FINAL EXTINCTION OF THE SLAVE-TRADE FOR THE SESSION.
" SATISFACTION," "delight," " praise," "congratulation," "grati- tude," "thanks," "gratification," — all these expressions were showered upon Lord Palmerston for his "important declaration," that "the more stringent measures adopted last year for sup- pressing the slave-trade, both on the coast of Africa and on the coast of Brazil, have been attended with the happiest effects." His declaration, or rather historical statement, is indeed very cheering. The slave-trade is "almost extinguished " North of the line ; the trade in slaves spoiled ; the peaceful Africans are now "applying themselves to trade in palm-oil, ground nuts, ivory, and other products of the country." " The propensity to the trade," so say they acquainted with it, "lingers only in the minds of the chiefs "; "but the people of the country generally are not only wil- ling, but desirous, to turn their attention to legitimate traffic in the productions of their respective districts." The Portuguese, French, and American officers, afford "zealous, active, and. intelligent aid ". "our treaties with native chiefs are observed, almost universally, with the greatest fidelity "; within the exten- sive territories of Liberia the slave-trade is suspended ; "earnest communications" were made to Brazil last year, and responded to by a law declaring slave-trade piracy, and "almost extinguishing the trade with Brazil." No wonder that Lord Palmerston was " happy " in making that declaration.
The question before the House of Commons was the vote of 60,000/. for certain expenses attendant on the slave-trade suppres- sion: Mr. Hume was inquisitive ; Lord Palmerston made his de- claration; he communicated his happiness to Members ; the "satis- faction" of Denison culminated to "delight" in the more enthusi- astic Hume; and—" the vote was agreed to."
It is a delightful statement : nevertheless, it does suggest cer- tain qualifying questions. Arr. Hume "thought the result might have been achieved years ago without the aid of the squadron " ; and yet, it would seem, the vote was agreed to without any oppo- sition from Mr. Hume. We suspect he was right in his thought ; and we speak with the more confidence since Lord Palmerston now confesses the truth of that which we stated not less than ten years ago. We have said, both as long ago and subsequently, that "a powerful, active, and intelligent Anti-Slavery party" was grow- ing up in Brazil : Lord Palmerston now admits that such has been the case "in the course of the last few years." After statements conveyed to him, in spite of which he has treated Brazil as an enemy, he has the face to declare for himself and. colleagues, that "we had laboured under a great misconception in supposing that the Brazil- ian nation, as a nation, were clinging to this trade." What then are we to think of the sincerity of a man who has received assur- ances to that effect for a series of years, has resorted to fiscal and naval coercion against Brazil, and then glibly rattles off the very same statement, as a new discovery, in one of his occasional decla- rations to serve the purpose of the moment ?
Lord Palmerston gave no further explanation of those coercive measures to which he has resorted against Brazil in reward of her new cooperation. The public was recently astounded to learn that the Brazilian Government was pursuing its measures against the slave-trade, in spite of conduct the most domineering and offensive on the part of English naval officers, who had put constraints upon the cruisers and even the forts of our ally. That mystification is still unexplained even in Lord Palmerston's "declaration"; he does not allude to it ; and so serious an omission suggests unplea- sant doubts as to the universally smiling picture.
Is it true ? Doubts arise, not only from the wholesale and studied oversights in this synoptical declaration, but also from the positive internal evidence. What trust can we put in the assu- rances of a person who professes to draw distinctions between "the intelligent desires of the people of the country" and. "pro- pensities lingering in the minds of the chiefs " ? What can he know about propensities in those remote, limited, and recondite recesses? Did he ever, on any single occasion, see into the mind of a native chief—even into that., for instance, of Queen Victoria's cousin King Jacky-Jacky ? Will he tell us what "the people of the country" know about "legitimate traffic," or whether they could exp am what is a "respective district "P Can he state what is "the country" to which they belong, or in what sense they are a " people "? Never, indeed, did the good easy Com- mons consent to be cajoled by such a tissue of statements, as they are called—the ballet-dancing of statesmanship, in which happy negroes are represented as flashing their universal ivories and going a-nutting—in which "the country" is the geographical ex- pression for the scene of the romance—in which, except a few "Brazilian brokers" and "inferior Portuguese officers," the vil- lains of the piece, everybody is virtuous and happy. There are indeed,exoeptions—even North of the Line, Lagos and Porto Now
Board of Health, and all practical improvement again indefinitely wickedly adhere to the slave-trade ; and if the trade is " eat& ned. guished " North of the Line, Lord Palmerston does not aver more than that it is extinguished "for the moment, at all events" ! But "the vote was agreed to."
OFFICIAL COMFORT FOR THE IRISH MILLERS. WHEN. Lord Naas conveys to the Ministers and Commons the complaint of the Irish millers that they are in a state of extreme distress many of the mills standing idle, their workpeople un- employed, and their condition progressively becoming worse, Mr. Labouchere replies, that the condition of the very lowest classes in London is much better than it was. When the millers allege that their loss is brought about by the admission of foreign /lour, / ground, Mr. La.bouchere replies, that cannot be the ease, becanse larger quantities of foreign corn unground have been admitted, so ' that the millers must have more to do. The decrease of their business, he said, must be owing to improvements in machinery ; one experiment had already been so successful as to have destroyed several small businesses : but the competition to which they have been exposed would stimulate theta to improvements in machinery, which would be of most permanent advantage to their interest.
Now these replies must be very unsatisfactory to men labouring under actual distress. The millers of Ireland may be very humane men, and yet not be satisfied with their own admitted de- pression because the very lowest classes of costermongers, thieves, &c. in London, with whom they have nothing to do, are in better plight. The argument that they must have more to do because more foreign corn has been admitted, is not of much force, if, as they and the English millers both assert, the amount of native grist brought to their mills is less. To tell them that their dis- tress is caused by the success of other persons in mechanical im- provements, can scarcely apply as a consolation to them. Closet philosophers, we know, still entertain the dogmatic belief that such improvements are always attended by "temporary suffering" among the persons engaged in the superseded branch of industry, followed by "change of employment," and ultimate advantage : but in practical life the change of employments does not appear to be so easily effected, in part for want of ground whereon to stand ; and the suffering does not prove to be temporary, witness the case of the hand-loom weavers.
But even if these replies were accurate as a simple exposition of facts, they could not satisfy the Irish millers. They belong to that class of comfort which Cervantes satirizes. When Sancho complains after beir.a, beaten that his back aches from shoulder to shoulder, Don Quixote tells him, the reason was that the stick was long enough to extend all across the back. The answer did no- thing to comfort Sancho s bruises. When you call in a doctor, you would scarcely be satisfied if, having delivered a pathological exposition of the causes of your malady, he were to make his bow and go. Your economical philosophers put unbounded. faith in the solace indicated by the Pagan poet, "Felix qui rerum potent cog,noscere causas "—know the causes of your distress, and be happy. But millers, farmers, and other unphilosophical classes, when they cry out that they are hurt, are rather exasperated than otherwise at a cool clinical lecture on the pathology of their case. It may be an occasion for the display of scientific acquirements, but neverthe- less it does exasperate. No class gets used to it. The agricultu- ral distress has been recognized in a speech from the Throne, and then left alone ; now the millers complain of distress, on which they are told it arises from improvements of machinery ; and we suppose that when other classes come forward with their com- plaints they will be met by the same solaces derived from the: theory of causation,—the working tailors of London, for instance, will be told that their distress arises from the want of custom; or the clothmakers of Yorkshire, that the stagnation in their trade arises from a falling-off in the demand.