HC Deb 28 February 1805 vol 3 cc641-74
Mr. Wilberforce

rose to move the second reading of the bill for the abolition of the slave trade. The hon. member stated, that the measure had been so often discussed, the sense of parliament had been so frequently taken upon it, and that house had so decidedly expressed its opinion upon the subject in the course of the last sessions, he felt it unnecessary to trespass upon the attention of the house on the present occasion, but reserved to himself the right of replying to any arguments that might be advanced against the motion he had the honour to submit.

The Speaker

observed, that according to the custom of the house, none but a member originating a new motion, had the right of general reply to any objections made against it, and therefore the hon. gent, possessed no such right.

General Gascoyne

could not let the question go by without giving his opinion upon it once more. The hon. mover had said, that no new reason bad occurred since last session against the adoption of this measure. He should, however, rely upon the wisdom and upon the feelings of the house, upon a. measure so interesting and so important to the interests of this country, to our revenues, and even to our existence as a nation. He trusted the house would not consider any former pledge of this kind as binding upon them now. There were two points of view in which he considered this question; first, as to the policy of the abolition altogether; and secondly, as to the time in which it is now proposed to abolish it, a time so arduous and so critical as the present. First then, he supposed the hon. mover to have great confidence in the measure, but that he now found himself absolutely deficient in the sources of those appeals to the feelings of the house, which he was wont to use on former occasions. He seemed to have nothing new to urge on the score of humanity and benevolence; nothing to say about the cruelty and oppression of the trade, and the inefficacy of all regulations concerning it. No; if he had, he would not have suffered the house to be without them to-night. Since the last regulations were passed, not a solitary instance of their violation could the hon. gent, produce. The surgeons' bounties too had been claimed, he believed, in seven cases out of teu. The house were not called upon now to act from any particular circumstance He believed there was not a member who did not know, that if we abandoned this trade, it would go into other hands. He could prove, that at present there were five American vessels taking in a proper cargo, in order to enable them to carry on the trade to a greater extent. He could wish that evidence and counsel might be heard at the bar of the house; but he hoped the wisdom and justice of the house would render that unnecessary. Did any man consider this as a mere abstract question? No: it Was impossible; every one must see this that its ultimate object was emancipation, and nothing could be more dangerous to our colonial system, than a discussion which involved such a question. Much had been said upon a former occasion about the claims which the Africans had upon out humanity; but he would ask, what claims the native Africans had either upon out justice or humanity? If they had forfeited all claim to the protection of their own laws, what claim had they to the protection of ours? He was entitled to ask this, because there was now no charge made Of kidnapping innocent persons. The principal houses in the trade had established storehouses upon the coast of Africa, where the negroes were collected in considerable in numbers. That; an importation of negroes was necessary to our colonies, there existed no doubt in his mind, nor could any suppose that the population of the West Indies was sufficient for the purposes for which it was wanted; and, supposing the abolition to take place, the only immediate consequence would be an increase of labour to the slaves upon the islands. Upon the ground of the policy of the abolition, he had heard no argument whatever in its favour, and certainly since, the regulations had been acted upon, it was neither politic, nor expedient. Was it upon the speculations of a few individuals that we were to give up our colonial system, or was this the time, at the moment when we were engaged in an expensive war, which was likely to be of no ordinary duration, to try the effect of speculative opinions; was this the time to move such a question when we had seen the effect which had been produced by similar opinions in a neighbouring isle to our colonies, and when it must be evident to every one what extreme danger would be produced by the spreading of such a spirit in the West Indies? Was not the West Indies a favourite object with Bonaparte, and would he not eagerly seize the advantage which our agreeing to the abolition of the slave trade would throw into his hands? This was evident from his recent conduct. It was, however, of the highest importance that they should consider the extreme danger of holding out speculative opinions to the Blacks, whose co-operation would be pregnant to this country with every possible mischief. He could not avoid considering it as a remarkable circumstance, that, notwithstanding this question of abolition was brought forward, government had contracted for 5000 slaves, who were destined for military services; a contract too which would not expire till February next. Such a measure seemed to hold out that one might buy a slave for a military use, but not for a civil use. He agreed in the propriety of having corps of black troops in our service in our Colonial possessions, but when it was proposed to abolish the slave trade altogether, such a measure was certainly inconsistent with the object of the abolition, He would now ask if the result of the abolition (supposing it to be carried, which he hoped it would not) should be such as had been predicted by those best informed upon the subject, namely, nothing less than the abolition of our colonial system, should we in that case be so well able to cope with our enemies, bereft of the vast resources which we derived from our colonies, and would not every man in the country, and every member of that house, be called upon to pay his share of this large deficiency, which such a defalcation would cause? Let the house consider the number of men who were employed in consequence of this trade, and the benefits which resulted from it to our manufactures. Besides, how could those who formed an opinion here upon the subject be better judges than the planters themselves? But it was said that some of the planters agreed to the propriety of the abolition. This might be the case, but it should be recollected, that the abolition would throw the property and concerns of our colonies into the hands of those who had large capitals, for such only could support it; and therefore the concurrence of some of those was rather an argument against the abolition. But, whatever might be the opinion of a few of the planters, the house of Assembly of Jamaica, the Representatives of the Island had declared themselves decidedly adverse to the measure of the abolition. Much had been said of the danger of increasing the number of slaves; when that number was compared with the number of Europeans, it certainly appeared very great, and there was no question that if they were united, no military force could put them down, as they might reckon upon the proportion of about thirty negroes to one European. How impolitic, then, was it to raise doubts and questions in their minds upon the subject of emancipation, for to that this question ultimately led, and how pregnant with danger was such conduct to our colonial interests and possessions, particularly at the present moment, when, from the circumstances of a neighbouring island, the Negroes had not only greater inclination to unite, but possessed greater facilities of co-operation. Under these circumstances, it became the house to say at once to the world, that they were resolved not to adopt a system which could only lead to the most injurious consequences, and thus to put an end to discussions which had already, and which evidently must have the very worst effect upon the minds of the negroes. He had some objections to the provisions of the bill, which he should reserve until it went into the committee; at present he should confine himself to objecting to the principles of the bill, and he was confident that there were many members who formerly voted for the abolition, who would now, under the circumstances in which we were placed, vote against the present bill; he should therefore take the sense of the house upon the subject, lie concluded by moving "that the bill be read a second time this day six months."

Mr. C. Brooke

said, if the abolition of the slave trade was rendered general by the consent of all those powers who had colonial possessions, he did not know that our colonies would suffer so much as those of other powers, from the superior resources which we possessed, and the high state of cultivation in which these colonies were. But the policy of France and Spain led these powers to continue this trade. During the phrenzy of the revolution in France, the slave trade was abolished, and that measure led to all those horrors which had since occurred in St. Domingo. After the peace, however, or rather the truce of Amiens, one of the first acts of the consular authority was to re-establish the slave trade; and not only this, but every encouragement was given to the subjects of France; bounties were granted upon the importation of slaves, and every facility was established which could promote the increase of the trade. Such was the policy of France at that time, and such continued to be the policy of France at the present moment. This being the case, what would be the effect of our abolishing the trade, but only to throw it into the hands of other nations. If we abolished the trade, it would not be the means of compelling those vessels which were at present engaged in it to give it up; they might, and many of them, no doubt, would continue it under the sanction of other powers. During the short period of the last peace every encouragement was given to British subjects engaged in this trade, to go to France with their vessels; they were allowed to navigate their own vessels with only the regulation of having a nominal French commander, and being engaged to take a number of French apprentices. This evinced the value which was set upon the trade by France, and the same encouragements would, doubtless, be held out in the event of another peace. Spain also gave every facility to the trade; but she was prevented from turning it much to advantage by the want of a commercial navy. She was only prevented, however, by her inability from participating in the advantages of the trade. If parliament should agree to abolish this trade, what advantage would result from the measure? would there be one slave less? He considered the bill as a measure which would deprive us of the means of increasing the benefits resulting from our colonies; and he should therefore support the motion for postponing the bill for six months.

Sir William Young.

—Sir; in treating of this important question, the hon. mover' has contented himself with saying, that there is nothing new in it. Though we are now engaged in agitating a point which, materially concerns the British empire, though the ruin or salvation of one of its most valuable component parts may depend on the success or the failure of this project of his, he has had the boldness to say, that there is no occasion to hear the arguments of counsel on this subject! There is nothing new, he observes, and therefore he thinks that neither he nor any body else need say any thing about the matter; and, acting upon this opinion, he has given in his negative to calling in the counsel. Nothing new, sir! Has nothing new happened in the situation of St. Domingo? Have the hon. gent. and his friends entirely neglected to turn their attention to the interesting lesson which this island affords? Have they attended to the consequences that have resulted from the measures of emancipation pursued by a set of Jacobins in a moment of political phrenzy? If they have not attended to these things, what are we to think of their preparations for the discussion and management of an affair of this nature? If they have attended to them, can they produce any satisfactory evidence to shew that the same consequences which flowed from the Jacobin excesses, will not follow a similar decree of the British senate, supposing that we should have profited so little by the experience of France, and our own observation, as to pass such a decree? Is there nothing new in the situation of Jamaica? Has the hon. gent, seen the report of the assembly, or did he think it worth his while to read it? The assembly of that Island are so impressed with the pernicious, and absolutely ruinous consequences of this measure, that they have sent a confidential agent to this country, in order to resist, by every means in their power, its progress. When the interests of such faithful subjects of the British em- pire are concerned, when their whole is at stake, that whole from which they have been ever ready to contribute a part to the exigencies and service of the state, when you are proposing to plunge them into difficulties unknown to any other class of British subjects, and perhaps into utter ruin, is it possible that any man can be so callous to the feelings of justice, to a sense of that attention that is due to British subjects, as to say that these men ought not to be heard in their own defence? This, sir, is treating an important part of the empire with the most marked disrespect. What are they to conclude with regard to the attention paid to their interests, when a member of the British legislature, on an occasion like the present, does not chuse to say a word respecting their complaints? Their consequence to this country in every point of view, certainly entitles them to more respectful treatment. The hon. gent. has only thought it necessary to advert to the precedent of last session, in order to justify his silence. That precedent, sir makes very little in his favour. When we consider the circumstances under which the measure passed this house last session, we shall find that he has no claim to rest much upon that. The attendance, it is notorious, was very thin, and since gentlemen have begun to attend more minutely to all the circumstances of the case, we are not yet without hopes of stopping this bill in its progress through the house. Scarcely 150 Members were present at the discussions last session, and at no one stage of the business were the members above 200. This may be regarded, in some measure, as a presumptive proof, that gentlemen had not made up their minds en the subject. Am I then to be told now, that the precedent of last year is a sufficient reason for the passing of the bill at this time without further examination into its nature and merits? It is a very lame reason indeed, and one which I trust will have very little weight with the house. I hope that the other 458 who have not as yet come forward, will now take a share Mi the matter, and consider the question in a broad and comprehensive point of View and not suffer their judgments to be misled by idle declamation, and vain speculation. I hope that they will attend to all the interests of all the parties concerned in the present instance, and study the means of most effectually promoting them. Without this, sir, it may happen that while they think they are pursuing a course pointed out by humanity and justice, they will at last find, when it is too late, that they were doing the highest injustice to the one party, without benefitting the other.—Having said so much, sir, on this point, I shall proceed to consider the affair more closely. But I could not refrain from saying what I have already thrown out, after the singular line of conduct which has been adopted by the hon. gent. It may be said, sir, that little weight is to be attached to my opinion on this question, because I have a personal interest in the failure of the measure. I Confess, indeed, that I have such an interest, but I am not on this account in a singular situation, nor is it unusual on other questions for members to take apart in discussions where they themselves are particularly concerned, and to have their opinions canvassed with attention. In almost every public measure, some are more concerned than others. But so far are their opinions from being treated with neglect, that they are justly considered as entitled to a fairer scrutiny than those of others, who in the nature of things cannot be supposed to be so well acquainted with the subject. This, sir, ought to be the case in the present instance. Though I am personally concerned, yet my experience entitles me to speak with more confidence than those who cannot be supposed to be so well informed on this particular question. The government of a country has not a right to deal partially and unjustly by a single individual. This, is a principle that has been recognised, and an attention to private justice has often prevented public wrong. If this, sir, be correct, I trust there is no reason why I should not be heard with attention, and have my opinions considered with the same degreee of candour and impartiality, as has been shewn to other persons in similar situations. That a great part of the members of this house have not been present during the discussions of last year has been said already. But the Irish members who have not sat long in this house, have not had an opportunity of attending to the discussions on this question from the beginning. It may not, therefore, be altogether unnecessary. What are we doing in this case? Are we doing justice to those, who are more immediately concerned in the business? It is in vain for you to think of abolishing the trade. This you cannot do. Transports will pass from island to island, and the trade must be carried on by foreigners, if not by us. It is in vain, therefore, to say, that in this respect, even the negroes themselves can be much benefitted. On the contrary, they may be much injured. But there is another argument which has been used by the hon. gent. He has often adverted to the desolate state of the coasts of Africa compared with the interior of that country. The population of the coast, he has said, is almost ruined, while that of the interior is in the most flourishing condition. On that subject, our means of knowledge are very confined. I, therefore, can know but very little about it. But all, however, that I do know, is from Mungo Park. What does he say? He says that the very reverse is the fact of the case. When he and his companions penetrated into Africa, they found that a general system of war was carried on in the interior. This was exemplified in the case of the war between Abdulkader, king of Foota Zorra, and Famel, king of the Jalofs. The former sent a messenger to the latter, requiring him to embrace the Mahomedan faith. He presented two knives as the emblem of his mission: "with this knife, (said he) Abdulkader will condescend to shave the head of Famel if he will condescend to embrace the Mahomedan faith, and with this other knife he will cut the throat of Famel, if he does not embrace it;—take your choice." Famel, however, chose neither to have his head shaved, nor his throat cut, and a war was the consequence. Did those who complained of the treatment of the slaves in the West Indies, attend to the account given of their situation in their own country, as related by Mungo Park? The Jalonkas, as he informs us, are much more cruel to their slaves than the Colonists are, and he gives a shocking instance in the case of Nealee, a female slave. We have, it on the testimony of Sir George Young, that all the freemen in the interior pf Africa are obliged to learn the use of arms. This, undoubtedly, is a proof of the constant warfare in which they are engaged, especially when it is considered that there every feud is hereditary, and that quarrels are handed down from father to son as a family possession. The wars of the Africans are personal, and are therefore carried on with much more rancour than any thing which is known among us and other civilised nations. This appeared from the history of the wars of the kings of Bambouhe and Bambarra. Mr. Park said that the interior of the kingdoms were populous, while the borders were not, on account of the constant wars that prevailed among themselves. It is also to be recollected, that Mr. Parke's journey to Africa had nothing to do with the subject of the slave trade, but was undertaken for scientific purposes, under the direction of Sir Joseph Banks, to whom the British public owe so much, and whose merits are so well known, and so universally admitted. Mr. Park mentions that in one of the wars when nine hundred captives were taken, only seventy of these were freemen. The feelings of the Mahometans, with respect to the other Africans, might be collected from a cursory story told by the above traveller. When be proposed to go to Tombocto he was advised by a friendly native not to go there. The reason was, that he had been there once; the master of the first house into which he entered had said, if you are a Musselman enter into my house as my guest: if you are a Caffre, I instantly seize you as my slave. Few slaves come from the, coast, they are generally taken from the interior. Gardiner, who belonged to the establishment at Sierra Leone, confirms this. Our African traveller when he sailed up the Gambia, one of the natives offered to traffic with him, and exchange slaves for goods. When informed that the white people did not accept of such a change, he seemed surprised, and said that this was the only means by which they could get their salt from Barbary. We may abandon the trade, but we cannot abolish it, and we shall besides be doing great injury to the Africans themselves. As to the humanity of the case, are we sure that the slaves, are not treated with much greater inhumanity in Africa than in the West Indies? Are they, not driven in their own country like cattle with irons about their necks? the humanity of the African, master is cried up, while that of the British is depreciated. An African master, however, we are told, can coolly toss his slave, when half dead, into a ditch, and say "there is so much money lost." Can any one bring, such an instance against the British, master of the present day? As to their being taken so far from their own country, this is a misfurtune to which the African slaves are always lia- ble at home; for it is the general policy of Africa to remove the slaves as far as possible from the country in which they were born. Are you to consider this question on narrow grounds? While you think that you are doing more than justice to the negroes, do you reflect that you are certainly doing an act of the greatest injustice to the West India planters? We have been told that there is nothing new in this question; yet it has been confessed by people, of the best authority, that there never was an abler report than that which has lately been made on the subject. Perhaps the hon. gent. has not yet read the papers on the table. If he has read them, however, he cannot be ignorant, that the small settlers, supposing this measure to pass, must certainly remove from Jamaica. If he had taken a fair view of the subject, he would feel that the white men must be driven from the island by a regard for their own personal safety. The disproportion, therefore, between the negroes and the white inhabitants, would be constantly increasing, and would end in the total loss of the island. I do call upon the house to allow those to be heard at the bar who may have been on the spot, who are acquainted with the manners of the negroes, to carry some weight with their sentiments, in considering a point of this nature. A noble lord who had long an opportunity of observing the negroes, is ready to come to the bar of the house, if necessary, and give evidence of the alteration which has taken place in their manners. To what is this alteration owing? It is owing to this, that the idea of abolition is intimately connected in their minds with that of emancipation. The hon. gent. may perhaps say, fiat justitia, fuat cœlum. But he is mistaken in the application of this principle, for certainly in the present instance it would only lend to bring the greatest calamity on the negroes themselves. I hope this house will deliberate on this subject as becomes their gravity and dignity as a legislative assembly, and that it will take care not to combine what is essential injustice to the planters in the West Indies, and to the merchants employed in this trade, with certain misery to the slaves themselves. It has been said that our feelings are sed on this subject, and that this misleads our judgment. Our feelings may indeed be roused, but it is a feeling for our all. You may take my life, if you take the means by which it is preserved. I now come to the last point. I have given but a very slight view of the others, not wishing to tire the patience of the housed But though I have not taken time to do them justice, I did not think it would be proper, under all circumstances, entirely to omit them. The point to which I now wish to direct the attention of the house is, the importance of the trade to the revenue of this country, and on this I shall be short. I moved for documents on this subject, which have not yet been produced. However, I did not call for them altogether with a view to this particular question, but with a view to a motion, at a future period, for an inquiry into the state of the colonics. I shall now, however, be forced to resort to the returns of last session. From these it appears that the imports in 1803, amounted to about 17 million sterling. The article of sugar alone; amounted to 10 million, and the whole was between 16 and 17 millions. The whole of this property is, by these discussions, put in the greatest hazard from an insurrection among the negroes, on account of the inseparable connection in the minds of the negroes between abolition and emancipation? Under these circumstances then, is it not equally impolitic and unjust to allow a measure of this nature to pass? But you also hazard exports to an amount inconceivable. In 1803 fifty-one ships came into Ireland from the colonies, and no less than 129 were sent out of it with cargoes for the colonies, consisting chiefly of linen. By the ruin of the colonies this great market for Irish linens will be almost completely destroyed. I shall only then further observe, that in promoting this measure you are not doing an act of humanity to the negroes themselves, that you are doing the highest Injustice to the colonists, that you are neglecting your revenue, and putting a great part of it in the greatest hazard, and therefore forgetting the interests of your country. The great principle upon which you ought to proceed, is to do justice to every individual. The colonies are entitled to your particular attention, and their complaints ought to be heard with candour, and argued upon with coolness and impartiality. I hope you will not pay regard to any precedents, but consider the case precisely as it comes before you, without regard to what may have been done last year, when there was such a thin attendance. I have the greatest hopes that the house will view, the question in its proper light, and concur with me in a decided opposition to the second reading of this bill.

Mr. Barham

said, that he was convinced that as an hon. gentleman below him had said, this was the time for the abolition of the slave trade, if it was to be done at all, he was satisfied that it was now practicable, that it was always desirable, but that now it was necessary. There were four points to which he wished to call the attention of the house; 1st. the general policy of the measure; 2d. its practicability; 3d. the danger arising to the colonies from not promoting it; and, lastly, the justice of the thing. As to the general policy, it was once said that this traffic was absolutely necessary. This assertion was, however, partly abandoned. This individual branch of trade would certainly be destroyed; but as it was only a small part, this was of less importance: 2dly, with regard to the practicability of the measure, he was once of Opinion that it was not practicable; and if the same circumstances had existed he would have been still of the same opinion. The capitals would once have been certainly carried away into foreign countries, but now the case was altered. Instead of engaging their capitals in hazardous specuculation, the merchants and planters would rather bring them home if necessary. Slaves could not now be smuggled into Jamaica from St. Domingo. He had no doubt that if the measure was passed now, it would succeed. It was not likely that the traffic would pass into other hands. Other nations had given indications of their intentions to put an end to the slave trade. He knew that no change could be adopted which would not be attended with danger. But was there no danger in continuing the trade? The proportion of negroes to the white inhabitants of the colonies was daily increasing. The traffic was constantly adding to the disproportion, and the desire of liberty was inflamed by every cargo of fresh imported negroes. Regard was to be had to the situation of St. Domingo, where there was no people to enter into competition with us in the West Indies. The danger of abolishing the trade was less, then, than that of continuing it. In the case of a man who laboured under a disease, what would a wise physician do? He applied the remedy while the patient was capable of receiving it; and thus stood the affair with respect to our West India colonies. The fate of St. Domingo should be a serious warning to us on this head, and should deter us from adding daily to the number of blacks now in our islands: he spoke disinterestedly, for few estates were in greater want of additional slaves than his own. On a former occasion, he had suggested the idea of sending Sepoys from the East Indies to serve as troops in the West Indies; and he was not without hopes that this suggestion had attracted the notice of government. It appeared to him to be a mode happily calculated to remove a considerable part of the danger justly to be apprehended from the further increase of Africans. After a few more observations, the hon. gentleman concluded with making a few remarks on the unanimity of sentiment among the planters of the West Indies, of which so much had been said. Without meaning the slightest disrespect to those gentlemen, he must remind the house, that the interests of various classes of people materially affected their opinions; and it was not surprising that a set of merchants deprecated a measure, which, in their belief, threatened to prevent further extension of their commerce.

General Tarleton.

—Sir; I consider it as a duty incumbent on me to oppose this measure with all the ability which I possess. The question is such, that it certainly deserves the most serious deliberation, and the coolest investigation of the house, t trust, therefore, that the reasons urged against the measure will be heard and weighed with all that candour that becomes an assembly such as this. In the opening part of the speech of the gentleman who has just sat down, he said that now or never was the time to put in practice the measure of the abolition. Sir, I see nothing in the present time that, in this respect, peculiarly distinguishes it from former times. At all times, I have thought this a most ruinous measure, and the present time contains nothing to make me alter my opinion. In order to be convinced of the vast importance of this traffic in every respect, we have only to attend to the situation of Liverpool, and compare the state of that city with what it was not more than a century ago. Its population, about a hundred years ago, did not exceed 2,500. This population carried on its trade in about 100 barks. Its capital was then about 10,000l. What is its state now? It employs no less than about 5,000 ships, manned by a proper compliment of seamen, the best and most expert in the British Navy. Its population is between 80 and 90,000, and its capital consists of the number of its former thousands turned into millions. Yet it is certain that this amazing prosperity is almost entirely owing to the slave trade. This is certainly a curious time to put an end to the source from which the wealth and grandeur of a considerable city in the Empire is derived. Bonaparte has said that we cannot contend with him single-handed: now, however, he is backed by Spain, and in all probability, Portugal will soon be ranged en his side. Are not, I would ask, our principle means of security derived from our seamen, and these are in a great measure, at least many of the best of them, procured by the trade of Liverpool. It is not a little astonishing, therefore, to hear any one say that this is the time for abolishing a trade which supplies us with so many seamen. Is the time when we are engaged in such a war as the present, a war in which so many seamen are required, upon whom we rest as our chief security, is this a time for such a measure as this, a measure that goes to complete the ruin of one of the chief nurseries from which our seamen, and consequently our measures of security, are in a great measure derived. This measure, sir, is certainly founded on the opinions respecting the rights of man, which have produced so much horror and devastation all over the world. It is a remnant of Jacobinism. I am sure that the hon. gent. who urges it, is not in his heart a Jacobin, but still the effect of his conduct is the same as if he were one. I shall beg leave to mention a story to him, in which I was myself concerned: I went to Paris in 1791 out of curiosity. Having arrived there, I was anxious, like most strangers, to see what was going forward. Among other things I wished to go to visit the jacobin club. But a friend, who knew the place bitter than I did, dissuaded me, saying, "Oh! my dear sir, you must not think of going there, you have opposed the abolition of the stave trade, and consequently are regarded as an abomination by the Jacobins, and you might be in danger of your life. At the same time I was given to understand, that if the hon. mover of the measure had appeared in that club, he would have been bailed with peculiar pleasure; the president would have given him the fraternal hug. I was really told that a diploma of jacobinism was absolutely sent to that honourable gent. I am convinced that the principles of Jacobinism are those upon which this measure is founded.

Mr. Fuller.

—am told, sir, that a contract is actually entered into by govt. to procure slaves as. troops for the West Indies at 551. per man. How this can be reconciled with the conduct of the right hon. the chancellor of the exchequer on the present occasion, I am utterly at a loss to conceive. This is supporting a measure in one way, and opposing it in another. An hon. gent. had said that this was the proper time for abolishing the slave trade. This, sir, is in complete contradiction to the report of the assembly at Jamaica. This is not the proper time for this measure. There has not as yet been sufficient time for one of the parties to be heard. An hon. gent. has said that sufficient evidence has already been given. But this evidence has not been given on oath. Another reason against the abolition is that the plantations, especially the small ones, must absolutely be given up in case it is effected. It has been said, that foreign nations had given indications of abandoning this traffic. It is very easy for them, to be sure, to give it up, since they have lost almost all their colonies, and therefore have very little need of slaves; but is that the situation of this country? Another disadvantage which would result from the adoption of this measure is, that in such a case, we could scarcely find agents to manage our property in the West Indies. The great inducement to them for going out, is the chance of being able to procure slaves, and commence planters on a small scale at first for themselves. Unless a prospect of this kind is held out, it is certain that no people will remain in the colonies, avert for the management of our best estates. An hon. gent. has adverted to the want of compensation in this bill. Certainty it does happen, that in a bill that goes to deprive so many people of their property, there is not one clause to indemnify the sufferers, or their losses. Would this have been done even in a common turnpike bill? If the hon. gent. had proposed such a thing he would have been scouted from one end of the house to the other; and can the house be so indifferent respecting the colonies, that any person dares bring in a measure to treat them with such injustice, and by listened to with patience? He would not dare to propose to meddle with English property in this manner. The only mode in which he could proceed would be this; he would say to the persons whom it might be thought necessary to deprive of their property—we want your land for public purposes; we will pay down to you the value. Some men who would be obliged to attend to reason in common instances at home, still dare to bring forward oppressive measures respecting islands at 3000 miles distance. The situation of the negroes has been the subject of complaint. Is not the situation of the poor in this country in many instances worse than that of the negroes? Without meaning to boast, I have given permission to my own negroes to cultivate considerable spots of ground for themselves, and ample time for this purpose. I have lodged and clothed, and have engaged a physician to attend and prescribe to them. I have done every thing for their comfort. Can the hon. gent. say that he has done so much, with all his talk and noise about humanity, for the peasantry of Yorkshire? I do not wish to impute any unworthy motives to the supporters of the bill, but I am convinced, that as the man who pretends to more courage than another has generally less, so he who pretends to more religion than others, is often the greater cheat.

Mr. Hiley Addington

rose to express his opinion against the abolition of the trade; the question was certainly one of the greatest importance, and of vast magnitude, and the decision of it must be productive of great good, or of the most serious mischief. He was sorry to say, that the opinion he originally gave of the impracticability of the proposed abolition still remained unaltered. It was not from any want of consideration that his mind had not been changed; on the contrary, he had bestowed uncommon attention to the consideration of this question, from the circumstance of having the misfortune to differ in opinion from many hon. friends of his, and from some who possessed the most distinguished talents and highest endowments; he, at the first, thought the measure impracticable, and he thought so still, and he thought, moreover, that the cause of humanity had not been at all promoted by the agitation of the question, and was not likely to be benefited by its further discussion. He was aware that there was sort of popular odium attached to the defence of the existing slave trade; but still he felt a perfect confidence that no popular prejudice of that sort would disincline the. house from giving a full and candid hearing to those who might think differently on the subject. As for himself, he gave his opinion as an individual, utterly unconnected with the trade, or with the West India colonies, having no other interest in the question, than the general interest which every member of that house, must feel for the prosperity of the empire at large. From the best consideration he could give the subject, it appeared to him that the abolition of the trade would be impracticable, and that the attempt would be rescinded; he therefore begged leave to enter his most sincere protest against the passing of this bill, and he should oppose the second reading.

Sir William Pulteney

said, he would not trouble the house at any length, but he wished to make a few observations. There was certainly a considerable difference of opinion, as to this bill. Some said it might be highly dangerous in its consequences; others, that it could not fail to be very advantageous. It was however ascertained, that the slave trade had been very advantageous to the West India islands. This bill was built on theory, and he was not fond of theories; they had been productive of too much mischief. The real fact was agreed upon by all parties to be this: the West Indies cannot be cultivated by Europeans, whose constitutions will not bear fatigue in that climate. It is therefore necessary, if they are to be cultivated at all, that it must be by some other class of the human species, who being natives of warm climates, are able to endure that degree of labour and fatigue which no Europeans could do in that climate. This being the acknowledged fact, the question, is, shall we abandon the cultivation of the West India islands altogether, or what class of the human species shall we employ to, cultivate them? Some say, that it is much better to employ free negroes than slaves, and that the labour of freemen would be more productive. This is, however, only a supposition, a mere theory, The fact is known to be, that the natives of warm countries are not naturally disposed to labour. In warm countries the climate produces the means of subsistence with so little labour, that they have no necessity, and consequently no inclination, for laborious work; and for that species of labour which was necessary for raising sugar and other Colonial produce, it was obsolutely necessary to use something of compulsion. It might appear to some to be a great hardship to compel men to labour, but it was the common condition of the lower orders of society. It was by compulsion that we made our sailors go on board our ships, and this sort of compulsion was often very proper and necessary. As to the general management of the slaves in the West Indies, he could assert, from his own knowledge and means of information, that they were universally much better treated now than they were formerly, and that there has been as great a disposition as possible evinced to encrease them in the natural way. As to the Creoles, although they were superior for generation, they were inferior to the Africans in ability to labour, and it was found that they gradually grew weaker. It might, therefore, well be said, that experience has taught us that we cannot go on without the continued importation of those African slaves; and the only question would be, whether or not we were, in abandoning the trade, abandoning the cultivation of the West India islands altogether. He had often remembered to have heard many splendid theories advanced in that house, and supported with eloquence, which went off altogether, or were not found to answer. Eloquence was not always a proof of the justice of the cause, which it so powerfully supported. The great duke of Marlborough was certainly a very superior man, and a man of most excellent judgment, but he was never famous for his eloquence; he, however, had discrimination, and Weighed matters well; he knew what measures should be adopted, and what should be avoided. This was more than many eloquent men knew. To speak eloquently, and to judge rightly, were very different things. If it were merely to talk of humanity and justice, and those popular topics, the task would be easy; but in the present instance the considerations were more important, as involving the great interests of the country, and that humanity and justice which was due even to numbers of bur Own people to whom the West India trade gave employment. As to all the arguments that had been urged on account of the present situation of affairs in the West Indies, he thought them of no Importance. Although we are now at war, out enemies cannot take up the trade, yet we cannot suppose that we are to be always at war, and if the trade was now abolished, as soon as peace should be restored, the French might again take up that trade which we would so imprudently have thrown away. Those arguments, that were only built on temporary circumstances, were not entitled to much weight. An hon. gent. had spoken of the danger that Would arise of convulsions and insurrections, from the continual importation of labourers from Africa. It appeared to him that the danger lay on the other side. If you were to stop all future importation, such a measure must give a very strong turn to the minds of the negroes now upon the islands: they might well say, if you think that the situation of slaves is so dreadful, that you will not allow any more of our countrymen to be made slaves, why are we to continue slaves still? If the abolition of the trade rests entirely on the reasons of humanity and justice, the same principles would lead as far as entire emancipation. If then, by abolishing the trade, you could convince the negroes in our islands, that their state was much more shocking than ever they had before considered it, the only consequence would be, that they would be more ripe for insurrection, which would bring an additional danger upon the colonies, From these considerations, he could not avoid opposing the second reading of the bill.

Mr. Fox

said, he should trouble the house but very shortly, and be should not have done so at all if it had not been for some parts of the hon. baronet's speech, which he thought required some observations. The hon. baronet had talked a good deal about splendid theories Which had been, at different times brought forward in that house, and powerfully supported by eloquence, and which were afterwards dropped. For his part, he Was Utterly at a loss to conceive what splendid theory it was which the worthy baronet alluded to; but it appeared to be aft inference, which he chose to draw from his general positions, arid from his story of the Duke of Marlborough, that eloquence was So contrary to discrimination and judgment, that whenever the house heard an opinion eloquently and Well supported, they should, oh that account, rather presume it to be wrong. This would, indeed, be a very strange conclusion, and yet it followed, as clearly as possible, from what had fallen from the worthy bayonet. This great dread of eloquence was not peculiar to the worthy baronet. The Jacobins of France had also been much afraid of it was one of their maxims that there was no sort of Aristocracy so dangerous as the Aristocracy of talents. The hon. baronet appeared to have imbibed that maxim, but he would hardly convince, the house, that the better they heard a measure supported, the more suspiciously they should receive it, and the more inclined they should be to consider it only a splendid theory. But what was the theory in the present instance? Was it a theory that the West India islands were in a very alarming State? This was a thing, however, which would be granted by every body, and which had in fact been universally granted. Was it a theory that the trade was bad in itself, and contrary to justice and humanity? Instead of theory, it was a positive fact, on which the supporters of the bill had rested their arguments. It was acknowledged on all sides, that there was an alarming disproportion between the numbers of the blacks and of the Europeans in the West Indies. It is allowed that there are at least 30 blacks to 1 white, and that from this great disproportion of numbers much mischief had already arrived, and much danger was apprehended. It can therefore hardly be called a theory to wish to diminish this danger, by diminishing that disproportion from which it arose. It was now 12 or 13 years since the house had come to a resolution for gradually abolishing the slave trade, and yet many of those who voted for this gradual abolition had hitherto opposed every measure which tended to carry into effect that re solution, and many of those who then saw the greatest danger from the disproportion between the black and white population, can now consent that this danger shall be constantly increasing with increasing disproportion. As to the war not being likely to last for ever, and the view of the question when peace should be established, he must say, he hoped as much as any gent, that the war would not last long, yet he must say, that if the solemn resolutions of the house of commons were to be carried into effect at all, the war certainly presented no difficulty, on the contrary he was sure that while the war continued, the argument could never apply on which the opponents of the bill placed their principal reliance, for certainly we could not be supplied with slaves by French or Spanish ships, as long as we were, at war with those nations. The hon. gent. concluded with observing, that it was most material that the house of commons should again declare its opinion upon this trade; there must be a strong hope that an opinion so gravely delivered, and which had been so often repeated, would at length make a powerful impression on the public mind, and would be adopted.

Mr. Huddlestone

said, it was his purpose to have gone somewhat at large into the present important question and the consideration which it involved; but the most essential of the points which he should have endeavoured to establish, had been enforced by other gentlemen with a degree of knowledge and ability so superior to any that he could have brought to the subject, that if he were to proceed in the course he had intended, he should, weaken the impression which their speeches cannot fail to have made both on the understanding and the feelings of every member present. The task, therefore, which he had prescribed to himself was much curtailed; but relying, as he knew he might, on the candour and indulgence of the house, he would not entirely forego this opportunity of lifting his voice (feeble as it must prove) in reprobation of that monstrous traffic, the toleration of which has so long been the opprobrium of the British legislature. It was far from his intention to charge this sin upon the nation at large; for well he remembered the nation at large had testified its abhorrence of it, by universally petitioning for its abolition; and it has since been a matter of astonishment to all Christendom., that those who are the constitutional guardians of British freedom should sanction elsewhere the most detestable system of op pression and cruelty that ever disgraced a civilized nation. He said he never conversed with an advocate of this traffic who chose to give a direct or serious answer to these simple questions.—Is it just to exercise this trade?. Is it honourable to any govt. particularly one, the very essence of whose system is freedom, and whose highest boast is to secure it to the poor as well as to the rich? Is it houourable in such a govt. to encourage or permit this trade?— He repeated, that he never could obtain a direct or serious answer to either of these questions. One has said, "you are mistaken; the slaves are, in fact, very happy much happier than the labouring poor in England." But he omitted to state in what their happiness consisted —Another has answered; "would you have us drink our tea without sugar?" In other words, "would you abridge us Englishmen of part of our comforts merely to avoid mak- ing slaves of Africans!"—In this house the answers to such questions, or arguments connected with them, have been still more summary; they have been denominated cant, or fanaticism: but in a Report of certain proceedings which had been sent to him, and which he considered as a sort of manifesto on the part of the planters, they are ascribed to malice!— A desire to secure a nation of freemen from the guilt of devoting millions of innocent persons to slavery, has been construed into malice to the planters, and pretended humanity! Now, he had not the least objection to this mode of answering the charges of injustice which were brought against this trade, because it is a virtual admission that no better answer can be given. In truth, the combined aggregate of human intellect would be inadequate to the task of disproving the injustice of this traffic. Were the belligerent powers of Europe henceforth to condemn their respective prisoners to slavery in their colonies, they would at least have this pretext, that those they enslaved were their enemies. But what pretence had we for enslaving the harmless Africans, who are so far from being our enemies, that they did not even know of our existence till they felt our tyranny? On the ground of humanity, every topic of argument has been exhausted; there is not a feeling of the human heart but pleads for the abolition of this barbarous traffic. On the point of expediency, if that is to supersede humanity, and every Christian virtue, it may, for aught he knew, be a fact in physic, that human blood is the best manure for land; and let the slave-dealer, before he starts at the idea of making this use of it answer this question—which is the more merciful procedure, to bleed a man to death at once, or to flog and sweat him to death through every stage of lingering disease? But on this ground of expediency, including the safety of continuing this trade, he begged again to refer to the Report from which he had already quoted, which contains a passage not less satisfactory than the mode it adopts of disproving the injustice of the traffic. The passage is this: "it is admitted that the disproportion between the slaves and the inhabitants of a free condition, is one great danger arising from the state of the West India population." Now, sir, if any thing can be more gratifying than this candid admission, it is the answer to it, which immediately follows, namely, "but we can- not allow that this disparity is likely to be augmented by a continuance of the trade with Africa, or by a positive increase in the number of labourers from importation. The great source of the inequality is the number of estates belonging to proprietors resident in G. Britain—a few, long settled there, enjoying the fortunes left them by their ancestors in better times—some for the education of their families, or from the state of their health. One agent often represents many absentees, and is desired to carry on the cultivation of their plantations with the smallest number of white people possible, from motives of economy."—Thus, the present existing disproportion in numbers between the slaves and the freemen is admitted to be a great danger; but it is contended in answer, that a positive increase in the number of labourrers (a term which they happen always to prefer to the term slaves) will not increase that disproportion. Now, how a disparity, which is caused by the importation of slaves, can fail to be increased by a further importation of slaves, he had no faculties to discover. Here again, he rejoiced to observe that no better argument can be urged in disproof of the danger admitted to exist from the present disproportion. Thus, it seems to be like a fatality attendant on this traffic, that every argument offered in defence of it is built on the ground of interest—of pecuniary profit—opposed to every higher consideration—to every motive that has reference to justice, morality, or religion—or to that great principle which comprehends and unites in itself the opinion of them all. Place before the most determined advocate of this trade the image of himself in the garb and harness of a slave; dragged, and severed forever from each tie that attached him to existence, without one ray of hope to cheer him, without one point of consolation on which to rest; place before him this picture, and you will extort from him the reluctant confession that he would not endure for an hour the misery to which, he condemns his fellow-man for life!—But even on this narrow ground, this degrading principle of interest, the advocates of this traffic have been refuted. And, in addition to the arguments so forcibly urged oh this point, he would ask, how it is that in the East Indies, where we also cultivate the sugar cane, and but for the favour shewn to this trade, which is supported by making slaves of a whole quarter of the world, we could supply G. Britain and Ireland with sugar at a much cheaper rate—how is it that in those vast regions we have the produce of the industry of 40 millions of people, of the great mass of the population without employing a single slave? Why certainly it is, because they are cherished and protected in the enjoyment of their rational rights. Whatever cause the great and powerful may have to complain; however we may have "bent the strong in arm, we have at least spared the feeble hand;" and let him ask them, if those who now cultivate the soil in our colonies were admitted to the blessing of freedom; if we were to give them rights, and to protect them in the enjoyment of those rights, why should not the same consequence result, and every advantage be derived from the free exercise of their industry, that we now extort from them by the whip and the chain? Is the labour of a freeman found less efficacious than that of a slave? Or at least would the further importation of slaves into our colonies be necessary, if instead of working out and exhausting in a few years those already there, we permitted them to live out the date which Providence assigned them: in a word, if by freedom and kindness we gave them a motive to wish for prolonged existence, and to multiply their species?—But here he must not forget to acknowledge that the Report he alluded to by no means admits these premises, but on the contrary, contends that the situation of a slave in the West Indies is more fortunate than that of a Hindoo labourer in Bengal. And in support of this position, the writer, giving a statement of the earnings or wages of the Hindoo, the errors of which it were immaterial to point out, proceeds to describe the poor Hindoo's meal of rice and salt, "his miserable hovel, formed of materials which a wealthier class would refuse for fuel; a coarse mat his bed; the ground both his chair and table; unglazed earthen pots his furniture; a leaf his plate; his clothing (what the writer terms) a carf on the shoulder, and another on the waist, with sandals on the feet; a rugged home-made blanket, to protect him from the wet or cold, the only variation known to the peasant." After finishing this statement, the report triumphantly exclaims, such is the situation of 20 millions of free subjects of the British empire in India, whilst its legislature is Hunting for imaginary misery in the West India colonies, where the lot of the labourer is a thousand times more fortunate The Report then proceeds to demonstrate that the herrings and salt fish allowed the slave cost more than the whole sustenance of the Bengal peasant; and this is the sole proof adduced of the thousand times more fortunate lot of the slave! The other luxuries he enjoys, in addition to his herrings and salt fish, are not enumerated Of his advantages over the Hindoo in respect to habitation, furniture, and clothing, we are also left to conjecture; In truth, the writer of this report, in this part of it at least, has proved himself to be but little acquainted with the subject on which he treats; for had he been at all conversant with the nature and character of the Hindoo and the Hindoo laws and system, he would have known that his simple and abstemious diet (which however is more varied than this statement admits) is both adapted to his nature, and enjoined him by his religion; that his habitation and cloathing are in fact suited to the climate; that his means, limited as they are, are not more limited than his desires. Some indeed of the stated points of hardship in the lot of the Hindoo peasant are common also to the Hindoo prince; and much of what the report describes as hardship and oppression in the lot of the Hindoo peasant is to him content and comfort. But it must have struck the house, that in this comparison of the lot of the Hindoo peasant with that of the, African slave, there is one not immaterial omission. Here he alluded to a difference in their respective lots, which it required a better pencil than his to delineate; he alluded to mental feeling. Here the humble Hindoo peasant, in his miserable hovel, has sources of pride and happiness, tat which not only the slave, but even his master, is a stranger: he is, it is true, a, peasant, and his labour and industry are devoted to an European lord; but in another view he is, in his own sincere belief, more than his lord's superior, for he conceives of him as of the very lowest casino earthly consideration would prevail on him to eat from the same plate; and he would not suffer his son to marry the daughter of his master, even if she could bring him the West Indies for her portion. The Hindoo peasant drinks of his native wells, and however scanty his meal, he receives it from the hands of the person who is most dear to him; his labours are for her and their mutual offspring; and the thought of returning to them cheers him in his course, and lightens every toil; his daily task performed, he reposes with his family; no retrospect to former days disturbs his slumbers, nor dreams that cause him to awake to agony, at the dawn of day; no cries of dispair appal him; no barbarous sounds of cracking whips remind him, that with the form, and image, and feelings of a man, his destiny is worse than that of the beast of the field. And what, in his destiny, is to be set off against these humble comforts, he should leave to be stated by the advocates of this traffic, and return for a moment to what is more immediately connected with the question before the house, just to notice, that it has been Urged as an argument in favour of continuing this traffic, and if we relinquish it, other nations will take it up; but can it be contended, that if we prohibit the importation of slaves in our colonies, there would he the same demand for slaves there now is? Certainly not. Admitting, however, in the fullest latitude, that those whom we might abstain from enslaving, would be enslaved by others; was it no argument, or only one fit to, be remarked in that house, that we should be exonerated from the guilt? He was aware that he had presumed too long upon the patience of the house; but he could not sit down till he had congratulated the house and the country on the prospect there now seemed of a Removal of the stigma inseparable from the toleration of this trade. And he both congratulated and envied the hon. gent. to whose persevering benevolence we were indebted for that prospect. Even if the result of this discussion should be unfavourable, his cause of regret will be the least. The blessing of thousands who have perished by this traffic since the comencement of his labours, have already been his recompence; and in the event of an unfavourable issue to this discussion, the blessings of thousands yet to perish will be added to the score not to mention the immortal meed decreed to him, and the flames which aseended to his praise and honour in one of our commercial towns. With respect to the asperity and sarcasms lavished by some of the advocates of this trade on those who wish its abolition if it should he his lot to share them, he should not repine: nor would he follow the example of those gentlemen. On the contrary, he would acknowledge, that some pesrons whom he honoured and respected, were among those who apprehended consequences from the abolition of the slave trade that he was persuaded there was no just ground to apprehend; and he believed that the present state of the French West India colonies must stagger them in this opinion. One allegation respecting their trade he was sure they do not believe, nor could he until positive proof be adduced of it. For were it true, that in order to procure slaves, we are ourselves the instigators of those wars which afford the miserable pretence for making them so, he should consider the sytem altogether as the consummation of human guilt. Upon the ground which he had endeavoured to state, and which had been much better stated by others, he should cordially vote for the motion.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, he did not rise with any intention of entering into the debate, but merely in explanation of a circumstance which bad been stated positively, and which he believed had been very much misunderstood. Several of the hon. gentlemen who bad spoken, had talked of a contract which govt. had made for purchasing 5 or 6000 slaves in Africa. He had heard of no such contract; and did not believe there could be such a one existing. Such a proposition was made to govt. and the suggestion came from the West Indies; but it was immediately rejected. He believed the govt. had never conceived the idea of buying slaves for their use, as had been represented: their idea was very different, it was to purchase the redemption of those persons from a state of slavery whom govt. wished to employ as soldiers. This was an idea totally different from that of becoming purchasers of slaves, and would not be inconsistent with any opinion that might be given on the general question now before the house for the consideration of its members.

General Gascoyne

stated, that a proposition had been made from govt. to a merchant at Liverpool for the purchase of a number of the blacks alluded to, and he could tell the right hon. gent, that whoever accepted the contract, the blacks would be purchased on the coast of Africa. Of course his original statement on this subject was not incorrect,

Mr. Wilberforce

proceeded to reply, and observed, he never had any idea of treating this traffic otherwise than as a traffic in consistent with justice and humanity; nor was it at the present less so in his estimation than at former periods; although there had been many regulations in the trade, and gentlemen who had uniformly opposed him in his endeavours to abolish the trade on the ground of inexpediency, agreed with him as to its being a trade which was inconsistent with justice and humanity, no difference existed between him and the greater number of his opponents but whether the abolition should be gradual or immediate; and, therefore, he apprehended there were but few, indeed, who would not agree that the trade was unjust and inhuman? and yet many gentlemen were too much in the course of pursuing a system, mentioned very properly by an hon. gent, on the other side of the house (Mr. Fox) that of using the argument of a gradual abolition, when the question of abolition came on in any shape, as a sort of argument in store to be used against any abolition whenever it was proposed; and accompanying it with a common-place observation, that the time was not fit for the Agitation of the question. Now, if these gentlemen were sincere in their declaration, that the slave trade was contrary to justice and humanity, and that a gradual abolition of it was practicable, he hoped some of them would do what none of them had yet offered, in the event of this bill being lost, which was to propose some plan of their own, for such an abolition as they thought practicable, and suitable to the present time; and he assured them they should have his assistance in any measure of that nature, if it should appear to him to be in any degree reasonable; this he hoped some of these gentlemen would do, if they were in earnest in their professions on the slave trade. He took notice of this observation* of an hon. hart, (sir Wm. Polteney) who had considered this subject as a theory, and he said, that the objection to the bill as a theory was an objection which might as well have been, and indeed Had been applied to all the regulations which took place in the trade, such as those in the middle passage, and other provisions of the like nature. He remembered the house was told when these regulations were before it, they would be the means of raining the trade; it might as well be proposed to abolish it at once, for all the horrors of the abolition would come upon them directly if these regulations were adopted; the regulations were adopted however, and in a few months afterwards the planters acknowledged the plan of them highly beneficial to their, interests; and now they used the adoption of that plan as an argument against the abolition; and the very same arguments they used against the regulations which they now profess to admire, they now use against the abolition; all this, change in the sentiments of the planters, had taken place within 2 years; for these reasons he trusted the hon. baronet, who, by the way, had not always been so great an enemy to theory on every occasion, as he had professed himself to be to-night, would not persist in his opposition to this measure on that account, and he thought it extraordinary that men of such acute understanding as the hon. baronet possessed, should fall into such an error as this; the hon. baronet, in his dislike to theory, had overlooked the main argument on. which this measure was supported. He did not consider chat the population of the islands could be kept up by natural means, without any fresh importation, which had been proved to the house in detail by figures long ago, by accounts from the islands themselves. Whether tire, hon. baronet had paid any particular attention, or not, to the matter, most indisputably the fact was so; that after all the resolutions should have been adopted which had been proposed, the population of negroes in the islands would keep up so as to supersede the necessity of any fresh importation, was a matter not now disputed. It had been clearly established in America that the population of this description doubled in 20 years. The same effect under the same regulations, would take place in the West Indies. He would not say what the consequences would be of adopting the plan he now proposed to the house, bat if any one would read the report of the Jamaica assembly, which he had read with attention, he thought such a person would not readily say this plan would make the condition of that island worse than it was at present, with respect to its negroes; a situation into which they had brought themselves, for want of pursuing a plan similar to that which was intended to be tried under this bill, and which situation might be said to be that of being nearly in the jaws of destruction; a great deal of this evil arose from the practice of those who were called the book-keepers, to whom this trade of importation was a profitable concern, and he believed to them only, but the general sys- tem of it was as injurious to the true policy of the islands as the trade itself of importation from Africa was. repugnant to justice and humanity. It had been so clearly established to be impolitic to continue the system in Jamaica, that a gentleman of great discernment had advised them in that island to drop it, or suspend it for a while, as the only means of getting rid of a great deal of embarrassment, as had been done with effect in North America; indeed, it was nothing more than proving the truth of the old proverb, "that honesty is the best policy;" and he was persuaded, that however some men might flourish for a while, they would, by neglecting that maxim, find themselves in the end overtaken by absolute poverty. He recommended this Jamaica report to the house, by which they would see the foundation on which he made these observations. In the course of 20.years the number of executions for debt ascended to 80,000, and amounted to 22½ millions sterling. He left gentlemen to consider how far this might with propriety be called in a national sense a ruinous concern, and that therefore a general policy was against it, and to reflect on the propriety of making these public sacrifices to the private interests of these few book-keepers and individuals who benefit by the system. It was said, there was nothing new to be advanced upon this subject; that he denied. There was much that was new to be said, but it was not necessary for him to say it at present; but he hoped the house, in some future stage of this business, would be perfectly acquainted with all that was to be found in the papers now before it, and that would give them a proper idea of the slave trade, as it related to the condition of the bulk of the West India negroes. He had never considered it on that ground, because he did not think the case rested on that point, and he had abstained from the discussion of that topic, because he knew it was likely to produce irritation, and make parties in the house acrimonious against each other; but what he said was this, that the general state of the negroes in the West Indies would never be materially improved, if the African importation was permitted to continue; they would always be in a state of degradation, below that which ought to be the lot of the human species; they were like cattle, under the whip, in which improvement was impossible, nothing being applied to them but brutal force, they could never possess any but brutal manners, so they must always, under such a system, remain, degraded in the estimation of others, and their own, receiving no moral instruction or improvement from the society in which they lived, or rather from which they were excluded; this prevented them from endeavouring to improve themselves, or their condition. He had endeavoured on various former occasions to impress upon the house the advantages likely to result from changing this system, by shewing that the abolition of the slave trade from the coast of Africa would have many very beneficial effects. It would make it the obvious interest of the master that the slave should be kept with as much care as possible, because his place could not be supplied; that after this, means would of course be adopted to take care of the health of every negro, and also of his moral improvement; encouragement would be given to marriage, and other legitimate objects would be pursued, by which they would become populous, industrious, intelligent, moral, and happy; by which we should have a powerful, though laborious and obedient peasantry; instead of a degraded race of beings, actuated only by a brutal impulse; but the house might believe him, they were capable of much improvement; it was dangerous to keep them in this state long; they were capable of reflecting on their physical, powers; they might be brought to feel how they might be able to destroy those who made or kept them captive. They might become possessed of that knowledge. There was reason to apprehend, that they would form plans, and devise means for carrying them into execution. They could see a distant object with clearness and pursue the means of arriving at it with vigour, and at the same time with patience. He would have gentlemen, who wished to continue this trade, reflect upon these matters, and take care they did not mistake the matter; for these negroes may reflect on their own situation long enough before they have in their own hands the remedy for their slavery; and if they took it by force, it would be done in a manner very different from that in which those who were their present masters could wish. And here he did not wish to avoid that part of the subject on, which the opponents of the abolition dwelt so much; he meant the eventual emancipation of the negroes in the West Indies. He had never concealed that his hope was that such might be the ultimate effect of the abolition of the African importations but that was a period, the distance of which ha had never attempted to calculate, although his opponents had charged him with having it immediately in view. Had that been his object, or even his hope, he should deserve the word humane to be added to his views; but a shorter one, and that was the word mad, ought to be applied to his object; but although he felt that the immediate emancipation of the negroes in the West Indies could not be expected, for that before they could be fit to receive freedom it would be madness to attempt to give it to them, yet he owned he looked forwards, and so he hoped did many others, to the time when the negroes in the West Indies should have the full enjoyment of a free, moral, industrious, and happy peasantry. Nothing was to be expected from the colonial government: and in the open confession the assembly had made, it had dealt fairly with the house. As far as regarded that institution, no co-operation was to be expected, but this disgraceful traffic was to proceed as long as the patience of parliament, and he would add, the mysterious ways of Providence, would permit its continuance. Let, then, said the hon. gent. the house pause, and contemplate its present duties; the opportunity now offered may never return, and if the present moment be neglected, events may occur which will render the whole of the West India islands one general scene of devastation and horror. The storm is fast gathering; every instant it becomes blacker and blacker. Even now I know not whether it be not too late to avert the impending evil, but of this I am quite sure—that we have no time to lose.

Earl Temple

said, he was not going to delay the discussion for a moment, but there was a point which he could wish to have clearly explained; he came to the house under a conviction that goverment had entered into a contract with certain West India merchants, for a number of slaves to be purchased at a stated price, and to be furnished at a certain time; the number 5000,and the time, December. His right hon. relation said that no contract had been entered into for soldiers to that amount. But since he had heard that explanation, he had made enquiry, and he understood the matter to be thus, (if not true, his right hon. relation would inform him) that government had stated to West India merchants, that if they produced, by a certain time, 5000 black men, 2000 of whom were actually contracted for, government would pay from 501 to 60l.a man for them. He wished to know if that was an agreement which government had entered into with the West India merchants, for it was said they were to be taken up as soldiers in a black corps, not produced as slaves; and that in virtue of that agreement, a merchant at Liverpool was now fitting out a ship for the purpose of fulfilling that agreement.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said he knew nothing of the transaction to which the noble lord alluded—The question being called for, the house divided upon the amendment of General Gascoyne, when there appeared

For the amendment 77
Against it 70
Majority against the Bill 7