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ous and ignorant a domination. Emissaries from them all have more than once visited America, with what design we do not know; and that ambitious state is not an inattentive observer of the fair prey which is thus falling into its hands. Master of the gulf of Mexico, it is easy to foresee into whose grasp the dominion of the islands which lie in its bosom will ultimately fall if the firm hand of Britain is once relaxed, and the wisdom which once ruled its councils is permanently laid asideit is not more difficult to foresee who will rule these flourishing colonies, if England is either torn at home with internal dissensions, or govern
cy, attentive only to selfish objects, and ignorant of their dependence on the colonial interest of its numerous offspring. And the moment chosen for agitating the nation, and shaking all its established interests by the destruction and remodelling of the constitution, is the very one, when, from external causes, its remote portions were most threatened with destruction!
and mortgagees? Why, beggary, ruin, and disgrace, are the barter—we are left a prey to a discontented and insatiate herd of hydras in the mother country, and exposed to a hell of opposition from every corner of the nation. But such a state of things › cannot long exist. The Amor Patria of the sons of Britain in the West is dissipated-is lost. England insulted and persecuted America, and lost eleven British states at a blow. True, her 74 and 96 gun-ships could not whisk around the New World as they can around her colonies in the West Indies, but she may secure the loss of one as certainly as she has effectted the alienation of the other. America at present resembles the sleep-ed by a rash and ignorant democraing lion. You behold the beauty and symmetry of the animal, without a demonstration of its strength and power. She remains quiet, nurses her seamen, builds new vessels of war, and lays them up in dock-husbands her wealth, and secures the affection of a noble and generous people. The day is not distant, when, feeling her influence and power, she will arise as it were from the womb of time, and spread confusion and terror around her. We would say to our members in Assembly-to those gentlemen who have been des legated by ourselves to rule the destinies of the colony, resist by fair and constitutional means any further innovation upon the rights and privileges of the people. Concession will I follow concession, demand will be succeeded by demand. If we are to fall, let it not be by our own hands, let not the crime of political suicide attach itself to us. Let the ministers of England have the glorious satisfaction of destroying our institutions and commerce, and rendering our island a magnificent pyramid of desolation and ruin. England holds her possessions in the East by a thread, and her colonies in the West by a threat."
The case is the same in all the other West India colonies. In St Vincent's, Barbadoes, Demerara, and all the Leeward Islands, the discontent is extreme. Every where the colonial legislators are remonstrating in the most vehement manner against the rash innovations of the mother country, and deliberating on the means of escaping from so ruin
It may be presumed, from the very statement of the West India Question, that some great and overwhelming grievances are in operation to produce the wide-spread feeling of discontent which pervades these once flourishing colonies. The sugar islands are bound up, both in interest and affection, with the mother country: bound to it by ties which, but for a course of rash and perilous interference with established interests, never could have been broken. They are not colonies, in the proper sense of the word; that is to say, they are not places in which a large portion of the European inhabitants permanently settle- Ubi lares et focos habent: where they purchase estates on which they reside, and which they transmit as their home to their children. They are, on the contrary, places of temporary and fleeting occupation-considered only as objects of profit or subsistence; and cultivated, for the most part, with the view of being abandoned before old age, and the remainder of life passed in the mother state. The great bulk of West India proprietors reside in Great Britain, and their extensive colonial
estates, cultivated by means of overseers and slaves, transmit their produce in the shape of sugar remit tances to this country. 'The British islands are the great market of colonial produce, exceeding to the plantations that of all the rest of the world and any rupture with them would involve the colonies in extreme temporary embarrassments. Of all this the colonists are perfectly aware; they see how dependent they are on the market, the protection, and the navy of Britain; and yet they are coolly, but firmly, contemplating a separation from this country. Making every allowance for the vehemence of passion which is ripened in these tropical regions, under the rays of a vertical sun, it may safely be concluded that such a disposition could not have arisen, in opposition to such interests, without some great and overwhelming cause. But if the separation of the West India Islands from this country is perilous to them, it is far more so to the mother state. They take off annually twelve millions worth, or nearly a third of the whole British exports. How is this vast and growing market to be preserved, if our sway over them is destroyed? Will the Americans, those jealous commercial rivals, who have taken such pains of late years to exclude the British, and favour their own manufactures, allow us to retain a monopoly of the West Indian market? Can it be preserved amidst the ill-humour and mutual exasperation which an attempted or completed separation must produce? The thing is obviously out of the question; and England must make up its mind, if it will insist, by rash and absurd legislation, upon losing these flourishing colonies, to look elsewhere for one-third of its manufacturing exports.
Upon British shipping, and through it eventually upon the British doni nion at sea, and the protection of the empire from foreign invasion, the consequences of the threatened separation promise to be still more serious. Experience has proved that there is no nursery for seamen, no feeder of commerce, like extensive colonial possessions. The colonies of North America, though only containing 1,300,000 inhabitants, main
tain a trade with the mother country which takes off L.2,300,000 a-year of British manufactures, and employs one-fifth of the whole shipping of Great Britain; while the trade with the United States of America, though it possesses a population of 12,000,000, only employs a seventh of the Canadian trade, or one thirtyfifth of the foreign commerce of Great Britain.* The trade to the West Indies, which now employs 250,000 tons of British shipping, may be expected to decline as the ships employed in the trade to the United States has done since they declared their independence. The right arm of the British navy will be lopped off the moment that the West India Islands have either become independent, or passed under the dominion of a foreign power. Out of L.42,000,000, of which the British exports consist, L.32,000,000, or threefourths, are to her colonial possessions.
It is impossible it can ever be otherwise and Lord Brougham has well demonstrated, in his "Colonial policy," to what cause the vast difference between colonial and foreign trade is owing. Colonies are distant provinces of the empire; the industry which an intercourse with them puts in motion at both ends feeds its own population, and the intercourse → itself is exclusively maintained in domestic bottoms. That which is carried on with an independent state, on the other hand, maintains domestic labour only at one end, and the greater part of it is usually carried on in foreign vessels. If England exports the muslins of Manchester to Jamaica, she is benefited both by the industry which raises the article in Lancashire, and the labour which pays for it in remittances of sugar from Jamaica or Barbadoes; and the ships which carry on the intercourse are exclusively British, and navigated solely by British seamen: but if she exports the same article to Maryland or New York, she derives benefit only from the manufacturing industry in this country; and so far from seeing her commerce increased by the transmission of it from one country to the other, she has the mortification of beholding the greater part of the in
Account of Canada, by Bouchet, Preface, p. 3.
tercourse carried on in the vessels of her formidable rival.
The consequence of a separation between England and her West India colonies, however serious to both, must in the end prove more hurt ful to the parent than the infant state. The old and the young are mutually dependant on each other: but the consequences of a rupture are likely to be more irreparable to a man of 70 than a youth of 15. The world with all its hopes and all its prospects is before the one; the weakness of age, the night of the grave, is closing upon the other. The West India islands will doubtless suffer immensely in the first instance from a rupture with this country; but the wounds will soon be healed by the vivifying powers of nature in those prolific regions, and the market for their produce which the encreasing population of America must open. Their land and their labour will still remain property may to a great degree change hands, but it will ultimately centre in those who can turn it to useful account, and under a new regime the fertile soil and uncultivated regions of these tropical climes will yet abound with riches and inhabitants. But it is not thus that age recovers its wounds: it is not thus that limbs can be severed from the aged trunk of Britain. Teeming with inhabitants bowed down with debt, overflowing with capital which cannot find employment, and paupers who cannot earn bread, it will never recover the loss of a portion of the empire, through which so large an artery of its heart's blood flows: and the ruinous policy which severs from its body so fair a member, will cause it to bleed to death, or to perish in the attempt to stanch the wound.
What the West Indians complain of, and what threatens such deplorable consequences to the whole em pire, are, 1. Excessive and perilous precipitance in forcing upon them the early and ill-considered emancipation of the slaves; and, 2. The continuance of enormous burdens upon their produce, at a time when the change in the value of money, and other causes, have made them press with unexampled severity upon their industry.
The great danger which has exci
ted such extraordinary terror through all the West India Islands, is the incessant efforts of Government, and ignorant individuals and societies, to interfere with the management of the slaves, with a view to their immediate or early emancipation. This danger is imminent and excessive: it places the dagger at every man's throat; and approaches the torch to every human habitation. We can sympathise with the danger of such charges: they proceed from the same spirit of rash, ignorant, and impetuous innovation, under which England is now suffering so severely at home, with this difference, that the danger is greater there than here, just in proportion as the passions are more violent, and reason less powerful, under a tropical sun, and among an enslaved population, than under the cloudy atmosphere, and amidst the free inhabitants of northern regions.
We yield to none in love of freedom; and shall give decisive proof, on all occasions which may occur, of our ardent desire to promote any measures calculated to improve the condition, elevate the minds, or purify the morals of the labouring poor, It is not therefore from indifference to the Negroes, but from a sincere interest in them; not from a love of slavery, but an anxious wish to do what may really mitigate its horrors, that we make the following observations, the result of long thought and extensive research into the condition of the labouring classes in all parts and ages of the world.
Slavery, though unquestionably an evil, if it is perpetuated in circumstances, and in a population, suscep tible of free habits, and capable of maintaining itself, is not only not an evil, but a positive advantage, and a necessary step in the progress of improvement in the early ages of mankind. This truth is demonstra ted by the universality of slavery in rude nations all over the world, and the extremely slow steps by which the process of emancipation has gone forward in all the nations which now enjoy the blessings of general freedom. Survey the globe in ancient and modern times, you will find slavery co-existent with the human race, and continuing, though with mitigated features, through all the
glories of ancient civilisation. The ages of Pericles and Antonine, of Cicero and Socrates, of Fabricius and Justinian, were equally distinguished by the universality of this distinction among the labouring classes; 20,000 freemen in Athens gave law to 400,000 slaves; and in the decline of the Roman empire, when it was proposed in the senate that slaves should wear a particular dress, it was rejected, lest, as Tacitus observes, it should be discovered how few the freemen were in comparison. to The case was the same in the modern world. For a thousand years, slavery was universal in Europe, and it still obtains in many of the most extensive of its monarchies. Wherever the Mahommedan rule is established, slavery is to be found; it exists from one end of Africa to another, and is to be seen, with a few exceptions, over the vast extent and amidst the countless millions of the Asiatic continent. It is the influence of Christianity alone, the long establishment of civilisation, and the permanent subjugation of human injustice by the sway of religion, which has enabled mankind to get quit of this painful distinction; and it will be found, upon examination, that it never can remain absent for any length of time, but in those states whose governments have charity enough to impose, and power sufficient to collect, a general poor's rate for relief of the indigent. It is in vain to say, that an institution so universal, so unvarying, and so per manent, is an unmitigated evil, the abolition of which would confer nothing but blessings upon mankind. Nothing exists generally, or for ages, but what is indispensable in the stage of society in which it is to be found, and is founded in the universal and unvarying circumstances of our condition. 998 adt, noitsailivio Protection from violence, maintenance in sickness and old age, and secure employment for their offspring, are the substantial and immense advantages which more than compensate to men, in rude or civilized ages, all the hardships of slavery. If they are free, that is to say, if they do not belong to some powerful lord,
they are liable to be massacred, plundered, and ruined with impunity; no one will take care of them, no one will maintain them, no one will relieve them, unless he has some lasting interest in their labour; and this lasting interest can only be obtained by their becoming his property. Slavery is the return made by the labourer for the advantages of permanent protection, maintenance, and care, which can never be obtained but in the highest stages of civilisation on any other conditions. Accordingly, it is observed by Sismondi,* that when the barbarians settled in the Roman empire, the great proportion of the free inhabitants, after a few years, voluntarily submitted themselves as slaves to some powerful lord; having found, by dearbought experience, that, when in the unprotected condition of freemen, they could not, in those unruly times, reckon for a day either on their lives, their property, or their employment say that slavery is such a dreadful evil, we always figure to ourselves what slavery would be, established in a civilized country such as this, where law is established, indigence relieved, violence restrained, and industry protected.
That is the source of the e greatest
errors in political thought; we imagine, without being aware of it, that the condition of the people in other states is similar to what it is in our own; and this being done, the subsequent conclusionsrun uponwheels. But if we would accurately view the condition of the unappropriated poor in the early stages of civilisation, their condition here is to be taken not as a portrait, but as a contrast. Destitute of protection, exposed to rapine, murder, and violence, unable to provide a fund for the maintenance of old age, without a market for their industry, or an employer to furnish them with bread, they must speedily perish, or give some powerful chieftain a lasting interest in their preservation, by giving him a right of property in their labour. So universally has this necessity been felt, that in all ages and parts of the world, slavery, or the right of property in
* Hist. de France, vol. i.
the labouring poor, has been established when society existed in this form.
Nor is it only in the early ages of civilisation, that the necessity of this appropriation of the poor exists. Few are aware of the advanced state of government which is required, and the descent of civilisation in the ranks of society, before it can be dispensed with, or the poor left to shift for themselves, amidst the injustice and the storms of the world. The Greeks and the Romans, the Persians and the Egyptians, never reached it. No state in modern Europe attained that stage till within these three hundred years. A thousand years of a beneficent religion; the long establishment of law and regular government; the progressive subjugation for centuries of the passions by a powerful and impartial central government, were necessary to enable the poor to derive any benefit whatever from their emancipation. It won't do to have civilisation merely existing in a high degree in the upper classes of society, to have luxury, ornament, and opulence among the rich, or the warlike virtues resplendent amidst a chivalrous nobility; it is indispensable beneath them to have a numerous, opulent, and industrious middling class of society; a body of men in whom prosperity has nourished sentiments of independence, and centuries of security developed habits of industry, and ages of regular justice extinguished savage passion, and long established artificial wants vanquished the indolence of savage life. Till this obtains, it is in vain to attempt the emancipation of the labouring classes: the overthrow of the authority of their lords would only annihilate industry, unfetter passion, exterminate improvement. The accomplished horrors of the Jacquerie in France, the hunting down of the seigneurs like wild beasts, the conflagration of their chateaus, the formation of all the serfs into bands of robbers, the total cessation of every species of industry, the resolution of society into its pristine chaos; a famine of unexampled severity, a pestilence which cut off one-third of the population
of that and every other country which it reached, signalized the growth of the democratic spirit among the serfs of that great kingdom, and wrote in characters of fire the perils of precipitate emancipation.* Dangers not less dreadful awaited this country from the same insane spirit; the insurrection of Wat Tyler in the time of Richard II. was begun in the true spirit of this frightful anarchy, and had it not been crushed by the efforts of the feudal chieftains, the glories of British civilisation would have been for ever drowned in the waves of servile insurrection.
Many estimable persons are influenced by the consideration, that the Christian religion has proclaimed the universal equality of mankind, and thence they conclude, that it is not only wrong but impious to retain any portion of our subjects in a state of servitude, or withhold our efforts from the general emancipation of the species. There never was a more mistaken idea; it springs from a benevolent intention, but it is fitted to devastate society by its consequences. Considerations of religion lead to a' directly opposite conclusion; they support, in a manner the most convincing, the arguments for which we contend.
If immediate emancipation from slavery, or its abolition in the early stages of civilisation, had been intended by Providence, or deemed consistent with human welfare in those ages, why was it not communicated to mankind at the Tower of Babel, or amidst the thunders of Mount Sinai? Why was a religion, which declared the equality of mankind in the sight of Heaven, and was fitted ultimately to effect the universal abolition of private slavery, by influencing the human heart, reserved for the highest era of ancient civilisation, the age of Cicero and Augustus? Why was it cradled, not on the frontiers of civilisation, not amidst barbarous tribes, but in the centre of refinement; midway between Egyptian learning and Grecian taste: on the confines of Persian wealth and Roman civilisation? Why, when it did come, was it made no part of that religion to emancipate
* Sismondi, Hist. de France, Vol. IX.
VOL. XXXI. NO. CXCI.