§ The Duke of Wellington
presented petitions from Fortrose, and Ross, for the Abolition of Slavery, but with due regard to the honour and interests of all parties concerned. He concurrred in the view expressed in these petitions, rather than in that expressed in the petitions presented by the noble Baron. It was more consistent with the Resolutions of Parliament for the protection of property. He deprecated these premature discussions, they had inflicted great injury and ruin upon all persons connected with the West Indies. He had at a great public ceremony that morning met no less than six officers, who had been nearly ruined by the agitation, the greater part of whom had no slaves. There were many men 1340 who had vested their property in the West Indies, who, though they never had a slave themselves, were completely ruined. He did not wish to enter into the subject, but he could not avoid taking notice of the matter; for he saw that the Ministers had rushed into the subject surrounded with difficulties. They had brought it forward prematurely, and had incurred a responsibility, both moral and political, greater than had ever been incurred by any Ministers within his recollection. With respect to the proposition recently made in the other House, it ought never to be forgotten that the Resolutions of 1822, and the right hon. Gentleman who moved those Resolutions, stated that to effect any good for the slaves, it was indispensable to have the assistance of the colonists and of the colonial assemblies.
said, that the majority of those from whom he had presented petitions, did not recognise the right of one man to hold property in other men, and therefore they would not consent to compensation, which might imply such a right. At the same time they were ready to give relief to those planters, whose property might be destroyed by immediate abolition. The noble Duke had not attended the Committee which sat last Session; if the noble Duke had, he was assured that the noble Duke would have formed a very different opinion from that which he now entertained. That the measure proposed by his Majesty's Ministers was premature he denied, because there was not one person connected with the West Indies, who did not admit that it was impossible that things could remain as at present.
§ The Duke of Wellington
begged leave to explain to their Lordships why he had not attended the Committee. He had the misfortune not to hear on one side. He found it, therefore, very difficult to make out what went on in such a Committee, and therefore he thought that he might spend his time more advantageously than in attending it. There was another Committee, which he had not attended, though he took considerable interest in the subject for the same reason—the Committee which sat to inquire into tithes. What he had meant to say on the subject of the slaves, was that emancipation would put an end to the means of making them work, and so 1341 injure the property of the planter. With respect to not being friendly to the abolition, he wished to say that he had done more in the way of negotiation, written more notes, and entered into more treaties on the subject of the abolition of the slave trade, and of putting an end to slavery than any man living. A noble friend of his had perhaps done more than he had, but except that noble friend he had done more than any other man to promote the abolition. Nobody had gone further or more strenuously wished to effect that object than he had.
, in presenting another petition on the same subject from the Methodists of the new connection of Boston, Leicestershire, entered into further explanations, and contended that nothing whatever had been done by the colonists to promote the emancipation of the slaves, or to comply with the expressed wishes of the people of England.
§ Lord Wynford
said, that much had been done by the colonists; and had the noble Lord been present on a former occasion, he would have heard the Primate explain a great number of measures which had been adopted to relieve the slaves, and prepare them for free labour. Certainly he thought that to put an end to apprehension altogether on their part, would put an end to labour, and would destroy the West-India interest. It would be equally injurious to the masters and slaves, and would inflict irreparable injury on our commerce, as well as endanger the credit of the country. When it was said that these petitioners could not recognise the principles of men having the property of men, let him tell them that the Apostles had recognised slavery, and he presumed that they did not pretend to be better Christians than the Apostles. That principle had in truth been recognised from the earliest ages. At the same time he was anxious to get rid of that species of property as soon as possible. He was glad to hear that the petitioners were ready to give compensation [Lord Suffield said, not compensation but relief]—he did not know the difference, but he hoped these petitioners had calculated the amount which would be required to give relief, if they destroyed the property of the planters, for he doubted whether they would be ready and willing to supply the sum which would be required.
knew the Archbishop of 1342 Canterbury well enough to be aware that he was incapable of stating that which he did not strictly believe to be true; but still he would assert that the assertions of the reverend Prelate were in themselves false, when he stated the number of converts made amongst the negroes by the clergy of the Established Church. The fact was, that the converts were made by the dissenting clergy, and by them alone. The Church of England was certainly popular in our West-India colonies, because they meddled less than the dissenters. If this were otherwise, how would the noble Lord attempt to account for the recent destruction of the Methodist chapels in Jamaica?
The Marquess of Bute
could not sit quietly by, and hear such an attack made upon the Established Church of this country. He thought it a most uncalled-for attack on the part of the noble Lord; an attack, indeed, which never would have been made if the noble Earl had heard the report of the religious society on education, and the improvement of the condition of the negroes, which was altogether supported by members of the Church of England.
The Earl of Haddington
said, his noble friend opposite had not only attacked the Established Church, but assumed the fact, that its members were valued, because they did nothing. He sincerely hoped, that some noble Lord, better acquainted with the subject, would enter upon a proper defence of the Established Church against so serious, and, he would add, so unfounded a charge.
denied, that he had cast any general imputation upon the Church, but he would refer to the case of the rev. Mr. Brydges, Chaplain to the Governor, who had been convicted of having improperly Hogged his female slaves.