after expressing his sense of disadvantage in following the two noble lords who had just sat down, and who had rendered an interesting subject near home doubly interesting by their powers of eloquence, said, he felt it was now his duty to direct their lordships' attention to grievances, not, perhaps, of a less interesting nature, in a more remote region. Since he had first declared his hope that the motion which he was about to submit would meet with their lordships' unanimous approbation, nothing had occurred to diminish his confidence. It was an abstract proposition, unconnected with any matter upon which difference of opinion 249 was known to prevail; emancipation itself would neither be protracted nor accelerated by the result of his motion; and, although a difference of opinion might exist upon the fittest time for carrying that measure into effect, he was happy to say he believed no man in the country, certainly no one in that House—no, not even the noble lord who was the most able and ready advocate for slavery, or rather the most ready and able apologist of the West-Indian system, was prepared to deny that slavery ought to cease throughout the British dominions.—Here lord Suffield took occasion to repel the accusation against the abolitionists of a desire for precipitancy. He was personally acquainted with many of those best known to the public as advocates for emancipation: he had attended many of their private conferences, and it was remarkable that he had, in no one instance, heard a wish expressed for sudden or convulsive emancipation, nor had he heard one scheme devised for its attainment, by any means that were not cautious and gradual. Next, as he had complained of one accusation, and as very recent allusion had been made to the matter of compensation to the colonies in the event of emancipation, he could not forbear expressing his own sentiments on that subject. The abolitionists had been accused of disinclination to compensate slave-owners for their losses: he denied that charge, on his own behalf and on the behalf of the country, if a clear case of damnification could be made out. But the call for compensation seemed to him to come from the wrong quarter: the mother country had, it was calculated, during a period of thirty years, added 150 millions to her debt in support of the colonies; 50,000 British subjects had, during the same space of time, been sacrificed to the climate, and three millions of money were now annually paid to continue the system of slavery! Surely the mother country should be indemnified for this vast exhaustion of blood and treasure; but it appears in the mean time, that the colonists have become impoverished and not enriched—they have found it unprofitable; they do find it so, and ever will find it unprofitable, as it seems by the ordination of Providence. Then he was quite sure that the people of England would rather pay six millions annually for the discontinuance, than three millions for the continuance, of slavery. Thus compensation, however unreasonable in principle, would readily 250 be granted. One point more on the general subject, and he would proceed with his motion. Some indignation in that House had been exhibited at the assertion that slavery was incompatible with Christianity, and this assertion was fathered on the abolitionists; now, although conscientiously thinking as he did, that, the principles of the Christian religion were adverse to slavery, the assertion alluded to, he believed, might be traced to a different source from that contemplated, perhaps, by the noble earl opposite; namely, to the West Indians themselves, not to the abolitionists. In 1808, the Royal Gazette promulgated this doctrine:—"He that chooses to make slaves Christians, let him give them their liberty. What will be the consequence when to that class of men is given the title of beloved brethren, which actually is done. Assembling negroes in places of worship gives a momentary feeling of independance both of thinking and acting, and by frequent meetings of this kind a spirit of remark is generated; neither of which are sensations at all proper to be excited in the minds of slaves." Again, in 1823, says the government paper, "To address a promiscuous audience of black or colonial people, bond and free, by the endearing appellation of my brethren and sisters, is what can no where be heard except in Providence chapel." Such are the sentiments of the colonists, as given in their own newspapers, if correctly quoted in the House of Commons in the course of a debate on the trial and condemnation of the missionary Smith.
He begged pardon for this digression; but, as he had not before addressed the House on this subject, he could not resist the opportunity of expressing his own sentiments on the two or three points now adverted to, and of disclaiming for himself and his friends, first, the alleged desire for precipitancy; secondly, the denial of compensation if shewn to be just or requisite; thirdly, the originality of the notion that slavery and Christianity are incompatible. —Now, said the noble lord, to the subject of my motion without further digression or preface:—He did not strive on the present occasion to convey to the slaves civil rights; his object was, to prevent criminal wrongs, in the words of Mr. Dewarris, who expressed the same ideas so exactly, that he should beg to read an extract to the House from his report now upon the table. "Lastly," says Mr. Commissioner Dewarris, "to all arguments 251 drawn from the evils of the system and strangely applied in favour of its continuance, because slavery is a great or a necessary, it ought not therefore to be an unmitigated evil; it ought, as it appears to me to be softened, precisely because it is contended it cannot with safety and justice be destroyed." The attempt to convey civil rights to slaves would be absurd; the attempt entirely to secure persons in a state of slavery from criminal wrongs would perhaps be impracticable; but it will be something if we oppose some check to that mockery of justice—that pretence for legal oppression and violence, of which this fallen race have at present to complain.
All who have ever written or spoke in public on the subject of slavery, all who have directed their thoughts to it, lord S. said, he believed, agreed in the opinion that the evils of the system were by no means confined to the individuals who were slaves: those degraded and unfortunate beings only shared the bad effects of slavery with their masters, and with all who were in any degree connected with the system. Its baneful influence extended itself over all classes of society within its sphere; and he was confident that he could shew, from papers on the table, that no persons resident in the slave colonies, and connected with the administration of the laws, were exempt from the contagion. He would begin with the colonial legislature—their blind and ill-advised resistance to the wishes and recommendation of his majesty's ministers; secondly, he would prove the apathy of the colonists relative to recorded cases of cruelty; thirdly, he would shew something very like misrepresentation, at all events gross inconsistency, on the part of a commissioner appointed to inquire into and report upon the civil and criminal jurisdiction of the West Indies. The more unintentional the misrepresentation the better for his argument. If he could shew impolitic conduct on the part of the legislature; apathy, injustice, and partiality on the part of those who had to administer the laws; and unintentional misrepresentation on the part of the commissioners, all these persons being men of undisputed integrity and honour, his case was made out beyond a question. What better proof could be afforded that persons being owners of slaves are not fit for the high offices which they hold? But if still a doubt could exist, he would lastly quote the opinion of some of the colonists them- 252 selves, high in authority, who had favoured us with their sentiments on the subject, in direct concurrence with the object which was to be accomplished by the motion which he had that day to offer to their lordships.—The first reference he would make to the papers in their lordships' hands was relative to the blind resistance made by the colonial legislatures to the recommendations of his majesty's government. The party known to the country by the name of abolitionists, the country itself, and the ministers, all united in desiring an improvement in the condition of the slaves to be the work of the colonists themselves. No one here wanted to have the credit of accomplishing such improvement. All wished the slaves to feel indebted to their masters for any benefits they might receive. Accordingly, a recommendation is made of certain measures for the adoption of the colonists. Now let us see what has been the consequence. He would read an extract from a despatch, signed by the noble earl opposite (lord Bathurst), respecting Jamaica. He selected the observation on Jamaica especially; first, because it appeared on the very face of the correspondence printed and on the table; secondly, because Jamaica was a principal colony; and lastly, because Jamaica had ready and able defenders in that House upon all occasions when it was, and often when it was not, attacked.
Lord Bathurst says, "Jamaica has always been considered as the colony which was most likely to take the lead in every measure which was calculated to improve the state of society in the West-India colonies, and it is a great mortification to those who looked with confidence to the support of that legislature that there is not any one West-India colony that has not done more than Jamaica, or has not made the example of Jamaica their apology for doing so little."—And now let us see what the duke of Manchester thinks of the house of assembly—resident as he has been for some time in the island, and competent therefore, it is to be presumed, to form a pretty correct notion of the sentiments of its inhabitants. "I am afraid," says the duke of Manchester in one of his despatches, "after so many repeated trials, that there is no hope of persuading the present house of assembly to do any thing effectual for the relief of the slave.—I have exhausted all the means in my power to lead them to a proper way 253 of thinking." Can any thing more clearly shew the prejudice which prevails against all improvement?
But he would now proceed to examine a summary which he had made with great care, of all that each of the colonies had done in compliance with the wishes of our government at home. It appears that Sunday labour is prohibited by only one of the West-India legislatures; namely Dominica. That evidence of slaves is really admitted in two only—Grenada and Tobago. There being exceptions to the admission provided in St. Vincent's and Dominica which nullify it; even in Grenada and Tobago the admission is under such qualifications as to render it almost valueless. That the legalization of marriages has taken place in only two—the Bahamas and St. Vincent's. That right of slaves to property is enacted in four only—not admitting Jamaica to be one of the four, although it is there professed—legacies being irrecoverable by suit.—It is enacted in Grenada, Tobago, St. Vincent's, and Dominica. The power to purchase manumission—enacted nowhere. Non-separation of families enacted in two only—the Bahamas and Grenada. Abolition of driving whip—enacted no where except as used by slaves.—Of flogging females no where except as to the publicity of the flogging.
Having now, said lord S. afforded your lordships a fair specimen of the disposition of the colonies to comply with the recommendations of this government, I will proceed to examine the report of the fiscal of Demerara. The record of complaints includes only the short period of three months. It appears that cognizance was taken of twenty-five complaints in that time—seventeen of slaves against their masters, six of masters against their slaves, two of slaves against each other.—Of the seventeen slaves complaining against their masters, twelve were punished for complaining, two were restored to their masters, liable of course to similar punishment, and sure to receive it for the same reason—and two of the complaints were redressed, one by the dismissal of the manager, and one by fine, which appears not to have been paid—the remaining complaint seems to have been simply disallowed—Now it happens that of the six complaints of masters against slaves not one remains unredressed—four by flogging and two by imprisonment. The two other complaints, making up the 254 number twenty-five, are of slaves against each other.
Having no account of the nature of some of the charges, or the grounds upon which the decisions have taken place, little more can be gathered from this document than inference from the contrast between the redress afforded to slaves complaining against their masters, and the redress afforded masters of complaints against their slaves; but surely, my lords, the partiality of the fiscal is here made sufficiently apparent. Lord S. then proceeded in reference to the record from the fiscal of Berbice which he prefaced by observing, I now come to the shocking papers of Berbice; and, whoever desires to be made acquainted with the condition of slaves in the West Indies, would do well to examine this record with care—here may be seen a picture of slavery, not perhaps in its worst form, because it is notorious that, where slaves are worst treated, in the greater ratio does population diminish, whereas in this colony no such diminution takes place; then again, it is to be remembered, that the record regards only 23,000 persons out of a West-Indian-slave population of 800,000; and lastly, it relates only to the short period of about four years. The first case his lordship would cite, would be found in page 39 of the Berbice Report. Four women complain that they are not allowed time to suckle their children. Two of them were flogged for the enormous crime of suckling their offspring, and their statement was corroborated by the fact recorded by the fiscal that their coats were stained with blood.
The second case, page 39, is that of a woman who was flogged because she was unsaleable. She was sent out by her master to find a purchaser, and because a customer could not be found, on her return home she was flogged. The third and fourth cases, page 56 and 57, are of women reported to have been flogged, and to have miscarried in consequence, being pregnant at the time of the flogging. One of these cases especially having been already noticed in public, and remarked upon as being attended with peculiar circumstances of atrocity, has excited a strong sensation in the West Indies, and has been adverted to and argued; and, so far as it could be, combated by those who had the means of ascertaining the facts. It therefore deserves your lordships' particular attention. It is proved in all its 255 ferocity of perpetration by seven witnesses, the only part of the statement made on behalf of the unhappy female disputed is, a part of the consequences ensuing from the punishment—not the miscarriage, that remains uncontradicted, but the effect of the flogging upon the unborn child, and this is disputed on medical authority. What then remains an undeniable fact,—that a woman, big with child, was ordered to do work that she was unable to execute—the driver was ordered to flog her for laziness—he, a man pretty much habituated, it may be supposed, to severity,—even he remonstrated, saying, "she is rather big with child"—the word "rather" was omitted, my lords, in a former representation of this case, and the omission was made the ground of solemn complaint. He (lord S.) trusted therefore it would now be remembered that the driver said the woman was "rather" big with child. What was the reply?—"Flog her till the blood flies out!" She was ordered the next day to work; she complained of being ill, and the day following she miscarried! Now then, how stands the case? Admitting the consequences so far as regarded the unborn child to be misrepresented, and admitting the very important qualification as to the degree of pregnancy, the case, my lords, shrinks into a mere act of ferocious brutal outrage and infanticide!
The fifth case, page 86, is of another woman who miscarried in consequence of ill usage, and she complains also of the harsh treatment of her child, who exhibits marks of flogging. The sixth case, page 63, is that of Brutus, who is flogged because he would not consent to the violation of his daughter! A rape, however, is committed, and proved against the manager by a host of witnesses, who declare that they were posted as watchmen at the door while the crime was perpetrated; and, would your lordships believe it—the omission of this proof, the horrible fact that persons were posted as watchmen, is impudently charged upon those who made allusion to this case also on a former occasion in public, as a culpable suppression of evidence which would have overturned the case! Upon this, and upon all the cases hitherto cited, no decision of the fiscal is recorded; but, as an introduction to a few of those cases upon which there has been a decision, his lordship said he would next advert to one connected with the last mentioned in 256 some degree, which it seemed the fiscal had expressed an opinion upon. It would be found in page 137. It was the case of a negro, Michael, who had been punished on suspicion of a robbery. Goods very similar to those stolen were afterwards found on the person of another individual; Michael protests his innocence, and complains to the manager of his unjust flogging—the manager tells him to hold his tongue, or he shall be put in the stocks; he then complains to the master (and, be it observed, this is the same master who owned Brutus, the same plantation, and, for aught we know to the contrary, the same profligate manager) the master says the unjust flogging was not his fault, it was the manager's; he finally complains to the fiscal for redress, and here of course obtains it; then what is the redress? The manager is reprimanded for punishing a slave on such slight suspicion, and Michael gets no redress, because his innocence is not proved. In England happily it is necessary to prove guilt—innocence is presumed; but in the West Indies the rules of justice seemed to be reversed. It is to be lamented that we have no information relative to the decisions of the fiscal in any of the cases cited, except the last; but luckily we find some other cases on which decision has been recorded, and from the nature of them we may form some conjecture of the weight of punishment inflicted upon the monsters whose crimes have been represented in the papers before us: first, here is a case (page 124) a complaint of fifteen slaves against their master, who has treated them with the greatest cruelty—forced them to work on Sundays, and robbed them of their ducks, fowls, &c. all this is proved before the fiscal—and what is his decision? awful instance of retributive justice. The master is absolutely required to make restitution of the stolen property, or its value; and, as a terrific example to all other masters of slaves, he is threatened that, upon a repetition of his offence, he shall be criminally prosecuted. The second decided case is in page 92. Mark, a negro, is proved to have been illegally flogged. What is the consequence? The manager is reproved for three successive floggings! The third case decided upon is in page 131. Felix complains of the debauched conduct of the manager generally, and especially with respect to his own wife. The case is inquired into by the fiscal, and it appeared that Felix had not completed his 257 task when he came to complain. The case is proved against the manager, who, the fiscal remarks, had evidently taken improper liberties with the woman on the estate —and what is the consequence? Your lordships, I am sure, could not believe it if it were not on record in this official document. Felix, my lords—Felix, not the adulterous manager, but Felix, the complainant, is ordered to be flogged, and the manager is reprimanded! The fourth case was one in page 100. Lambert, a sick negro, could obtain no medicine, was forced to work night and day, complains: nothing appears in contradiction of his testimony, and he his flogged—why, we do not know; but here is the decision. Again, page 93, fifth case. Michael, an old man, complains of over work, and it is decided that he shall receive 75 lashes. Sixth and lastly, page 137. Ness is ordered to work on Sundays. He does not insolently refuse, but complains to the constituted authority. He is, for so doing, punished by the fiscal, not because his tale is untrue, for it appears that, although Ness is flogged, the manager is warned by the fiscal of the illegality of working slaves on a Sunday.
From these six decided cases we may draw something like a reasonable inference of the mode in which those other cases were decided, of which we have no information as to the result. In England, when men of education and of superior rank in life are proved to have violated the law, they usually hear from the judge who tries them, that they deserve, from having superior knowledge of their duty, the more signal punishment; and it is notorious that they generally received it: but in the West Indies, as it has been before observed, the rules of justice and equity are directly reversed.—His lordship then proceeded to point out the inconsistencies, amounting, as he thought, to misrepresentation on the part of Mr. Commissioner Dewarris, employed by his majesty's ministers to inquire into and report upon the civil and criminal jurisdiction in the West Indies. In pages 14 and 15, said his lordship, the commissioner tells us, that cruel masters were certainly heard of sometimes; he believes he heard of three such instances in twelve islands! He says, "the poor slave left to himself is generally contented and happy"—"A little more time and a little less work form the narrow boundary of his wants and wishes"—"He is in the enjoyment of do- 258 mestic comfort, capable of acquiring comparative wealth, and wearing an air of independence, quite inexplicable to those who have never had an opportunity of observing how manners and opinion can control laws." He then speaks of the paucity of crimes and the absence of want. Now really, lord S. observed, I did not expect to find in page 62, of the same report, that "in this island," speaking of Barbadoes, "slaves are without legal protection or redress for personal injuries." Murder is a capital crime, but "there is no other legislative provision to restrain the absolute power of the master over the slave, or of inflicting punishment upon the owners or others, in case of mutilation, dismemberment, or cruel treatment."—Here, said lord S., is a condition in which men may be happy and contented. Mr. Dewarris adds, "A slave who is or thinks himself aggrieved, looks in vain in this island for a proper quarter in which to prefer his complaint.—He can no where be received!" The commissioner surely could not mean the slaves were contented and happy in Barbadoes! Did he mean in Grenada? he particularly speaks in page 16 of the high reputation of Grenada for the humanity of her laws; then in page 66 he tells us that slave evidence cannot be received, and, in defect of it, a sheepstealer avoided prosecution; and, to prove the humanity of the Grenada laws more particularly, he tells us, in page 95, that harbourers of felons are to suffer death; in page 96, that any slaves personally insulting so as in any measure contemptuously treating any white or free person, shall be punished for every such offence at the discretion of any one justice of the peace, not to extend to life or limb. Then the happy condition of the slave could hardly have been contemplated in Grenada, and the humanity of her laws is not distinctly made out to us by the instances now mentioned. But where is the happy and independent looking slave? is he in St. Vincent's? there the commissioner tells us in page 66, "that there was a very affecting case, in which the dying declaration of a black woman, a slave murdered under very peculiar circumstances, was, in consequence of the exclusion of slave evidence, rejected, and an acquittal rendered necessary." "A little more time and a little less work form the narrow boundary of the slaves' wants and wishes," and "he wears an air of independence quite inexplicable to those 259 who have never had an opportunity of observing how manners and opinion can control laws."
Now, my lords, said lord S., although we occasionally have such opportunities in this country, this statement of Mr. Dewarris, if correct, would still appear, I think, to most of us a little inexplicable, as he says; but if inexplicable in Barbadoes, which he could not mean us to contemplate, where does he represent the happiness and flourishing condition of the slave; if he did not mean Grenada, nor St. Vincent's, did he mean to refer us to Tobago?—here perhaps we who do know how manners and opinion can control laws, shall find the case quite satisfactorily explained; in page 89 Mr. Dewarris gives us the evidence of the provost marshal, I think, who states, "a manager to Windward sent all the overseers, all white and free persons, out of the way—he then gave a negro 150 lashes." The negro was brought, in a state of which he might have died (how very cautiously worded is this by the worthy provost marshal), "in a state of which he might have died, to us the sitting magistrates. We had no means of proving it—and upon this, proposed a bill, either to admit slave evidence, or to make the accused purge himself on oath. The bill was not approved.—It is a very common thing, adds the justice of peace, when they wish to be cruel, to send all the free people out of the way—I have known many such cases." Still, be it remembered, the commissioner of inquiry tells us, although he heard this testimony, and furnishes us with it, that he only heard of three cases of cruelty in twelve islands. Really this is quite inexplicable. Then, as to paucity of crimes spoken of in page 16, we have to oppose the testimony of the senior justice of peace in Tobago, that he has had 2,500 complaints before him, breaches of the peace and misdemeanours, in something more than a twelvemonth! I will, said lord S., trouble your lordships with no more of these glaring inconsistencies. I am confident that Mr. Dewarris did not mean to mislead or to deceive; and, if he did not, how much must slave-ownership have obscured his faculties! I think, my lords, I have conclusively now made out the blind and ill-advised resistance of the colonial legislatures, the apathy and the partiality of those who administer the laws; and, lastly, the inconsistency of the commissioner of inquiry. I have now 260 only to refer, for confirmation of my own opinion, to that expressed by some persons high in authority in the colonies, and quoted in Mr. Dewarris's report. It does not distinctly appear in page 17, whether an attorney-general, or Mr. Dewarris himself, speaks of the Guardian Act, when he says "the magistrates in the one case, and the guardians in the other, are themselves owners of estates and slaves, who would resist the intrusion of a stranger upon their own grounds, and therefore will not set an example of interference with the property of others," page 18. The fault, in these cases, it appears to me, is not in the law or the lawgiver, still less is there any mala fides, any deliberate fraud and designed evasion. What is wanting, I conceive, is a due administration—which can only be by indifferent persons; and this conclusion I apprehend will be fully established, and the principles upon which it depends developed clearly, as the report proceeds. In page 98, his excellency the governor of Grenada observes, "there are no persons to be found to fill the situation of guardian, such as must have been contemplated by the act, who are, as they ought to be, independent. They are chiefly overseers and managers. Can they be expected to say that the clothing or food furnished by their employers is insufficient; or, if they do, may they not be afraid of the charge being retaliated on estates under their management?"
After the citation of these opinions, I feel, said lord S. that it would be an unwarrantable waste of your lordships' time if I were to add another argument in support of the motion which I am about to submit. It is not in our power to do much for the unhappy people whose cause I advocate, but I trust I shall have your lordships' aid in doing the little that we can. Before I sit down, however, I cannot forbear remarking, how sensible I am of the consequences entailed on every one who steps forward to ameliorate in any, even the smallest, degree, the condition of the unfortunate slave. In the front rank of these consequences I foresee the sarcastic complaints of the noble lord opposite to me (lord Dudley), but by him I am sure nothing will be offered which it would be unbecoming in a gentleman to offer, or in a gentleman patiently to receive. From another quarter I am aware that the grossest abuse is to be expected; but, my lords, so long as I draw breath, I will 261 do the best in my power to excite that public feeling through the means of which extinction of slavery is to be accomplished. I wish not to excite clamour, but resolution of purpose. To those whose efforts to suppress feeling on this subject are notorious, I shall make no further allusion than to say, in contemplating the consequences of my efforts this day, they are the last and least in my consideration. I now move, "That an address be presented to his majesty, praying that in future he will be pleased to appoint to the officers of governor, chief justice, attorney-general, fiscal, guardian, and religious instructor, in the West Indies, only such persons as are not owners of, and have no reversionary or other interest in, slaves."
§ Earl Bathurst
said, that the noble lord who had proposed this address, had accurately described the difficulty which government had met with in endeavouring to carry into effect the wishes of parliament. He was of opinion, that the amelioration in the condition of the slaves should be effected rather by the act of the colonial legislature, than by the interference of this government; but he did not see how that could bear on the present question; at least, how it could bear favourably to the noble lord, since surely he would not endeavour to exclude slave-owners from the colonial legislature. The noble lord had mentioned the several cases which had been decided in favour of the masters instead of the slaves. Surely the noble lord should have made some allowance on account of the difficulties of the situation of the fiscal. In the colony of Demerara, the fiscal had encountered the greatest difficulties, on account of the opinions of the slaves; and before he could make any impression on them, he was compelled to undeceive them as to what was intended by this country; for they actually imagined that the parliament had resolved to set them free. It appeared from the noble lord's statement, that the commissioners employed by government were possessed of some property in slaves. Now, all that he could say was, that when he concurred in the appointment of that gentleman, he was not aware of the circumstance, or he certainly should not have thought a slave-owner the most proper person to appoint to such an office. He owned he was rather surprised at the charge of inconsistency made against that gentleman; 262 who, though he had admitted that the laws were severe, had considered, that as many of those laws were obsolete, the slaves could better trust to the good habits of their masters, knowing that from those habits they would receive a better protection than the laws would afford. As for the instances of cruelty, he might appeal to any noble lord, whether in former times cruelties, just as horrible, had not been committed in this country by masters against their apprentices? He admitted the excellence of the principle urged by the noble lord in his motion; but he doubted the possibility of carrying it into execution, at least with respect to more than one or two of the chief officers of the Colonial government. The other officers would not find a sufficient equivalent in the emoluments of their offices, to undertake them without being possessed of any interest in the colony. He should be sorry to oppose the resolution, because he agreed with it in principle; but, as he feared it would be impossible to carry it into execution, he should move the order of the day.
was astonished that the noble earl should admit the principles on which he proposed to act, and yet decline to carry any portion of them into execution.
said, he would have been better pleased if the noble earl had given a direct negative to this motion. He thought there was no reason whatever for passing this resolution; but that, on the contrary, it would be productive of the most mischievous effects. He was convinced that, if any thing was done, it must be by the silent operation of the expressed opinion of this government, and by the example which they set in the treatment of the slaves in the colonies more immediately under their control. He thought this resolution would destroy the operation of that opinion. As to our legislating for the colonies, of this he was convinced, that ministers dare not submit such a proposition—that parliament would not adopt it; and if it did adopt it, that the people would not second it—nor could it, if it were carried, be executed without danger to the colonies, and without incurring the risk of sacrificing the slaves themselves. He thought that in this matter there could be nothing better than the example of good treatment to the slaves by those immediately under the control of the government. He re- 263 gretted much that, in the treatment of this question, the word emancipation had been made such frequent use of. Certain he was, that it should never have been used at all. The consequence was, that the amelioration of the condition of the slaves was thereby rendered a matter of far greater difficulty. Let their general condition be first improved, let them be rendered capable of appreciating the blessings of freedom, and let them then be emancipated. With these views of the question, he repeated his regret, that the motion had not been met by a decided negative.
supported the motion. While public functionaries in the colonies were, he said, permitted to be the owners of slaves, or to have a reversionary interest in that species of property, it must necessarily produce a conflict of duties, and operate injuriously to the slave population.
Viscount Dudley and Ward
deprecated the sort of imputation which had been thrown out against himself, of having on former occasions expressed himself with some degree of satirical warmth of those who were most earnest in their applications for the immediate abolition of negro slavery. He begged to assure the noble mover, that no man was more disinclined than himself to indulge in the language of sarcasm upon any measures submitted for the consideration of their lordships. On the present occasion, however, he must be allowed to declare that he could not, by any means, concur in the inferences which the noble lord opposite appeared disposed to draw from the long string of cases which had been quoted by him. Many of those cases were already well known, and had been much discussed and commented upon; especially in a very able pamphlet, which had been recently put forth by a society, of which the noble lord was himself a member. Still he felt himself much obliged to the noble lord for the moderation displayed in his speech; seeing that he had not gone quite so far as some others; for, while it was suggested, in the publication which he had just adverted to, that the planters and proprietors of slaves in our West-India islands should not be eligible to the magistracy, and other offices in the colonies, another writer had gone the length of proposing, that the legislature should declare those who were guilty of the crime of possessing plantations in the West Indies, cultivated 264 by slave labour, incapable of sitting in parliament. While he confessed himself obliged by the noble lord's omitting to put to the House any proposition, of so unreasonable an extent, he was not at all convinced that that noble lord had made out a case for the motion he had submitted to their lordships. He therefore felt himself compelled to give his vote against it.
Lord St. Vincent,
as being better acquainted with the present condition of affairs in Jamaica than in any other of the islands, thought the present a favourable opportunity for saying a few words on the subject of the payment of ecclesiastical functionaries in that island. He had great pleasure in stating, that from the moment of the arrival of the bishop of Jamaica on his diocese, there was a general manifestation, among all ranks of the community, of a solicitude to put the whole of the clerical appointments upon the best and most liberal footing. The salaries of the rectors were voluntarily raised, and the stipends of the curates increased in proportion; while the vestries of the parishes were relieved from some obligations relative to certificates, which had formerly been found of much inconvenience. In short, every thing had been done which was best calculated to further the important objects of the bishop's appointment. The noble mover seemed to labour under some misapprehension with respect to an act, which he understood the noble lord to speak of, as having been passed; namely, a compulsory measure upon the owners of West-Indian estates to enfranchise any of their slaves who might offer their estimated value as the price of their enfranchisement. He was not aware of the existence of any such act; but this he knew, that, so far as he was interested in slave property, he should always be very happy, under such circumstances, to give the slave his enfranchisement, the very next moment after he had presented himself to ask for it. But, in the mean time, he thought it would be exceeding impolitic to pass any compulsory enactments upon this subject; because, the first suggestions of compulsion must put an end to all voluntary acts of this nature on the part of those with whom it lay to perform them. For these reasons he should give his vote against the motion of the noble lord.
§ The motion was then withdrawn.