« PreviousContinue »
foreign nations would be inclined to share the honour, and contented to follow us as their patterns in so excel, lent a work. If we were inclined to set about it in ear. nest, other countries might be invited to concur with us, either by a negociation immediately to be commenced, or by the effect that the putting the propositions upon their journals would probably produce. Mr. Pitt added, that he felt it his duty to declare, that he could not in any sort acquiesce in the idea that the legislature should make a compensation for the losses which might be sustained by the people of Liverpool, or of any other part of the kingdom, in the execution of the present undertaking,
OBSERVED, that he did not like, where he agreed as to the substance of the measure that was proposed, to differ with respect to the form of it. He however conceived, that all the propositions of Mr. Wilberforce were not necessary to be voted previously to the ultimate decision, though some of them undoubtedly "erę. He considered them as of two classes ; the one alledging the grounds upon which it was proper to proceed to the abolition, such as that it was disgraceful and inhuman, that it pro. duced the worst consequences to the natives of Africa, and was attended with loss of lives to our seamen ; the other merely answering objections that might be started, and being such as might possibly be attended with differ ence of opinion. He was however glad that the propositions were likely to be entered upon the journals, since in that case, if from any misfortune the business should be deferred, it could scarcely fail, sooner or later,
to be crowned with success. Mr. Fox highly approved of what Mr. Pitt had said respecting the language it became us to hold to foreign powers, though he could not admit the assertion of Sir. William Young, that a clandestine trade in slaves was worse than a legal one. He thought that such a trade, if it existed at all, should be only clandestine. A trade in human flesh was so scandalous, that it was to the last degree infamous to suffer it to be openly carried on by the authority of the government of any country. With regard to a regulation of the slave trade, his detestation of its existence must naturally lead him to remark, that he knew of no such thing as a regulation of robbery and restriction of mur. der. There was no medium; the legislature must either aboltsh the trade, or plead guilty to all the iniquity with which it was attended. Mr. Fox added, that if there were any great and enlightened nation now existing in Europe, it was France, who was as likely as any country upon the face of the globe to catch a spark from the light of our fire, and to act upon the present subject with warmth and enthusiasm. France had often been improperly stimulated by her ambition ; and he had no doubt but that, in the present instance, she would readily follow its honourable dictates.
Opposed the abolition, and in order to prove the unalterable depravity of the Africans, produced a curious letter from the Emperor of the Dawhomayans, a people inhabiting three hundred miles inland, to king George the First, which was found among the papers of James, first duke of Chandos, and had remained in the family
to the present time. In this letter the emperor of Dawhomay entered into a very curious detail of his own character and disposition, the form of government of his country, and the manners and pursuits of his subjects. He stated, that as he understood that king George was the greatest of white kings, so he thought himself the greatest of black ones, having many princes under him, who dared not to come into his presence without falling flat upon the ground, and rubbing their mouth nine times in the dust before they opened it to speak to him ; and when he conferred any dignities or favours upon them, wiping the soles of his feet with the hair of their head. He asserted that he could lead five hundred thousand men armed into the field, that being the pursuit to which all his subjects were bred, and the women only staying at home to plant and manure the earth. He had himself fought two hundred and nine battles with great reputation and success, and had conquered the great king of Ardah. The king's head was to this day preserved, with the flesh and hair; the heads of his generals were distinguished by being placed on each side of the doors of the temples of their Fetiches; with the heads of the inferior officers they had paved the space before the doors; and the heads of the common soldiers formed a sort of fringe or outwork round the walls of the palace. Since this war he had experienced the greatest good fortune, and he hoped in time to be able to complete the outwalls of all his great houses, to the number of seven, in the same manner.
On the Army Establishment.
He acknowledged that the tumultuous situation of France, and the friendly assurances of the greater part of the powers of the continent, seemed to ensure us a prospect of tranquillity and peace. But he was far from admitting that this was a sufficient reason for reducing our establishments. On the contrary, he conceived that the use it became us to make of the present favourable situation, when our former rivals were unable to check our exertions, was to raise ourselves to a state of such respectability, as to leave no hopes to their future hostility. He argued in favour of an enlarged American establishment, from the very circumstance of our loss of the thirteen colonies. This gave us a more extended frontier to defend, than at the time when we had no power upon that continent to oppose us, and of consequence tendered a greater army necessary. Mr. Pitt argued from the events of the late war, in favour of the inestimable value of Gibraltar, and of the bad consequences that resulted from our former mode of defence in the West Indies. The present convulsions of France, he observed, must sooner or later terminate in general harmony and regular order ; though he confessed there was a probability, that, while the fortunate arrangements of such a situation might render her more formidable, they would also convert her into a less restless neigh. bour. He hoped he should do nothing wrong as an Englishman, while as a man he wished the restoration of the tranquillity of France ; though that event appeared to him considerably distant.
Whenever it arrived,
and her inhabitants became truly free, they must be in possession of a freedom resulting from order and good government ; they would then stand forward as one of the most brilliant powers in Europe; nor could he regard with envious eyes an approximation towards those sentiments, which were characteristic of every British subject.
In Reply to Mr. Fox, on the French Revolution,
He acknowledged, that he had risen chiefly for the purpose of noticing what he was informed Mr. Fox had said upon the subject of the French revolution. He was fully persuaded that Mr. Fox had by no means intended to countenance any thing hostile to the English constitution. But he was anxious that he should not be misunderstood ; and he conceived that it would be the greatest of all calamities for this country, if any set of men among us should endeavour to hold
the late transactions in France as a fit object for our imitation. Mr. Burke examined the present state of Europe, and condemned in very pointed terms the high rate at which our military establishment was taken in the present estimates. In looking over the geography of this quarter of the world, he saw a great gap, a vast blank the space hitherto occupied by France, and which was no longer of any importance in the balance of power.
Jacet ingenes littore truncus,
France, he said, had always been an object for our