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4,000 strong, abandoned the city, and Count Villa Flor, with the constitutionalists, entered it on the 24th. Admiral Napier, had previously entirely defeated the naval force of Miguel. Some attempts have been made since, by the absolutists, under the French general Bourmont, to recover their lost ground, but without effect. In the character of the two brothers, there does not seem much to choose. Pedro is represented as cruel in his temper, and dissolute in his morals, though brave and energetic in body and mind. He was born in Lisbon, Oct. 12, 1798. In 1817, he married Leopoldine, archduchess of Austria, daughter of Francis I., by whom he had five children, among whom are the queen Donna Maria de Gloria, and Don Pedro II., present emperor of Brazil, born in 1825. Leopoldine died in 1826, a reputed victim to her husband's scandalous attachment for the marchioness of Santos.
Miguel was born Oct. 26th, 1802. Doubts are said to have been entertained by the king in respect to the legitimacy of his birth. His mother, daughter of Charles IV. of Spain, imbued his mind with all her political and religious prejudices. In private life, Miguel has shown himself an unfeeling tyrant. He threw his eldest sister, Isabella Maria, into prison, and he has even been accused of attempting to poison both his sisters.
This distinguished philanthropist was born at Hull, in Yorkshire, England, in 1759, of which place his grandfather had been twice mayor. His father died when he was young, and in 1774, he was sent to St. John's college, Cambridge, where he formed an intimacy with Mr. Pitt. Mr. Wilberforce came into the possession of a large fortune, and in 1780, was elected member of parliament for Hull. During this parliament, he did not take any active part in politics. In 1784, he was re-elected, and owing to the partiality of the people for Mr, Pitt's friends, was also chosen for the county of York.
In 1787, Thomas Clarkson, in the prosecution of his great object, the abolition of the slave-trade, first visited Mr. Wilberforce. Mr. W. stated frankly to him, that the subject had often employed his thoughts, and that it was near his heart. He had repeated conversations with Mr. Clarkson, and urged him to proceed in his philanthropic labors. Soon afterwards, at the unanimous request of the friends of the abolition of the traffic, Mr. W. consented to bring forward the measure into parliament. The nature of the trade soon became known throughout the kingdom. In February, 1788, thirty-five petitions had been sent to the house of commons in reference to the subject. In the same month, the king, by an order of council, directed that a committee of the privy council should sit as a board of trade, to take the subject into consideration. Mr. Wilberforce was too ill to render any assistance in connection with this examination. Mr. Pitt accordingly consented to introduce the subject to the notice of parliament. On the 9th of May, Mr. Pitt rose, and said " that he intended to move a resolution relative to a subject, which was of more importance than any which had ever agitated that house. This honor he should not have had, but for a circumstance which he could not but deeply regret, the severe indisposition of his friend Mr. Wilberforce, in whose hands every measure, which belonged to justice, humanity, and the national interest, was peculiarly well placed.” Mr. Pitt was followed by Fox, Burke, Whitbread, and others. The general subject was postponed to the next session, and in the mean time, witnesses were heard on both sides of the question.
On the 19th of March, 1789, Mr. Wilberforce rose in the house of commons, and desired that the resolution, by which the house stood pledged to take the slave-trade into consideration, might be read. He then moved that the house should resolve itself into a committee of the whole, on the 23d of April, for this purpose. The time was subsequently postponed to the 12th of May. On that day, Mr. Wilberforce made an extended speech, in which he took up the subject from its foundations. We copy the closing paragraph.
“He would now conclude by begging pardon of the house for having detained them so long. He could indeed have expressed his own conviction in fewer words. He needed only to have made one or two short statements, and to have quoted the commandment, • Thou shalt do no murder. But he thought it his duty to lay the whole of the case, and the whole of its guilt, before them. They would see now that no mitigations, no palliatives, would either be efficient or admissible. Nothing short of an absolute abolition could be adopted. This they owed to Africa : they owed it, too, to their VOL. I.
own moral characters. And he hoped they would follow up the principle of one of the repentant African captains, who had gone before the committee of privy council as a voluntary witness, and that they would make Africa all the atonement in their power for the multifarious injuries she had received at the hands of British subjects. With respect to these injuries, their enormity and extent, it might be alleged in their excuse, that they were not fully acquainted with them till that moment, and therefore not answerable for their former existence: but now they could no longer plead ignorance concerning them. They had seen them brought directly before their eyes, and they must decide for themselves, and must justify to the world and their own consciences, the facts and principles upon which their decision was formed.”
Edmund Burke, who soon afterwards spoke, declared that the house, the nation, and all Europe, were under great obligations to Mr. Wilberforce for having brought this important subject forward. “He had done it in a manner the most masterly, impressive, and eloquent. He had laid down his principles so admirably, and with so much order and force, that his speech equalled any thing which he had ever heard in modern oratory.” Fox, Greenville, Pitt, and others, concurred in the same opinion of Mr. Wilberforce's speech. As a specimen of the noble spirit by which he was actuated, we make another quotation, from a speech delivered some years afterwards.
“ To see this great cause thus triumphing over distinctions and prejudices, was a noble spectacle. Whatever might be said of our political divisions, such a sight had taught us, that there were subjects still beyond the reach of party ; that there was a point of elevation, where we ascended above the jarring of the discordant elements, which ruffled and agitated the vale below. In our ordinary atmosphere, clouds and vapors obscured the air, and we were the sport of a thousand conflicting winds and adverse currents; but here we moved in a higher region, where all was pure and clear, and free from perturbation and discomposure.
• As some tall cliff, that lifts its awful form,
Eternal sunshine settles on its head.' “ Here then, on this august eminence, he hoped we should build the temple of benevolence; that we should lay its foundation deep in truth and justice; and that we should inscribe upon its gates, 'Peace and good-will to men.' Here we should offer the first-fruits of our benevolence, and endeavor to compensate, if possible, for the injuries we had brought upon our fellow men.
“ He would only now observe, that his conviction of the indispensable necessity of immediately abolishing this trade remained as strong as ever. Let those who talked of allowing three or four years to the continuance of it, reflect on the disgraceful scenes which had passed last year. As for himself, he would wash his hands of the blood which would be spilled in this horrid interval. He could not, however, but believe, that the hour was come, when we should put a final period to the existence of this cruel traffic. Should he unhappily be mistaken, he would never desert the cause ; but to the last moment of his life he would exert his utmost powers in its support.”
Mr. Wilberforce and his friends persevered through all obstacles, till at length, in 1807, twenty years from the time when the subject was first introduced into parliament, the motion for the final and total abolition of the traffic was carried in the commons by a vote of 283 to 16, and in the lords, without a division.
The efforts of this great man, and of his no less philanthropic associates, were thus crowned with the most glorious success. It is difficult to estimate the exertions of each, when all did so nobly. Burke, Pitt, and Fox, will receive the gratitude of all future time. The toils of Clarkson were gigantic. Never did a man so “endure unto the end.” But without Wilberforce, as the parliamentary leader, all other efforts might have been in vain. He brought to the work religious principle, incorruptible integrity, a political character above reproach, and the confidence of all parties, ministerial and antiministerial.
Mr. Wilberforce's Practical view of the prevailing religious systems of professing Christians, in the higher and middle classes, contrasted with real Christianity, was first published in the spring of 1797. “ The plan,” says Bishop Wilson, “was in a great measure new. No writer had appeared, especially among laymen, to address the nation generally on the plain fundamental and vital truths of our religion, and to confront these truths boldly, and yet affectionately, with the fashionable notions, which passed for Christianity. It seems to be the spontaneous produce of a mind thoroughly stored with its materials, accustomed to speak before a refined yet popular audience, and capable, from long experience, of expressing with ease and propriety, what it has previously meditated. The book is in fact nothing more nor less than a series of speeches in parliament, in which, from brief annotations and hints of topics, the statesman urges upon the legislature, his well-weighed and important cause.” The reception the work met with was extraordinary. Three or four large editions were exhausted in the first few months. About fifty editions have been published in this country and in England. Translations have been made into most of the European languages. The book went to accredit real Christianity to statesmen and legislators; it conveyed important information to the higher classes; it bore powerfully on the younger clergy, by addressing their consciences, as in the case of Legh Richmond, and by explaining the difficulties in the state of Christianity which they had not been able to discover; it tended to form a school in divinity, by raising up a large and important class of writers; in short, it may be said to have formed an era in the history of religion in England.
Mr. Wilberforce was frequently engaged in parliament, subsequently to 1807, in efforts to carry the law abolishing the slave trade into complete effect. Some measure of this kind was prompted or seconded by him, at almost every session of the legislature. The arrangements, which the great powers of Europe entered into, at the general pacification, on the downfall of Buonaparte, for the abandonment of the traffic in slaves, are to be ascribed very much to the unceasing efforts of Mr. Wilberforce in and out of Parliament. The final abolition of slavery in the British West Indies, and indeed in every part of the extensive dominions of Britain, was an object to which he devoted all the ardor of his philanthropy, and all the maturity of his wisdom. Year after year, this venerable man, in connection with his younger associates, Buxton, William Smith, Lushington, Stephen, Macauley, and others, met the torrent of abuse which was regularly heaped upon them by the advocates of slavery, till the entire British nation was roused, king, parliament, and people, and slavery was swept from her domains. Mr. Wilberforce lived almost to see the consummation of this great event. How must his heart have exulted within him, as he went down the dark valley!
In the great struggle for the introduction of Christianity into British India, Mr. Wilberforce was one of an illustrious triumvirate. The individuals who mainly contributed to the change in public feeling in regard to India, were Mr. Grant, (father of the present Sir Charles Grant,) Dr. Buchanan, and Mr. Wilberforce. When the East India Company's charter was renewed, in 1793, it was with difficulty that Mr. Wilberforce obtained the frigid assent of the House of Commons to a proposition affirming that it was the duty of the legislature to promote the interest and happiness of the inhabitants of India. This resolution was attended with no effect. The House of Commons refused to embody it in the act of incorporation, and in the House of Lords, Bishop Porteus, in efforts to procure its adoption, received scarcely any support even from his Episcopal brethren. In 1813, when the subject came again before parliament, a very different scene was presented. On the 22d of May, 1813, Lord Castle: