HL Deb 16 March 1824 vol 10 cc1046-61

After a number of petitions praying for the Abolition of Slavery, had been presented to the House,

Earl Bathurst

rose to lay before their lordships certain papers explanatory of the measures for the Amelioration of the Condition of the West-India Negroes, referred to in his Majesty's Speech at the commencement of the present session, and which had been adopted in consequence of the resolutions agreed to by the House of Commons in May last. Those resolutions he would, with the leave of their lordships, now read.

"Resolved, nem. con. "That it is expedient to adopt effectual and decisive measures for ameliorating the condition of the slave population in his majesty's colonies:

"That, through a determined and persevering, but at the same time judicious and temperate enforcement of such measures, this House looks forward to a progressive improvement in the slave population, such as may prepare them for a participation in those civil rights and privileges which are enjoyed by other classes of his majesty's subjects:

"That this House is anxious for the accomplishment of this purpose at the earliest period that shall be compatible with the well-being of the slaves themselves, with the safety of the colonies, and with a fair and equitable consideration of the interests of private property."

It was his duty now to state to their lordships the measures which had been adopted by his majesty's government in pursuance of those resolutions. The House of Commons had passed the resolutions on the 15th of May, and instructions founded on them were conveyed to all the governors of the West-India colonies in circular despatches, dated the 28th of May and the 9th of July. The measures which his majesty's government had thought it proper to recommend, as best calculated to accomplish the object of ameliorating the condition of the slaves which the House of Commons, had in view, might be reduced to the following heads; namely, the making provision for religious instruction; the consequent abolition of Sunday markets; the abolition of the practice of flogging female slaves; the regulation of the punishment of male slaves; the prevention of the separation of husband and wife, and infant children from the mother, on the sale of slaves; the giving security to the property of slaves, by establishing banks of deposit; the establishment of facilities for the manumission of slaves; and, finally, the allowing the evidence of slaves to be received, under certain regulations, in courts of justice.

These were the measures which were recommended in the instructions sent out at the time, and which his majesty's government still considered the most proper to be adapted. If any of their lordships should think that ministers had gone too far, and that, however right in theory, such measures were likely to prove mischievous in practice, to such of their lordships be would state, that these propositions had been regarded as satisfactory by those who were most interested in the question. In the course of the investigation which had taken place, it was found, that the great body of the West-India proprietors in this country concurred in the justice of the principles laid down. With respect to the last only; namely, that for receiving the evidence of slaves—had there been any difference of opinion. Some thought that this measure could only be adopted under certain regulations; but, whatever difference of opinion existed, he had not yet met with a man who did not admit, that the proposition was highly worthy of consideration, and that the carrying it into effect, if practicable was very desirable. Those, on the other hand, who thought that his majesty's government had not gone far enough, he would beg to remind of the difficulties which surrounded the measure, and the many considerations which were involved in its execution.

Having stated the purport and object of the two circulars which he had sent out to the West Indies, he should now advert to the general conduct of the colonies after those despatches had been received. With respect to the islands, the first despatch arrived while some of their assemblies were sitting; but that of the 9th of July was not received until after the session, and was brought under the consideration of the assemblies in November. And here he must observe, that the manner in which the despatches had been received in the different islands, was particularly worthy of their lordships' consideration. This would be seen by the papers on the table, from which it would appear, that if not all, the great majority of the propositions he had read were thought fit to be adopted. This was more particularly the case in Grenada, St. Vincent's, and St. Christopher's; but in Dominica, Tobago, Barbadoes, and Jamaica, a spirit so favourable did not prevail. In general, however, the assemblies had been disposed to carry into effect the greater part of the propositions, had not events and circumstances occurred to delay that intention. The assembly of Barbadoes met in July, and appeared inclined to adopt most of the propositions; but that body had separated under the impression, that if they agreed to all the measures recommended by his majesty's government, they would be pledging themselves to a system connected with a plan for the complete manumission of the negroes. And here he must say, that one of the great difficulties which his majesty's ministers had had to contend with, was the unfortunate mixing of these two questions.

With respect to St. Vincent's, the answer returned by the assembly of that island amounted to this—that they had amended the act which they passed two years before for the amelioration of the condition of the slaves. They were of opinion, that all the measures recommended in the two despatches were to be found in the bill which they had already passed. If, however, their lordships would take the trouble to compare the bill with the two letters he had sent out, he was convinced they would find, that some of the measures which his Majesty's government had thought it adviseable to recommend had been omitted, and that others had been very partially enforced. He must admit, however, that what had been done by the assembly of St. Vincent's was very much to their credit; and, in looking at this subject, their lordships would not fail to recollect the period at which this amelioration had taken place in St. Vincent's—they would perceive, that it had been done spontaneously by the assembly of St. Vincent's two years ago, when they acted under no appearance of compulsion in consequence of any resolutions adopted by the British legislature, or of any recommendations from his Majesty's government. So favourable a disposition on the part of this assembly afforded just reason to expect, that when a more temperate view should be taken of the whole propositions, this and the other islands would be disposed to adopt measures which, upon due consideration, would be found to be advantageous to their own interests, as well as agreeable to the dictates of humanity.

It remained for him now to advert to what had passed in Jamaica; but as that was matter of public notoriety, it would not be necessary for him to detain their lordships long on this part of the subject. Their lordships Were aware of the very intemperate manner in which the propositions of his Majesty's government had been received in that island. He much regretted that Jamaica, which had heretofore manifested a sincere desire to ameliorate the condition of the slave population, should on this occasion have set so opposite an example. He was however persuaded that when the assembly of that island should come again to the consideration of this subject, they would view it in a more temperate manner; and that they would not persist in the resolutions they had adopted, but would proceed to make further provision for ameliorating the condition of the slaves. He did not, however, think he should act justly, if he did not state, that much irritation had been produced by the reproaches that had been cast on the assembly and people of Jamaica. Some apology was to be made for them, in consequence of the manner in which they had been attacked by various publications in this country. They were accused of the greatest cruelty, of a disposition to retain their negroes in a state of misery, and of a determination to resist all plans of amelioration. In addition to these unjust charges, they were accused of treating their slaves worse than the Americans did theirs. Nothing could be more unfounded than this last accusation; for nothing could redound more to the credit of our West-India planters, than a comparison of the treatment given to their slaves with that to which those of America were subject. The American slaves were liable to the severest punishments, for acts which would either be considered as no offence in our colonies, or would be corrected by very slight penalties. To convince their lordships of this, he need only refer to an act lately passed at New Orleans. By this severe law it was provided, that if any slave should be found absent after sun-set he should be punished by flogging; that if any slave be seen in the streets with a cane or stick in his hand, he should be flogged; nay, it was even provided, that if any slave should be caught looking disrespectfully at a white person, he should be flogged. Let their lordships compare this with the laws relative to slaves, and their practical treatment, in Dominica, St. Vincent's, Jamaica, or any of our colonies, and then say, whether any such inhumanity disgraced the British possessions.

It had, indeed, been said by some, that though the laws of the colonies were good they were not fairly executed. This he 'also must regard as untrue. He believed the laws were in general fairly executed; and he was satisfied, that within a certain number of years, a great improvement had taken place in the condition of slaves in the West-India colonies, as well in consequence of the humane disposition of the planters, as of the laws which had been enacted. He believed that considerable improvements had been made in the articles of food and clothing, and that instances of great indulgence and kindness on the part of the masters were very common. He also believed, that great improvements had been made with respect to the hospitals for the reception of sick and infirm negroes. It had been said, why were there not established in those colonies which had legislative assemblies, laws similar to those of this country? But, if it was made a subject of complaint that they neglected to execute their own laws, how was it to be expected that they would act fairly on ours? He did not mean to say that this country could exercise no legislative authority over the colonies, but that was certainly a question of great difficulty and delicacy. It was, however, competent to his Majesty's government, with the sanction of parliament, to regulate their trade, to take away the drawbacks which were allowed on exportations to them, and to increase the duties on their productions. These were the kind of measures which, if policy ever required their enforcement, might be preferable to any exercise of the right of internal regulation.

Having said thus much in reference to the islands which possessed legislative assemblies of their own, he would next direct their lordships attention to the conquered colonies which were more immediately under the control and direction of his Majesty in council. It had been determined, that the same propositions should be sent to both the old and the new colonies. He had accordingly forwarded the instructions to them: and, in justice to these colonies, he must say, that they had done credit to themselves by manifesting a disposition to adopt whatever measures appeared to them calculated to promote the religious and moral improvement of their slave population. It had not, however, been thought fit to establish at once all the measures recommended by government, because it was considered, that if the old colonies hesitated to adopt those measures, a disagreeable contrast would be presented between them. His Majesty's government did not wish to expose the legislatures of those islands to the reproach which, under such a state of things, they would be liable to from their own population. If a different course was now about to be entered upon, his Majesty's government had done every thing in their power to avoid it. Some of the new colonies had no legislative bodies; and in some of them convulsions had unfortunately taken place after the communication of the propositions.

It had therefore been thought advisable to make the first experiment of the enforcement of the measures which his majesty's government recommended in colonies to which the control of the privy council immediately extended, and in which the propositions had experienced a favourable reception. In Trinidad a disposition had been shown to meliorate the state of the slaves. In the answer returned by the counsel of that island to the despatch sent out from this country, they stated that many of the improvements suggested were already in force, and they had passed resolutions for the further amelioration of the negroes. Upon further communication with that island, an order in council had been framed here on the subject of the intended ameliorations. This order was on Wednesday last submitted to his Majesty, and had been sanctioned by his approbation. Their lordships would find a copy of the draught of the order in council among the papers which he had laid on the table.

He was unwilling to take up much of their lordships time, and should merely state the principal objects which his Majesty's Government proposed to effect by this measure. The Procurador Syndic of the Cabildo of the town of Port of Spain is confirmed in his ancient office of protector and guardian of slaves, with new honours and under new regulations. He is to keep an office for records. The commandants of the several quarters of the island are declared assistant protectors and guardians of slaves and notice of all suits and actions against slaves must be given to the guardian, who must attend the trial of the cause.—As provision is to be made for the religious instruction of the slaves, all markets are required to be discontinued on Sunday, and the employment of any slave in labour between sun-set on Saturday and sun-rise on Monday is strictly prohibited; so that Sunday will be really a day of rest and religious instruction.—The punishment by the whip is not only abolished, but it is made unlawful to carry it as an emblem of authority. With regard to this point, there might be some difference of opinion. He was not one of those who were led away with the idea that the mere carrying the whip as an emblem of authority in the hands of one whom the slaves were disposed otherwise to respect, could be attended with mischievous consequences; but he understood it was always intrusted to a negroe, and that circumstance rendered it very offensive; and, unless some white person were set to watch over the slave who carried this instrument, it was much to be feared that it would often be very improperly used. And here let him observe, that the introduction of this prohibition was not to be regarded as casting any imputation on the old laws of the colonies. He was far from meaning to state that the present treatment of the slaves was such as particularly called for interference. The measure was not proposed in order to remove general evils, but to prevent atrocities of rare occurrence. As well might it be said, that this country was remarkable for the frequency of crimes, since it had been found necessary to pass laws for the punishment of robbery and murder. It was merely to guard against violations of humanity which possibly might occur, that this measure was proposed.

Among all the practices which had prevailed in the colonies, there was, however, no one which had given more offence to the feelings, than that of the punishment of females by the lash. He was aware it might be contended, that the mere knowledge on the part of slaves that they were liable to this punishment would serve as a sufficient restraint, but that if it were once known that they were no longer liable to be flogged, it would be extremely difficult to keep them in order. This subject had already been brought under the consideration of the court of policy in Demerara, and it had, after clue consideration, been thought fit to decree the abolition of the practice of flogging females in Trinidad. Pains, however, would be taken to prevent the repeal of the practice from being, for some time, generally known among the slaves. In cases formerly punished by flogging, it was proposed to substitute imprisonment, or confinement in the stocks, for females. The governor was, besides, authorized to substitute any other punishment which might not be inconsistent with the general spirit of the regulations.

The next regulation to which he should call their lordships' attention was, that which related to the punishment of the male part of the slave population. The order provided, that no slave should be punished for any offence, until twenty-four hours after its commission should have elapsed. It was also provided, that in no instance should more than twenty-five lashes be given in one day: and it was still farther provided, that no second punishment should take place, until the person of the slave was free from any lacerations which might have been occasioned by the first flogging. At the same time it was expressly directed, that no punishment whatever should take place, unless one person of free condition be present, in addition to him by whom, or by whose authority, the punishment may be inflicted. There was another regulation which he thought it right to point out. It was ordered, that a record-book should be kept on every plantation or estate throughout the island. In this book the owner or manager was required to enter the punishments inflicted on slaves. The number of lashes inflicted, on any occasion of flogging, were required to be recorded, if the stripes exceeded three. The reasons for the punishment, and the names of the persons attending it, must be recorded: and copies of these records are required to be returned, at a fixed period, to the commandant of the quarter in which the estate or plantation where the infliction took place may be situated.

He had stated the three provisions which were intended for the personal protection of the slaves. He now came to those enactments which tended to their comfort, and conduced to their improvement. The first of these regarded the encouragement of marriages among them, According to; the provisions of the act, it would be arranged that if the two slaves obtained the consent of their master, and produced this consent to the guardian and protector, he would give directions, that the marriage act should be solemnized, according to the rites of the Church of England, the Roman Catholic ritual, or the Presbyterian forms, as should be most agreeable to the parties. The marriage thus authorized and solemnized, was to be recorded in a book or register kept by the guardian. Should the master of the slaves refuse his consent, they might inform the guardian of this refusal, and apply to him for instruction how to proceed. On this application the guardian was authorised to call the master or overseer before him, to hear his motive for resisting the proposed marriage; and if that motive appeared unreasonable, or if his conduct was evidently arbitrary, he might notwithstanding such refusal, authorize the union of the parties. As a consequence of this provision for promoting the marriage union, an enactment was naturally called for, to prevent the separation of those who had been united in marriage. It was therefore proposed, that in the sale or transfer of married slaves they should not be separated, but sold in one lot, and transferred to one master. It would likewise be enacted, that their children, if they had any from the marriage; should go along with their parents.

The next provision for promoting the comfort of the slaves, and raising their character was, to secure to them their property by a positive law, and enable them to dispose of it by bequest. If their lordships looked to the actual state of things, and took it into consideration, not the enactments of law, but the existing practice, they might think such a provision unnecessary. The slave, by the consent of his master, could at present possess and bequeath property, and therefore no real hardship was experienced as things now stood; but it was thought advisable to give him the security of law, to enable him to protect himself against any arbitrary interference with his rights, and appear in the courts to defend them, if attempted to be invaded. By this enactment they could sue in their own names—could make an advantageous use of their property, by laying out their funds at interest—and could dispose of it, with its accumulations, by bequest. The money of any slave being deposited in a bank, and duly recorded, his disposal of it at all times would be valid.

But, it was not only necessary to secure personal protection to the slave, and to enable him to acquire and dispose of property in a state of servitude—it was necessary also to provide, in certain circumstances, for his leaving that state, and attaining the rights and privileges of a free man. The next improvement intended, therefore, in our colonial system, was to provide for facilities for the manumission of slaves. It was to be enacted, that the price of the registration of manumitted slaves should be paid, not by the slave, but by the state. The slave was to have aright to purchase not only his own freedom, but that of his wife; he was likewise to be granted the privilege of purchasing the freedom of his child, his sister, or his brother. If any difficulty arose respecting the price, it was to be referred to the guardian or protector, who would arbitrate between the parties. A difficulty of another kind arose in cases where slaves existed on estates entailed or mortgaged, and where, of course, the possessor had not the power to agree to their claims for purchasing their freedom. Into the mode of settling this part of the question, he would not trouble their lordships, but refer them to the detailed provisions which he had laid on the table. It would there be seen, that the interests of both parties were secured, with a due regard to the rights of property.

He came now to the last of the provisions to which he had alluded; namely, the admissibility of the testimony of slaves in a court of justice, and on oath. The order provided, that a slave should be received as a witness, and be allowed to give his evidence on oath, provided lie could procure a certificate from the minister of the established church, or from any other clergyman whose ministrations he attended to, that, upon examination, that minister or clergyman was satisfied that the slave was so far instructed in religious knowledge as to be sensible of the obligation of an oath. A register was to be kept by the guardian of the slaves, in which this qualification would be recorded. The advantage resulting from this enactment would not only further the due administration of justice in cases where the testimony of slaves would be useful, but would have a tendency to raise the character of the slave whose name was thus recorded. It would inspire him with a laudable pride and self-respect, to see religious qualifications thus certified, to know that the confidence in his testimony was thus established, and to observe himself placed on a level, in point of credit, with his christian superiors, whom he was taught to respect. It was proposed, that the testimony of slaves should be received in all civil cases, except where the interest of their masters was concerned. This exception was made for the obvious reason, that if their testimony was to be received against their masters, it must likewise, in other cases, be received in his favour; and it was thought dangerous to admit it in the latter instances, while the master had such an influence over their minds. With respect to all criminal cases, the testimony of slaves would be received, except where the life of a white person was at stake.

Such were some of the changes proposed in our colonial law, for the protection and advantage of the slave population; His majesty's government did not think themselves justified in going further at present. They must see their way before they proceeded to any further changes. It could not fail to strike those acquainted with the present state of the slave population of the West Indies, that some of the enactments to which he had alluded, tended rather to curtail than to extend the present privileges. The testimony of slaves was already in some cases admitted. The regulations on which it was in future to be admitted, conferred upon it an authority which it did not at present possess, and made it useful to the ends of justice in a higher degree than it could at present be considered. He had now detailed, probably at too great length, the intentions of his majesty's government. Their lordships would see how the pledge given to the House of Commons last session had been redeemed. He had only one other topic to advert to; namely, the establishments for the religious instruction of the slaves in the West Indies. These establishments, he need not remind their lordships, were lamentably deficient, both in instruction and discipline. In making them, no reference was had to the wants of the slave population, nor were even the free coloured inhabitants taken into the account. A variety of societies had been established, which had sent up missionaries to supply this defect. Some of these societies belonged to the Church of England, others to different religious sects. Three of them consisted of members of the establishment; namely, the Church Missionary society, the society for the Propagation of Christian knowledge, and a society for the Conversion of the Negroes. Besides these bodies, there were others which had shewn great zeal in this field, the chief of which were the Moravian and Wesleyan societies. But it was not thought fit that the religious instruction of so large a portion of the empire should be left to chance, or to the exertions of societies independent of the establishment. Their lordships, he thought, would agree with him, that an increase of the ecclesiastical establishment was necessary, and that the superintendence of the church in that quarter could only be duly secured by resident prelates. It was a general understanding, that the bishop of London exercised authority over the church in Jamaica. The fact was not so. There was no want of zeal on the part of that respectable prelate; but he could not honestly and conscientiously exercise the necessary authority in the case in question. It had therefore been resolved upon by government, to recommend to parliament to provide for two bishops, to be sent to the West Indies, one to reside in Jamaica, and one in the Leeward Islands. For the prelate who resided at Jamaica could no more superintend the establishment in the Leeward Islands, than if he resided in England. It was proposed, that to the See of Jamaica there should be appointed one archdeacon, and to that of the Leeward Islands two; and that with these higher dignitaries of the church there should go out a body of clergy to supply the cures existing, or to be established, in the islands. The slave population, in addition to this part of the establishment, would require other instructors. They were ignorant as children, and must be taught like children. The kind of teaching which they would require could not be given them by the parish clergy, who could scarcely be expected to be able at first to adapt their instructions to the state of their minds. It was therefore proposed to place under the direction of the clergy teachers for the slaves, who would attend more constantly to their improvement in the elementary knowledge of religion. A hope might be entertained, that the proprietors and overseers would show less hostility to the religious instruction of their slaves, when the instruction was offered by the members of the establishment to which they themselves belonged; and what happened in other cases might be expected to happen in this; namely, that a community of worship would create a community of feeling, that kinder sympathy would be established between the master and the slave by meeting in the same temple for religious improvement and that, by addressing their common prayers to the common Parent of all, the temporary inequalities of their condition would be forgotten, and they would view each other as brethren. But, while this appointment of clergymen of the establishment was to take place, there was no intention that the conscience of any one should be forced. God forbid that any attempt should be made to overturn the steadfastness of a faith already produced, or to shake the confidence of the slaves in the great truths of revealed religion, because some differences existed between the mode in which they viewed them, and that in which they were presented by our church!

A report had gone abroad, and an impression very generally existed among the slave population, that in recommending measures for the amelioration of their condition, his majesty intended the immediate abolition of slavery. It was even very generally thought, that the king had given orders that they should be made free, but that their masters, concealing his majesty's kind intentions and resisting his commands, still kept them in bondage. To put an end to such a delusion, it had been considered expedient, that a proclamation should be framed, and accordingly one had been prepared, which was very short, so as to be easily intelligible to the persons for whom it was intended. The proclamation stated, that whereas it had been represented to his majesty in council, that the slaves of some of the West-India islands erroneously believed, that orders had been issued by his majesty for their emancipation, and that acts of insubordination had been committed in consequence, he had therefore resolved, with the advice of his privy council, to make known that no such order had been issued, and that he would regard the slave population as unworthy of his protection, if they did not act with subordination and duty towards their masters. The governors and masters had it in command to communicate this proclamation to the slaves throughout the colonies.

The noble lord next proceeded to allude to the petitions which prayed for the abolition of slavery, and the arguments by which the abolitionists supported their recommendation. The right to the slave as property, or to the offspring of the slave, it had been said, had been recognized in no legislative act of this country. To show, however, how unfounded this statement was, he would only refer to the slave-registry act, in one of the clauses of which the principle was broadly stated. As an argument for the immediate abolition of slavery, it had been said, that by abolishing this degrading condition of man, we only made a transition from servile to free labour, and that the latter was most beneficial, as well as most honourable to the negro, and most secure for the planter. Now, by what facts was this position stablished, and where were instances to be found of a transition from servile to free labour, in circumstances similar to those of our West-India colonies? Ceylon had been appealed to, where the same kind of slaves existed, and had been manumitted; but, in that island they were the minority. The republic of Colombia was another example cited, to show the policy of speedily abolishing slavery. Manumissions, it was said, had there taken place to a great extent, and a fund was provided for the purchase of the freedom of slaves. But, among other things, their lordships should bear in mind, that in Colombia, where there was a population of 3,600,000 inhabitants, there were only 900,000 slaves. In the second place they should reflect, that that country had long been the scene of civil warfare, and that the slaves had fought in the armies of either party. As early as the year 1810, the royalists had enlisted slaves, with a condition that they should be made free; the other party adopted the same course to increase their power; and thus by community of danger the black population had excited more sympathy, and obtained more advantages, than the most ingenious theories or the most commanding eloquence could have procured for them. The case of St. Domingo was the next to which he alluded. The sugar exported from that island previous to the emancipation of the slaves was enormous; but since free labour had been established, he had reason to think that she did not grow sufficient for her own consumption; and this he inferred from a proclamation that had been issued by general Boyer prohibiting the importation of sugars. Then followed the cases of Guadaloupe and the northern states of America; in the latter of which the proportion of the slaves to the free population was only as one to thirty, so that the manumission of the slaves might be resorted to without any of those apprehensions which it was but reasonable to feel, in communities where they were more numerous and formidable. The evils of the system had been felt, even in cases where humanity or policy induced the manumission of Negroes. At Philadelphia and New York, in consequence of such effects, societies had been formed, having for their object to provide receptacles for the emancipated negroes, who were too often found to be burthens to the community. God forbid that he should ever risque the opinion, that Providence had created a class of men destined to perpetual slavery! The evils were the natural effects of the system itself. In free communities, where the great proportion of mankind were obliged to labour, the example of the parent operated as an impulse on the industry of the son. No such feeling, however, operated on the slave. He had no inducement to work, because he felt that all the return of his labour was solely for the benefit of his owner. The noble earl said, that he felt, in common with every man, the miseries and the evils of such a state of things; but he was persuaded that they could only be remedied by progressive measures of amelioration, by religious instruction, and a mitigation of the evils of slavery. Such efforts to quicken the march of improvement, would only be impeded by loud and angry discussions on the subject; as they but too generally tended to create in the mind of the owner an extravagance of fright, and in the slave an insubordination, both which were in the end most pernicious to the security of the one, and to the improvement of the other. The noble earl concluded a most able speech with moving, that the papers which he had presented should be laid on the table.

Lord Holland

said, he did not rise for the purpose of discussing any of the numerous topics which the noble earl had introduced into his speech, but he wished to learn from the noble earl, whether the order in council to which he had referred, and in which so many wise and judicious provisions had been incorporated, was intended to extend to all the ceded islands, or only to Trinidad? He had not clearly understood the noble earl on that point; but it appeared to him, that many of the provisions had reference to the Spanish law only. With respect to the provisions themselves, he had not any observation to make. Every observation that he could make would be in favour of them; and he could only regret that they had not been made many years ago. As to any former opinion he had offered with respect to any part of this question, he wished to be understood as not nailed down to any such view, in the absence of the necessary information; and, above all, he begged to be considered as reserving to himself the right of discussing hereafter the intended ecclesiastical establishment. As a friend of freedom, a friend to good government, as a member of that House, and as connected with the West-India islands, he most willingly bore his testimony to the very temperate, judicious, and enlightened statement which the noble earl had that night submitted to the consideration of the House.

Earl Bathurst,

in answer to the question of the noble baron, stated, that instructions similar to those contained in the order, had been sent out to the colonies of Demerara and Berbice, and an order in council founded upon them was now in preparation. The order, with some slight alteration, adapted to the spirit of the French law, was also extended to St. Lucie.