The Marquess of Normanby
1030 having presented to the House copies of all Acts of the Jamaica Legislature which had expired in October last, proceeded to move the second reading of the Jamaica Bill. He said, that during the short time that he had had the honour of holding a seat in their Lordships' House, he had frequently-felt, when called upon to address them, the peculiar disadvantages under which he laboured in having been so long a period—almost all the time that he had been a Member of that House—absent abroad in the discharge of other public duties besides those which he would have been called upon to perform as a Peer, in his place, in Parliament. This circumstance had created difficulties which had proved exceedingly embarrassing on his being called upon to press any measure upon their Lordships' attention; but his necessary absence had produced effects equally troublesome, in consequence of his labouring under the want of that information which alone would be obtained by listening to the discussions which took place in their Lordships' House. It so happened, that he had never been present in that House at any previous discussion of that description; but, at the same time he might claim for himself some countervailing advantage. He meant in his possessing some local experience of the island, the circumstances of which were now under discussion, and in his having had some opportunity of studying the negro character, and of examining the state of society there, and it was from that experience that he was now induced, with the earnestness of conviction, to endeavour to impress upon their Lordships the importance of the decision to which they were this night to come. His opinion had been confirmed by intelligence which he had received this morning, for he found that the bill which had been before their Lordships, but was now no longer in agitation had been received in the island of Jamaica, by all the popular party, by all the newly-emancipated negroes, as the greatest possible boon that could be conferred upon them. It was viewed by them as giving them the security of protection until they should be able to protect themselves; and he most sincerely apprehended, that if their Lordships now rejected this measure or mutilated its provisions, to which the negro looked as the ground-work on which impartial protection would be afforded to him, the impression of his mind would be that all parliamentary protection was withdrawn from him. It was his duty to endeavour, so far as he 1031 was able, to do away with that impression, but he very much feared, from all the information he had received, that it would still remain if their Lordships' decision should not be such as the negro should desire. Their Lordships were told the other night, that the kindly feelings which existed between the newly-emancipated population, and the House of Assembly ought not to be interrupted by the adoption of this measure; but although false views of the state of society might be urged for the sake of the influence they might gain there, he should not be candid if he did not say that those kindly feelings did never exist. He sincerely trusted the change that had recently taken place would amalgamate all classes, and that the House of Assembly and the free population would forget past differences and by-gone distinctions; but that event was only to be attained by a complete change in the conduct of the House of Assembly, and by such a course being pursued as had not been adopted since the Emancipation Act. Their Lordships had had the advantage of hearing, at their bar, the agent of that colony; they, therefore, had before them all that the greatest talent and experience, and certainly the most earnest zeal could urge on behalf of the Assembly of Jamaica against the bill. A considerable number of their Lordships had listened to the address which had been made to them, and had gave to it earnest attention. He regretted that much of their Lordships' time had been consumed on that occcasion by considerations with which they had nothing to do with the present question. They had been informed of a former quarrel with Governor Littleton and the House of Assembly—they had heard of the resistance to the examination of General Carmichael before a Committee of that House, and a trivial mistake made by his noble successor in the Government, and their Lordships were told of the rights of the House of Assembly and of the reparation to which they were entitled. Why, were there ever two things more unlike? That was the case of a difference between two local conflicting authorities, but was it an instance in point? Was it to be alleged that the United Parliament of England was to make such reparations to the House of Assembly? Were they to say, "you are right and we are wrong, we acknowledge our error, and we hope you will resume your duty?" The learned counsel was also pleased to state, that this measure must have origi- 1032 nated in a general wish and desire, for change. He sincerely hoped that every thing in the island of Jamaica would be changed, for if things remained as they were, Jamaica would not be what it was the wish of the British Parliament and of the British people it should be. He considered that the change proposed to be made was the safest, the best, and the most praiseworthy change of all that had been effected in this age of progressive amelioration. They had been told of the respect that ought to be paid to the established institutions there. Why, could they forget that slavery was an established institution?—that it was a plague spot on every other institution, and that wherever it touched it left its contaminating influence? Every institution there should be examined and changed to get rid of that plague spot, and of that contamination. The learned gentleman had thrown a considerable portion of blame on her Majesty's Government, and had employed much vituperation as to the course which it had pursued, both before and after this measure had been proposed. He had, however, passed over but lightly another culprit—he had evaded remarking upon the part which that other culprit had sustained in this transaction. It was in the presence of that culprit that he now stood. It was their Lordships, who were above all answerable for the state of things that had introduced the division between the Assembly of Jamaica and the Imperial Parliament. Their Lordships had adopted the measure that gave offence. They had not adopted it at the suggestion of the other House of Parliament, but it had originated with their Lordships, and it was to them that the learned gentleman should have addressed himself. They certainly could not evade all responsibility by any suggestion of the measure having been passed without due consideration, for although certainly it had not undergone much discussion, yet he believed that they were sincere in their conviction and belief, that the measure which they had passed was necessary to remedy the state of things then existing in the colony of Jamaica. But if they were to set aside the question of reparation, that brought him to the real question before the House, and that was, were they or were they not justified in passing the Prisons Bill? He candidly avowed that he did not consider that the measure which he was now proposing was the best remedy that could be applied; and he owned that 1033 he thought it would have been better to refer to the despatches of the 13th February, which were received before he was a Member of the Government; but he had adopted this measure, conceiving it to be necessary for the existing state of things in Jamaica, for he thought that it was necessary for carrying out the great change which society was undergoing. He had, on former occasions, pointed out the impossibility of carrying out the great measure of emancipation in Jamaica through the medium of machinery intended for another state of things and for a totally different purpose. The opinion he had entertained of the necessity for a temporary suspension of the state of things then existing in Jamaica, he had formed while residing there, and he had communicated it to the noble Lord, the then Colonial Secretary, shortly after his return. He did not press it at the time, and although he saw that there would be some difficulty in acting upon it, he never entertained any doubt as to its being the best course which could be adopted. He was surprised at the expressions which had been used by the learned gentleman at the bar of that House a few nights since. Was it not, in point of fact, a mockery to talk of depriving the people of Jamaica of their elective rights, when the House of Assembly represented neither the population nor the property of the island? Was it not a mockery to talk of the benefit of free Government when the representation was in the hands of those who had no share in the interests of the great mass of the population? Such were his feelings with regard to the inefficiency of that engine for carrying out the most mighty and the most delicate change which had ever taken place in the framework of any society; and he conceived that there was no choice left them but to pass the present measure, the House of Assembly not having returned to what he considered their duty. They must provide means to establish the proper machinery of government which would be necessary to support the relations between masters and servants, and to establish laws to which the servant might look with confidence, and from which the master should sustain no injury. Making every allowance for the statements of an advocate who was naturally disposed, when addressing an assembly not very well acquainted with the details of the measure to make the best of his own case, he had been really surprised to hear the learned gentleman who had appeared before their Lordships' House state 1034 that from the year 1832, the House of Assembly had always shown its willingness to attend to the subject of the prisons. He had had some experience himself on that subject in the autumn of 1832, and he had, at that time, made some remarks upon the state of the workhouses and of Kingston gaol, which showed that abuses of the most horrid and revolting nature existed. With regard to Kingston gaol, there was one great objection, which applied to the system which prevailed there of confining the felons with the slaves in custody for debts due to their masters. He had communicated the circumstance to many members of the House of Assembly, who all admitted the evil, and promised to remedy it; but, as in many cases, although they expressed their own unqualified opinion when separate, when they were collected together, they completely disregarded what they had said. He held in his hand an extract from a despatch of the 16th December, 1832, and in stating on that occasion what were the duties of the House of Assembly, and what they had not done, he particularly alluded to the state of the prisons, pointing out their refusal to refer to a committee the proposal which had been made to them, for substituting a treadmill for the ordinary mode of punishment in the gaol at Kingston. That was the state of the gaols and workhouses in 1832, and in the following year, he again endeavoured to persuade all those individuals who he thought possessed influence in the House of Assembly to remedy some of those vile evils which existed, but with no better success.On the 12th of April, 1835, the Governor reported the cases of two female apprentices who had been flogged in the Kingston workhouse, and on the 7th July, 1835, that the Gaol Act of 1834 authorises the common council, or five magistrates in session, to pass rules, saying they have passed rules authorising the supervisors of workhouses to inflict corporal punishment on all persons, not even-excluding females; they have also adopted the custom of cutting off the hair of all females who are sent into the houses of correction for confinement or punishment. They have, in some instances put untried people to hard labour, and cut off their hair.On the 29th August, 1835, Lord Glenelg, in reply, adverted to the indecorum and injustice of scourging, or cutting the hair off women for any imputed or real misconduct. The governor was instructed to apply to the Assembly to amend the act; and it was added, that if such 1035 practices should be continued under the sanction of any colonial enactment, the government would feel it their duty to apply to Parliament. On the 17th of November, 1835, Lord Sligo, in obedience to these instructions, sent a message to the Assembly, suggesting important amendments in the Gaol Act, and calling especial attention to the fact that women were flogged on the treadmill. This message was referred to a special committee, but no amended bill was passed. On the 5th of March, 1836, the Governor reported the result of inquiry into transactions at the St. Andrew's workhouse, and he said:—It proves that I have not lightly made the charge of the corporal punishment of females being still, in spite of all my efforts, administered in the different workhouses of this island.He (the Marquess of Normanby) had had an opportunity himself of observing the disgraceful extent to which corporal punishment was carried. Accompanied by two of his suite, he had gone unexpectedly to examine into the system pursued, and the punishment that he saw inflicted upon women was of such a nature, that the officers who were with him some days after-wards declared that they had never witnessed any thing to equal it, even by sentence of court-martial. He had made application to the directors of the workhouse upon the subject of the officer who had superintended this punishment, but he soon found that it would be impossible to procure his discharge. He was reprimanded, but for any thing he knew to the contrary, he was still in the same situation which he then filled. On the 30th of March, 1836, the Governor referred to the conviction of the supervisor of Trelawney, for flogging Jane Reid, and added:—That the punishing women who would not work at the treadmill, by the cat, had become so general, that, in his opinion, an example should be made.On the 9th April, 1836, the Governor reported the evidence on the inquest of Louis Beveridge, who died at the treadmill at Morant Bay, after having been tied upon the treadmill with four other females, the verdict being "apoplexy occasioned by excitement." On the 11th June, 1836, Lord Glenelg observed that it appeared from this evidence that in the Morant Bay workhouse:—The women who refused to work at the 1036 treadmill were fastened to it by ligatures round the arms for twenty-four successive hours, in such a manner as to endanger the lives of all, and actually to occasion the death of one.And, in reference to the same workhouse, on the 31st of August, 1836, his Lordship observed that it appeared that,—Out of eleven deaths in that workhouse on which inquests had been held since Jan. 1835, three were confessedly owing to injuries received on the treadmill, and eight were ascribed to the visitation of God, under which general description it was obvious that many cases may have been included in which the death of the prisoner was not unconnected with the treatment which she had previously undergone.Repeated acts of cruelty subsequently appeared, and on the 1st of August, 1836, Lord Sligo, in reference to his instructions from home to endeavour to procure a remedy for the deficiencies in the law for preventing cruelties in workhouses, in his answer said: "I again say, advisedly, the remedy must come from home." On the 13th March, 1837, the Governor reported a message, sent by him to the Assembly on the 22nd February, 1837, calling the attention of the Assembly to this subject. This message was referred to a special committee, who reported to the effect that the existing laws were sufficient to prevent abuses, and nothing was done. On the 1st July, 1837, Lord Glenelg said:—I have already had occasion to advert more than once to the abuses alleged to exist in these places (gaols and workhouses), and I have intimated an opinion that unless some remedy should be applied to them, it might be necessary for the stipendiary magistrates to abstain from committing apprentices to the workhouses.Occasion arose to reiterate these instructions on the 14th October, 1837, and on the 1st of August Lord Glenelg sent out the report of the select committee on the working of the apprenticeship system appointed in May, 1837, in which it was commanded that there should be instituted without delay a strict and searching examination into the state of the workhouses in the West India colonies, and especially into the construction and use of treadmills, &c. On the 27th of October, 1837, a dispatch from the Secretary of State (dated May 21, 1837) was laid before the Assembly reviewing at length the provisions of the Gaol Act of 1834, and urging various alterations and amendments. This message 1037 was referred as before to a special committee, and no further proceedings were taken. On the 13th of February, 1838, Lord Glenelg in his dispatch said:—I apprised you that it was my intention to address you in a separate despatch on the subject of the requisite measures for the immediate prevention of abuses of a flagrant character in the houses of correction. It would be a great satisfaction to me to learn that a law of this nature were passed by the Colonial Legislature, but should this not be the case, there is no subject which, in my opinion, more imperatively demands the interference of the Imperial Legislature.On the 21st of February, 1838, the Assembly was again solicited by message to entertain the question of prison discipline, and a further despatch was laid before it with exactly the same result as before—reference to a committee without further proceedings; and, finally, in the month of June, 1838, the Assembly met, but did not entertain the question of prison discipline. He alluded to these cases only, because they had been told by the agent of the House of Assembly, that the Assembly up to 1832 had always shown a disposition to interfere. He had now brought the question to the state in which it was at the meeting of the House of Assembly, and to show the temper in which that House already was, he would allude only to the protest in which they referred to an Act which was universally thought to be necessary, the Act in Aid, a measure which was not now denied by any party in this country to be a proper and fair interference of the British Parliament to carry out the measure of Emancipation. They said expressly,It is unreasonable and unnatural that one nation should assume to pass laws to bind another nation, of whose customs, wants, constitution, and physical advantages and disadvantages, she is and must be profoundly ignorant; and whose distance opposes an insurmountable barrier to the attainment of local information.And then they went on to assert that,When lawyers consent to sit in judgment on an Assembly in no respect their inferiors, except in extent and magnitude of power—when they condemn and presume to punish upon charges kept secret from the accused, they cannot be expected to listen to a defence which would convict them either of imbecility and cowardice, if they were urged to the injustice by popular clamour; or of fraud and malice, and a thirst for omnipotent authority, if the injustice were the result of deliberation and design.1038 Not content with this, they proceed to contend for their own uncontrolled powers;We will also," say they, "acknowledge that they can seize by force on the powers which they do not possess in law or reason. There cannot be two legislatures in one state. If the British Parliament were to make laws for Jamaica, it must exercise that prerogative without a partner.Those were the decorous terms in which the House of Assembly addressed the two branches of the Imperial Legislature. So that the Assembly absolutely placed itself on a level with their Lordships and the other House of Parliament, and declared, that if the Imperial Legislature presumed to interfere on any one point, they would abstain from the due exercise of their duty. Their Lordships' House did not escape.The taxation of the colony may, perhaps, be delegated to the House of Lords, into which was first introduced the infamous bill for our destruction; and the first lime, for many ages, their Lordships in that bill were permitted to exercise the privilege of laying on British subjects grievous pecuniary penalties. The power of taxing Jamaica may console their Lordships for its deprivation elsewhere.Such was the language of the House of Assembly previous to the last offence said to be offered it by the passing of the Prisons Bill, and this was what the counsel at the bar had to offer as a proof of the wish of the Members to conciliate this country. With reference to the particular question to be that night decided, he was anxious to show their Lordships, that if they determined to do nothing, that determination would not be effectual. He had not heard that any one of their Lordships intended to move the repeal of the Prisons Bill, and out of the mouths of the Assembly itself it was clearly demonstrated, that no debasement short of the repeal of that Act, would induce it to resume its functions. The Assembly stated, in its first resolution, that the Act of the British Parliament "is a violation of our inherent rights as British subjects;" and, further, "that the same has not, and ought not, to have the force of laws in this island." Thus they not only decided that this Act was a violation of their constitution, but, by this document, they averred, that an Act of Parliament passed by their Lordships, and by the other branch of the Legislature was not law, and ought not to have the force of law in the island. They distinctly declared also, on three separate occasions, that till her Majesty's gracious pleasure was known—and 1039 it was clearly shown that nothing, except the repeal of the Prisons Act would satisfy them—until they were informed "whether they were henceforth to be treated as subjects having the power of making laws as hitherto for their own government, or whether they were to be treated as a conquered colony, and governed by Parliamentary legislation"—they would not proceed with their duties. And here he might observe, that in the addresses of both the learned counsel, though they dwelt upon the conciliatory tone that should have pervaded the despatches, yet anything less conciliatory than this address of the House of Assembly, he was at a loss to conceive; and in the speeches of the learned Gentlemen themselves there was a reassertion, though in other terms, of the same doctrines which the House of Assembly had propounded three several times. Therefore it was, that he said, that unless they were prepared to go to that extent which the House of Assembly required, and unless they were prepared to repeal or to forego the Prisons Act, and not to force it as law upon the colony, they would not satisfy the Assembly; and if they did not satisfy the Assembly, they were bound to provide not only for the wants of the public service, which the abrupt termination of its duties by the House of Assembly had produced, but also to do their utmost to supply materials for improved legislation with reference to some points which, if not dealt with at the present time, the laws would come too late to produce that influence on the habits of the negro population which was necessary for the well being of the colony and the mutual interests of all classes therein. The learned counsel had said that there was no urgency for this legislation, but the House of Assembly had distinctly in so many words admitted, in their address to Sir Lionel Smith, that they felt, in common with his Excellency, the necessity for laws regulating vagrancy, the duties between masters and servants, and the regulation of the militia; and, they added, that they were truly alive to these facts, but so long as their rights were violated, so long as their privileges were invaded, they would continue to adhere to their decision. There could not be a more distinct declaration that unless the Imperial Parliament would recal the obnoxious law, and unless there was a promise on the part of their Lordships to offend no more, they could not depend upon a resumption of its duty by the 1040 House of Assembly. Then, with regard to contracts, it was admitted at the bar that the present law of contracts was not such a law as the negro could act upon, and it was stated that by the advice of the Baptist missionaries the negroes would not sign written contracts. And why was this? Because the law was such that those who he must say had in this instance done right in judging for those who were not fit to judge for themselves, could not advise the negroes to acquiesce in; in fact, that the present contract law was not such as established equal liabilities between the two parties. Allusion had been made to the influence of the missionaries. When he was in the colony, he knew from personal inquiries something of the relations existing between the negroes and the missionaries. When he went to Jamaica, immediately after the insurrection, he found a very large share of that proceeding unjustly ascribed to the missionaries, but the influence of the missionaries, and particularly the Baptist missionaries, over the negroes was founded on the preparation the missionaries had given to the negroes to look for the great boon which afterwards arrived; the missionaries had assured the negroes, that such was the disposition of the mother country, that the boon could not longer be withheld; they consequently acquired an influence with the negroes, and from everything he had seen, he must declare, that this influence had been exercised beneficially; but he must add, he hoped that when the Government at home should have established a fair tribunal for regulating the relations of master and servant, the missionaries-would feel that ft was no part of their duty to interfere with the amount of remuneration given, and that they would abstain from all interference with a trust reposed in those who were prepared to exercise it beneficially for all parties. When, however, a distinction was drawn between the treatment of the Baptist missionaries, and those of other denominations, he trusted that this difference did now exist. During the short time he was connected with the colony, there was no such distinction; indeed, one of the most difficult, and one of the most unpleasant acts of his ministry was, to save a Wesleyan missionary in the court-house of St. Anne, when the custos who administered the oath was assaulted by a gentleman of great influence in that part of the country, and a member of the House of Assembly. When it was said, then, that all but the 1041 Baptist missionaries now received good treatment, he hoped that there had been a change in this respect, for not long ago there was an interference, not only with the temporal concerns, but with the spiritual ministration of the missionaries generally. As to the argument on the contract law, he must especially refer to the declaration on the part of the Assembly, which he trusted would go forth to the country, and to the negro, as a point against which they must guard themselves, a declaration that the House of Assembly would not pass any measure giving a decision as to the execution of the contracts to the stipendiary magistrates; and he did hope that the country would pledge itself to the introduction of a power of superintendence on the part of some body as independent as the stipendiary magistrates. The master knew well the purport of his contract; he was well able to protect himself, but their object ought to be the protection of the negro; they ought to act so as to obtain the well-founded confidence of the negro, and there was no chance of procuring so desirable a result so long as they left the power of legislation in the hands of the House of Assembly. Several of the provisions of the contract-law were highly objectionable; it was not necessary for him to enter upon the consideration of those parts of the law, because the House of Assembly had admitted, that the law of contracts required an alteration; otherwise he might have pointed out many sufficient reasons why the negroes hitherto had been unwilling to bind themselves by written contracts. Then they were told that the vagrant law which permitted whipping was repealed; but, in the opinion of the Chief Justice of Jamaica, this was not so; he was the person who had to administer the law in the island, and there were not any means here of correcting his judgments; and unless their Lordships interposed, the act of Charles the 2nd must be considered as practically in force in Jamaica. Again, with respect to the waste lands, all those who knew any thing of Jamaica knew that to the planters this was an unobjectionable measure; he presumed that even the advocates of the planters did not seriously object to it, but they said, "Why pass laws for the benefit of the planters?" He denied that any laws which would amend the habits of the negro would be laws for the planters alone; they would be laws for the negroes also, and, if rightly understood and fairly en- 1042 forced, they would promote as well the permanent interest of the negroes, as the temporary advantage of the planters. They were told also to take care that in passing laws for the benefit of the planter, they did not deprive the newly-enfranchised negroes of their political rights, and that they did not, by making the House of Assembly refuse the terms of this Act, cause as a necessary consequence the entire abrogation of the constitution. Now he was not sure that when the matter came again before the House of Assembly, they would refuse to act; but when they were told, that if the Assembly did so refuse, they would deprive the newly emancipated negroes of their franchise, he must ask, whether their Lordships were aware, that even if the negroes had freeholds, which very few of them had, but which were necessary to entitle them to vote, it would require fifteen months before they could exercise their right. [Lord Ellenborough: Fifteen months, from 1st August last.] But they must be registered, and the number of persons either registered, or in a situation for registration, might be counted easily within the walls of that House. Let the House, too, consider who the parties, were who made this appeal. In 1836, an act was passed by the House of Assembly, raising the franchise to 30l. a year; and in the last year, the franchise, which had been 10l., was increased to 15l. or 16l. These were the parties who stated, in their memorial to him, that one reason why they objected to the interference with the Jamaica House of Assembly was, that being, anxious to protect the rights of the emancipated population of Jamaica, no less than those of the other classes of the community, they objected to the late bill, which would have deprived the emancipated population of those elective franchises, which, from the small value of the qualification, and the facility of its acquisition, might be and were so completely within their reach. With reference to the second clause, and to the expired laws, he held that it was unnecessary to say much to induce their Lordships to adopt the clause. There was no provision in the clause to make it necessary for the governor to revive all the laws; it only enabled the governor in council to revive such as they might deem requisite. It was said, independently of the financial arrangement, that if the object were to revive the taxes, they might do so, but that they could not revive the appropriation; but many important services were provided for 1043 annually of exactly the same amount, which might be provided for under the present appropriation. There was also the question of the rules, &c, articles of war, which had been passed slightly over; no one would say, that in such a crisis, and in such a state as this, that the governor should be left without such a power as this act provided. Again, as to the militia laws, Sir Lionel Smith had shown, that by the exhortation of the baptist missionaries to the negroes to obey the laws, those missionaries had stood in the light of a police, but this was not such a security as they would wish the tranquillity of the country to rest upon. Provisions would also be made for the additional pay of the officers, which was not now secured. The Insolvency Debtors' Act had also expired. They were told the other day, that the number of persons in gaol for debt was not great, for creditors would not put their debtors in gaol if they could not get their money; but, by the accounts he had that day received from Jamaica, it appeared that the prisons of the island were crowded with debtors who would have been discharged if the Insolvent Debtors Act had been in force. In proposing the present law, therefore, he intended to give the governor in council sufficient power to provide for some of the laws which were of the utmost importance to the tranquillity and the well-being of the country. Returning once again to the imputation that this law would oppress the negroes and benefit the planters, the manner in which the former Act had been received, the thankfulness which they displayed for the intended protection, induced him to hope that to whatever decision their Lordships might come on this bill, they would qualify the negroes disappointment, and that they would declare their intention to provide that remedy for the evils of the great change which, in his opinion, could not longer be delayed. And as to the intended injury to the negroes, the manner in which they themselves had received the account of the alteration proposed in their behalf was a sufficient answer to the charge. He had had peculiar opportunities of judging of the impressions likely to be made upon the negro mind. Subsequent to the Emancipation Act of 1832, he had spent much time in travelling to every corner of the island to explain that act, with respect to which there was on the negro mind much apprehension. They were told that the law, when it came from England, would 1044 not be in force for a considerable interval; it was necessary that this point should be explained, and that their anticipations of happiness should be limited; he had succeeded in convincing the negroes under those circumstances. He had not been able to see the ultimate termination of the system on the 1st of August, but he understood that the negro never showed more willingness to work than he did throughout the whole interval after that announcement, on his part, on the day when the first step in that change came into operation. He had heard that some Jamaica interests were opposed to this bill; he knew that meetings had been held, and that many were opposed to the bill; but when they examined such opinion, they would surely doubt its correctness. Those who knew the constitution of the Assembly of Jamaica, knew that many persons of great weight in the island had declined to become members of the Assembly; it was notorious that the persons now in that Assembly were inferior to those who were formerly members; few actual proprietors were members, and many most respectable attorneys were told by the proprietors that they did not wish them to belong to that body; as a consequence, many influential attorneys refused to become members of the Assembly; and two of those attorneys, who had the management of numerous properties, he (the Marquess of Normanby) appointed to be members of the much-despised council. All, however, were not opposed to the bill; the noble Lord then at the table, whose good conduct towards his negroes had always been remarkable, and who had ever treated them as an English landlord did his labourers, was not opposed to the bill; the opinion of his noble Friend, too, who was not then in his place (the Marquess of Sligo) was entitled to some weight, for he had not only been Governor of Jamaica, but he was the owner of considerable property there; and he did think that other proprietors, who like the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Harewood) had much property in this country to occupy their time, would find themselves deceived by taking the opinions of others; and he said distinctly, that it was not by confiding to the House of Assembly the exclusive power of making laws in cases of emergency, nor by leaving matters under present circumstances to the decision of that House alone, that the permanent interests of the island could be provided for. He trusted that this subject would upon the present occasion be 1045 approached without any spirit of party; he could not say in former attempts in this cause of emancipation that this had been the case. He believed that many parties in another place had been precluded from giving the vote that they would wish. He conjured their Lordships to remember that they were approaching hallowed ground, and must not trample on national humanity; great and enduring interests were at stake; the question they had now to decide was most important; the country had called upon the House of Commons to interpose in the cause of humanity, and the House of Commons called upon their Lordships to provide for the consequences of that interference. The British Parliament had enacted emancipation, and it remained for the British Parliament and the British people to see that it was carried out. He would make no reference to the cost willingly and generously paid for this mighty change; but if they now neglected their duty they would have to deplore benefits which must be sacrificed, and there will be lost the credit of one of the noblest acts ever recorded in the British annals.
§ The Earl of Harewood
, after what had fallen from the noble Marquess who had just sat down, must say he extremely regretted that in the critical and delicate position of Jamaica, as the noble Marquess had the power in his hands of official information, he should have appeared in their Lordships' House not so much to have spoken on the material question of the Imperial Parliament acting over the heads of the Assembly, but to have spoken and acted hostilely against the House of Assembly and the institutions of Jamaica, and should have opened his speech with a declaration which he (the Earl of Harewood) thought was very ill-timed, of having received his information from the popular party. If the noble Marquess supposed that there was any person connected with the West Indies who denied the power of Parliament to legislate in certain circumstances, he was completely mistaken, for there was no such denial either on the part of any person or the House of Assembly. On the contrary they had admitted it, and therefore to say it was one of the assertions of the House of Assembly was incorrect. He would, however, say that the discretion of Parliament must be very great in exercising that power, and that they were to consider Jamaica as an independent legislature, with a consti- 1046 tution of its own, and unless they showed that a great emergency had arisen on the point on which they intended to legislate, they were not justified, even as the Imperial Parliament, in interfering. Now the point in the present instance was the Prison Act; but that was not all, for though the Prison Act had occasioned the present crisis, on which this dispute had broken out, a variety of circumstances previous to that had caused an irritation and excitement in the colony, such, for example, as withholding from the colonists every description of information; and even on the Prison Bill itself, when it was brought in by the colonial-office, not a single word was uttered as to the effect of that bill on the constitution of Jamaica. It was brought in, too, at a time of year when only a few Members of either House of Parliament were in town; passed through both Houses without any information on the subject having reached the colony from their agent, it having gone through two stages in the House of Commons before he was aware of it, and the first time it was heard of in Jamaica was its being stuck up on the doors of the House of Assembly. That surely was not the way to treat any person. But with regard to legislation on the subject of prisons, he must say, that the House of Assembly did not refuse to legislate. The noble Marquess had stated, that in 1832 a representation was made to the House of Assembly concerning the state of the prisons, but he had omitted to say that on that subject in 1834 the House of Assembly received the commendation of the then governor of the colony for having taken it into consideration, and also that the present Prisons' Bill contained many of the same provisions as that of the Assembly. Captain Pringle was then sent out to make inquiry, and the House of Assembly stated to the governor that as soon as Captain Pringle had made his report they intended to take up the subject; and, indeed, they had so far taken it up as to have twelve clauses prepared to be proceeded with in the next Session. But before that time Captain Pringle had made his report here, and the Prisons Bill was passed and sent out. With regard to the question of the legislative power, he would put it to their Lordships to consider what would be the operation of the measure upon society in Jamaica, when its effect, and still more its intention, were indirectly to supersede the House of Assembly of the island. If the Government meant to 1047 do so, let them say so; but let it not be put into the power of the governor to say that the House of Assembly shall be called upon to do certain acts, and that if they do not, then his own legislative power shall be brought into play to effect them by his authority. He had no doubt—he had not the slightest doubt on earth—that the intention of Government was to do away with the House of Assembly. If it was not, he should like to hear it said by the noble Lords on the opposite side. As to legislation for the colony, he declared that the Imperial Parliament had the right; but if there was a right of this nature in their hands, certainly the occasion of the Emancipation Act would have been the occasion on which of all others that right would have been exerted most strongly; for that was a national concern, and a subject of national interest. The Imperial Parliament might have interfered with propriety on most points connected with that measure; yet they referred to the House of Assembly of Jamaica to pass measures relating to two most important points connected with that act. As to the noble Marquess' observations respecting the popular party in Jamaica, he believed that he was himself substantially a friend of the popular party, and he did not want to take from them the rights to which they had lately succeeded. The shortest way for the Government would be to do away with the House of Assembly at once, if that was their indirect object. At all events, of this he was quite sure, that looking to the present state of the island of Jamaica, it was the duty of Government to proceed with the utmost caution and circumspection. He did not complain, therefore, of any measures of a cautionary character which the Government might have thought proper to put in execution, but what he did complain of was the same as had been complained of elsewhere that the reports which had been made of the state of the island were all on one side; they were not taken with due care; nor were all that had been received communicated to their Lordships; he feared that all the reports of the stipendiary magistrates were not laid on the Table of the House. With regard to the acts enumerated in the second clause of the bill, the noble Marquess admitted that they were of no importance, with the exception of the Police Acts, and the noble Marquess had 1048 instructed the governor how to act in the event of the former Act not being passed. But it ought to be observed, that if their Lordships meant to conciliate the people of Jamaica, it would be necessary, out of those seventeen Acts, to exempt from the operation of this law seven, for seven only were money bills strictly speaking, the others not being so; but these seven money bills, if it were their object to declare themselves anything short of hostile to the constitution of Jamaica, they would think it necessary to exempt from this clause, on the ground that they were money bills. For himself, however, he must say, he objected wholly to the measure. He did not think that they were justified in carrying the Prisons Act in the way it had been carried. Still, if that measure had been carried in haste, he was not for begging pardon of the House of Assembly of Jamaica. Not the. But he thought that the Imperial Parliament might possibly have legislated hastily on that occasion, and that nevertheless the hand of conciliation might possibly yet be held out, and that not in a mean or unworthy manner, for he was persuaded it required only the commonest assurances to effect the end they wished. This was the state of the case. In consequence of the passing of the Prisons Act the House of Assembly say, "We cannot go on." What happens? The House of Assembly is prorogued; and it is kept prorogued; from the 3rd of February to the present hour they had remained under prorogation. Not one word in explanation had been allowed them. But he was sure that a common softening down as to the Prisons Act would have done all that was required. But he said that the House of Assembly had not had an opportunity given them of explanation. Sure he was, that if one word of conciliation was offered to them, instead of hostility, they would come to work again as willingly as ever. There was another view of the subject, which appeared not undeserving of their Lordships' consideration. On the first division of the two on this bill there was a very large minority in the House of Commons, who voted against annihilating the power of the House of Assembly. On the second division the majority in favour of the bill was only ten, clearly showing that it was not very acceptable to the House of Commons. But, without referring further to that point, he would merely add, that having mixed himself up with the West- 1049 Indian Proprietors elsewhere, he felt bound to call upon the House to give a decision one way or the other upon this important question, and he should press this, unless it should be proved to him that the money bills were to be omitted from the second clause. As this was not done, he moved that the bill be read a second time that day three months.
The Marquess of Normanby
said, that in speaking of the popular party in Jamaica, and the intelligence he had received from them, he only meant to refer to intelligence received through the ordinary channels of information.
as he could not say that nothing ought to be done, would vote for the second reading of the bill. He could not think but that the object of the noble Earl (Harewood) would be as well gained by stating his objections to the clauses in the committee to-morrow. After the able speech of the noble Marquess, he thought it would be better to take the discussion to-morrow. As to the bill itself, he objected to the principle of it, as he objected to the principle of all such bills, whether they were island bills or Canadian Bills. In the latter case they would not have had the opposition of the noble Lord, he presumed, for his noble Friend did not oppose the suspension of the Canadian constitution, his noble Friend being only against the suspension of an island constitution, not of a Canadian constitution. If his noble Friend had been a Canadian he would have felt on the late occasion with him, but as he was a Jamaica man, his noble Friend was opposed to this bill. On the whole he thought it would be better to take the discussion to-morrow, particularly as he for one, when he came down to the House that evening, thought it was already so arranged. As their Lordships were obliged to do something, they might as well do it in the Committee, where it could be done with least waste of time.
§ The Duke of Wellington
he could not allow the evening to pass without offering a few remarks to their Lordships. He stood in the singular position of having opposed the Negro Emancipation Bill, which he certainly did endeavour to prevail upon their Lordships not to pass. In fact, he divided the House against it. But from the day that measure was passed into a law to the present, he begged to observe, that Parliament having thought proper to pass that measure, he had agreed to every measure which had been proposed by the 1050 Government in order to carry negro emancipation into execution: he had agreed to all those measures, though he confessed with great pain, always protesting against them, and considering them invasions of the constitution of Jamaica. But considering that the Planters of Jamaica had received compensation for emancipating their negroes, and that measures for carrying into execution that provision had been instituted, he considered that they ought to carry the measures necessary for completing the Emancipation Act into execution. He, therefore, had agreed to all those measures, at the same time that he protested against them, and invariably called upon their Lordships to endeavour to settle the affairs of Jamaica with the concurrence of the House of Assembly and the authorities of the island, rather than to take it upon themselves. But he had no recollection of the measure which had been the cause of the existing disagreement between the Governor and the House of Assembly of Jamaica. He certainly did attend very constantly to the proceedings of their Lordships' House, and to the measures which came under consideration, and more especially last year he gave great attention to the measures relating to the West Indies; but he had not the smallest recollection of the Prisons Bill. Probably indeed he was out of town at the time, and if he had been in his place, most probably he should have opposed the bill. But the measure was carried, and having passed Parliament, it appeared to him that the measure was communicated in a very extraordinary, a very unusual, and a not very decorous manner to the House of Assembly of Jamaica. But, however all that might be, he could not think that the House of Assembly was justified in coming to the resolution that it would not perform its duty, and that it would suspend its functions. Under these circumstances he confessed, that notwithstanding the speech of his noble Friend behind him (the Earl of Harewood), he should vote for the second reading of the bill, though he certainly did so very unwillingly. He confessed, that what had given him the greatest doubt on the subject was the speech of the noble Marquess in moving the second reading of the bill. He never had heard a speech of a Minister of the Crown coming down to Parliament to expound the principles of a measure for imposing restrictions upon the constitutional rights of the population of a portion of the British empire, which was 1051 so little calculated to conciliate the bearers of it, and so little calculated to conciliate the public, and he declared most solemnly, that the greatest doubt which he felt to the second reading arose from the speech of some of the topics of the noble Marquess. The noble Marquess, almost in so many words, declared his object to be the destruction of the legislature of Jamaica, and the noble Marquess yet entained an opinion, which he also said he had held from an early period, that the most effectual way of protecting the negroes was the destruction of the House of Assembly. But it should be remembered, that if it had been possible, those who brought forward emancipation would have brought it forward by means of the House of Assembly of Jamaica. They regretted they could not do this though to the very last moment they were desirous of it. What his noble Friend had stated was perfectly true—that Parliament had refused last year to put an end to slavery on the 1st of August, 1838. That part of the measure was enacted by the House of Assembly of Jamaica, because Parliament positively refused to adopt it; and yet the noble Marquess came down and told them, notwithstanding that, as he believed, the very last act of the Jamaica Legislature was to pass this enactment for emancipating all negroes in the island on the 1st of August, 1838, that the Jamaica House of Assembly could not be trusted to carry into execution the new regulations which became requisite under the new relations of society in that island, and that the functions of the House ought to be put an end to. Still the very last measure which they had passed was the law emancipating their negroes two years sooner than the period settled by Parliament. He said, therefore, that under these circumstances, showing as they did the injustice of the noble Marquess's remarks and opinions in opposition to this House of Assembly, he doubted the propriety of agreeing to the second reading of this measure. He was one of those who always considered—and he thought their Lordships were of the same opinion, he was sure the Ministers of the day so stated—that it was their duty and their intention to do all they could to preserve and protect property in that island, to protect the civilization of society, and encourage it by every means in their power. Now, he should like to know how property was to be protected, how civilization was to be established? If they were to begin by 1052 destroying the House of Assembly, and establishing there a despotism in the person of the governor of the colony, acting with his council, he believed that there would be no safety for liberty, no safety for persons in the state of society which would then exist in Jamaica; he believed that neither liberty nor property would be secure, unless the House of Assembly and its authority were maintained. He knew this, that when he first heard of these intentions of putting down the House of Assembly, according to reports which had been confirmed by the speech of the noble Marquess that evening, it was his firm opinion that the intention existed to withdraw every white from the island. If that were not the intention of her Majesty's Government, then he would say, that those who proposed such measures as these were not in a state of sanity. Property could not exist either there or elsewhere without drawing to it a certain degree of power, and if they destroyed the House of Assembly, they must withdraw the whites. That they might rely upon. He certainly was anxious to vote for the second reading of this bill. He wished it to go into Committee, that it might receive such amendments as might be necessary to render it palatable to the House of Assembly, and at the same time to insure the execution of those measures which were required for carrying on the Government of the colony. He confessed, that when he heard of the misbehaviour of the House of Assembly and their neglect of all their duties, he could not avoid reminding those who spoke in this tone, that the House of Assembly had been in a state of prorogation from February to the present time. The noble Lord opposite now came down to ask their Lordships to visit with vengeance the House of Assembly by authority of the Legislature of this country, but had never even hinted any intention on the part of Ministers to instruct the governor, who was now about to go out, to call the Assembly together. Now, he thought it was the duty of those who were in possession of authority to endeavour to conciliate those who might feel offended, to give them a chance at least of continuing in their functions by treating them with civility and kindness. The noble Lord had done no such thing; on the contrary, his whole speech was made up of violent threats against the House of Assembly, made for no other reason except that the House of Assembly had disapproved of an Act of Parlia- 1053 ment passed in usurpation of their own authority and communicated to them in away in which he did not think any private gentleman would like to have an order from a superior delivered to him. He advised their Lordships to vote for the second reading of this bill; he was sorry his noble Friend had moved that it be read a second time that day three months. He advised their Lordships to go into Committee, that they might consider the various clauses of the measure, and make such amendments as might appear proper, with the view of sending it down to the other House in such a shape as that it might be sent out to the island of Jamaica with some hope and prospect of being effectual.
§ Lord Glenelg
wished to guard their Lordships against supposing that the subject of the prisons in the island of Jamaica was one that had recently arisen. The state of the workhouses and prisons of Jamaica had been a constant topic of complaint in the despatches of the Marquess of Sligo and Sir Lionel Smith to the Colonial Office. It had been constantly pressed on the attention of the House of Assembly during the years 1836 and 1837. His noble and learned Friend (Lord Brougham), in a speech delivered by him last Session, had directed their Lordships' attention to the frightful abuses which disgraced the gaols of Jamaica, and had called on Government by every sacred consideration of justice, to put an end to the cruelties perpetrated in those horrid dungeons. He said in reply, that he could not but admit that the time had at length arrived when Parliament must interpose in its strength and majesty to repress practices equally revolting to justice and common humanity. The Prisons Bill had in consequence been introduced, after the report of Captain Pringle, the inspector, had been received. He maintained that the Prisons Bill was a necessary part of the Abolition Act Amendment Bill, to which their Lordships had agreed last Session. The House, by acceding to the Abolition Act Amendment Bill, gave its sanction to the Prisons Bill. The latter measure was founded on the previously expressed opinions of their Lordships, and was destined to apply permanently and to a future condition of society the same principles which the other measure only put into temporary operation. The Prisons Bill had been passed without any opposition, but nothing could be further from the truth than to say that it was a measure passed in ignorance, and without a full ex- 1054 pression of their approbation. It had been further stated, in the course of the debate, that the Prisons Bill had been promulgated in Jamaica in a very extraordinary manner. He could only say, that until the present moment he was not aware of that circumstance. He supposed it was proclaimed, as all other bills of a similar nature were proclaimed, in the colony. This he knew, that looking over the debates which took place in the House of Assembly at the time that the Act was sent out, he did not find in any one of the speeches, whether of speakers hostile or favourable to the Government, the slightest allusion to any want of civility or courtesy on the part of the Home Government in the mode of promulgating the Act. Many of the speakers were extremely hot, extremely violent, against the conduct of the Government generally; but not one of them contained any complaint upon this particular subject.
Viscount St. Vincent
was understood to state, that it was ungracious towards the House of Assembly, after what they had already done to forward the operation of the Emancipation Act, not to give them some credit for what they might do hereafter. Looking at their past proceedings, he thought it could not be said, that the House of Assembly were indisposed to adopt all the necessary measures to carry out the Emancipation Act. The mode of introducing the Prisons Bill last year was certainly much less courteous than usual. He admitted that the prisons of the colony required a remedy; but he thought the Government had not adopted the proper one. He objected strongly to the principle of the present bill; and when he knew that a few kind words would have been sufficient to induce the House of Assembly to resume their functions, he should have thought that the noble Lords opposite, having suspended their functions a short time since, and having then experienced the effect of a few kind words themselves, would have hesitated a little before they proposed to Parliament to deal so harshly and severely with the Assembly of Jamaica. As the bill was not to be opposed in the present stage, he hoped when their Lordships went into Committee they would be careful to expunge all the objectionable clauses. He trusted that they would expunge not only the first clause, but that part of the second which gave to the Governor in Council the power of enacting tax-bills, provided the House of Assembly did not resume its functions within a cer- 1055 tain time. Jealous as the other House of Parliament usually was of its privileges, he could not help feeling some surprise that it should last year have allowed the Prisons Bill, which was a money bill, to be mutilated in their Lordships' House, and to be passed and sent down to them without one word of comment.
§ The Earl of Harewood
said, that as it appeared that their Lordships were not disposed to divide, he should not press his amendment; but in withdrawing it for the present he begged to say, that he did so under a firm conviction that such alterations would be made in Committee as would enable him to agree to the bill when it came out of the Committee. If that conviction turned out to be well founded, he should deem it his duty to move his amendment again on the motion for the third reading.
§ Viscount Melbourne
, as it was not intended to take the sense of the House upon the subject in the present stage of the Bill, thought it was hardly expedient that he should occupy one moment of their Lordships' time. It was certainly his intention to reserve whatever observations he intended to make upon the subject of the bill till it arrived at its next stage; but at the same time he could not but say that he thought the noble Duke had treated his noble Friend the noble Marquess (Normanby) near him with great harshness and great injustice. He had listened very attentively and carefully to the whole of his noble Friend's speech, and he declared he could not perceive in any part of it anything of the neat—anythingof the violence—anythingof the acrimony—anything of the irritating nature which the noble Duke had so liberally imputed to it. The fact was, that owing to circumstances the Government were forced upon a course of action of which they did not themselves approve—which they did not think the best that could be adopted—which they did not think would be successful—which they believed would ultimately terminate in the necessary adoption of the measure which had been rejected; but at the same time as his noble Friend had most clearly and distinctly stated, they were willing to give the present bill, which must be regarded as an experiment, a full and fair trial. His noble Friend distinctly stated that he meant to treat it fairly; and unquestionably if the House of Assembly should do that, which he did not think they would do—if they should show a disposition to resume their functions—to perform 1056 the duties which were imposed upon them—the duties for which they were constituted—if they should show a disposition to take such a course, unquestionably there would be every disposition on the part of the Government to do that which he admitted with the noble Duke would have been, if circumstances would have permitted it, by far the most prudent course that could be adopted—namely, to concert all the measures connected with the completion of the Act of Emancipation with the House of Assembly, and thereby to secure the consent, concurrence, and authority of that body. Unquestionably that would have been the best course that could have been adopted; but the Government had been driven out of that course by the conduct of the House of Assembly itself. It was with the deepest regret and concern that the Government had felt itself compelled to adopt a different course. The better course, the course they originally intended to pursue, they should be ready to resume when they felt that they could do so with justice to themselves—justice to the country, and justice to the colony itself. When the noble Viscount spoke of the impropriety of having originated a money bill as he said the Prisons Bill was in that House, and when he commented upon the apathy of the House of Commons in not vindicating its privileges upon that occasion, he must be allowed to express his surprise that the noble Viscount himself, seeing the great impropriety of the bill, had not taken the opportunity of resisting it. [Viscount St. Vincent: I was not in the country.] He was surprised also that the noble Duke had not stated last year what he had stated that evening—namely, that he considered the Prisons Bill an usurpation of the rights and privileges of the House of Assembly. The noble Duke could not plead his absence from the country as an excuse. The noble Duke was in the habit of paying the closest attention to the business which came before their Lordships; and he was therefore surprised that the noble Duke had not then stated those objections to that measure which he now deemed so formidable. He again repeated, that he should reserve his observations in support of this bill till its next stage; for he had merely risen to state that the remarks which the noble Duke had made upon his noble Friend's speech were too severe—nay, more, that they were utterly unfounded.
expressed his concur- 1057 rence in every one of the animadversions which the noble Duke had passed upon the speech of the noble Marquess the Secretary for the colonies. The violence and intemperance of that speech had deprived the present bill of all chance of a fair trial in Jamaica. He regretted deeply to hear the tone and temper with which the noble Marquess had delivered the language which he used. He likewise regretted deeply the tone and temper displayed by the noble Baron (Glenelg) who followed on the same side, although his speech was calculated to produce less effect in the colony than that of the noble Marquess, as he had ceased to have any official connexion with it. He regretted, he said, deeply the tone and temper on the other side of the House, as it had led to an imprudent revival of charges against the House of Assembly, which were now forgotten, and which ought not to have been recalled from oblivion. He also regretted the tone of debate which had been assumed on his side of the House by the noble Earl and noble Viscount who had taken part in it. He thought that the Prisons Bill was perfectly justifiable. He thought so on reading Captain Pringle's report, and also on the description which a noble Friend of his had given the country of the atrocities practised under the old system. He therefore was of opinion that the time had arrived for legislating upon that subject. As he was of opinion that the Imperial Parliament was justified in passing the Prisons Bill, he could not be of opinion that the conduct of the House of Assembly was altogether justifiable. He was, however anxious that legislation for the colony of Jamaica should be carried on by the House of Assembly under its existing constitution. He disliked all suspensions of constitutions, they altered the tone of men's thoughts and feelings, and were in their results highly Injurious to general liberty. It had been well said by a high political authority, that slavery, even if it commenced at the extremities, was inconceivably rapid in its progress, and was certain before long, to carry its contagion even to the heart of an empire. He might add that it was of the very essence of arbitrary Government, when it was once commenced, to create necessities for its own continuance. It was for this reason that he had objected to the measure which was introduced into the other House of Parliament on this subject, but which in deference to public opinion was subsequently abandoned. It would 1058 have been destructive of liberty in Jamaica, and the destruction of liberty in Jamaica would have been detrimental to the cause of general liberty in this country.
§ The Duke of Wellington
in explanation justified his having called the Prisons Bill "an usurpation of the rights and privileges of the House of Assembly." He had to apologize to their Lordships for not having attended to that Act at the time it was under their consideration last year. Perhaps if he had attended to it he should have voted for it, as he had done for other acts which he considered to be necessary to carry into execution the Negro Emancipation Act, against which, be it recollected, he had voted originally. When, however, that measure became an act of the Legislature, he had voted in favour of all measures necessary to give it effect. He had no recollection of the Prisons Bill being mentioned at all in Parliament, but if he had been in the House at the time he should probably have voted in favour of it, on the grounds he had already stated.
The Marquess of Normanby
said, that if he had deserved the animadversions which the noble Duke had just passed upon him, no one would have felt more severely than he should the weight of censure falling upon him from such a quarter. But he had the consciousness of feeling that he did not deserve them. He did not therefore require the weight of the sentence with which the noble Baron opposite (Ellenborough) had sought to overwhelm him, to induce him to rise and protest against those animadversions as unfounded and unjust. The noble Baron, however, had divided his censures so equally amongst all their Lordships who had taken share in this debate, that they must make up their minds to bear it among them as they best could. The noble Duke had found fault with him, because he had not stated distinctly that the House of Assembly would be called again together before this bill was put into operation. Now, when he said that this experiment should be fully and fairly tried, he meant, of course, that the House of Assembly should be called together in time to prevent the necessity, in case it resumed its functions, of those Orders in Council being carried into execution. The noble Duke had also charged him with having used intemperate language. Now, he would appeal to their Lordships whether he was in the habit of using such language. But any person who had been an eye-witness, as he had been, 1059 of the practical evils of slavery, might be expected, when he saw impediments to the remedy thereof raised and created by the House of Assembly, to express himself rather warmly. At the same time, he could not tax his memory with having used on the present occasion a single expression which he felt himself called upon to retract.
wished to ask a question of the noble Marquess, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in reference to a statement which had gone the round of the American and European newspapers. He entertained no doubt that it would be in the power of the noble Lord to give it a decided contradiction, but the sooner the contradiction went forth the better. The statement in question was, that five slavers had put into Rio on the 25th of March last, and that the slaves which they carried were sold to a slavery of eight years at 5l. a-head. He believed the whole of that to be untrue. But it was true that a practice prevailed which demanded the immediate attention of her Majesty's Government. It was this, that when negroes could not be properly located, as it was called, they were taken to Cuba and other places, where it was legal to indenture them as apprentices. The noble and learned Lord further stated, on the authority of a gentleman of high respectability connected with Dominica, that 430 negroes had been recently brought there in a slaver, which afterwards remained for the purpose of being repaired. He was bound also to observe, that his informant stated, that wherever the negroes were located they generally, if not uniformly, behaved with the utmost correctness and propriety.
The Marquess of Normanby
replied, that he had received no information on the subject of the noble and learned Lord's first inquiry: as regarded his second, he should take care to ascertain if there were any information in the Colonial-office relating to it.
§ Bill read a second time.