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not occasioned by the Registry Bill? Can any other plau. sible cause be assigned for it? Yet we are told that the white people of Barbadoes were the true causers of the insurrection; that they contrived their own ruin for the sake of manufacturing an argument against the Registry Bill; that though the value of property there, by this melancholy event, is reduced to two year's purchase, yet the whole was a scheme of their own devising and executing, to throw discredit on the Registry Bill. The real cause of the insurrection is as undeniable as the fact; and however the promoters of this measure may gloss over their conduct, however they may persuade themselves that they are innocent, and their Bill harmless, 'ere long they will be compelled to listen to a still small voice in their own bosoms that will ask them if they have done well ? They may now retire in the contemplation of all the beauties of that system of emancipation they fancy they have established; but they may soon have to repent the misery they have occasioned to the West Indies, the property they have destroyed, and the lives they have wasted. What consolations will my honourable friend (Mr. Wilberforce) find, when sometime hence, in his imagination, the forms of the one thousand two hundred unhappy victims to his measure that have recently suffered, are presented before him, exclaiming, • Twelve months ago we were happy innocent and contented, and but for you we might have been so still !'”
This theatrical appeal was scarcely fair, even had it been well founded ; but we have reason to believe that nothing was ever more grossly misrepresented than the insurrection at Barbadoes. The money of the colonists was lavished through their agents to obtain insertions in the newspapers, giving the most highly coloured representations of the affair. That its origin had any connection with the Registry Bill, excepting so far as that measure proposes incidentally to restrain the unjust severity of the masters, no man, who is not interested in the misrepresentation, will be disposed to believe for a moment. All the facts, excepting the single one that one thousand two hundred blacks were inhumanly slaughtered, have been exaggerated to an incredible extent. Letters we have seen from the Island, express the horror of the writers at the bloodthirsty vengeance wreaked by the whites upon the unarmed and submissive negroes. Only three Europeans suffered in any way personally; and we learn from an officer who was on the staff in Barbadoes at the time, that instead of one and forty plantations being destroyed, the injury was exceedingly trifling. So much for the probability of the statement that the value of property bad been reduced to two years purchase. This commotion, whatever was its extent, certainly occurred most opportunely for the antagonists of the Bill, and they have made the most of it in every way. But we prefer the observations of Mr. Brougham upon this point to our own, and our readers will probably be of the same opinion. In his most able speech on the 19th of June last, he delivered himself as follows in reference, principally, to what we have inserted from the mouth of Mr. Barham.
« However desirous I may be not to enter into the contest on the present occasion; however fearful I may be that I may give rise to a discussion that will aggravate the evils which all equally feel and deplore, it is impossible that I should remain silent under the accusation brought against the supporters of the Registry Bill. We are charged with having brought forward our measure, and instead of prosecuting it to its conclusion, with having suspended it over the heads of the colonists: that it has been supported by such arguments, and founded on such principles as have a tendency, and (as has been insinuated) an intention to excite discontent, and even to produce insurrection. In a word, we have been accused of being neither more nor less than the causers, the wilful causers, of the late cala nities in Barbadoes, by which so many human lives were sacrificed. I am anxious to meet this charge, because it is necessary to repel it; and I trust that no man will misinterpret my expression when I say, that I give it the most broad and positive contradiction. It is asserted by the other side, that we take part against the white population; that we have no intention to ameliorate the condition of the blacks, no wish in the first instance, to render these unfor. tunate beings capable of enjoying freedom as a boon and not as a curse, but that immediate emancipation is our object—if safely, it is well; but at all events emancipation. These, let me say, are not our principles, and never were our principles, though they have been always unjustly charged against us, not merely by the honourable gentlemen I see ranged against us now, and who deserve some credit for their manner and the candour of their outward tone, but by a greater man than they (Mr. Windham) who some time ago took an active share in the business of this house, and who, fortunately foç this question, though unfortunately for every other, is now no more. The connection between abolition and negro emancipation, and between registration and negro insurrection, have been always attempted to be made out; but there is nothing in our principles, and not one tittle in our argument which gives the slightest colour for the accusation.”
He then went on to examine some evidence produced by Mr. N. Palmer, (who it will be recollected by our readers led the cause on the other side on the night of the 19th of June) to shew, that the insurrection in Barbadoes originated in the Registry Bill : this evidence was a letter, purporting to contain the confession of a negro at the place of execution, and another giving the opinion of the Speaker of the House of Assembly of St. Vincent's. The honourable member afterwards adverted to the real causes of the insurrection; viz. the inflammatory statements published by the planters themselves, calculated to mislead the ne. groes, and to misrepresent the measures designed to ameliorate their condition-not to give them instantaneous liberty.
“ Those (he adds) who have preached up this mad doctrine of sudden emancipation, have not been the friends of the Abolition of the Slave Trade, but the Colonial Assem. blies : in every form both official and unofficial they have disseminated it among the Negroes, and while they censure, as imminently dangerous, every syllable that falls from this side of the House, they offer on the spot, in the newspapers of the Island, every incitement, every incentive to insurrection that ingenuity can invent. I hold in my hand two Gazettes, one of Jamaica and the other of Barbadoes, published within the last eight months, in both of which the topic of emancipation is enforced under the authority of the Speaker of the Legislatives of the islands. They have misrepresented the Registry Bill, and drawn the calamity upon themselves : in the newspapers to which I have referred, they declared that it is the cloak of emancipation; that if it be passed their property is lost; that the moment it appears on the island, insurrection must be the consequence, and this as late even as the 23d of March last : they add, that the threat of the Registry Act has already compelled many to quit the island of Jamaica ; that they are conveying their property to America and Europe, and that the colony will soon be lett at the mercy of the negroes. What can be the effect of such declarations but insurrec
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tion? The slaves are absolutely invited to it, and can such men be serious or sincere when they contend that a speech in the House of Commons in England is so dangerous, so likely to produce an explosion in the West Indies, when they are thus pouring out flakes of fire from their own lips? Therefore I disbelieve this tale of insurrection-therefore I reject the evidence extracted from a dying malefactor therefore I say that no credit is due to those whose arguments and whose practice are so completely at variance.
Having so far anticipated a publication which we understand is preparing of the debate of the 19th of June, upon this most important point, we shall now proceed to give a short view of the letters of Mr. Stephen.
In his first letter, after noticing the motives which induced him to undertake to advocate the Registry Bill, he states the four propositions of his opponents :
First. That the measure is brought forward in a fanatical, uncharitable, and revolutionary spirit, and with insidious and mischievous designs.
Second. That it is unnecessary.
Fourth. That if passed into a law it will produce dangerous disaffection in our West India Islands.
Upon the last of these we have already inserted a part of the complete refutation given in parliament: in bis letters Mr. Stephen has only yet discussed the two first, probably reserving his remarks upon the two last, until the next ses. sion of parliament, when Mr. Wilberforce intends to bring the question on the Registry Bill to an issue. The author thus states the objects of the measure and the probable consequences of its rejection.
“ And here, my dear Wilberforce, it may not be improper to guard myself and you from future imputations of inconsistency on tbis great and interesting subject. Knowing your views of it as fully as my own, I will here publicly repeat the avowal of what our intentions really are.
" If a general Registry of slaves be obtained, (not such as the interior legislatures will or can establish, but such as your Bill proposes to provide, a register which should really prove effectual to its object) there we are content that the reforming of slavery by act of Parliament shall end. Though I have no authority to speak for the friends of our cause at large, I doubt not that such is the common opinion, and would be the willing engagement of those who act with us in promoting the registration of slaves,
" But no mock enactments, such as those with which the Assemblies have amused us in their meliorating acts, will at all suffice.
CRIT. REV. Vol. IV. July, 1816.
We know that no registry will be effectual, but one that is accompanied by regulations, and enforced by sanctions, which belong to the jurisdiction of Parliament alone. The transmission, for instance, of duplicates of the colonial books, and of the subsequent periodical returns to this country; the establishment of a public depository for them here; and the making a correspondence with these Records necessary to the validity of titles acquired by British purchasers or mortgagees; are all provisions absolutely necessary to the due execution of the law: yet they are such as no authority but that of Parliament can ordain.
" Let these, and the other securities proposed by your Bill, be given against the fraudulent evasion of the Abolition Acts; and we are willing to abide by the experiment. We may then trust to the effects on the temper of the Assemblies, for the reformation of the Slave Codes, and for all such improvements in the condition of the slaves, as can be introduced by positive law. We may also with confidence expect, from the progressive effects in the minds and on the conduct of masters, the fuller reformation, and future extinction of slavery itself.
“ Should however this most efficacious and inoffensive remedy be withheld, let not our opponents tax us with inconsistency when we resort to other Parliamentary means for the relief of the unfortunate slaves.
“ Denied a fair trial of the expedient we prefer, we shall be driven to others, in which we have less confidence indeed, but which it would be opprobrious in that case to leave untried. Adopting the first views of Mr. Burke, we shall pursue the only course open to us, that of applying to Parliament for laws directly addressed to the abuses we wish to restrain. Some of these are the mere creatures of positive laws, and may be cured by a simple repeal ; such as the acts which make slaves liable to be separated, for ever, from their homes and families, by process of law; and those audacious recent innovations that restrain in some of the islands the master's power of enfranchisement. But it will be our bounden duty also to call ou the Legislature to prohibit, at least, the brutal practice of driving, and other destructive oppressions, in the exercise of the master's power. With all the difficulties of giving effect to such laws on the plantations, it is a work which it would be criminal not to attempt, if a registry, in other words an effectual Abolition, the best remedy for snch evils, be withheld.
“ It is true, that in efforts like these we must expect opposition at least as warm and pertinacious as that which is now making to your Register Bill. But repeated discussions will diminish our difficulties, and add to our strength. Our case is too strong to be resisted when thoroughly understood; and though like that of the open slave trade, it may be long disguised by misrepresentation and prejudice, we shall triumph at last, by bringing it home to the conviction, and to the humane, the moral and religious feelings of Parliament and the Country.”