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*s:mbry of St. Christopher's; by which it appeared, that too little attention was paid either to the food or clothing of ther^e unhappy creature?. He contended tb:it the shocking accounts given c.f those parts of Africa, where the traffic prevailed, were strictly true, anil not even contradicted hy the traveller Mr. Parke. Therefore.be thought it was incumbent on the house to do their duty by abolishing the trade, anil not content themselves with paltry meliorations, by countenancing a system too execrable for the powers of human language to describe.
Mr. Ellis thought there was too much precipitation in bringing on the question. Gentlemen should hare waited until the legislatures ol the islands assembled, when their intentions respecting the business could be ascertained.
Mr. Fox (who attended for this evening at the solicitation of the friends of abolition) rose and said, after the repeated discussions which this subjeit ha*l undergone, he did not wish to detain the house loner with a tedious inquiry into the principles by which the question ou;ht to be decider). The gentlemen who were against the motion are extremely anxious to have it understood that there was but one opinion ot the injustice and immorality of the slave trade; the only difference was, what is the best mode to abandon it? To me (said Mr. Fox) it is a matter of shame and of lamentation that the country should be so degenerate from eery sense of virtue, so sunk in hypocrisy, that, however convinced or the enormity of the wickedness, we have not yet abandoned thnt course which we so unanimously condemn. The British parliament has been acquainted with the guilt
and the reproach with which the nation has been loaded; not two opinions exist upon the subject: and yet not a single ttep has been taken, till la?t year, to remove the cause. Those gentlemen who oppose the motion sav, we arc told that the savage nations go to war with each other; and, that as their prisoners are brought to market, it would be'inhumanity not to purchase ; and, as the mischief is done, why should not we derive some advantage from it?' If a passenger is to be robbed, why may not we be the first to plunder him? Such are the arguments by which one of the greatest wickednesses that ever dis« graced a nation is palliated. We Hre asked, is it not better to send them to the West Indies, than continue in Africa to have their throats cut ? Interest, they say, is sufficient to induce kindness. We know (continues Mr. Fox), that such is the nature of man, that the idea of possessing Hn unlimited authority, so far from inspiring tenderness, produces contempt of the object as worthless. An honourable gentleman tells us, that «e ought not to be precipitate, that we ought not to be violent, and that we ought to prefer measures of conciliation to measures of severity. Gracious God! what severity are we about to commit? Are we to suspend the trade for two or three years, till you see whether an act of parliament be necessary to abolish it, or will you trust to the regulation in the West Indies? Mr. Fox said he listened with great attention to what Jell from the minister in the debate; and contended that it was impossible to answer the arguments he had u gedin favour of the motion. M He told you (said Mr. Fox) the safety of the West India islands depended on your adoption of the G i measure."' measure." He (Mr. Fox) wai not often in the habit of p.iying implicit deference to his" assertion*; but on 'his occasion he could have no doubt of the truth of what he said. After passing several encomiums on the chancel,or of the exchequer for his eloquence in support of the motion, he proceeded by saying, what should he think of those who had acknowledged the injustice and inhumanity of this trade, but who nevertheless would vote against the m< tion, rather than tnake a sacrifice of their interests? Mr. Fox remarked, that if he asked those gentlemen who were against the motion, when they would abolish the slave trade ? they would answer, when the islands are cultivated. None of these gentlemen agreed in any thing like a definitive answer; but each had an answer of his own, an.I each tending to the same point; viz-, to oppose the aboltion of the slave trade lor ever. What is the nature of the bill propnsed-to be brought in? Why, in its nature it must be a ■measure calc* lated to give them notice when iht: trade shall be abolished; for the motion is, "That you do now resolve yourselves into a committee to consider of a motion, that the slave trade be abo"'lished at a t me to be limited." What time do these gentlemen require? Why, till all these objections to the abolition be done away. Mr. Fox observed, if riotio be the object, this motion was the object, this motion was pecul arly adapted to that purpose; and shoul-i tlie. house give leave to Vint; in th'e proposed bill, he should, when the blank- came to be filled up in the committee, most certainly vote for the direct and immediate abolition of this trade; being mindfu; of'his ground, that the house was bound
to abolish a trade, which they hadt' declared to be a trace of injustice and immorality; being mindful also that the minister had declared that the safety of the islands depended upon it. Mr. Fox said he had now delivered his opinion upon the subject, though he was no' sanguine in hopes of "success. With regard to what had been said to-nigM, viz. that individual* mifiht have been cruel, and that we ought not to judge of the slave trade from the possibility of some persons having misconducted themselves in it—if man had not been cruel, slavery would never have been complained of in this world; indeed if man were not cruel, slavery would not exist.
'4 he secretary at war said he should not have been induced to trouble the house this night, had it not been for some of the observations of the right honourable gentleman who had just sat down. He agreed with him, however, in some of his opinions, although he could not agree with him in the reasons which he assigned for them . He observe', t at he had not the least hesitation in declaring, that if the question were now, whether the slave trade should be immediately abo:ished, or be continued until all the lands in the West Indies should be cultivated? his alternative would be that ol voting forthe abolition: b.it, whether lie should vote for the motion now before the house, or leave if to the legislatures of the islands? to whom by the last address of the bouse it seemed to have been entrusted, was a different question; and be conceived that leaving it to their care w;.s the best mode that could beadojted. Much had been said upon the interior situation of Africa, and the horrois of the slave trade,
for valuable considerations. In those cases, and where the conditions stipulated for were faithfully performed by the grantees—he thought it fair that certain proportionate compensation should be allowed.
The ^question then being loudly called for, the house divided, when there appeared—For the motion, 83—Against it, 87—Majority, 4.
As parliament has not thought proper to enforce their o*n resolution, that the slave trade should be abolished in the year 1796, it became necessary to renew, for a limited time, the slave trade carrying bill. On this subject, however, nothing interesting occurred till the 4th of May, when sir William Dolben moved,-that the house resolve itself into a committee on the bill for regulating the quality of the shipping employed in carrying slaves.
Mr. William Smith proposed a clause for making the cubical contents between decks the criterion of the fitness of ships, instead of their extent of tonnage.
Colonel Porter observed, that the attendance was too thin for a subject of this importance, there being only thirty-three members. It was, consequently, ordered to be again considered on Thursday next.
On Thursday, 10th May, therefore, sir William Dolben moved that the house resolve itself in a committee, to consider further of the slave-carrying bill.
The house resolved itself accordingly into a committee.
Mr. William Smith proposed a clause for increasing the height of ships between decks, which should not be less, he said, than five feet perpendicular.
General Tarleton opposed the tlause, as there were no arguments adduced to prove its necessity. The
mortality he contended was not near so great as on board the ships employed as transports for the the troops to the West Indies.
Sir William Young supported the clause.
Mr. Sewell opposed the clause; and, if it should be negatived, he said he would bring forward a clause proposing a certain scale in slave-carrying ships, to regulate their depth; those of 150 tons and under should have 4 feet 4 inches deprli; those of 200,4 feet 6; of 250 tons, 4 feet 10; those above 250, 5 feet 2 ; and those of 300 tons and upwards 5 feet 8.
Colonel Gascoigne and Mr. Sewell opposed the clause; Mr. Smith and Mr. Vansittart supported it ; when the house divided. Ayes 34, Noes o*.
Mr. William Smith next proposed a clause lor regulating the superficial space, which he estimated for each slave at 8 feet.
This clause was opposed by colonel Gascoignc, Mr. Sewell, and general Tarleton. After which the house divided. Ayes 34, Noes 5.
The other clauses were agreed to, and the report ordered to be received on Monday. Adjourned.
On the following Monday, sir William Dolben brought up the report of the committee on the slavecarrying bill.
Colonel Gascoigne presented a, petition from the merchants of Li verpool, and other great places of trade, stating objections against many of the clauses that were introduced into the bill. The petitioners prayed that they might be heard at the bar of the house against the bill. He intended, after the petition was read, to move that the report be taken into consideration that day se'night.
Mr. William Smith said, that having heard no reason for hearing counsel against this bill, except th-.t the parties interested in the Wide wished it, and knowing that the statement made in behalf of the petitioners was a misrepresentation of facts, he therefore should move that the report be read immediately. The further consideration of the Teport, however, was deferred to Wednesday, when counsel was ordered to be heartl for the petitioners.
Oa the 21st of May, counsel ■was called in behalf of the merchants of London, Bristol, and Liverpool, relative to some clauses introduced into the slave-carryinsl
un. _ y °
Mr. Law, having proceeded for a few minutes at the bar for the petitioners,
Colonel Gascoigne desired that counsel should withdraw; which
being complied with, he desired the house to be counted; which being done, there appeared only thirty-two members. An adjournment took place of course, and the question was afterwards adjourned for some months.
Mr. R. Thornton wished to defer the consideration of the slave-restraining bill, on account of the advanced period of the session, till the following year ; when he moved that the bill be deferred to that day two months.
Mr. Wilberforce concurred, and wished that it might be discussed in a full house.
Col. Tarleton said a few words.
After which the motion was put and carried; and thus ended the proceedings of this session on a question of the utmost magnitude and importance to the interests of justice and, humanity.
Debate concerning the Office of third Secretary of State—Mr. Tiemey's Motion on that Subjiet negatived. Motion by the Duke of Bedford, in the House of Lords, for the Dismission of his Majesty's Ministers—Negatived. BUI respecting Newspapers.
AMONG the lesser debates which were agitated iii the British legislature during this session, we may reckon an attempt made by Mr. Ticrney to disqualify Mr. Dundas from a seat in the house of commons, upon the plea that the office which he held as secretary of state was contrary not only to the Toint, but to the letter of Mr. Burke's famous bill in 1783, for retrenching the public expences, and diminishing the influence of the crown.
On the 3d of November, Mr. Tiemey gave notice of a motion
he intended to make. It had been stated, he sa'd, on a former occasion, that Mr. Dundas ought to .vacate his seat in consequence of being appointed third secretary of state, and it had been answered, that the duke of Portland held that ollice himself. From the report of the secret committee, however, it now appeared, that it was Mr. Dundas who held this office, and Mr. Tiemey said, he should submit the subject to the consideration of the house on t\\e following Monday.
Oil Monday the 7th, when Mr.