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it was debated in the present session of parliament, but in former sessions, and by reasoners on the opposite tides, in general.
Lord Grenville's motion for the second reading of the Slave-trade Abolition bill was supported by the duke of Gloucester, the earl of Selkirk, lord King, earl of Rossi Yd, lord Northesk, the bishop of Durham, lord Holland, and the earl of Suffolk. It Mas opposed by the duke of Clarence, the earl of Morton, the earl of Westmoreland, lord Sidmouth, lord Kldon, and lord Hawkesbury. It was suggested, on the present subject, by lord Sidmouth, that churches should be built for the negroes in the West-India islands, agreeably to the advice of Mr. Burke, and that they should be instructed in the morality, and also the peculiar doctrines of the Christian Religion. To Mr. Burke's adTice, lord Sidmouth made an addition that merits the most attentive consideration. He recommended that the negroes should be also uni. ted by the ties of matrimony, as the first step towards- civilization, and the future improvement <>r their condition. With these advantages, and the blessing of being protected by our laws, he thought that the time would arrive for emancipating them.*—The second readiDgof the bill was carried by a hundred voices against thirty-six.
The report of the bill being brought up, on February fith, lord
Grenville stated, that it had beew thought adviseable to fix the same period in all the clauses of the bill for the abolition of the slave-trade, namely the 1st of May next ; (ind to introduce a proviso, allowing vessels employed in the trade, which had cleared out from the ports of this country for Africa previously to that day, to complete their cargoes in Africa, and trade with them to the West Indies, and other parts of America, until the 1st of January, 1808, at which period the trad* should be finally abolished. The: amendments proposed by his lord. ship were agreed to.
Lord Redesdale suggested, that, as the loss of a vessel, or other wnavoidable accident, might prevent the arrival of a cargo from Africa, in the West Indies, within the time limited, it might be adviseable to make an exception forsuch a case.— After a short conversation between the lords Ilodesdale, G renville, and Stanhope, it was agreed to introduce into the bill, words excepting from its operation those cases, where the voyage to the West Indies cou'.d not be completed within the time limited, on account of capture, the loss of the vessel, or other unavoidable accident: the proof of which to lie on the party.—On the question being put for engrossing the bill, the bishop of London rose,and expatiated on the moral and religious consequences that might be expected to accrue from that salutary and ktimahe act of legislative justice.— But he lamented that the number of clergymen was so small when com. pared with the great population of the blacks. In the island of Jamaica where there were from 2 to 300.000 negroes, there were only 20 clergymen, whose time was al. most entirely taken up in religious instruction, and exhortation, administering the sacraments, and performins; other duties of their function to tilt-whites.—The earl of St. Vincent, , who had, on former occasions, set his face in the most decided manner, against the bill, embraced this last •pportunity of entering his protest against its adoption: the conse. qaences of which, he was fully persuaded, would prove fatal to the best interests of this country. As soon a* France should make peace with this country, (and she would hiiten a pacification in consequence of this measure), her first object would be to get complete possession of the slave-trade, and. if she succeeded in that object, it would soon . appear that she had got possession of in engine that would work the downfall of the naval superiority of this country. Such was his conviction, and he uttered it now for the last time. His lordship then immediately withdrew from the house.* The diflorent clauses of the bill were
• The building of churches would have little effect, if they were not altcndul fcy the masters and mistresses as wall as the slaves: nay, they riiight have a bad •Sect; they might appear to be thought fitplacesnf meeting for negroes. Bar if it «erc possible to procure clergymen as zealous in making converts.as catho licsare.or have been, the good effect would be certain, by instruction in the doctrines and precepts of Christianity, and by encouraging marriage and domestic habiu aadviruiM, slavery wan abolished in the Danish colonics, with safety and advantage.
then agreed to, and the bill engrossed.
Next day, February 9, the order ofthedayfor the third reading of the Slave-trade Abolition bill being read ;lord Redesdale rose,—not, he said, to detain their lordships with a speech, but to dec are his couviction that the present measure would be the means of producing all the horrors of a revolution that could possibly be imagined. The abolition of the African trade should have gone hand in hand with the abolition of that in the West-Indies, ilad the object of the .bill been a gradual and general abolition of the slave-trade, it would have had his hearty concurrence—but he would not enter into any debate. Any attempt to withstand the present enthusiasm on the subject wou'd be in vaui. But he could not help remarking, that when a legislature acted enthusiastically, they did not always act wisely, and he did not tbink, that in the faithful and conscientious discharge of their duty, the opposers of this bill, had much to answer for.—-The earl of Buckinghamshire said, that mere enthusiasm was not calculated to last for twenty years, during which period this measure had been under discussion. When a member of the house of commons < in the year 1792, he had voted for a
* Another naval commander of still greater celebrity was as decided an antiiholitionitt as l"rd St. Vincent, as appears from the following passage, which is psrt of a letter from lord Nelson, to Mr. Simon 1'aylnr; Jamaica, dated Victory, oa Martinico. June 10. "I have ever been, and shall die a firm friend to our cw'inial system. I was bred, you know, in the good old school, and taught to appreciate the value of our West-India possessions, and nc t er in the field, nor in the senate, shall their interest be infringed, while I have an arm to ri^l.t in their defence, or a tongue to launch my voice against the damnable and urged doctrine of* • • » and his hypocritical allies, and I hope my biith in Heaven will be asenlted, as his who would certainly cau«e the murder of all our friends in the Colonics. I did not intend to go so far, but the sentiments arc full in my heart, and the p«n would write them," rot. XL1X. I gradual
gradual abortion, conceiving that persons concerned in the trade ought to havesufticient notice. Now however, he had no doubt that the trade oueht immediately to be abolished, not only because that trade was con. trary to justice and humanity, but also because the abolition was the only means of preventing those evils which must otherwise, necessarily result from the multiplication of slaves in the west. The duke of Norfolk approved of the bill, and expressed a confidence that the planters, by a moderate treatment of their slaves, would contribute to bring about that state of the colonies which was so much to be. desired. The earl of Westmoreland was at a loss to understand on what principle of logic it was to bi proved, that if the slave-trade was contrary to justice and humanity, it was not also contrary to justice and humanity to keep the negroes who had been pro. cured by means of the trade, in a state of perpetual slavery. Not that he was so mad as to think that freedom ought to be given to the slaves in the West-ladies, but that on the principles on which the abolition bill was now founded, emancipation ought also to follow. Lord Grenville said that in abolishing the slave-trade, justice would be done to the inhabitants of Africa, who were the parties aggrieved, but that liberty to the slaves on the Islands, would be to them, in their state of ignorance and barbarism, a baleful poison.—The bill was then read a third time, passed, and ordered to be sent to the commons, for obtain. lag the concurrence of that house.
House of commons, February 3
The bill being laid on the table, a Motion was made by lord Howick, for reading it a first time. This
was opposed, in what is called s maiden, or first speech inparliamtnt, by
Mr. George Hibbert.—He was particularly anxious to impress on the minds of all the members, that they were not a mere comitium. or popular assembly, nor yet a mere organ ofthe voiceofthemultitude,but a deliberative body, limited in their number, that they might deliberate calmly, without any mixture of po. pular prejudice, enthusiasm or pas. sion ; bound to maintain the rights, and to consult the interests and thu wishes of the people, but bourn] also to decide, according to theii consciences, for the good of t)i« whole, after full and free discus, sion....He was determined tooppon at eveiy step, a measure which hi believed to be grounded on a delu sive promise of good which it wouli never accomplish, and to be preg nant with inevitable, immediate,"am extensive mischief.
Captain Herbert too thought tha the abolition ofthe slave-trade wouh become the ruin of the British colo nies in the West-Indies, and conse quently of our finances in that pal of the world. General Gascoyne als entreated the house to give the meu sure before them, the fullest an most serious consideration. Ever measure he said, that invention o artifice could devise, had been re sorted to on the present occasion The church, the theatre, and th press, had laboured to create a pre judice against the slave-trade. 1 was not his intention, however, speak at present on the general sub ject, as he should consider it as dis respectful to the lords, if any bi that came down from their housfl should not at least be read a fir) time.—Lerd Ilewiek, and Mr. VPinmer, declared that if any artifices had been pracised for raising a popular clamour against the slavetrade, they were wholly unknown to them. Lord Howick knew, he Mid, that there had been a most laudable and persevering attention on the part of the honourable gentleman (Mr. W.) with whom the neasnrt originated. This attentioa, however, had never been used to mislead any one, but merely to make the matter generally underWood.
After a short conversation between Mr. Plumer, lord Howick, Mr. Hibbert, lord H. Petty, Mr. H. Addington, Mr. I. II. Browne, lord Temple, Mr. Tierncy, and Mr. Babington, a motion for the second wading of the bill on Friday se'nnigtat was put and carried. On that day, February 20, lord Howick having moTed the order of the day, counsel were heard against the bill, in the following order ; Mr. Dallas for the merchants and planters of Jamaica; Mr. Alexander for the merchants of London, trading to Africa; Mr. Clarke for the mayor, corporation, and merchants, of Liverpool; and Mr. Scarlett for the merchants and planters of Trinidad. Tbe_learned counsel for Jamaica, lAndon, and Liverpool, at the riofc of their respective speeches, requested that evidence might be called in, and general' Gascoyne made successive motions' to that effect, which were negatived without a division.—The/propriety of hearing evidence was urged by Mr. foller, Mr. Hibbert, sir C. Pole, •nd Mr. Howarth. On the motion for calling in evidence being made for tie first time, that is, after the conclusion of Mr. Dallas's plead. sags, lord Howick said, that set any
thing the counsel had stated was new to the house, except one point, the relative situation of St. Domingo and Jamaica, and this was a matter of mere opinion. If, after so many years of inquiry, the house, should still go on to investigate this subject, they would never come to a decision. Mr. Wilberforce, too, was convinced, that the house would not see any reason for further evidence, when they considered that for the last three years, both down stair*, and in committees, every species of evidence had been brought and considered, that could possibly elucidate the question.
Mr. Scarlett was then heard for the Island of Trinidad. lie also concluded with a request that evidence should be adduced. After having retired, he was again called in on the motion of lord Howick, to state the points on which ha wished that evidence should bo ex_ amincd. They were, in substance, the loss that would be sustained by certain persons who had been induced by the British government to become settlers. After Mr. S. had again withdrawn, Mr. Wilberforce remarked, that the present was not the proper time for hearing such evidence. If the question of compensation shouldbe brought before the house at a subsequent period, that would be the opportunity for receiving it.
A motion by Mr. Howarth that the counsel should be called in, and directed to proceed with his evidence, was opposed by lord Howick. The learned counsel, he observed, hadstatedtwo points, which he wished to establish by evidence. The first was, that no more ground could be cleared in the Island of Trinidad without a fresh importation of I S slavesstares; the second, that great loss would be sustained, from the abolition of the slave-trade by the settlers. The first was a self-evident proposition, and would lead merely to a question of policy. The second would be a question of future consideration. Those who demanded compensation, might hereafter submit their case to the house, who were never backward in listening to the claims of justice. General Gascoync could not forbear expressing his satisfaction that the principle of indemnity seemed to be acknowledged by the noble lord. Lord H. said that he had only stated a general principle. Sir P. Francis was not. willing to allow the possibility of a ca*e in which the public ought to make compensation to an individual for any losses that mi,lit arise from the abolition of such iniquitous practices. Mr. Roscoe declared, that, in his opinion, the house, after perlorming the great duty of abolishing the Slave-trade, was bound to consider the situations of those who should sutler from the annihilation of a system, which, though it disgra. ced the land, had been so long sanctioned by the legislature. Mr. R. Thornton thought that few cases would be found entitled to compen. sation. Those engaged in commercial concerns, were necessarily exposed to risks, and sufficient warning had long been given to those who were engaged in the abominable traffic. Mr. S. Stanhope conceived that it wolud be convenient if the principle on which compensation would be allowed, were stated to the house before the passing of the present bill.—The motion was then negatived without a division. After which, lord Uowick moved the commitment of the bill, and the debate on that
motion was adjourned till Monday, February 23—When, pursuant tti this adjournment, Mr. Manning stated that in the event of the bill foi the abolition of the slave-trade pas. sing into a law, he should move foi the appointment of a committee to consider of the propriety of granting compensation to certain classes ol persons, whose interests would be affected by it: he wished to ask his majesty's ministers, whether they were authorized to accede to such a proceeding .' The compensation be had in view, was much more limited than might be supposed. The first class he thought entitled to this, were those who had purchased land under commissions, granted by his majesty for the sale of them. A second class, were those who had purchased lauds on the faith of parliament, previous to the first agitation of this question. A third class, consisted of those who had suffered in their properties, by insurrections of the negroes, or by wars or invasions on the part of the enemy. He did not propose that any compensation should be granted, except in cases where the claims should be approved of by commissioners appointed for the purpose. There were other classes of persons, whose cases, though deserving attention, he did not then think it necessary to allude to. —Lord H. admitted the candid manner in which the honourable gentleman had stated his vines of the limited amount of compensations. But it was contrary to the practice of parliament, to declare, before.hand, what might be tbtj amount of compensation, to bft granted for possible looses, by pro* posed political regulations. This was all he could say on the subject, as he was not authorized to consent