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hA been laid before the House in the last Parliament; but these propositions, though not formally before them, would serve ata clue to direct the course os their inquiry.
Meaning to confine himself within the lending topics, he trusted that gentlemen would argue the matter with him point by point, being sure that the more distinct and complete the discussion proved, the more clearly and irrefragably it would appear that truth and reason were on his side. He had long looked forward, he owned, to this day, with some degree of impatience, a^ what would afford him the opportunity of dispelling the prejudices, and correcting the misrepresentations which had gone forth; but besides that, he had ilways felt that this was the properest time and place for him to meet them, and to convince the world that in undertaking «ad persisting in his present pursuit, he had not been influenced by any unworthy feelings of a personal nature, he had j'.fobeen determined to remain silent from another consideution: for, though he had been sometimes a little roughly handled by anonymous assailants, it was a tribute of justice he gladly paid to some of those gentlemen, by whom he had l>een most strenuously opposed both on this and the other side of the Atlantic, to acknowledge that he had been treated by Aem with the utmost candour and liberality: these were proofs of the liberality of their minds and highly gratifying tohisown feelings; he trusted also that he might draw from t'aem a good ornen to his cause, and derive a hope that, in the issue, they might all rejoice together in the hapiness which would result from the success of it. In the fame manner, he wished to discuss the subject, frankly indeed, tat with fairness and moderation; he. called on the House to do the same, and flattered himself that the present debate, instead of exciting asperity and confirming prejudice, would tend to produce a general conviction of the truth of what, ■a fact, was incontrovertible, that the abolition of the slave trade was indifpens.ibly required of them, not only by religion »d morality, but by every principle of sound policy. On Aepresent occasion, he could not avoid earnestly imploring 'he House to favour him with its most serious attention on !r5 most important question, on which a House of Com"wns haj ever been called on to decide.
The first point to which he wished to direct the atten» r|on of the Committee, was the manner in which the lives were obtained on the coast of Africa. In order to be Wnvinced of the truth of all his allegations on this head, '•'would be merely neceflary to apply unquestionable principles of general reasoning to the particular circumstances of «*cafo before them. That vast country was divided into 'i/ious communities ©f different sizes, some governed hy kings more or less abiolute, others, and those the greater number, by elders. Their state of civilization was in general very imperfect, their notions of morality extremely rude, and the powers of their governments ill denned: it was natural, therefore, to imagine, that when the kings or chieftains should be tempted by the pressing solicitations of appetite to acts of injustice or oppression, they would not be flow to the commission of them; and temptations of this kind were continually thrown in their way, by the European traders; the effects of these were to be traced in every species of fraud and violence, whilst they, who ought to have been the guardians and protectors, were thus made the ravagers of their country. The fame causes might be expected to produce the fame consequences throughout the whole society; the seeds of disunion and disorder would every where be sown, every man would dread in a neighbour to meet with an enemy, and distrust and insecurity would universally prevail; the fountain osjustice also would be poisoned, and changed into a source of oppression. These speculations, founded on the principles of human nature, and verified by the experience of all ages, accorded in all respects with the most authentic accounts which had heretofore been published, of the Continent of Africa, which were now confirmed by testimonies of the most unexceptionable nature. He begged the Committee would advert to the characters, situations, and means of information, of the witnesses, to whom he was now alluding: they were of various descriptions, some of them officers in his Majesty's service; others, men of science, who had visited the country from motives of curiosity; others again, who had themselves been concerned in the (lave trade, and whose prejudices might have been supposed to run in fa • vour of its continuance; several of them had possessed the most ample opportunities of intelligence; some had been many hundred miles up the rivers into the interior country. The testimony of these witnesses embraced the whole of that vast extent of country to which we resorted for the purchase of slaves, and from one end of it to the other, it established, beyond contradiction, the existence of those acts of fraud, oppression, rapine, and murder, which he had charged on the slave trade.
To begin with the river Senegal, the northern extremity of the district referred to, Captain Wilson an ] Captain Hills of His Majesty's navy, aud Mr. Ddrymple of the land service, being at the island of Goree, had an opportunity of making observations in that quarter. On the arrival of the slave mips, armed parties were regularly sent out in the evening, who scoured the neighbouring country, and brought in their prey in the night; these wretched victims were to be seen in the morning bound back to back in the huts on the fliore, whence they were conveyed, tied hand and foot, on board the Sive ships. The object of these ravages, if it had wanted any confirmation, was established beyond a doubt fiy this circumstance, that when the stuve trade was hopped, the expeditions also ceased. Mr. Kiernan spoke of the constant depredations committed by the Moors, of which, as well as of such expeditions as had been mentioned bv Captain Hrlls, the Committee heard also from Mr. VVa 'stroin, who had noted down, at the time, the transactions of every day in a journal which he had produced before the Committee^ 2nd whose curious and interesting relation, he could not ibubt, had attracted the attention of every gentleman who had looked into the evidence: and these ravages, excited by presents of brandy, gunpowder, and such other incentives, Jnd by the conditional promise of larger supplies,' were not enlycarried on by one community against another, but the kings were stimulated to commit them in their own territories, on their own subjects ; and, in one instance, a chieftain, who, in the moments of intoxication, could nbt resist, impressing calls of appetite, had expressed, in an interval of reason, a due fense of the enormity of his own proceedings, irihad poured forth his reproaches on his Christian seducers. Abnndant, likewise, were the instances of private rapine: individuals we're kidnapped whilst in their fields and in their prdens; there was an universal feeling of distrust and appreWiorf: the natives never went any distance from home without being armed, and when asked the reason by Captain Wilson, pointed to a stave stiip then lying within fight. These t ran factions might be paralleled by others of a fort lastly similar throughout every part of the stave coast; and ht thought it perfectly unnecessary for him to trespass on the tiraeand patience of gentlemen, by attempting to enumerate* >ll occurrences of so atrocious a nature.
Porsuing their progress southward, they came to the Winded Coast; where, from the evidence of Lieutenant Story "id Mr. Bowman, they would find all the fore-mentioned nih existing, if possible, in a still higher degree: they would fe the remains of villages which had been burnt, whilst the fiddtof corn were still standing beside them, and every other tact of recent desolation. Here an agent was sent to estabHfc a settlement in the interior country, and to send down 10 the ships such staves as he might be able to obtain: the orders he received from his captain were a vei y model of conciseness and penspicuity; " he was to encourage the "chieftains, by brandy and gunpowder, to go to war, and "make Haves. He punctually performed his pair, the thieftains were not backward in theirs; the neighbouring Vol. XXIX. Bb villages villages were ransacked, being surrounded and set on fire in the night; their inhabitants were seized when making theii escape, and being brought to the agent, were by him forwarded, men, women, and children, to his principal on the coast. Mr. HoW, a botanist, who, in the service cf Government, visited that country with Captain 1 hompson, gave in evidence, that being at one of the subordinate settlements on the Gold Coast, on the arrival ot an order for slaves from Cape Coast Castle, the native Chief immediately sent forth his armed parties, who, in the night, brought in a supply of all 1 escriptions, and the necessary assortment was next day stnt off, according to the order. But Mr. Wilberfc rce would not tire the attention of the Committee; the whole extent of the African coast f> rnished but one uniform 'Jetail of similar instances of barbarity. There woub be no end cf multipb. ing particular cafes; he would, therefore, only mention Omc or two more, less for their own fakes, than for the conclusion that was to be drawn from them. When Captain Hills was in the river Gambia, happening accidentally to mention to a black pilot, who was in the boat with him, that he wanted a cabin-boy, the pilot told him he would soon obtain him one; and accordingly, some youths being on the sliore with egetahles to fell, he beckoned to them to come onboard; at the fame time, bv winks and significant gestures, giving Captain Hills to understand that he might then take his ch> ice: and when Captain Hills rejected the proposal with indignation, the pilot seemed perfectly at a loss to account for his warmth, and dryly observed, that the slave captains would not have been so scrupulous. There was, however, another transaction which he must distinctlystate, not only on account of its enormous magnitude, but also because it established, beyond all controversy, the frequency of those acts of rapine, which was the conclusion he had before referred to. When General Rooke, a respectable Member of that House, commanded in His Majesty's settlement at Goree, some of the subjects cf a neighbouring king, with whom he was on terms of amity, came to pay him a friendly visit; there were from 100 to 150 of them, men, women, and children; all was 5gaiety and merriment; it Was a scene to gladden the saddest, and to soften the hardest heart: but a slave captain, ever faithful to the intaresis of his employers', is not so soon thrown off his guard; with what astonishment would the Committee hear, thar, in the midst of this festivity, it was proposed to General Rooke to seize the whole of this unsuspecting multitude, hurry them on board the ships, and carry them off to the West Indies. It was not merely one man, but three, who were bold enough to venture on such a proposal! Three Englisli slave captains I preferred
preferred it as their joint request, alledging the precedent of a former Governor, who, in a similar cafe, had consented I If, in die annals of human wickedness, an instance of fouler fre-xhery were to be found, Mr. Wilberforce was happy to be ignorant of it. But it was not on account of its magnitude that lie wished to impress it on the Committee, so much as because it was a pregnant proof of the frequency of the act? of repine he had before described; for, what must be the habits of the flave trade, what must have l>een the familiaritv with scenes of depredation, produced on the minds of the flare captains, when three of them durst not only meditate within themselves, not only confer with one another, but bring into the light of day, and cany to a British officer of rank, a proposal which one would have thought too horrid to be allowed for a single moment, even in the deepest retirement, in the darkest recesses of the most depraved heart.— This would stand in the place of a thousand particular instances; this argued a foregone conclusion, and gave colour and credibility, if requisite, to every other act of violence fiated in evidence before the Committee; he would, therefore, now confine himself to a proof or two of a circumstantial nature; a species of evidence which was frequently even more satisfactory than the most unexceptionable positive testimony. The Committee, perhaps, was not aware that the usoal proportion of children on board the flave ships, on roost parts of the coast, was one-third of the whole cargo, scarcely ever less than one-fourth: on the Gold Coast, the latter was the most ordinary proportion. It appeared from tbeevidence of one of their opponents' witnesses, who had resided there many years, that the onlv way in which childr-n could be brought into that situation, was by whole families being fold when the principals were condemned for witchcraft, and at the fame time it was said, that the number of persons convicted of this crime was extremely small, indeed, and that the younger part of a family, in these cases, was often spared , thus, every legal avenue by which these poor creatures could be brought into the clutches of the flave captains, was shut up by their opponents' own declarations; and irresistible confirmation was afforded to the positive testimony of the witnesses he had called, that in these very parts of the coast the kidnapping of children very generally prevailed. But it was not only by acts of outrage that these poor creatures were brought into bondage; every other possible mode was resorted to, and, in particular, the administration of justice was turned into an engine for that end: the smallest crimes were punished by a fine equal to the value of one or more slaves, which, if the paity was unable to pay,, he was himself to be sold into slavery. Crimes were fa
B b % bricated,