Page images

We had forgotten to mention, that the fair young Princess here commemorated, was soon afterwards the Queen of England; and filled that station for half a century,

There are many letters of Lord Barrington upon the changes of ministry, so frequent during the early years of the late King's reign : they are remarkable for nothing but the jobbing character of their courtier-like, place-loving writer, and for the light they throw upon the conduct of the Duke of Newcastle, whose retirement from office, and general disinterestedness, form a remarkable contrast to the prevailing baseness of statesmen in those days. We regret, however, not having room to extract one, No. DIV. in which Mr Erskine gives a minute account of Lord Chatham's negotiation with the King in 1763, and in which that Prince's steadiness, bearing him through great difficulties, prevented him from being dictated to, and ended in supporting the administration against a truly formidable opposition.

There are some letters from General Conway and Lord Chatham, in 1766, upon the subject of a northern confederacy, to resist the power of France. It was apparently a plan, and a favourite one, of Lord Chatham. He wished Russia and Prussia to join England in heading this defensive league ; and a special envoy being sent to Russia, the minister at Berlin was desired to lay the project before Frederick. The following cabinet minute contains the outline of this scheme :

“ RESOLVED, That his Majesty be advised to take the proper measures for forming a Triple defensive Alliance for the maintenance of the public Tranquillity, in which the Crown of Great Britain, the Empress of Russia, and the King of Prussia, to be the original contracting Parties, with provision for inviting to accede thereto, the Crowns of Denmark, and Sweden, and the States General, together with such of the German, or other Powers, as the Original Contracting Parties shall agree upon, and as are not engaged in the Family Compact of the House of Bourbon.

“ Resolved, That it is the opinion of his Majesty's Servants, that Mr. Secretary Conway do take his Majesty's pleasure on a Letter to be immediately writ to Sir Andrew Mitchell, to acquaint him with the above Plan, and to inform him at the same time, it is the King's intention, that Mr Stanley, appointed his Majesty's Ambassador at the Court of Russia, shall go by way of Berlin, with a proper Credential to his Prussian Majesty; then in concert and conjunction with Sir A. Mitchell, more fully to open this measure ; and will set out for that purpose, as soon as Sir A. Mitchell shall have transmitted hither an Account, that his Prussian Majesty will view with pleasure this very confidential step on the part of His Majesty."

The success of this proposal at Berlin was little flattering to its authors; and we close our extracts with two passages from Sir Andrew Mitchell's letters upon the subject, which show both how deeply Frederick felt the treatment he had received from England in the peace of Paris, and how distrustful he was of a cabinet, which, after committing him with his neighbours, might be changed in a day, and thus leave him to escape as he could, while they remained safe in their own insular position. This consideration must ever cripple English negotiators; and, as it follows of necessity from our two great advantages-our physical situation and our popular constitution—there is no use in repining at it: on the contrary, it should point out to us the wisdom of keeping as clear as possible from Continental entanglements, and only following that line of liberal policy towards all foreign nations, which must at once secure to our rulers the esteem of the people abroad, and the affections of their subjects at home. .“ As I found the King of Prussia averse to enter into new and stricter connexions with England, as well on account of the usage he met with towards the end of the late war, as of the unsettled and fluctuating state our government has been in since the conclusion of the Peace, I made a proper use of your Lordship’s Secret Letter of the gth, of August, and urged his Prussian Majesty upon this point, that now by your Lordship's taking a share in Government the cause of his distrust was taken away, and therefore his diffidence ought to cease. He answered, I fear my friend has hurt himself by accepting of a Peerage at this time.

“I replied that though I did not know your motives, I was persuaded you could give a good reason for what you had done ; that I was not at all alarmed by the clamour and abuse thrown out against you on that account, as it was the effect of the arts and malice of your enemies, on purpose to discredit you with the People, who were easily misled by first impression and misrepresentations, but were as easily brought back again to their senses by right actions and a steady conduct; that I was persuaded this would be the case with your Lordship ; and to confirm what I said I mentioned to him what I had been a witness to, when by your Speech in Parliament you saved the American Colonies, and was abused most scurrilously as a traitor to your Country for so doing; that in a very short space of time, the People saw they had been deceived, acknowledged their error, and expressed their esteem, gratitude, and attachment to you in a stronger manner than ever they had done before; that this I hoped would be the case now, which brought to my mind what I had observed in the Field when certain great Officers never appeared in their full lustre but by recovering what was deemed desperate.

“ His Prussian Majesty, smiling, said, I understand your allusion, and hope it will be so.

“ After the Audience was ended, I took the liberty of observing to the King of Prussia that I remarked with regret, in the course of the conversation, that he had not spoke to me with the same freedom

and openness he was wont to do on former occasions, and that I sus· pected he had only given the specious not the real reasons for his disinclination to the Treaty proposed.

“ He answered with good-humour, that my conjecture was not absolutely without some foundation, and that he would own to me as a private man, that it was not easy for him to forget the ill-usage and injustice he had met with from our Nation at the time of making the last Peace, and he then enumerated particulars. I replied, that it was not candid to impute to the Nation the faults of private Men who were then unhappily Ministers; that there was now a fixed and settled Administration, whose way of thinking and acting was very different from that of their Predecessors; that whilst your Lordship was at the head of it, he could reasonably have no sort of diffidence ; that the Triple alliance proposed was a favourite measure of your Lordship's, which you had much at heart, for preserving the public tranquillity, and for uniting the interests of the King with those of his Prussian Majesty.

• The King of Prussia answered, I have a very high opinion of Lord Chatham, and great confidence in him ; but what assurances can you give me that he has power, and will continue in Office? I replied, I had not the least doubt of either, as your Lordship was now the darling of the King and People. His Prussian Majesty said, that does not agree with my accounts from England. I assured him of the truth of what I had advanced, and that I believed the contrary reports had been raised by your Lordship's enemies. He said he wished it might be so, but till he saw more stability in our Administration he did not choose farther connexions; and he concluded by adding, I have spoke to you with freedom as a private man, and expect, upon your honour, that you will not make a bad use of it; which I am sure of not doing in communicating this to your Lordship only, and desiring at the same time the most perfect secrecy.

“ I own the King of Prussia's conduct amazes me. I had hopes a little reflection would have shewn him his real interest, but vanity and caprice are often too strong for reason; and to these motives I ascribe the Answer he has given to the King's salutary Proposal, for I do not even suspect his having Views to an Alliance in another Quarter. If he is cool to our Nation, He has the French in abhorrence and contempt, of which he makes no secret. His Plan seems to be (if he has any) to stand unconnected upon his own Bottom, which experience might have taught him, is far from being a safe one."

We rise from the study of these very interesting volumes with renewed gratitude to the learned Editor, and new wishes that he may speedily continue his researches and selections. Where we differ with him, we have frankly stated our dissent; but of the usefulness of his labours, there can be but one opinion. We still observe many verbal inaccuracies, and could easily fill no small space with proofs of the transcriber's ignorance of the language of the times, and of the Editor's want of skill or diligence in correcting him. If he himself disdains the obscure labour of such a

correction, we would earnestly advise him to submit his future · selections to the revisal of some more exact and minute antiquary. " · Art. IX. Report of the African Institution for 1827. 8vo.

Hatchard. 1827.

THE great field of Colonial Policy offers few matters to our

1 view, more important at all times, but in the existing posture of affairs more peculiarly pressing upon our attention, than the situation of the people of colour. Those unfortunate persons form a very numerous class of our fellow subjects; and their industry and general good conduct render them still more worthy than their numbers to attract our notice. They are highly important in respect of wealth; and they suffer under privations entailed upon them by no fault of their own, but arising from the crimes and follies of others, and affixed to their colour by the decrees of colonial wisdom and humanity. Dr Lushington, the able, enlightened, and honest friend of oppressed men, of what colour soever, has lately added to the very great obligations he had before conferred upon the cause of justice and sound policy, by bringing before Parliament and the country this interesting subject, in a speech replete with enlarged views, animated by a spirit of true philanthropy, and tempered by an extraordinary portion of moderation. The same question which Dr Lushington so ably raised in the Commons, was afterwards most admirably stated in the Lords, and with great effect, by Lord Harrowby, President of his Majesty's Council. That enlightened, accomplished, and virtuous nobleman, has always approved himself the firm and powerful friend of the oppressed negro, in all the situations where his eminent talents have been exerted. We shall proceed, without further preface, to state the case which so lamentably adds one to the numberless examples heretofore gi. ven of the unfitness of West Indian Legislators to discharge their high functions, and of the absolute necessity which exists for the prompt and efficacious interference of the mother-country, in order to preserve her colonial empire from all the worst mischiefs that can result from power abused on the one hand, and vengeance long deferred and signally exacted on the other.

The important island of Jamaica was conquered from Spain during the brilliant period of the Protectorate, in the year 1655. Charles the Second, soon after his restoration in 1661, granted the island a charter, under which the House of Assembly was constituted. By that document, it is solemnly declared, that “ the children of subjects of England, to be born in Jamaica, “shall, from their respective births, be reputed to be, and shall “ be, free denizens of England, holding the same privileges, to “ all intents and purposes, as the freeborn subjects of England ;" -a superfluous grant, it is true, because, long before the Restoration, at the accession of the King's grandfather to the English Crown, the general principle had been solemnly recognised by the Judges in the famous case of the Post nati, (commonly called Calvin's Case,) that all persons born within the King's allegiance are natural-born subjects of the English Crown. Nevertheless, to remove all doubts, the grant is thus expressly made to all persons, without distinction of colour or race, and by the self-same instrument which constituted the Jamaica Legislature a lawful body.

Nothing appears to have been done against these rights during the reigns of Charles, James II., and King William; but, as if the good Queen Anne's time were fated to be in all parts of the world, America as well as Ireland, and to all subdivisions of persons, mulattoes as well as Catholics, the era of disqualification, either for opinions which they should not, and for complexion which they could not, change, in 1711 an act was passed, (10. Ann. cap. 4.) excluding from all public offices all persons of colour, Indians, and Jews. In 1733 this policy was further followed up by the act 6. Geo. II. disqualifying all persons of colour not in the fourth degree from the negro stock, from voting at elections. Previous to this period, a custom had been introduced of rejecting the evidence of coloured people against whites in every case; but it was doubted whether or not they could bear witness against one another. This doubt was solved in 1748, by the 21. Geo. II. cap. 7. which legalized the customary exclusion of coloured evidence in all cases against whites, but let it in as against each other.

Notwithstanding these serious disabilities, the mixed race grew rapidly in numbers and in wealth; for it was found by the House of Assembly in 1762, that property of between L.200,000 and L.300,000 in value, including four estates, had devolved to them by devise and bequest at different times. Men's affections, not to mention their feelings of justice, towards the innocent offspring of their love, lawful or illicit, were found not to obey exactly the dictates of West Indian policy; and legislative measures were required to force them into courses more congenial to the savage spirit which presided over those councils. The Assembly, accordingly, which derived its own existence and authority entirely from the same charter that gave the mulattoes all the rights of English subjects, “ to all intents and purposes, from the dates of their respective births,” passed a law, restraining their power of taking, by devise or bequest, to the value of L.2007 currency, and limiting their power of purchasing landed property to the same inconsiderable sum.

In 1713 the first attempt was made to exclude mulattoos

« PreviousContinue »