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of the pre
lonial prosperity is demonstrated by the Assiento Treaty in 1713, with which the colonies had nothing to do; and in which Great Britain binds herself to supply 144,000 slaves, at the rate of 4,800 per annum, to the Spanish colonies. From that time till within a few
years sent time, our history is full of the various
and grants, which passed for the encouragement and protection of the trade.
• So much as to those who created and fostered the trade: and now let us see, who it was that first marked it with disapprobation, and sought to confine it within narrower bounds.
• The colonies began in 1760. • Great Britain rejected this South Carolina (then a British act with indignation, and decolony) passed an act to pro clared that the slave trade was hibit further importation ; but beneficial and necessary to the
mother country. The governor, who passed it, was reprimanded ; and a circular was sent to all other governors, warning them against a similar
offence. The colonies, however, in • Great Britain stopped it, 1765, repeated the offence through the governor of that and a bill was twice read in q
island, who sent for the assemthe assembly of Jamaica, for bly, and told them, that conthe same purpose of limiting sistently with his instructions, the importation of slaves; he could not give his assent: when
upon which the bill was dropped.
• The colonies, in 1774, Great Britain again resisttried once more; and the as ed the restriction. Bristol and sembly of Jamaica actually Liverpool petitioned against passed two bills to restrict the it. The matter was referred trade; but
to the Board of Trade, and
that board reported against it. • The colonies, by the agent of 'Great Britain, by the mouth Jamaica, remonstrated against of the Earl of Dartmouth, then that report, and pleaded against president of the board, anit on all the grounds of justice swered by the following deand humanity; but
claration :-“We cannot allow the colonies to check or discourage, in any degree a traffic so beneficial to the
nation.” And this was in 1774 ! • It is presumed, after this, not many persons will be disposed to contend, that Great Britain has not had, at least, an equal share in establishing slavery with those who happen now to be the actual owners of slaves.
• But still there are some points to be closely examined before we shall venture to pronounce, that the claim for compensation rests on the strictest grounds of justice.
• To make that claim absolute it must be shown, that the thing which is required to be surrendered is not merely a system which afforded the means of prospective gain, but that it is absolutely a property in possession, and held by the same right by which all other property is held — the law. Closer than this it does not seem possible to draw the line; and here lies the distinction, between the present claim, and that which was made at the time the slave trade was abolished.
• The claim then made (but which was urged much more strenuously by the British slave merchant than the planter) was not a claim for property in possession. The slave trade could not be property, though it might be the means of creating property. The right to trade had been permitted by law, but no engagement had been made, that it should be permitted for
Those, who trusted in its continuance, trusted at their own risk, and when it was prohihited, what they lost was not a vested property, but the chance of contingent gain; whereas, what will be taken here, is that which the law has sanctioned as property for ever.
• A very respectable author (Mr. Clarkson) contends against this claim of property, upon a ground which it is not necessary here to dispute. His argument seems to be, that such property cannot be created even by law, since it is contrary to the first principles of our nature (which are anterior and superior to all law), that one man should have property in another man. Be it so, but what then? This would justify the slave in regaining his liberty by any means he could employ, since he had been unjustly deprived of it. But in the question of compensation, the slave is no party. That question lies wholly between the
proprietor and the Legislature, which has constituted the property. The law must be binding, at least on those that made it. If the Legislature, with a view to national advantage, has committed injustice, and now, with a view to national justice, would repair the wrong, it is for the nation to pay the price of its wrong, and not for the individual who acted in conformity to the law. To fix on the present proprietor the cost of redeeming the acts of the nation at large, would be concluding a series of injustice to Africa by an act of injustice to a portion of your own subjects, with regard to whom your first laws would have been a fraud, and your last would be a robbery.'
• CHAPTER II. — On the persons who are subject to slavery in our colonies.' p. 27.
Who these are, might have been told in few words: the negroes whom English merchants, trading under the sanction of the British parliament, carried from Africa and sold in the colonies as slaves, and the descendants of such slaves.
By the following extracts we learn, that the condition of the African slave in our colonies is much aggravated, beyond every other description of slavery, not only by the white skin, but strange to say, by the elevated and superior intellect of his master: and moreover, that negroes and mulattoes make better masters than educated white people!
• The negro is not more opposite to his white-skinned lord in complexion, than in manners, and intellectual attainments; the one is degraded by all the ignorance and rudeness of his native Africa; the other elevated by the refinements in arts and manners at least, if not also by the science, of Europe,' p. 28. • It would, perhaps, be too much refinement, if we were to suppose that the great comparative mildness of the Portuguese and Spanish slavery may have been in some degree influenced by a nearer approximation in colour between the masters and the slaves than is found in the Dutch and English colonies, where the state is confessedly the worst.' p. 32.
men, or free
*If it be asked then, why are free negroes and mulattoes said Are Englishto be the worst masters? I answer, only because every thing
negroes and is said, whether true or false, by the oppressors of the African malattoes, the
that may serve to diminish our sympathy with those whom masters ? they oppress. The statement is untrue; nay, it is the reverse of truth.' p. 32.
Therefore negroes and mulattoes must be the best masters to negro and mulatto slaves !
It is almost unnecessary to observe how much this assertion is the reverse of truth;' no person, who has the least knowledge of the West Indies, can be ignorant that negroes and mulattoes make the very worst masters, or at all events that the
slaves, who ought to be the best judges, think so. I have frequently known free persons of colour, and also slaves, very anxious to purchase slaves, but unable to do it, from the universal abhorrence negroes have to belong to such masters; for, notwithstanding the misrepresentations made to the contrary, it is very seldom that a slave is transferred from one person to another, but with his own free consent and approbation. It would be painful for the seller to act otherwise when parting with his people; and extremely hazardous to the purchaser. What then comes of the theory that the Portuguese and Spaniards make better masters than the English and Dutch in consequence of having darker complexions? For, in this case, free negroes and mulattoes would make the best of all masters, whereas, in truth, they make the worst.
But this assertion, like others, will answer Mr. Stephen's purpose, if the British public will only believe, that West India slavery is the worst that ever existed in the world ; that English slavery there, is yet more cruel than that of any other country; and that the better educated and more enlightened the master, the worse it is for the slave. The negroes argue in a different way. They dislike to belong to free persons of colour, or even to low ignorant whites, because, as they briefly but pithily express it, “they are too spiteful. If a white person punishes them for a fault, they say, there is no more of it; but if they once give