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above a certain age? In the one case, the enactment is broad and positive, and removes at once all difficulty and deception ; the other, the distinction is matter of intricacy and doubt, and opens a wide door for imposition and subterfuge. But is the right honourable gentleman prepared to say, that he is authorized by the West-India planters to state their co-operation to the plan which he has proposed ? Have they not constantly opposed the utmost obstacles in their power to every step which has been taken in this business? Did not the act to prevent the exportation of negroes to other islands meet also the opposition of those gentlemen who are enemies to the abolition? Their co-operation we cannot hope, and we never shall have it. Doubts have been attempted to be raised with whom the right rested to decide upon this question. Unquestionably the assembly of Jamaica may decide upon matters of internal jurisdiction, but it belongs to the parliament of Great Britain to regulate the concerns of external trade. It is not fit that the assembly of Jamaica should take upon itself the province of the British legislature. Yet such is the scope of that reasoning, which goes to affirm that this trade cannot be abolished without the consent of the colonies.

With respect to the existence of a supposed engagement sanctioning the trade, and pledging the faith of parliament for its continuance; whenever parliament at any time thinks proper to encourage a trade in point of policy, it by no means binds itself either to carry it on, or to compensate for its abolition. When I opposed the commercial treaty with France, on the ground that it would be prejudicial to our trade with Portugal, I never pushed the argument so far as to contend, that because, by a former treaty, we had encouraged the trade with Portugal, we were still indispensably bound to afford it the same countenance, and not to divert commerce into any other channel. But what have we done this session and the last? We have in this country, on the ground of the scarcity of provisions, entirely stopped a great trade, the distillery trade. No proposition can be more evident, than whenever any motive of policy requires a trade to be suppressed, the legislature are immediately authorized to employ measures to suppress it, But the suppression of this trade is called for, not only by motives of policy, but of humanity; and by what is far superior to any considerations either of policy or humanity - the principles of justice.

The right honourable gentleman admits, that without some regulations the trade not only cannot be carried on, consistently with policy and prudence, but consistently with humanity and justice. When he admits this right of regulation, all question with respect to the right of interference is at an

no very

end. If we have a right to stop the importation of all slaves above twenty, why not stop the importation of all ? If the right honourable gentleman had brought forward what he stated, respecting a commission, to take into consideration the situ-, ation of the West Indies and the claims of the planters, as a specific proposition, I should certainly, in that form, have given it all due attention. At most, it can only weigh as an argument for him, to bring up a clause for that purpose to be inserted in the bill.

In the course of his speech the right honourable gentleman took notice of the unfounded calumnies circulated against the planters, who had been represented as men devoid of humanity. Undoubtedly a great body of evidence had been brought forward to prove, that many acts of cruelty and tyranny had at different times been perpetrated, under the sanction of this odious traffic. This, indeed, is no good reason why the planters, who partake of the characters of any mixed body of men, should be branded with one general stigma. It cannot, however, be denied, that wherever there is slavery, there will be abuse. If, with respect to the West Indies, we judge of the national character from that which has always been considered as its best criterion, the national laws, we shall form

favourable conclusion. What can be more detestable than the laws of Barbadoes, which have been referred to on a former occasion ? And if any thing can exceed the letter of the law of Barbadoes, it is the practice of Jamaica, as described by Mr. Bryan Edwards, a man who is justly entitled to every praise. I do not impute that spirit of cruelty to individuals; it is the inevitable consequence of slavery. This trade, it is said, has existed a hundred years. Slavery, it is to be lamented, is much older. We have had writers on slavery among the ancients, and there we can trace the same effects, produced by this detestable practice, as we bave occasion to witness in modern times. The authority of Aristotle has been quoted, and what does he say on the subject ? “ The Barbarians are slaves by nature, and made for the service of the Greeks.” Finding the practice subsisting among his countrymen, this occurred to him as the easiest and most satisfactory mode of accounting for its origin; and in another place he says:

“ You must not introduce what is too improbable, even in fiction; therefore you must not represent a slave as a good man; for the character, though not impossible, is contrary to nature and to general experience.” Nothing, indeed, can be more true than that all the virtues of man are allied to liberty : in the generous soil of freedom they take deep root, and acquire full vigour and maturity; their VOL. VI.


vices foster on the dunghill of slavery, and shoot forth with nauseous luxuriance.

But the right honourable gentleman says, that even if we should abandon the trade, from a principle of justice, we should still gain nothing on the score of humanity. I will not again repeat the argument already so often enforced, that we ought to abstain from crimes without any consideration of consequences. But I will ask, if we abandon the trade at the present moment who are likely to take it up? Will the French, the Dutch, or the Americans readily embark in such an undertaking? If, from a principle of justice, this great country takes the lead in renouncing this abominable and disgraceful traffic; if America bears testimony to the same cause, and France, already pledged by her own declarations, perseveres in the course she has adopted, may not this powerful example be supposed to be the most effectual step to bring about a complete and final abolition? I ask those who question your right to legislate for Jamaica, what right you have to legislate for Africa? what right Englishmen have to tear the unoffending inhabitants from their native soil, and to devote them as the victims of their favarice and cruelty? what sort of law that is which sanctions the commission of injustice? what sort of morality that is which teaches us to commit crimes, because they are countenanced by the example of others ?

Án honourable friend of mine (General Smith), supposing that a general burst of exclamation which proceeded from those who were adverse to the trade was meant to interrupt him, said “it was very well for gentlemen to decide on the question, without thinking of the claims of those in the West Indies, and then retire to their luxury or repose.” I rather suppose that exclamation proceeded from those who were thinking of the claims of persons in the West Indies, though not of the description intended by the honourable general – from those who were thinking of the claims of the poor negroes. Good God! are we placed in those circumstances of comfort and ease which he has described, and can we hesitate a moment to decide whether we shall leave the African in possession of the common blessings of nature; of the enjoyment of his freedom, and the privilege of his industry, or whether we shall barbarously tear him from his home, and doom him to be the drudge of avarice, and the victim of tyranny!

But, if I have already shewn the plan of the right honourable gentleman to be most exceptionable in point of practicability, how does it stand in point of humanity and justice ? What must we think if Great Britain, giving up the general

point of her right to carry on the trade, and openly avowing its injustice, should still continue to exercise that trade with respect to the weak and the helpless? Is it of consequence for a nation to be moral? What impression, then, must it give to other states, that Great Britain declares that she feels the inhumanity, that she acknowledges the injustice of the slave trade, that she henceforth renounces all privilege to traffic in those who have arrived at manhood, and attained their full strength, but reserves to herself the power to prey on helpless infancy and unoffending innocence, without considering the feelings of those who are thus bereaved of their children, or the sufferings of the poor victims thus dragged from the bosom of parental fondness, to drink the bitter draught of slavery? Can a government continue respected or respectable, which places humanity and justice in one hand, and policy and gain in the other? And yet, this must be the case if you do not abolish the slave trade, and still more so if you adopt the plan of abolition proposed by the right honourable gentleman. My honourable friend (General Smith) says, that an act of parliament will never pass to abolish this trade.

I am persuaded that the opinion of the House of Commons, firmly and decidedly expressed, ' will have great weight in influencing the ultimate decision; and you ought to lose no time in giving it the utmost possible effect. I am astonished that our proposition should be termed abrupt and hasty; it is now eight years since the business was first brought forward; the abolition, by a vote of this House, was fixed for 1796, and we now come to ask it in 1797! Of all other charges, that of precipitancy is the least applicable to the supporters of this bill. If the other branch of the legislature shall still be found to differ from us in opinion on this subject, let us at least shew by our conduct, that it is not the fault of the House of Commons that the continuance of a traffic was sanctioned, which every man admits to be contrary to humanity, policy, and justice.

At the close of the debate, General Tarleton moved to leave out the word “now," and at the end of the question to add the words " this day four months." The question being put, that the word “ now” stand part of the question, the House divided : Tellers.

ŞLord Muncaster

} 70. -— Noes {Mer. Robt. Dundas }
Mr. M. Montagus

74. So it passed in the negative. After which General Tarleton's motion, that the report be taken into consideration upon this day four months was agreed to.


February 26.

N the course of an investigation into the circumstances attending

the negociation of the loan for this year, it appeared that a very extraordinary and marked preference had been given by the minister to the mercantile house of Messrs. Boyd, though conducted on the professed principle of a free and open competition, and that the equally respectable house of Mellish and Morgan would have taken it on terms considerably more advantageous to the public. The attention of parliament was called to the subject by Mr. William Smith, who moved several resolutions of censure on the subject. On the first resolution being put, viz. "That it appears to this House, that the principle of making loans for the public service by free and open competition, uniformly professed by the chancellor of the exchequer, has been very generally recognized, as affording the fairest prospect of public advantage;" a debate of great length took place. An amendment to the resolution was proposed by Mr. Sylvester Douglas, who moved that it should stand thus : “ That it appears to this House, that the principle of making loans for the public service by competition, which was introduced, and has in general been acted upon, by the present chancellor of the exchequer, has been productive in many instances of great public advantage; but that this principle could not be applied in its full extent, to the bargain for the late loan, consistently with the peculiar circumstances of the case, and with that attention to the equitable claims of individuals, which ought always to be shewn in transactions with them on the behalf of the public.” Afer the terms of the loan had been defended by Mr. Steele, and Mr. Pitt,

Mr. Fox said, that exclusive of the importance of the subject now before the House, he must, from the evidence before him, vote for the original proposition of his honourable friend, and against the amendment which had been proposed, for that amendment alledged for a fact that which was not true; and among the reasons which he had for the vote which he should give, was that of some expressions of the learned gentleman who proposed the amendment, and also of the minister himself, who had held pretty lofty language upon this occasion. He had said, that they had inferred guilt where there was no evidence of it, and had made insinuations which they half retracted. He thought he knew his duty too well ever to make any insinuation of guilt, where there was no suspicion. It was wholly against his nature to

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