« AnteriorContinuar »
text even of a quarrel with Portugal, were to assemble an im-
should we not awaken all Europe with cries against France, and for the liberation of Portugal? Should we not say, that all the other oppressions of the French-all their common invasions-their spoliations and conscriptions, were a mere trifle compared with this; that human nature had put on a new shape; and that iniquity now visited us in a form which completely obliterated the recollection of every previous enormity? We will not stop to inquire what the Spaniards and Portuguese would themselves say to the matter; but certain it is, that the case we have been putting is exactly that which they are at this moment exhibiting to the world, with aggravations which each circumstance of the fact, that we might add to our own enumeration, would accumulate. All that we have supposed themselves to suffer, from the French, they are at this moment daily and hourly making a people endure, to the full as virtuous and deserving as they are. Every horror that we have fancied the enemy to enrage all Europe, by exhibiting in the Tagus, our faithful allies--the friends of Spanish and Portuguese liberty, whom we are supporting with all our treasures and forces, in a struggle with compara. tively insignificant evils, are hourly perpetrating in Africa, against the most innocent and peaceful creatures in the world, without ever exciting one moment's indignation in any part of Europe.--So inconsistent are the feelings of statesmen;- so ignorant or inobservant are nations of all that passes at a little distance;-and so important are the mistakes of names, by which men are led, and the sanctions of use and habit by which they are restrained!
But neither governments nor people must escape under cover of such reflections as these. It is fit that they should be roused, and taught greater consistency. They have no right to plead ignorance, or habit, or inadvertency. When they are reminded that these Africans are as much human beings—as much their fellow-creatures as if they wore a dingy brown, instead of a shining jet black hue,-bore the features of European ugliness, instead of the marks of African beauty,
-and inhabited the filth of Lisbon, instead of the uncultivated richness of the Rio Grande; then it is too late to mete out a different measure of justice or of feeling to the two races, and to sit quietly by, while the one treats the other like brute beasts. We are now at war with France, literally, because she has carried away one prince from Spain, and driven another out of Portugal;--and those Spaniards and Portuguese allies of ours, are every day carrying off princes as independent as either Ferdinand or the Braganzas; and, in addition to this, laying waste their whole territories, and actually extirpating their nations. While we make such sacrifices for Spanish and Portuguese rights; while by our assistance alone-God knows how costly to ourselves—those liberties are saved from the common enemy; is it too much to ask leave to remind the Spaniards and Portuguese, that others as well as themselves have rights; and that the charm of liberty and independence are not confined to the Peninsula-where, to say the truth, they never have been very much enjoyed!
But it is said, we defend the Peninsula not merely from principles of justice, and from an abstract hatred of oppression, but because we consider our own interests as affected by the fate of the Spaniards and Portuguese; mand, indeed, the strange contrast of our East-Indian and our European systems of policy may seem to favour this idea. Be it so: Admit that our motives are not quite pure-quite free from interested views Have we then no interest in checking the slave-trade of foreign nations?--Are our West Indian colonies nothing to us?--Or have we forgotten, that all their distresses are owing to the unnatural extension of culture by means of the African commerce? the rapid cultivation of Cuba and Brazil is as hostile to our own planters, as the free culture of the cane in our own colonies: And is it not hard upon them, that all our efforts to extirpate the trade should be confined to ourselves, while foreigners are in truth reaping the benefits of our abolition, and preparing to glut the markets with their produce?-Surely those settlements for which we have made such sacrifices, to the importance of which we have borne such unceasing testimony, by almost confining our attention to their defence and extension in every war, have not all of a sudden lost their value in our own eyes, at the
very moment when their real interests are identified with those of the species itself, and the great cause of humanity and jus.tice. This view of the subject, we confess, appears wholly sui). ordinate in our eyes; but, secondary though it be, we allude to it merely to show that there is ground of interest, as well as principle, to bear out those who contend for an immediate and powerful effort to induce our allies to give up the guilty commerce of Africa.
It is however necessary here to remark, that although a considerable part of the Spanish and Portuguese slave-trade is carried on by the subjects, and with the capital of those countries, especially of the latter; and though the whole, or nearly the whole of it, bé for the supply of the Spanish and Portuguese colonies; yet, in many instances, British subjects and capital, and in still more, the subjects and capital of the United States, are concerned, under the colour of the foreign flags. The high risks now attendant on such speculations, must prevent British subjects from embarking in them; and accordingly, the directors express their confident expectation, that the slave-trade felony act, when carried into effect on the coast, will take away this branch of the traffic. In America, however, the temptations of profit held out by the trade, have still to struggle only with the risks of capture, condemnation and penalties; the laws of the United States not yet regarding it as a crime. We cannot but think, that a proposition to adopt our law upon this subject would be favourably received in congress; and if it were acceded to, and a law passed declaring slave trading felony, then it is plain that English and Americans could no longer venture to continue the crime; for our cruizers would see the law executed, by detaining for trial all persons of either nation found implicated. A large amount of what is now carried on for the Spanish and Portuguese colonies would thus be destroyed-and the English abolition rendered more effectual. The remainder would consist entirely of that which is bonâ fide driven by Spar nish and Portuguese subjects and capital.
Before leaving this topic, we shall give a specimen of the frauds of this trade, not merely to gratify the reader's curiosity, but in the hope that it may ineet the eye of some of our cruizers, and convey hints to their vigilance and zeal in detecting and repressing the traffic. It is in the case of the brig Amelia, alias The Agent, condemned at Sierra Leone. The following is the letter of instructions found on board of her, from the joint owner at Charleston to the acting partner who sailed in her. The whole concern being American, this letter will show how it was disguised.
• The voyage on which we have jointly embarked, and which is now left to your discretion, is of a very delicate nature, and requires the greatest prudence and discretion. In order to qualify the agent to bring a cargo from the coast, it will be necessary to put her under Portuguese colours, this, with the assistance of Messrs. Seuly, Roach, and Toole, of Bahia, for whom I enclose you a letter of introduction, you will easily be able to effect. They will procure for you some hond
Portuguese merchant, who, for a small sum, shall undertake all that is necessary for owners to do. A captain of colour, one officer, and part of the crew, in compliance with the laws, must be Portuguese; but the Portuguese captain, at the same time that he must be instructed by the pretended owner, to appear for him on all occasions in protecting the ship and property, must also be instructed not to interfere with the navigation of the ship, except at your request; and he must be put entirely under your orders. As you shall have to grant a bill of sale for the brig, when she is apparently sold, you must be very cautious to take a counter bill of sale; and again, as collateral security, a bottomry bond on the vessel for 10,000 dollars, with a power of attorney from the sham owner to you, to sell and dispose of her in any manner you shall think proper. I would wish you, besides, to take a very strong declaration in writing, witnessed by Sealy, Roach, and Toole, that the sale made by you is merely fictitious; that the cargo and her earnings are bona fide your property; which declaration must be couched so as to be a perfect quit-claim from him and his heirs for ever. The next thing I have to recommend to you, is to conduct this business with every possible caution and secrecy, and to prevent as much as possible the knowledge of it to reach either our consul or ambassador, as they might perhaps write home on the subject, and even any of the American captains who may happen to be there at the same time with you. You must therefore appear very cool and indifferent in the business, to let nothing transpire of your future plan, and act as if you were only thinking of returning home. After you have made your brig a Portuguese, you will have to take in a cargo fit for the coast, and proceed there with every possible despatch. I enclose you a memorandum of the articles which I think will answer best for the trade, to which memorandum I have added a few observations to regulate you for the articles that you could not find, and which might be replaced by others. To this list, however, I do not wish by any means io confine you; I leave it, on the contrary, to you to improve it or curtail it, according to the information which you will be able to collect, as that trade is much followed at Bahia. Negroes are often very plenty there; and if they can be bought at from eighty dollars to one bundred dollars, I would just as well end the voyage there, and give up the trip to Africa.'
• It now remains for me to direct how you are to do with your people after you have sold the brig. The very first thing is to discharge all the people, paying their wages, and making the best terms possi'ble with them in writing; as by the laws of the country the owner is obliged to find them a passage hoine and wages till they arrive. It
is very essential that none of your people, except those who are to stay with you, should have the least suspicion of your future plan: I would recommend, therefore, that before you enter on any of your transactions, you would see these people out of the country, that they cannot come and talk here of what you have done. I would rather lose some little time, nor would I mind some little expense, to get rid of them cleverly. The ship's log-book should afterwards be kept in Portuguese: no English writing, touching the voyage, should be on board: the fewer entries in the log-book the better, to be done under your eyes. She should have no colours but Portuguese on board; your present flag thrown away when the brig is sold; and all the papers sent back (under cover) to me: your register, however, you had better bring back yourself.
Wishing you a prosperous voyage.' p. 36.-39. We may remark in passing, that Mr. Toole, one of the house to whose care this honest gentleman is consigned, and who is to aid his undertaking, and help him to evade the American laws, is American vice-consul at Bahia!-we ought to say was; for of course he must have been removed, upon these particulars coming out. Our readers may be desirous of following the adventure, of which they here see the beginning. It had a most tragical termination. After following the preceding instructions, and getting himself completely furnished with Portuguese captain, crew, papers, and flag, the owner and real captain arrived at Angola, and took in a lading of two hundred and seventy-five slaves; that is to say, packed those miserable beings, chained and ironed, into a space where they could not turn themselves; and, by the most cruel discipline, was bringing them over for infinitely worse miseries in the Brazils, when they rose upon him and his crew, got possession of the ship after a stout resistance, in which many negroes were killed, and
oppressors, (with a degree of unmerited h:imanity highly honourable to the poor Africans) into a boat, with sails and
provisions. Unable to navigate the ship, however, their provisions ran short, and the greater part of them perished of hunger. When they were taken and carried into Sierra Leone, their wretchedness surpassed all description; but, by kind treatment, the rviv were restored, and a piece of ground has been given them, where they are building a village, and living in comfort and freedom. The following is the deposition of one of the crew.
• Ned Brown—Declares he is a native of Cabenda, and was put on board the brig Amelia, as a slave, by Prince Conzee, his father. It is the custom of his country, for a man, when in want of money, &c. if he has three or four children, to sell one or more of them, and keep the others. His father sold him and his sister together: his sister is now here. When he went on board the brig, he found a man,