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esteem himself one of the worst of men, did he not exert every means in his power perfectly to aholisti such abominable wickedness, if, in attempting to forward this abolition, he fliowed the weakness of his al>il',ty, he must console himself with the consideration, that he felt more solid co:nfort from sound puMic'pi inciples and consistent conduct therein, than he imagined he should do from the exertion of any the mofi brilliant faculties with which he might have been bleued.
He had only to conclude witb giving his hearty assent, in the molt public manner, to the present motion, and with imploring the blessing of Heaven on every honest and earnest endeavour for the attainment of its perfect and complete success. Mr. Man in added his tribute of sincere thanks to the honourable ge ntleman who had made the motion of that day, and to those honourable gentlemen who had assisted him in the prosecution of this business. He was very certain that they deserved the thanks of that House and the Public, and that when t >is matter should be thoroughly understood, they would receive those thanks in the fullest and sincerest manner.
Mr. Mr. Burdon remarked, that the honourable gentleman who Burdon. moved the question had, in a great measure, met his ideas. He considered himself as very much in his hands; but he wished to go gradually, and not so much at once, to the question of abolition. He wished to give time to the planters for taking such measures as would keep up their stock; and he feared lest the immediate abolition might cause a monopoly among the rich planters, to the prejudice of the less affluent. We ought, like a judicious physician, to follow nature, and promote a recovery which should be gradual. He wished, therefore, for some motion stiort of abolition. Mr. Francis said, he should have contented himself with rrancis. giving his vote for the motion, but for some considerations which were personal to himself, and by which he thought himself particularly called upon to deliver his opinion on the present'occasion, not implicitly by a vote, but expressly by declaration." He believed he was not very likely to be suspected of receiving with special favour and partiality, any measure introduced and recommended from the other side of the House; that, in his own situation in private li'e, every motivj, by which the conduct of men is usually determined, was united on one side, ani powerfully pressed upon him, to engage him to take part thi< night, against his opinion. Connections of every fort; friends who were dear to him, and who thought their fortunes were at st.:ke; solicitations the most urgent, from persons to whom he was bound by many ties; and pcstibly, the prospect of advantage to him
self or to his family at a future day, to be forfeited or preserved; all these were in one scale, and nothing in the other, but thejustice of the cause, and the protection of creatures, who would never know that he had endeavoured to serve them, or whose gratitude could never reach him. That he did not slate these circumstances tor the fake of ostentation, or as a claim to merit, but to fortify his cause, by shewing that his opinion was sincere. Sir, I do not intend to go far into the general subject. If the undisputed state of facts; if the clear and able argument delivered by the honourable gentleman, who takes the lead in this business, has not carried conviction, along with it, I must conclude that truth and reason on this subject have ho access to the human mind. Many gentlemen, indeed, have asserted what they have by no means established, and what, Upon the whole, 1 utterly disbelievej tliat this trade is profitable; but no man has yet had the courage to affirm, or even to insinuate, that it is not eriitiinal. The question then is not, whether the trade be criminal, but in what degree? Is it a crime of the highest guiltin morals, or is it in practice capable of palliation? will it admit of an excuse? No, Sir; I declare uport my honour and my conscience, none, I pass by the traffic, as it is conducted on the coast of Africa, the temptation you give to one human creature to make a property of another, and to fell him to perpetual slavery. 1 take no notice of the miseries it produces in that country. Remember only, that whatever they ar-», you are answerable for them all. You create the market, arid it is the market that constitutes the demand, and produces the supply. I shall not insist upon the horrors of the Middle Passage; you do well to pass over them with disregard. The most determined mind, the most obdurate heart, if it be human, could not listen to the evidence on that subject, without torture. I take these creatures in that which is stated to be their best situation ; at their landing in the islands; at their arrival in the land of promise, where they are instantly to find relief from their sufferings; where, in return for a moderate degree of labour, a tolerable mode of existence is provided for them. You fay you have paid for them; that they subsist at your expence, and that you have a right to their labour- Be it so. On that principle, l«t us see how they are treated. In considering the state of slavery in the West Indies, the object which instantlv strikes my mind with a force and conviction, to which the evidence of special facts hardly makes an addition, is the power of corporal punishment, allotted as I find it. I do not ask you to enquire in what manner this power is exercised, bui how it is disposed of, and to whom it Is trusted, and then to determine what must be the effect of it. They know nothing Vol. XXIX. H h of of the human constitution, who have not observed, that power of every sort of one man over another, has a natural tendency to deprave and corrupt the mind. The moment I hear of such power, uncontrolled, in any hand, I conclude that the depravity is unlimited. The actual exercise of it, in the infliction of punishment, assu;edly introduces that worst and most odious of all disorders in the moral system, personal cruelty. The truth of these principles is acknowledged by the spirit and caution of our penal laws in every other instance, by the care they take, in all criminal proceedings, to separate the interest from the judgement, and the judgement from the execution. They will not suffer such characters and powers to be united in one person; nor are they united in any civilized society upon earth, except in our West-India islands. What are the usual offences imputed to the negroes? In ninety-nine instances out of a hundred, they are either idleness or theft. They do not woik hard enough to satisfy the talk-master, (and why they should work at all, I know not) or they steal provisions. The thing they can eat is the only thing worth their stealing. Food is the only object of theft which it is in their power to conceal, or that could possibly do them any service. Consider the risk they run, the horrible punishments they" suffer when detected, and then you may conceive in what manner they are fed. But, in the consideration of these offences, who is the offended party ?—"The negro driver. Who is the judge of the fact The driver. Who awards the punishment? The driver. Who inflicts it? The driver with his own hand. But how? Captain Giles, of the army, fays, that " the punishment "by whipping, though with fewer lashes given, is more se"vere and cruel than that of the army, because of the size «« of the whip." Captain Hall, of the riavy, says, "that
in Barbadoes and the Leeward Islands, the treatment of *' the negroes on the plantations was inhuman; that the ,c punishments inflicted were very shocking to pei sons not *' used to see them ; much more so, than on board a man of «* war. The field slaves he has seen, (a great many) were
generally marked with the whip." This is the mode ot punishment. What is likely to be the degree of it f An angry man determines the penalty; an offended judge inflicts it; and he, perhaps, by office, by habit, and occupation, one of the lowest, if not worst of our species. , If you cannot have an indifferent judge of the offences of these wretches, at least let there be a cold, indifferent executioner. It is a horrible truth, that when once the lash is lifted by an angry man, with despotic power over the object, his rage is inflamed by every stroke he gives. The cries and writhings of 1 the the creature are called resistance ; even his patience is called sulkine/i; even his sufferings are an offence. The decrees of pnfficn are executed by passion. Admitting the power to he neceCiry, is there any protection against the abuse of it? Have the negroes any shelter? slave they any appeal? Is there a law to deter, is there a magistrate to resort to ?— No, Sir; none at all. Mr. Terry, who was many years an OTerseer in Grenada, say% " that he has known staves pu'f nifhed by managers severely for trifling faults; that they H durst not complain to the owner, for fear cf worse treat"ment; that he has known them punished by the owner K for so doing, and sent back, though their complaint was f just; that field staves usually hear the marks of the whip; M and that he never heard that a slave complained to a ma"gistrate of his owner, manager, overseer, or attorney; "that he has known tliesame person both attorney, mana"ger, and doctor on one estate; that he never knew a plan"ter or manager interfere with another's treatment of his "slaves; that food is the general object of theft among slaves, "and at the hazard of their lives. That an overseer on the "estate where he was, (Mr. Coghlan) threw a slave into the "boiling cane juice, who died in four days; he was not pu"nifhed otherwise than by replacing the slave, and being "dismissed the service; was told of this by the owner's son, "the carpenter, and many slaves on the estate; has heard it « often."
Against all the allegations and all the arguments on this subject, one general answer is usually stated, and supposed to he conclusive: The negroes are our property; we have paid high prices for them; our profits depend upon the care we take of them. If we are bad men, at least we understand our interest too well, to destroy or disable the instruments, by which alone our estates are made cf any value to us. In the first place, Sir, the proprietor is not in general th; person who exercises the power in question; if he were, it might be fair to presume, that the consideration of his true interest would he some restraint upon his passions. 1 fear, that in general it would not be effective. Many of the West-India proprietors, I know, are men cf as much honour and humanity as are to be found in any other rank of life; but they reside in England. Concerning the manngemeat of their estates, they have no other evidence but the information of their overseers; concerning the treatment of their slaves, they have nothing to judge by, but the amount produce of their labour. If the returns are abundant, it is not likely that the owners sliould be much dispo "ed to enquire into abuses, by which their immediate profits do not appear to be diminished. They hear no complaints; they
H h a live
Jive happily themselves, and conclude that all is well *. But I deny that the principle, so assumed and relied on, namely, that slaves will be well treated, because it is the interest of an owner to take care of his property,' is conclusive in this cafe, as it would be in the cafe of inanimate property. All the protection which you can expect from the principle, and** it goes no farther, is, tint corporal 'punishment shall not be inflicted to the hazard of life and limb; that the flaye shall not be disabled from performing the task allotted to him. Within that limitation, the lafli may be, inflicted with the most shocking, capricious severity, provided it does not essentially injure the property of the owner. But to secure even that degree of protection, he ought never to trust the lash out of his own hand. He delegates his power to another, but not the interest,' which, you fay, is to govern the exercise of it. Still the r.egroes are your property: so are your hcises, and of more value too, if price and value are the same. See how those noble, useful animals are treated, by coachmen and others, every day in the streets; every night at the doors of the croudej assemblies of this town, before the eyes of their masters and mistresses, and even at the hazard of their lives. I have been often witness to these abominable scenes of riotous dr passionate cruelty. Did you ever hear of a coachman punished, or even difmissd, for cruel treatment of his horses?
One would think, at the first view of the subject, that a plantation, once properly stocked with male and female negroes, would supply itself, without farther importation. I wish it were so; for then 1 should conclude that the condition of the negroes was tolerable at least. There is nothing in the climate or foil to counteract the propogation of negroes in the islands, any more than in Africa, where they multiply to excess. In all other countries, the labouring part of the people are in general the most prolific. Wby not in the West Indies? Excessive labour, and scanty unwholesome food, would be sufficient to check population any where.— But the fact is, that the planters do not think it their intetest to encourage it. Captain Hall tells you, that "in the ** British islands, breeding is not thought desirable; they ra*' ther thought it a misfortune to have pregnant women, or even young slaves. They esteemed the charge of rearing "a child to maturity, more troublesome and greater than
* Captain Hall sayi, " he believes that the slaves suffered from the "owner's absence, because it was the business, of the overseer, for his "own credit, to make as much sugar as possible; to do this, he must "work slaves to the utmost 1 it being no concern of his whether they
died or not." * *" - - w buying