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sufficiently manifested by the gross absurdity of the conclusion, and a laugh been all the issue. But only to think of men, rational men, being capable of gravely and deliberately publishing such views, after they knew from all experience—ay, from the experience of Wood itself—that the promulgation was virtually to be for the minds of the negroes in the West Indies, as well as of the amis det noin at home. Theft and robbery declared to be the undeniable sins of the masters on whose fields they labour, around whose couch-, cs they watch ! The cool insolence too, mixed up as if for the express purpose of fastening a spur to the galled side of Fury! Absolute emancipation proclaimed to be no other than the un.1 lien able right of man; and yet a calm, contemptuous argument, about the emancipating when! We believe the pages of history may be ransacked in vain for anything, worthy of being set by the side of this glorious amalgation of all that is feeble in folly, and all that is reckless in profligacy; and, to pass over the Quaker, we venture to hope, that when Mr Brougham quoted, with approbation, in December 1823, a toast about "success to the next negro insurrection in the West Indies," he laid upon his own shoulders a burthen which no other man in England, (we mean no other held responsible among rational men) would have run the risk of for all the wealth of Fotosi. We earnestly hope that there is no other Brougltam!
The dismal nonsense which lies at the bottom of all this has been so completely answered in the philosophical and masterly pages devoted by the Quarterly Reviewer to the true history of labour, and t/te changes which, from the nature of things, do in every society take place, in regard to the mode of rewarding labour, that it would be worse than idle to go into any part of that argument now and here. In addition, however, to the philosophical and historical answer which that able writer has given to the great preliminary assumption of the absolute criminality of compelling any man to labour, we shall tike the freedom to quote three several passages from as many writers of the very highest authority; passages, one of which has been quoted before by Mr Canning, and another by Mr Marryalt, but the third of which is from a work that was only published in I,nil,I,.11 about a week ago.
We shall quote the words of Paiet, as they were introduced in the Buxton debate by the words of Canning: £The "honourable member" whom the secretary alludes to is the worthy brewer himself.]]
"The honourable gentleman begins his resolution with a recital which I confess greatly embarrasses me ; he says, that' the state of slavery is repugnant to the principles of the Britisli constitution, and of the Christian religion.' God forbid that he who ventures to object to this statement, should therefore be held to assert a contradiction to it! I do not say that the state of slavery is consonant to the principles of the British constitution; still less do I say that the state of slavery is consonant to the principles of the Christian religion. But though I do not advance these propositions myself, nevertheless I must say, that in my opinion the propositions of the honourable gentlemen are not practically true. If the honourable gentleman means that the British constitution does not admit of slavery in that part of the British dominions where the constitution is in full piny, undoubtedly his statement is true; but it makes nothing for his object. If, however, the honourable member is to be understood to maintain that the British constitution has not tolerated for. years, nay more, for centuries, in the colonies, the existence of slavery, a state of society unknown in the mother country, —that is a position which is altogether without foundation, and positively and practically untrue. In my opinion, when a proposition is submitted to this House, for the purpose of inducing the House to act upon it, care should be taken not to confound, as I think is done in this resolution, what is morally true with what is historically false. Undoubtedly the spirit of the British constitution is, in its principle, hostile to any modification of slavery. But as undoubtedly the British Parliament has for ages tolerated, sanctioned, protected, and even encouraged a system of colonial establishment, of which it well knew slavery to be the foundation. "In the same way, God forbid that I should contend that the Christian religion is favourable to slavery. But I confess I feel a strong objection to the introduction of the name of Christianity, as it were bodily, into any parliamentary question. Religion ought to control the acts and to regulate the consciences of governments, as well as of individuals ; but when it is put forward to serve a political purpose, however laudable, it is done, I think, after the example of ill times, and I cannot but remember the ill objects to
which in those times such n practice was applied. Assuredly no Christian will deny that the spirit of the Christian religion is hostile to slavery, as it is to every abuse and misuse of power; it is hostile to all deviations from rectitude, morality, and justice; hut if it be meant that in the Christian religion there is a special denunciation against slavery, that slavery and Christianity cannot exist together,— 1 think the honourable gentleman himself must admit that the proposition is historically false; and again I must say, that I cannot consent to the confounding, for a political purpose, what is morally true with what is historically false. One peculiar characteristic of the Christian dispensation, if I must venture in this place upon such a theme, is, that it has accommodated itself to all states of society, rather than that it has selected any particular state of society for the peculiar exercise of its influence. If it has added lustre to the sceptre of the sovereign, it has equally been the consolation* of the slave. It applies to all ranks of life, to all conditions of men; and the sufferings of this world, even to those upon whom they press most heavily, are rendered comparatively indifferent by the prospect of compensation in the world of which Christianity affords the assurance. True it certainly is, that Christianity generally tends to elevate, not to degrade, the character of man; but it is not true, in the specific sense conveyed in the honourable gentleman's resolution, it is not true that there is that in the Christian religion which makes it impossible that it should co-exist with slavery in the world. Slavery has been known in all times, and under all systems of religion, whether true or false. Nan meta liic sermo: I speak but what others have written on this point; and I beg leave to read to the House a passage from Dr Puley, which is directly applicable to the subject that we arc discussing.
"' Slavery was a part of the civil constitution of most countries when Christianity appeared ; yet no passage is to be found in the Christian Scriptures by which it is condemned and prohibited. This is true; for Christianity, soliciting admission into all nations of the world, abstained, as behoved it, from intermeddling with the civil institutions of any. But does it follow, from the silence of Scripture concerning them, that all the civil institutions which then prevailed, were right; or that the bad should not be exchanged for better? Besides this, the discharging of all slaves from all obligation to ol«;y their master?, which is the
consequence of pronouncing slavery to be unlawful, would have no better effect than to let loose one-half of mankind upon the other. Slaves would have been tempted to embrace a religion which asserted their right to freedom; masters would hardly have been persuaded to consent to claims founded upon such authority; the moat calamitous of all consequences, a h-Uum servile, might probably have ensued, to the reproach, if not the extinction, of the Christian name. The truth is, the emancipation of slaves should be gradual, and be carried on by the provisions of law, and under the protection of civil government. Christianity can only operate as an alterative. By the mild diffusion of its light and influence, the minds of men are insensibly prepared to perceive and correct the enormities which folly, or wickedness, or accident, have introduced into their public establishments. In this way the Greek and Roman slavery, and since these the feudal tyranny, had declined before it. And we trust that, as the knowledge and authority of the same religion advance in the world, tliey will abolish what remains of this odious institution."
"The honourable gentleman cannot wish more than I do, that under this gradual operation, under this widening diffusion of light and liberality, the spirit of the Christian religion may effect all the objects he lias at heart. But it seems to me that it is not, for the practical attainment of his objects, desirable that that which maybe theinfluencingspirit should be put forward as the active agent When Christianity was introduced into the world, it took its root amidst the galling slavery of the Roman empire; more galling in many respects (though not precisely of the same character) than that of which the honourable gentleman, in common I mny say with every friend of humanity, complains. Slavery at that period gave to the master the power of life and death over his bondsman; this is undeniable, known to everybody ; Ha scrvtis homo csi! are the words put by Juvenal into the mouth of the fine lady who calls upon her husband to crucify his slave. If the evils of this dreadful system nevertheless gradually vanished before the gentle but certain influence of Christianity, and if the great Author of the system trusted rather to this gradual operation of the principle than to any immediate or direct precept, I think Parliament would do more wisely rather to rely upon the like operation of the same princip'e than to put forward the authority of Christianity, in at least a questionable shnpe. Tin; name of Christianity ought not to be thus used unless we are prepared to act in a much more summary manner than the honourable gentleman himself proposes. If the existence of slavery be repugnant to the principles of the British constitution and of the Christian religion, how can the honourable gentleman himself consent to pause even for an instant, or to allow any considerations of prudence to intervene between him and his object? How can he propose to divide slaves into two classes; one of which is to be made free directly, while he leaves the other to the gradual extinction of their state of suffering? But. if, as I contend, the British constitution does not, in its necessary operation, go to extinguish slavery in every colony, it is evident that the honourable gentleman's proposition is not to be understood in the precise sense which the honourable gentleman gives to it; and if the Christian religion does not require the instant and unqualified abolition of slavery, it is evident, I apprehend, that the honourable member has mistated in his resolution the principle upon which lie himself is satisfied to act."
Our second quotation is from the "Essays on Christianity," just published by Mr Mitford, the admirable historian of ancient Greece—clarum et venerabile nomen. The passage occurs in a work which will ere long be sufficiently familiar to every one. At present, however, it is a new, a very new book, and therefore we quote from it.
"It is unquestionably a Christian duty to improve the condition of man as extensively as possible. The Jewish dispensation did not require this, but, on the contrary, by its limitation of intercourse, was considerably adverse to it. Rules for the Jews, therefore, concerning slavery, as concerning numerous other matters, will not be rules for Christians, and yet may deserve the consideration of Christians. The very first article in the Jewish code relates to slaves; and it sanctions the slavery, not only of Gentiles to Jews, but of Jews to Jews; giving different rules for their treatment. If indeed dispassionate consideration be given to the subject, it will be obvious, that, in the state of mankind in the early ages, slavery was an institution, not only of convenience, and almost of necessity, toward the wanted cultivation of the soil for the production of food for increasing mankind, but really of mercy. Among barbarians, from earliest history to this day, it has been little common to spare the lives of those overcome in battle.
Even among the Greeks, to Homer's age, it was little common; and this not without reasonable plea of necessity. The conquerors had not means to maintain prisoners in idleness, and could not safely set them free. In that state of the world, therefore, wars being continual, it was obviously a humane policy to provide that, prisoners being made valuable property, it should be the conqueror's interest to preserve them. Such, however, was the kind of civil government which had its growth under influence of that early policy, that, even in the most flourishing times of Grecian philosophy, the ablest cultivators of political science were unable to say how society could be maintained, how states could be ruled and defended, without slaves to produce food and clothing for the rulers and defenders. In this remarkable instance thus we find heathen philosophy, as formerly we observed heathen religion, holding consonance with what is approved in holy writ. "But the necessity for slavery is an evil peculiar to the infancy of nations. Wherever the state of population and of civil society is such that slavery is no longer necessary, or of important expediency, it must be the interest, not less than the moral and religious duty, of the governing among mankind to abolish it.
"Policy, however, though to be controlled by religion and morality, shoidd not be conJbunded with them. That slavery, authorized by the Old Testament, is forbidden by the New, cannot be shewn; and, if trial is tlie purpose for which man has his existence in this world, tlie allowance of slavery, far from being adverse, is an additional mode for both slave and master. Yet a serious consideration remains. To measure moral trial for man is the office of almighty wisdom and all-perfect goodness only. It is man's duty to do as he would be done by; or as, were he in the other's circumstances, using unbiassed reason, he must think right to be done. Compulsion from marr to man, of any kind, though necessary in every state of society, yet being allowable only for common good, it follows that, in one state of society, slavery may be warrantable, and even requisite; not for the good of every individual, but for the general good, even of those in slavery; whereas in another it is adverse equally to good policy as, not indeed to the direct word of scripture, but to the principles of the Christian religion. Difficulty for legislators, thus, in former ages, has been, and again may or even mHst be. The ready observation on this is that, so, both the legislator, and the slave on whose condi-' tion he decides, is subjected *o the main K
purpose of the existence of both in this world, trial. Indeed the world being so constituted that, without evil, good deeds cannot be, opportunity for evil is found everywhere; and thus a national question about slavery may furnish scope for self-interestt vain-glory, and hypocrisy, equally as for the generous passions and corresponding deeds."
Our third authority is one quite of a different class, and meant principally for a different sort of persons. None, however, will hear without some respect the words of Lord Stowell; the words of him who has done more, perhaps, than anyone man that ever lived, to remove the old reproach of lawyers; whose life has been the triumph of an intellect of the first order, exerted under the influence of the finest taste, upon subjects where elegance of any kind was before thought to be unattainable; where acutcness had been degraded into subtlety, and where law had lost, if not the real dignity, the apparent liberality at least, and appropriate beauty of a science.
It was in the decision of a celebrated case, which came before the Court of Admiralty in 1813, that Sir William Scott expressed himself as follows, in reference to the validity of a contract affecting a purchase of slaves.
"Let me not be misunderstood, or misrepresented, as a professed apologist for this practice, when I state facts which no man can deny—that personal slavery arising out of forcible captivity is coeval with the earliest periods of the history of mankind—that it is found existing (and as Jar as appears without animadversion) in the earliest and most authentic records of the human race—that it is recognized by the codes of the most polished nations of antiquity—that under the light of Christianity itself, the possession of persons so acquired, has been, in every civilized country, invested with the character of property, and secured as such by all the protections of law; solemn treaties have been framed, and national monopolies eagerly sought, to facilitate and extend the commerce in this asserted property;
AND ALL THIS, WITH ALL THE SANCTIONS OF LAW, PUBLIC AND MUNICIPAL."
Leaving these passages to produce the effects which we are sure they can
not fail to produce on every dispassionate mind—we now proceed to that great question which the Quarterly Review has for the present passed sub tilentio.
The question is indeed a weighty one; it is this: "Has the British Parliament the right to interfere with the internal and municipal regulations of the affairs of the British Colonies in the West Indies, which are, and have been, in the possession of constitutions of their own, framed upon the model of the British Constitution ?" This was the question which British statesmen once answered in the affirmative, when the negative was maintained by the British colonies of North America. This was the question which was over and over again answered in the affirmative in regard to Ireland. What the result was as to these cases, We need not say. Let Mr Marryat (there is none more entitled to speak)* say what is his view of the matter as it concerns the American islands, still in our possession:—+
"For a long time past, the colonies, either under royal instruction or royal charter, have enjoyed the privilege of making laws for themselves, in all matters of internal regulation, subject to the confirmation of the Crown. His Majesty's Proclamation of October 15th, 1763, which may be considered as the charter of the numerous colonies, ceded by France to Great Britain by the treaty of that year, runs thus:
"' We have also given power to the said Governors, with the advice of our said Councils, and the Representatives of the people to be summoned as aforesaid, to make, constitute, and ordain laws, statutes, and ordinances, for the public peace, welfare, and government of our said colonies, and of the people and inhabitants thereof, as far as may be agreeable to the laws of England, and under such regulations and restrictions as are used in the other colonies.'
"These words clearly give them a jurisdiction, but limit it to matters of internal regulation. The consent of the Governors is necessary, to give the acts of the Councils and Assemblies the force of law; and as a farther check upon their proceedings, copies of all their acts are sent home, for the consideration of the King in Council, and if not allowed within a certain period, become null and void. So that the acts of the Colonial Legislatures receive the double sanction of his Majesty's Government; first in the consent of the King's representative, acting under their instructions abroad; and then in the approbation of the Ministers for the time being, at home; a circumstance which might have exempted them from some of the obloquy with which they are mentioned by the Committee of the African Institution.
• This excellent man has died since these words were written.—January 15.
+ When Mr Marryat is quoted in this paper, the references are to one or other of his pamphlets—" Thoughts, &c" « More thoughts, &c." *■ More thoughts still, &c" Published in 1816 and 1817.
"Most of the instances stated in the Reports, of laws passed at home, interfering with the rights of the Colonial Legislatures, appear, when examined, to be either acts made to regulate the external trade and navigation of the colonies, (which the Report admits, 'have certainly been the purposes which have most commonly invited the exercise of the jurisdiction in question ;'*) or laws passed, either at the request, or for the benefit, of those interested in the colonies; to confirm and extend the operation of their acts, to give validity to their securities, and to legalize their loans, at a higher rate of interest than is allowed in Great Britain.
"The right of regulating external trade and navigation, was originally reserved by the parent Legislature, and has uniformly been exercised, bynavaland custom-house officers appointed for that purpose; (an exception to the general rule, which may be said to prove the rule itself;) but the only right of internal legislation, that ever became a question between Great Britain and her colonies, the great right to which all others are subordinate, the right of taxation, was solemnly conceded to them by the 18th of George III., with the exception of only such duties, as it might be expedient to impose for the regulation of commerce; the produce of which, was to be applied to the use of the colony in which they should be levied.
"Admitting, however, as the feet is, that the mother country has occasionally interfered in the internal regulations of the colonies; does it follow, that because they made no remonstrances in cases of trifling importance, they are precluded from making a stand, when their property and even their existence are at hazard? or that, having once acquiesced in the exercise of this right, whether from negligence, or a spirit of conciliation and
forbearance, they are for ever barred, under any circumstances, from inquiring upon what principle, consistent with the British Constitution, they can be called upon to surrender the privilege they have so long enjoyed, of legislating for themselves; and submit, in future, to laws enacted by a Parliament in which they have no representatives?
"The British empire consists of different component parts, under one common head. Under such a Constitution, nothing but the cold dead uniformity of servitude, could prevent the subordinate parts from possessing local privileges; and it may occasionally be very difficult to draw the precise line, between those privileges and the supreme common authority. Such is the case, with the right of the mother country to pass laws, affecting the internal regulation of her colonies; it is one of extreme theoretical delicacy and great practical danger; it has been the subject of contest twice, within the memory of the present generation, and the result has not been such as should dispose us lightly to hazard a third experiment. In the instance of America, it terminated in the independence of that great mass of British colonies; and in the instance of Ireland, in a series of concession after concession on the part of Great Britain, till the question was at length happily set at rest by the Act of Union, which incorporated the Legislature of Ireland into the Imperial Legislature of the United Kingdom.
"Great Britain, whatever general claims she may have asserted, has never yet attempted to enforce the exercise of this right upon her West India colonies. The Abolition of the Slave Trade, was only an act of external limitation and exclusion; and with whatever pertinacity some individuals may be disposed to maintain the right of internal control, none would probably recommend the expediency of its exercise, except as a dernier resort, in case of some urgent necessity, some flagrant abuse, obstinately persisted in by the Colonial Legislature, in despite of every admonition on the part of the mother country. If any there be, who would wantonly and uselessly involve Great Britain and her colonies in the agitation of this question, they must be actuated by the most intolerant spirit of tyranny and oppression; and can only hazard such a step, on the presumption that the West India colonies are too
Reasons for Registry, p. 08.