Abbildungen der Seite

kets, to the south of the equator, can afford to contraband Slave traders of other countries very few if any allurements. They cannot hope to rival the native Portuguese in the commerce of Brazil; and to no other colony can this power now furnish them with a legal passport, or even a colorable destination, that would at all suit their purpose in assuming her flag and papers. But Spain can give them back much of all that the reformations of England, France, Denmark, Holland, and America, have taken away: a lawful trade to every Spanish colony, and a safe contraband intercourse with every part of the new world in which slavery exists.

Can it be doubted then, that these harpies will soon be seen in a Spanish dress settling on every point of the Peninsula, of the Slave coast, and of the colonies that suits their pestilent designs? Or can we hope that the penury of Spanish capital and credit will long palliate the mischief? No, there will soon be a redundancy of all the means of murder and desolation that the horrid system demands, and commercial Europe can supply.

Before the end of seven, aye or of five years, the morbid influence of this new-formed malady will be deeply felt in France and Holland. A thousand secret interests now unborn will counterwork there, as well as in Spain itself, the sympathies of generous sentiment; a thousand new intrigues will be set in motion to paralize the moral and honorary feelings of Foreign Governments; and we shall find them much less disposed than now to give effect to those sacred principles which they avowed in the Declaration of Vienna.

It is in and through the medium of the French and Dutch West India colonies, that the mischief will chiefly work. What are to be the particular legal sanctions, and preventive means, in those countries to give effect to their own abolitions, is yet unknown. There is one effectual expedient, as we have already observed, of which it is hoped they will soon have an example from Great Britain; the Registration of their Slaves. Supposing the example to be given and faithfully followed, the exclusion of contraband Slave Trade would indeed be certain and complete. But if the French and Dutch Governments should not adopt this expedient, or should suffer it, if adopted in law, to be neglected in the execution, (as has confessedly been the case in the French islands with most of the humane regulations of the Code Noir), the prevalence of a large contraband Slave Trade at Martinique, Guadaloupe, and Surinam,, and through them at all other colonies destitute of a registry, may be with certainty foreseen.

As to Saint Domingo, its present state is full security, while it lasts, against the introduction of Slaves; but if we could suppose the authority of France re-established, and the freedom of the Negroes destroyed, the man-merchant might find full employment

there for a century to come; and beyond doubt, if the ex-proprietors of that Island still retain their counter-revolutionary hopes, and still instigate their amiable monarch by their importunate clamors to adopt the horrible project of a new Haytián war, the prospect of a Spanish Slave Trade is essential to their views. If Spain, like every other power that possesses an Island in the West Indies, or a settlement on the neighbouring main, had for ever renounced the trade, the utter despair of a future supply from Africa would put an end to the wish for an attempt, of which depopulation is a necessary mean.

= On the other hand, while the enlightened Negroes of Hayti know that there are Slave Markets within sight of their shores, to which Europeans are daily carrying their brethren from Africa, like cattle to a fair, how can they be expected to put confidence in the fairest or sincerest professions of France? What security can they have but in the maintenance of a military system, adverse in its present effects to the interests of agriculture; and in its future consequences, perhaps, to the security of every neighbouring colony?

In this view, France has perhaps the strongest local interest in the suppression of the Slave Trade of Spain. The Sovereign of Jamaica has the next. The importation of African Negroes into Cuba, is dangerous and pernicious, in the highest degree, to both these neighbouring powers; and yet it is for this particular object chiefly, nay exclusively, that the court of Madrid stands out against the wishes of Europe.

Here we are led by considerations of policy to another principle Eof national right. To guard ourselves from approaching danger, is rightful motive of forcible resistance and war. If then the Slave Trade of Cuba be incompatible with the pacification of St. Domingo, and the future safety of Jamaica, France and Great Britain have a right to suppress it, independently of the duties which they owe to Africa, and to the interests of the civilized


[ocr errors]

Spain has no opposite danger on her side to excuse her selfish policy. Quite the reverse; she has by her own admission nearly tripled the population of Cuba within a few years, by the most perilous of means. If allowed to multiply it further in the same

See the Note, p. 56. The official document, presented to the Cortes gives the following facts:

Slaves in the island at the peace of 1763
Imported within three years after into the Hlavannah

From that period to 1779

To 1789

From 1789 to 1810

Imported during the same periods into other ports


7 4,957 14,132 5,786





way, and during the present state of St. Domingo, a most dangerous mine will be charged on the very margin of a conflagration, and its explosion may be fatal both to the colony itself, and its neighbours.

But our more immediate topic, is the impolicy of delay; and this at least is aggravated by the certain consequences of an increased importation in Cuba. The strength of the plantation interest in foreign Europe must be greatly enhanced. Whatever may be the effects at Hayti, we shall have more enemies to our principles in this part of the world every year. The lawful trade, as well as its illicit offspring, will raise new ramparts for its defence against that attack to which we shall at last be driven.

Will our means of safe coercion be then equally improved? Here opens a most important view of our subject; but one on which it can hardly be necessary, and perhaps is not very expedient, to dilate. Who can look around on the present state of Spain, of England, of South America, and of Europe, without perceiving that the claims of Africa upon us arise at a most auspicious juncture? Who will be bold enough to predict that at the end of seven years we shall be equally able to enforce them? The resistance certainly may and will increase; but how can the surmounting power ever be greater or more decisive ?

Besides, if war with Spain, contrary to all probability, should be the effect of our asserting our rights, and fulfilling our duties in Africa, it would now be a compensated evil. We should secure the independency and the friendship of Spanish South America; in which no nation has so large an interest as our own. Cuba also would most probably be obliged soon to submit to a change of masters; and add to the extent, instead of ruining the interests, of the British Sugar Colonies. On the other hand, what a price are we likely to pay for the present amity of Spain, if amity it may be properly called! If she subdues her continental colonies, she will force upon them that Slave Trade which they now generously reject. If she fails, we shall find the baneful effects in their attachment to a new power already secretly supporting them, and not famous for a strict observance of the duties of neutrality; still less for its partiality to Britain. Our Indian, as well as African commerce, may soon feel the fatal effects of our complaisance to an ungenerous and ungrateful government.

Let then political providence, as well as moral duty, forbid in this case a timid and temporizing course. Let us not lose an opportunity inestimable to Africa, to England, and to Europe. If we are not prepared at once to stand between the powers of the Peninsula and their African victims, and to pronounce that the law of nature shall no more be any where violated by the Slave Trade,

[ocr errors]

let us at least avert the present and final ruin with which the rising hopes of Africa are threatened, by compelling Spain to spare the Northern Coast.

But the larger measure would best comport with those sacred principles declared by the Congress of Vienna; best insure effects of inestimable value to Africa and Europe; best suit the generous character and dignified attitude of Great Britain; and best satisfy the ardent wishes of her moral and generous people.

Our country has been said to stand on a proud eminence; let us rather say upon a happy one. Her victories have been the triumphs of justice; her conquests the redemption of nations. The glory of her arms has not been more transcendent than the liberality of her counsels, and the benignity of her aims. In these, we have more room for honest exultation than in the laurels of Vittoria and Waterloo, of the Nile and Trafalgar; for they more clearly illustrate the true elevation of character that belongs to the British public.

Other countries perhaps have had their Nelsons, and their Wellingtons; but where will the historian find another people, by whom, in the very zenith of their glory, justice was preferred to power, and mercy to extended empire; and who, at the most triumphant conclusion of the most arduous of wars, asked nothing so earnestly from the Government they had supported, the Allies they had rescued, and the Enemies they had subdued, as reparation to the injured, succour to the wretched, and deliverance to the oppressed, in distant regions of the earth?

And shall these noble feelings be disappointed? Shall this peculiar glory of our country be shorn of its beams, by a timid deference for one obdurate Power? Shall all the triumphs of our public counsels and our arms, redound to the counteraction, rather than the advancement, of our humane and most favorite purpose?

Such will be the event, if we suffer an unlimited Spanish Slave Trade to spring out of the Peace of Europe. We have given independence and repose to the Nations of the Peninsula, that they may give desolation to Africa.

The only flags which insult humanity on the Slave Coast were prostrate till we raised them. Their French masters might have been more forbearant. Even Buonaparte has shewn that he prized the Slave Trade less than the conciliation of England; but the victims we rescued from him are far less obliging. They will not even spare us a portion of the African Coast for the purposes of ineffable mercy. They will not even remit to us as much African blood as we have shed of British blood on their own soil to rescue and save them. One of them indeed has generously sold us at a

high price, her abstinence from the Northern Coast; but the other thinks even this too much; and between them, unfortunate Africa must be finally destroyed, in defiance and contempt of the patronage of Great Britain, by means of the very victories we have won, and the thrones we have restored.

If all this is to be suffered, away with the proud boast, down with the grand thought, that we have been the liberators, the benefactors of a world. In raising again the prostrate thrones of Lisbon and Madrid, we have done more to extend slavery, and oppression, and guilt, and misery, in two quarters of the globe, than to retrench and correct them in a third. Let our present triumphant position at least be forgot. Let the military glories of the Regency of George Prince of Wales be effaced if possible from our records; that posterity may not arraign us of deserting our high duties as a nation towards the unfortunate Africans, without necessity, and without excuse.

« ZurückWeiter »