Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

coast of Africa, not immediately un- jects of those powers which still per. der the influence of the British Go- mit this traffic; that each

power

havernments. A fact so afflicting to ving an inherent right to decree the the friends of humanity in every final abolition at the period it might country, deserves to be made as ma- judge most expedient, that period nifest, as the foul stain it inflicts on should be fixed by mutual negociathe national honour of those coun- tion; and that the general negociatries, which, in the face of the most tion which might ensue, should in deliberate declarations and solemn no way prejudice the stipulation contreaties, have winked at, or secretly tained in the fourth article of the encouraged this abominable traffic, treaty between the King of Portugal is deep, fearful, and indelible. For and his Britannic Majesty, in which it this purpose, and under the convic- is provided that the period of the final tion that the truth only requires to cessation of this traffic in the Portu. be known, to induce the friends of guese dominions should be determinhumanity (happily neither few nored by a separate treaty between these powerless) to unite, heart, hand, and powers. These conditions being compurse, in putting a period to the most plied with, a second conference took crying evil of our age, we shall pro- place in London in February 1818, ceed to lay before our readers as full at which Lord Castlereagh read a a statement of the facts which have note, containing a proposition for the been properly ascertained and au- more effectual abolition of the slave thenticated, as our limits, and the trade, already rendered illegal by multifarious character of the subjects treaty. The following are the prowe have to record, will possibly per- minent topics contained in this immit.

portant document :-That since the The narrative of the report com- restoration of peace, a considerable mences by stating the proceedings, revival of the slave trade had taken for the further abolition of the Slave place on the coast of Africa to the Trade, instituted in pursuance of the north of the Line:—That the trade additional article of the treaty, of No. thus carried on was marked with invember 1815, between the Allies and creased horrors from the inhuman France. In December 1817, the Ple, practice of crowding slaves on board nipotentiaries of Austria, France, vessels better adapted to escape from Great Britain, Prussia, and Russia, cruizers than to import human beheld a conference in London upon ings :—That as Africa had advanced this subject; at which Lord Castle- in commercial prosperity as the Slave reagh presented the two Conventions Trade had been suppressed, so, with recently concluded with Portugal its revival, every prospect of im. and Spain. At this conference a note provement appeared to vanish : was presented by the Portuguese Mi- That the British Government had nister, stating that the King of Por- made considerable exertions to check tugal, not having signed the addi- the growing evil; but that since the tional article of the treaty of Paris, return of peace and the restoration did not consider himself bound to take of the French and Dutch settlements any part in these conferences, and on that coast, the trade in slaves had that he would only do so upon the greatly increased :-That, with a view condition that due regard should be to avoid giving umbrage to friendly had to the interests, the customs, powers, the British Government had, and even the prejudices of the sub. in 1816, abandoned the belligerent right of search :-That it was, to obviate abuse, and render the sys. however, proved beyond the possibi- tem more unobjectionable as a genelity of doubt, that unless the right ral law. to visit vessels should be established, His Lordship then went into some the illicit traffic would, in time of details, as to how a species of police peace, not only subsist, but increase, might be organised to give greater from the system of obtaining fraudu. effect to a principle recommended at lent papers and concealing owner- once by every rule of justice, Cbris, ship: -- That even if the traffic were tianity, and humanity; and upon to be universally abolished, and a these grounds invited the different single state should refuse to submit Plenipotentiaries to solicit, without its Hag to the visitation of vessels delay, from their respective soveof other states, slave-traders would reigns, the authority necessary to still have the means of eluding de- carry this object into effect. This tection :-That since it had been un- ccordingly done, yet no answer lawful for him to appear north of the was received from them previous to Line, the Portuguese slave-trader had the Congress at Aix-la-Chapelle. concealed himself under the Spanish In the month of June Lord Castle. Aag :--That whilst the flags of France, reagh addressed a letter to Mr Rush, Holland, and the United States are the American Minister in London, not included in the system establish- stating, that after the 30th of May ed by the conventions with Spain and 1820, no flag could legally cover this Portugal, the effect must be to vary detested traffic; inclosing copies of the the character of the fraud, rather treaties with Spain and Portugal, for than to suppress the mischief :-That the total or partial abolition of the the Congress of Vienna declared, in slave trade ; and earnestly begging the face of all mankind, that this traf. him to submit these documents to the fic should cease, and that the law of consideration of the President of the the abolition is nothing in itself un- United States. To this request Mr less the contraband slave trade shall Rush readily assented. be suppressed by a combined system, Previous to the meeting of the a measure which they owed it to Congress at Aix-la-Chapelle, the themselves to unite their earnest en. Directors of the African Institution deavours to accomplish. For this had received from the coast of Afripurpose it is proposed, that all the ca the most authentic information of other maritime powers should be in the increased and increasing extent vited to give their accession to the of the slave trade. This informafollowing general provisions : 1. An tion was embodied in a very able engagement not only to declare the and eloquent pamphlet by Mr Clarkimportation of slaves illegal, but to son, one of the directors, and so deconstitute trafficking in slaves a cri- servedly celebrated for his unceasing minal act, to be punished by an ac. labours in the cause of the oppressed knowledged principle of international Africans, together with a comprelaw : 2. An engagement mutually to hensive view of the measures which concede the right of search to their had been hitherto adopted, and disrespective ships of war : And, 3. The tributed to the Allied Sovereigns adoption of the minor regulations assembled in congress. · In due time contained in the Conventions with the subject came under the consideSpain and Portugal, with such modi- ration of those August Potentates fications as might appear calculated and their Ministers; and the result of their deliberations on this para- found an institution, on a central mount question cannot be viewed point of the coast of Africa, in the without feelings of deep humiliation formation of which all Christian states and regret. The discussions were should take part, and which,“ declaropened by Lord Castlereagh, who ed for ever neutral and estranged from explained the existing state of the all political and local interests," trade, and announced his intention should be specially charged with the of submitting, on a future day, two execution of the law. The memoir propositions, the first containing an of the French Government also proappeal to the King of Portugal, urg. fesses much, and ends by proposing ing him to give effect to the declara- to do nothing; and with regard to the tion of the Congress at Vienna in right of mutual search recognised 1815, by consenting, as Spain had between great Britain, Spain, Portudone, to the final abolition on the gal, and the Netherlands, it declares, 30th of May 1820, and the second that the “ dangers which peculiar. allowing a right of mutual visit, ly attach to their situation, prevent as already adopted by Great Bri- them from acceding to that measure,” tain, Spain, and the Netherlands. the only conceivable one, be it reThe latter of these propositions marked, by which this most nefarious was heard with extreme jealousy traffic can ever be effectually checkby the Duc de Richelieu, the ed or destroyed. With respect to French Minister; while the for- the Austrian and Prussian Cabinets, mer was unanimously adopted; with we cannot conceive what possible this modification, however, that the right or title they had to interfere, period of abolition should in no case or to be consulted, in this great and extend beyond 1823. In reference important concernment. Without to the second point, Lord Castle- colonies, without naval force, withreagh communicated to the Con- out the possibility of their own subgress the memorandum which he jects being in any degree benefited had furnished to the Duc de Riche- by the slave trade, or their interests lieu at his own request ; adding, that impaired by its abolition, it may in the opinion of several persons of fairly be considered as one of the great weight and authority, nothing least explicable enigmas of diploless than declaring the slave trade macy, that these powers were sufferPiracy, and punishable as such by ed, in any degree, to interrupt the international law, by the unanimous proceedings on a measure which the accession of the maritime powers, increasing lights of the age will would ever prove in any degree ef- sooner or later rendered imperative fectual in repressing the “ scourge on every government, and which that had desolated Africa, degraded they laboured to obstruct in its Europe, and afflicted humanity."

was acc

progress towards completion, solely In consequence of these proceed- from a jealousy of British naval ings, notes were received from the ascendancy.

It is scarcely posPlenipotentiaries of Russia, Prussia, sible, indeed, to be grave when perAustria, and France. That of Rus. using the lecture of the Prussian sia, in particular, while it professes Plenipotentiaries against “ the into pronounce as a fundamental prin. separable inconveniences of the conciple, a law characterising this odious cession of a right of search exercised traffic as a description of piracy, and on the high seas.” A power not punishable as such, proposes to possessed of a ship of war above the dimensions of a thirty-gun frigate, to the principle of abolition, rendered and few indeed even of this size, by the respective Plenipotentiaries might have been supposed less jea- in their notes in reply to Lord Castlelous of the exercise of such a right, reagh's communication, they remark, especially when Britain, the greatest that “ it has been the fate of this naval power on earth, bad consented question, in every stage of its proto allow the exercise in the case of gress, to have difficulties representher own vessels, by the cruisers of ed as insurmountable, which in a little Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands. tim have yielded to perseverance, With regard to the clumsy machi- and to the matured impulses of hunery of a general association, found. manity ;” that “ every nation, one ed, as was stated, on the primitive excepted, has renounced this polluprinciples of Christianity, and grave- tion;" and that even the King of ly proposed by the Russian Cabi- Portugal had taken steps“ to deliver net, it appears to be a measure his people, in no very long time, or device better fitted for a place from a practice which must degrade in one of Kotzebue's German no- them in the scale of enlightened policy, vels, than to form part of the re- so long as it shall continue to be tocorded proceedings of a congress lerated amongst them.” With reof the greatest Sovereigns in the gard to the proposal of Russia, they world. Even if an institution, to doubt “the practicability of so novel be composed of such incongruous and and complicated a system, and dejarring materials, could have been clare, that nothing but raising slavefairly established and set in opera. dealing to the standard of piracy in tion, it is obvious, even if there were the criminal codes of all civilized nano other objection, that it would fall tions, and branding slave-traders as to pieces the instant war broke out a- “ hostes humani generis," could mong any of the high contracting prove effectual in extirpating a trafpowers; while it is difficult, if not fic, which cries to Heaven for venimpossible, to conceive how such an geance against all those who openly institution could have ever been patronise, or secretly tolerate it. made conducive to the attainment They state that the simplest meaof an object which reason, religion, sures are sure to prove the most efhumanity, and enlightened policy a. fectual, and ask why Russia, Austria, like unite to recommend.

and Prussia should postpone to an That this was the view taken by indefinite period the final abolition, the British diplomatists, is manifest seeing even Portugal had conceded from the slightest inspection of their the right of visit north of the equaable and masterly reply to the notes tor, “ where the abolition has now given in by the Plenipotentiaries of been completed, as well by herself, as the other powers. After expressing, by Spain and all the other powers ?in strong terms, their disappointment With regard to the qualified right of that the disinterested and humane mutual search, “ as if there were purposes

of the British Government some moral incompetency in the had been frustrated by the course French nation to conform themselves adopted by the other cabinets, not- to the measure,” they state the unwithstanding the solemn declaration answerable argument, that “the Briand pledge unanimously given at tish people, so sensitively alive as Vienna in 1815, and stating that they they are known to be to every cirderive consolation from the homage cumstance that might impede their

commercial pursuits, or expose the of commissioners to carry into effect national flag to an unusual interfe. the conventions with the above rence, have betrayed no apprehension powers, dated respectively the 28th on the subject, and that not a single of July, 23d of September 1817, and remonstrance has been heard against the 4th of May 1818; and copies of it!. And in conclusion they approve all instructions, with their respective of the intended introduction into the dates, to his Majesty's ships sent to French colonies of a registry of slaves, the coast of Africa, since these conand declare their unalterable convic- ventions were concluded. tion, “ that until all the principal Notwithstanding the treaty enpowers consent to have as against the tered into between Governor Farillicit slave-trader, AT LEAST ON THE quhar and the King of Ovas, it apCOAST OF AFRICA, but one common pears by recent letters from the Isle flag, and co-operating force, they will of France, that the slave trade is still not have gone to the

full extent of their carried on with the island of Madameans to effectuate their purpose, in gascar. Many hundred slaves have conformity to their declarations at Vien. been imported since the signature of na !". Thus ended the conferences at the treaty; and after all that has been Aix-la-Chapelle respecting the more done by the governor, there is reaeffectual abolition of the slave trade; son to fear, that, amongst the Euroand thus have the hopes of the friends peans settled in that quarter of the of humanity been cruelly disappoint- world, there exists no sincere or ed by a conclave of Sovereigns and hearty disposition to discourage such Ministers, who, with every human importations. On the contrary, a means to consummate this glorious determined hostility is invariably moral triumph, bave failed to conse- shown to every measure, the object of crate the pacification of Europe by which is to prevent this enormous an act for which the wise and good evil. Of three of these traffickers of all after-times would have cherish. in human beings a salutary example ed their names in everlasting remem. has recently been made. Four indibrance.

viduals were brought from the MauA variety of communications have ritius, charged with the crime of been received by the directors of this trading in slaves ; but the Grand institution, representing the vast in- Jury found a true bill only against crease of the slave trade, and the three, Phillippe Caday alias Philievils arising from delay in issuing in-bert, Joseph Amand Tregrosse, and structions to the vessels of war upon Louis Amand Clerausac, who were the different stations, in terms of the accordingly tried, convicted, and sencommissions under the conventions tenced to three years' imprisonment, with Portugal, Spain, and the Nether- and to be kept to hard labour. This lands. By a letter from Africa so late is the most lenient sentence allowed as December last, it appears that Sir by Mr Brougham's act. George Collier, the naval command- In the neighbourhood of the French er on the coast, had then received settlements of Senegal and Goree, the no instructions as to the measures to trade has been carried on with pebe adopted in pursuance of these culiar and increasing activity ; and conventions. Motions were accord- many persons both in France and ingly made, and agreed to without Senegal have been proved to be conopposition, in both Houses of Par. cerned in this nefarious commerce. liament, for copies of all appointments A gentleman recently arrived in this

VOL. XII. PART II.

P

« AnteriorContinuar »