« ZurückWeiter »
turns moved, the order, as the motion, being silent upon it; yet it turns out, perhaps, the greatest mockery of all. “There are enactments cited from four colonies. In Grenada and St Vincent, a penalty of ten pounds, beside the value, is attached to the taking away any slave's property, in whatever manner the taking is perpetrated, and whether by master or stranger. In Tobago, there is a declaration that slavery shall not be a bar to actions brought in respect of rights of property; and in Dominica, the penalty for interfering with a slave's property in any way is made twenty pounds; but from this the owner is expressly excepted. Nor is this a provision since May 1823; it forms part of the Act 1788, with this notable difference, that the later enactment of January 1826 lowers the penalty from thirty to twenty pounds.
7. We have now come to the last head of inquiry, and ask, what has been done any where to mitigate or regulate Punishments? We are first presented with the 18th section of the Bahamas Act, 1824, restricting the punishment to twenty lashes in the owner's absence, and thirty-nine if he be present, and prohibiting a second punishment, while the slave is suffering under the effects of a first. Now, this is not a provision since May 1823 -it is copied, word for word, from the 17th section of the Act 1796, passed, like all the other trifles extracted from Colonial Lawgivers by their fears (their ill grounded fears, it should now seem), of the mother country's indignation. The 10th section of the old Act is, in like manner, copied into, and forms the 17th of the new; the 12th of the old' is the 19th of the new ; the 13th of the old is the 20th of the new; and the 65th of the old, the 69th of the new ;-and thus is prepared a very decent appearance of West Indian legislation, to meet the declared wishes of the Parliament, announced through the executive Government; and at a very cheap rate, viz. the copying over some four or five obsolete clauses of the last Act passed by the same parties, for the same purpose. In the mass of legislative enactments brought together by the Report of the Privy Council, 1789, (a huge folio volume, without the common helps of contents, index, or even a series of numerals on the pages), there may have escaped us many still older clauses, copied afterwards into the Act 1796;—and we cannot be sure that, in this latter Act, we have observed all that has been transcribed in 1824;—but we think there is one clear addition made in this last Act—we mean that requiring girls above twelve to be punished in private, under a penalty of ten pounds – by which change as much may be lost to mercy as is gained to decorum.
We have stated the presentation of two returns to the House of Commons, or rather that one return was made to the order of March 3, 1826, exhibiting a Tabular view of the Legislature since May 1823; and that the West Indian party, dissatisfied with this, had a fuller statement presented immediately after, under the title of · Papers by his Majesty's com
mands, containing an abstract of the Acts passed in the • Islands since May 1323, for improving the condition of • Slaves,'-evidently introduced to parade what had been lately enacted, and to answer thereby the objections of those who maintain that nothing can be expected from this quarter. The Tabular return is, in every respect, infinitely the more correct and fair document; and in no instance is its superiority more conspicuous, than under the head we are now examining. It does not exhibit as late improvements the clauses copied entire from the old Act: nor give one as all new, which contains only a single addition, that respecting the female punishments; but the more full statement would have us believe, that all the clauses transcribed, and which it extracts as enactments since May 1823, are new measures • for improving the condition of 6 slaves.'
But the regulation of punishments is, of necessity, a matter of little importance, unless the driving system is put down, by prohibiting the use of the whip. Now, has this been done in any one colony by the local Legislature ? Several of the Assemblies have passed regulations for restricting the number of lashes to be inflicted at any one time, some allowing twenty-five, others twenty, others thirty-nine; a thing of little moment; for who could desire to inílict more than even the least of these punishments? The great change in the system is to be made by preventing the driver from carrying the whip, or any substiinte for it, in the field, as the symbol of authority and stimulus to labour; and thus treating his human labourers as cattle, actuated by no motive or impulse other than the dread of the impending lash. What have
What have the Assemblies done in this respect? We are referred to two-Grenada and St Vincent. In the former it has been enacted, that no slave shall carry any • whip, cat, or other instrument of the like nature, as a mark
or emblem of his authority,' in the field, - in the latter (to which the most triumphant appeal was made before the Act arrived), it is only provided, that ' no slare shall carry any « such instrument as is commonly called the cart-uchip as a
mark of anthority.' The last enactment is plainly nugatory; for it is evaded, by the use of any other instrument than the one • commonly called the cart-whip’- while both enactments are evaded by employing, as drivers, free blacks or mulattoes.
How different from these boasted fruits of colonial justice and clemency, are the provisions of the Trinidad order, which was to have been the model of the whole reforms adopted! • And • it is further ordered, that it is, and shall henceforth be illegal for any person or persons, within the island of Trinidad, to carry any whip, cat, or other instrument of the like nature, while superintending the labour of any slaves in or upon the
fields or cane pieces upon any plantation, or to use any such ' whip, cat, or instrument, for the purpose of impelling or coercing
any slave to perform any labour of any kind or nature whatever, s or to carry or exhibit, upon any plantation or elsewhere, any
whip, cat, or other instrument of the like nature, as a mark • or emblem of the authority of the person so carrying or ex• hibiting the same over any slave,” and then all persons doing • so, or authorizing, or aiding, or abetting “ such illegal drit
ing, or use, or exhibition of any such whip,” shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanour, to which is attached a fine not ex
ceeding 5001, nor less than 501. or imprisonment for not more than • sir months, or less than one month, or both fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the Court.'
To conclude this examination of the details, let it be borne in mind, that beside the eight colonies, which alone are even mentioned in the Parliamentary papers containing the case for the West Indians, there are four others having Legislatures of their own, respecting which not a word can be said. These have done nothing; and so far they are on a footing with the eight;—but they have not pretended to do any thing; and so far they are more contumacion, and somewhat more honest.
The amount of the whole then is, that nothing has been done - and the inference is, that nothing will be done! The Legislatures have in some cases left us to draw this conclusion; in others they have very frankly helped us to it. The Assembly of Barbacoes, for example, after passing the Act above commented upon, and which Lord Bathurst described as containing clauses • capable of becoming so injurious and oppressive to • the slave population,' that he cannot advise the Crown to allow it, intimates, that all has been done which ever will be done for the slaves, in the following courteous address to the Governor :-“ Is it expected that we should abandon the right • of enacting such laws as are necessary for our own preserva* tion and the security of our property? Is it erpected that our • Slare Code shall contain no provision for the security of the lives ' and property of the Whites; but is a mere catalogue of indulgin
cies to the Blacks, who, ue are proud to say, irperience at thi moment less of care and more of comfort than the
of any country in the world, England herself not excepted ? • This,'Sir, would really be expecting too much. If, however, • such expectations are, unfortunately for us, entertained by • those under whose control we are placed ; if nothing less than
an implicit conformity with Orders in Council, the ruinous effects of which are published almost daily in the Gazettes of a neighbouring colony; if, in short, a plan has been already
organized for our destruction; if it is determined that we • shall be the victims of fanaticism, prejudice, and injustice, we • must submit ; but neither threats nor persuasion will ever in• duce us to put the finishing hand to our own political, per• haps natural existence; and we have too much reliance on • the justice of our beloved Sovereign, to believe that he ever ( will.
• As I fear,' says the Governor of Grenada, “there are * points which seem to your Lordship indispensable to be add• ed to the bill, which, after the most serious and mature con• sideration, the Legislature of this island hare deemed it (at • least for the present) impossible to comply with, namely, the • total prohibition of the whip as an instrument of correction • of females, and the right of slaves to purchase their free• dom.' The Speaker of the Assembly of St Vincent describes their act, as evincing a desire to go to the utmost li• mits, nay, almost beyond the limits of what seems safe and prac• ticable, to meet the wishes of those persons in England who « have the true interests of the colonies in view. And the Tobago Assembly speaks still more plainly. They profess their readiness to adopt certain measures (and we have seen the extent of that readiness); but they add, that they yield • rather from a sincere desire to conciliate public opinion and • Trans-Atlantic prejudices, than from any conviction that the
proposed alterations can in any way be beneficial to the slaves, or claimed as due to the rights of humanity. But in so doing, they beg leave respectfully, but firmly, to declare, that concessson will then have reached ils utmost ; and a deep • sense of their public duty bids them implore his Majesty's • Government to consider and reflect on the earnest appeal ( now made to their wisdom, discretion, and justice, by this the
Legislative Council of Tobago, against any further altera• tions, or proposals of alteration, which a mistaken zeal in • the cause of humanity may still consider requisite to be
effected in our Slave Laws, without due deliberation on • the rights of property, which such interference must de• stroy. And then comes
a very precise declaration, that they will do no more. —• They must also declare they have there« in stated their ultimatum. Vo consideration will induce them to
• advance one step further, in sacrificing those political rights
which they acquired when, under the Royal Authority, power ' was given them to judge of, and make all laws necessary for
themselves. No consideration whatever will induce them, fur•ther than they have stated, to fritter away and tamper with • those rights of property which they conceive rest on no less • solid a foundation than the pledged faith of Great Britain, • which, as they know it is yet untarnished, they are confident 6 will not first be sullied in their instance.
If any man, after this examination of the conduct held by the Islands, and these warnings given by themselves, continues to indulge the hope, that they will ever reform the system confided to their administration, we can only say, that man has himself to thank for the certain disappointment which awaits him. The proceedings in Parliament, last Session, upon this important question, disappointed the expectations-the just and pious expectations of the country, in a manner which we dare not trust ourselves with describing. Upon the ground of often repeated evasions, and new marks of open contumacy, the people were asked once more to lend their confidence to those who had once more deceived them, and were beginning even to dispense with the forms of courtesy in their determination to follow their own course. No new confidence, indeed, was reposed, in answer to this appeal; but the Government and the Legislature incurred a heavy responsibility when they made it, and delayed for another year applying the only effectual remedy.
ART. VIII. The Consequences of a Scientific Education to the
Working Classes of this Country pointed out, and the Theories of Mr Brougham on that Subject Confuted, in a Letter to the Marquis of Lansdoun. By a COUNTRY GENTLEMAN. 8vo. pp. 77. London. Cadell, 1826.
THE he alarm which seems to have seized the author of this
pamphlet, we had hoped, might pass over speedily, and be confined to a small part of the community. He appears, however, to become more apprehensive, the longer he broods over the subject, and he intimates that his fears must be shared by all • who will not consent to such an extensive change as • shall alter the character of the Nation and the style of the • Government'--that is, as he immediately adds, by nine' tenths, nay, by ninety-nine hundredths of the community.' We feel quite confident that our own estimate is much beyond the truth, when we say that he is in a minority of one in the hun