Imatges de pÓgina

of right, because he cannot in fact exercise it. It is when a subject commits upon a foreign territory a crime against the laws of the country upon which this territory depends; he is then liable to the application of those laws, and his sovereign, who cannot oppose, tolerates it.

But, except in these circumstances, the sovereign could not consent that his subject should pass under a foreign jurisdiction, In vain would it be alleged that the mixed commission does not exercise its jurisdiction in a criminal manner, and that it only pronounces " upon the legality of the seizure of the vessels having slaves illicitly on board.”

To pronounce upon the legality of the seizure, is to judge the question asmuch as it is possible to do it; it is to decide that the captured has or has not incurred the penalties attached to the crime which he has committed. His fate is thenceforward fixed.

It matters little that the penalties which he has or has not incurred be determined by the code of his country, or by that of another. When he has undergone the examination of the commission, it only remains to apply this code, or to set him at liberty: he is then in reality judged, and that not by his natural judges. His most Christian majesty, it is repeated, does not be. lieve himself, in conscience, to have the right to sanction such a change in the legislation of his kingdom; and, should he think that this right might belong to him, it is out of all probability that the Powers whose co-operation would be necessary to him, in order to admit of this change, would acknowledge it.

It results, from the preceding observations, ihat France has done all that depended upon her to bring about the complete abolition of the slave trade; that she perceives in the project proposed by England for suppressing all possible continuation of this odious commerce, dangers which will not permit her to admit it; that, in a word, it appears to her that, to attain one desirable end, for the interests of a portion of mankind, the risk is run of compromising interests still more precious, since they relate to the maintenance of the peace and the repose of Europe.

She has given her opinion upon this subject with the more freedom, in proportion to her anxiety to attain the objects to which her acts of legislation and administration have been directed. She has no separate views, inconsistent with her declarations. The reports, indeed, which announce that the trade is still actively continued on the French territory, are anterior to the establishment of a naval force upon the coast, and to the new instructions sent to Senegal for putting an end to all fraudulent trade. This is perhaps the place to remark, that implicit faith should not be given to the reports brought forward against the authorities of Senegal. The reports, which implicate them so seriously that the accusers ought to be called upon

for their proofs, are in part prepared by persons who conceived themselves to have other grounds of complaint against these authorities.

France, moreover, would not feel that she had sufficiently proved her desire to co-operate in the measures of repression agaitist the trade, if she did not indicate, in her turn, new means of effecting it Hitherto, the dispositions made in this respect have been directed against the transport of slaves, since it is principally upon the manner of detaining at sea the vessels employed in this commerce, that they have been concerted. The principle is good, since the length of the passage offers great probability that the illicit traffic may be intercepted. But, on the other hand, the uncertainty of the sea, and consequently the hope of escaping observation, as well as the enormous benefits it holds out, offer chances, and an attraction, sufficiently powerful for the slave merchants not to be totally discouraged. The measures which would tend to check the commerce of slaves, not in its middle passage, but at its birth and at its termination, that is to say, upon the points where the purchase and sale of the negroes are effected, might effectually contribute, when combined with the other arrangements, to accomplish the salutary work which is intended.

It is proposed then to establish in the comptoirs where the purchase of slaves is habitually made, commissioners charged to notify the same to the government, and empowered to prosecute the offending parties in the public tribunals. There might also be introduced into all colonies where the proprietors are interested in recruiting slaves, regulations like those of the registry bill, to fix the number of blacks existing upon cach plantation, and to ascertain, by periodical computations, that the law has not been eluded. The confiscation of the negroes upon each plantation, beyond the number previously declared, (saving those born on the spot) and a heavy fine for cach slave clandestinely introduced, might be the punishment inflicted upon the delinquents. These measures, which enter into the interior administration of each government, might, however, be concerted between all; and, instead of mixed commissions, charged with pronouncing upon the culpability of the individuals who import the negroes, 'committees might be established, charged with the duty of watching the indiviruals who purchase them, and to make known to the superior authorities of the country the infractions which the inferior agents might show reluctance in prosecuting. These arrangements are in the nature of those which the government of his most Christian majesty might take, without fear to wound the rights of his subjects, and he is ready to come to an understanding in this respect with the Powers who unite their efforts for bringing about the entire abolition of a trade, odious in itself, and which has been stigmatized with general condemnation.


Opinion of the Austrian cabinet upon the question of the slave trade.

Since the abolition of the slave trade has been the object of the common deliberations of the Powers of Europe, the cabinet of Austria has not ceased to devote to this question all the interest which it merits in its great relation with the good of humanity, as well as with the precepts of sound morality and religion. Faithful to the principles solemnly proclaimed in this respect at the period of the congress of Vienna, and to the successive engagements founded upon those bases, Austria, although not able, from her geographical position, to co-operate directly for the success of so meritorious and noble an enterprise, has not less eagerly concurred in all which might advance and perfect it; and it has been with ihese unalterable sentiments that the minister of Austria has examined, with the most serious attention, the propositions made by the plenipotentiaries of his Britannic Majesty to the present conferences, for completing and extending the system hitherto pursued for attaining the final extinction of the trade, and for ensuring the execution and the efficacy of this system.

His majesty the Emperor is ready to take part in the measures which the allied sovereigns are about to adopt with the cabinet of Rio de Janeiro, to engage it to fix, as soon as possible, the period of definitive abolition.

His Majesty cannot but feel that the sovereign of Brazil may meet, in this transaction, difficulties more real, perhaps, and stronger, than any other Power has had 10 surmount who has consented to this salutary measure. But he reckons too much upon the loyalty of this sovereig, to admit that any obstacles whatever would prevent him from fulfilling a sacred engagement, such as that which he has contracted in the face of the world, by the decla. ration of the 8th of February, 1815.

With respect to the measures proposed by the British plenipotentiaries, to put an end to the illicit trade, as i: appears admitted on all parts that a system of permanent surveillance cannot be effectually established, until the abolition of the trade shall have been generally and definitively pronounced by all the Powers, the Austrian cabinet is of opinion that, in adjourning to that period the ulterior discussion of the measures to be adopted for this purpose, the intermediate time might be usefully employed in reconciling and conciliating all opinions, persuaded, as it is, that, provided the fundamental principle, that of arriving at the universal and effectual abolition of the trade, be never lost sight of, and that each power continues to second, with its utmost efforts, those which the British Government have hitherto used in so honorable a cause, they will ultimately agree upon the most effectual means for securing its full and complete accomplishment

The Austrian cabinet also desire that the ministerial conference established in London for the consideration of this question, may continue its work in the sense most conformable to the principles by which it has hitherto been guided


Opinion of the Prussian cabinet on the slave trade question. Invariably attached to the principles of morality and humanity, which for a long time have demanded the abolition of the slave trade, and faithful to the engagements which they have made to this effect, the Prussian Governnient is constantly ready to concur in every thing that may contribute to the definitive accomplishment of this noble end.

In consequence, they do not hesitate to accede to the proposition of a combined representation to the court of Brazil, in order to engage it to accelerate, as much as the circumstances and the necessities of its situation may admit, the entire abolition of the trade.

As to the measures of general police that may be adopted to prevent or put a stop to the illicit trade, the Prussian Government cannot dissemble the inseparable inconveniences of the concession of a right of visit, exercised on the high seas; a concession which will become but too easily a source of abuse and misunderstanding, and which would subject peaceable and innocent traders to molestations, of which the idea alone will indispose them perhaps still more than the real mischief.

The Prussian Government, in consequence, believe it to be their duty to give the preference to every measure of precaution and of surveillance, which, being confined to the point of departure, and to the point of arrival, that is, to the coast of Africa, and the colonies interested in favoring these illicit enterprises, will admit of an execution more rigorous and more decisive.

Fifth EXCLOSURE IN No. 11.

Memorandum (B.) The plenipotentiaries of Great Britain, after attentively perusing the notes given by the several cabinets on the measures brought forward on the part of the Prince Regent, for effectuating the abolition of the slave trade, cannot dissemble their deep regret that the deliberations of the algust assembly which is now about to terminate, are not destined to be marked in the page of history by some more decisive interposition than is likely to take place, in relief of the sufferings of Africa.

They had persuaded themselves that it was reserved for the plenipotentiaries assembled at Aix-la-Chapelle to have completed at once the work of peace in Europe, and to have laid a broad and lasting foundation, on which the deliverance of another great quarter of the globe from a scourgo ar more severe than European warfare, in its most aggravated forms, inight have been effectuated by establishing an alliance which should for overseny to the fraudulent slave trader, of whatever nation, the cover of their respective flags for the purposes of his iniquitous traffic. Although disappointed in this hope, they will not despair of ultimately arriving at their object, whilst they have so powerful a cause to advocate, and whilst they can address themselves

, not less to the understandings, than to the hearts of those sovereigns, who, when assembled in congress at Vienna, solemnly pronounced upon this question, and devoted their future exertions to the consummation of this work of peace.

They derive additional consolation from the perasal of the documents above referred to; for although they fail them for the present in their conclusion, they nevertheless bear in all their reasonings such homage to the princple, and in some of their details so fully evince the strong sense of duty which animates the august sovereigns in the prosecution of this measure, as to be regarded rather as the precursors of some decided effort for putting an end to this great moral evil, than as indicating on their part any abandonment of a cause, which, in the face of mankind, they have taken under their especial protection. It has been the fate of this question, in every stage of its progress, to have difficulties represented as insurmountable, which, in a little time, have yielded to the perseverance and to the more matured impulses of humanity.

The language in every country has been at times discouraging, and yet the principles of truth and of justice have ultimately triumphed, so as to have left only one grcat blot in the civilized world at this day unremoved. Every nation, one only excepted, has secured itself from this pollution, and his most faithful majesty has taken steps sufficiently decisive in the same direction, to afford the most encouraging prospect of his determination to deliver his peo. ple, without loss of time, from a practice which must degrade them, in the scale of enlightened policy, so long as it shall continue to be tolerated amongst them. It is against the fraudulent slave trader, for the welfare of Africa, that more decisive measures are urgently called for; wore it not for his pes. tilential influence, more than half of that great continent would at this day have been consigned to peaceful habits, and to the pursuits of industry and of innocent commerce. But they are his piratical practices on the coast of Africa, in breach of the laws of every civilized government, which not only vex that extended portion of the globe, but which have undone the work of many years of slow but successful improvement.

It was the fraudulent slave trader who introduced anew on those coasts the traffic, with all its desolating influence on the interior of the country, and which, if not soon checked by measures of a decisive character, will banish not only every trace of improvement, but all commerce other than that of slaves.

On the eve of the departure of the illustrious sovereigns from this place, and after the ample deliberations which have already taken place on this subject, the British plenipotentiaries cannot flatter themselves with the hope of obtaining at this time a more favorable decision; but they could not satisty their own sense of duty, were they not to record their observations upon the objections which have been brought forward to the measures which they were directed to propose, humbly but confidently submitting them on the part of their court to the more matured consideration of the different cabinets. And as it is the species of measure best calculated to suppress this evil, upon which they are alone divided in sentiments, as all are agreed in the enormity of the offence, and all equally animated with a determination effectually to suppress it, they indulge the confident expectation that the subject may be resumed at no distant period in the conferences in London, and prosecuted, under more favorable auspices, to some decisive result.

And first, with respect to the memoir presented by the plenipotentiaries of Russia. The plenipotentiaries of Great Britain do homage to the sentiments of enlightened benevolence which on this, as on every other occasion, distinguish the elevated views of the august sovereign of Russia. · They only lament that the Russian cabinet, in the contemplation of other measures to be hereafter taken, should have been discouraged with respect to the great good which lay within their reach; and that his imperial majesty should thus have abstained for the present to throw into the scale of the proposed measure his illustrious and powerful example.

It appears that the Russian Government looks forward to the moment when Portugal shall have finally abolished the trade, for founding a system upon the coast of Africa, which shall be authorized not merely to pronounce upon the property of the slave trader, but which shall be competent to proceed criminally against him as a pirate, and which, in addition to those high functions, shall have a naval force at its disposition, and be invested with a general right of visit of all flags, at least upon those coasts; that this institution should be composed of elements drawn from all civilized States; that it should have a directing council and a judicial system: in short, that it should form a body politic, neutral in its character, but exercising these high authorities over all States. The British Government will, no doubt, be most anxious to receive from the Russian cabinet the further development of this plan which is promised; but as the prospect of some institution of this nature may form a serious obstacle to the adoption of what appears to them the more pressing measure, the British plenipotentiaries cannot delay to express their doubts as io the practicability of founding, or preserving in activity, so novel and so complicated a system.

If the moment should have arrived when the traffic in slaves shall have been universally prohibited, and if, under those circumstances, the mode shall have been devised by which this offence shall be raised in the criminal code of all civilized nations to the standard of piracy, they conceive that this species of piracy, like any other act falling within the same legal principle, will, by the law of nations, be amenable to the ordinary tribunals of any or every particular State.

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