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Sir H. Parnell's amendment was put and negatived. The House then resolved itself into a committee, when Sir W. Burroughs proposed to limit the duration of the bill to six weeks after the meeting of the next session of Parliament; which was negatived, and the duration was fixed at one year.
It does not appear that any further proceedings took place during the passage of this bill through either of the Houses.
FOREIGN SLAVE TRADE.
On July 9th, Mr. Wilberforce rose to bring forward a motion, the object of which was to give weight to the executive power in its negotiations with foreign countries. He lamented to say, that among those powers which had declared their intention of abolishing the Slave Trade, there were no appearances of being disposed to carry the purpose into effect; and that the subjects of some of the powers were even engaged in carrying on this odious traffic. He was sorry to be obliged to state, that under the flag of America this trade was in some measure practised; that at Goree and Senegal it was vigorously pursued; that a charge had been brought in one instance against Holland; but that the great evil in which all others sunk into insignificance, was the trade now carried on for slaves by Portugal and Spain. The latter power seemed as if they almost intended to ridicule our efforts for the amelioration of the state of Africa. When we had particularly chosen a part of the coast for our efforts in introducing civilization, the Spaniards for their
purposes fixed upon the very same spot; and in consequence, great numbers of natives of Spain, or others who sailed under the Spanish flag, now frequented that quarter. In places where schools had been established, and efforts had been made to induce the chieftains to supply their wants by peaceful industry and legitimate commerce, the Spaniards now came to persuade them to return to their old habits by selling their subjects, or making war upon their neighbours. Ships are crowded beyond all precedent. As the persons engaged in this illicit traffic were apprehensive of being taken, they constructed vessels not calculated for stowage, but for quick sailing, whence the miseries of these unhappy beings were increased. In an instance it had been stated, that of 540 negroes embarked, 340 had died. Of the slaves procured by the Spaniards, the greater part were sent to the Havannah. By a paper which had been obtained by the Cortes, it appeared that there had been imported into that colony in eleven years, from 1799 to 1811, about 110,000, or 10,000 per year; and in the three last years the importation was much greater. The Spanish and Portuguese flags formed also a cover for the illicit traders of other nations. It had been decided by high authority to be law, that though Portuguese vessels might be found trading for slaves in parts which they had renounced the right to trade to, they could not be made a prize unless they had intruded upon our possessions. The ships of Spain, when questioned, often defended themselves, or anticipated attack by aggression. They
had, indeed, committed acts of piracy of the most flagrant kind. They had driven away the native merchants from the coast, to keep it clear for their horrible traffic.
After some further observations, Mr. Wilberforce concluded with moving, "That an humble address be presented to his Royal Highness the Prince Regent, most humbly to represent to his Royal Highness, that, in bringing to a close the other business of this session, a great and important duty stills remains to be performed by Parliament, that of again submitting to his Royal Highness, in the most dutiful but urgent terms, the expression of our continued and unceasing solicitude for the universal and final abolition of the African slave trade:
"That we are grateful for the efforts already made, and for the progress which we have had the happiness to witness, in the achievement of this great work : That we rejoice that, in all his Majesty's dominions, this wickedness is now for ever proscribed, and that our laws have stigmatized it by severe and ignominious punishment:
That we have seen, with unspeakable satisfaction, that so that so many of the other nations, under whose flag this criminal traffic had formerly been protected, had now joined in the same prohibition, and have contracted with his Majesty, and with each other, the obligation of persevering in it, as in a duty from which they never can be released: and that our confident expectations of the universal adoption of that prohibition have been greatly confirmed and strengthened by that memorable
declaration which was promulgated by the plenipotentiaries of all the principal powers of Europe, assembled in their general congress; a declaration which well became the just and powerful sovereigns in whose names it was issued; proclaiming to their subjects and to the world, their deliberate conviction, that "the African slave trade is repugnant to the principles of humanity and of universal morality;" and adding to that avowal, the gracious and solemn assurance of their earnest desire "to put an end to a scourge which has so long desolated Africa, degraded Europe, and afflicted humanity:
"That we must indeed deeply regret, that practices acknowledged to be of such a character should, even for an hour, be continued, and even tolerated under the sanction of any civilized and Christian government; but that it is impossible for us to doubt of that ultimate determination by which these crimes and miseries will finally be terminated: this engagement has been deliberately taken, and publicly and unequivocally announced, and its performance is imperiously required by every motive of interest, and of honour, of humanity, and of justice:
"That we beg leave, however, with all humility, to represent to his Royal Highness, that the actual attainment of this great object can alone discharge our country from the obligation of pursuing it with unremitted attention and with daily increasing earnestness; and that we cannot disguise from ourselves the painful certainty, that the intermediate sus
pense and delay not only prolong, but greatly augment, the evil which we are thus labouring to remedy:
"That it appears to us but too notorious, that these crimes, hitherto partially checked by the prohibition of so many just governments, and by the abhorrence of all good men, are now again renewed, and are carried on with fresh, and continually increasing activity; that many of the subjects of those powers which have concurred in the abolition, are found, nevertheless, still to pursue the some nefarious course; that the stipulations by which other governments have consented to put limits to this evil, stipulations purchased by this country at the price of large sacrifices, are constantly, and almost openly disregarded; while the protection of the only remaining flag under which this wickedness can now be carried on without limit or restraint, and the intervention of the only nation to which its continuance is indiscriminately permitted, are used, not merely to protect this horrible traffic in the extent to which that people formerly pursued it, but as a sanction to its indefinite increase in their hands, and as a cover for the breach of the laws by which all other civilized communities have restrained their subjects from embarking in it:
"That, in humbly submitting these painful circumstances to the humane and enlightened consideration of his Royal Highness, we are sure it cannot be requisite to dwell upon the other and great evils which they necessarily involve that this state of things
has led, by manifest and necessary consequence, to a system of armed defiance and outrage, a system utterly destructive of all peaceful commerce, insulting to legitimate authority, and, in its effects and consequences, little, if at all, short of open piracy: that this system also impedes, or rather it altogether frustrates, the just and benevolent endeavours of those powers, who are labouring to introduce among the natives of Africa the arts, and habits of civilized life; is productive of perpetual contest and irritation, leading not unfrequently to open violence between his Majesty's ships and subjects, and those of the sovereigns in amity and alliance with this country; and continually endangers even those relations, the maintenance of which is of the utmost moment to their interests and to ours, as well as to the general repose and tranquillity of Europe:
"To represent to his Royal Highness, that being deeply impressed with the magnitude of all these considerations, we earnestly entreat his Royal Highness, that he will be pleased to pursue with unremitted activity, those negotiations into which he has already entered on this most momentous subject; that he will establish for this purpose the most effective concert with those sovereigns, whose just and benevolent principles respecting it, have already been announced to the world in concurrence with his own; and that he will leave no effort untried to bring the present evils to a speedy and immediate termination, and thereby to prevent the future and still greater mischiefs
which their continuance must inevitably produce.
"That we confidently hope that his Royal Highness's urgent but friendly representations will produce their desired effect; yet that in justice to the great interests that are at stake, we cannot but feel it our indispensable duty, to express our confident expectation, that if all his Royal Highness's amicable endeavours should prove unavailing, the great powers which, at the congress of Vienna, so honourably announced to the world their abhorrence of the slave trade, as radically unjust and cruel, will deem themselves compelled by an over-ruling sense of duty, to adopt, however reluctantly, such a course of commercial policy, as, without infringing on the just rights of any other nation, will alone prevent their indirectly, but powerfully, contributing to the continued existence of this inhuman traffic:
"That there is one important truth, which we beg leave most earnestly to press on his Royal Highness's most serious attention, a truth which painful experience has too fully taught us, that, however strong may be the prohibitions of the slave trade, and with how great sincerity soever they may be issued, they will prove practically inefficient, unless some general concert for ascertaining and bringing to punishment the offending parties, be mutually established between the several powers, under whose flags this trade has been, or may be carried on:
"That we must once more declare to his Royal Highness, that in enforcing these considerations on his Royal Highness's most serious attention, we are actuated VOL. LIX.
not merely by the feelings of humanity, but by the positive dictates of duty and conscience : that it is by these motives, and not as claiming any superiority in point of humanity or of morals, that we are actuated in our earnest desires to obtain the co-operation of all other civilized nations : that, remembering how long and how largely this country contributed to augment the miseries, and perpetuate the barbarism of Africa, we cannot but esteem ourselves specially and peculiarly bound, not to leave that vast con tinent in its present degraded state, but to endeavour, so far as we may be able, both by our own conduct, and in concert with other powers, to repair the wrongs we have inflicted, by opening the way for the diffusion of those blessings which, under the favour of Providence, a legitimate commerce, and a friendly intercourse with the enlightened nations of Europe, cannot fail to introduce in their train."
Lord Castlereagh, while he complimented his honourable friend on his steady perseverance in the great cause in which he had so much distinguished himself, hinted at the difficulty of coming to an understanding with the two reluctant powers without a danger of injuring pendent negociations. He therefore would not enter into the subject at greater length at present, but would not oppose the address, because it expressed the sentiments of his Majesty's government.
Occasion was then taken by some menibers to give their opinions; but the address was agreed to without opposition..
The session of parliament con[H] cluded
cluded on July 12th, with the following speech from his Royal Highness the Prince Regent. My Lords and Gentlemen ; "I cannot close this session of parliament, without renewing my expressions of deep regret at the continuance of his Majesty's lamented indisposition.
"The diligence with which you have applied yourselves to the consideration of the different objects which I recommended to your attention at the commencement of the session, demands my warmest acknowledgments; and I have no doubt that the favourable change which is happily taking place in our internal situation, is to be mainly ascribed to the salutary measures which you have adopted for preserving the public tranquillity, and to your steady adherence to those principles by which the constitution, resources, and credit of the country have been hitherto preserved and maintained.
Notwithstanding the arts and industry which have been too successfully exerted in some parts of the country to alienate the affections of his Majesty's subjects, and to stimulate them to acts of violence and insurrection, I have had the satisfaction of receiving the most decisive proofs of the loyalty and public spirit of the great body of the people; and the patience with which they have sustained the most severe temporary distress cannot be too highly commended.
"I am fully sensible of the confidence which you have manifested towards me, by the extraordinary powers which you have placed in my hands: the necessity which has called for them is to me
matter of deep regret; and you may rely on my making a temperate but effectual use of them, for the protection and security of his Majesty's loyal subjects.
"Gentlemen of the House of Commons;
"I thank you for the supplies which you have granted to me; and for the laborious investigation which, at my recommendation, you have made into the state of the income and expenditure of the country.
"It has given me sincere pleasure to find that you have been enabled to provide for every branch of the public service without any addition to the burthens of the people.
"The state of public credit affords a decisive proof of the wisdom and expediency, under all the present circumstances, of those financial arrangements which you have adopted.
"I have every reason to believe that the deficiency in the revenue is, in a great degree, to be ascribed to the unfavourable state of the last season; and I look forward with sanguine expectations to its gradual improvement.
"My Lords and Gentlemen ; "The measures which were in progress at the commencement of the session, for the issue of a new silver coinage, have been carried into execution in a manner which has given universal satisfaction; and to complete the system which has been sanctioned by parliament, a gold coinage of a new denomination has been provided for the convenience of the public.
"I continue to receive from foreign powers the strongest assurances of their friendly disposition towards this country, and of