NEWS OF THE WEEK.
THE attention of the House of Commons was called to the ques- tion of West India Slavery on Tuesday. The occasion was the delivery of a petition by Mr. BROUGHAM. At the meeting. of the Anti-Slavery Society, Mr. BROUGHAM was exceedingly anxious to impress on his hearels-thellopelessnessof any attempt to carry Mr. POWNAL'S motion for the emancipation of all children-born after January 1831, through the House, because of its numerous en-: gag,ements. The engagements of the House have multiplied since that time ; and the honourable member was indebted to the cour- tesy of Ministers for an opportunity of mooting a question which they had resolved to negative. The only feature in the debate was the distinct admission of Sir ROBERT PEEL, that previous to any attempt at emancipation, the right of the slave-owners to compen- sation must be recognized. Ireland and its slaves have also attracted the notice of the House. Ministers were urged to attempt the relief of the existing distresses by a Parliamentary grant, which Sir ROBERT PEEL refused, on the old and beaten grounds. No blame could be 'at- tached to Government for refusing to tax one part of the comma- -nity in order to force the unprofitable trade of another, if they were uniform in their practice—if they would hold the same lan- guage to the rich as to the poor—if they would tell the land- lords and the monopolists the same tale that they tell the starving Irish.
The Forgery Laws Consolidation Bill, with the amendments previously moved, has passed the Lords. The amendments have brought back the bill to the same state in which it was introduced into the Commons. It is now no more than a pamphlet drawn up in technical language, on the state of the existing laws against forgery. It is in every respect as useful in its present formof a bill, as it would be in that of a law. A practitioner can consult the statutes by its assistance as easily in the one form as in the other. As the House of Commons and its Ministerial leader have solemnly resolved on a reform of the law, and as the Lords have solemnly resolved that no reform shall take place, the plain course of the former is to drop the bill till the two Houses can come to a better understanding. On the passing of the Appropriation Bill last night, the subject of our forcign relations was introduced by the Marquis of LANs- DOWNE. The question of Portugal, if we may believe Ministers, is about to be settled ; which information they have constantly given for the last two years. Algiers, is, it seems, still the sub. sect of negotiation; we hope it will progress to a settlement more rapidly.
1. FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC POLICY. In the House of Lords last night, on the motion for the third reading of the Appropriation Bill, the Marquis of LANSDOWNE made a few remarks on our foreign and domestic relations.
In the first place; he felt deep regret, in common, he was persuaded, with both Houses of Parliament and with the public, that the subjects adverted to in the Speech from the Throne at the commencement of the present session, and on which it was hoped much would be accomplished, remained, with respect both to the West and to the East of Europe, in the same unsatisfactory state ; and that the session was about to close with- out any final arrangement advantageous to all parties. The despotism which had so long existed in Portugal appeared to be unmitigated by any circumstances calculated to replace us in the beneficial relation towards that country which we formerly occupied. With respect to the East of Europe, the elements of that Power, the existence of which in an independent character was so necessary to the general welfare, also remained to be finally settled. The recent occurrences in another quarter appeared to add to the difficulties of our situation. Their Lordships need not be told that he alluded to the capture of Algiers by the French. He rejoiced at the victory; but he trusted that the results of it would be generally satisfactory—that the consequent arrangements would not be confined to the benefit of France alone, but would be ex- tended to the whole of the Mediterranean and the East of Europe. So much for considerations of a foreign character. He would now advert to a few particulars growing out of the bill before their Lordships. In the first place, he must express his surprise that the motion for printing the bill had not been acceded to, bills of much less importance were ordinarily printed. In looking at the bill, it appeared that one vote of- 1,126,0001. was, without distinguishing the separate amounts, to defray the charges of the Miscellaneous Services of Ireland, the Army Extraordinaries, the Commissariat, the Civil Contingencies, the Rideau Cana land the Repairs of Windsor Castle. It was true that the vote was only on account ; but it ought, nevertheless, to be considered.
The Duke of WELLINGTON made a short reply. Although the sum of 1,126,0001. was voted in the mass, there was a clause in the Bill specifying the various purposes to which it was to be applied. As to the transactions in the East of Europe, their Lordships were just as well acquainted with them as he could pretend to be. All be could say on the subject was, that it was the uniform endeavour of his biajescy'a M:‘,;szers—an endeavour which there was every reason to hope would be successful—to bring the transactions in that quarter to a sdc- cessful and satisfactory termination. The most cordial union existed upon the subject among the three great Powers who had taken so active a part in the proceedings. With respect to the other part of Europe, it ought to be recollected that the distance of the negotiating Power, and the length of time which must consequently intervene between the respective communications, rendered it more difficult to bring the transactions in that quarter to a speedy termination ; but he would say, that a most sin- cere disposition existed on the part of his Majesty's government to bring about an accommodation that might be satisfactory to all parties, and that there was every reason to believe that so desirable a consummation would finally be accomplished. As to Algiers, there was also every reason to believe that the arrangements among the several Powers interested ',grould be satisfactory; although, until the negotiations were concluded, nothing of a decided'nature could be stated. Lord HOLLAND having profesSed himself dissatisfied with this explanation, the bill was read, and passed.
2. IRELAND. Mr. H. GRATTAN called the attention of the House to the wretched state of the Western and South-Western counties of Ireland. He declainied-against absenteeism. He said that the cultivation of the waste lands (of which there were four millions and a half of acres) would relieve the people, by afford- ing them employment, and would give a return of four per cent. for the capital invested. Mr. W. HORTON argued that emigration was the only perma- nent remedy against the periodical distress. Lord KILLEEN asked if it was the intention of Government to afford any relief to the starving people of Ireland? He thought that some advance of money, by way of loan, ought to be made. Sir ROBERT PEEL answered, that it was not the intention of Government to propose any vote of Parliament to be applied to the relief of the distressed people of Ireland. He really doubted, and he thought he could convince any gentleman of the fact, that a vote of money would not mitigate the evil so much to to be deplored; on the contrary, it would at once check the farther pro- gress of local exertion and benevolence. An impression would be created, that there were- inexhaustible funds to draw upon for the relief of the people ; and thus, many, who have devoted their money and their time to the benefit of their distressed neighbours, would throw the onus upon the Government, or rather upon the people of England, who already contributed for their own poor. Besides, a precedent of the worst sort would be established—a precedent which would be surely appealed to in all subsequent cases of a like nature. He hoped the landed proprietors of Ireland would feel it incumbent on them in conscience, as it was not in law, to come forward for the relief of the inhabitants of the country from which they drew their wealth. (Loud cheers.) Parliament had then under its consideration the means of applying some permanent remedy to the evil, but the present distress could be alone removed by the exer- tions of-the wealthier classes in Ireland. In allusion to Mr. Wilmot Horton's remark, he said that Government had by no means neglected the question of emigration. There was at this moment travelling through the North American colonies a gentleman extremely well ac- quainted with the wants of a new colony, and possessed of great expe- rience in the matters necessary for establishing a settlement, who was directed to report his observations to the Government, with a view of enabling them to discover whether some well-arranged system might not be adopted at once to relieve the population at home, and to benefit the Colonies, where the transfer of an industrious population would be an advantage to them. When that gentleman should have made his report, he hoped it would be found that some measure could be adopted for framing a systematic plan of emigration. Till that could be done, he thought they would not be really meeting the distress of the country, nor the wants of any of the Colonies, by sending out hundreds of settlers for whom no previous preparation had been made. He believed at the same time that they should have a better chance of relieving the distress of Ireland by encouraging emigration among the people of that country, than by merely giving them waste lands to cultivate.
3. NEGRO SLAVERY. Mr. BROUGHAM moved, - " That this House will, at the earliest practicable period, take into their most serious consideration the state of the slaves in the British colonies, with the view of mitigating and finally abolishing it, and more especially with the view of amending the administration of justice in the said colonies."
In support of this resolution, Mr. Brougham expatiated at great length and with extreme earnestness, first, on the right of the Mother Country to legislate for the Colonies, and next, on the legal and moral nature of slavery,. • I am told to look at the West India Islands, where, though the theor is with me, the practice is to turn the scale against me. I am told t the Negroes are not so wretched as I represent them ; that they are deserving of our commiseration, because they never knew liberty;
they do not repine at slavery, because it was to slavery they were born ; that we are doing an useless work in interfering with that rural torrid felicity in which they live ; and that it would be well if all English pea-
sants were as well off as these much-pitied Africans. I will not enter into details which it would be an insult to offer to the representatives of a free people, to demonstrate that no slave can be happy—that he who
lives under the nod and rod of another cannot know what happiness and comfort are : but I will resort to two tests, and if they do not speak with a loud voice, which cannot be misunderstood, then am I addressing myself to political economists in vain—then am I addressing myself to men of sense in vain—then am I addressing myself in vain to men who can un- derstand two steps in any demonstration. If I were to be compelled to take two tests of the circumstances in which any nation is situated, by which it would be impossible to be deceived as to its happiness or misery, I would choose the progress of the population and the condition of its • =orals. The progress of the population has been considered by all men, whether by philosophers speculating on human affairs in their closets, or by statesmen who do not deserve that name if they leave such specula- tions without consideration, as the best test to ascertain the degree of happiness enjoyed by the individuals who constitute the nation. They . say that the principle of population is implanted so strongly in our na- ture, and acts in general with such resistless force, that as soon as you see it counteracted, you may conclude with infallible certainty that there
is something pernicious in the laws of the country which destroys its happiness and impairs its condition. Let us only look to this principle
in both ways, as it regards the free and the slave population in the West Indies. If you exclude liarbadoes, the entire slave popula- tion of our West Indian Islands amounted in 1818 to six hundred
and seventy thousand persons. Between the years 1818 and 1824, the decrease in all the islands amounted to no less than 34,000—a decrease which, if it continues to proceed as rapidly at present, must inevitably lead to the utter extinction of that hapless race. In the island of Jamaica, the slave population was, in 1818, 330,000; between 1818 and 1824, the decrease was 9,000 or 10,000. There was, however, no decrease in the free population in the same time, and yet they were living in the same climate, with the same blood in their veins, exposed to the same diseases, and liable to the same casualties. The Maroons, in a far less favourable situation than the Negroes, harassed by the Whites and hated by the Blacks, living in the mountains, and often in great want of sustenance, increased, in a period of little more than thirty years,—he was speaking of the interval between the years 1750 and 1782—to an amount almost doub- ling their original numbers ; and then, again, when it became necessary, at the close of the rebellion in 1796, that part of them should be removed, they were found to have increased in the years between 1810 and 1816 no less than 18 per cent. and in the next five years no less than 14 per cent. on the numbers that were left ; and in America, where they were better lodged and fed, they had increased, in thirty years, 130 per cent. Let us next look at Trinidad : in that island the number of slaves had fallen, between 1825 and 1829, from 23,117 to 22,136—which was a decrease of 1-34th per cent. What had happened in the self-same island to the same race, with the dif- ference only between the bondman and the free ? Nature had asserted her rights ; human passions and human vigour had run their course, and the first great law of Nature had been obeyed with that prolific success that, from 13,995, they had increased to 16,412,—being the increase of a full sixth. These facts presented to the mind of a reflecting man a picture of wretchedness, privation, and misery of every description, all beginning in slavery—all contrary to the nature of human beings." The other test to which he should appeal, in proof of the same result, was the morals of the Negroes. In Trinidad he found a population of 16,500 slaves ; and, within the last two years, the incredible number of 11,131 punishments had been inflicted upon that population. What were those crimes ? In 7,644 cases, slaves were punished for refusing to work, absconding from plantations, insolence to their masters, and offences of a similar nature. Of the other punishments 713 were for theft, and of these 360 were in the course of a single year. Comparing this state of population and crime with that of England, it would be as 280,000 convic- tions for larcenies. In Berbice the population was 21,000, and there there had been 9,000 punishments within a year. In Demerara the black popu- lation was 61,000, and the punishments 20,000.
Mr. Brougham then entered into a detail of various atrocities which were still, he alleged, habitually practised by slave pro- prietors towards their unresisting victims.
Mr. PROTHEROE seconded the motion. His support of it, how- ever, was likely, he said, to cost him dear. " It may be not unknown to many members of this House, that upon the direct announcement of my honourable friend the member for Bristol that it was not his intention to offer himself again for the representation of that city, I had publicly offered myself as a.candidate, and I did this with the strongest assurances of support and most flattering prospects of suc- cess : but no sooner had I made known my decided sentiments upon the great question relating to slavery, than I was threatened with a most formidable opposition from the powerful body connected with the West India interest, those whose warmest support I had reason to expect fell from my side, with the intention of setting up against my honourable friend who bad retired, or some other person belonging to the West India interest, or known to be a sure supporter of the views which they enter- tain. I have been implored, in consequence, by my nearest connexions, if I cannot bring myself to oppose the motion, at all events to absent my- self from the House this night. But those advisers little know the spirit by which my public conduct has been actuated, if they imagine that any personal consequences to myself can possibly influence my attendance or my vote in this House ; and even if, as it is too probable, my cause may succumb under the weight of such domineering interest, it will be a sub- ject of lasting congratulation to myself, as it is of present satisfaction, that the last vote I shall have given in this Parliament will have been in the sacred cause of humanity."
Mr. KEITH Douor..ks replied at some length to Mr. Brougham ; the accuracy of whose statements he denied.
Mr. WILLIAM SMITH supported the motion. Mr. WILMOT HORTON showed some important inconsistencies in the course of which the Abolitionists wished to prescribe to the Legislature. In lieu of Mr. Brougham's resolution, he proposed the following.
4. 1. That the resolutions of this House of the 15th May 1823, distinctly contem- plated, on the one band, the ultimate participation by the slaves in his Majesty's Colo- nies, 'in those civil rights and privileges enjoyed by other classes of his Majesty's subjects ;' and, on the other, the accomplishment of that purpose, subject to the 'fair and equitable. consideration of the interests of private property.' " 2. That the changes of law which have been deemed by Parliament the most 'equitable and expedient for the accomplishment of these two distinct pledges, are to be found in the various Orders in Council which have been issued in thg. ceded -Coloszles, and which hive been successively laid on the table of 'the House. " 3. That it appears to this House, that the only part of that new system of law which has met with serious remonstrance and protest, in consequence of its ten. dency being presumed to prejudice the equitable interests of private property, has been those enactments which in the first instance introduced the principle of what has been called ' compulsory manumission.'
" 4. That it is the opinion of this House, that, as long as the money-price received by the master for a manumitted slave shall enable him to purchase a slave of equi- valent value, no injury can accrue from the abstraction of such slave, beyond that character of injury which is al alaimes inseparable from a forced commutation of property, though attended with the fairest principle of compensation. " 5. That it is the opinion of the House,that the clauses introduced into the Order in Council of the 2nd February 1830, do secure an equitable principle of manumis- sion, as far as it is possible to carry such a principle into effect by legislative enact- ments.
" G. That this House is at the same time of opinion, that the classes in that Order in Commit, which prohibit absolutely all contribution from private individuals or corporate bodies, towards the manumission of a slave, require essential modification. " 7. That this House fully appreciates the degree of caution with which it is ne- cessary to legislate, in all matters Effecting the equitable interests of property tocthe conservation of which this House is pledged ; and that it will direct its unceasing
for the purpose of satisfying, in the fullest sense, the distinct
attention 0 the cause and effect of this change of legislation InusithdeifficecdueltdpCleodplonsleosf, Parliament, above cited from the resolutions of 1823, which resolutions equally con- templated the interests of the master, and the wellbeing Of the slave.
" 8. That the change of law in the ceded Colonies being now. fully and satisfac- torily accomplished, with the exception above-mentioned, this House is entirely prepared to expect, that the Colonial legislatures will voluntarily and completely in- corporate into their respective codes of law, at the earliest possible period, those ameliorations in the laws affecting the stave population, which are now in complete operation in the ceded Colonies, and which may not hitherto have been adopted by the Colonial Legislatures."
Sir GEORGE MURRAY was not prepared to adopt either Mr. Brougham's resolution, or those of Mr. Horton, which he had now only heard for the first time.
As to the resolution of the honourable and learned member for Knares- borough, he did not find it possible for him to concur in it ; and he should be sincerely glad if the honourable and learned member would consent not to press it, for several reasons—first, on account of the deserted state of the benches ; from which the inference necessarily drawn, when the division went forth to the world, and above all to the Colonies, would be, that that important question had been listened to with little interest in the House of Commons. Now, this he should much regret; because he was anxious, whatever might be the opinion of the House respecting this great question of slavery, that it should go out to the Colonies with all that weight which the expression of any decision upon the part of a large body of honourable members must necessarily convey with it. He did not much approve of the idea of pledging the next Parliament to any line of conduct respecting that important question ; it would be far better to leave that Parliament to consider the question without any previous pledge being imposed upon them, and especially in so very thin a House. Besides, that resolution went to an extent to which he could not fol- low—it went, not only to the mitigation of slavery, but it pledged the ultimate abolition of slavery altogether. In saying this, however, he trusted it was unnecessary for him to state his dislike to slavery : he con- sidered that the condition of slavery was injurious both to the master and the slave, and was equally inconsistent with humanity and with the reli- gion they profess. But what they had to consider, was the actual state of things without reference, to abstract principles. The property in a slave was as much property, as much under the protection of the law, as any other possession whatever.
Mr. OTWAY CAVE and Sir FRANCIS BURDETT supported the motion ; the latter very temperately. Sir ROBERT PEEL opposed the motion, and repeated some of Sir George Murray's arguments. He did not attribute the state of the House to indifference or apathy, but to the time at which it had been deemed necessary to bring forward the question. He also objected to the words of the motion, which went to pledge the House to discuss the subject, without at the same time say- ing any thing of the compensation to be afforded to those whom he must call the unfortunate holders of these slaves. Besides, circumstances might render the performance of such a pledge unadvisable ; and if it were given and not fulfilled, the character of the House would be lowered. He could not pledge himself to the abolition of slavery without knowing the mode in which that abolition was to be effected. In the resolutions of 1823, the claims of compensation had been admitted, and it ought to be declared now. He confessed that if he were to ask himself by what title he held a slave, he could give no satisfactory answer ; but in the House of Commons the claims for compensation could not be denied, and the rights of the masters, as well as those in whose favour they were called on to pledge tbanisaveo, out to be considered. .For Mr. Brougham's motion, 27 ; against it, 56.
4. FORGERY BILL. The third reading in the House of Lords took place on Tuesday. Lord HOLLAND moved the recommitment of the bill. Nega- tived without a division. Lord WYNFORD proposed to make the forgery of the attestation of a cower of attorney a capital offence. The Loan CHANCELLOR observed, that that would be contrary to the spirit of the bill ; the object of which was to mitigate, not to increase the severity of the law.. Lord WYNFORD disclaimed such intention ; but, after a few words from Lord TENTERDEN, withdrew his proposition.
The bill was then passed.
5. BEER BILL. The final struggle against this bill was made on Monday. The Duke of RICHMOND, however, said, he did not wish to destroy the bill—he only wished that the changes in- tended should be effected gradually and cautiously. When the. Parliament declared the system of bounties bad, they did not abolish these bounties suddenly, but gave time for a gradual change, amounting in one case to no less than ten years. He should move the clause he had brought forward the other evening; and if 11 rejected as then, he should move that the operation of the bill sshoouuolde..beep postponed for one year at least. He would ask the noble DuketDgfe hard labour onto h who whether he should object to a clause inflicting and a. clause might be imprisoned under the provisions of the billk an declaring that no peace-officer or constable should h keep one of these houses ? He should al,so. propose that no person who had received to paro- chial assistance should, within twelve months afterwards, be suffered. take out a licence under 'this bill, and that the securities for persons so licensed should be rated. householders. The. Dice of WELLAricrox had no objection to some of these -amendmerits—for instance, that which related to the security be given by rated householders,. he should be happy to propose himself.
As to excluding constables from keeping these houses, he begged to remind the noble Duke, that the office of constable was a burden, and that a benefit ought not to be refused to a man because a pub- lic burden had already been imposed on him. As to the clause for adding hard labour to imprisonment,. he begged to remind the noble Duke that the man was only to he imprisoned for non--payment of penalties ;• that these penalties were a cleat, and that it was, not usual in legislation to inflict hard labour on a debtor. With re- spect to the injury that this Bill would occasion to the publican, he re- ferred the noble Duke to the Report taken before the Committee of the other House, when it was stated that these publicans enjoyed an immense revenue, arising from the profits occasioned by this licensing system. In some cases they obtained 7001. or 800/ a-year on an outlay of 20001. or 30001. Such profits on such a small advance of capital were enormous ; and he thought no great injury would he inflicted on these publicans in depriving them of profits so obtained, and in giving the country the op- portunity of deriVing Rill enjoyment from the other measure relating to beer. He begged to observe, too, that some parts of the publicans' trade— such, for instance, as the spirit trade—would not he touched by this bill.
Several verbal amendments were made, and the Duke of Rich- mond's negatived. The bill was then read a third time, and passed. The Duke of RionNtoxn, however, declared, that ie was so dissa- tisfied with the bill, that he should inure a Committee on it next session.
6. COURT OF SESSION BILL. In moving the second reading of this bill, on Monday, the LORD CHANCELLOR volunteered some explanations respecting a petition which Lord Latiderdite had lately presented from the Faculty of Advocates in Edinburgh, praying for the postponement oft he measure. That petition, praying for delay, had not been presented by his noble friend until the month of July ; but it had been drawn up and signed, and was probably in the hands of his noble friend in the mouth of °May. Now it appeared to him that in fairness his noble friend should have men- tioned the date of the petition ; and particularly as that respectable and learned body the Faculty of Advocates had, since the preparing of the pe.. tition, had a committee on the hill, investigating it clause by clause, and had subsequently, at a public meeting, convened to consider the merits of the bill, approved every part of it, and passed a resolution, " that the Dean of Faculty should communicate their determination to such noble lords and members of the other House of Parliament as had been charged with their previous petition." The fact was, that, with one exception— the Incorporated Solicitors of the Inferior Courts in Edinburgh—there was no substantive petition against the measure.
The Earl of ELDON did not oppose the bill, but he was not dis- posed to give his assent without greater deliberation and inquiry. What he objected to was, the uniting trial by jury to the Court of Ses- sion; and he contended that, whatever might be the feeling among the people of Scotland, or of the legal profession in Scotland in its favour, the Legislature were hound not to yield to their wishes unless they were clearly satisfied the change would be beneficial. To unite Equity with Law in this manner, he was satisfied would be prejudicial ; and although the Judges in Equity had the power of calling a Jury to their as- sistance in this country, the practice had been abandoned time out of mind. There could not, indeed, be a more perfect system for that pur- pose than the present ; for the Judge, when it became necessary to ascer- tain a fact through the means of a Jury, had the advantage of sending that fact to be tried by those whose minds were unbiassed and unaffected by any thing they might have known of the previous proceedings. The Earl of ROSSLYN subported the bill. Lord WYNFORD observed, that the subject was not yet ripe for the decision of their Lordships, and for that reason he moved an amendment, that the bill be read a second time this day six months—giving notice that he meant, sonic time afterwards, to move that a committee be appointed to consider the subject. Earl GROSVENOR and Lord MELVILLE supported the hill: • Lord LAUDERDALE opposed the bill, and said the Facility of Ad- vocates were still Opposed to it as it now stood.
He knew that, for he had a letter in his pocket from the Dean of the Faculty, a letter whichlie•had received this very day. This bill was most improper in itself, and was most awkwardly worded. In-all former acts of this sort, the old acts had been repealed, and new provisions made ; but no such thing had been-done here, and the law of one part of this bill and of another exhibited,. no degree of consistency whatever. They had a law of the Court of Session in the shape of orders and practice, and another of the two Houses of Parliament ; and until these were reconciled to each other, he defied any man to carry this bill into execution.
The bill was read. a second time. It was in Committee on Wednesday ; when the Earl of MANSFIELD expressed his wish for delay, and surprise to hear it stated that jury trial was universally popular in Scotland.
Lord WYNFORD proposed as an amendment, that the system of trial by jury, which under the bill would be confined to the Court of Session, should be extended to the proceedings in the Sheriff's Courts. There was no argument in favour of the former that did not, a fortiori, apply to the Sheriff's. Courts, which exercised an extensive jurisdiction in Scotland, particularly in those. cases of damages for loss of property, which were best determined by a ju Lorry. d- MELvILLE was sure that no person connected with-Scot- land could approve of the amendment, because it was opposed to the- opinions and wishes of those in that country most conversantwith and interested in the proceedings of the Sheriff's Courts. a The amendment was negatived. proceedings