Page images

contrast to them, and become a farm of experiment, by means of which the pracficability of an improved and beneficial system of colonization in the West Indies was to be ascert ined.-(Cries of Hear! hear! especially from Mr. Canning.) If, under such circumstances, any British proprietor in that isiand was disappointed in his speculations by the Abolition, he had clearly only his own folly and rashness to blame.

If there were no other defect in the law as it stood, the provisions as to appeals from condemnation of negroes as prize, or as forfeitures, for the purpose of restoring them to freedom, would clearly want some emendation. Here Mr. Stephen described some great inconveniences that arise, as the law stands, from such appeals, by which the state of the negroes, as slave or free, may be kept for years in suspense.

He professed himself to be of opinion with Mr. Brougham, that the penalties for Contraband Slave Trade, when carried on by British subjects, ought to be increased : the offence was, in its nature, piracy and murder I for it could rarely, if ever, happen, that a cargo of Slaves could be carried across the Atlantic uithout some lives being lost, from the effects of their illegal imprisonment. Unlaw. ful homicide, proceeding from wilful violence, perpetrated from the most sordid of motives, could not, he thought, be consistently treated as an ordinary case of Contraband Trade, and punished only with the ordinary penalties of forfeiture of the property engaged in it. Upon the first renunciation, indeed, of a trade so long unfortunately sanctioned by law, it might have been thought too strong a course to apply those penalties which its moral character would well justify; but if British subjects were found abandoned enough to prosecute a trade in human blood, in defiance of the laws of their country, Parliament would be bound to put a stop to such atrocious crimes, by the terror of adequate punishments.

Mr. CANNING concurred entirely in the motion both for the Address and the Resolution, pledging the House to further measures. He thought that those should only be generally alluded to-for he was against coming to any specific Resolution on so grave a matter as the creation of a new felony, without mature deliberation; but all he contended for was, caution and delay in so delicate a matter, and one involving so many weighty considerations. He agreed, however, in the reprobation of the Slave Trade, and the violators of the law who still practiced it; and trusted, that every means would be used to detect and punish such great enormities, whatever might happen to be involved.-(Hear! hear!). With respect to the Foreign Slave Trade, he feared the difficulties had been underrated. The Spanish and Portuguese Governments had been blamed for not joining in the Abolition by some Gentlemen; and the Honourable Mover had insinuated, by his manner of treating this subject, some blame against the Government of this country, for not prevailing upon those allies to do so; he maintained, that under the circumstance in which these countries were placed, there was no ground for it; but concluded with professing, that no man was more anxious than himself to see this detestable traffic completely destroyed, and that he heartily concurred in that motion as having such a tendency.

Mr. G. HIBBERT concurred in the reprobation of those persons who attempted to violate the laws of their country, and to embark in a Trade which those laws had solemnly declared to be illegal. Whatever differences of opinion might have prevailed before the Abolition Acts passed, all men must now agree in desiring to see those Acts rigorously and effectually carried into execution.-(Hear? hear!

Mr. BROUGIAM said, that as there had been in the course of the discussion no material opposition given to what he had stated in his speech, he should not feel it necessary to make any reply. He should, however, offer an explanation as to one or two points on which he had been misunderstood, He did not intend to reflect upon the sincerity or diligence of His Majesty's Government in seconding the Abolition Act-he was willing to give them credit for both; but he could not help regretting that they had been able tp effect so little in carrying the object of the Address presented to the Crown by both Houses four years ago. It bad been said, that the Slave Trade had not been materially diminished by our Abolition Acts. Nothing could be more unfounded. After inentioning several

other proofs, he said it might be enough to instance the reduced prices of Slave on the Coast since the Acts passed : instead of 100 dollars, they now sold for 20; a reduction wholly owing to the lessened demand, for no man could pretend that the supply had been increased, He contended, therefore, that great progress had been made towards the complete Abolition of the traffic, and only wished to accelerate it. With respect tu the measure of which he had given notice for making the traffic in Slaves a felony, he was confirmed in his sentiments by all that had passed that night, as well as by every consultation he had had with the most enlightened and able persons in the House. And he concluded-after shortly replying to some objections thrown out on this head-with exhorting the House to prepare for taking such steps as alone could do justice to its own feelings, preserve its consistency, and thoroughly extirpate the traffic, namely, a statutory declaration, punishing those deeds as crimes and felonies, which were, in their whole nature, most felonious and criminal. He had no objection whatever to separate the Resolution pledging the House, from the Address; and the Address was carried accordingly, NEMINE CONTRADICENTE,

Mr. BROUGHAM then moved the following Resolution, which was also carried ONANIMOUSLY:

“ That this House has learnt, with great surprise and indignation, the attempts which have recently been made to evade the prohibitions of the Act Abolishing the African Slave Trade ; and that this House will, early in the next session of Parliament, take into its consideration such measures as may tend effectually to prevent such daring violations of the law."

On the Prospect of Improvement in South America, and on

the Means of accelerating its Progress.

Amid the prospects of improvement in the circumstances of mankind, which the present state of the workl presents to the eye of benevolence, the change which has taken place with regard to the principal part of the new world, cannot escape attention. The united influence of the two worst enemies of human nature, a bad government, and a bad religion, had during ages débarred the inhabitants of South America fron the benefits of that knowledge and civilization, which had so far changed the condition of the human species in the principal part of Europe. By the operation, however, of those two noblest friends of human nature, navigation and the press, the world was at last brought into such a situation, that it was hardly possible any longer for any part of the globe to remain altogether unvisited by the light which was cheering and blessing any other part of it. The minds of the people of South America have, Juring the last half century, undergone important changes. All strangers who have visited them agree in affirming, that the thirst of knowledge is pow. erfully excited among them; that they are aware of the state of

ignorance in which they have hitherto been placed, and are eager to avail themselves of every aid towards improvement.

It is our opinion, that so great a field for beneficeni action is here opened, or about to be opened, that we cannot too soon direct to it the attention of those who are willing to exert themselves in order to premote the interests of mankind. With regard to questions of government ; with regard to the prolongation or the termination of the connection between South America and the European peninsula, it is foreign to our purpose to express any wish or opinion. A great change for the better we think is likely to take place in the govern, ment of South America, whether it remains united with the antient mother country, or whether its time for becoming independent is already arrived. Things are now in that situation, in wbich a liberal connection must subsist between the two countries, or, if not liberal, there can be no connection between them at all. In these circumstances, the situation of the South Americans will be susceptible of immense im, provement, and the progress of that improvement may be accelerated prodigiously by the helps which may be lent them by those who have already made greater advances than them. selves. It is this point of view in which it is our desire to hold up the circumstances of the South American people to the attention of those who feel an interest in the fate of human kind.

A question, before we proceed further, which not a few will here be ready to ask, is, in what manner is it proposed that beneficent minds in Great Britain should exert themselves for the good of the South Americans ? To this, an answer will not be difficult to find, by all those who have made the good of mankind any material part of their study.

There is, first of all, the great field of education; that leading circumstance, of which the effects, though extraordi. narily modified by the operation of government, are yet powerful upon the government itself. Were it possible to have a well educated people, it would be impossible that the same should not also be a well governed people. Neither is it possible to make a step in the improvement of education, that a correspondent step is not sure to follow in the improvement of government. The chain of proof is very short, and perfeetly irrefragable :-government is the creature of opinion; and opinion is the result of education.

It is not necessary to enter much into detail to communi. cate a sufficient idea of the very imperfect state of education

in South America. With regard to the instruction of the great body of the people, no provision has ever been made, except to prevent it. The instruction of the small number for whom a semblance of instruction was intended, is of a sort which enfeebles, rather than strengthens the mind; it is cal. culated to breed slaves of religious and slaves of political prejudices; and to perpetuate the debascment of human nature. The small number, whose interest it is to keep the rest of the community in ignorance of every thing which it most imports them to know, have in catholic countries, though not in those exclusively, yet there in a peculiar manner, been effectually served by the clergy. Education has every where remained on a deplorable footing ; and where, in addition to this, the exclusion of the books of enlightened countries was by the execrable apparatus of an inquisition, completely provided for, the empire of ignorance was not casy to be in, trenched upon.

There is every reason to suppose, in fact, our information from the country itself is such as to make us well assured, that the people of South America are not only sensible of the great disadvantages under which they labour, from the imperfection of their institutions for education, but are ready and eager to exert themselves for the establishment of better. -A system for the instruction of the lower orders remains to be raised from the foundation.-A system for the higber orders, which to a little Aristotelian logic, added the lives of the saints, has to be converted into a system, which shall teach a man how to provide the best for his own happiness, and to do the most for the happiness of others; as a member of a family, as a member of the community, and as a human being ;-a system wbich shall render him the most completely acquainted with the laws of nature, and in the bighest degree capable as well as disposed to benefit society ; capable and disposed to render the most effectual aid in placing the affairs of society in such an order, as to produce the maximum of human happiness.

When so much is to be done, and so little of the knowledge wherewith it is to be done, is yet attained, it is surely unnecessary to say of what use suggestions, advices, exhortations, plans from men of thought and information are likely to prove. Of such of our own institutions as are worth the transplanting, (and we are sorry that this can be said of so few of them,) not only the fullest details could be transmitted, but individuals personally and practically acquainted with the

modes of carrying on the business, might be sent. It is further to be considered, how numerous are the tribes of men, as yet altogether uncivilized, which still wander in the vast forests, and plains and mountains of South America. In those very provinces which are the nearest to us, and with wbich our intercourse is likely to be the greatest, the province of Carraccas, and those connected with it, from the mouth of the Oroonoka, to the isthmus of Panama, are included the greatest part of the tribes called Caribbees, who are among the most rude and helpless of the whole of the aboriginal tenants of the new world. The experiments which have been made on the means of introducing civilization among the rude tribes of North America, by teaching them the arts and the virtues most conducive to the happiness of common life, afford here the most chicering, and a boundless prospect of narrowing the sphere of human wretchedness. The progress which has already been made by the catholic missionaries, in habituating the Indians of the south, to the intercourse of civilized men, has effected much in paving the way for similar attempts, to those which have been attended with so much success in North America.

If people look around for occasions of being useful, they will seldom, in any quarter, be at a loss where to employ either the head or the band. The poor in South America, the pco. ple who live upon charity, are a large class. In all countries where a large portion of the national wealth is distributed to the clergy, and especially to congregated monks, this is necessarily the case. To maintain their place in the opinion of the people, such a clergy must part with a considerable portion of such riches, in the way of alms-giving. And beggary grows by encouragement, just as any thing else does. When the affairs of South America are put into a good order, this evil circumstance must disappear with others. But the people of South America will be infinitely perplexed what to do with their poor; and to point out to them some beneficent plan of disposal will be none of the smallest of the benefits which the intellect of a more enlightened people can bestow upon them. This was for a century a distressing difficulty to the legislators of England; and experience has fully proved, what the human intellect was at that early age probably too feeble to foresee, that the plan they at last adopted was a plan not calculated to lighten, but to load the wheels of society.

There are a variety of ways, which will easily occur, upon consideration, to every enlightened friend of mankind, in

« PreviousContinue »