gentleman, impute improper motives to the propagation answer the necessity.the conduct of any one, and would give But the principal reason that induced him the credit of being guided by the him to give his negative to the motion, purest views of humanity and of justice ; was the impolicy of interfering in the inand were his propositions brought forward ternal regulations of the colonies. He did in a stage in which they could debate mat- not oppose it as denying the right. It ters of regulation, or were they advanced was better to avoid all abstract reasonings in a colonial assembly, he should consider on the right of the legislature to form rethem entitled to support. In his mind, gulations, and to confine it to the immenothing but a total abolition could produce diate necessity of the case. He was unthat amelioration which it was the object willing to take up the intermediate points of any partial plan of regulation to ob- between general admission and negation tain. The ingenious arguments that had of the right. As the regulations prothat night so ably been suggested in pur- posed were to have effect wholly within suance of this idea, convinced him the the colonies, he did not wish to drive them more that such a plan was attended with to the situation of the American colonies, diffculties which no talents could sur- and bring into question their separation mount. He hoped that the great measure, from this country. It was admitted that from which it only could result, would the colonies were not represented ; and never be abandoned. There were many this was a consideration that should attach points upon which he agreed entirely with us more to a complete abolition ; for then the hon. gentleman. Property, marriage, there would be no need to reconcile the freedom from the lash, and regulation of jarring interests of assemblies, or provoke the traffic on the coast of Africa, he con- nice discussions. All that was to be sidered in themselves as extremely good, done was to stop the supplies of negroes, but he was afraid they were not to be ef- and the evils complained of would cease fected in the way proposed. As to the of themselves. It was indeed true, that article of property, he did not well see many of the islands were represented by how it could be realised, without fixing their proprietors here; but it was not as the negroes to the place where the pro- proprietors of lands in the West Indies, perty existed, and thus innovating upon but as inhabitants of this country. As the legal right in slaves which the masters well might it be argued, that because at present possessed. The state of the many persons from Ireland resided here, slaves was so involved with the system the British parliament might pass an act, which prevailed and the rights arising disposing of the property of any class of out of it to the proprietors, that 110 par- persons in that country. He thought, tial remedy could operate with advantage. Therefore, that nothing would be so inju. With regard to the two others, marriage, rious as the apportioning the lands of the and exemption from the whip, he would West India proprietors, without their conhave heartily concurred in them, had the sent. As he was convinced that the plan House been deliberating upon matters of could not be effectual, without a total regulation. As to the regulation of the abolition, and as it was so dangerous in trade on the coast of Africa, he could its principle, he would give it his negative. never assent to any plan of regulation that Mr. For said: The case, Sir, which
we have now before us is unquestionably | is permitted to exist. If we were at the one of very considerable magnitude. I beginning of a session, and there was any am still, however, ready, to give a de- solid hope that an abolition was likely to cided opinion upon the subject, and to show take place, I would yield to the argument the reasons upon which that opinion is of my hon. and learned friend: but the formed. Before I enter on the discussion bill introduced for that purpose has been of the question, it is impossible for me lost. I know not exactly, if the forms of not to premise, that whatever may be the the House would admit of the introduc. result of the motion, the House and the tion of another, for the accomplishment public cannot fail to be gratified with the of the same object; or if they did, I see ability and philanthropy of my hon. no certainty of better success. When I friend, and must ever do justice to his look forward, I see little rational ground humane intentions. As to the object of of hope, particularly when I consider the the motion, it seems to be admitted, that characters and situation of some who were the principles upon which it is supported, in the minority on the late question. To are of the most desirable nature. My say, that men of the greatest power and hoo. friend has admitted that the improve influence in the country, and of unquesments he looks up to, must be of a gra- tionable abilities, could throw little weight dual nature; and he has certainly hit into the scale would indeed be ridiculous. upon the most solid and natural basis on What was actually the case? The queswhich to build his future superstructure, tion was introduced during the adminiswhen he proposes to commence his ope- trations and with the approbation of a man, rations by establishing a system of pro- who surely has neither less influence nor perty among the negroes. Independently, less personal talents than any of his prethen, of the principles abstractedly consi- decessors; and yet it has failed. If this dered, the chief questions seem to be; first, be so, when, where, how are we to prohow far, in a prudential point of view, it is cure success? The plan, too, was dewise in my hon. friend to bring forward feated, by a solemn decision of parliathe proposition he has now done, as con- ment; and, having disgraced themselves nected with, and introductory to, the in this shameful manner, what right have final abolition of the slave trade; and se- I to hope that another occasion will soon condly, what are the means by which he in- be presented for the attainment of this tends his principles to be carried into prac- desired object? What, then, does my tice?-My hon. and learned friend who | hon. friend propose? That the House will spoke last, seemed to consider this as a de not totally forget all the humane sentibate upon the propriety of adopting the pro- ments they have formerly uttered upon position now made to the House, or of the occasion; but that, if not inclined to deciding for a total abolition. How fulfil all they have promised, they will at happy should I feel were that actually the least show a desire of doing somethingcase, and with how little hesitation should I now come to consider the nature of the I prefer a total abolition! I do not con- means by which my hon. friend proposes ceive that the giving my vote one way or to carry his proposition into execution; the other this evening, is to be considered and upon this, undoubtedly the whole dif. as a proof of my receding one step from ficulty rests. The right of taxation and the ground which I have always taken on of general legislation have, I conceive, the question of the entire abolition of the been improperly confounded together. slave trade. I have pledged myself to the They are, to all intents and purposes,
that point. Those hon. gen. practically different. This difference was tlemen who have been equally, if not constantly acknowledged in the great more strenuous than myself in this cause, question of American independence. The I presume have no intentions of abandon- Americans never found fault with our le. ing it; but sure I am, that no session gislative acts, until they involved the shall pass, while I have the honour of question of taxation. Lord Chatham, in sitting in this House, without my exer- a speech which he made in this House, tions being employed to accelerate this and I do honour to his memory for the desirable event. I, for one, am deter- sentiment, said, that he rejoiced in the mined not to contribute to the increase or resistance made by America, to every perpetuation of the stigma which must attempt to tax her, for the purposes of ever be attached to this House and to revenue; and in the very same speech he this country, while that abominable traffic added (I do not say I go all that length
with him), that he nevertheless would some respects be exceptionable, or to not permit any matter of commerce to permit the evil in its full extent to contake place, not even a hob-nail to be iinue ?" I have been accused of throwing made in America, without the sanction out the threat of independence upon the of the British legislature. I mention subject of the West India islands. this chiefly to show the distinction that answer to that, I most decidedly affirm, has been made between legislative acts of that if it were to become a question, whethe one kind and the other; but in the ther these islands should be connected American dispute there was a difference with this country, and in consequence of taken, not only between acts of general that connexion, all the stigma attending legislation and of taxation, but between the abominable system of slavery should acts of taxation for purposes of internal be ignominiously continued, or that their regulation, and acts of taxation for the complete independence should take place. increase of the revenue. Acts of taxation I should not have one doubt on the subfor the regulation of the post office were ject. I am by no means blind to the danquietly acquiesced in. It was only ger of such a separation. I desire it not: when we offered them the alternative to but if the colonies were inclined to refuse accept or refuse indiscriminately acts of their assent to so wise and humane a proevery description passed by the British position as has now been made for the senate, that they discovered signs of se- amelioration of the state of the slaves, I rious resistance. With respect to the should not feel myself inclined to employ West Indies, we have already renounced either armies or navies to reduce them to every right of taxation. My learned subjection, but would, in the language friend says, we have no right of this kind. of a gentleman, who, though not present, So do I. But he says, that he is not I cannot name, as being a member of this ready to admit in what respects legislative House, desire them to “ go and be happy acts of any other nature may be passed, in their own way,” if happiness could be and he has brought forward the case of found by acting contrary to every prinIreland as in point upon this question. ciple of justice, policy, and humanity. The act passed fourteen years ago put if, however, it be acknowledged that the that matter right as to Ireland. In no
In no British parliament ha the power of geinstance could the difference between acts neral legislation, and that it may in some of legislation and taxation be more clearly cases of necessity be exercised, I ask, ascertained I from this source drew my what case of greaser necessity can be put, arguments during the American war. In than a case which involves the character every case either of external or internal and honour of the British name? I have regulation, the Irish were perfectly sub- occasionally said, that a war 10 premissive: but if the bare intention of rais. serve our honour is the only justifiable ing a tax for the purpose of revenue had Even this principle, were it negone abroad, it would inevitably have cessary, I should not find myself at produced resistance. I must confess, at a loss to support; but if in any case the same time, that to legislate for colo- a legislative act is demanded for the nies, is at no time desirable; it ought purposes of interest, policy, aggranonly to be done when necessity calls for it. disement, or the increase of commerce, How far is this the case at present? I do are any such objects to be compared with not wish, upon this occasion, to repeat that of removing the national dishonour, the mere letter of the law. My learned which must ever be connected with the friend, and every other professional man, continuance of this trade? I shall for would certainly tell me, that a statute these reasons unquestionably vote for the that relates to any transaction as passing introduction of this bill. Were any perin Jamaica, would be as binding as if it son to give me a reasonable ground to took place in Middlesex; but I am not hope that an abolition of the slave trade fond of unnecessarily exercising this legis. would speedily take place; were it held lative authority over persons not actually out to me that any other step would be represented, and where the local situa- taken towards an amelioration of the tion is almost totally unknown. But we state of the slaves in the West Indies ; are at present reduced to an unfortunate were I to be told that a recommendation dilemma, and I am obliged to put this should come from the throne to effect the question to myself, “ Whether is it better desirable purpose, I might perhaps be to make use of a partial remedy which may in silent upon this occasion. But let me no longer hear of expectations from parliament than the present, unless we the acts of colonial assemblies. When I consider as nugatory all we have ever look at the infernal code of laws, under heard, either from those who promote or which the poor negroes languish ; when I oppose the abolition of the slave trade. see they are not considered as men, and | Good God! Mr. Speaker, if we have reflect one moment upon the penalties to come to a solemn decision upon the subwhich they are subjected, and the oppres-ject, and yet pass year after year, withsion under which they labour, I expect out taking a single measure to carry our nothing from assemblies who give counte- resolutions into execution, are we not nance to such proceedings. It was urged guilty of hypocrisy of the basest sort? as an argument by my learned friend, I am constrained to vote for any measure that the question of abolition to which he of the kind proposed, in order to prove so heartily gives his assent, by no means that there is yet some sincerity left in the involves the dispute on the rights of le- House of Commons. I hoped, Sir, that gislation, but that every provision in that my learned friend, with the anxiety he bill comes within the acknowledged au- expresses for a total abolition, would have thority of this House; but permit me to thrown out some prospect of such an say, that the opposers of that bill con- event being likely to take place; but I stantly held out as an argument of some am sorry to say, I see none such at the weight, the opinion which those immedi. present period. After what took place in ately upon the spot in the West Indies, 1792, and the subsequent flagrant breach or immediately connected with them, of promise that has been exhibited, all might entertain upon the subject. This, assurances coming from this House must therefore, is no fair ground for opposing be looked upon as vain and frivolous. At the motion. As to the question of repre- the same time, I confess I even now think sentation, the West Indies are not, pro- it would be something, were the House, perly speaking, represented in this House, during the present session to come to nor is it practicable, perhaps, that they some solemn resolution on the subject. I should be so; neither is Ireland; neither have already said, that a vote on this was America. As to their representa- question must necessarily be given with tion in the West Indies, it might be some degree of difficulty; but I give called a pure representation of property, mine clearly and conscientiously, because in consequence of the number of blacks. such a measure, with all the obstacles atBut we ought, in this case, to consider tending it, is less objectionable, and less the difference between a real and a virtual contrary to humanity and justice, than representation, and the proportion which, doing nothing to alleviate those miseries in this respect, the West Indies bear to which are at this moment attached to slaany other instance known in this country. very in the West Indies. Were an entire Were we even to bring to our recollection abolition of the trade now to be proposed the time when so many Irish landholders at any fixed period, I should probably obresided in this country and held seats in ject to any regulations of an inferior nathis House, and when so much land in ture; but the question of abolition is lost, Ireland was under mortgage in this coun- and I have no option left. It is, indeed, try yet would that bear no proportion to come to this, that the British parliament the power and influence of West India have refused to abolish the abominable proprietors at the present moment. A traffic in human flesh, and the slaves in country may, undoubtedly, be virtually the islands are to be left to the humanity represented. I do not say it is in every of the West India proprietors! If it were instance the best mode; but standing clear that the colonial assemblies would where I now do, I must acknowledge the pass those acts which humanity demands, fact; and, surely, if any country was ever or that an abolition of the trade would be virtually represented, it is the West In- effected by parliament, there would be no dies in this House. Does not every gen- occasion for any such measure as the tleman who hears me, feel, from the fate present; but as no such thing is likely to of the bill for the abolition of the slave take place, I find myself under the necestrade, that they are both virtually and sity of voting for the motion of my hon. powerfully represented in this House? In friend. short, Sir, no case can appear to me to Sir W. Young affirmed, that negroes call in a more pressing manner upon were happier in general and the legislative authority of the British comfortable than the poor people of this