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commonly manifested by your countrymen, respecting the renewal of the Slave Trade. I had not merely trusted, that we should meet in France with few opponents; but I had indulged sanguine hopes, that, in its spirited and intelligent population, we should finda zealous co-operation in the various plans which had been set on foot in England for enlightening and improving the natives of Africa. For, when the Nation first awoke to the real nature of the Slave Trade, and the abolition was expected to take place, a colony was settled in the river Sierra Leone, in Africa, with a view to promote among the natives the arts and blessings of civilized life. That part of Africa had been long the seat of an extensive Slave Trade. Its population was greatly thinned, and the charac. ter of that which remained was very unpromising. Yet we were not disheartened. Schools were instituted, agriculture and industry encouraged ; but little progress could be made, till the Slave Trade was extinguished. While the appetites of the natives were stimulated, by the offer of their wonted gratifications, to the commission of their accustomed crimes, it was a difficult attempt to endeavour to divert their industry into innocent channels, though there were some of them who had even then discerned and lamented the fatal effects of the Slave Trade on social improvement, as well as on individual security and comfort. Again-No sooner had we succeeded in obtaining a law forbidding British subjects to visit the unoffending shores of Africa, except for the purposes of an innocent commerce, than a society, called the African Institution, was formed for repairing the wrongs which our country had committed. Many of its members were men of the highest rank and character; and at the head of it a Prince of the House of Brunswick, respected no less for his personal qualifications than for his illustrious descent, appeared in his natural and family character, that of the protector of the oppressed. It is the grateful office of this benevolent institution to watch over the actual execution of the law by which the Slave Trade is prohibited ; to plant and foster in that much-injured land the seeds of knowledge and improvement; and to excite the honest industry, and promote the growing civilization of her inhabitants. I had long Aattered myself, that, whenever peace should be restored between Great Britain and France, you would join us in promoting this beneficent project. Our colony of Sierra Leone had, indeed, in 1794, been almost crushed in its infancy, by a French force; but this was an effort of the same revolutionary fury as filled your own country with misery and tears. The hostility of such men to a settlement, the object of which was to substitute an innocent and peaceful commerce in the place of the Slave Trade, was perfectly natural; their attachment to the Slave Trade was in character; their connexion with Slave
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Traders congenial. But I doubted not, that, when France should have come under a milder regimen, Sierra Leone would find in her a protectress and a friend ; I even indulged the pleasing prospect, that our own Governinent, consenting to make Sierra Leone no longer exclusively a British Colony, all the European nations might be entitled in it to equal privileges, and know only the genérous rivalry of those, who should be contending, on equal terms, which should be foremost in the race of Christian liberality and beneficence. Under these impressions, no sooner did the day star of Peace appear above the horizon, the welcome harbinger of returning concord and amity between our too-long hostile countries, than, with a joyful heart, I moved an Address to the Crown, which received the unanimous and eager support of the House of Commons, a similar Address being voted, with the same zealous unanimity, in the House of Lords. The object of both was, that, in any negociation for peace, all the great European Nations should be invited to unite with us in taking effectual measures for an immediate and universal abolition of the African Slave Trade. I will frankly own to you, Sir, that it appeared to me to be peculiarly congenial with the genius and dispositions of the French People, to assent to such a proposition with more than common cordiality. Calling to mind your history and character ; recollecting, that you had been styled a nation of cavaliers, and that among you commerce was not even estimated at its true value, but was accounted a degrading and ignoble occupation ; retracing, also, the awful history of your revolutionary war, and seeing that your gallantry had never been more conspicuous, your victories never more brilliant, and that, from a thousand causes, a military spirit had been universally diffused among you ;-that, in whatever other particu. - lars, therefore, your former character had been changed, it was not likely that you could have contracted a grovelling and mercenary spirit :- I could least of all have anticipated so strange and monstrous an anomaly, as that your avidity for commercial gain should have suddenly become so extreme, as to cause you to rush with eagerness into those dishonorable paths, which had been quitted by several other nations, in obedience to the laws of justice and of honor. Least of all could I have thought it possible, that any considerable number of your people could so far misconstrue the invitation to concur with us in the benevolent designs which I have specified, as to have imagined that we were dictating to you, or assuming a tone of moral superiority, or wishing in some way to defraud or injure you. Far from us were any such ungenerous ideas! I can only regard the imputation as a melancholy effect of the long prevalence of the hostile spirit between our two countries, which, in those whose minds could form such a conception as this,
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had not yet given way to the feelings with which, I trust, all the friends of Africa are actuated towards you, of friendly cordiality and neighbourly good will.-Suffer me here, Prince, for a moment, to quit my immediate subject, and to congratulate you on the progress of those sounder as well as more benevolent principles of political economy, which, instead of founding the elevation and prosperity of our country on the depression and impoverishment of its neighbours, have ascertained, that each is benefited by the growing affluence of another; and that thus all may be interested in the improvement and prosperity of all.
It was under the full influence of this spirit, Prince, that we accosted you on the subject of the Slave Trade. As those, who, having ourselves discovered the fraudulent and cruel character of that detested commerce, invited you to partake with us in the benefits of the discovery. As those, who were confident, that your high-spirited people would never tarnish the lustre of their national character by recommencing the commerce of the human species, when its radical and incurable wickedness and cruelty should have been clearly developed. Nor will I suffer myself to be discouraged. I ascribe any lukewarmness which may prevail among you, to the want of information ; for I am well aware, that some of your ablest men have been misled into the grossest errors and prejudices concerning the Africans ;' I cannot but be persuaded, that, when that information shall have been once diffused among you, it will produce the same effects as among our
Your sovereign is beneficent and generous. It is his glory to occupy the throne which was filled by the generous and benevolent Henry IV. The French are a great and high spirited people, and that same Henry is their admiration and their boast. How can I then conceive it to be possible, that, when once they shall be made acquainted with the real nature of this abhorred traffic, they will be able to endure the idea, that their sovereign's restoration to the throne of his ancestors is to be commemorated for ever in the page of history as the æra at which, in their eager pursuit of commercial profits, they plunged afresh, as it were, into the blood and mire of the lowest depths of cruelty and dishonor; of
II allude, especially, to a passage which I lately read with astonishment, in Mr. Malouet's fifth volume of Colonial Pieces : « Il est aujourd'hui constaté, par des observations multipliées, notamment par celles de Mr. Mungo Park, qui vient de parcourir en philosophe l'intérieur de l'Afrique, qu'en achetant des Esclaves, dans cette partie du monde, on les soustrait, à une mort certaine, ou à des traitemens pires que la mort."-No such statement is to be found in Mr. Park's Travels; and every one, who reads his book, must acknowledge, that his representations of the condition of the Africans, in their own country, give a directly opposite impression. NO. X. Pam.
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commercial profits too, declared by the ablest statesmen and fi. nanciers to be highly questionable, or rather clearly impolitic! Still less can I conceive this to be possible, when I call to mind the opposite example, which has been set by other nations; when I consider, that the French would act thus at the very time when a neighbouring and rival nation, accused, not wholly perhaps without reason, of being somewhat too earnest in its pursuit of commercial gain; when Great Britain had, with an unanimous voice, abandoned those paths of commerce, as unfit, from their injustice and inhumanity, to be trodden by the feet of freemen, still less by those of Christians; and this, though Great Britain had a vast capital engaged in the Slave Trade, several thousand tons of shipping, and of sailors, vast exports of manufactures, and multitudes of artizans employed in fabricating them; yet, with all these motives for continuing the trade, that commercial, that shop-keeping nation, as she had been denominated, hesitated not to obey the dictates of conscience and of honor. True; Great Britain had sacrifices to make to a prodigious value: but like the Ephesians, so honorably recorded in Sacred Writ for having cast into the flames their precious books of incantations, she generously flung from her with indignation those polluted gains, and willingly abjured them for ever, as base and abhorred memorials of the guilt and shame of her days of ignorance. Can I believe the French will thus give way to the lust of commercial profits, at a time when the United Netherlands, a state of which commerce has been considered to be the vital spirit, have generously assented to the wishes of their beneficent sovereign, and, without a dissenting voice, have abjured for ever those unhallowed and bloody profits? When they see, that, long ago, the king of Denmark generously took the lead in this career of mercy, and, though not unconscious that the nation he governed must rely on its commercial industry for its prosperity, and almost for its comfortable existence, yet renounced these foul and cruel paths to wealth, and made the true use of his absolute power, by commanding his subjects at once to depart out of them for ever? Finally, when the Legisla. ture of the United States of America, also, though to the shame of Great Britain it must be acknowledged, while under her dominion, deeply plunged in the abominations of the Slave Trade, and though sordid individuals among them still frequent this disgraceful field of enterprise, hesitated not, at the very first moment at which by the forms of their constitution it was possible, solemnly to condemn this wicked commerce. And can it be possible that France, so great, so high-minded a people, will debase herself by grasping at those polluted gains, which all these nations have cast from them with indignation and abhorrence ? Nor can it be de
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nied, that the misconduct of France, if I may be permitted to term it misconduct, in carrying on the Slave Trade, would receive every possible aggravation from the attendant circumstances. It is not merely, as I have already remarked, that you have no sacrifices to make, no losses to incur ; but farther, since the trade in man has been for many years practically discontinued, you cannot plead for it the excuse of established habits, or inveterate prejudices; you, in truth, would begin a new Slave Trade. While the contest was yet depending in this country, there was but one man who did not earnestly protest, that, if the trade in Slaves were not actually in existence, he would never have endured the idea of commencing it. But, above all, consider at what a period you would recommence it. Is it at the very moment when you are blessed yourselves with a rich augmentation of your enjoyments, and when a generous people should be eager to express its sense of the good. ness of Providence, by diffusing the same comforts among others, that you would deluge the unoffending Africans with an ocean of miseries ? Should the restoration of peace to Europe be the signal for kindling a thousand ferocious wars among wretched tribes of half civilized beings, whom every humane feeling should dispose you to protect and to reclaim ? Could I really retain towards France any hostile feelings, I should wish that she might thus tarnish the lustre of her name; that her sovereign's restoration to his throne might be thus commemorated in the page of history. Were I actuated by that base selfishness, which the Commercial Chamber of Nantes imputes to me, I should wish to retain for my. own country the undivided honor of this glorious enterprise. Were I a bigoted Protestant, rather than a sincere Christian, I might rejoice to see the votaries of the Roman Catholic faith thus sanctioning the violation of the plainest principles of the religion of Jesus. But no such unworthy sentiments as these find admission into my bosom; larger and nobler principles animate my heart, and actuate my conduct. May the French, from my soul I say it, may the French be a great and renowned, a religious and a happy people ! May the commerce of Nantes be florishing, and her merchants affluent ! But let me not speak of myself only; my countrymen in general are lovers of peace and good will towards men. How many have I not heard expressing their earnest wishes for the prosperity and comfort of the people of France ? How gladly would they not forward any plan for advancing them ? And these dispositions, like those which have actuated them in the case of the abolition of the Slave Trade, are not transient sensibia lities merely, but fixed and stable principles; they have their root in the persuasion, that we all are the children of one Common Parent, and that we shall most acceptably manifest our gratitude to