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INAUGURATION OF GOVERNOR SIR JAMES LEITH.
venience, as this island depended at that period much more upon foreign importations than upon her own resources for the sustenance of her labouring population; still there are many who will doubtless exclaim with the Scotch bard,
"O who, that shared them, ever shall forget
The official information of the ratification of the treaty of peace with the United States was brought to Admiral Durham by the 'Arab' brigof-war on the 28th of March. President Spooner, as Commander-in-chief of Barbados, issued a proclamation, in which he made it public.
The peace, which had now apparently spread over Europe, was but of short duration: a new rupture was announced by the Duke of Montrose' packet which carried the second March mail, but which before she reached Barbados struck upon the Cobler's Rocks on the 28th of April. The bags with the letters were saved, but only a few newspapers reached the shore, which conveyed the unexpected intelligence that Napoleon had landed in France from Elba with eleven hundred of his Guards who shared his banishment, and that his little army, increasing like an avalanche in its progress, was marching with him to Paris. The Allied Powers assembled in congress at Vienna upon the first news of Napoleon's having landed on the shores of France, and declared that by this act he had deprived himself of the protection of the law, and had shown to the world that there could be no confidence placed in him. The Powers consequently declared that Napoleon had placed himself without the pale of civil and social relations, and that as an enemy and a disturber of the tranquillity of the world he had rendered himself liable to public vengeance. The Allied Powers further declared, that as soon as they should be called upon to give the assistance requisite to maintain entire the treaty of Paris of May 30th, 1814, to restore public tranquillity, they pledged themselves to make common cause against all who should undertake to compromise it. This document, which was dated from Vienna, was signed by the plenipotentiaries of Austria, France, Great Britain, Portugal, Prussia, Russia, Spain and Sweden.
By a message from the Prince Regent, the forces of Great Britain were augmented, and the commander of the naval squadron in the West Indies, who had been on the point of returning to England, received orders to delay his departure. Sir James Leith, who it will be remembered had received a commission from the Prince Regent as Lieutenant-Governor of Barbados, had been obliged to proceed to the Leeward Islands on business connected with his lieutenant-governorship of Antigua and with his commandership of the forces. He returned on the 18th of May, and was inaugurated as chief magistrate with the usual ceremonies. RearAdmiral Sir Charles Durham, commanding the naval forces, arrived at the same time from the leeward in his Majesty's ship 'Barossa :' Captain
Moody of the Royal Engineers, who arrived with Sir James Leith, had been appointed an aide-de-camp to his Excellency1.
The Governor met the General Assembly on the 30th of May; in his address he regretted that circumstances should have prevented his assuming the government at an earlier period, and said that until lately he had flattered himself that it would have been at a time when the blessings of peace, purchased by many and great sacrifices, might have been already so secured and generally felt as to have effaced the painful remembrance of past sufferings. The late occurrence in France proved to him that he was mistaken; however, he relied upon the combined exertions of the Allied Powers to see peace and order soon restored. Sir James congratulated the country upon the efficient state of the religious institutions, and the improvement of the roads, and concluded by alluding to a subject, which, frequently as it has been referred to, both before and since, has nevertheless been neglected: his words are of such importance that I quote them literally :
"The increased cultivation of provisions I also congratulate you upon, as a measure that is of great advantage; for it seems evident that whatever is produced under a well-regulated system of agriculture, must generally be cheaper to the cultivator than to the purchaser; and the serious risk of disappointment in supplying your wants by importation, and the drain of specie from the colony, will thereby be diminished. I am aware that this is principally depending on individual industry, but it is a subject that can never be considered but as closely interwoven with the policy of the colony, and deserving the countenance of the Legislature."
The House of Assembly voted his Excellency four thousand pounds for the maintenance of his dignity, with the proviso that this sum, voted to him as Lieutenant-Governor, would receive no increase should his Excellency receive hereafter a commission as Governor-in-chief. Such an appointment was conferred upon him on the 10th of May, and information of it was received in Barbados on the 21st of June.
1 Captain (now Colonel) Moody, R.E., arrived first in Barbados as usher and mathematical tutor to Codrington College. He drew the attention of Lord Seaforth upon himself, who through his influence procured him a commission in the Royal Engineers.
PERIOD FROM SIR JAMES LEITH'S NEW EXPEDITION TO THE FRENCH ISLANDS IN 1815, TO THE APPOINTMENT OF LORD COMBERMERE AS GOVERNOR IN 1817.
WHEN the intelligence of Napoleon's return from Elba reached the French colonies, the troops in Martinique showed every disposition to raise the tricoloured cockade. Sir James Leith, having been requested by the authorities who were in favour of Louis the Eighteenth to afford assistance, proceeded with troops to Martinique, where he arrived on the 5th of June, and by his timely arrival saved the colony from anarchy. The tricoloured flag had been raised in Guadaloupe, and by a strange coincidence Napoleon was proclaimed Emperor on the 18th of June: on that day the battle of Waterloo closed Napoleon's political career. His Majesty's ship 'Junon' brought the intelligence of Buonaparte's defeat and his surrender to a British man-of-war. Sir James Leith, who had returned from Martinique on the 18th of June, now embarked with the staff of his Majesty's forces and a sufficient number of troops on the 31st of July on board the 'Venerable' seventy-four, under a salute from that ship and the whole of the ships of war and transports then in Carlisle Bay, weighed and proceeded to Guadaloupe, where, as already observed, the tricoloured flag had been hoisted on the first intelligence of Napoleon's return to France. The period during which the revolutionary flag was unfurled was even shorter than the Emperor's authority in France during the hundred days. The debarkation took place on the 8th of August, and on the 10th the capture was accomplished; and the Comte de Linois, the Governor of the colony, and General Baron Boyer de Peyrelau and the French troops became prisoners of war.
The war was soon ended, but not equally quick was effected the return of Sir James Leith, whom circumstances obliged to absent himself for a lengthened period from his government, and who only returned to close his career a victim to the prevailing fever. But I am forestalling events: circumstances occurred in the interim which threatened the existence of thousands of the inhabitants of the island, and tended to the overthrow of order and the excitement of rebellion. After the departure of Sir James Leith the administration had devolved again upon President Spooner, who met the Legislature on the 12th of September and communicated the reason of his Excellency's absence. The House voted three thousand pounds for the maintenance of the President's table while residing at Pilgrim.
At the meeting of the General Assembly on the 14th of November 1815, the Speaker addressed the members and informed them that a bill had been introduced into the House of Commons for registering the slaves of the different islands and colonies, in order fully to carry into effect the Abolition act, by preventing the smuggling of Africans into the colonies. This bill, he observed, purported to make regulations for the internal government of chartered colonies, and to raise a tax upon their inhabitants without their consent: if it should pass into a law, it would subvert their constitution and destroy their best and dearest rights. The Speaker condemned the principle that an officer should be appointed by orders in Parliament to receive such fees as they might think proper to fix upon. It was considered by other members a measure which would infringe the inviolable principle of the constitution-that taxation and represen tation were inseparable; and as, among other provisions, the act directed that certain fees should be given to the officer at the register-office as a remuneration for his services, they contended that this was a direct tax levied on the colonies internally, and without the intervention of their representative bodies. "There is however a right," it was asserted, "which every British subject possesses, destroyed by no lapse of time or circumstance, namely that, as the burdens of the people are borne by the great mass of the community, they cannot be imposed without the consent of those who represent the interests and sympathize with the wants of the bulk of the people. It matters not on what soil an Englishman may have fixed his hut, or in what uncongenial climate he may earn a precarious subsistence; the pittance of his industry is safe, except from aids for the general benefit voted by the power of the representative system."
Among several other pertinent resolutions which were moved by the Assembly on the 17th of January 1816 occurred the following, which I transcribe as a proof that the Legislature was anxious to enter into the views of the Parliament, provided their measures did not infringe too clearly the rights of the colonial charter.
"Fifth Resolution :-That although there is an act at present in force in this island which requires, under a heavy penalty, the annual return, upon oath, of the slaves of each proprietor, yet to evince the cordial desire which the House feels to co-operate in any measure deemed necessary for carrying into effect the acts of the imperial Parliament for abolishing the slave-trade, it declares that it is most willing to adopt, by an act of the Legislature of this island, such parts of the Registry-bill as are compatible with the legitimate rights and local circumstances of the inhabitants of this island, and which may be more adequate to ascertain the slave population."
It was likewise resolved to forward a humble address and petition to the Prince Regent, praying his Royal Highness to prevent the passing of the registry-bill as contemplated by the imperial Parliament; and a
committee was appointed by the House to revise the laws respecting the free coloured people and the slaves of the island. The Council was requested to appoint a committee of their board to meet the committee of the House on this subject. At its rising the House was adjourned to the 12th of March; but it appears that it did not meet on that day, and subsequent events prevented a meeting until the 6th of August.
It was naturally to be expected that the discussion of this weighty matter was not restricted to the House of Legislature. Ill-designing persons gave a misapplication to the character of the registry-bill about to be introduced into the imperial Parliament; and ill-defined expectations were fostered among the slave population, which those very disseminators were well aware could not be realized at that time. On an estate then called Franklyn's (now the Vineyard) lived a free coloured man, named Washington Franklin, a person of loose morals and debauched habits, but superior to those with whom he intimately associated: to him was afterwards distinctly traced the practice of reading and discussing before the slave population those violent speeches which were at that period delivered against slavery in the mother country; nor is there any doubt that he conceived and planned the outbreak which spread such desolation over the island. He artfully disseminated the report among the negroes that on Christmas-day 1815, or at latest on the succeeding New-Year's-day, a period would be put to their slavery; and being disappointed, it was given out that the owners prevented this. Distorted accounts of the insurrection in St. Domingo were related, as worthy of imitation, and as exhibiting a prospect of success to secure those rights which were unjustly withheld. At eight o'clock in the evening, on Easter Sunday, the 14th of April 1816, a heap of cane-thrash was fired on Bayley's plantation: this was the signal of revolt; it was promptly repeated by the setting on fire the thrash-heaps and cane-fields on every estate in the upper part of the parish of St. Philip. The fearful reality now burst upon the white inhabitants, and they were awakened to the peril of their situation. The storm burst upon them wholly unprepared for such an event. The fire spread during the whole night from field to field, from one estate to another; a long night of horror and uncertainty was at last succeeded by day, and the first gleam of light discovered fresh indications of the progress of revolt: "mill after mill on the revolted estates was turned into the wind to fly unbended, and bell after bell was rung to announce that the slaves of such plantation had joined the revolt." The rebellious mob increased every step they advanced on arriving at the residence of a Mr. Bayne, who kept a store of dry goods and hardware, they broke into the premises and armed themselves with bills, axes, cutlasses, and whatever edged instruments they could lay hold of, and then proceeded with increased boldness to the plantations Harrow, Bushy Park, Oughterson's,