had looked over the bill, and thought it was a very proper one. He would take that opportunity of asking the noble Baron, whether he had received answers to the sixteen questions, which, on the 17th of November last, he put in a circular letter to the governors of the several colonies on important matters? He thought it was highly necessary to make provisions with a view to the coming period of the universal emancipation of the slaves. This bill related only to one point; and he wished to ask the noble Baron what measure he intended with respect to maintaining, or increasing, or diminishing, the present number of special magistrates. He was of opinion that it would not be consistent with the approaching state of things to diminish the number; on the contrary, he thought that immediately on the commencement of the period of universal freedom an additional number of magistrates should be appointed; for the state of things would not be that of absolute safety, far from it perhaps; but at all events it would be a period requiring the greatest watchfulness. There was then another point of no small 320 importance; were there to be any and what reforms or alterations in the administration of justice? There were white jurists, white grand jurists, white magistrates, and white judges, being all persons connected with the system of slavery, and more or less prejudiced in favour of the planters. He believed, among the judges, that there was but one who was not so prejudiced. There must be prejudices between white and black, for, although the distinction between master and slave might be destroyed, the other distinction could not be destroyed, it was inherent in the nature of things; and he feared that great evils might arise from it hereafter. There was another question connected with this subject, and it was one of the greatest importance. What was to be the condition of the colonial legislature hereafter? A short period would make the emancipated negroes electors, and ultimately, unless an alteration was made in the law, they would preponderate, and become also the majority of petty jurors. He did not say, that by legislation this ought to be prevented, but it was a state of things that ought to be looked forward to as one that would require legislation. He was far from thinking that the difficulties of the noble Baron were at an end; he thought they were only commencing. He could not but express his surprise that it was not until the 17th of November last year the noble Baron asked for information on points which were of the greatest importance.
§ Lord Glenelg
said, that answers to the questions put in the circular letter alluded to by the noble Baron had been received from several of the colonies. The special magistrates, would, of course, cease to be so on the expiration of the act under which they were appointed, but it was intended to continue them under another name, and some other system which would enable them with the same watchfulness to superintend the state of things. He was not quite clear that the same number of magistrates would be required, but he could give no positive opinion on that point at present. He quite agreed with the noble Baron that the persons, whose position in society would be changed, would require very vigilant watchfulness. He knew also that prejudices arising from the difference of colour would exist, and he feared that it would be some time before they would be eradicated; but he 321 did not think it would be quite fair to conclude that they would be carried to the extremity that the noble Lord suspected they would, or that better principles and feelings would not operate in the new state of society. With respect to the future administration of justice, he acknowledged that it was a very important subject; but it would become a very difficult one, if they laid it down as a problem that there would be no persons in the colonies on whom they could rely for assistance in properly carrying it into effect. He did not deny that the difficulties of the Government might not be decreased by the change in the state of society in the West Indies, but he was of opinion that there were elements of advantage in that change which would counterbalance any new difficulties that might arise.
said, the noble Baron looked to apprenticeship terminating in 1840; but the time had come earlier, and from all the accounts which had been rece ved, the negroes would within a fortnight be free. There, therefore, could not safely be any delay in taking the necessary legislative steps.
said, this subject was one of great delicacy and of much difficulty, and it was impossible that they could discuss the measures which might be proposed till some communication was made to the House by the Government. It would be time enough to discuss the policy of those measures when they were regularly before the House.
§ Bill read a second time.