'WEST INDIA COLONIES.—A numerous meeting took place on Thurs- day, of the planters, merchants, and others "interested in the preserva- tion of the West India Colonies." The large room in the City of London Tavern was crowded to excess.
The Earl of Harewood was called to the chair. His Lordship, in opening the meeting, spoke of the aspersions that had gone forth against the West India planters ; which they must meet, and which, he said, they could meet fairly and honestly.
There laid been strong feelings created in this country of prejudice against all proprietors of West India property, as possessors of a slave population. Not only had that been a subject of prejudice, but it had been made a topic of charge against them, as if they were thereby wickedly and improperly deriving profits from the labour of such individuals. He would speak not only for himself, but for all other proprietors of West India property, that they would anxiously, if they could, do without that description of labour. But when he said that, he said it before proprietors who were not justly dealt with ; and he would appeal to a part of his countrymen who were endeavouring to sink that interest by mis-
representations, which, when concocted, were known by those who concocted them to be false, or to possess, in many instances, a colouring of the circum-
stances which, in point of truth, they would not bear. '
He observed on the peculiar position of the slave-holders. They must maintain their labourers, whether they were profitable or the contrary— If their returns were bail—if they amounted to nothing, or to worse than no- thing, what were they to do ? Why, to hold on, and support those persons from
whose labour they derived nothing. Was that the case with any other descrip- tion of property ? If persons were engaged in manufactures, in agriculture, or in public works, the moment they ceased to be profitable, that moment the hands employed on them were dismissed. Could they do that? He mentioned that, to show that it was not the wish of the proprietors to hold the population in the West India islands in that state of society if they could do otherwise. But let all those who were finding fault with them show them the way out of it.
His Lordship noticed another grand cause of distress in certain parts of the 'West Indies—the competition caused by the sugars produced in
the ceded colonies, tinder which the property of the old colonies had long been suffering. He went on to the consideration of the Order in Council of 10th November last—the grand subject of discussion which. led to the meeting— In adverting to the Orders in Council, he was naturally led to the Orders in Council and Resolutions of Parliament in the year 1823; and he must say,
that those who were parties to the decision of the House of Commons, in 1823, respecting the slave management, ought not to be parties to the Order in Coun- cil of 1831. They were living in times of great colonial distress—they were living in times when great colonial agitation was on foot—when it would have been policy and wisdom to have conciliated rather than to have inflamed. But what had been the effect of the Order in Council of 1831? Bearing on the face of it irritation towards the Colonies, it also bore on the face of it manifest injustice towards those colonies which were in possession of legisla- tive assemblies. For, so long as we permitted them to have colonial legislatures to decide questions regarding those islands, so long it was unjust and illegal to dictate to those assemblies.
He adverted to the revenue derived from the Colonies ; which, he said, amounted to 7,000,0001. on goods imported, and 5,000,0001. on
goods exported. Be concluded by denying that in the observations he had made, he was actuated by any feelings of political hostility to the present Ministry. He had no wish to come before the Government with demands; he was content to sue in forma pauperis- They would be thankful for any assistance which they might obtain for the support of themselves and their properties on account of the recent misfortunes
at 13arbadoes and Jamaica ; but he begged to add, that they would be also thank- ful for that which they expected, for that which was their right as British sub- jects, and for that which they would strongly claim at the hands of his Majesty's Government,—namely, that protection which was due to every British subject
who lived under its dominion, and employed his capital and industry for the benefit and advantage of the country.
The Earl of Selkirk moved the first resolution ; which was seconded by Mr.. Watson Taylor. Mr. Taylor spoke with great animation on the subject of Colonial wrongs--
It was too much the fashion to depreciate in one way the interests of the Co- lonies; and this might be traced to the fanatical, fantastical, hypocritical speeches of a party to which the country had been unfortunately too prone to listen. He hoped to see the day when not only those who were immediately in- terested in the Colonies—not only those who lived in the mother country, and lived upon their Colonial incomes—but when every person who understood a national question, would be convinced that England, in every branch of its in- terests, was as deeply interested in this question as the colonists themselves. If the Colonies were injured, every interest in the mother country—the glory of the nation, and every resource and branch of commerce—would sympathize in that injury. If the West India connexions were despised, the arts, manufac- tures, and industry of England would be injured ; for they were vivified and in- vigorated by the capital which flowed into the Mother Country from the Co- lonies. Sorry was he to see that such invaluable interests were likely to be sacrificed to the fanatical hypocrites who had forced their notions on Govern- ment; and when they had ruined the country, those whom they had imposed on would turn round and say—" How could we have been so blind to a calamity, the importance of which we ought to have foreseen ?" They would sacrifice that which contributed to their resources in war, to the supremacy of their navy, and which tended to support every department which gave stability to the
country, which supported the arts, and which rendered society the greatest blessing.
Lord St. Vincent, in moving the second resolutiou, mentioned a fact which had fallen under his notice when resident in the West Indies— When he lived in Jamaica, no prudent man would venture to become the pro- prietor of slaves without consulting their feelings. If a gang of Negroes were to be purchased by a person with whinn they were unacquainted, they would send a deputation, to see the ground and houses which were to be allotted them ; and if they declared a repugnance to be purchased, no prudent man would become their proprietor. Facts like these ought to be known, for they could not be stated except in pamphlets, in which the reader could not understand them from ivant of local knowledge and sufficient explanation. The people of this ebuntry ought to know what the real system was against which such a clamour was raised.
Mr. G. Palmer, in seconding the resolutions, entered into a length- ened examination of the Parliamentary Returns respecting the ship- ping of the United Kingdom ; from which he deduced the inference, that the amount of tonnage employed in the West India trade alone, amounted to one-sixth of the entire foreign trade of the kingdom. He concluded with a calculation of the value of the West India trade— In the first place, there was employed by the Colonial trade a sum of 4,000,000/. annually; a sum which was distributed among the seamen and tradesmen of England. Then the amount of the manufactured articles of Eng- laud consumed in the Colonies was 5,500,000/. a year; while it appeared that the duties annually collected from West India produce amounted annually to at least 7,000,000/. This was a small sum, but still its sacrifice deserved consider- ation. It might be said—" Take away that amount from the revenue, and what is it ? It is but seven millions lost." 'True, it was so ; but he would beg to re- mind the meeting, that, like stopping the course of a narrow stream, the conse- quence of which might be the inundation of the neighbouring meadow, such an amount, though small in the first instance, might spread over the entire land, and, by changing hands, the seven millions might be eventually worth to the country no less a sum than nia,u00,000/.
Mr. Robinson, M. P. in moving the third resolution, noticed the great advantage derived from the West Indies by the North American Colonies, as well as by the mother country. Ile adverted, as the for- mer speakers had done, to the value of the export trade carried on with the Colonies; and concluded by deprecating any extension of foreign trade which would put it in hazard— Any attempt to sacrifice advantages actually possessed in Colonial trade, for any speculative profit of other foreign trail,, was the most mistaken policy that could possibly be pursued. England lvould 71I2VC1 provore it more general market for its manufactured articles than their Colonies then otiered. in the cotton, woollen, and hardware trade alone, the British Not ih American Colonies, inde- pendent of the West India Colonies, consumed more of English manufacture than was consumed by either Russia, Prussia, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, or France.
Mr. N. Gould spoke in terms of great bitterness against the Edin- burgh Review—a publication " established as a political party engine
under the mask of literature"—for the attempts Ivhich he attributed to it to divide the American and West India Colonists. He concluded With reading a long extract from Lord Brougham's work on Colonial
Polley; which showed, according to the former opinions of the noble Lord, that HO intercourse was so valuable as that which was maintained between a state and its colonies.
The fourth resolution was moved by :Ilia Hannan the banker ; and seconded by Mr. 0. F. Young. Mr. Irving moved the sixth resolu- tion; which Colonel Beresford (member for Berwick) seconded. Colonel Bcresford said— Ile had originally gone to the Slave Colonies with a strollg prejudice against slavery in the abstract, but his opinion had considet ably abated befiwe he left. The Negro's idea of emancipation was freedmn without labour. Every indivi- dual who knew any thing of those Colonies knew that this was the opinion of the Negroes, and that emancipation without utter idleness would be no boon to
that race. Anarchy and moral debasement would ensue if left to themselves
-without the capital of Europeans. (fader this Order in Council, the owner of property in the West Indies had to choose between giving it his property or being abandoned by this country, and left to the vengeance at a loose and im- moral rave of men. Of the inhumanity of leaving this half race to themselves, there could be no doubt ; and it was e(itcdly certain that Foreign Colonies would take advantage of our abandoning that branch of trade, and lose no time in pos- sessing themselves of the vacant benefit, by the extension of the African slave trade.
The sixth resolution was moved by Mr. Hibbert, mid seconded by Mr. Carrington. Mr. Carrington spoke with great bitterness against the Order in Council, as wholly opposed to the spirit of Mr. Can- ning's resolutions, and as most injurious to the property of the West Indies— If he understood any thing of what had taken place in the Colonies all the proceedings had been in direct opposition to the Orders. They had been con- sidered against all justice, and contrary to the good policy of this country. It was evident, therefore, that the Orders would have to be rescinded or revised, or at all events that there would have to be a Parliamentary inquiry into the subject. Parliamentary inquiry had been asked for before : this had occasioned delay; and the Government said, that in consequence of this delay in the pro- mulgation of the Orders, ample opportunities had been afforded for collecting all necessary information ; and in the end the Orders were such as ought forthwith to be circulated and acted upon. The Orders had been issued ; and he, for one, declared that if those Orders were to continue and to be acted upon, the pro- perty he had in the West Indies would assuredly be no longer worth holding. Similarly circumstanced would most of the individuals in that room be ; and then it would he for this country to consider how they were to frame such poor- laws as would support the starving population both in this country and the West Indies.
The other resolutions—five in number—were moved by Lord Sal- toun, the Honourable W. Lascelles, Mr. R. Pandas, Lord Reay, and Mr. Ward ; and seconded by Mr. E. H. Earl, Mr. R. Ellice (the Under Secretary's brother), Alderman Thompson, Mr. Colville, and Alderman Copeland.
A twelfth resolution was moved by a Mr. Nicholson—a gentleman in the midst of the hall—to the effect that Parliament should be petitioned to reduce the duties on sugar and on coffee ; by which, he contended, the demand for both would be doubled, and while the planters benefited, the Government would not suffer. This resolution was withdrawn, on the pressing entreaty of the Chairman. Lord Harewood said, it did not form part of the business of the meeting. A resolution for a petition to be presented to the King and the two
Houses of Parliament was then passed. Thanks were voted to the Chairman, and the meetirg broke tip.