Page images
PDF
EPUB

often sway

The term reroRMATION naturally by the tumultuous support of a poinduces the idea of restoring a thing pular candidate, I found, upon reato its former state of purity. We soning with some of the ringleaders, are led, therefore, to consider the that they were emboldened, in makoriginal conformation of the House ing an assault upon some of the of Commons; and in this investi- most respectable inhabitants of the gation we shall find no traces of place, by the idea, that as there was universal suffrage, or such an ap- no parliament existing, the laws had proach to it as our modern reform- also for a time ceased to exist. ers hold out. The choice of our The necessity of having a regard representatives in parliament was to property in those who were to committed to those who, by their choose our senators, directed the rank in life, might be supposed ca. original formation of the House of pable of forming a right judgment Commons, and ought now to direct of the qualification of the candi- those who would really reform that dates, and to be above those vulgar branch of the legislature. prejudices and motives, which too These sentiments are not the rethe multitude.

sult of a party-spirit: they are the If real reformation is the object, dictates of that sound wisdom which the privilege of voting for mem- existed before this nation was posbers of the House of Commons sessed of a regular government. should be confined to men of that Let us hear what the wise son of rank which may correspond with Sirach has delivered as the wisdom the freeholders of forty shillings of his time. per angum, in the reign of Henry How can he get wisdom that III. or Edward I:-Such a reforma. holdeth the plough, that driveth tion would demonstrate a pure spirit oxen, and is occupied in their laof patriotism in those who supported bours, and whose talk is of bullocks ? the measure. To change the original He giveth his mind to make fu qualification of the electors, is to rows; and is diligent to give the innovate, not to reform.

kine fodder. So every carpenter If ever this nation should make and work-master, who laboureth the dangerous experiment of ex- night and day ; the smith also site tending the privilege of election to ting by the anvil; so doth the potall who pay taxes, the ruin of our ter sitting at his work ; all these excellent constitution would not be trust to their hands; and every one far distant. The empty professions is wise in his work. Without these of specious demagogues would soon cannot a city be inhabited”-but dazzle the eyes of the multitude; "they shall not be sought for ia puband the interests of the state would lic counsel, nor sit high in the connot long be safe in the hands of re- gregation : they shall not sit on the presentatives chosen by popular judge's seat, nor understand the senclamour.

tence of judgment. They cannot At the last general election, I had declare justice and judgment—But an instance of the wisdom of that they will maintain the state of the Numerous class of persons who, by world, and all their desire is in the useful employment in honest labour, work of their craft." Ecclesiastiare enabled lo pay taxes, yet are cus, chap. xxxviii, ver. 25, &c. not the best judges of the laws or Let the people of England study interests of the state. Being called this sound wisdom, and they will upon twice, by my office of a ma. then make no fatal experiments. gistrate, to suppress a riot, caused

A COUNTRY MAGISTRATE. 3 K2

REVIEW OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.

Fifth Report of the Directors of the admit of the substitution of pecu.

African Institution, read to the niary penalties, for the more approSubscribers 'on the 27th March priate pains of robbery and mur1811, with an Appendir and List of der. The considerations which inSubscribers. London: Harchard. fluenced the leaders in this great 1811. price 2s. pp. 143. and viii. cause, to adopt the more lenient

course, in the first instance, were We have been in the habit of brief. these: - The legislature of this counly noticing the Reports of the Afri. try had for many years sanctioned can Institution as they have appear. and encouraged this trade; it would, ed. We are induced to give to the therefore, have seemed a violent present Report a more extended con- procedure to have passed, at one sideration, with the view of bring- step, from acts of encouragement, ing before our readers several im. co denunciations of death and transportant questions, connected, more portation :- Acustomed, too, as Paror less, with the interesting subject liament, and the public in general, of the Abolition of the Slave Trade. had been to view this trade as one

In our last volume (p. 779), we of the ordinary transactions of comtook occasion to state, that the acts mercial life, and slowly and relucalready passed for the purpose of tantly as many had yielded to the prohibiting this traffic, were found proofs of its aggravated criminality, ineffectual to their object. The it was doubtful whether they might trade, however, having been declar- not have revolted from the apparent ed illegal, it was incumbent on the harshness and severity of such inlegislature, on proof of the ineffi- flictions:-Many persons also conciency of their former measures, to nected with the West Indies, who adopt such farther provisions as were disposed to concur in a le. might ensure the due fulfilment of gislative prohibition of the Slave their intentions. This proof har. Trade, might have been induced ing been adduced, it was accord- to oppose the measure, bad it goue ingly resolved, that early in the next the length of branding the persons session, Parliament would take in- engaged in it as felons ; it being ob. to consideration the means necessary vious, that if the African trader were for repressing the daring violations thus stiginatized, some share of his of the law, which had been brought infamy would be reflected on the to light. The framers of the act West Indian purchaser. In short, of 1807, by which the Slave Trade it was apprehended to be necessary, had been totally prohibited to Brie in order to ensure the success of the tish subjects, were aware, even at bill, that it should be limited, for the the time of its enactment, that it present, to a distinct declaration of fell far short of the exigency of the the illegality of the trade, and a case. The course most consonant prohibition of it under heavy pecuto their feelings, and to their views niary penalties. When it was once of equity, would have been at once declared to be illegal, no man would to have placed this murderous trafo dare afterwards to avow that he had fic on the same footing with piracy; any interest in opposing those ulteat least to have pronounced any par- rior provisions, which might be ticipation in it to be a felonious act. shewn to be necessary for carrying It was on this principle, that the into effect the intentions of the leact of 1807 was originally framed by gislature. This expectation has lord Grenville. He was induced proved to be well founded : for afterwards to new-model it, and to when the bill, for attaching the pu- .

nishment of transportation to the hard labour for a term not exceedcrime of trading in slaves, was lately ing five years, nor less than three brought forward in parliament, not years, on all persons, subjects of a voice was raised against it in either Great Britain, or residing in any house. We have thought it due to part of the British dominions, who the leaders in this cause thus brief. shall be convicted either of redu. ly to explain the reasons, as stated cing any person to slavery, or of by lord Grenville himself, of their carrying away, buying, selling, or having, in the first instance, stopped using such person as a slave, or of short of those measures of just see detaining, confining, or embarking verity to which they have since re- on board of any vessel, any such sorted, and which indeed they fore- person for the purpose of being sold saw would be necessary for the ac- or dealt with as a slave, or of fitcomplishment of their object. Some ting out, or navigating, or of being evils may appear to have been in- in any way concerned in fitting out curred by this more lenient course: or navigating any vessel, either it has been insullicient to prevent a employed or intended to be employconsiderable contraband slave trade: ed in the Slave Trade : in short, of but how much greater would those being engaged, either directly or evils have been, if, through their indirectly, by themselves or their precipitancy, the bill bad at that agents, in this trade. This pytime been lost. Our readers will nishment admits of a mitigation in also recollect how critical was the the case of persons acting as petty moment of its passing. In an hour officers, servants, or seamen; who after it had received the Royal as- are to be punished, as guilty of a sent in the House of Lords, the misdemeanour, only with imprison-, ministers who had framed and pro- ment, not exceeding two years ; posed and supported this must be- and to such persons a promise of neficent measure laid at his Ma- complete impunity is held out, in jesty's feet the seals of their res- case they shall, within three months pective offices. And although the after their arrival at a British port, bill had received the active sup- give information on oath against port of Mr. Perceval and Mr. Can- the principals in the criine to which ning, and also of lord Harrowby, they have been accessaries, so that and other friends of the succeeding such principals may be prosecuted administration in both houses, yet to conviction. Offences under this it was impossible not to feel great act are very appropriately directed anxiety, until it had passed into to be tried according to the provia law, lest something should have sions made for the suppression of occurred, in that moment of poli- piracy in an act of the 28th of tical change and party violence, Henry VIII. and of the 11th and to frustrate the hopes that had been 12th of William III.-The present raised of seeing an irreversible sen- act is not to be construed as repealtence of condemnation pronounced ing any of the former acts for the on this cruel and disgraceful traffic. Abolition of the Slave Trade, in re

The present parliamentary year spect of forfeitures and pecuniary had no sooner opened, than the penalties; and a power is conveyed Directors of the African Institution by it, to all governors of forts and appear to have employed them- settlements on the coast of Africa, selves in preparing a bill which and to all persons deputed by them, might strengthen the too feeble of making seizures and prosecuting provisions of the former acts. That offences under those acts. bill has received the Royal assent, We are sanguine in hoping that and is now in operation. Its main this new law will very materially object is to inflict the punishment of abridge, if not wholly abolish, that transportation, not exceeding four- contraband Slave Trade which Briteen years, or of confinement and tish subjects and British capital, during the last two years, have been it is not easy to account for the worse engaged in carrying on. On this than apathy with which it has repoint, we shall quote the authority garded the open and undisguised of the Directors of the African lo- oppression of hundreds of thousands stitution.

of our fellow-subjects, who are shut "It is obvious, that, while the punish- out not only from all participation in ment of trading in Slaves is confined to con- British rights, but are destiiute even fiscations and pecuniary mulets, the only of the shadow of. legal protection, consideration with the individuals who are except in what regards life or limb. still unprincipled enough to embark in it We have often brought before our will be, wheiher the profils of their crime readers a view of that frightful sys. be more than adequate to the pecuniary loss tem of bondage which prevails in wbich they risk hy the commission of it.

our colonies. We are unwilling that “This view of the subject has been exemplified on a variety of occasions, and it is should be weakened by any appre

the impressions of its enormity strikingly confirmed in a letter received a few weeks since from Mr. Smith, the act.

hension that the Abolition of the ing Judge of the Vice-Admiralıy Court at

Slave Trade has as yet had the effect Sierra Leone, dated 12th December, 1810. of materially softening its rigours. This gentlenian expresses himself as follows: It is a system which stands still pre

“I trave had my hands' pretty full of ad- 'eminent in cruelty and injustice; for miralty business lately; but it appears to we are bold to affirm that there is me, that hardly any thing will put a stop to no condition of slavery now existing this abominable traffic. The profits are so

on the face of the globe, and that extremely high, that if tbey save one cargo there never has existed a state of out of three, they will still make nioney.' “Such being the case, it became necessary

slavery, not even among the Ro. that a punishment of a very different nature

mans, whose slave code was by far should be attached to this crime. And the the most rigorous of any, which may · Directors cannot but hope, that the risk of not be called mild in comparison with an arraignment and trial for felony will do the slavery of our West Indian Co, more to deter men possessing capital, from lonies. And yet this slavery, known engaging in the Slave Trade, than the in- and proved to be thus inhuman fliction of the severest fines." pp. 10, 11. and oppressive, is continued, is re

There is one clause in the act cognized, is sanctioned even by a - which seems to us to require a few British Parliament, without one di, observations. It is that which ex- rect step being taken for the allevi, cepts from the operation of this law ation of its miseries. It is indeed all persons selling, removing, or most strange that such a monstrous transferring slaves within the Bri- anomaly as this should ever have tish West India Colonies, provided existed. It will be stranger still, such slaves shall have been import- if, after its true nature has been ed before the first of January 1808 ; fully and accurately ascertained, it for if imported subsequently to that shall continue to exist, without an period, they are legally entitled to attempt, at least, to abate its evils, freedom. We do not mean to de- Let us contemplate the state of a ny the propriety, all things consi- slave in the British West Indies. dered, of this exception; and yet He is, in the first place, the absolute we find it hard to reconcile our property of his master, and may be minds to the circumstances which sold by him at pleasure, precisely in render such an exception necessary the same manner as he may sell a or expedient. There is something horse or a mule. Nor is the master extremely revolting to British, and bound, in making such a transfer still more to Christian, feelings in of a fellow-creature, to consider for the parliamentary recognition of a one moment, either the character of state of slavery, unless it be for the the individual to whom he conveys purpose of mitigating its barshness.- by the deed of sale his right of proJealous as this nation has always been perty, nor the ties of husband, father, on the subject of personal liberty, wife, or child, which may be sud

denly and eternally broken by the this, your Lordship will not be surtransfer. In the eye of colonial prised,” he adds, is to learn that the law, the negro slave is a thing, not bill has been wholly neglected." if a person. He has absolutely no polis further proof were wanting, that the tical existence, nor any civil rights. meliorating laws of the West Indies, He can neither sue nor be syed. as they have been called, were The testimony of ten thousand enacted merely to blind the eyes of -slaves witnessing a murder would superficial but well meaning men avail nothing against a person of in this country, and to supply a com free condition. Not only would not venient argument to the friends of a free person be convicted on such the slave trade and slavery, it might testimony, but such testimony be furnished in abundance. The would not even be received. Laws, Report before us affords a striking it is true, have lately been pazsed confirmation of this view of the case. in the colonies which make the mur. It is contained in the Appendix markder of a slave a capital felony, and ed U. and is there inserted in order which prohibit, under certain pecu- ."to exemplify the nature of the niary penalties, the maiming, or the bondage into which it is the object immoderate corporal punishment of of the Institution, to prevent the slaves. But these laws, forced from natives of Africa from being any their petty parliaments by a desire to longer reduced.”

We proceed to avert any direct interference of the lay the statement before our readers. mother country in their interior “ Case of the King v. Edward Huggins, sen. Esq. legislation, after having answered “The defendant, Edward Huggins, sen. the purposes of delusion, have been 'Esq. is an eminent planter in the island of allowed, for the most part, to sleep. Nevis; has been peculiarly successful of late It is, indeed, vain to expect that laws years, while other planters bave in general will be efficient which are opposed had very opposite fortune ; and has, in conto the feelings and prejudices of al- sequence, been extending his possessions promost the whole community, by whom, gressively, by new purchases of estates and in the capacity of magistrates and slaves : so that at present he is said to own jarors, they are to be executed. - above six hundred negroes. Laws have also been passed for re- frequent, though short-lived, success that al

“ Unfortunately, he is an instance of the gulating the food, clothing, hours tends a rigid exaction from the slaves, by of labour, and religious instruction

means of severe discipline, of more than orof the slaves. But it is admitted on dinary labour. Among other abuses, of all bands, that these laws were never which, during the Abolition controversy, the intended to be operative ; and that existence was denied in Parliament, this under the existing system, it is im. gentleman bas practised that of compelling possible they should. The answer of his unfortunate slaves to perform night-work Governor Prevost, of Dominica, to an

in the field, when the moon-light makes it inquiry of the Secretary of State (Earl practicable ; and the kind of labour in which Camden) on this subject

, is fully ap, of carrying out dung from the home-stall to

on those occasions they are employed, is that plicable, nor has any one attempted the fields, in wicker baskets, on their lieade. "to deny this, to the case of all the

(See a description of this work in the Parislands. “The act of the legislature liamentary Evidence on the Slave Trade ; of Dominica," observes the govern especially that of Sir Ashton Byam, attorney. nor, in a letter dated Jan., 17, 1805, general of Grenada, a witness called on the “entituled an act for the encou. part of the anti-abolitionists.) ragement, protection, and govern- “Night-work (except in crop time, for the ment of slaves,' appears to have been purpose of more speedily cutting and grindconsidered, from the day it was passed ing the canes) is probibited by a recent law until this hour," (it had then been in of the islands composing the Leeward Island force abont eight or ten years), “ as a government. A General Council and Aspolitical mensure, to avert the interesembly of those islands were convened at ference of the mother country in the * The number, wę bave heard, has sinc management of slaves." "Having said been increased by fresh purchases.

« PreviousContinue »