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old, their owners are obliged to provide for them; and although those owners had the right to separate them from their wives and families, and to remove them from their estates, it was a right that had almost grown into disuse, and certainly was not exercised so often, as the right to remove an English pauper from a parish in which he has not had the good luck to obtain a settlement. But although the condition of the Negro was in reality far from a bad one, yet the very name of Slave was so hateful to the ears of a free-born Briton, that many humane individuals, actuated by the best of motives, formed themselves into a Society for the express purpose of eradicating Slavery from every British Possession. This Society was instituted in January 1823. In that year great great efforts were made in Parliament in furtherance of its objects, and Mr. Fowell Buxton, who was one of the most active members of the association, undertook to bring the condition of the Negro Slaves under the consideration of the Legislature. He accordingly gave notice that he should submit a motion on the subject on the ensuing 15th of May.

This notice excited no inconsiderable alarm amongst the West Indian proprietors, who naturally dreaded a discussion, which was certain to be but imperfectly understood by the Slaves, and was therefore equally certain to excite in them exaggerated notions of the real intentions of the British Parliament. It seems, too, that Mr. Buxton himself received divers warnings of the perils which he was provoking for the white inhabitants of the West Indies, by agitating the question. That gentleman was, however, not to be deterred from proceeding; and while he expressed his conviction that the dangers likely to arise from the course which he was about to pursue were “much over-rated,” he declared that he felt sure that “the real blessings likely to accrue to "a million of men from the agitation” were such as it was impossible to “over-rate.” Time has shewn that if Mr. Buxton was correct in thinking that fear had magnified the dangers of discussion, yet that these dangers were much under-rated by himself, and certainly he was not wholly exempt from blame for introducing into his speech declamatory topicks of excitement, and arguments respecting the abstract injustice of Slavery, which if pushed to their legitimate conclusion, demanded an immediate decree of emancipation at whatever risk of destruction to the masters, and of ruin to the Slaves : such an immediate step Mr. Buxton himself had not enthusiasm enough to recommend; he was contented with suggesting, plans for ameliorating the condition of the Slaves, and a scheme for, what he called, the gradual, but what would have been


more properly designated as, the precipitate extinction of Slavery, by making free all children, born for the future of Slave Parents.

He concluded with moving as a resolution, “ that the state of Slavery was repugnant to the

principles of the British Constitution, and of “ the Christian Religion, and that it ought to be “ abolished throughout the British Colonies with “ as much expedition as might be found con“sistent with a due regard to the well being of “ the parties concerned.”

Mr. Canning rose immediately after Mr. Buxton had concluded, in the hope that by at once making known the opinions of the Government, he might restrain the warmth of debate on so « fearful

a question, on which he said the use of “ one rash word, perhaps even of one too “ ardent an expression, might raise a flame not easily to be extinguished.”

After pointing out the impropriety, not to say unfairness, of Mr. Buxton, in having recourse to the by-gone question of the Slave Trade as a topick of declamation, and remarking that the course pursued by that gentleman of addressing himself not to the judgment, but to the feelings of the House, was the one the least likely to lead to a satisfactory result, Mr. Canning entreated the Members to look at the then “ situation of the West Indies not as a popula~ tion accumulated by a succession of crimes,

“ but simply as it then existed.” We might deplore the crimes and condemn those who had encouraged their commission; but committed they had been with the sanction of the British Parliament, whose duty it then was to look at the subject not with reference to the crimes alone, but to the nature of that state of society which had grown up in consequence of their perpetration.

“Looking at the West Indies,” said Mr. Canning, “I find there a numerous black population “ with a comparatively small proportion of “ whites. The question, therefore, to be decided “ is, how civil rights, moral improvement, and

general happiness, can be communicated to “ this overpowering multitude of Slaves with

safety to the lives, and security to the “ interests, of the White Population ? For the “ attainment of so great a good as raising these “ unfortunate creatures in the scale of being, “ sacrifices ought undoubtedly to be made; but " would I therefore strike at the root of the

system-a system the growth of ages — and “ unhesitatingly and rashly level it at a blow ? “ Are we not all aware that there are knots “ which cannot be suddenly disentangled and “ must not be cut — difficulties which, if solved “ at all, must be solved by patient consideration “ and impartial attention, in order that we may



“not do the most flagrant injustice by aiming “ at justice itself.”

Having thus shewn that treating the question partially was inconsistent with true equity, Mr. Canning proceeded to analyze the Resolution, which he described as commencing with “a re“ cital which greatly embarassed him. It af. “ firmed · that the state of Slavery was repug« «nant to the principles of the British Consti"6" tution and the Christian religion.'

God “ forbid,” said he, “ that he who ventured to

” “ object to this statement should therefore be “ held to assert a contradiction to it! I do not

say that the state of slavery is consonant to “ the principles of the British Constitution; “ still less do I say that the state of Slavery is “ consonant to the principles of the Christian

Religion. But, though I do not advance these

propositions myself, nevertheless I must say, “ that in my opinion the propositions of the “ Honourable Gentleman are not practically " true.

If he mean that the British Constitu“ tion does not admit of slavery in that part of " the British Dominions where the constitution “ is in full play, undoubtedly his statement is “ true ; but it makes nothing for his object. If, “ however, he is to be understood to maintain “ that the British Constitution has not tolerated " for

years, nay more, for centuries, in the Colo“ nies the existence of slavery, a state of society

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