15 AUGUST 1846, Page 13


On the other hand, however, the diminutiveness of the means in comparison with the alleged end has some advantages. It is so far better than a somewhat larger but still inadequate mode of execution, that it will impose upon nobody. It is not at all events a snare or a delusion : it is hardly a pretence. Let the West In- dians and the British public understand, then, from better evidence than words what is the opinion of the Government (and espe- cially of ',Ord Grey, to whose department this question belongs) with respect to the means of enabling the British West Indies to compete in cost of production with the slave-countries. He says that he thinks they will do it, and that that is his object ; but, if we are to judge from what he does, or rather deliberately leaves undone, either he believes that there may be cheap production in the Bri- tish West Indies without a great immigration of labour, or he is more deficient than most men in the quality of knowing how to give effect to a principle. We incline at present to the former supposition : for, in the first place, it would be hard to believe that even Lord Grey's well-informed but incapable class Contains an individual made so devoid of executive judg- ment by the habit of always employing "my man of business," as to conceive that any great immigration to the West Indies can take place in consequence only of the removal of restrictions ; and, secondly, Lord Grey's speech on Monday last contains indica- tions that he does not consider a large immigration of labour by any means indispensable to cheap production in the West Indies. What he relies upon for that cheap production which he says is his object is not clearly stated by him ; but the whole tenour of his speech shows that he does not rely on immigration. Perhaps he may rely on "improved skill," or "better implements," or the still vaguer " nature of things " : but at all events an increase of labouring population is not his means of enabling the West In- dies to produce cheaply. We believe he would say so if asked in the House of Lords, "Do you, or do you not, deem a large and continuous immigration of labour requisite to cheap production in the West Indies ? "

Supposing the answer to be as plain as the question, and de- cidedly in the negative, the West Indians and others will learn what it is well that each class should know. The West Indians will understand that it is hopeless to expect from the present Government a comprehensive and sufficient measure of immigra- tion; and all that portion at least of the public which knows how a scarcity of population in proportion to land affects the cost of production when it is not counteracted by slavery, will perceive that Lord John Russell's settlement of the Sugar question has indeed a tendency to encourage slavery and the slave-trade. We have been very far from adopting the latter ground of com- plaint against his measure ; but then, we have assumed that whilst the great market of Britain was opened to the produce of foreign slave-labour on equal terms with that of our own free-labour Colonies, no pains would be spared by the British Government and Parliament to enable our own Colonies to compete successfully in the race. As it is—supposing, that is, nothing more is to be done for supplying the West Indies with labour than Lord Grey has announced—we cannot doubt that slavery will undersell free- labour in the British market. The very reverse of what Lord Grey desires seems to us inevitable.