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remember, that on points of law, as well as of fact, the highest authorities sometimes disagree.' Let them relieve the juror from the necessity of compounding with his conscience for a forced assent to a verdict he disapproves, and no longer compel him to “risk the laying perjury on his soul,” in the discharge of a public duty, which, by its nature, of all others, should be the farthest removed from a crime so offensive and odious.
It is said, the opinion of twelve Jurors is the test of truth; and if they do not all agree, the test fails. Answer-the opinion of the twelve Judges is the test of law, yet they frequently differ. The law, notwithstanding, is settled by that of the majority.
PRINCE OF TALLEYRAND PERIGORD,
fic. &c. Sc.
ON THE SUBJECT OF
The Slave Trade.
WILLIAM WILBERFORCE, ESQ. M. P.
Sandgate (Kent), Oct. 10th, 1814.
[HE continued warfare which, to the regret of all good men, subsisted so long between France and Great Britain, was productive of this bad effect, among many others, that it prevented that mutual interchange of useful intelligence and suggestions, that intercourse of mind, if I may so term it, which is the happy privilege of our advanced state of social civilization. This consideration is painfully forced upon me by intelligence recently received from France. I should otherwise be greatly surprised as well as much concerned to hear, that the information concerning the nature and effects of the African Slave Trade, which, having been universally diffused throughout Great Britain, has produced one concurrent opinion and feeling on the subject in all classes of our community, has been very little circulated in France ; and consequently, that the same erroneous notions of that traffic are still found among you, which were so generally prevalent in this country before such information was obtained.
The Slave Trade had existed for more than two centuries, and had greatly increased within the last; and of all the nations by which it was carried on, Great Britain had by far the largest share of it. At length, the public attention having been drawn to the subject, a Parliamentary Inquiry into the nature and consequences
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of the Slave Trade took place; and though, as might be expected, it was strenuously defended by classes of men who were personally interested įn its continuance, and their prejudices and errors were great and obstinate, yet the true character of the trade having been brought to light, its fate was no longer doubtful. All our leading Statesmen, however widely and generally they differed on most other subjects, and whatever differences of opinion there were among them as to the manner of abolishing the Trade, all agreed on the national duty of its speedy and perpetual suppression,
It was not a case in which the voices of the many dicrated to the judgments of the few; but rather the reverse. The people waited with deference and patience for the issue of the Parliamentary Discussions : but the facts which were brought to light, and the conclusion upon them of the most distinguished Members in both Houses of Parliament, were promulgated throughout the country ; and the natural effect on the public mind was that general abhorrence of the traffic which so universally prevails in every part of this United Kingdom. The popular feeling, thus led and sanca tioned by the judgment of the Legislature, greatly, no doubt, faci, litated a reformation, which real difficulties, as well as groundless apprehensions, had conspired with very powerful particular inteȚests, to retard. A great commercial body, with an immense capital, was directly interested in the support of the traffic for Slaves. The still more powerful body of West Indians combined in a most strenuous and long-protracted contest to preserve it; and that dread of political reformation in the abstract which revo, lutionary mischiefs had produced, brought to the cause a very critical and powerful support, such as enabled them to delay the reformation which they could not avoid. But in a very few years, the cause of justice and mercy was completely victorious. The Slave Trade was prohibited; was declared a felony, and visited by the severest punishment, short of death, that is inflicted by the laws of England. Such has been the progress of truth and right, such the consequences of the developement of the real nature and effects of the Slave Trade, that now, throughout these kingdoms, not an individual is to be found by whom that traffic is not condemned in terms of the strongest reprobation. There is no man whose feelings would not shrink from the shame, as well as his conscience recoil from the guilt, of being concerned in it;--10 man, who would not conceive that he should thereby hand down to his descendants profits polluted with blood, and a name branded with infamy.
It was the effect, perhaps, of too scrupulous à regard for private property, that the two Houses of Parliament instituted, and long prosecuted, that minute and protracted inquiry which, by reasoning
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and considerate minds, might well have been deemed unnecessary to their own satisfaction. To purchase inrtocent human beings in one part of the world, to carry them by violence to another part, remote from every object of their human attachments, and there sell them into perpetual slavery, is a practice self-evidently repugnant to the first principles of moral obligation. No investigation could be necessary to prove, that such a trade as this ought, on moral grounds, to be renounced. It had been suggested indeed, in excuse for the Slave Trade, and it was unblushingly as serted as a fact, that slaves were bred for sale in Africa ;-also, that masters had great numbers of domestic slaves, whom they were entitled to sell at pleasure. But it was proved, at the very outset of the business, by abundant, and indeed by uncontradicted testimony, that, though there exists in Africa a sort of patriarchal vassalage, the master has no right to sell his native domestic slaves. Except in their obligation to serve a particular chief or master, they are in no respect distinguishable from freemen. Again : it might have been supposed that a slave market would be fed by prisoners of war, and by persons convicted of crimes and sentenced for transportation. But, though a small supply might be conceived to be afforded by convicts, and though the wars between neighbouring states might be supposed to furnish occasionally, even a considerable number of Slaves ; yet these sources could never supply that vast, and still less that regular and copious, tide of population which, for more than a century, had continually set from Africa into the western hemisphere. These undeniable truths having been once established it could scarcely be necessary to show by direct evidence, the natural, and indeed infallible effects of a traffic in man. It was an admitted fact, that a market for the sale of human beings, of both sexes, was established for nearly two thousand miles along the coast of Africa, and that the supply of this market was found, according to the ordinary principles of commerce, to accommodate itself to the demand. To these premises, it was added, by the express admission of the traders themselves, that, without questions asked as to the vendors' title, all the men, women, and children offered for sale were freely purchased by the European dealers. But man, when the subject of a large and regular commerce, cannot be furnished but by fraudu. lent or by forcible means. That such means could alone supply the insatiable, though fluctuating, demands of the African Slave Trade became still more clear, on the slightest consideration of the circumstances of that vast region from which the Slaves for the West Indies are brought. The coast of Africa is divided into various communities of different sizes ; some, governed by kings more or less absolute; others, and those the greater number, by
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