Imágenes de páginas

the deepest retirement, in the darkest recesses of the most depraved heart."—Me. Wilberforc E's Speech.

Mr. Fox said, "There was one way, and an extremely good one, by which any man might come to a judgment on these points—Let him make the case his own. What, said he, should any one of us, who are members of this House, say, and how should we feel, if conquered and carried away by a tribe as savage as our countrymen on the coast of Africa shew themselves to be? How should we brook the same indignities, or bear the same treatment ourselves, which we do not scruple to inflict on them? Having made this appeal to the feelings of the House, Mr. Fox proceeded to observe, that great stress had been laid on the countenance that was given to slavery by the Christian religion. So far was this from being true, that he thought one of the most splendid triumphs of Christianity was, its having caused slavery to be so generally abolished, as soon as ever it appeared in the world. One obvious ground on which it did this, was by teaching us, That in the sight of their Maker all mankind are equal. The same effect might be expected also from the general principles which it taught. Its powerful influence appeared to have done more in this respect, than all the ancient systems of philosophy ; though even in them, in point of theory, we might trace great liberality and consideration for human rights."—Mr. Fox's Speech. standing below her, with a lighted torch in his hand, which he applied to all the parts of her body as it approached him. What crime this miserable wretch had perpetrated, he knew not; but that was of little consequence, as the human mind could not conceive a crime in any degree warranting such a punishment."—Mr. Fox's Speech.

"A Gentleman, (Mr. Ross, as appeared in evidence,) while he was walking along, heard the shrieks of a female, issuing from a barn or out-house; and as they were much too violent to be excited by any ordinary punishment, he was prompted to go near, and see what could be the matter. On looking in, he perceived a young female, tied up to a beam by her wrists, entirely naked, and in the act of involuntary writhing and swinging, while the author of her torture was

[ocr errors]

Mr. Fox founded his argument on the grand basis of justice. Mr. Pitt demonstrated the impolicy of the trade. But if it was impolitic in the year 1791, it is doubly so now. It is proved to be the slaughter-house of our mariners. If, in other branches of foreign trade, there were a proportional mortality among our seamen, it is proved, that at the end of six years, we should look in vain for a single mariner to man our wooden walls. But the omnipotent fiat of Commerce hath said, Let there be slavery.

The House of Commons took a fit of compunction one year. They passed a resolution, that the slave-trade should be abolished at or before the end of a few years. Afterwards they threw out Mr. Wilberforce's bill, and passed a law for regulating the stowage of human cargoes. The merchants had sworn that this law would be ruinous to their trade ; yet we still see their trade flourishing in the face of their perjuries. We still see 80,000 men, women, children, and infants, year after year, stolen, transported, sold, and dispersed among the West-India planters. Archdeacon Paley justly observes, that "the slave-trade destroys more in a year, than the inquisition does in a hundred, or perhaps hath done since its foundation." Such being the case, we may talk of our public virtues,—we may contrast them with the crimes of the Corsican Bravo,—we may compare the erect spirit of a British Legislature with the vermicular servility of what is called (strange prostitution of language !) the Senate of France :—But, alas ! when N

we think of the slave-trade, our public virtue requires ah the deformity of the French foil to set it off. Bonaparte deserves, no doubt, to be ranked among the most atrocious class of murderers, since poison is sometimes his instrument;—witness Toussaint's fate. But, are we much better? Guinea-captains, heavy irons, apprentice-surgeons, scourges, live coals, thumb-screws, fetid air, these are some of the instruments with which our commercial executioners commit their regulated murders. Most merciful guillotine! how hast thou been calumniated! calumniated, too, by the owners of those floating scaffolds which traverse the ocean in quest of their victims; those fiend-constructed arks into which every species of human misery is crowded. And who are the owners of these tremendous engines? Very honourable men; men who are thorough merchants; men who buy a lot of character now and then, when it is cheap, and especially when it is sold by that species of auction called sub~ &cription; men who with one hand put a thou

« AnteriorContinuar »