« ElőzőTovább »
have beence with the United toward the recent
this decisive proof given to the American violators of the laws, both of humanity and of their nation, that no contrivances and false appearances will henceforward avail them. It is also hoped that the American Government. itself will be excited to a greater exertion of its power, in consequence of the proofs of the very extensive frustration and defiance of its enactments by its own subjects, which the Directors have been enabled to bring before it, by means of a correspondence with the Society for abolishing Slavery, and the Slave trade in the United States.
The next assigned step in the progress toward the great object of the Institution, is a stipulation in our recent treaty of alliance with his Royal Highness the Prince Regent of Portugal ;' in which his said Royal Highness engages to forego the trade in slaves on the African coast
except at the island of Bissao,-except at Ajuda and other ports situated on the coast, called in the Portugueze Janguage Costa de Mina,'-except so far as 'the territories of Cabenda and Molembo' can be made to contribute to this commerce,-and except, by plain implication, any part of the coast where that trade has not been discontinued and abandoned by the powers and states of Europe, which formerly traded there. The Directors are not exactly pleased with the form of this remarkably precise and philanthropic stipulation; but they say that, 'from "His Majesty's government, which certainly ought to know the meaning and purpose of the article, they have received the most satisfactory assurances,' that it is, between the contracting powers, understood to be bond fide an engagement. 'to confine the Portugueze Slave Trade strictly to their own settlements on the African coast,'—and they hint a probability of an explanatory article to remove the ambiguities of expression. It will justly be thought an excessively curious fact, that a stipulation between the English government, after it has solemnly abolished its own slave trade, and commenced the confiscation of the contraband slave ships of another state that a stipulation between it and an ally, relative to so plain, so interesting, and so urgent a subject, should have been so expressed as to need an explanatory article. How much it is to be regretted that the heads concerned, could not have been in some approximation toward a contact with that of Sir W. Scott,
if we may take the judgement to which we have alluded, as a medium specimen of its emissions. The Directors, however, very naturally wish to take this stipulation at its highest value. VOL. VII.
• The Portugueze ships,' they observe, are now debarred from trading for slaves at any point north of the equator, with the exception only of the small island of Bissao, situated at the mouth of the Rio Grande, between the 11th and 12th degree of north latitude. The cession of this insignificant island insignificant in every view but in relation to the Slave Trade), or its express exclusion from that liberty of trading in slaves, which is reserved to the Portugueze settlements generally, would effectually liberate an extent of between two and three thousand miles of coast from the visits of the slave traders.
True ; but who will dare to mention such a thing to that most dread Sovereign' the Prince Regent of Portugal ? It surely is condescension enough on bis part, and betrays presumption enough on ours, that there has existed such a discussion on the subject as could result in the equivocal concessions of this admirable stipulation. We must not take upon us to question his taste and estimates in matters of liberality and gratitude, if he happens to think the 'insignificant island of Bissao, greatly too rich a boon for the defenders of Portugal.
With respect to the trade in slaves carried on under the Spanish flag, the Directors express themselves as
certain, that a very inconsiderable proportion (if indeed any part of it) is really on account of subjects of that nation. Of the many vessels bearing that flag, which have been detained for examination during the last year, there is strong reason to believe, that all •were either American or British property, ostensibly transferred to Spanish subjects, for the mere purpose of concealing the real ownership.' As furnishing what they judge to be a "fair sample of those slave-trading adventures which pretend to be Spanish,' they relate the case of two ships, named the Gallicia and the Palafox, captured under Spanish colours, and subsequently condemned. The officers of these ships all swore so positively, that the vessels and cargoes were Spanish property,' and the supercargo, calling himself Don Jorge Madre Silva, that he was a native Spaniard, and not a subject of Great Britain,--that the Judge of the Admirality felt himself obliged, notwithstanding some very suspicious circumstances, to decree the liberation of the vessels, on bail being given to abide the result of farther proof.
It was discovered, however, by means of two of the crew, that all these depositions thus solemnly and judicially made, were false. One of the ships was ascertained to have cleared out from England by the name of the Queen Charlotte, and to be still the property of British merchants resident in London. The other had cleared out from Kingston in Jamaica, under the name of the Mohawk. Both
vessels had undergone a fictitious sale at Carthagena to a Spaniard, and had there changed their original names for the Gallicia and Palafox; and the supercargo who had sworn to his Spanish birth, proved to be an Englishman, who had sailed from the Thames in the Queen Charlotte, and was then known by the name of George Woodbine, which, when translated into Spanish, formed the appellation by which he was afterwards distinguished, Don Jorge Madre Silva. p. 32.
These discoveries caused the detention of the vessels; the claimants did not choose to abide the result of a trial ; and the property was condemned. .
The Directors hope that the Spanish government, (that is the Cortes,) may be willing to take some measures to : prevent these frauds; and are quite confident that their attention will be particularly directed to the subject, by the representations of the British government.'-It seems the only power that has been disposed to save our government the trouble of making such representations, and the hazard of receiving a rebuff in making them, is the Junta that has assumed the independent government of the Caraccas,-. which has prohibited, in that state, the African slave trade. This fact the Directors regard as, though indeed a somewhat undecisive, yet a much more hopeful, symptom of the spirit of the Spanish Americans, relatively to this subject, than any one could have been sanguine enough to expect; and they ihink it has opportunely, according to the familiar phrase, broken the ice for our communications on this point with the government of Spain.
It might well be supposed, that our own West Indian colonies would be second to no part of the world in contempt and defiance of any humane enactments of the English government,--emboldened as they were, by the experience of a long impunity in the practice of cruelty. It was very much of course that the Directors should find, as they state, that the abolition laws have there been grossly, and, in some instances, openly, violated by the importation of slaves to a considerable extent. This opprobrious deposition is followed by the expression of a hope, that the laws will soon, bowever, be effectually and even penally enforced; since, his Majesty's Government have signified their determination to give the most pointed instructions to their colonial governors, and custom-honse officers, to enforce, in the strictest inanner, the due execution of the abolition laws. But we humbly think, that the confidence which rests on this foundation, seems to betray a forgetfulness of that persisting and fearless defiance to the most peremptory mandates of the English government, displayed by one of the colonial legislatures, (that of Jamaica,) with respect to another most important matter --religious toleration. So long as we observe this direct resistance to the strongest dictates of authority, effectual and unpunished; we confess we can see no reasonable ground to hope for obsequiousness to such dictates on another point, where it is not less the interest of these colonists, in their own opinion, tp disobey. At the same time, this success and impunity of defiance of the great sovereign state, on which the sinall refractory colonial one depends, is, to be sure, a most marvellous phænomenon.
In adverting to the coast of Africa, the Directors have to lament that
• The great revival of the slave trade, which has taken place, is represented on all hands as having given a severe check to the favourable appearances of improvement which were discernible among the natives on the coast, about two years ago. If, however, the measures adopted for the suppression of the trade should have their proper effect, the directors trust that the ground which has been lost will be speedily regained.
The vast extent of the African coast certainly affords great facilites for the contraband slave trade. Many of the vessels destined for this object appear there, in the first instance, as traders in the natural productions of the country; and they perhaps receive no slaves on board, until they are about to depart on their ulterior voyage. Without a large naval force, therefore, it would be difficult completely to prevent such transactions along a range of coast which extends three thousand five hundred miles, without taking into account the rivers and creeks which occur in that space. Five or six active cruizers would, how. ever, render the attempts to trade in slaves so hazardous as at least considerably to diminish them. Representations have been made to government on the subject, which the Directors hope will lead to some increase of the naval force on the coast of Africa.*' p. 37.
The very serious magnitude of the force here demanded, relatively to the means of providing it, will not be duly estimated by the reader who does not notice the collective statement, repeated at regular intervals in the public prints, of the number and stations of the ships in the British navy, amounting to considerably more than a thousand armed vessels.
There are several letters, in the appendix, dated Senegal, from a gentleman described as "high in office on the coast of Africa ;' the first of which affords a number of very pleasing illustrations of the effects of the Abolition, as be. ginning to be apparent among the natives, and as accom
* A frigate and a sloop of war have been added to the naval force on the African station since this report was made.'
panying the activity of an Englishman to render it com- ' pletely efficient.
• Whenever I visit the main land I never fail to be saluted by its inhabitants with every mark of sincere gratitude ; which more fully to demonstrate, the chiefs of all the villages in my neighbourhood have waited upon me, to acknowledge their thankfulness for the protection the British government affords to their persons. These circumstances cannot fail to yield the happiest results and to be the means of creating considerable interest in our favour amongst the oppressed beings of this neglected country.'
• The wars, which formerly were frequent, and always attended by considerable numbers being taken and sold to traders, are now very rare; and when they occur, the parties content themselves with pillaging cattle and a few captives, who are kept by the victors till redeemed by the relatives, for whom they give bullocks, corn, tobacco, or such commodities as they can procure.' - Even among the Moors, kidnapping is almost extinct.' To use an old adage, “ if there were no receivers there wouid be no thieves ;" which is perfectly applicable to the case with regard to the slave trade in this part of Africa. The slavery among themselves is merely nominal ; the master and servant are nearly equal; they work together, eat and drink out of the same bowl, and sleep under the same roof.
"I beg leave to say, that I think a few Moravian missionaries would be of infinite service in each of these settlements ; in the first instance, to give some instruction to the numerous population, and the visitors from the main land.
This was written about midsummer: but another letter from the same person, before the end of the year, describes the scene which had begun to look so delightful, as relapsing towards its former melancholy condition, in consequence of the visitation of a swarm of those monsters of the civilized, and what is even called the Christian world, the slave ships; which had probably wrought, in these few months, as great a measure of havoc and misery, as if the maritime region had suffered an irruption of all the fierce, wild beasts, and all the serpents, existing over all the space for several hundred miles into the continent, And to think of the primary agents of this mischief! Had the region that was beginning to recover from its state of barbarism and desolation, been blasted afresh by the ravages of locusts, or a pestilence, or an army of the king of Dahomy, who is affirmed (falsely perhaps, by English captains of slave ships, to make it believed there exists in human shape something with which even they may gain by comparison) to roof his palace with skulls and raise ornamental piles of heads at his gate,--had causes like these repressed the hopeful beginnings of improvement, there would have been a certain congruity between the
that was desolation, ilence, or anaps, by Eng! e regjarism andsts, or amed (false believed he may gaise