Half a century has now elapsed since the Parliament of England, acting as a grand inquest, not For this country alone but for the world, presented to the indignation of mankind that execrable traffic which had for 300 years been the scourge of Africa and the disgrace of Christian Europe. To this righteous act, in which our counsels were guided by all the genius of the age, sustained by its virtue, and animated by its pious zeal, a long and criminal delay succeeded, for which Parliament was alone to blame. The enormity though denounced was protected; universally condemned, it continued to flourish, even to increase; till at length that sentence was recorded by the Legislature, which the public voice had pronounced, and the traffic was prohibited, though by laws of no stringent force. But, now that it was forbidden and declared 937 illegal, the execution of more complete justice became comparatively easy: and 1 had the good fortune to obtain the unanimous assent of all the branches of the Legislature, as well as of the country at large, to the act which no longer treating it as a trade, visited it as a crime, and subjected those who perpetrated it to the punishment suffered by felons far less guilty than they. How then comes it to pass, that full thirty years after this great consummation, I still am standing here to complain of slave-trading, to point against it the indignation of Parliament, and to ask for its suppression, new laws, or laws declaring and enforcing the old? That now, instead of only complaining against foreign nations over whom we have no control, or of our authority not being employed with those over whom our influence extends, since they have only existed under our protection and at our pleasure, I am here to denounce those over whom our power is complete, subjects of the British Crown and the British law—yet engaged in a flagrant violation of their duty to both? I proceed at once to demonstrate the existence of this painful case, and, by plain facts, to show your Lordships that I am not occupied in preferring vague, unsubstantial charges, and bring no railing accusation; nor do I think it will be necessary to detain you long, while I show, that by the stimulus of British speculation, with the accession of British agents, through the employment of British capital, the foreign slave-traffic is in great part perpetrated and protected. I will go at once to those facts which lead, irremutably lead to the presumption whence the capital is drawn that the traffic requires. Your Lordships know—I say you know, because the papers presented by the Crown to Parliament and the correspondence of the Government with our foreign agents, which these papers contain, prove it—you may know that in Cuba (I confine myself to Cuba and Brasil, the great slave-trading countries), there has of late years been an extraordinary increase in the cultivation. Between 1829 and 1836, the produce more than doubled; the amount of sugar exported from the island having risen from 164 to 370 millions of pounds. From the same official sources, it appears, that between 1827 and 1831, the number of slaves had increased 32,000, which, added to the 91,000 required for supplying the annual loss of 81½ per cent., the 938 excess of deaths over births, gives 123,000 imported in these four years, or above 30,000 yearly. Into the Havana, 142 vessels imported 52,000 slaves in the years 1837 and 1838; and the price having risen from 60l. to 85l., two millions and a quarter sterling were thus required for that importation alone. But taking the lowest estimate that has ever been made of the whole Cuba importation, it cannot be calculated at less than 50,000 yearly, requiring the annual expenditure of 4,000,000l.; while the whole exports of the island did not amount to three during the same period; a clear proof that the capital which upheld this enormous expenditure on one of the charges of cultivation, could not come from the resources of the island itself. If from Cuba, we turn our eye towards the Brazils, we are met with the same state of things. There came to the neighbourhood of Rio in three years ending 1839, 244 vessels laden with 109,000 slaves; and taking the same low estimate for the whole importation, as I took for that of Cuba, the amount cannot be less than 70,000, which, at the cost of 80l. given in the very useful work of a meritorious and efficient public servant in my noble Friend's department (Lord Aberdeen). I mean Mr. Bandinel, makes the yearly expenditure upon the purchase of slaves five-and-a-half millions, or about seventeen millions in no longer a period than three years. It is needless to ask if Brazil and Cuba could furnish themselves those millions of money? The thing is inconceivable. The aid of foreign treasures must have been obtained; and in looking around to the quarters from whence the supplies must have come, we must needs adopt the painful conclusion, that in great part at least such an ample amount of capital as was required, must have belonged to the rich men of this country. But though warranted in adopting the general presumption to which these facts lead, I mean not to rest it upon that foundation. Particular facts and circumstances, equally show that there is no escaping from the general inference at which we have arrived by another route. But giving me credit for afterwards showing that British subjects are in fact mixed up with speculations in Brazil, for conducting which the purchase of slaves from time to time is required; let me ask your Lordships to consider for a moment, whether those who are interested in such con- 939 cerns can possibly be ignorant of the means by which the negroes they buy are brought to the markets they frequent? In the first place they have the recorded declaration of an honourable man in the senate of Brazil, that the law abolishing the slave-trade, was notoriously a dead letter, having fallen entirely into disuse. They have in the next place a petition or memorial from the provincial assembly of Bahia to the senate, urging a repeal of the law, not that they gave themselves any trouble about the prohibition—with that they could easily deal, by wholly disregarding it; but the provision that all slaves imported after 1831, the date of the law, should be free—embarrassed the operations of the purchaser, and made it very inconvenient to hold recently imported negroes. Therefore the provincial assembly desires a repeal of this inconvenient enactment; and upon grounds of which it is not easy to find any parallel.Brazil," say they, "accustomed for nearly three centuries to employ slaves, and to be supplied with them, as an annual provision from Africa, paid little attention to the encouragement of their progressive increase by reproduction, in the view that from this increase such annual supply might be dispensed with, and by such means, whilst the free-trade in slaves continued, the country should never want hands to keep up and feed the husbandry of the soil.They then admit the existence of the contraband slave-trade, in defiance of the law, and of the treaty with England, and they urge its abrogation on the groundThat a transgression so immoral and deceitful, may be obviated, an evil which Providence alone, whom we supplicate, can in some measure lessen.They urge the repeal with great earnestness, as the prosperity of the province depends on the culture of the sugar cane, which mainly constitutes its richness and opulence, and from which the State draws great revenues. (Class B. 1840, p. 294.) In other words, the crime must not be punished by law, but permitted, for fear the criminal should add to his guilt, the offence of violating the prohibition of the law, to prevent his iniquities, recourse must be had, not to penal enactments, but to prayers for his conversion. I find another provincial assembly, that of Minas Geraes, urging the same suit on the like grounds. After dwelling upon the dangers resulting to the country from 940 the want of new negroes, the memorial adds:ߞAbove all as the worst of all these perils, the immorality which is the result of our citizens being accustomed to violate the laws under the very eyes of the administrators thereof."—Dispatch, 22nd of February, 1840, papers A. 294.I verily believe, that the whole history of human effrontery presents no passage to match this—no second example of equal audacity. We have here a provincial Legislature coming forward on behalf of pirates—for ever since March, 1831, slave-trading is piracy by the law of Brazil—on behalf of pirates and their accomplices, the planters who profit by the piracy, purchasing its fruits; on behalf of these great criminals urging a repeal of the law which they openly avow is continually broken by them, and which they declare they will continue to set at nought, as long as it continues unrepealed; but demanding its repeal upon the ground, that while it remains, they being resolved to break it, are thus under the necessity of committing the additional immorality of breaking it under the eye of the judges sworn to enforce it. Such are the notorious facts, notorious to all who lived in Brazil; and proving to those engaged in promoting and profiting by the agriculture of that country, be they resident there or here at home, that their capital must be used to promote slave-trading in a country where the African trade continues to flourish in defiance of a merely nominal prohibition. But your Lordships must not suppose, that my charge against British capitalists of employing in the 'promotion of this guilty commerce the wealth bestowed by Providence as a blessing on their honest industry, rests upon mere general probability or natural inference. I have certain specific facts to which I can refer and which unfortunately leave no doubt upon the subject. On the 14th of July, 1838, (I am obliged to give the date that there may be no doubt of my authority,) the English commissioners at Rio wrote to Lord PalmerstonߞThe various undertakings going on in this country and every day multiplying, are for the most part the result of British enterprize.But neither is it on so general a statement as this that the case rests, although coming from a quarter every way entitled to respectful attention; for though we can 941 but seldom trace the course which such speculations take; though we ran with difficulty follow and unravel the shifts, the subtle contrivances by which the law is evaded; there come to light now and then matters which leave no doubt as to the transactions that are going on, and show in what way the investment of capital takes place, and what are the practices resorted to for driving and for screening the traffic. A year or two ago, a vessel bearing Russian colours was seized. She was released on the ground of an objection taken to the jurisdiction, an unsound one as I conceive. Being released, however, she was sold here and her name was changed. She was purchased. Where? In the city. By whom? By a merchant, established for twenty years in the city, naturalised I believe in this country, and to all intents and purposes a British trader. She was purchased for whom? A Spaniard, a notorious 3lave trader. With what capital? I care not whether the purchase was made with the merchant's own capital, with the capital of the Spaniard for whom he might have acted as agent or with that of the English master who was on board the vessel. As soon as she was purchased, her name being changed from Russian to English, she was sent forth on her voyage of depredation. She first touched at Cadiz; and, from that circumstance, the voyage might be represented as a perfectly innocent one from the Thames to the Mediterranean. She was thence dispatched to the African coast, and the pretence no doubt is, that the former voyage from London was an entirely separate and unconnected transactionߞthat she suddenly changed her character on arriving in Spain, and became all at once a slaver, from having been an innocent ship. Such of your Lordships as can bring your minds to believe this tale, must be endowed with strength of faithߞwith powers of belief ߞfar exceeding the measure of my credulity. From Cadiz, then, she fared forth to Africa, and was seized on the slave coast, close to a notorious slave mart, having such a cargo, and such correspondence on board with slave-traders, and consigned to persons so notorious as slave-traders, that she was without difficulty condemned under the Consolidated Slave-trade Act for aiding and abetting in the traffic. The master on board, an English subject, was the pretended owner; there was, however, every reason to 942 believe, that she belonged to a notorious slave-trader of Cuba, and had been purchased for him by his London agent. This happened early last year. Another instance occurred not much longer ago; a vessel, American built, but British owned, sailed from Liverpool, and the names of her owners, which I need not mention, are given in the papers on your Table. The articles signed by the seamen, were for a voyage to the Brazils, and back again to some port in the United Kingdom. But no sooner did she reach her port of destination, Bahia, than she was fitted out for the slave coast; the crew refused to go, as this was contrary to their articles, and seven left her, whose places were supplied by others embarked in Brazil. This is certified by the English vice-consul, under the consular seal. The charterer was a noted slave-trader; the consignees were slave-traders; the destination was Lagos, a notorious slaving port; and she was condemned for aiding in the slave-trade. But a little while before this seizure, Captain Smith of H. M. S. Grecian, captured a vessel under Brazilian colours, off the coast of Brazil, having seventy or eighty slaves on board, and bound with them to the plantation of a British subject, settled in Brazil. That they came from the African coast, I am not prepared to affirm; but I am ready to declare my opinion, which 1 have before staled in this place, that such a traffic is punishable as felony in a British subject, under the provision of the Consolidated Act, whether the slaves purchased be brought from the coast of Africa or from any other placeߞthe exceptions in that act do not protect itߞthey only protect purchasing and carrying coastwise in the dominions of the Crown. Not to multiply instances, a case lately came before the Privy Council upon the claim of a Brazilian vessel, condemned for slave-trading. My noble Friend, the Lord President, may recollect it; he sat with us upon the appeal. The ship had been sent out upon a slaving voyage; and the consignee of the cargo, was a very well known slave-trader; but among other evidence which he produced, to avert the condemnation, was the certificate of twenty or thirty mercantile houses established in Brazil, all testifying to his high character for respectability and honour. Of these houses about one-half were British firms. These men scrupled not to join in bearing 943 this testimony to the character of a person whose slave-trading must be as well known upon the 'Change of Rio, as the name he is called by, slave-trading having been by the law of Brazil, treated as piracy for the last ten years and upwards. Of the British houses, that so certified, I will say nothing, however, except that three of them are represented to me by persons upon whose information I think reliance may be placed, as having lost together 12,000,. by some late condemnations of vessels for slave-trading; and I know that the despatch of the commissioners to the Secretary of State, dated 14th July, 1838, to which I have already referred, distinctly states,ߞBritish capital to have suffered severely in this city (Rio) from recent captures.But if our merchants settled in Brazil thus vouch for the character of Brazilian slave-traders, see how mutual the voucher is; how freely the Brazilian slave-trader bears his testimony reciprocally to the character of the British merchant! In a journal believed to be under the patronage, and known to speak the sentiments of a celebrated Brazilian minister, connected with the slave-trading party, I find this panegyric upon our countrymen:—We declare, that we have a great respect for the English merchants of Rio, not only for their conduct in our internal concerns, but principally for the way in which they contribute to the ransom of captive blacks in Africa, whether by ordering goods fit to be employed in this work of humanity—whether by lending their money to the adventurer, or whether, as is said, by insuring vessels destined for the coast." We greatly respect the English merchants for their conduct in our internal concerns!" Whether the part of their conduct thus so greatly respected is their bearing judicial testimony to the honour of pirates, or only their importing from seventy to eighty negro slaves, in breach of the laws of England, I am not prepared to say. But the principal ground of respect is their conduct towards Africa, "the way in which they there contribute to ransom the captive blacks by ordering goods fit for being employed in this work of humanity." Whether the goods so humanely used are the coast guns, as they used to be called, which being bought for twelve or fifteen pence, burst in the hands of the negroes, the second or third time 944 they are fired, or whether the allusion may be to the shackles, the manacles, the iron weights that form part of the cargo in this voyage of humanity, or whether the whips and goads invested are more darkly shadowed out under the tender phrases, I will not take upon me to decide. But on the next topic of praise there can be little doubt;" the lending their money to the adventurer," the humane adventurer, and "insuring as is said, (I make no doubt most truly said), the vessels destined for the slave coast." No doubt the insuring such vessels is naturally a matter of eulogy to the affectionate lovers of the unhappy African race, eagerly celebrating the praise of those engaged in their ransom. Such vessels for instance, as were lately seized by Captain Denman, who, shedding a new lustre on the great name he bears, and equalling the exertions of the most gallant and zealous of his brethren in arms on that station, if, indeed, he does not surpass them all, has been waging a constant, an implacable, an interminable, and, I rejoice to add, a successful warfare with the miscreant felons who ravage the coast, pollute the sea, and disgrace the name of sailor and of trader. The praise is bestowed on the humane British insurer of such vessels as he lately took—in one of which, horrid to relate, of forty-seven tons burden, 370 wretched Africans were found concealed. Think of that! If you can bring yourselves to the dreadful contemplation, think of that! Eight persons to a ton, being five times as many as were permitted by our slave-carrying acts at a time when, if we did not encourage, we at least protected the traffic Exaggeration is always to be condemned; both as unfair, and therefore wrong, it is to be condemned; and as utterly inexpedient, it is to be rejected. I have often complained of it on both grounds before your Lordships, and have reminded those who foolishly, as well as blameably, had recourse to such a practice, that it counteracts their own intentions, like some optic glass, which in unskilful hands diminishes objects instead of magnifying them. But here it would be as impossible, as it is unjust and as it is foolish to exaggerate; for I defy any man's fancy to go beyond the fact, or anything to be conceived more horrible than the bare statement of 370 wretched beings thrust into a vessel no larger than a Thames barge—there to endure what would be unbearable 945 torment in a passage up or down the river, that washes these walls—to endure it on the voyage across the Atlantic ocean. Nor let us exaggerate the blame of those who by their speculations give the impulse to such cruel deeds. I do not mean to hold them answerable for things of which they may be ignorant, as they have never themselves witnessed those scenes of horror. But they are most clearly accessories before the fact, in so far as their capital drives the trade, or their demand for its produce causes it to be driven; and they are sharers in the guilty profits of the transaction so far as they carry on their concerns of planting or of mining by purchasing those victims of the slave-trader's avarice, whom he tears from Africa that he may sell to them. Many persons of otherwise excellent character, nay, even of dispositions generally humane, are, some without reflection, others in ignorance of the details, embarked on such speculations. With these I would only remonstrate; I would beseech them in all kindness of spirit, to reflect more fully, to examine more closely the consequences of thus employing their capital in foreign slave colonies. If their eyes are opened to the inevitable consequences; if they are aroused to a distinct view of the facts; surely they will awaken to a sense of what their duty demands of them, unless they would, after notice, make themselves wilful partakers of the crime. Let us take the case of mining companies,—the affairs of these are chiefly in the hands of British shareholders; the seat of some companies is in the city of London itself. At a late meeting of one company a call upon the shares being proposed, the ground of the demand was openly declared to be the expenses incurred by the recent purchases of slaves required to keep up the stock for working the mine. 5,000l. was stated to be the sum thus expended in one year, and seventy-three negro, were alleged to have been bought. Many holders of those shares are without doubt, honourable and excellent persons, who have never considered the subject as it deserves. It is with them I make my friendly and respectful remonstrance, hoping—I had well nigh said expectingߞthat they will upon inquiry, feel the necessity of abandoning such speculations, and acting at once upon that feeling, invest otherwise, the wealth with which Providence has blessed them for far worth- 946 ier ends. Of their agents in Brazil, I cannot speak in any such measured terms —they must know that they are directly abetting the traffic. If they say that the slaves they purchase for their employers are creoles and not imported; if they contend that it is lawful to buy slaves in a foreign country where slavery is still suffered by the law; passing over the objections to this position which I have ever urged upon the most plain construction of lour abolition acts, which make such dealing felony, every where except in a British settlement, I say that, granting the law to be as they erroneously read it, their statement of fact cannot avail to screen them. It is quite inconceivable that they should be ignorant of the slaves whom they purchase, having been lately, nay, but the day before, landed from the hold of the slave-ship. No person in Brazil—no person who has been there a month, can pretend ignorance of a negro being newly imported, the instant he sees him. But if the mere sight should not prove decisive, could any man affect to doubt, after hearing the unhappy creature speak? Nay, suppose even that test to fail, does not the price paid, at once convict the purchaser? When 65l. or 70l. only is demanded for the new negro, and 120l. or 130l. is the price of a Creole, of a seasoned slave, do you require more evidence to prove the guilty knowledge of the buyer, than his paying only half-price? Let me see the man who has bought a jewel at half its value, and I shall have my doubts of his honesty, even if the seller was not a suspicious character. But show me the man who has paid half-price to a suspected person, and I shall have no doubt at all, that the one is a receiver, and the other a thief. This is not more clear than that the man who pays for a slave half the sum which a seasoned negro costs, knows that he is buying a slave newly brought from Africa. In fact the market cannot be supplied regularly with Creoles—with healthy and serviceable Creoles hardly at all. Those brought to sale are either maimed, or afflicted with some bodily illness, or some mental incapacity, or of habits dissolute and rebellious. Whoever would buy a large number cannot either take slaves of that description, or trust to the chances of some unforeseen disaster, occasioning a sale, and the purchaser not keeping the slave, though it is difficult to see how any one can carry on 947 the plantation without the slaves. Those who conduct the mines must, therefore, know, that it is the African market from whence they are supplied with new hands. Some of those agents, and bearing, I grieve to say, her Majesty's commission, half-pay officers in the army and the navy, have been heard to avow openly, that they purchased newly imported slaves in preference, doubtless because they cost less. But it required no such avowal to convince any one who reflected on the nature of the commerce, that such must be the case. The course of the traffic is well known. A vessel arrives from Africa, and not venturing to land her cargo in Rio, from fear of the British commissioners rather than apprehension that the Brazil authorities will do their duty, she hovers off the bar, below the town, and conveys the negroes to some convenient landing place, from whence they are conducted to a barracoon, or slave-barrack, in the woods, and at only a few miles distance from the city. I asked of my informants how it happened that as many as 700 or 800, the number frequently landed from one slaver, could be conveyed through the country, without danger of their escaping or rising to resist their keepers. Alas, I little knew the condition in which these hapless creatures reached the new world! I was told that if I had ever witnessed the state in which they were carried on shore, emaciated, exhausted, and crippled, barely capable of crawling along, I should have seen that the least movement towards flight, or the raising a hand in resistance, was an absolute, a physical impossibility. Thus passively taken to the barracoon, they are there seen and purchased by the mine agent, or the planters' agent. Can he muster up assurance enough to deny that he knows he is dealing for negroes newly landed? Nay, if he only repairs to the city, and is there waited upon by a slave captain, or his super-cargo, can he pretend to deny that he is aware of the article he is buying—yea, just as certainly as if he had seen the poor negro landed, whom he is about to drive up the country to delve in the mine, or hoe in the cane-piece! Such men are not to be, in any respect whatever, distinguished from slave-traders. In the African slave-trade they are directly concerned—slave *raiders in the ordinary acceptation of the term. A broad distinction is to be taken between their guilt and that of the capitalist 948 who employs and hires them; he does not actually see the criminal traffic; he does not go down to the slave-ship, with her freight of misery and of crime—her lading of wretches, and her felon crew. Nevertheless, it is imposssible to hold him blameless when his hired agent is covered with guilt; the agent whom he sets on as the accomplice of piracy, by whose acts he profits, the result of whose wrong doing all goes to enrich him. If he be not an accessary to the felony, his money procures it—his wealth is increased by it—without his aid it could not be perpetrated. Whoever they be that instigate such iniquities, by their speculation, and support them with their money, let them be, well assured that their capital is the very spring which sets in motion the whole machinery of crime, as certainly as the main spring of that clock moves the hand which tells me how long, how much longer than was necessary, I have been detaining you to dwell over these painful scenes. But men, especially when engaged in evil courses, are prone to discover minute differences; and self-love, the great source of all blindness, is itself very quick-sighted to descry nice distinctions, that may screen us from the stern judge whom Providence has appointed within the breast. The capitalists to whom I have alluded, are apt to say, possibly to think, they are little to blame, because they see nothing of all the suffering they occasion, and all the vice by which they profit; and many who would shrink from doing the deed with their own hands, or even shudder to view it with their own eyes, have but little qualm that others should do it for them, and out of sight. I remember an eastern tale in which some tyrant is represented as minded to put two of his family to death; but even his relentless nature flew back from witnessing the murder he ordered to be committed, according to the accustomed solecism of arbitrary power, as Lord Bacon calls it, desiring the end but disliking the means. The officer whom he commissioned to do the deed, shared in the same scruples; and thinking he could divide the guilt by dividing the instrumentality, employed one ignorant of the criminal purpose. This unsuspected agent was taken to a cave where a rope that entered the ground was made fast to an iron ring; and he was bid to sever it with a hatchet; the rope disappeared with great force on the blow being struck; and being carried to 949 the adjoining palace be saw two persons crushed to death by the descent of a marble canopy under which they had been sleeping. His base conductor and his royal employer, would have recoiled from the sight of the slaughter which they had no scruple thus to perpetrate; and of which each was as guilty as if he had dared to plunge his dagger into the victims and been sprinkled with their blood. But it is not more certain that the blow of the hatchet which severed the rope, dealt destruction to those who reposed under the block which it had suspended, than it is certain that the capital of British speculators invested in the mines of Brazil, and the plantations of Cuba, kindles the wars, and stimulates the murders, and instigates the tortures, and sheds the desolation with which the slave-traffic has for ages ravaged the regions of Africa, to glut the cruel avarice of nations, the most ostentatious devotees to the religion of charity and peace. I hear it indeed whispered that these are not times for interfering with the employment of capital; that in the present embarrassment under which our commerce is labouring, we should be slow to stop up any channel in which capital may find employment. I can listen to no such argument; I protest utterly against its application to this question; and your Lordships, above all men, can give it no quarter! What course have you been holding, and only yesterday holding? Regardless of the plea that trade was labouring, you have increased its burden, where the plain interests of decorum and of morals demanded an addition to the load. But having overruled that plea when indecency was counterpleaded, you must not show yourselves more patient of crime. Sworn enemies to practices of an immoral tendency, will you be the protectors of actual guilt? Unscrupulous in dealing with private rights, when they warred with purity of conduct, can you harbour a preposterous delicacy towards piracy and murder, to screen from justice the gains of the felon or his accomplice? The more gloomy our prospects may be under a temporary visitation, the closer we should cling to our principles, that holding fast our integrity we may earn the blessing of brighter fortunes. Let us wash out the most vile pollution that defiles our honest trade, and tarnishes their name who drive it. Cease to protect the slave- 950 monger, by whatever name he may call himself, or his accomplice, under what mask so ever he may lurk. Zealous in extirpating vice, and immorality, and intemperance at home, do not patronise and propagate them abroad—any where abroad. Neither in the east, neither in the west, neither towards the rising sun nor towards his going down, wage execrable wars with human happiness and virtue, for the lucre of gain,—wars against millions, feeble as they are unoffending,—wars such as those of the must sordid prince who ever filled that throne, and which his immortal historian, likened to some base metal, glittering like steel, but really of brass,—monstrous wars, redeemed by no one virtue, nor graced by any triumph, save the triumph over public principle and national honour, in which victory shorn of its glories leads on peace stripped of its wonted blessings, nay, clothed in a double curse—in them that give it, whom it stains with the disgrace of guilty profits—in them that receive it, whom it corrupts with intemperance and cripples with disease! But a curse yet more heavy lies on the gains of African slavery and war,—whether they swell the stores of the trader or replenish the coffers of the State—Surely, surely this country never can forget the maxim of her greatest poets, and none the least of her patriots, that it is her high prerogative to teach the nations how to live. And not her policy alone, but her industry must be kept pure, and above forming a partnership with violence and slavery. It is with peace, and with freedom that the commerce of England naturally maintains her holy alliance. She is the offspring of that liberty—but the support of her parent by a charity above all Greek or Roman charities; the nurse of her parent—and you, my Lords, calling down upon her and yourselves the blessings of heaven by pursuing the course which I, in all humility, but with all earnestness urge you to take, will add to your own fame an honour of which you stand little in need—but afford me, who want it much, the only consolation I can ever now enjoy, by helping me to discharge a sacred public duty.I move you to resolve that this House will, with all practicable expedition take such measures as may be most effectual for preventing the employment of British capital in promoting or maintaining the slave-trade.
§ The Duke of Wellington
said, that after the 951 attention which he was sure their Lordships had paid to the admirable speech of his noble and learned Friend, he was convinced they must all be anxious to have some means brought under their consideration which should be effectual in putting an end to those evils which his noble and learned Friend had so eloquently represented as existing, and of giving effect to the resolution which he had just submitted to the House. He certainly felt that, if the House adopted this motion, it would be absolutely necessary for the Government to bring in a measure founded upon it, in order, if possible, to prevent the continuance of the evils of the slave-trade. His noble and learned Friend had mentioned that some persons bearing her Majesty's commission were involved in the transactions of which he had spoken—that was a part of the evil for which he could have no difficulty in finding a remedy, but after having attended most patiently and anxiously to the speech which they had just heard, he could not discover in it any thing like a road to measures which would have the effect of putting an end to the evils which it described. What he would propose would be this—that his noble and learned Friend should himself bring forward a measure which would have the effect of putting an end to the perpetration of these crimes, and which would relieve the country from the dread of its continuance. He now submitted to his noble and learned Friend, and to their Lordships, an engagement on the part of her Majesty's Government, that they would take his measure into their consideration at an early period of the next Session of Parliament, with the view of giving it their support and assistance, in order to render it a perfect measure of legislation, and suited to attain the end sought to be accomplished.
said, that if he were asked what would probably be the measure most calculated to effect the end he had in view, he should answer for the present—an act declaratory of the true intent of the act of George 4th. Doubts had been raised in different countries respecting the construction to be put upon the terms of that act. There was no doubt as to the real intentions of the framers of the measure, which was drawn up by his most distinguished and excellent Friend Dr. Lushington, who had taken so deep an interest in the suppression of the slave- 952 trade. He, therefore, considered, that the most effectual course would be to adopt a declaratory act, solving all those doubts, and declaring the true intent of the enactment in question. In case of the adoption of such an act, it would be for the wisdom of Parliament to consider how long a time should be granted to persons implicated, to remove themselves from the position in which the law would then place them. But if such a measure should be carried, he trusted that what had passed in the House that night would be taken more as a warning than as an accusation, and he trusted that after that night no new transactions in connexion with the slave-trade no new speculations would receive any countenance or protection from the British public. He should consent to withdraw his motion on the understanding that the Government were pledged to a measure upon the subject.
said, that he understood Government to be pledged to take the subject of capital embarked in the slave-trade into immediate consideration, with a view to its prevention.
§ Lord Wharncliffe
understood the pledge to be an engagement to support a measure for the purpose to be brought forward by the noble Lord.
§ The Duke of Wellington
explained that he meant that Government should take into consideration, with a view to giving it their cordial support, both in this and the other House, a measure which the noble and learned Lord should introduce.
§ The Earl of Ripon
wished the noble and learned Lord to undertake the framing of the measure in question, as his great knowledge of the subject, and the part he had taken in the introduction of similar bills, eminently qualified him for the task. The difficulty was to frame an act which should reach the parties; and as the transactions took place in another country, from which they could not easily command evidence, it would require great experience in the tortuosities of the subject to frame an efficient measure, and he trusted that his noble and learned Friend would apply his mind speedily to the subject.
§ Motion withdrawn.