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The plan adopted in the examination of Mr. Stephen's work not having ad-
That there is not room for improvement in the colonies as elsewhere, it would be absurd to suppose; and it is by no means my object to defend either the colonists, or their laws, as perfect. On the contrary the reader will find, that I have noticed several things which I disapprove of, and have suggested not a few improvements, or what I should deem improvements, on their laws. It does not follow, however, because the system in the colonies is not perfect and may be improved, that it is what Mr. Stephen describes it—'a system uniting in itself every 'species of oppression that has elsewhere existed ‘under the sun, and with many aggravations as much beyond example as excuse.' For my own part, I have no hesitation in saying, that if one-twentieth part of the horrible things he charges the colonists with were true, scarcely could any sacrifice be too great to wipe from the face of the earth so iniquitous, so dreadful an oppression. Fortunately for humanity, his delineation of the slavery in our colonies, is, as I trust I shall be able to shew, as mere a fiction as malice ever forged, or a diseased state of mind brooding over a creation of its own, ever in dotage mistook for a reality.
It is well known, that the greater part of Mr.
Stephen's work was written so long ago as before the abolition of the African trade in slaves, 'to promote ' which measure, was its main original object,' as he has himself informed us in his letter to Mr. Smith; and though a greater change has since taken place in the general aspect and condition of the West Indian labourers, than I believe in any other part of the known world, or than perhaps could be paralleled in any age of the world; yet all this improvement is denied by Mr. Stephen, and his reasonings founded on the then state of things are now printed as though they were still applicable, and as if charges which were either without foundation or grossly exaggerated then, were well founded now !
Many of those charges indeed, though they were never before embodied in a systematic form, or stated with so much eloquence, had been long before the public in speeches, reports, pamphlets, &c. and had been again and again refuted. That, however, is not considered any reason why they should not still be brought forward with all the confidence of truth, for there is a power,' says Mr. Stephen, ‘in ' reiterated public defamation, of which the innocent who have never been the victims of it, are not
aware. In this land of libels, the purest and best “known character is not safe. It has been justly ' said on a late public occasion, in a quotation I think • from Mr. Burke, that by publishing the same ca'lumny every day in the year, it may be so effectu‘ally forced into circulation and credit, that even its ‘own inventor himself may be brought to believe it.'