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Ah! could you tell the Slaves in the West India Colonies what is going on at home-could you draw to them a picture of the interior of a manufactory at Manchester, or at Leeds, or at Bristol, or at any of the other manufacturing towns at home, they would be found subscribing willingly and proudly to the relief of the White Slaves ; for of suffering such as is in these manufactories they have no idea. (Hear.)
But my object in making this reference, is not to draw a parallel between the condition of the peasant in this country and the labourer in the West India Colonies-for I should rather call him a labourer than a Slave. Define in your unprejudiced solitude what Slavery means, think of the evils which that hated word specially and definitively involves, and measure well how many of these evils comparatively belong to the condition of our own labourers, and of the labourers in the Colonies, and I will then put it to any honest mind to say which of the two better deserves the name of Slave! My object is, liowever, not to draw tlte parallel, but to bring one of the most important points of the question now in debate before your mind, and that is-Would it be well, if, in attempting to cure one patient, a medical attendant should kill another? Would it not be better to take such gentle means as would restore both to life, though it might be by a slower progress? Well, the point of view in which I desire to put the question now is this-Consider, even if Emancipation were all that it has been contended to be as far as the Slave is concerned, what will it be for our own Peasantry ? Must we erect the freedom of the Slave upon the ruin of our own Peasantry? Must we purchase for the Slave what we believe to be good, by involving our own Peasantry in a much greater evil? This is a consideration which Mr Fowel Buxton and the callers for Immediate Emancipation have not yet taken into view. The ground of our contending is, that the Slaves will not work if they were free ; and because they will not work if they are free, therefore the Colonies are lost to us the moment that an unprepared Emancipation is conferred upon them. This is the question on which I am debating, and it were wrong in me to assume this, unless I had proved it; but proved it I have. I would ask what motive could be placed before the mind of the Slave to induce him to labour, supposing him made free to-morrow? None of our opponents have answered this. It is not hunger nor want of clothing; the former he is not likely to feel, and for the latter he cares not. It is not education for this he has not yet been taught to desire with vehement thirst. The original wish of the Slave remains the same in a large proportion of the Slaves now in the Colonies--namely, to be totally idle, and to bask in the sun, leaving his wife and his children, if he have any, to provide for themselves as they may.
What idea do two-thirds of the slaves, ay, and a larger proportion than this, attach to freedom now? They attach the notion of being idle ; and I will mention a palpable proof of this.-A contest was carried on lately between Sir Bethel Codrington and Mr Fowel Buxton, generally on the condition of the Slaves. Buxton asserted that they would labour, if they were free, and that they were harshly treated on Sir B. Codrington's estate now, and would do any thing to escape from it. The latter put this to the test by proposing to Buxton as follows:--- You shall be carried to the West India Colonies-proceed to my estate-you shall have free access to my Negroes for one month, and you will explain to them, that when made free, they are not to be idle, but to labour as they do now, and I will allow you to Emancipate any fifty of them you will find to accept it.” Mr Buxton did not, however, find it convenient to accept the condition. • 0,” said he, - you wish to send me from England at the time, in the next Session of Parliament, when the question will be at the most important issue." • But why not nd out a proxy to emancipate them ?" No, he did not want to put it to the test. Instances of this kind I could multiply without number. But my determination is to take this to-day for granted, for I have alrealy proved it, and I shall proceed to the winding up of the question, so that we may see what are the arguments for and against Immediate Emancipation, as the West India Colonies now stand, unencumbered by the reading of evidence. There is a serious and grave objection to Immediate Emancipation to be drawn from the effect it would have on the commercial interests of our own country—on our own Exchequer—on our commercial population-on our manufacturing population and upon the interests generally of our own country. If Britain, burdened as she now is with taxation, be ready to give up 30 millions of her annual value, then you may Emancipate your Slaves, but not till then. Secondly, on the score of humanity I plead. Putting our own Exchequer and peasantry out of view-our own King and Government dependences-and even excluding from our consideration for the time the Planter himself-to the Slave and his safety alone will I look when I plead for Gradual Emancipation. And here I beg to be attended to closely
- Hear me for my cause, and be silent that you may hear ; censure me
"Immediate are my needs, and my relief
But tind supply immediate.' The want of definiteness is not in the word immediate, but in the word gradual." I notice this letter because, although I do not put myself on the level of noticing such letters, it may have its effict in certain quarters. A man who screens himself under the miserable shelter of an anonyme, is not fair game fora man who comes with his name before the public. He may say what he likesfor I know not where to find him. He may use calumny--I cannot hold him up to public contempt-I cannot shew where the guilt lies. He, on the other hand, has the means of holding me up to public scorn. We are not on a fair level. Yet I do notice this letter to shew what sort of sophisms they are by which our opponents maintain their point. Agitators! I have described them as such. By your Lecturer in the Assembly Rooms,” says the writer. I am not the lecturer of any party-I am not the lecturer of the Immediate nor of the Graulual Emancipators-I am my own lecturer– I stand for my country, not for any body of men in the country. No class of men ever instructed me to say a word ; nor have I any other rule to guide me than what I see to be best for my country. 6. You have attributed,” says the writer, " to those who approve of Immediate Emancipation," &c. What do they mean by complaining of this ? Surely they would be angry with me if I called them charitable men, when out of L.23,000 which they collected in nine years to be given to the Slaves, only L.9, 18s. 8d. of it went to the poor distressed Negroes in London. Would they be pleased if I said, they were not“ political agitators," but that they are collectors of money for the good of the Slaves, and have collected this sum ; and to show how honest they are, they say that they gave nine pounds of it to the poor Negroes? What is the object of the three millions of pamphlets which they have distributed over the world ? What is the object of the appeal which they make to public feeling constantly? I do not accuse them of dishonesty. I said they did that which they said they would do—that they accomplished that which they declared they would accomplish, namely, the harrowing up of the public mind against the planters. What do they call that but political agitation ? Perhaps they will say, it is not a political question. No?
What does it concern ? Does it not concern the civil rights of 750,000 human beings? Is it not a question about the rights of Slaves, who are subjects of the British crown, and the rights of the Planters and of the home country? And is this not a political question? Is not the circulation of pamphlets, and the writing of letters, intended to excite the public mind to an er parte view of the question ? Is not this political agitation? If it mean not this, what does it mean? The writer of this letter must say they are dishonest. I give the Anti-Slavery Society joy of their friends. · Heaven defend me from my friends; I will take care of myself from my enemies,” If my enemies accuse me of attributing bad motives to the AntiSlavery Society, and declare that they are not political agitators, the only refuge left them is dishonesty. I do not think they are dishonest ; but I find, by a note just slipped into my hand, that they have declared that their object is political agitation. I can give you high authority for the same thing; the anthority of Peter Clare, a quaker in Manchester-a gentleman of very sound honest principles, I believe, whom I met several times there as the organ of the Anti-Slavery Society. Talking to him in public about the question, I said, " Surely you do not sanction the appeals to passion constantly made by your party ; surely, as a Christian and a Briton, you cannot sanction those appeals to passion ? Would it not be better to confine your observations to reason ?" Friend So-and-So," says he, naming a certain gentleman, is the lecturer we wish : he is eloquent, and he appeals to the passions ; and we are so satisfied of the justice of our cause, that we are willing to take upon ourselves the responsibility. If we get the people to vote with us, we do not care whether it be obtained through their passions or their judgment !" Any person who doubts what I say may write to Peter Clare himself, he is too honest a man to deny that he said so. So much then for my assertions of attributing bad motives to them. I would not argue the question about motives, but about acts. What have they done ? They have done that which is calculated to ruin the Negro, the Planter, and the Country. If they have the purest hearts, the most benevolent wishes, and the warmest affections, they know themselves that my quarrel with them is not about their hearts, and their affections, but it is what they have done. If I find a man constantly injuring me by mistake, it does not make the injury the less that it was done by mistake ; if I am killed, it does not restore my life, that I was killed by mistake or by kindness. My quarrel is with the act, not the motive. They quote Dr Johnson as to the meaning of the word immediate. They are no great dabs at grammar themselves; the “ he" would-be Dr Johnson illustrates the twofold meaning," &c.
6. The want of definitiveness is not in the word immediate," they say, “ but in the word gradual.” The writer is mistaken ; the want of definitiveness is in neither of the words. Where are we to look for the indefinition of the word ? I oppose Immediate Emancipation. I am told you are not to fancy that it is to be so very immediate ; that it is not to be without any preparation. I do not expect to-morrow, when I pull off my night-cap, to find the house with the cope-stone upon it, which I to-night ordered to be built immediately. And their next definition is the substitution of judicial'.-mark the sounding words :—and responsible authority for private and irresponsible.” What has this to do with presence or futurity of time? It has nothing whatever to do with time. They have yet another definition, and that is— Emancipation so speedily effected, as shall be consistent with the rights of all parties involved.” And then we have a fourth, more astonishing than them all, viz. " The right of property in man must entirely and for ever be extinguish: ed"-and so on. I confess there may be a definite meaning in this, but it is written in a language I do not understand ;—if it were translated into English, it might have a definite meaning. What is Immediate Emancipation ? The right of property in man must be entirely and for ever extinguished,” &c. This is all about the essence of the thing ; it has nothing to do with the time. Immediate is a word that refers to time. It is needless for me to spend time in the refutation of this. I object to their definitions as wanting precision. I have no quarrel with my mother tongue ; I know you may express any idea you wish to express in it, as well as in any other language, saving the languages of Greece and Rome, which are now dead ; but I have a quarrel with the Anti-Slavery Society, for speaking of Immediate Emancipation, and not knowing what it means. In all the definitions sanctioned by their authority, no one of them is found agreeing with the other; and I complain of a want of definitiveness in them all. The writer of the letter goes on to say, “ That there is a present unfitness in the Slave to be put in possession of the body he lives in, is assumed by your party, but not granted by the other; and the standard you have pitched upon as qualifying the Slaves for Emancipation is the character of Cato!!!" So, they have discovered that the Slave lives in and has his own body now, and it is not to be his own yet, but the effect of Immediate Emancipation is to put him in possession of this body. I mentioned the name of Cato, and quoted a sentence put into his mouth by Addison ; and I said, that to a mind that could appreciate that sentence, freedom was the best of blessings—slavery the greatest curse. But they say, “ Mr Borthwick says, if the Slave is not made as learned, and as talented, and as great a man as Cato, then he is not fit for freedom !” So far from saying this, I said, on the contrary, that the British peasant—who, by the tender mercies of some of our manufacturers that subscribe to the Anti-Slavery Society, and are loudest in their calls for Immediate Emancipation, is dying, rendering up, under the influence of haggard starvation, his very soul into the hands of the God that gave it is a nobler being than the richest slave the Sultan owns. Was this raising it to the standard of Cato ? Shew me the slave in the condition of a Scottish peasant, and I will be for his Immediate Emancipation.
A Scottish peasant knows the rights between man and man. You meet him going to his work, and you ask him why he goes so cheerfully along to so hard a day's toil ? His reply is, perhaps, I have a wife and children, or a father and mother, or a home, with various relationships; or I have a good name, and I wish to keep it untarnished-therefore I work. But these are not his only reasons. He knows that one part of the community must till the ground from whence they are taken. He was born to this condition ; he is happy and cheerful, and pleased to comply with it. He cheerfully gives himself up to his position in society, lives a contented, virtuous, religious life, and dies the death of a philosopher and a Christian. This is a true patriot ; for never was a word said more truly by any man than by Gray, when he stood in the village church-yard, and marked the otherwise unmarked tombs around him, saying
“ Some mute, inglorious Milton here may rest ;
Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country's blood.” Ay! These powers of mind exist amongst them ; and here an illustration comės in point. But would you take this mute, inglorious Milton from his
cottage, though his mind occasionally wanders over the width of possible
Until,” continues the writer, “ you lower this standard-until you fix upon something more definite, your evasive lectureship in the Assembly Rooms may be amusing, but the Slave can have no hope in your tender mercies." I read this letter on purpose that we may see to what miserable shifts and sophistry our opponents are reduced. This writer either heard, or he did not hear me speak. If he did not, it was ill done of him to write any thing of what he knew nothing. If he did hear me, he knew that what he has asserted here is not true, for he knows that I did not point out the standard of Cato's character as that to which the Slave should be advanced ere he be fit for freedom. So much for the line of offence taken up by my opponents. Is it not melancholy that a subject so grave as this, in which so many thousand interests are involved, and with which so much national property is connected, should be so discussed before a British public—that they should come with sophistry, with misrepresentations, with a catching-up of words, and propagating false tales, in the defence of what they call humanity? If it were true humanity, it would stand by the side of truth; for humanity is as true to truth as the pledged maiden to her bridegroom's hand. Never will humanity, if genuine, forsake truth. If you find something calling itself humanity, but forsaking the side of truth, you may be sure it is meretricious.
Before the Africans were received by the Planter, they were savages, in their native country, of the lowest possible description ;-they knew nothing of moral ties--they had no wants of a moral kind—they cared not for anything save the gratification of their passions. No one need question the truth of this who has the means of referring to the travels of Lander, Denman, Clapperton, and others. If any other proof were wanting, it would be found in the fact, that in the worst time of slavery you never could find a man willing to return to Africa, saving and excepting on the moment of his landing, ere yet he knew, comparatively, the evil to which he had been exposed, and the good which he was to experience--ere yet he knew what he had to dread or hope, and what he had to suffer or enjoy. While he stood on the shores of the Colonies, sometimes, indeed, in obedience to the horrible rites of his religion, he would deprive himself of life, under the expectation that he was thereby to return home; but this is all. So much for the state of the African before he came to the Colonies. But see what he is now, and by the exertions of the Planter! I have proved his condition ; and it would not be desirable to read extracts from all these volumes before me-to produce all that has been read before in the Committee of the House of Lords. I have produced cnough to leave it beyond the possibility of doubt, that the Planter has done for the Slave what has introduced him to the very verge of ultimate civilization. What, then, does humanity say? Take a comparison. We sit, for instance, at the side of some person grievously afflicted. Wine is an excellent thing—it cheers the hearts of princes and of men : We say, give him wine ; no, says the skilful physician,