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1850.

Its History

243

pression can be made upon Brazil, merely by treaties or by moral influence. Sir C. Hotham considers the Brazilian government to be powerless for this purpose. To pretend the contrary, would be to add the scandal of hypocrisy to our other scandals.

We could wish that this question had been more accurately understood as well as more logically argued. By many, the history of the case is misrepresented; by the great majority, the expenses to which the country is subject in maintaining the squadron are greatly exaggerated. Another class, in despite of the clearest evidence, persist in considering the coast of Africa as the grave of our officers and seamen. Let us take a rapid view of the real facts of the case. Sir W. Dolben's Act was passed in 1788, but the British slave trade was not abolished till 1807. During that interval, whilst we were ourselves participators in guilt, no efforts were or could be made at repression, But even after the Abolition Act, from 1807 to 1815, we continued inactive; and when we first put forth our strength, we must confess that we lacked wisdom as much as we lacked experience. Five or six ships, ill-selected and unsuited for the duty, were ordered to cruise off the African coast for the suppression of the slave trade. Till 1824, the smaller vessels were all removed from their stations during several months of the year, to avoid the rainy season. It cannot excite much surprise that the officer in command, on returning annually to England should report an enormous and undiminished slave trade. But even had the squadron been more efficient, its duties could but have been most imperfectly performed. Our treaties with foreign powers restricted all our operations. One flag or another was never wanting, under which the slaver was enabled to carry on his deadly trade. Diplomacy was compelled to exert itself to the utmost in the cause of humanity. Not only at Vienna, but at Verona and the other abouchemens des rois,' the honest feelings of the people of England, and the voice of their representatives, won step by step their honourable victories. It is, however, since 1830, (and principally through the untiring perseverance of Lord Palmerston) that our Foreign Office has become the successful instrument of engrafting into the international code of Europe the necessary enactments for giving life to the abstract resolutions of the Congress of Vienna; enactments which, if they were carried out with as much good faith by other nations as by ourselves, would by this time have rendered our labours no less easy than effectual. These steps, though uniformly progressive, could not be otherwise than gradual; nor was it till 1839 that we obtained authority to deal generally with slaveequipped ships, – that the protection of the Portuguese flag

represontrary imited peritatingly most sanguin of the

was swept away,— and that we were enabled to act with decision south of the line. The efficacy of our squadron was then also rendered more complete, not only from the amount of force employed, and the quality of our ships and of their armament (though Lord Aberdeen is justly proud of having left the armament 3000 strong, which he had found only consisting of 700), but from the strength which the squadron obtained through the treaty obligations which other countries had contracted with us. Our success promised to be complete. How far it was checked by the doubts suggested as to our legal powers during Lord Aberdeen's administration, - how far it has been lamentably disturbed by our alteration of the duties on sugar in 1842, and still more in 1846, it would delay us too long at present to examine. It is sufficient for our present purpose to show, by this reference to dates, - that so far is it from being true, as has been loudly asserted, that the experiment of forcible repression has had a trial of a quarter of a century—that on the contrary, the experiment should be considered as confined within the limited period of seven or eight years. During those years we unhesitatingly affirm its success to have surpassed the expectation of the most sanguine.

Great as has been the misrepresentation of the duration of the experiment, equally great has been the exaggeration of its cost. The annual expense has often been stated as above a million in

round numbers ; ' and very 'round numbers ' indeed they are, as the following table from the Admiralty office will prove:Estimate of the Expense of the Ships of War employed for the Suppression of the Slave Trade, so as to exhibit the Aggregate Charge to the Country for their Support in the Year 1846–47. Description of Charge.

Chargc. Estimate of the expense of the wages and victuals of the

crews of Her Majesty's ships of war employed in the

suppression of the slave trade, in 1846-7 Estimate of the expense of wear and tear of the hulls,

masts, yards, rigging, and stores supplied for the use of Her Majesty's ships employed in the above service, according to the statement received from the Surveyor's Department -

49,313 Estimate of the expense of wear and tear of the machinery

of Her Majesty's steam vessels employed as above, according to the statement received from the department of the comptroller of steam machinery

17,790 Estimate of the value of coals provided for the use of the

above steam vessels, according to the statement received from the storekeeper-general's department

14,287 Aggregate charge • £301,623 Admiralty, 13th Dec. 1847.

86.

1850.

Question of its Efficiency and Cost.

245

If we allow '200,0001. more for the incidental expenses,

cost about 25,000l. per annum (a sum which probably might be

men raging thief investies following a failure, "slave trade

the amount usually stated as the annual cost of the squadron. And with regard to its alleged unhealthiness, so nearly have European skill, science, and care baffled the climate, that the African station is now as healthy as the rest of our naval stations in the tropics. The second Resolution of the Lords affirms, that all the evidence goes to prove that the prevalent impression as to the general unhealthiness of the cruising squadron is * without foundation.'

The argument pertinaciously advanced against the maintenance of the African squadron declares, that it entails an immense cost on the nation without any result, the slave trade still raging the same as ever. We beg our readers to follow us through a brief investigation of the whole matter, when we -shall submit to them the following conclusions:

I. The squadron has not been a failure, inasmuch as it has materially diminished both slavery and the slave trade: were it withdrawn, these evils would enormously increase : and such increase would prove most disastrous to the human race, both in Africa and in Cuba and Brazil; condemning Africa to ruin and devastation, and filling Cuba and Brazil with a greatly augmented slave population, more cruelly treated than at present; while not only would the horrors of the middle passage continue as fearful as ever, but thousands of additional victims would have to undergo them.

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great objects are worth. For, in the first place, the expense, as we have just proved, scarcely exceeds one half of what has been represented. Whilst, further, were the squadron withdrawn, England would suffer from the destruction of her legitimate commerce with Africa, and from the total ruin of her West Indian Colonies, pecuniary losses far more than sufficient, even in a pecuniary point of view, to make her bitterly repent of her short-sighted economy.

We now proceed to the facts and reasonings, which have led us to each of these conclusions: and, we will begin with the inquiry whether the squadron has or has not effected a material diminution in the slave trade?- And further, whether that trade would not largely increase, if our vessels were withdrawn? .

The clearest solution of this question is to be found in the risks run, and in the gambling nature of the profits made, by the parties now engaged in the slave trade. The price of a full-grown male

80 enorm profit on onency of the

slave, in Cuba, at the present time, is 1001., and has been 125l.; while in Africa he would have cost from 101 to 201,—the cost of transit being from 31. to 41. more. In Brazil we believe that the price is generally lower than in Cuba; but our late envoy, Lord Howden, (one of the opponents of the squadron) states that a cargo, which is worth 5,000l. in Africa, fetches 25,000l. in Brazil, making 500 per cent. profit. This has been urged as an argument against the squadron, on the ground that so profitable a trade can hardly be exterminated by any measures whatever. But, a little reflection will show that these enormous profits evince the real efficiency of the squadron. For how comes it that the profit on one successful venture in the slave trade is so enormous ? Only because there are many cases of failure to set off against one instance of success. It is the success of the preventive system which has so greatly reduced the supply, that the price is proportionally enhanced. As it is obvious, then, that our system has thus artificially enhanced the price, it is equally obvious that, were we to give up that system, the price would fall to its natural level. Assuming this to be one-third of its present rate, there are solid grounds for believing that the demand, at that rate, would be almost boundless. The gulf opened for the absorption of human victims would widen year by year.

In the first place, the rapid consumption of human life on sugar plantations at all times secures a vast yearly demand for fresh importations. Even in the English West Indies, before emancipation, the slave population, amounting to 558,000 in 1818, diminished in twelve years by sixty thousand. * Now, in our West Indies, the women exceeded the men in number—there was no slave trade to fill up the vacancies -- the masters were Englishmen, -- and therefore English public opinion had its weight; also various mitigating measures had been introduced; yet even there, the population perished thus rapidly. How much more swift must be the mortality in Cuba and Brazil, where the women are infinitely less numerous than the men (on many plantations there are no women at all); and where the slave trade enables the planter, when he has wrung the last possible amount of profit from the muscles of his slave, to get a new one in his place. So frightfully does the system of using up' the slaves prevail even now, that, though the imported Africans are generally lads and young men, yet, on an average, they only survive eight years !

Since the slaves in Cuba and Brazil thus die off like rotten

* The manumissions are, of course, not included in this account.

1850.

Its Effect on Brazil and Cuba.

247

sheep' (to use an expression formerly applied to our own slaves in Demerara), and since their numbers can only be renewed by importation, the demand for fresh slaves from Africa, already very large, must be incalculably quickened, on the trade being once more thrown open. At present even, though slaves are so dear, were a million imported, within about eight years a million more would be required, to replace them. Were slaves cheapened by the removal of the squadron, the planters would of course be more reckless in the use of an instrument rendered less costly. More work would be forced from the miserable negro, while his lessened value would lead to more brutal treatment. The sick, the aged, would be neglected. The young would not be considered to pay the cost of rearing, nor the old the cost of support, and the extinction of life would proceed with unexampled velocity. Of course the yearly vacuum thus created represents a proportionally brisker slave trade.

Another consideration corroborates the conviction, that the removal of the cruisers would open a steady and almost unlimited demand. It is well known that vast tracts of land in Brazil, well suited for the cultivation of sugar, are at present unoccupied, solely because labourers cannot be purchased at a rate cheap enough for profit. Mr. Macqueen makes the following statement:– My belief is, unquestionably, from a deep con

sideration of the subject, and from my acquaintance with the • Western world, that the removal of the cruisers would extend the slave trade without bounds. There would be no bounds to it: I do not see where the bounds would be. For instance,

Brazil contains three or four millions of square miles of the • finest soil in the world; it would take a population of ' 240,000,000 to people it half as densely as Barbadoes.' * Were the slave trade left to itself, sufficient labour would be transported by degrees from Africa to bring this immense extent of territory into cultivation.f The slave market would never be glutted till this new and apparently insatiable demand had been supplied; and unless some miracle should suspend the usual laws of slave labour, the slave population on these

* Dr. Cliffe (himself a planter and slave-dealer) notices that if slaves were more freely introduced, the coffee plantations would mul

tiply ..... therefore, many people who have large holdings say, “I 6“ hope the squadron will continue,” simply because it will prevent such a great increase in the quantity of coffee.

† It may be asked where the capital can be found for the purpose ? But it is proved that English capital is already largely embarked in the Brazilian mines and plantations; this painful fact furnishes a conclusive reply

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