HL Deb 03 April 1838 vol 42 cc344-5
The Marquess of Lansdowne

, seeing the noble and learned Lord (Lord Lyndhurst) in his place, would advert to a circumstance which he had refrained from noticing last night, in consequence of the absence of the noble Lord. A few nights since he had presented a petition from Dr. Pye Smith, with respect to the improvement of the condition of the negroes. At that time he was met by the declaration of a noble and learned Lord (Lord Brougham) not now present, and by the noble and learned Lord opposite, that he was in possession of a petition from Dr. Pye Smith, containing sentiments of a totally different description. From the positive statements of the noble and learned Lord opposite, he (Lord Lansdowne) had nothing to do but to acquiesce, not having any information to the contrary. He however considered it his duty to present the petition he had intrusted to him. Since that period, however, he had received a communication from Dr. Pye Smith, with respect to whom he (Lord Lansdowne) could only repeat all that had been said by the noble and learned Lord, that he was a person of very high character and of great piety. In that communication, Dr. Pye Smith stated, that the petition which he (Lord Lansdowne) had presented, was a petition of a recent date, and that it contained his (Dr. Pye Smith's) mature sentiments upon the subject of negro emancipation, and that if he had signed any other petition it must have been many months ago, and before the bill introduced by the Government was brought forward. After considerable thought upon the subject, he had come to the determination that it would be dangerous to introduce so extensive and violent a measure as the total abolition of slavery. He confessed, that, in his opinion, the bill which had been introduced into the House by her Majesty's Government, was well calculated to mitigate the horrors that had hitherto attended the slave trade. He, therefore, in common with the other persons who had signed the petition, expressed his sentiments that the measure now before the other House was calculated to be productive of the best results. He thought it due to the eminent character of the individual to whom allusion had been made, that his sentiments should be thus made known.

Lord Lyndhurst

said, that when he presented the petition to which allusion had been made, he stated, that on a former night a petition of an opposite tendency had been presented by the noble Marquess. He requested, at the same time, that the petition might be read, stating that, from what he knew of the character of the individual, when the two petitions came to be considered, one was irreconcileable with the other. He stated then that he supposed the petitions were of different dates, and that the one which he had presented, was subsequent to that presented by the noble Marquess. It turned out that these petitions were of different dates, although it turned out, contrary to his supposition, that his was of an earlier date than the other. What he had stated was mere supposition—he made no assertion, having had no communication with that distinguished and rev individual.

Subject dropped.

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