HC Deb 14 May 1833 vol 17 cc1193-262

The Order of the Day for the House to resolve itself into a Committee to consider the subject of Slavery having been read, the House resolved itself on the Motion of Mr. Secretary Stanley, into a Committee.

Mr. Secretary Stanley

rose, and spoke nearly as follows:—Sir, I am confident when I state to the House, that if ever a Minister of the Crown, in bringing forward any measure on behalf of the Government to which he belonged—more especially affecting a question of such vital import as this—one which touches so directly and immediately the interests of many, and, I may say, commands the attention of all—I say, Sir, if ever a member of this House, or Minister of the Crown, had a fair claim on the kindness and indulgence of those about him, that claim I can now honestly make, assured that what I ask will not be refused; and the more confident I am in advancing it, from the circumstance which is well known to all, of the very short period which has elapsed since I have been called upon to act as the organ of Government in this situation, and from my having, during that brief and limited period, to discharge the duties of an office, one of the many of which is connected with this question of unparalleled importance—involving a greater amount of property—affecting the happiness and the well-being of a larger portion of individuals, than was ever before brought forward, and which to mature and bring successfully to a conclusion, is now ren- dered peculiarly difficult by the time, and from the circumstances under which it, is introduced. Sir, I feel most anxious on account of the responsibility which devolves upon me. I feel not, only, that our maritime commerce is here concerned that 2,50,000 tons of British shipping are affected—not only that a revenue of 5,000,000l. is to be dealt with and legislated for; but I feel, that if possible, higher interests are involved—that the interests, the comforts, the prosperity, perhaps I might say the very existence, of a large population in the West-India colonies depending upon us for support and protection, hang upon the decision of those Resolutions which it will be my duty to submit to the House. Nay, Sir, I cannot narrow the question even to this—I cannot deny to myself, that the happiness of the descendants of those for whom I now propose to legislate—that generations yet unborn are to be affected for good or for evil by the course which this House may think proper to adopt. Nor can I conceal from myself, or from this House, the immense influence on the population of foreign countries which must arise from the result of the mighty experiment which we now propose to make. On that may depend the welfare of millions of men in a state of slavery in colonies not belonging to Great Britain. Besides all these things, there is enough to make any man—the strongest, the boldest, and the best—shrink in some degree under the weight of so great a responsibility; for the question is now in such a state, that deal with it as you will, you can only have a choice of difficulties. Those difficulties, I assert, are all but insurmountable. They leave us only the choice of doing some good at the least risk of effecting evil. We are called upon to legislate between two conflicting parties—one deeply involved by pecuniary interests—involved, moreover, in difficulties of the most pressing character—difficulties which are now present, and are constantly increasing; the other deeply involved by their feelings and their opinions, representing a growing determination on the part of the people of this country to put an end to slavery, which no one can deny or wisely despise—a determination the more absolute, and the less resistible, because founded in sincere religious feelings, and in a solemn conviction that things wrong in principle cannot be good in practice; and that determination is expressed in a voice so potential, that no Minister can venture to disregard it. The time is, indeed, gone by when the question can be for a moment entertained whether or not this system can be made perpetual; the only point we can discuss the only point we shall discuss is the safest, speediest, happiest way in which to effect its final and entire abolition. And let me say, that they who characterize this as a mere ebullition of popular feeling—as transient in its character—as fleeting or unsubstantial—the mere expression of yesterday—are but deceiving themselves; for it is not of late or of momentary birth, but springs from the deep-settled and long-entertained convictions of reflecting men—from that same spirit of lasting humanity, which, fifty years ago, pressed on the Parliament of that day; and which, in defiance of the arguments, that we should ruin our trade—in defiance of opposition from many quarters—compelled the Parliament to abolish for ever that iniquitous and disgraceful trade by which supplies of human flesh were obtained from the shores of Africa. If there are, Sir, any persons who can doubt that the authors of that politic and humane and just abolition looked forward to the emancipation of the slaves as the consequence of abolishing the Slave Trade, I would beg leave to refer them to the speeches of the most distinguished advocates of that humane measure. Sir, when we look back to the language of the great men who introduced that measure into Parliament, and who so zealously laboured for the accomplishment of that object, which they at length almost achieved, leaving little for those to do who actually accomplished it, we find that, although the two questions were carefully separated at the time, the gradual abolition of slavery remained upon their minds, and was distinguishable in the expression of their feelings in the debates of that day, as necessarily and inseparably connected with that preliminary step of the abolition of the slave-trade. The House will forgive me if I call its attention to the remarkable expressions of no undistinguished man, who, in the language of Mr. Canning, attacked only the outworks of the great fortress, but who undoubtedly looked forward with a firm conviction, that the destruction of those outworks would cause the ultimate fall of the fortress itself. So long ago as the year 1792 (and then, with an apology for his plan having remained unmatured and un-exhibited to the public for twelve years) Mr. Burke, in his celebrated letter to Mr. Dundas, disclosed his plan for what he called a Negro Code, and said 'that he was convinced the true origin of the slave trade was not in the place it began at, but in the place of its final destination; he then said, I was, therefore, and still am of opinion, that the whole work ought to be taken up together, and that the gradual abolition of slavery in the West-Indies should go hand in hand with any thing which is done to put a stop to the supply of negroes from the coast of Africa'. Together with this letter, Mr. Burke inclosed his Negro Code, embracing regulations for trade, and containing provisions for putting an end to the system of slavery in the colonies. The preamble is so remarkable that he would beg to trouble the House with it. The preamble began by saying, 'whereas it is expedient, and conformable to the principles of the Christian religion, the dictates of morality, and the rules of sound policy, that an end should be put to all traffic in the persons of men, and to the detention of such persons in slavery, as soon as the same can be effected without great inconveniences from a sudden change of practices long established; and during the continuance of those practices, it is desirable to introduce some regulations to lessen the inconveniences of such traffic and detention in servitude, until both can gradually be done away with,&c.'Mr. Fox and Mr. Wilberforce, in this House, and Lord Grenville, in the other House of Parliament, in 1806 and 1807, while they distinctly declared, that the two questions were separate, and that their object at that time was nothing more than the abolition of the trade in slaves; yet in all they said, they evidently looked with confidence to a period when that supply having ceased, slavery itself should be abolished. Mr. Fox said, "that, the abolition of the slave-trade would lead to the abolition of slavery altogether in the West-Indies*"Mr. Wilberforce said, that 'he wished for nothing then beyond the abolition of the slave-trade; but that when time and the concurrence of other Powers should render it practicable, he * Hansard vol, vii. p. 603. did not hesitate to say, that slavery ought to cease to exist amongst the institutions of civilized nations'. Lord Grenville observed, that in all history the progress from slavery to liberty was effected by the slaves becoming predial or attached to the land; because where they were rendered labourers rather than slaves, they felt an interest in the prosperity of their country; and he was sure, that to give the West-India slaves an interest in the tranquillity and defence of those islands would ensure their confidence, loyalty, and attachment.' I trouble the House with these extracts to prove that the feeling which now pervades the country is not of this day's growth; but that the people of this country have long considered it expedient—have long held it a duty, on the ground of religion and of justice, to advance any measure which might tend to the early abolition of this disgraceful system. The nation have now loudly, and for a length of time declared that the disgrace of slavery should not be suffered to remain part of our national system. Parliament has, at various times, though perhaps in mitigated terms, confirmed this principle; some times looking to a more remote, and at others to a more immediate period, for the abolition of the system. In 1823, when certain Resolutions were moved by the hon. member for Weymouth, Mr. Canning, in the name of the Government of that day, proposed an Amendment, and that Amendment forms a part, though no very large part, of the Resolutions to be proposed to the House this night. The Resolutions adopted on that occasion received the unanimous support of the House; and the House looked forward to the adoption, on the part of the colonists, of certain ameliorating measures which would, in time, put a final term to the system of slavery. It was the confident expectation of the House, that measures would be concerted by the Colonial Legislatures, which should carry into effect the wishes of Parliament. It was thought, that the friendly warning of Parliament would be sufficient to induce the colonists to attend to its wishes. That warning, however—that admonitory voice—has gone forth, and for years and years been, I am sorry to say, unheeded and disregarded by all the Colonial Legislatures; they have allowed it to be lost upon them—they have done nothing to further and accomplish that great mea- sure, which the mother country eleven years ago, declared to be so just and so desired. But the voice of warning has been found to speak in vain—the tongue of honest and affectionate counsel has not been heeded. I will not deny, that if we look to the measures agreed upon by the Colonial Legislatures since the period I have alluded to, some improvements may be found in points affecting the physical condition of the slaves; but I do assert boldly, and without fear of contradiction even from themselves, that nothing has been done of that nature, extent, or character, which may fairly be characterized as a step towards the ultimate extermination of the system. I therefore now call on the House to take the mutter at once into its own hands. It is important to bear in mind, that without the co-operation of the Colonial Legislatures, acting on what Mr. Burke emphatically called the "executory principle," it is idle to seek for the termination of the system of slavery, unless through the means of the Home Legislature. The words of Mr. Burke were these;—"I have seen," said he, speaking in 1792, "what the Colonial Legislatures have done (in reference to the improvement of the condition of the negro)—it is arrant trifling—they have done little, and that little is good for nothing, because it does not carry with it the executory principle?" Now, Sir, it will be my duty to show—and I will clearly show it, though at some hazard of tiring the House, that up to this day, every measure resolved upon by the Colonial Legislatures has been utterly destitute of this principle—utterly destitute of any thing like an executory provision—and destitute of any thing which might give to their enactments the remotest possibility of being calculated to work out the freedom of a single slave. In 1823, Lord Bathurst forwarded to those islands directly governed by this country certain directions, which pointed out several modifications desirable to be adopted as the ground-work for an altered state of society, They were intended, by a gradual alteration in the domestic habits of the slaves, to bring about the total abolition of slavery, and the conversion of the negroes into free labourers. The main principles were the abolition of Sunday labour and Sunday markets, constituting the sacredness of the marriage contract, the placing restrictions on the punishment of the slaves, the establishment of Savings Bunks, and other regulations calculated to prepare the slave for that station and the performance of those duties and obligations which civilized life imposes. The Resolutions of 1823 were followed up by an Order in Council in 1824, which provided for the establishment of a protector of slaves, specified the right of the negroes to possess property under certain conditions, prohibited Sunday labour, and gave a right to the slave, under certain restrictions, to obtain his manumission, even against the consent of his master. These Regulations were conveyed to the Crown Colonies by an Order in Council in 1824; they were immediately put into operation in those colonies, and remained in force until subsequently altered by another Order in Council in 1830. But how were these salutary and humane provisions received by the Colonial Legislatures in 1824? Without one single exception, they were unanimously rejected by every colony Laving a legislative assembly of its own. Not one legislative colony but scornfully rejected and disdainfully refused to obey the suggestions and determinations of Parliament and the mother-country. In 1826, we find Mr. Canning using in this House language of the deepest regret—of the deepest anxiety—and I will add, of the deepest indignation—at the continued opposition that was offered by the colonies to the will of the Home Legislature. He stated what had been done by the Colonial Legislatures, in forwarding the recommendations of this House, up to the time that he was speaking; and then added—'he did not state this as a satisfactory result of the measures proposed in 1823, and directed to be put in force by the Order in Council in 1824, far from it,—he stated it, because the point that was then under discussion was, whether the time was yet come when the resistance of the colonies to the wishes of Parliament was to be considered as so contumacious as to make it necessary to adopt a different course with respect to them. The question, in fact was, how far the Parliament of England had the right to legislate for the colonies'. Mr. Canning, dissatisfied as he was with the result of the measures of 1823 and 1824, did not adopt a harsh tone—he did not call upon Parliament immediately to adopt * Hansard (new series) xiv. p. 977. such measures as would bring the "contumacious opposition" of the Colonial Legislatures to the test;—on the contrary, he begged for time—for "a respite," as he called it, to allow the colonies to reconsider their refusal, and to call to mind the position in which they were placing themselves, with respect to this country, by their constant interposition between the wishes of the Legislature here, and the well-being of the population whose condition had become a matter of so much interest at home; he, therefore, begged for time, as a test of the sincerity of the Colonial Legislatures, to carry the determinations of Parliament into effect; and, to promote this end, he proposed that certain drafts of Bills should be sent out to them for their adoption. Mr. Canning, however, agreed with the hon. member for Weymouth, that when the respite which he proposed had expired, if the contumacy of the colonies continued, it would then be the duty of Parliament to take the matter out of the hands of their local legislatures, and to deal with them in a more direct and a more authoritative manner. Mr. Canning had previously pointed out the course to be adopted. He said in 1824: 'There are three possible modes in which Parliament might deal with the people of Jamaica; first, as I have said, it might crush them by the application of direct force; secondly, it might harass them by fiscal regulations and enactments restraining their navigation; and, thirdly, it may pursue the slow and silent course of temperate, but authoritative admonition. Now, Mr. Speaker, if I am asked which course I would advise, I am for first trying that which I have last mentioned; I trust we shall never be driven to the second; and with respect to the first I will only now say, that no feeling of wounded pride, no motive of questionable expediency, nothing short of real and demonstratable necessity, shall induce me to moot the awful question of the transcendental power of Parliament over every dependency of the British Crown. That transcendental power is an arcanum of empire, which ought to be kept back within the penetralia of the Constitution. It exists, but it should be veiled. It should not be produced upon trifling occasions, or in cases of petty refractoriness and temporary misconduct. It should be brought forward only in the utmost ex- tremity of the State, where other remedies have failed to stay the raging of some moral or political pestilence.'* In conformity with these views, eight Bills were sent to the Colonial Legislatures by the authority of the Secretary of State. What has been the result? Not a single colony has condescended to adopt a single Bill out of the whole eight; and the colonial Legislatures raised their voices in lofty indignation at our interference in what they declared to be their exclusive business and concern. This took place in 1826: I am now addressing Parliament in 1833; and up to this hour the voice neither of friendly expostulation nor of authority has produced the desired effect upon the Colonial Legislatures—not a single step has been taken by any of them with a view to the extinction of negro slavery. Undoubtedly some of the colonies have been engaged on plans—or rather shadows and outlines of plans; but none of them have been founded in truth or justice, least of all on those recommendations forwarded from the Government at home. But with regard to any real effort—to any substantial improvement—to that which could alone lead to any substantial and positive improvement—to the institution of an officer as protector of the slaves—an officer appointed by the Crown—really and truly their guardian and counsel—one independent of the planters—of all local influence, and all local friendship—in no one colony has such a thing been attempted—in no one colony, Sir, has this efficient protector been appointed. Undoubtedly there have been Councils of Protection—any two Magistrates might act as a Council of Protection. Means have been afforded of facilitating the acquisition of legal rights; but to whom have the trusts in such cases been delegated? To those who have an interest in suppressing slavery? No, but to those who are themselves the possessors of slaves, and who have an unequivocal interest in the existence of slavery, and who are involved in the feelings and prejudices of the Colonial Legislatures. It may be said, that this is compliance. So it is—but it is a species of compliance worse than a mockery. It gives the shadow, but lets slip the substance; and it is only done to afford a pretext for saying "You have no right to interfere: we have not exactly appointed * Hansard (new series) x. p. 1106. protectors of slaves, but we have put the slaves under protection in reality as effectual and as advantageous." I must admit with regard to the observance of the Sabbath and Sunday markets, that the Colonial Legislatures have shown greater readiness to comply with the wishes of Parliament than on any other point. They are yet, however, far from having done what is necessary; but there is hardly a colony that has not done something towards the establishment of Sunday markets and the abolition of Sunday labour. As to punishments, it is impossible on the present occasion for me to go in detail into the Colonial enactments, and into the deficiencies of those enactments; but if any Gentleman will take the trouble to compare what has been done with what has not been done, he will see how far the Local Legislatures are behind the recommendations of the mother country as respects domestic punishments. The Order in Council directs that no more than a certain number of lashes shall be inflicted, that females shall not be flogged, that witnesses shall be present at the infliction, and that the dates, times, and circumstances, shall be sent to the protector of slaves, and by him sent to the Governor. But if there were any sincere corresponding desire, what, in manliness and in humanity, should be the first step, against which no voice would be raised—that of the abolition of punishment of females. But what will the Committee think of the readiness of the Colonial Legislatures (I speak, God knows, not in bitterness but in sorrow), when I say, that up to this hour no one colony has abolished the practice of inflicting corporal punishment upon females. They have, indeed, in some degree, restrained it; but by restraining they recognize the principle: they have guarded against indecency, but they have not yet carried into effect that which in all the nations of the world has been the first step towards civilization—the raising the female sex from a state of degradation to that of equality and a sense of delicacy. Talk of preparing the slave for freedom of ripening his moral faculties, to render him capable of enjoying it, and yet show him that all his dearest and domestic ties may be violated—that his wife, his daughter, or his sister, may be subjected to corporal punishment at the pleasure of an overseer—it is a mockery and an insult! But there are limitations as to the number of stripes in Jamaica, and I take the example of Jamaica as fair to all the rest. Thirty-nine stripes, and not more, may be given, on the authority of the overseer or owner, to any slave on any one day. And for what, let me ask? A slave proprietor, who was examined before the Committee last year (I forget his name), told us that if a slave only looked his master in the face, he might order him to receive thirty-nine lashes. Is this the way to teach him to respect law, and prepare him for the immunities of a free man? Is it thus he is to be raised to a level with other men? In 1826, Mr. Canning, talking of the dignity of man quoted the lines— —cælumque tueri Jussit, et erectos ad sidera tollere vultus. But how can you tell the negroe that he shall look up as a free man—but can you talk of hopes, encouragement—preparation for individual freedom, and general emancipation, when even at this moment the slave dares not raise his eyes to his master's face without the risk of receiving thirty-nine lashes? I do not speak of the actual exercise of any such power—I do not believe it could be exercised—but that such a power exists there can be no doubt. In case of unjust infliction, the slave must go before two Magistrates, themselves slave-masters; and if he can persuade them to believe him, the master is to be prosecuted, and if found guilty by a Jury, subjected to fine and imprisonment; but if the Magistrates think the evidence insufficient, without any malicious motive on the part of the slave, he is to be subjected to a second flogging for having made the complaint. This is the practical working in Jamaica of the law in favour of the slave. But there is a further punishment:—in case aggravated, overwhelming cruelty, be proved against a master, if a Jury find that it has been atrocious, then an addition is to be made to the fine and imprisonment; and what is it? That the slave may be sold, and the money handed over to the criminal master. This is the punishment inflicted on masters in Jamaica for conduct which is called atrocious. Another most important consideration is property. The Order in Council specifies that all the property of slaves, excepting in slaves, arms, or amunition, shall be held sacred. What have the Local Legislatures done? They have, indeed, recog- nised the right of property in the slave, but they have fenced it round with all sorts of limitations and restrictions, so as to render it ineffectual and nugatory. I omitted one point on which the colonists have shown a degree of consent—I allude to the institution of marriage. Objections have been removed: but as I can see there has been no discouragement of a different course either on the part of the Legislature or the planters, no means have been taken to impress on the minds of the slaves the sanctity of the ceremony, or the sacredness of the obligation. A little has been done to remove formal and local obstacles, and to allow marriages to be contracted; but they are subject to the will of the owner, and in some cases a certificate of a clergyman of the Church of England, or of a Dissenting Minister, is also necessary. I will now advert to the point of slave evidence. Perhaps, in going through these points, the House thinks I am entering more at length into the subject than is requisite; but when I am recommending to Parliament to take a step of so much importance, I feel it my duty to show, that all these local enactments have more of shadow than substance, and that there has been little or no disposition to fill up the outline chalked out by the mother country. What says the Order in Council as to slave evidence? It lays down this broad and intelligible principle—that on account of his servile condition, no man shall be disqualified from giving evidence in a Court of Justice; that the slave, like an infant, may be subjected to an examination of his competency, and of his understanding of the obligation of an oath, but the onus of proving his incompetence shall rest on the party objecting to his testimony. How has this been acted upon? Slave evidence has been restricted by requiring the certificate of the master, and sometimes of a clergyman; and this extraordinary principle has been adopted in the colonies: that, after all restrictions and limitations—when it has been shown that the slave is competent to take an oath—that he understands the nature of the obligation, and that he is a man of good character, still his evidence shall be of no avail, excepting against a slave. In some colonies it is held not good against his owner; in others, not good in any capital case that affects the life of a white man. But if his testimony is to be taken in a case affecting the life of a black man, let me ask, why is it not to be taken in a case affecting the life of a white man? Why are the colonists to be allowed to give this damning proof of their partialities and prejudices, that a negro may be taken to the scaffold on evidence which would not be admitted against a white man in a civil action. There is, however, one exception, proving most strongly that which is the invariable rule, and establishes the jealousy and prejudices that actuate the legislation of the colonies. It is this: That the evidence of a negro shall be received against a white accomplice. If a white degrade himself below his caste by mixing with negroes, and committing crimes in concert with them, he is deprived of his privilege, and may be convicted on the testimony of his black associates. The last point to which I shall refer is the principle of manumission, by which the negro, though in a state of suffering, shall not be in a state of despair—by which he may look forward to his liberation, to that time when standing upright in the possession of freedom, he may take his place among his fellow men. That principle of manumission is distinctly recognized in the Order in Council: even against the will of the master the slave may obtain his freedom—an appraisement by competent persons may take place; and, upon payment of a certain sum, to be settled by arbitration, the slave may be restored to the inestimable blessings of liberty. All the colonies may say, that they have passed laws favouring manumission—that they have removed legal difficulties—and that there is a case where the slave, having paid the stipulated price, may obtain the right to his own body. I admit that they have removed some obstacles; but in no colony, with the single exception of the Bahamas, has the slave acquired a right to go to his master, and, tendering his price, say: "I am no longer a slave—I am a free man." In every other instance, the power of refusal rests with the masters. I have now gone through the various heads included in the Orders in Council of 1824—in the speech of Mr. Canning in 1826, when he put the Colonial Legislatures to the test—in the circulars of Sir George Murray in 1828, which have been entirely disregarded—and in the Order in Council of 1830, which has not been carried into effect in a single colony. I have detailed the parliamentary proceedings, and the measures of Colonial Legislation; and I leave it to the House to form its own judgment how far reliance can be placed on the Legislative Assemblies, that—I will not say in the present, but in any future generation—the wishes and determination of this country, as regards slaves, will be carried into effect. If, then, there be a case in which the intervention of Parliament can be justified—in which it can be imperiously called upon to exercise the power and authority which belongs to it—surely it is this case, in which all means have been exhausted—every suggestion made—every warning given, but given only in vain. All attempts in this country have been met by the most determined opposition. I hold in my hand a passage, from a speech delivered by Mr. Canning in 1799, which, long as it is, I shall take the liberty of reading, because it shows how naturally and how strongly the ardent feelings of his mind were then directed to this subject, which afterwards occupied his most anxious thoughts when he became the great ornament of the Senate. I feel fully persuaded that the House will not think I am wasting its time. It was delivered in reply to Sir William Young, in a debate on the subject of the slave trade; and I entreat the House, in following me, to substitute for slave trade the system of slavery, and every syllable will be applicable to the present condition of the question:—'The question is, whether, in what is to be done to-wards alleviating and finally extinguishing the horrors of the slave trade, the proper agent was the British House of Commons, or the Colonial Assemblies? The hon. Baronet contended that the Colonial Assemblies, and not the British House of Commons, were the agents most proper to be employed. But what was the hon. Baronet's argument? "Trust not the masters of slaves in what concerns legislation for slavery! However specious their laws may appear, depend upon it they must be ineffectual in their application. It is in the nature of things that they should be so." Granted. Let then the British House of Commons do their part themselves! Let them not delegate the trust of doing it to those who, according to the hon. Baronet's testimony, cannot execute that trust fairly. Let the evils of the slave trade be remedied by an assembly of freemen, by the Government of a free people, and not by those whom the hon. Baronet re- presents as utterly unqualified for the undertaking—not by the masters of slaves! Their laws, the hon. Baronet had avowed, could never reach, would never cure, the evil. So that, according to the hon. Baronet's argument, if there had even been no doubt upon the face of the papers upon the Table, of the sincere intention of the Colonial Assemblies to carry the wishes of this country into effect; if there had been no doubt that the termination of the trade was the object to which the regulations (such as they may be) were intended; if there had been no doubt that these regulations were in fact calculated for the purpose; if the Assembly of Jamaica had professed as distinctly its anxiety to terminate the trade, as in point of fact it had expressed its resolution to continue it; still, according to the hon. Baronet's argument, no trust could be reposed in these appearances and professions. There was some-thing in the nature of absolute authority in the relation between master and slave, which made despotism, in all cases, and under all circumstances, an incompetent and unsure executor even of its own provisions in favour of the objects of its power'. As I before remarked, let any Gentleman substitute "Abolition of Slavery "for" Abolition of the Slave Trade;" and there is not an argument advanced by Mr. Canning, in 1799, that may not be used with double force now, to justify the interference of Parliament, if it ever had the right to interfere, in order to carry into effect objects so dearly prized, and of such vast importance. I do not pretend to enter into that nice discussion, or to argue that grave constitutional question which affects to settle where the power of Parliament over Colonial Assemblies terminates. Except by the authority of Parliament itself, I know of no such termination; and if there be those who vindicate the right of Colonial Assemblies to set themselves in opposition to the laws, regulations, and avowed determinations of Parliament, I call upon them to show in the characters of those Assemblies, as well as in reason and argument, how it is possible that a delegated authority should exceed the authority of the body from which it is derived. In 1778, undoubtedly, Parliament passed that Declaratory Act which limited its own power: it did so then, not denying or abandoning its right, but waiving it, and declaring that in the single case of internal taxation. Parliament would not make a claim on those colonies which had assemblies of their own. The right of regulating matters of trade no man will deny; but on the right of interfering with, or of making internal regulations, some hon. Members may raise a doubt. I know not when that right of internal regulation was abandoned, or by what authority the legislature of a dependent colony can declare itself independent of the Legislature of the mother country. Let us however look to precedents. In 1700, I find an Act on the subject of piracy, which authorizes the King to issue Special Commissions for the trial of piracies within the colonial seas, which gives exclusive power to a particular jurisdiction, and supersedes the authority of the local tribunal; and the penalty for denying the right to make this law is the forfeiture of the charter of the colony. In 1732, there was a still more memorable example, having a direct and immediate bearing, not only on the principle, but on the subject matter of this discussion. In that year, the merchants trading to the colonies presented a petition, complaining that in Virginia and Jamaica the privilege was claimed to exempt lands and negroes, in certain cases, from being seized in execution for debt. What did the Parliament of that day do? The Board of Trade reported that the assemblies of those colonies could not be induced to divest themselves, by any act of their own, of the privilege they possessed; accordingly an Act was passed, the 5th Geo. 2nd, c. 7, by which all lands, houses, and negroes on plantations, are declared assets for the payment of debts. But there is one authority, to which, on this topic, I am permitted to appeal, because at all events it will be unsuspected. It is not an English but an American authority; that of Mr. Otis, who, in 1765, was at the head of a large body of his countrymen, and was officially deputed by Massachusets to resist encroachments on the local Legislature: among other things he laid it down distinctly, that "the mother country justly asserts her right to bind her colonies where she thinks it necessary, and she remains the supreme judge, from whose final determination there is no appeal." I say that on this question, if Parliament does not interfere, there is no hope of bringing it to a final issue. It has been very frequently stated, more particularly on the part of the West India body, that there really is no just and substantial ground of complaint; that no case has been made out for interference in any way, and least of all an imperious necessity for legislation. "If (say they) you only leave the colonies alone all will go well, all will be happy: all our difficulties and distresses are the necessary and inevitable consequences of your interposition, and of that perpetual agitation which injures the title to property, and reduces the profits." No man is more sensible than I am of the depth of distress prevailing in the West Indies, or of the strong colours (I do not say more strong than true) in which the Colonial Legislatures have painted the condition of the planters. I hold in my hand a declaration of theirs, which points out the extreme distress and embarrassment of the West Indies, from which I beg to read a short extract. Such is the language of persons speaking of the state of their own property, and I do not doubt the truth of the statement; but I will ask the House to consider under what circumstances, and at what time, this frightful exhibition of utter ruin has been made? Is it of the year 1813 that I am drawing this picture? Is it of the year 1807, when some attempts were made to alleviate? No, but of the high and palmy days of what is called the West-India interest; of the high and palmy days of the slave trade, in the year 1804, and not when, according to the House of Assembly in Jamaica, the fanatical agitation of the question in Parliament had imparted a taint to West-India property. That property, to which it would seem that no injury had ever occurred, antecedently to the celebrated proceedings in the year 1823, although it is a matter of the most perfect notoriety that West-India property had been at all times before liable to sudden and extreme fluctuations, arising from the recklessness with which men were ever ready to embark capital upon that most hazardous species of speculation, and for which, at various periods, many of them have most dearly paid. If I find it necessary before I proceed further to call the attention of the House to a few statements, which I fear will prove dry and uninteresting, I trust I may be borne with, for I shall endeavour to avoid as much as possible anything which does not appear to be of the highest importance. In the year 1803, it was stated, that it was impossible to conti- nue the cultivation of sugar; and in that year the export of sugar from the West-India colonies amounted to 1,430,000 cwts.; but what happened subsequently? Why the cultivation was continually increased, and, in the year 1831, it had advanced to 3,787,000 cwts. The distress of the colonists may be traced to one plain and mi-deniable cause—they have overstocked the market. Though they possess the undisputed monopoly of the markets of this country, they have gone on increasing the extent of their produce until they have far outdone the demand for sugar in the markets of Europe. The quantity of sugar now imported annually into this country exceeds the demand by 1,000,000 cwt., and the consequence necessarily is, that the monopoly is practically and in effect a dead letter. The price of their produce in our markets is determined by the price they can obtain for the surplus abroad. Now, that is surely a state of things not arising from any proceedings in this House, or in this country; and there is nothing can be done to relieve the West-India interest in a commercial or trading point of view, otherwise than by reducing the amount of sugar produced, or by calling into existence fresh markets for its consumption, so that the demand shall come fully up to the supply. New land has been brought into cultivation; new colonies have been added to our possessions; the cultivators of the old land have been compelled to adopt new and improved modes of increasing the productive powers of their estates, and all for the purpose of contributing to swell that vast amount of excessive production which, beyond all dispute, is the great source of the present difficulties of the West-India interest. The owners of property in the West-Indies proceed with enterprises not warranted by the circumstances of the colonies, or the demand for sugar in the European markets; they find themselves involved in difficulties, and they seek to escape from those difficulties by means which only involve them in fresh entanglements; and then they turn round and impute all the blame to what they call the fanatical proceedings which it is said had their origin in this House in the year 1823. I have not the slightest difficulty in saying, that those difficulties have not been occasioned by the efforts to get rid of slavery, but by the ill-judged efforts to push it to extremity. The exist- ing condition of the West-India planters has been brought on, not by the efforts of those who sought to get rid of slavery, nor perhaps by the will of the planters of the present age themselves; but by a concurrence of untoward circumstances and unwise counsels, for which no set of men now alive can be held responsible. I will suppose, that the agitation so often referred to has been the cause of the present state of things in the colonies; and now I ask, what can we do to remove that cause—what is the remedy? It is very easy to say we will exclude, or we might have excluded, all knowledge of those proceedings from the colonies. I say you could have done no such thing, and still less can you do it for the future. You cannot prevent the voice of the people from being heard within these walls, and you cannot prevent the sound of what passes here from reaching the colonies—it will not only reach the colonies, but it will reach the slaves themselves, aggravated by the incautious comments of those who may become the medium of communicating it to the negro population of the West-Indies. I repeat it, that if you wish to stop the progress of this species of information; it is out of your power. The only course left to you is to advance. The only dangerous course is happily impracticable—you cannot recede—you cannot stand still. It has been said, that "the best mode of avoiding danger is to face it. I say that in this case the only possible mode of coping with the danger, so as to afford the smallest chance of safety, is by manfully grappling with it in front. Various objections have been raised to measures founded upon propositions for ameliorating the condition of the slaves, and the strongest apprehensions have been expressed lest we should proceed with steps too hasty and upon data not carefully examined; it is said, that you must render the slave fit for freedom before you offer him emancipation, otherwise you entail nothing but misery upon the negro, and ruin upon the planter. We are told, too, that the effect of such a proceeding will necessarily be to cause a great diminution in the amount of production, that it will be absolutely impracticable to cultivate sugar, that the colonies must be thrown up, and that nothing but ruin will ensue. Sir, so far as the amount of the production of sugar is concerned, I am not quite certain that to some extent a diminution of that production would be matter of regret—I am not quite certain, that it might not be for the benefit of the planters and of the colonies themselves, in the end, if that production were in some degree diminished. But the question for the consideration of the House is, will you, with the statement which I shall have the honour of laying before you—will you, looking to that statement supported by facts and figures alone—will you encourage and defend the system by which the present extent and amount of production are maintained? Up to the present moment, I purposely abstained from adverting to particular cases, for I thought that reference to facts affecting individuals could lead to nothing beneficial, and might be productive of that heat and irritation which it should be our earnest desire to avoid. I trust, therefore, that by those who may follow me, similar abstinence may be practised, and that in the course of such discussion as the present measure may give rise to, we shall escape anything of that painful and profitless species of disputation which none but the enemies of the colonies and human nature would desire to see prevailing. If for a moment I should seem to depart from that rule which I have prescribed, it will, I assure the House, be so only in appearance; my earnest and sincere desire being to avoid every thing having the slightest tendency towards irritation. I have now in my possession a variety of papers, to the results of which I will proceed to call the attention of the House, on the subject of the quantities of sugar produced during three several periods of three years each—its effect upon population during those periods—and the mode of exacting the labour by which the sugar was produced. Before I can conclude these statements, I do think the House will agree with me, that the time has arrived when humanity compels us to step in and decisively pronounce that the hours of labour for the negro must be diminished. The particulars with which I have been furnished are from the Official Triennial Register, and from other sources of the highest authenticity. They shew the increase or decrease of slaves in the colony, and in them allowance is made for every case of manumission and of importation. From these documents, I think nothing can be more evident than that, in proportion as the cultivation of sugar has increased, men have declined; and to this general rule there are but two exceptions. In Jamaica, from the year 1823 to 1826, onwards to 1832, we find, dividing the nine years in three several periods, that in the first period in that colony, the production of sugar was 1,354,488 cwt.; and in the second period, the production was 1,389,000 cwt. The mean population of the first period was 334,000; in the second it fell off to 327,000. In Deme-rara, the production of sugar in the first period was 652,000 cwt.; in the second, 662,000 cwt.; in the third, 806,000 cwt.; and what was the diminution of the slave population during those three periods? In the first, on the average of the three years, the slaves were 72,722; in the second, 71,005; in the third, 67,741. In the latter period, 67,000 slaves were made to produce 800,000 cwt. of sugar, while in the former, it required 72,700 slaves to produce 650,000 cwt. In Berbice the population of slaves was reduced from 22,000, which it was in the first of those periods, to 21,246 in the second, and to 20,821 in the last, while sugar went on increasing in this proportion—In the first period it was 58,600 cwt.; in the second, 64,000 cwt.; and in the third, with a declining population, it was augmented to the fearful amount of 94,312 cwt.; in St. Lucia, the population, during the first period, amounted to 13,909; in the second, to 13,860; and in the third, to 13,687. The production of sugar amounted, in the first period, to 77,976 cwt.; in the second, to 87,410 cwt.; and in the third, to 88,778 cwt. Thus invariably, with two single exceptions, in these colonies we find, while the slave population is fast decreasing, the production of sugar is increasing to a very considerable extent. One of the exceptions was Trinidad. There has been in that colony a trifling increase in population as well as in production; but at the same time it is to be borne in mind, that many negroes have been brought into that colony as free labourers from the Spanish Main. Barbadoes formed another exception: there, in the first period, the production of sugar was 32,000 cwt.; and in the second it had fallen down to 29,000 cwt., while the slave population had advanced from 79,800 to 81,349. These statements are dry, I am aware; but they prove, as plain as figures can prove, that us the production of sugar and the distress of the planters have increased, human life has diminished. I cannot refrain from reading to the House one other statement with regard to Demerara, which points out particularly, and which tells more plainly the loss of human life, and the decrease of physical strength to which these unfortunate labourers on these descriptions of property have fallen victims. We could imagine, if we were told that there was a great decrease of slaves of a certain age—say from twenty to thirty for instance,—that that decrease might, in some degree, be ascertained to be the effect, not yet unfelt, of the cessation of the slave trade, and the inequality of the sexes. But we do not find, that that is the case; for it appears that there is a decrease in the number of children under ten years of age—a decrease which cannot be accounted for by the absence of importation, but I fear it is to be attributed only to one dreadful cause—the increased labour and diminished productiveness of the parents. In slaves under the age of forty, there is a decrease, as compared with 1817, of 23,644, and in the number of slaves between thirty and forty years of age, the period at which labour is most severe, the class whose labour is most effective and on whom this burthen would fall—there is a decrease, as compared with 1817, to the frightful amount of 11,653; while, upon every ten years, from forty to fifty, from fifty to sixty, from sixty to seventy, and from seventy upwards, that is to say, among those persons who have passed the age of labour, and are unequal to physical exertions, there is an increase. Need I add anything to this statement? If I need go further into a detail which, even if it weary, cannot but be instructive to the House, I may add certain returns from Demerara, in which I find the decrease of the slave population is classed under respective heads, that are exceedingly striking. The decrease on cattle farms is two per cent.; among unattached slaves, it is one and one-fifth per cent.; on coffee plantations, three and one-tenth per cent.; on sugar plantations five and one-half per cent.; while, on cotton plantations, there is no decrease at all, but, on the contrary, an increase of one and three-fifths per cent. I must here be allowed to observe, that if no other advantage had been derived from the appointment of protectors of slaves, we have at least this benefit—that they have afforded us those other recorded facts which I shall now summa- rily lay before the House. This alone, I think, has fully justified the appointment of those officers in the Crown colonies, and would fully warrant Parliament in insisting upon their introduction into the chartered colonies also. I am afraid I may disgust the House by details of the punishments inflicted; but they are a part of the system, and I must refer to them. I find that in 1829, when the slave population was 61,627, the number of punishments returned to the protectors was no less than 17,359; in the next year, when the population was 59,547, the punishments were increased to 18,324; the number of lashes in that time amounting to 194,744. In the year 1831, the population being then only 58,000, the number of punishments were 21,656, the lashes being 199,500. This was the official record of the punishments, supplied to the protectors of slaves by the owners themselves; it did not include any punishments inflicted under judicial authority; not one of those inflicted by direction of a Magistrate; but those domestic punishments alone, which, in the present state of the law, are sanctioned; and this return also, let it be recollected, is confined to the Crown colonies, and represents the domestic, irresponsible punishments which the owners of slaves have inflicted by their own authority. I will not impute any guilt to the owners of the slaves—I will not impute to them anything more than that perversion of moral feeling which it is one of the greatest curses of slavery, that it entails and impresses upon the mind of the enslaver—I will not impute any want of the ordinary feelings of humanity, further than that they are perverted by prejudice, and rendered callous by custom and habit—but I call upon the House to consider where punishments are unrecorded, where no check is interposed by the legal authority, where no remedy, or no efficient remedy is given to the slave by authority of the law—to consider if, in this comparatively free state of Demerara, this be the amount of punishment inflicted in one year; what must be the nature of the system which is carried on in other colonies, where there are no checks?—what must be the degradation of the system under which the other colonies of the British Empire at this moment labour? What is the amount of unredressed injustice,—what is the amount of fatal oppression, and cruel tyranny, which calls upon this House to regulate, by interposing its solemn authority between this dreadful system of oppression, and that which Mr. Canning called "the abstract love of the cart-whip!" I am aware that we have been often taunted with our ignorance of the negro character; my belief is, that any man may inform himself sufficiently on that point, and that we commit a grievous error when we suppose that the moral circumstances attendant upon slavery have so changed the physical character of the negro as to unfit him for freedom. It is a most dangerous error to attribute that to the physical qualities of the negro which results solely from the moral conditions which slavery has superinduced. It yet remains to be seen whether the negro is less industrious or less anxious to better his condition than other men. We are, however, told to look at the manumitted negroes, and we are taunted with the fact, that not twenty negroes of those manumitted have ever returned to field labour. I very much doubt if altogether so many as twenty field negroes have ever been manumitted. From 1817 to the present time it does not appear that above 14,163 were manumitted altogether: three-fourths of these were females; and I can have very little difficulty in imagining the motives which led to the manumission of those, and to the manumission likewise of their male children. The remaining fourth were made up chiefly of domestic slaves and of mechanics: none of these were brought up to field labour: and it is no matter of surprise that when manumitted they should not have turned to that, the most degrading of the employments in which negroes are engaged. The whole of this argument amounts to saying, that the negroes are not fit for emancipation, and that we must wait until they are; and that argument, if it be good for anything, goes too far; for it proceeds to the indefinite conclusion, that we must postpone emancipation, not for ten or twenty or thirty years, but to some period no one can say how remote. I know that people will tell me we do not wish to perpetuate slavery—we merely wish to postpone it till the negroes are fit for freedom—till they manifest a disposition for laborious industry sufficient to qualify them for the privileges of free men. That argument, if it proves anything, proves too much. Do men ever show a disposition to labour until population presses upon food; and will that ever take place, so long as the depopulating influence of slavery prevails? We are told that the negroes own no domestic ties; nor will they, so long as you keep them in that state of slavery which debases their principles, and which deprives them of foresight, and which takes away from them the motives to industry. The slaves have no education, and you deny them any; for, as slaves, they can have none. They have hitherto been treated as chattels attached to the soil—do you think they can be made fit for freedom, till freedom has exercised its influence upon their minds and upon their moral character? The treatment of the West-India negroes is a stain upon a Christian age, and upon a country professing itself Christian. If the slaves be made acquainted with religion, they must learn that slavery is inconsistent with the Christian religion; and will you shut out religion, in order that you may maintain slavery? Other countries have read us a severe lesson upon this subject. In colonies belonging to Catholic countries, no man was allowed to possess a slave, who did not provide the means of instructing him in the Catholic faith. Be that, however, as it may, this I will say, that this House will ill discharge its duty, if it does not forthwith put forth a declaration of religious freedom, as respects the colonies, and does not compel the local authorities to leave to every negro within their limits, the free, independent, and inviolable right of adopting whatever form of Christianity he may think proper. The next point to which I mean to advert is the evidence of Mr. Dumas, himself a man of colour, and who had the best opportunities of forming an opinion upon such subjects; because a case fell under his observation at Antigua of an experiment made upon 371 captured negroes and thirty-six freehold escheated slaves, which bore directly on this part of the question. If there were any case in which such an experiment could be made under favourable circumstances, it must certainly be when Africans newly captured and unaccustomed to slavery were to be maintained and regulated according to the manners of the inhabitants of civilized countries. Yet the result of this experiment at Antigua was such as I think the House will say afforded a convincing proof of the fitness of the negro for speedy emancipation. With the exception of a single case of petty larceny, the manumitted slaves had, up to July last, when he left the island, been guilty of no breach of the laws what ever. Their industry, as he stated, was remarkable, as well as the avidity with which they endeavoured to obtain the possession of property, and the eagerness with which they copied the dress, the manners, and the speech of the Creoles. in some instances they had even the advantage of the Creoles; and most of the laborious works at St. John's were perfomed by them. They had gone on so prosperously and so diligently in their career of industry, that many of them had purchased their own houses; and out of the 371 captured slaves, only one man and five women had been returned upon the bounty of the Crown; these, too, being induced to do so by medical advice, as no longer able from age or infirmity to gain their own living. There was a still more remarkable instance of the same kind in the Bahamas. There the slave population was not regarded by themselves, but by the freemen of the islands, as no longer belonging to the class of slaves, but as already half free. A gallant Admiral has spoken of what he saw in the Bahamas, and in the island of Cuba, where the soil was not only highly cultivated for raising the necessaries of life, but a large quantity of sugar was raised by free labour. With respect to the case of the inhabitants of St. Domingo, in my mind it proves nothing at all. If we consider the horrors of their long struggle for liberty; if we call to mind the uncertainty which hung over every species of property; if we remember the driving out of all the capital formerly employed in the cultivation of the island; if we add to these the ruin of every species of manufacture; if, under all these circumstances, the cultivation of sugar had been diminished, it would not be at all surprising. But the House will recollect, that though sugar is not extensively exported from St. Domingo, yet sugar is very assiduously cultivated, as well as other necessaries and conveniences of life; and all this is done by the mass of free labourers, working on their own account. I have a still stronger instance to adduce—the only instance, indeed, of the gradual emancipation of a slave population on a large scale with complete and entire success; and if I appear to dilate too much upon this topic, the House will, perhaps, excuse me, considering the importance of the subject, when I state that ever since the plan for the emancipation of the West India slaves has been proposed, I have had an opportunity of conversing with a person who could give me the most important information on the subject—I mean the President of Venezuela, who in 1821, the year in which the measure of emancipation was first put into operation, was the protector of slaves at Caraccas, and consequently had the best possible opportunity of seeing what was done. In 1821, it was determined by General Bolivar to carry into effect a general measure of emancipation. It had previously been a rule, that such slaves as took part in the struggle against Spain should be liberated; but in 1821, it was resolved to proceed upon a general plan. For this purpose, a fund was created for the purpose of redeeming the slaves, principally, from a tax upon the proceeds of intestate estates. At the same time a tariff of the value of slaves was determined. They then proceeded to redeem the slaves. The older slaves were first redeemed, and those whose redemption cost the smallest sums of money; they next proceeded to purchase such as had the best claims in point of character; and they went on steadily in this course; so that, whereas in 1821, the number of slaves in Venezuela was 100,000, at the time of which I speak they were reduced to 25,000. This is an instance which must be extremely valuable to the House in its discussions upon this subject. Even in Venezuela there was no immediate measure of emancipation. A course was laid down—the certainty was given to the slave of ultimately attaining his freedom—and those who laid down the plan, which has proved so successful, did not fail to persevere in the course which has led to that success. Eager to take advantage of the opportunity thrown into my way by my interview with this gentleman, I put some questions to him upon such topics as seemed likely to afford use-fid information to me and to the House, for the purpose of directing us in the business of legislation on this important question. The first objection which struck me against this plan was the jealousy of the unemancipated slaves against their more fortunate brethren. I therefore asked him "What was the effect upon the minds of those whom you left in slavery at the time when yon redeemed the others?" "There was nut the slightest jealousy (was his reply)—their condition was not wretched—they had indulgent masters—masters rendered more indulgent by this prospective freedom of their slaves. Still liberty was the object of their wishes; but seeing that they were sure in their turn to reap the same advantages, they were content to wait with patience." But as any assumption of superiority on the part of the emancipated slave might have in time destroyed this feeling, I asked a second question: "What effect had the acquisition of freedom upon the emancipated slaves themselves? Did they feel any sense of degradation in mixing with those who had formerly been their companions? Had they any reluctance in joining them in the labours of agriculture?" "None in the least," he said, "if there be any difference between the free labourer and the slave working on the same estate, it is only that the free labourer works with greater energy." The last question which I put to him was: "What effect had this substitution of free for slave labour upon the agriculture of the country?" "In 1821," he replied, "when the measure first came into operation, agriculture was reduced to the lowest ebb; it is now flourishing." In corroboration of this statement, he showed me a letter from the Treasurer of Venezuela, a near relation of a Gentleman, a Member of this House, in which it is stated, that in the article of sugar, so far from any deterioration having taken place, the cultivation of it had only begun since 1821. Till there was a free labouring population in Venezuela, not a single pound was raised in Venezuela. Now that country has begun to furnish Curacoa with sugar, and Trinidad—the English Island of Trinidad—with rum, which is sold as, or declared to be equal to, the best Jamaica rum. Having thus stated in detail what I conceive to be the real circumstances of the case, having particularised the position in which this country is placed, which renders it impossible upon this point that the Legislature should stand still, even if it would; having shown, from the events which have taken place in other colonies, that perseverance in our system is replete with danger; having dwelt upon the facts which are detailed in official documents, and stated the repugnance of the Colonial Legislature to take any effectual step, either for the immediate, or the gradual abolition of slavery; having proved, in my opinion, the absolute and imperative necessity by which this House is bound to advance calmly, but resolutely and determinedly, to the one great object, the ultimate and complete abolition, to the utter destruction of the last vestige of colonial slavery; having stated all this, I now proceed to lay before the House the means by which this great object may, in my judgment, be effected, not without danger (for that can hardly be), but with the least danger that may be. I will not enter now into all the details of the measure. I will merely show the outline of the measure which I intend to propose—a measure, no doubt, susceptible of amendments and modifications; for it is impossible that any Government can propose a plan, particularly in so complicated a matter, which shall be in every respect unexceptionable, which shall not be liable to many great and grave objections; but the proposed measure is Open to the consideration and the judgment of this House and of the country; and our wish is to try, if, by any means, we can reconcile contending interests and conflicting claims; if we can effect that great, that hallowed object—the extinction of slavery throughout every country that owes allegiance to the British Crown. The hon. member for Weymouth (Mr. Buxton), who has often advocated the cause of the slaves, brought forward a proposition in 1823, for the progressive abolition of slavery, by providing, that all children of slaves, born after a certain date, should be free. That was the whole of his demands then; that was the great consummation at which he then aimed; and that, in fact, would have secured the extinction of slavery. The hon. Member then used these memorable expressions—" We do not say, retrace your steps, but stop. We do not say, make reparation for the wrong you have done, but do no more wrong. Go no further." And the hon. member proposed, "that all children born after a certain day should be free."* To the whole and full extent of what the hon. member for Weymouth (Mr. Buxton) then asked the Government to go, to that whole extent is Government now disposed to go; and disposed to make a still more extensive change—to avoid that objection to the hon. Member's plan which Mr. Can- * Hansard (new series) ix. pp. 268–270. ning made in 1823. "I doubt," said Mr. Canning, "whether the measure recommended by the hon. Gentleman would produce the degree of satisfaction which he anticipates, and whether it might not produce feelings of an opposite nature. I doubt whether, in its operation, it would not prove at once, the least efficient, and most hazardous mode of attaining his own object."* And Mr. Canning further said, "How can the hon. Gentleman propose to divide slaves into two classes, one of which is to be made free directly, while he leaves the other to the gradual extinction of its state of suffering."† The power of this argument was irresistible, and the House felt it. I trust the House will now feel, that it is necessary to act in a different way, and that they will not think it sufficient to promise freedom for future generations, but to provide freedom for the present. I am prepared to offer freedom to the existing generation; I would not condemn them to that state of despair in which Mr. Canning supposed the hon. Gentleman wished to leave them; but I agree with the prudent language which was used in the discussions of 1823 and 1824, that the slaves should not be made free by one hasty step—that the shackles should not be burst at once—that they should not be flung forth suddenly from slavery to freedom, for which they may be unfit. But am I prepared to say, that we ought to wait for any given period, for one or two years, and that then the slaves should be immediately emancipated? I say there would be still greater danger if such a course were pursued, because the slaves would be unsettled, by having the prospect of liberty so long set before them. The intermediate period would undoubtedly be a period of great excitement, a period of tyranny on the one hand, and of defiance on the other, and the slaves would be abandoned to irrepressible disobedience and want of control. I propose a safer and a middle course, which will give to the slave all the essentials of freedom, will gradually sweep away slavery, and remove the slaves from the restrictions imposed upon them by Colonial Legislatures, but leave them still subject to such regulations as will operate as an incentive to the acquisition of industrious habits. I propose, that every slave, on the passing * Hansard, (new series) ix. p. 284. † Ibid. p. 281. of this Act, shall immediately, not in one year, nor two years, have the power of claiming to be put in a situation in which they may enjoy all the privileges of freemen—in which they may wear no servile badge, and be subject to no corporal punishment—in which they may be entitled to the full enjoyment of all the comforts of their domestic ties—in which those who are nearest and dearest to them may not be liable to cruel punishments—in which their evidence in courts may not be disputable—in which their rights of property may be as full and as complete as those of their masters—a state, in short, in which they would be entitled to every right and every privilege of freemen, subject to this condition, and to this condition alone—that, for a certain period, they shall contract to labour under their present owners but their then employers. If I am asked how I propose to meet all those acts of the Colonial Legislatures which control the actions of slaves? Why, I say, if you pass a measure of this kind, you sweep all these acts away at once. These regulations are enacted for slaves; but the negroes will be no longer slaves. They will be entitled to every right of person, of property, of religion, to which a freeman is entitled—subject to this one only condition, and that but for a limited period. I cannot believe, even if the matter stood thus, and thus only, that this condition would be considered such an infraction of the freedom of the labourer as would give the smallest reason for the opponents of slavery to withhold their assent from the measure. Those who are anxious that this House should proceed to the immediate abolition of slavery, and who wish that every trace of slavery should vanish in a few years, would do well to reflect in what condition the agricultural labourer in England is placed, when he works upon contract—bound, as he is, to provide for himself lodging, clothes, and food, for which his wages are so inadequate. In what state is it proposed to place the negroes? The master will be bound to supply him with food and clothing, or to give him money to provide them, if it should be thought more advisable that it should be done by the negro himself. For this, three-fourths of the negro's time are to be given to his former owner—the day being considered as consisting of ten hours; and seven hours and a-half cannot be considered any very exorbitant demand for these advantages. For the remaining fourth part of his time, whether it be taken as portions of the day, or of the week, the negro shall be at liberty to transfer his services where he pleases; but with this advantage, that the master is bound to employ him at a rate of wages proportionate to the value which he originally sets upon him. Much of the dispute upon this question depends upon mere verbal criticism. "At what rate shall we fix the rate of wages?" it is asked. "Can you fix any rate applicable to any two islands?"—"Can you fix any rate applicable to all the islands?"—"Can you fix a rate applicable to every species of labour in any one particular island?"—On the other hand we may ask, "Shall we fling this whole matter loose, and satisfy ourselves by saying, that the wages shall be such as are sufficient to supply the labourer with the necessaries of life?" There may be some islands where the unoccupied land is of great extent, where the fertility is such as to render food easy of acquisition, where the wants of the people are few, and easily supplied. If wages were there restricted to what is necessary for procuring the mere necessaries of life, it would be impossible that agricultural labour for the planters should not there come to an immediate and entire cessation. Would such wages as these be a sufficient inducement for the negro to devote himself to continual labour? I do not credit what some people say about the negro character; but I do credit what is said about the slave character. I know the effect of a tropical climate. The effect of the state of slavery in these countries is to inculcate upon the slave, that labour is the greatest of all curses, and that the removal of labour is the greatest of all blessings. To throw the slave suddenly into freedom would be to destroy all his inclinations to industry; it would be exposing him to the temptation of recurring to his primitive habits of savage life, from which he has but lately been reclaimed. Therefore some restriction is necessary for a time, both for the masters, and for the good of the slaves themselves. I know no better security which can be devised, than that which I propose, by obliging the masters to fix a value upon their slaves, and afterwards regulating the rate of wages by that value. In what other way is it possible that the rate of wages can be fixed? Should it, be referred to a committee of planters to determine the rate of wages according to the cost of maintenance, and the price of the necessaries of life? There can be no other criterion. My noble friend cheers, as if there could exist any competition, and that the rate of wages could be determined by that. I should be glad to hear him support, much more prove, such an opinion. There is, I repeat, no mode of doing equal justice, except by imposing upon the planter the necessity of fixing the price of the wages in this way; because the relation between the wages and the price fixed would operate as a check upon the planter's valuation. If he fixes a high price, he pays a high rate of wages; if he fixes a low price, the easier it is for the negro to obtain his freedom. I propose, therefore, that the labourer shall have a right to claim employment of his master for one-fourth of his time, according to a fixed scale of wages; that during such one-fourth of his time the labourer shall be at liberty to employ himself elsewhere; that the master shall fix a price upon the labourer at the time of his apprenticeship; that the wages to be paid by the master shall bear such a proportion to the price fixed by him; that for the whole of his spare time, if given to the master, the negro shall receive one-twelfth of his price annually, and in proportion for each lesser term. I will detain the House no longer than is absolutely necessary. In what condition will the planter then stand? He will obtain three-fourths of the negro's time for his food, clothing, and lodging. It may be asked, is it not necessary, in arranging a plan of such magnitude and importance, to look at the loss which the West-India proprietor is about to sustain? Is it right or just, that on him alone should be thrown the whole burthen of repairing the injustice which has been done to the negro, with the concurrence of the national Legislature for ages? The question must not be looked upon as confined entirely to property, however fully the species of property in question may be sanctioned by law; however frequently it may be made the subject of legal decision. I will not enter into the abstract question, whether one man ever can, consistently with the principles of natural justice, acquire a property in another man; but I proceed upon the principle, that if one man employs the labour of another, he is bound to give him support, and to take upon himself a portion of the risk attending the employment of the other. Upon what, then, do the Colonists rest their objections? Upon the deterioration of West-Indian property. It is exceedingly difficult, in the present state of such property, to fix any criterion for determining its value. I know an instance of a West-Indian estate producing 1,400l. a year, which was mortgaged for 5,000l. or 6,000l., and afterwards sold for 10,000l. All incumbrances having been cleared off, and a surplus left besides, it was sold, last year, for an amount which will be exactly covered by the produce of the first year. I admit ail that can be said, therefore, about the insecurity of West-Indian property, and the uncertainty of its market value, but I deny that any effect has been produced by any measure of Ministers upon the rate of profit derived from that property. When brought into the market, West-India property undoubtedly has sustained a fearful depreciation; but, in order to ascertain the real state of the case, let us look at the rate of profits; and in doing so we have a sure guide in the statements put forth by the West-India proprietors themselves; I allude to the returns presented by them to the Board of Trade, and these returns have the evidence of the West-India proprietors as to the cost of raising every hogshead of sugar, and also as to the number of hogsheads imported annually, and the net profit upon each. It appears that the net profit arising from the cultivation of sugar is 1,200,000l. a-year. We have not equally accurate data for calculating the net profits upon rum and coffee; but, assuming it, and I am not far wrong in doing so, to be between 250,000l. and 300,000l. a-year, the total net profit of West-India property will amount to 1,500,000l. annually. We propose to advance a loan to the planters, amounting to ten years purchase of those profits. We propose a loan to the West-India Planters of 15,000,000l. It will be a question for Parliament to decide in what manner and on what conditions that loan shall be granted, and how it shall be repaid—and further, if they shall be prepared to go so far as to say that they will not require repayment, it will be for Parliament, if it shall think fit to do so, to convert the loan into a gift. In the first instance, however, our proposition is to advance to the planter a loan of 15,000,000l in consideration of the sacrifice on his part of the fourth of the labour of his slaves. With that fourth of his labour the negro will be able in twelve years (if we have not fixed the rate of wages too high, which I do not think is the case) to purchase the other three-fourths of his time. From the labour of the negro, in the first instance, the planter will have the means of paying Government the sum advanced; and at the end of twelve years the purchase money of the whole labour of the negro will be at his disposal. I do not state this proposition as wishing to bind the House with respect to it—on the contrary, I wish that both the amount of relief which the planter is to obtain, and the means of repayment, maybe fully open to consideration. I also wish to leave to the consideration of the House whether we shall or shall not call upon the negro labourer to contribute his share to the repayment of the sum advanced to the planter. It is quite clear, that the repayment must be borne either by the produce of negro labour, or by the revenue of this country; it cannot in justice be borne by the planter. One or other of those alternatives must be adopted. There is certainly a middle course, but into that consideration I will not at present enter. For my own part, I think a great object would be gained by calling on the negro to contribute his share to the repayment of the advance. I think it likely that the negro will be encouraged to continue his industry and exertions, if out of his wages for the fourth of his labour, some deduction should be made for the purpose I have adverted to. To tell him that out of the produce of the fourth of his labour something should be laid up for that purpose, would certainly be more conducive to create in him habits of industry and of self denial, than if, having all his wants provided for by the planter in consideration of three-fourths of his labour, he should feel that the only object of employing the remaining fourth would be, at his own option, to provide himself with superfluities. In the latter case there would not be such a stimulus to active exertion as in the former. I, therefore, do not think that to exempt the negro from contributing his share of the repayment is by any means desirable. I believe. Sir, that I have now stated as much in detail as is necessary, and with one exception, the plan which his Majesty's Government propose to carry into effect on this question. The exception is this—it will be necessary, in order to secure the success of this plan, to provide that, the absence of which has rendered so many former proceedings with respect to the colonies void and ineffective—I mean something of an executory power. The House will, therefore, be called upon to consider the expediency of having in the Legislative, as in the conquered colonies, stipendiary Magistrates, to be appointed by the Crown, unconnected with the colonies, having no local or personal prejudices, paid by this country, for the purpose of doing justice between the negro and the planter, of watching over the negro in his state of new-born freedom, and of guiding and assisting his inexperience in the contracts into which he may enter with his employer. There is also another object on which I am sure his Majesty's Government will not appeal in vain to the House or to the country. I feel perfect confidence in calling upon this House to pledge itself, whether in aid of the Local Legislatures of the colonies, or without any aid from those Legislatures, to establish a religious and moral system of education for the negroes. We are about to emancipate the slaves; the old, after a trial of their industrious and other good qualities—the young immediately. With the young, therefore, our responsibility will immediately commence. If we place them in a state of freedom, we are bound to see that they are fitted for the enjoyment of that state; we are bound to give them the means of proving to themselves that the world is not for merely animal existence—that it is not the lot of man merely to labour incessantly from the cradle to the grave—and that to die is not merely to get to the end of a wearisome pilgrimage. We must endeavour to give them habits, and to imbue them with feelings calculated to qualify them for the adequate discharge of their duties here; and we must endeavour to instil into them the conviction, that when those duties shall be discharged, they are not "as the brutes that perish." Sir, I have now gone through the various points to which I think it necessary to call the attention of the House. I know the difficulties, the almost insurmountable obstacles, which attend almost any plan with reference to this subject; and I know the peculiar disadvantages under which I bring forward the present plan. But I entertain a confident hope that the Resolutions which I shall have the honour to submit to the House contain a germ, which, in the process of time, will be matured, by better judgment and knowledge, into a perfect fruit; and that, from the day on which the Act passes there will be secured to the country, to the colonies, and to all classes of his Majesty's subjects, the benefit of a virtual extinction of all the horrors attendant on a state of slavery; and that, at no very distant period, by no uncertain operation, but by the effect of that machinery which the proposed plan will put in motion, the dark stain which disfigures the fair freedom of this country will he wholly wiped out. Sir, in looking to this most desirable object, it is impossible not to advert to those who first broached the mighty question of the extinction of slavery, the earliest labourers in that cause, the final triumph of which they were not destined to see. They struggled for the establishment of first principles—they were satisfied with laying the foundation of that edifice which they left it to their successors to rear; they saw the future, as the prophets of old saw "the days that were to come;" but they saw it afar off, and with the eye of faith. It is not without the deepest emotion I recollect that there is yet living one of the earliest, one of the most religious, one of the most conscientious, one of the most eloquent, one of the most zealous friends of this great cause, who watched it in its dawn. Wilberforce still remains to see, I trust, the final consummation of the great and glorious work which he was one of the first to commence; and to exclaim, like the last of the prophets to whom I have already alluded: "Lord, now let the servant depart in peace." Sir it is with great regret that I have felt it necessary to detain the House so long; but on a subject of so much difficulty, it was imperative upon me to do so. I will now, however, after thanking the House for the patience and attention with which they have been so good as to listen to me, conclude with offering up an ardent prayer, that by the course which they may adopt, they will for a second time set the world a glorious example of a commercial nation, weighing commercial advantages light in the balance against justice and religion; that they will achieve the great object of extinguishing slavery, gradually, safely, but at the same time completely; a result the more to be desired, if accomplished by a yielding on one side and the other, which may make both sides forget extreme opinion; and which will exhibit a great and proud example of a deliberative assembly, reconciling conflicting interests, liberating the slave without inflicting hardship on his master, gratifying the liberal and humane spirit of the age without harming even those who stand in its way, and vindicating their high functions by moderately, but with determination, and in a manner honourable to the people of whom they are the representatives, and acting in a manner on this important question, which will afford a sure pledge of a successful termination of the glorious career on which they are about to enter. Sir, I now beg leave to move the following Resolutions:—

  1. 1.—"That it is the opinion of this Committee, that immediate and effectual measures be taken for the entire abolition of slavery throughout the colonies, under such provisions for regulating the condition of the negroes, as may combine their welfare with the interests of the proprietors.
  2. 2.—" That it is expedient that all children born after the passing of any Act, or who shall be under the age of six years at the time of passing any Act of Parliament for this purpose, be declared free; subject, nevertheless, to such temporary restrictions as may be deemed necessary for their support and maintenance.
  3. 3.—"That all persons now slaves, be entitled to be registered as apprenticed labourers, and to acquire thereby all rights and privileges of freedom; subject to the restriction of labouring, under conditions, and for a time to be fixed by Parliament, for their present owners.
  4. 4.—"That to provide against the risk of loss which proprietors in his Majesty's colonial possessions might sustain by the abolition of slavery, his Majesty be enabled to advance, by way of loan, to be raised from time to time, a sum not exceeding in the whole 15,000,000l., to be repaid in such manner, and at such rate of interest as shall be prescribed by Parliament.
  5. 5.—" That his Majesty be enabled to defray any such expense as he may incur in establishing an efficient stipendiary Magistracy in the colonies, and in aiding 1231 the Local Legislatures in providing for the religious and moral education of the negro population to be emancipated."
I am too well aware of the extent and of the importance of these Resolutions to desire to call upon the House to pronounce on them hastily. It was with the greatest regret that his Majesty's Government felt them selves unable to accede to a proposition which was made to them to defer bringing forward their plan on this subject. But, after the publicity which had been given to all the details of the proposed measure, the Government felt that it was important, in justice to themselves and to their plan, to refuse the delay, and to state, through their official organ in that House, the grounds and principles of the proposed measure. Having done so, however, I have no wish whatever to call for a sudden decision of the House upon the subject. If it should be the desire of any hon. Member to have further time to consider the Resolutions, I am not only prepared to accede to such an intimation, but I must confess that I think it would be very just and reasonable. It will, therefore, be in the discretion of the House, whether they will enter into the discussion of the question at the present moment or not.

Sir Robert Peel

asked whether it was intended that the negroes should be subject to corporal punishment if they violated the contracts into which they entered with their masters?

Mr. Stanley

replied, that they certainly would be so. The power of punishment, however, would be taken from individual planters, and placed in the hands of the Magistrates. In fact, there would be no difference between the labourer who entered into a contract in the West-India colonies, and a labourer who entered into a similar contract in this country.

The Resolutions having been read by the Speaker,

Viscount Howick

spoke as follows*:—Sir, I can assure the House, that I rise upon this occasion with feelings so painful as hardly to leave me the power of utterance. Situated as I am, the House must be aware how distressing it must be to me to find myself compelled, by an imperative sense of duty, to express an opinion adverse to the plan which has just been unfolded by my * Reprinted from the corrected Report published by Ridgway. right hon. friend. If I disapproved only of the details of that plan—if I could have any hope that those modifications to which my right hon. friend has stated that he wall not be unwilling to assent, could remove the strong objections which I entertain to it, I certainly would have reserved for a future opportunity the observations which I now feel called upon to make. But, Sir, I fear that the difference between us is one of principle, which no minor alterations can get over; and, therefore, feeling as I do upon this subject, I must endeavour to state to the House the grounds of ray dissent from the measure proposed by my right hon. friend. Sir, there is perhaps hardly any other question in the whole range of our policy upon which I could have been induced to take the course which I am now about to adopt. Upon almost any other subject I should have yielded my own opinion to that of the Members of the present Government. I should have done so, not only from the desire to avoid the pain of differing from them, but also because, with the perfect assurance I have of the uprightness and honesty of their intentions, and with the confidence I feel in their ability to decide what course, under all circumstances, it is best to pursue, I should have felt that in deferring to their judgment, I was not only consulting my private feelings, but doing that which my public duty required. But, Sir, this is a question of which ray right hon. friend has eloquently described the importance—one on which I feel to be at stake, not only the honour of this country, but the happiness or misery of nearly 800,000 of our fellow-creatures, with the lives of many of these unoffending persons. It is also a question to which during the last two years my attention has been almost constantly directed; which, during that period, I may fairly say, has occupied the larger portion of my time, and upon which I have, therefore, formed opinions not easily to be shaken; hence also the strong conviction on my mind is, that the adoption of any measure founded on the principles which my right hon. friend has laid down, must lead to the most fatal results. However unwillingly, I must state to the House what are the considerations which have led me to that conclusion. My right hon. friend has said, that he proposes at once to place the negroes almost in a state of freedom—to give them (I think was his expression) all the essentials of freedom. Could I be persuaded that such would be the effect of the measure he has recommended, I should be spared the pain of opposing it; but the House must not allow themselves to be imposed upon by words. Slavery does not consist in a name. The real distinction between slavery and freedom is, that in a state of freedom men work because they are convinced that it is their interest to do so—because their reason is satisfied that, comparing the privations which idleness will entail upon them, with the advantages which industry will command, it is better for them to labour, than to indulge in their natural inclination for repose. In a state of slavery, on the other hand, men work from fear, for the benefit of others. If, as I believe, this is the only distinction between a state of slavery and a state of freedom, I ask, how can it be said; that my right hon. friend by his proposal would get rid of slavery? By that plan the negro is to be apprenticed to a master not of his own choice, and is to be compelled to enter into a contract, the terms of which he is not at liberty to alter or to reject. For that master he is to be compelled to labour three-fourths of his day, and in return he is to receive the same supplies, the same necessaries, which the planter is at present in the habit of furnishing. Now, Sir, it appears by the evidence last year given before the Committees of both Houses of Parliament, that the annual value of all supplies, of every description, usually furnished by a Jamaica planter, to each negro, is highly estimated at 45s. Mr. Shand, a planter of long experience, states this to be the amount; other witnesses put it much lower; but allow that it is even higher than Mr. Shand has stated, and assume that 52s. is not more than the value of the supplies now furnished to the negroes, it will follow that according to the proposal of my right hon. friend, a shilling a week, or 2d. a-day, is to be the remuneration for which the negro is, during three-fourths of his time, to be compelled to labour. But, what is the real value of this labour? This, fortunately, we have the means of ascertaining. Several witnesses have stated, that in hiring a jobbing gang, in the island of Jamaica, 3s. 4d. a-day, is usually paid for each negro. At the same rate, the value of three-quarters of a day's work, would be half-a-crown. It follows, therefore, that the labour which the apprenticed negro is to be compelled to give to his master, for 2d. is fairly and honestly worth exactly fifteen times that sum. My right hon. friend has asked, in what respect the condition of the apprenticed negro will differ from that of a labourer in this country, who has entered into a contract to work for a particular master for a considerable period; since he says the English labourer thinks himself well off', if he can earn a subsistence for himself and his family. I say, that the difference between the two cases is simply, that in the one the contract is voluntary, in the other it is not; that in the one case, the labourer receives the whole, in the other, only a trifling proportion of the value of his labour; and that what my right hon. friend proposes is in effect, whatever it may be in name, a virtual retention of the principle of slavery, the exaction, by compulsion, of labour for the advantage, not of the labourer but of the master. After my right hon. friend's eloquent description of the injustice and horrors of slaver)', I think, therefore, that it was for him to have shown what advantage he supposes would arise from this apprenticeship of the negro, which I maintain to be neither more nor less than a continuance of the whole principle of slavery. Is this system intended for the benefit of the negro or the master? My right hon friend has not very distinctly explained himself upon this point; but it is one on which it is absolutely necessary that there should be a clear understanding. Let us have no doubt or disguise on the subject; since I must enter my most decided and solemn protest against the continuance, for however short a time, of any part of the existing system, with a view to the pecuniary interest of the planters. Whatever claim the master may have on this country, which is a point for future consideration, he can have none whatever on the slaves. They can have incurred no debt by having been the victims of violence and wrong; they might, perhaps, on the contrary, claim some compensation from the master for their past sufferings and unrequited services. My right hon. friend may perhaps say, that his plan is intended for the benefit of both master and slave. If so, the way in which it is to operate for the benefit of the slave ought to have been made more manifest. At first sight, at least, it is difficult to understand how the slave can be benefited by giving away so large a portion of the value of his labour to one who has in justice no claim whatever upon him. I understood my right hon. friend to say, that he proposed that the negroes should be placed in this state of apprenticeship, because he did not consider that they could at present be detained in regular industry by other means, and because he believed that they would thus, before they became entirely free, acquire habits of steady exertion. He acknowledged that there is no difference between the character of the white and of the black, but he said, he believed that there is a very great difference between the character of slaves and those who have been brought up in freedom. He said, that the effect of slavery is necessarily to teach those who have been subject to it an undue love for repose, and a more than ordinary distaste for labour, and, on this account, he proposed that the slaves should not at once become entirely free. But what is the cure for the comparative idleness of the slave proposed by ray right hon. friend? Idleness, which he himself acknowledges to be the consequence of a system which has taught the slave to connect with labour no idea of the advantages resulting from it. The cure which he recommends is still in a great measure to continue the system from which the evil has arisen.

Sir, I believed it to be a truth so universally recognized, as to hold the rank of an axiom, that men can only be taught industry by having the fruits of their industry secured to them, by being made to know that if they will consent to labour, the reward of their toil shall not be taken from them by another. Is the plan of my right hon. friend in accordance with this principle? Far from it. For twelve years the negro is to be compelled to work during three-fourths of his time for the benefit of his master; his toil is to be sweetened by no pleasing anticipations of the advantages it is to be the means of procuring for him, but it is to be prompted only by the fear of punishment, and labour is still to appear to him in the light of a task unjustly imposed upon him by superior power. Why, Sir, I ask is this necessary? Even if it be admitted, that the negroes cannot yet be trusted to labour without compulsion, why should not the fruits of their forced industry be applied for their own benefit?—why, if they are to be considered as children in mind, though men in bodily strength, should not guardians be given them, authorized, if you will, to force them to work, but under the obligation of laying out in the manner most advantageous for them, what they may earn? There would be no difficulty in finding out modes of applying usefully any money thus obtained: my right hon. friend has himself stated, that there is a lamentable deficiency of the means of instruction, and more especially of religious instruction, Why not set apart any funds arising from the labour of the negroes, to supply this deficiency? The knowledge that what they earned was thus employed for their own benefit, would go far to reconcile them to the obligation to labour imposed upon them. But surely the obvious tendency of the system of compulsory labour merely for the advantage of others, which my right hon. friend has proposed, is to perpetuate and to strengthen that vicious association of ideas which slavery produces, and which has caused agricultural labour, in every other country regarded as the most honourable, in slave colonies to be considered as degrading.

For these reasons I believe that the plan proposed by my right hon. friend would not tend to the benefit of the negro, and I therefore upon that ground alone should be forced to refuse it my concurrence. But I am aware that other Gentlemen, who take a different view from myself of the justice of the case would not consider the interest of the negro a sufficient reason for rejecting a measure, which should be calculated to diminish the pecuniary loss, which the abolition of slavery is likely to inflict upon the slave-owner. It is, therefore, important to consider what would be the effect of this measure, upon the interest of the planters. My belief is, that it would be no less injurious to the planters than to the slaves. Nominally, the planters would retain the right to three-fourths of the time of their negroes; but how would they render that time productive? My right hon. friend has truly stated that men of whatever colours whether black or white would never exert themselves strenuously, except under the influence of some strong stimulus. In this, and in other countries, where freedom exists, the labourer works to secure himself from want, and he exerts himself diligently, because he knows that his reward will be in proportion to his diligence. Slaves, on the other hand, labour only because if they do not do so they are punished. Their stimulus is terror. Which of those motives will be brought to bear on the apprenticed negro? Will he have any motive, voluntarily, to exert himself? His wages will not increase with any increase of exertion on his part; he will in no way be a gainer, by working well, or a loser, by working ill. He will, on the contrary, be prompted to do as little as possible for his master, by a desire to avoid fatigue, and to reserve his strength for his own portion of the day; while it will be only a natural feeling, which will incline him to render, what he will necessarily regard as an unjust demand upon him, as little advantageous as possible to the person by whom that demand is made.

The plan, therefore, which has been proposed, will fail to act upon the will of the negro; there is no chance of his, voluntarily, exerting himself. Can it on the other hand, be expected, that the stimulus of fear will be brought into effective operation? Fear, Sir, we must remember, is at best, but a bad stimulus. All persons, whatever their opinion, on the subject of slavery, agree as to the fact, that, in a given time, a slave will do twice as much work for himself, as he can, by any amount of punishment be compelled to perform for his master.

Such, Sir, is acknowledged to be the case, even under the driving system, when the negro is compelled to labour under the continual dread of the lash; when the slightest relaxation of his toil is visited at the instant, with a stroke of the cart whip! Knowing this to be the case, the colonists, have universally resisted any diminution whatever of the power of applying this stimulus, on which alone they can depend for obtaining labour. It is well known that to abolish the use of the whip in the field, is one of the measures for the mitigation of slavery, which Mr. Canning considered to be most immediately necessary, and which the Government of this country, ever since the year 1823, has constantly most strongly recommended to the Colonial Legislatures. Yet, Sir, although in the year I have mentioned, Lord Seaford, then Mr. Ellis, declared in this House, that there could be no doubt as to the propriety of this regulation, and of the willing assent of the Colonial Legislatures to so obvious and necessary an amelioration, no one Assembly has yet been brought to adopt it.

Lord Seaford, I fear, had not a very just conception of the real nature of the system, and of the mode in which the slaves on his own estate were compelled to labour. The Assembly of Jamaica were more accurately informed respecting it, and accordingly, they have repeatedly refused to concur in this proposed improvement. The driving system is at this day in full vigour in this colony; as in all the others having Representative Assemblies, But, in the Crown colonies, the use of the whip in the field has been prohibited; and I will take the liberty of reading to the House the opinion of persons connected with the colonies, as to the restrictions on the power of punishment which have been imposed by the Order in Council.

'The colonists really wish to remove every feature of slavery that appeals repulsive to the people of England; but it is clear, that as the slaves are entitled to food, clothing, lodging, and medical attendance, from the master, it is only by the fear of punishment that the ill-disposed slave can be induced to work; and by the now Order in Council the power of the proprietor and manager is so fettered and restricted, that what is left is only sufficient as a source of struggle and irritation between the ill-disposed slave and his manager, but inadequate to secure the performance of reasonable work.'

What is here said, of the ill-disposed slave may be said of all the slaves; for so far as having a strong disinclination to work for the benefit of another, all the slaves are ill-disposed. Sir, this opinion comes from persons entitled, upon this question, to much consideration. It is an extract from a remonstrance against the last Order in Council, drawn up by a Committee of merchants and planters, interested in the Crown colonies. Experience has fully confirmed the accuracy of the view which they have taken. My right hon. friend has quoted a remarkable return of the punishments inflicted during the last three years in the colony of Demerara. I had meant to have called the attention of the House to that return, but I will not again repeat the details which have been already given. I need only remind the House that it showed that while there has been a decrease in the population, there has been an extraordinary increase both in the number and in the severity of punishments; and I must add, what my right hon. friend omitted, that the official report of the very active and intelligent officer, now protector of slaves in Demerara, from which this return is taken, goes on to state, that three-fourths of these punishments have been inflicted in consequence of difficulties with respect to the performance of work; they are described in the records transmitted to his office, as being for "bad work;" and the same officer states that seven-eighths of all the punishments inflicted in the colony, arise, directly or indirectly, from this cause. The protector also states, that while the amount of punishments is thus increasing, the effect produced is daily diminishing, that there is a growing difficulty in compelling the negroes to work. It is found, that as the application of the stimulus of fear becomes less immediate, it is necessary to render it more intense; but every increase in the severity of the punishments inflicted, only renders a still further increase necessary, and the planters speedily arrive at the limit of what they are by law permitted to inflict. When this is the case, the negroes know that they have nothing further to fear, and they can with impunity enjoy the pleasure of revenge, by rendering their labour unproductive to their masters, and in the words I have quoted, the power of the manager is "found to be only sufficient as a source of struggle between the slave and his manager, but inadequate to secure the performance of reasonable work." Such, Sir, is the result to which, in the opinion of the protector of slaves, things are at this moment rapidly tending in Demerara; I cannot, therefore, agree with my right hon. friend in attributing the rejection, by the Colonial Legislatures, of the recommendation to prohibit the use of the whip in the field, to what he termed, in the words of Mr. Canning, their "abstract love of the cart-whip." On the contrary, I believe that in rejecting this advice, they have shown that they understood better than those by whom it was tendered, the real nature of the system they were asked to modify. Sir, I believe they judged correctly, and that, if the system is to be kept up at all, it is better it should be kept up in its full vigour, and that there should be no relaxation of its severity. My right hon. friend has asked if 190,000 lashes are inflicted in Demerara, what must be the number in Jamaica? Sir, I believe the number is out of all comparison smaller in proportion in Jamaica. A good master in Jamaica is rarely compelled actually to make use of the whip. The certainty that it is at hand, and that, if necessary, it will be used at the moment, is sufficient to induce the slaves to work steadily without its actual infliction. But, in Demerara, the insufficiency of the power placed in the hands of the planter, leads to its frequent and severe use, because it renders the obedience of the slave less ready. Sir, I firmly believe the well-meant measures which have been adopted for the improvement of the condition of the slaves, have not in reality tended to their good, and this belief is not a little increased by the fact, that, in no colony is the mortality amongst the slave population so great as in Demerara.

Sir, I am aware that it will be said, that the opinion I have now expressed is inconsistent with that which I have formerly maintained on this subject, nor do I deny that my opinion has gradually undergone a very great alteration. The more I have inquired into it, the further my views of the necessity of a change of system have extended. When I sat on the opposite benches, I had adopted (I am now ashamed to think how lightly) the common notion, that it is a delusion to talk of the evils of slavery, and that the outcry upon this question has been raised, partly by persons of great, but mistaken humanity, partly by others, having motives of a less praiseworthy kind. So strong was this feeling in my mind, that the last time this question was discussed, while I sat on the other side of the House, when only a few days before the dissolution of Parliament in 1830, a motion (which most hon. Members must remember) was made respecting it by the present Lord Chancellor, even his eloquence failed to convince me that the interference of Parliament was called for. I thought that there was more of declamation in the highly-wrought pictures of individual cases of cruelty which he drew, than of argument to prove that these acts of cruelty arose out of the system he condemned, and though I was at that time, as since, a follower of the same political party to which my noble friend belonged, I actually on that occasion left the House without voting.

When I was appointed to the office which I lately filled, it became my duty to consider the subject attentively, and I was soon satisfied that there were a sufficient number of those cases of cruelty which have been described, to call for some check against an abuse of the power which the master possessed. But I was not yet convinced that the evil was inherent in the system itself, and that the attempt to guard against such an abuse of power, would in fact, only aggravate the mischief. I adopted the opinion (certainly without sufficient examination) which had received the sanction of the high authority of Mr. Canning, and which, indeed, seemed to have been universally acquiesced in by all members of this House, which had been strongly urged by the colonists, and not rejected by the advocates of emancipation, that it is impossible suddenly to abolish slavery, and that the yoke imposed upon the negroes should not at once be removed, but that its weight should gradually be diminished, so that they might pass, as it were, insensibly from slavery to freedom Sir, I can now hardly account to myself for the facility with which I received this doctrine, as one of which the truth was beyond dispute; and it is only by the progress of the discussions which have recently taken place, by the practical difficulties which have been met with in every endeavour to mitigate the horrors of slavery, and by the failure of the attempt which has been made during the last ten, and still more during the last two years, to carry Mr. Canning's views into effect, that I have been at length convinced, that, if the system is to be maintained at all, it had better be so altogether, and that, if labour is to be obtained by force, and not by acting upon the will of the labourer, it is better for all parties that the master should be a completely irresponsible despot. In this state of things, there would be individual cases of more revolting cruelty, than when the opposite system is pursued, but the total amount of suffering, I believe, would be less; in Jamaica, for instance, atrocities may take place which would be impossible in Demerara, where the Order in Council is in force, but the whole number of lashes inflicted, I have reason to believe, as I have already said, to be greater in proportion in the latter.

Now, Sir, if such is the effect of the attempt to enforce compulsory labour, under the regulations established by the Order in Council, what is to be expected from the same attempt under the restrictions which my right hon. friend proposes to establish. If the master in Demerara has now the greatest difficulty in obtaining effective labour from his slave, how will he be able to get it from the apprentice? I have already shown, in a manner which I think it will be difficult to answer, that the apprentice will have no motive whatever to work hard, that it will be his object, during the seven hours and a-half which he is to give to his master, to stand with the hoe in his hand, and to do as little as he possibly can, because he knows, that whether he works well or ill, he will receive only the 15th part of the value of his labour—[An Hon. member here said, that Lord Howick had forgot to calculate the subsistence of the slaves.] The hon. Member near me objects, that in calculating the remuneration which the negro is to receive, I omitted to take into account the value of his subsistence supplied to him by his master. Sir, I am surprised, that the hon. Member, who seems to take an interest in this question, should not be better acquainted with the system prevailing in Jamaica, with respect to the subsistence of the slaves.

Sir, the slaves do not depend for their support upon their masters. I have already stated, upon the authority of Mr. Shand, that the whole value of the supplies of every sort furnished to the negro, is only 45 shillings annually, and of these supplies, the only part which consists of any thing of the nature of food, is a third of a barrel of herrings, which is used less as food than as seasoning to the food with which the negro supplies himself.

But, Sir, as the hon. Member has mentioned this point, and it is one on which, I believe, a good deal of misapprehension exists, I will take the liberty of reading to the House a more particular description of the actual practice, which has been given by the very best authority. The passage I am "about to read, is from a work entitled Notices of Jamaica, in the years 1810 and 1811," by a Gentleman of the name of Matthison, a planter of many years' experience, who has given in this work, what are, I believe, admitted to be useful practical instructions as to the management of a plantation. In this work, after a discussion as to the different kinds of canes best adapted to particular situations, I find the following account of the manner in which the subsistence of the negro is provided for.

'As soon as a negro is established on a plantation, he is furnished with a lot of land, and after a certain interval is expected to subsist his family and himself by his own exertions. This rule is laid down for males and females. If it should happen that, through idleness, or sickness, or old age, or in consequence of too numerous a family of children, the provision ground should be neglected, or become unproductive or insufficient, the negro is not allowed to expect, nor, in point of fact, does he obtain assistance from the stores of the plantation. There are many exceptions to this practice; some arising from local considerations, and others occasioned by the superior good policy and humanity of individual planters; but I state it broadly, that such is the general practice from one end of the island to the other. In case of need, brothers assist their sisters, uncles assist their nieces, and children maintain their parents; while the aged and the infirm, who own no family, are left to depend upon the common charity and benevolence of their neighbours, or upon the fruits of their industry, saved and stored up during better days.'

'Partial famine will happen on many plantations, as the effect of negligence and mismanagement; and it unfortunately happens, that the established system for the subsistence of plantation negroes (which in most points of view is a valua-ble, though an imperfect system, requiring constant vigilance and occasional relaxation) operates as an encouragement to a most culpable degree of negligence in those who act as Overseers of Plantations. It is the duty of the negro to feed himself; and it is his fault, it is said, if he does not take the necessary precautions against want; the system, thus affording a plausible, though certainly an insufficient apology for the supineness, amounting to wickedness, of the Overseer, who, to say nothing of the common duties of humanity, ought to be prepared at all points, and under every possible emergency, to preserve the valuable property confided to his care.'

So much, Sir, as to the reasonableness of the fears which I have so often heard expressed, that if the slaves were, by emancipation, to be deprived of their claim on their masters, their subsistence would be rendered precarious, and that the old and young, at all events, would be left to starve. But I will return to the argument I was pursuing when diverted by the observation of the hon. Member. I have shown, Sir, that under the Order in Council, there is great difficulty in obtaining from the slaves a fair amount of labour. How, then, let me ask, would it be possible to do so under the regulations my right hon. friend has proposed? Under the Order in Council, the master is the sole judge, whether the negroes have or have not exerted themselves as they ought, and if dissatisfied, can order, at his own discretion, the infliction upon any one whom he considers to have been idle, corporal punishment, to the extent of twenty-five lashes. But, according to the plan my right hon. friend has proposed, though corporal punishment is still to be retained, the power of indicting it is to be exclusively vested in the Magistrate. I will ask any hon. Member who has ever seen agricultural labour performed, how it will be possible for a Magistrate, when a gang of labourers are brought before him for idleness, fairly to decide the question? Suppose the apprenticed negroes to have passed the required number of hours with the hoe in their hands; that they declare they have done as much as they could, and are very sorry they could not do more—how is the Magistrate to decide whether this is true or false? And can it for a moment be imagined, that the fear of punishment to be thus inflicted, will obtain from the negro such an amount of labour as will render it of any real advantage to his master to employ him? Perhaps I may be told, that the difficulty will be obviated by giving task-work to the apprenticed negroes. The West Indians, at least, will not be of that opinion, for they have uniformly alleged, that by far the greater proportion of the labour required in the production of sugar, cannot be so assigned; but, suppose this to be otherwise; how is the task to be assigned?

My right hon. friend intends that one-fourth of the day should be allowed to the negro. I conclude, therefore, if he is to work by task, that the task must be assigned by the Magistrate; for if otherwise, if the master is to be the judge of the proper quantity of work to be performed, the concession to the negro of one-fourth of the day will be of little value to him. But the Magistrate can only fix what shall be the average task to be performed in each kind of labour; he cannot adapt this average to the varying circumstances of each individual case. For instance, the Magistrate may declare, that under ordinary circumstances, a negro of ordinary strength shall dig 120 cane-holes of certain dimensions, as a day's work. But this task may be too much for one apprenticed negro, and less than another could fairly perform in the time prescribed by law. According to the varying nature of the soil, it may be too much in one field, too little in another. Even in the same field, the accident of dry or of wet weather may make an equal difference in the amount of labour required in digging the same number of cane-holes. Now, before a negro can be punished for neglecting his task, all these circumstances will have to be inquired into. I ask, then, is it possible that labour can be obtained from the slaves by the fear of punishment, which can only be inflicted under such restrictions? And when I speak of labour, I mean really strenuous exertions, not mere feeble, inefficient, pretended labour. Could less than an army of Magistrates even attempt to carry such a system into effect? And with that assistance, could such an amount of labour he procured from the negroes as will make it worth their master's while to pay them even the inadequate wages he is to be called upon to give? Will he not find, that it is a dear bargain, under such circumstances, to give even two pence for the number of hours' labour which, if the negroes worked hard, would fairly be worth 2s. 6d.?

But, Sir, we need not trust to mere reasoning upon this subject; the experiment of apprenticed labourers has been tried under circumstances infinitely more favourable, and has failed. My right hon. friend assigns as his reason for placing the negroes, for a time, in this condition, that the indolent habits they have acquired as slaves, render them not sufficiently accessible to the motives by which free labourers are stimulated, and that it is necessary for a time to subject them to some stronger impulse. But what, Sir, if white labourers themselves, when placed in a situation similar to that in which, according to the plan of my right hon. friend, the negroes will find themselves; what, I say, if under such circumstances, white labourers have uniformly proved idle and useless to their employers? Yet such is the fact. The high price of labour in the Australian Colonies has frequently induced persons to carry out to New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land indentured servants, bound to work for them for a certain time, at wages, which, though higher than those paid in this country, were yet below the ordinary rate in those colonics. This experiment I believe I am warranted in stating to have succeeded in no single instance; and the causes of the failure are obvious. The labourers so carried out, finding on their arrival that, if free from their engagement, they could obtain higher wages than they had covenanted to receive, have been careless as to whether they pleased or displeased their master; they have had no motive for endeavouring to satisfy him with the labour they performed, since the threat of dismissal was no threat to them, but on the contrary to be released from their bargain was a direct advantage. The employers of these men have therefore had to trust to compulsion to procure their industry; when the apprentice was idle, the master could only carry him before the Magistrate, and have him punished for his idleness; but each time that he was punished, he came back more wilfully stupid and more obstinately idle than before, until at length, after repeated punishments, after having caused not a little ill blood between the parties, the right to the services of the apprentice has been abandoned by the master; he has found that even low wages given to a reluctant labourer were more than he could afford, and that it was better at once to cancel the indenture.

Now, Sir, how much more unfavourable are the circumstances, under which my right hon. friend proposes that an endeavour should be made to obtain labour by the same process, which in the case I have described, has been found ineffectual. The white servant was discontented because his stipulated wages were perhaps one-fourth or one-third below the market rate of the colony; the negro is to have but one-fifteenth of the value of his labour. The white apprentice knew that he had voluntarily and freely entered into the engagement by which he was bound; the negro, on the other hand, has been no party to the contract which he is to be compelled to make, and he will look upon it only as an unjust command imposed upon him by superior power. The white apprentice was under the greatest obligation to his master, who had brought him from a country where his labour was of little value to one where it was in the greatest request, where even the wages he had agreed to receive placed him in an infinitely better condition than he had been in at home. Will the negro have any cause to be thankful to his master? He will be indebted to him only for months and years of cheerless and unrequited toil, and for repeated inflictions of a cruel and degrading punishment. The white man, if the claims of justice or gratitude had any influence over him, ought to have worked for his master; the negro will have a deep and rankling sense of the injustice of the demand upon his labour, and his back too probably will still be raw with the laceration of the cart-whip.

For these reasons. Sir, it appears to me quite impossible that, if by any chance my right hon. friend's plan could be carried into execution, it would be found to answer. But how is it to be brought into operation? My right hon. friend proposes that all the regulations which he suggests should be enacted by the authority of the British parliament, and he says that there is no limit to the authority of Parliament to legislate for the colonies, but what Parliament itself has set. In strict law this doctrine may perhaps be correct, but it is one upon which it would be most dangerous to act. I consider that in giving free constitutions to the colonies, this country-has, practically at least, given up all right to interfere in their internal legislation, except in cases of the very strongest necessity. Sir, I agree with my right hon. friend, that there is a case of necessity for interfering on the subject of slavery, but as in my opinion the right of interference arises from the necessity of the case, so I think by that necessity it is limited. I think that we have a right to say to the Colonial Legislatures: "You shall do full justice to all classes of the King's subjects; "but I do not think we have any right to prescribe the details of the laws by which the daily transactions of life in the colonies are to be regulated.

For this reason I think that my right hon. friend proposes to transgress the bounds of our right to legislate for the colonies; be this, however, as it may, I am convinced that unless he will proceed much further, he goes beyond our power to legislate with effect. Under a free constitution, as my right hon. friend is aware, the people are called upon to take a large share in the administration of the law, and a law to which they are generally opposed it is impossible to execute. How does he think that his Act of Parliament will be received in Jamaica? Will the assembly acknowledge its validity? Will Judges, paid by the assembly—Judges many of whom are themselves planters—pronounce it to be good? Will Juries, taken from the same class give verdicts against those by whom its provisions have been disobeyed?

Sir, if my right hon. friend will attempt to carry into execution such an Act of Parliament as he has described, it must contain a clause abrogating every constitutional privilege at present possessed by the colonies. It must indeed be a case of extreme necessity which could justify such a course, and even the most extreme case would with difficulty overcome my almost invincible repugnance to its adoption. But does that necessity exist? I know. Sir, that we cannot trust the colonial assemblies to legislate for a state of things in which the right of the planters to the gratuitous services of the labouring population shall be continued. If we were so to trust them, whatever might be the nomi- nal effect of the laws they might pass, in reality they would amount to nothing less than the maintenance of slavery as it now exists.

But if we proceed upon a different principle, and declare that every man shall be alike entitled to the produce of his own labour, and to judge how that labour can be rendered most profitable to himself, we may safely trust the colonists to pass what laws they may consider necessary; while the great principle of allowing the value of labour to be determined by competition is adhered to, there can be no objection to any laws which they may pass, however severe may be the restrictions they impose.

Sir, my right hon. friend misunderstood my cheer of the observation which fell from him, that there was no competition by which to regulate the value of labour in Jamaica. I did not mean to deny, that such is, in a great measure at least, the case at present, but I meant that if my right hon. friend did not introduce the principle of competition, he would not in reality change the nature of the system; that competition was the essence of free labour; that there is no intermediate state between slavery and freedom.

The conclusion to which I have been irresistibly led by all the consideration I have given to this subject is, that there are only two possible courses which we can adopt with any show of reason, or with the least chance of success. We may either attempt to keep things as they are, or we may entirely get rid of every trace and vestige of the existing system, and endeavour to re-organize society upon better and sounder principles. My right hon. friend, however, has suggested a third course, to endeavour to put the slaves in a sort of state half free and half bond. Before we come to any conclusion upon this subject, it is necessary calmly to consider what is the choice presented to us, and what the comparative advantages or disadvantages of these different paths which he before us for our choice.

The first of these modes of proceeding, the attempt to keep things as they are my right hon. friend has himself so eloquently shown to be altogether out of the question, that it is needless for me to detain the House by again attempting to prove a proposition he has so completely established. But, Sir, I think the House is hardly sufficiently aware how pressing is the necessity of a change of system, and how rapidly destructive in its operation is that which is now in force. Sir, my right hon. friend has stated how great has been the decrease of the population of our colonies collectively, and he has quoted certain returns from the colony of Demerara, in order to show that this decrease is occasioned by an over-exaction of labour from the slaves. This, Sir, is a conclusion of so much importance, that I think it necessary to support it by some further evidence. Sir, a variety of reasons have, at different times, been assigned for the decrease of the slave population, by those who have argued that it has not been occasioned by an excess of labour. It has more particularly been attributed to the disproportion of the sexes, which the time that has elapsed since the abolition of the slave trade has not yet been sufficient to correct, and to the licentious habits of the negroes.

Now, as to these, or any other similar reasons, which may be adduced for the decrease of the population, it is obvious that they must apply equally to all the slaves, however they may be employed; that their operation cannot peculiarly affect the slaves upon sugar estates, but must extend to the whole population. The truth is, that the slaves upon sugar estates are if any thing younger and stronger than the others, because sugar cultivation, requiring the largest capital, and yielding the largest profits, it has been carried on chiefly by the most wealthy proprietors, who could afford to give the largest prices for slaves. Now, Sir, taking all estates entirely or partially cultivated in sugar, I find that the whole number of slaves upon them in the year 1829, was 47,456, and that in this number the excess of males was 2,344, or rather less than five per cent. Among these slaves, in three years to May 1832, there were 2,828 births, or five and six-tenths per cent. The deaths were 5,573 or eleven and one-tenth per cent, making a decrease, in the time I have mentioned, of 2,745, or five and five-tenths per cent.

Taking the same three years, the slaves on cotton estates at the commencement of that period were 2,859; the excess of males was 145, being rather more than five per cent, instead of rather less than five per cent, as in the former instance. Amongst these slaves there were 237 births, or eight and one-tenth per cent; there were 188 deaths, or six and five-tenths per cent, the result being an increase of their numbers of forty-nine, or one; and six-tenths per cent. From this statement it appears that there was a positive loss of population on the sugar estates of 2,745, whereas, had it gone on at the same rate as on the cotton estates, where there was rather a larger excess of males, there would have been an increase of 875, thus making the real loss of lives arising from sugar cultivation 3,620 in the space of three years.

The loss too upon sugar, as compared to cotton estates, is not, as might have been anticipated, principally occasioned by a failure of births, it is in a much greater degree to be attributed to an excess of deaths, since the comparison in respect of births is to the advantage of the cotton estates only to the extent of two and a-half per cent, while there is a difference of no less than four and seven-tenths per cent, in the number of deaths.

But, Sir, the real cause of this frightful waste of life may be rendered yet more apparent. I have a list in my hand of no less than twenty-six sugar estates, on each of which, notwithstanding an excess of females, there has been a loss, varying from one or two in the whole number, to no less than a seventh of the population; the diminution which has taken place in the case of the plantation Vreeden Hoop, where the population has fallen in three years from 553 to 472; being a loss of eighty-one. Nor is this all; I can bring yet more directly home to over-exaction of labour, this decrease of the population. I have here an extract from a sworn return made to the Court of Policy, for the purpose of taxation, showing the numbers of slaves, and the amount of produce on different estates in Demerara. The first which I will mention is a favourable instance. On the estate of Anna Regina, I find that the average number of slaves for the three years, 1829, 30, and 31, was 793, that the average quantity of sugar produced was 875,866 lbs, being for each negro about 1,104 lbs. On this estate the increase in the two years* which had elapsed between the first return and the last, was twenty-eight, or nearly two per cent per annum.

On Maria's Pleasure the average number of slaves in the same three years, was 327, the average crop of sugar was * These returns being made up annually, so as to show the crop produced, and the number of slaves for the current year, the returns fur three years only give an interval of two years. 689,195 lbs., being 2,107 lbs. for each slave; not much less than double of what was produced on Anna Regina; and here, instead of an increase in the number of slaves, which had taken place when the produce per head was only 1,104 lbs., there was a falling-off of no less than thirty-five in the two years; being nearly at the rate of five per cent per annum. On the estate of Nismes, the average number of slaves was 297, the average crop of sugar 643,450 lbs., or 2,166 lbs. for each slave. Here, again, the decrease in two years was seventeen, or nearly three per cent per annum. On Success, the result is nearly similar; and lastly, on Vreeden Hoop,* the estate belonging to Mr. Gladstone, to which I have already referred, the average number of slaves was 516, the average of sugar was 1,009,916lbs., or for each negro 1,955 lbs; and the decrease of population in two years was forty-six, or nearly four and a-half per cent per annum.

Sir, the most striking fact of all yet remains to be mentioned. I have said, that in the years 1829–30–31, a comparatively small crop had been produced upon Anna Regina, to the great advantage of the slaves, who had been increasing in numbers, (as indeed they had done during the previous five or six years). On Vreeden Hoop, on the other hand, I have shown that a large crop had been produced, to the great advantage of the owner, but unhappily, at the price of a dreadful loss of life amongst the slaves. Now, Sir, in the autumn of 1831, for what reason it is not for me to say, as I cannot know the motives by which men are actuated, the manager of Anna Regina was removed, and the owner, Mr. Moss, of Liverpool, committed the estate to the charge of the same attorney who had also the care of Vreeden Hoop, and in the six months which followed this transfer, it appeared, on making up the triennial registration in May, 1832, that there had been a loss of five * This is a less unfavourable statement than might have been made of the state of things on Vreeden Hoop, but I have thought it right to give the decrease in the number of slaves as it appears in the returns from which I have taken the amount of the crop produced. This return shows, that in the two years from the close of 1829 to the close of 1831, there had been a loss of forty-six. But it appears from the triennial registration, that, in the longer period, from May 1829, to May 1832, the loss had been as above stated, eighty-one. in the number of the slaves. In the tax-roll of the Court of Policy for 1831, which I have already quoted, the estate is entered as having 805 slaves, while the number returned to the registrar in May, 1832, is only 800. Now, Sir, I think this fact throws much light on the causes of that loss of life which takes place on sugar plantations. By far the greater number of estates in the West Indies, and more especially in Demerara, belong to nonresident proprietors, and are managed by persons having no permanent interest in them. Now, I do not believe that overseers and attorneys are by nature more cruel or less averse to inflicting unnecessary pain on their fellow-creatures than other men; but, Sir, there is great competition amongst them for employment, and they find, by experience, that the owners at a distance are better acquainted with the result of their management, as to the profit produced, than as to the comfort and welfare of the negroes; and the consequence is, that amongst persons in this situation in life, the object of emulation is, who shall produce the largest crops at the smallest expense*

Sir, I have entered into these details, as I think they do prove to demonstration, the fearful consequences of the present system. Nor, Sir, is my mind so much affected by the loss of life, great as it is, amounting, as I have shown, in a single colony, to upwards of 1,000 annually, as by the reflection of the long-protracted torture of which these deaths are the con- * I have learnt, with very sincere regret, that the above statement as to the change of management on the estate of Anna Regina, has appeared to Mr. Moss to be calculated to create an impression, that he is indifferent to the welfare of his slaves. Nothing could be further from my intention than to convey any such imputation; on the contrary, I have always heard that Mr. Moss is a proprietor distinguished for his humanity, and his anxiety for the comfort of his slaves. This report is confirmed by the written instructions to his attorney, which Mr. Moss has been good enough to show me, and which do him the highest honour; but the more personally humane Mr. Moss is, the more striking is the illustration afforded by the circumstances I have mentioned of my argument, that proprietors ill this country know less of the treatment of their slaves, than of the amount of profit derived from them; that this fact is known to the overseers and attorneys in the colony, and that it necessarily produces an effect on their conduct. sequence, of the hopeless and cheerless misery, under which not only the actual victims, but the whole slave population are thus shown to be languishing. Sir, when I consider this, I do indeed agree with my right hon. friend that the system must be abolished; and it remains to be decided whether this shall be done at once, or gradually, as my right hon. friend has proposed. He says the question is, how the object may most safely be accomplished, and I am willing to place it upon this issue. The mode of proceeding which I recommend, is at once to fix a date for the absolute and entire termination of slavery. Let us say on what day the slaves are to be free, and to be released from all claim upon their labour on the part of others; and let this day be no further removed than may be necessary, to enable the Colonial Legislatures, to adopt such measures as may ensure regular industry. Such is the course I venture to propose to the House. I do not mean to say that it is safe; but I contend that it is attended with less danger than would attend the adoption of the plan of my right hon. friend, and I will endeavour to state, as fairly as I can, what are the dangers to be apprehended in cither case.

I have endeavoured to show that it is doubtful whether the British Parliament has the right to pass laws, prescribing a complicated system of internal regulations to the colonists, and that if we have in strictness of law such a right, we cannot practically exercise it with effect, without going much further and depriving the colonists of those privileges, which would enable them successfully to resist the execution of such a law, the force of which they certainly would not acknowledge.

For this reason, it appears to me, that Parliament should go no further than to fix a date for the termination of slavery, naming such a period, as not unnecessarily to prolong, what must be the very dangerous interval, between the announcement, and the accomplishment, of so great a change in the existing relations of society, and yet to allow to the Colonial Legislature the time which would be necessary for passing such laws as the altered state of things would require.

What, then, are the dangers to which the adoption of this course would give rise? I shall be told that it would lead to a struggle between the slaves and their masters, or at all events to the emancipation of the former, without any arrangement having been made to control and keep them in order. Sir, I believe that the former result would be impossible, and that even the latter would be unlikely to occur.

Were such an Act of the British Parliament as I have supposed to be passed, I believe the colonists would see the utter inutility of thinking of opposition, and that the encouragement and assistance we should have it in our power to afford to those colonies which should choose to cooperate with us in facilitating a change of system, which at all events they would be unable to prevent, would induce most at least of the Local Legislatures to do so. Much, I think, might be expected from the proprietors resident in this country, who seeing their interests at stake, and that irretrievable ruin must result from an obstinate and useless resistance, would probably make use of that influence, which, if they choose to act with vigour and with union, they have the means of exercising, over their servants and agents in the colonies.

But suppose that this reasonable expectation should be disappointed—that the colonists should be so infatuated as to resist to the last the declared will of this country, and that the day fixed by Parliament for the termination of slavery should arrive, without any precaution having been adopted, what, let me ask, would be the consequence?

The cultivation of sugar would, I admit, in all probability, be put an end to, as my right hon. friend has anticipated; the Negroes would find so little difficulty in procuring land, that they would generally do so, and as, by moderate labour upon their own ground, for thirty or forty days in the year, they would be able to maintain themselves with more comfort than they have been used to, they would, I have no doubt, in general, refuse to work for wages. Such is the result which is, I think, to be expected in the event I have supposed; it is one of which I am far from denying the evils, since it would be productive of extensive pecuniary distress, and would, I believe be prejudicial to the true interests of the Negroes themselves; but when we are considering the worst that can happen, in the event of the obstinate resistance of the colonists, to the views of the mother country on the subject of slavery, the evils I have described are as nothing compared to those which have been predicted, and which might, I believe, be produced by a different course. At least, Sir, there is nothing in the state of things I have described which is calculated to lead to bloodshed; the slaves would have obtained all they can desire; why, therefore should they be guilty of any acts of violence? As to the masters, on the other hand, I know not in what manner any conduct of theirs is likely to lead to collision between them and the negroes.

We are told, that they will resist, by force, the execution of the law giving freedom to the slaves; but have hon. Members considered the possibility of such resistance? Why, Sir, slavery depends for its existence, from hour to hour, on the support of the military power of this country: this is the very breath of its being, which, if withdrawn, it would perish at the instant; no active interference on our part is necessary in order to put down slavery; we have but to refuse to uphold it, and from that moment it is at an end. At this late hour I will not trouble the House by doing so, or I should have wished to read a letter which I hold in my hand, giving a most dramatic description of a mutiny which occurred a few months ago on an estate in Antigua, which shows, in the most striking manner, how entirely dependent slavery is upon the constant support of a military force. The slaves upon this estate, in a body, refused to work, or to suffer the punishment which was ordered to be inflicted upon the first who did so! Under these circumstances, what was the resource of the manager? Why, Sir, he made the best of his way to St. John's, and having obtained from the Governor the assistance of two companies of infantry, he returned to the estate, and having drawn up the soldiers in the front of the negro house, with loaded muskets and fixed bayonets, he called out the slaves, had a severe punishment inflicted on the ringleaders in the revolt, and thus succeeded in restoring order. But if, when by the authority of the Imperial Legislature, the slaves are released from the obligation to serve the planter, the latter shall refuse to acknowledge the force of this decree, what steps is he to take to compel the negroes to continue to submit to his authority?

When summoned to their accustomed work, they will treat the command with derision, and will proceed to amuse or occupy themselves according to their different tastes; will the manager with the two or three book-keepers he has to assist him attempt with the whip to enforce the obedience of 200 or 300 negroes? and if not what will he do? Military assistance he will have none to reckon upon, since the British troops, I presume, will be more likely to obey the authority of the King, and of the Imperial Parliament, than than of the Assembly of Jamaica.

The cessation of sugar cultivation is, then, I conclude, the worst result which is to be anticipated from our being compelled to put an end to slavery, without having the assistance of the Colonial Legislatures. What, on the other hand, are the dangers to be apprehended from adopting the course recommended by my right hon. friend? The danger which it is said attends complete emancipation, arises from the probability that the Colonial Legislatures may refuse to come into such a scheme; but are they likely to agree to that of my right hon. friend?—and if not, can you compel them to acquiesce? To carry into effect this plan, it is not sufficient merely to abstain from giving your support to the existing system; you must, either by persuasion, or by force, procure the active support of the colonists, to another complicated system which is to be substituted for it. If we have to appeal to force, will the negroes be tranquil spectators of a struggle upon such a subject? Sir, I fear no man can suppose so. On the other hand, for the reasons I have already stated, I believe that, even if we had the zealous and active co-operation of the colonists, sugar cultivation would be arrested by the impossibility of obtaining effective labour from the negroes under such a system. But this, though the worst, and, I believe, not the probable result of the entire abolition of slavery, is by no means the worst that can happen, if the proposal of my right hon. friend is adopted; on the contrary, the breaking up of the whole system, without an actual convulsion, is, I think, the best issue to be looked for from such a state of things, and one which I, at least, should not be sanguine enough to anticipate. Should my right hon. friend succeed in bringing his plan into active operation—should he be fortunate enough to overcome all the difficulties I have already described, what will be the effect produced upon the minds of the slaves? They are to be told that they are free; and, at the same time, that they must still go on, as heretofore, labouring for their masters, and receiving, in return, only the commonest necessaries of life! What is the grievance of which they now complain? not that they have to labour, but that their labour is unrewarded; and of the redress of this grievance, my right, hon. friend proposes that they should have only a distant prospect. It is true, that during one-fourth of the day, the negroes are to labour on their own account; but what they earn, even in this portion of their time, is not to be at their own disposal; it is to be taken from them in order to accumulate, for the payment of a debt which they will feel they do not justly owe; and till the expiration of twelve years, they will derive no advantage whatever from it. Sir, twelve years is a long time in the life of any man, and it will appear endless to an ignorant slave, accustomed to think chiefly of the present hour, and rarely, if ever, to look beyond the succeeding week, or the succeeding month. What, then, I again ask, will be the effect upon his mind, when he is told that he is free, but finds that, for so long a period, his freedom is to make no difference whatever in his condition—that he is to go on labouring as before, without receiving any remuneration for his toil, beyond his accustomed and scanty supply of necessaries?

Perhaps, my right hon. friend will say, that his condition will be improved, that he will no longer have to fear the infliction of punishment at the caprice of his master. Sir, for the reasons I have already stated, I greatly doubt whether this change will really be for his good. If punishment by the authority of the Magistrate is to be depended upon for enforcing the performance of labour, I fear its severity must be much greater than what is now commonly inflicted, in order to produce its effect; but grant that in this respect my right hon. friend should not be disappointed, will the check imposed upon the cart whip satisfy the negroes?. Sir, to answer that question I will refer my right hon. friend to the evidence collected with respect to the recent insurrection in Jamaica; he will find, that both planters and missionaries concur in stating, that the leaders of the revolt were almost universally slaves who had nothing to complain of on the score of personal treatment; the same fact is proved by the confession of the rebels themselves. The slave gardener, one of the chief instigators of the insurrection, in his cenfession says, "If Dove (another of the leaders) and I were to be stripped, our skins would be found as smooth as any white man's, for we have never been flogged." Nor is this difficult to be accounted for; the head men upon the estates, the drivers and principal mechanics, the petty officers, if I may use that expres- sion, are seldom flogged, and these men being naturally selected from the most intelligent slaves, it is of course upon their minds, that the injustice of the claim of their masters to their gratuitous services, makes the strongest impression, whilst they are also those best fitted to lead their fellows in an attempt to obtain their freedom by force. Now, Sir, to those slaves whose hostility is the most dangerous, the measure which my right hon. friend has proposed will be no relief whatever, on the contrary, they will consider it as at once a recognition of the injustice of the present system, and an avowal of our determination to continue it; the measure itself is formed upon an admission that slavery, (that is, the forced labour of one man for the benefit of another), involves a violation of justice and of natural equity; will not then the more intelligent of the slaves be ready enough to say, "If tills is so, why are we for twelve years more to work without being paid, let us obtain by force the full restoration of our rights instead of this mockery of justice?" Sir, in the present state of feeling amongst the slaves in Jamaica, it appears to me, that an attempt to execute the scheme of my right hon. friend would be almost a certain signal for revolt; and I ask the House, are British troops and British officers to be employed in slaughtering men for resistance under such provocation?

Sir, I have heard strong language used in this House in praise of the efforts made by the Poles to recover their national liberty. I have heard the conduct of Russia condemned in no measured terms for having by military force put down and punished the insurgents. But if the cause of the Poles was just, what shall we say of that of the Negroes in the case I have supposed. The Poles fought for political liberty, which I trust I do not undervalue, but which I must still consider, when compared to personal freedom, as a mere speculative advantage; the struggle of the Negroes would be to be allowed in peace to enjoy the fruits of their own industry—to be relieved at once from a claim acknowledged by those who impose it, to be too unjust to be permanently maintained.

Sir, I ask what hon. Gentleman is there in this House, who has joined in the general condemnation of the conduct of Russia, who could vote supplies for carrying on such a contest with the negroes?

Whatever course we pursue, it is not impossible that au insurrection may take place. Justice has been so long delayed, that it may be, that a servile war is inevitable; but Sir, if we grant to the negroes, all that they have a right to ask, and they still break out into rebellion, we shall have, in the melancholy necessity of shedding their blood, the consolation of knowing that this necessity, has not been occasioned by a denial of justice. But if the struggle arises from an attempt to force them to submit to the exaction of unrequited labour, shall we not again be in the situation, of which the American war is the only other example in our history, in which no friend to justice and humanity can wish well to the arms of his country?

Sir, I trust the House will not be induced to adopt a course which may lead to so dreadful a result, and that we shall at once proceed to restore to the negroes the full enjoyment of their rights as men.

Such a course, I am convinced for the reasons I have stated, is in every point of view the most expedient, and attended with the smallest danger. I do not pretend that it is safe, but as being less dangerous than any other, I most earnestly recommend it; and even, Sir, were the balance of danger less decidedly in its favour, believing that it is alone consistent with the eternal rules of right and wrong, and with the first principles of justice, I should be prepared to adopt it, committing the issue not without anxiety, but with humble confidence, to the disposal of an all-wise and overruling Providence.

Sir Robert Peel

did not rise for the purpose of prolonging, or of even entering upon the discussion, as he thought it would be most inconvenient to do so at that stage of the debate and at so late an hour of the night; but he rose merely for the purpose of suggesting the necessity of coming to some understanding as to some practical course to be adopted with regard to the discussion of these Resolutions. Whilst he admitted the necessity of coming to an early decision on this important subject, he must at the same time deprecate a premature or hasty one. It was absolutely necessary that some further time should be given for the consideration of these Resolutions. The right hon. Gentleman had not confined himself to vague suggestions, but had actually suggested a specific plan for altering the condition of slaves; but that plan was so complicated, that it would be impossible to discuss its principle without going into its details. One thing he hoped, and it was this, that the House would not adopt even one of the Resolutions, without allow- ing time for its discussion and modification if necessary. It must be acknowledged that the question of emancipation of slaves stood upon new grounds from the moment it was proposed to Parliament by Government. He did not infer from what had occurred that there was any indifference on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to the unspeakable importance of this subject, or to the necessity of allowing time for its discussion; but, at the same time, he hoped that his Majesty's Ministers would not ask a vote or single decision upon any of the Resolutions until further time were allowed for considering the subject in all its details. Whilst he asked for a postponement, he did not wish for an indefinite one, but that a convenient day should be fixed for resuming this discussion.

Lord Althorp

would remind the House that his right hon. friend had, in opening the debate, stated his readiness to agree to the postponement of the debate, if it were the wish of the House, or of any hon. Member who wished to take a part in the discussion. It was reasonable, not only on account of Members but on account of the public, who took a deep interest in this subject, that a postponement should be required and he was therefore willing to accede. Perhaps the best way would be to report the Resolutions, pro forma; and by that means there would be an opportunity afforded to print them. He could assure the House that he had not the least idea of taking an advantage of any hon. Member, but his wish was, that the Resolutions might be reported, with the understanding that no person was thereby pledged to vote for them. With respect to the day for renewing the discussion, he thought the most convenient time would be the first open day after the Whitsun holidays, which would be Thursday, the 30th of this month.

Mr. Fowell Buxton

did not think it fair that the speech of the right hon. Secretary should go forth to the world unanswered. It was true the noble Lord near him had replied to several points in that speech, but that which he thought a most important point still remained unexplained. If the negro were to be called upon to pay for his own liberation, he, for one, must oppose such a proposition. He, therefore, wished to know whether the negro was to pay for his own emancipation, or whether the 15,000,000l. to be raised in this country was to be applied to that purpose?

Lord Althorp

thought his right hon. friend had been sufficiently explicit when he stated, that the slave would be allowed time to raise the price of his own emancipation, but, at the same time, he had left it to the discretion of the House to say whether they would exact from the slaves the payment for that emancipation.

Sir Robert Peel

did not offer his suggestion to the House with any other view than that of allowing time for deliberation. The House would recollect that some of those Gentlemen who were interested for the planters had an opportunity of speaking and they had as much right to complain of delay as the hon. Gentleman opposite.

Mr. Godson

said, on the part of the West India planters, that they had no objection to an immediate hearing. They had no desire whatever for a postponement. Some of the merchants of Loudon were, however, in a different situation. They had orders to execute for shipment of several millions' worth of British goods to the West Indies: but one of those Resolutions went to regulate the supply of certain articles which were to be used by negroes; and, until that clause was disposed of, the merchants could not, with safety, send out the usual shipments.

Mr. Secretary Stanley

could assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that the Resolution to which he had referred would not in any way affect the interests of the merchants concerned in the trade to the West Indies. His object was, to give that body a full opportunity of disposing of their shipments, and he was sure that no resolution or clause would be adopted which would interfere with their interests. As to the discussion, he was prepared to enter upon it immediately, but he thought it fairer to allow all the parties interested in the issue of it, full time for inquiry and deliberation.

Mr. Godson

said, that although there were but a very few Members in the House who were connected with the colonies, they were willing to go on at once with the debate, and on their part he would say that delay or postponement could only have for its object the promulgation of such statements as had been made in the brilliant speech of the right hon. Secretary—statements which, though unfounded, would be thus circulated without an answer.

Sir Robert Peel

had only spoken for himself. And whatever opinions the hon. and learned Gentleman might entertain as to the effects of his suggestions, he must be allowed to say, that he had no other object and could have no other object, than to obtain that attentive consideration of the subject which would be most satisfactory to all parties.

Sir Richard Vyvyan

said, the great inconvenience of delay was, that the; statements of the right hon. Secretary would go forth uncontradicted, although he (Sir Richard Vyvyan) could easily give a satisfactory refutation to many of them, particularly to those misrepresentations respecting the Island of Jamaica.

The Resolutions were reported to the House pro forma, and ordered to be printed and taken into consideration on the 30th of May.

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