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was properly received in silence. It was hoped that the cause of quarrel was now removed. The supply of slaves being stopped, the planters must, for their own sakes, improve the condition of the existing stock; and their interests might be safely left to the Assembly and to time. This new hope seemed more reasonable than the last; but that it was not the less to be disappointed, the very next proceeding of the Assembly plainly showed. A Bill for the prevention of unlicensed preaching (framed, we presume, on the model of Lord Camden's draft), was brought in and rejected. They had not given up their own measure yet; and they were resolved that, by fair means or by foul, the disallowed law should still be the law of Jamaica. They therefore passed an Act, such as it had been usual lo pass from time to time, consolidating in one all former laws for the order and government of slaves; and in the middle of this Act they silently inserted a proviso which had never been inserted before,

ely, that no methodist missionary, or other sectary, or preacher, should presume to instruct the slaves, or to receive them in their houses, chapels, or conventicles of any sort or de

scription. This Act became law in Jamaica in November 1807, but was not forwarded to England in the usual course. As soon as it did arrive, it was of course disallowed, and (the better to provide against the repetition of sucli an act of treachery) the governor was forbidden to sanction any Bill touching on religious liberty, unless it contained a clause making it inoperative until specially confirmed by the Crown.*

Here, again, was a case from which the hopelessness of getting any good out of the Assembly might have been learned. If the wishes and recommendations of the Government, acting in accordance with the known views of Parliament, were to have any weight with them, this surely should have been decisive. Yet, mark the result! They promptly resolved that this new instruction was 'a violation of their birthrights;'~they had an indefeasible right to enjoy the immediate operation of such acts,

without the same being suppressed in their progress to his • Majesty by the arbitrary fiat of a minister,' (meaning the Governor's veto)--they would not submit to this—they would grant the usual provision for the troops for one quarter more; but after that, unless their grievances were redressed (i.e. unless the instruction were withdrawn), they would refuse it. This was a little too much, and that Assembly was dissolved. It would appear, however, that nothing is gained by dissolutions

6

* Journals, vol. xii. p. 153.

+ Ibid., vol. xii. p. 241,

*

in Jamaica. The new Assembly, indeed—so decidedly did Lord Liverpool refuse to withdraw the instruction-durst not openly re-affirm the original resolution. They intiinated their dissatisfaction, and re-asserted their right; but said nothing about the supplies.* They had, however, one trick left; and they were silently resolved not to be beaten. They passed a new Bill for the prevention of unlicensed preaching, containing the same forbidden and now twice-rejected provisions ; on the 14th of November (by what art we cannot learn) they obtained the Governor's assent to it;t and on the 15th they consented to vote the supplies for the troops!:

Such are the manæuvres by which a legislature 'co-operating' on the spot, may defeat a policy which it disapproves. During the fourteen years which had now elapsed since the Jamaica Assembly was first invited to assist in devising measures for the benefit of the negro population, they had so far prevailed against the direct, the repeated, the strictly constitutional resistance of a strong Government, backed, if necessary, by an overwhelming majority in the House of Commons, that this obnoxious law had actually been in force in Jamaica for separate periods, amounting in all to five years.

Yet we are still called upon to seek the accomplishment of our hated purposes, by trusting it to them!

It is perhaps to be regretted that this last act of contumacy did not lead at once to an open and final rupture. But such a quarrel was not forced upon the Government, and they did not choose to seek it. The Assembly, knowing that the law would be disallowed as soon as it reached England, had enacted it for one year only, and it expired a few weeks before the disallowance reached Jamaica. They did not venture to renew it. They had found by this time that a fresh season of patience had set in upon the good people of England; and they could best effect their own purposes by avoiding any further collision. The missionaries might be silenced by other means than legal ones. The matter, therefore, was permitted to drop. Session after session the people waited, and the slave code remained unaltered. At last, they became sensible that something more must be done. Eight years had elapsed since the passing of the Abolition Act, and not one of those measures had been adopted by the Jamaica Assembly which their friends had promised, in 1797, that they would adopt at once if they were but asked to do so. In 1815, therefore, Mr Wilberforce proposed his Slave Registry Bill; and the revived threat of Parliamentary interference reminded them of the expediency of seeming to be

* Journals, vol. xii. p. 251.

+ Ibid., p. 275.

# Ibid., p. 277.

doing something for the amelioration of the condition of the negroes. The subject was dealt with in an elaborate Report drawn up towards the close of that year; which is interesting as giving their own account of what they had done for that object, since the matter was first agitated in Parliament. By their own showing, they had done nothing. To prove the charge of inattention to the welfare of the negroes groundless, they appeal—to what? to a succession of Acts for humanizing their condition, raising their morals, enlightening their minds, securing them more effectually against oppression ? By no means: no such Acts existed. They appeal to an Act for their better order and government, passed in 1784!—to that Act of which Burke spoke in 1792, when he said—I have seen what has been done by the West Indian * Assemblies. It is arrant trifling. They have done little; and

what they have done is good for nothing, for it is totally destitute of an executory principle.'* To this Act they appeal in 1815, as containing every thing needful for the good of the servile popula

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Mr Wilberforce's Bill was, of course, denounced with the usual epithets. But the passion for conciliation had not yet abated. Gentlemen, who understood the feelings of the Colonial Assemblies, were as ready as ever with assurances, which Ministers were as ready as ever to confide in, that in their hearts they were anxious to pass such a Bill. In virtue of these promises the measure was withdrawn, and the subject was recommended to the consideration of the Assembly, with a warning which, since the Abolition Act, had acquired some significance;-namely, that should the recommendation be wholly disregarded, or should some measure be adopted altogether nugatory, however much, in the present agitated state of the population in the West Indies, the interference of the British Parliament was to be deprecated on a question of this description, his Majesty's Ministers were 6 persuaded that this interference could not be effectually resisted.'! This was to the purpose. To avoid this dreaded interference, and put off for an indefinite period the adoption of effectual measures, they must at least pretend to be doing something. And let us now enquire how they sped in so novel an enterprise.

First, they passed a Slave Registry Bill, which, though not perfect, was eagerly hailed as a pledge of the best intentions in the world--as the commencement of a new era of justice and liberality. In fact, it was so far from perfect, that it might almost

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* Burke's Works, vol. ix. p. 283. + Journals, vol. xii. p. 791.

Minutes of Assembly, 1816. p. 18. VOL, LXIX. NO, CXL,

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have been described as nugatory. The object was, to prevent the smuggling of slaves into the island: it was to be effected by compelling every owner to send in periodically a return of the names and descriptions of all the slaves in his possession. Of course, the eficacy of the measure depended upon the accuracy of these returns. But this Bill provided no suflicient regulations for identifying the persons named in the return; nor any security against the falsification of their numbers. A slave-owner, therefore, who intended to increase his stock, could escapo detection by simply returning the names of as many slaves is he expected to have before the :05 mansus. For the purpose in view, this Bill was worth little or nothing. Secondly, they passed a revised Slave ! ; conting little new except a clause probibiting the purchase of slaves by middlemen-a real improvement, though a slight one; and another, enlarging the powers of vestries, as a council of protection for negroes wronged by their masters—a clause practically wortliless, because the vestries consisted of masters. Thirdly, they passed an Act for appointing twelve additional curates, making the number of clergy in the island twenlyfour-about one clergyman to every 14,000 slaves;-an inprovement certainly, but so utterly inadequate, that it could hardly makoitsell felt as a practical benefit: an admirable show measure, but not a working one. Altogether, the improvement was not considerable. Still, they were all steps in the right direction, and were hailed with applause as promising marvellous things. The defects in the Registry Bill were ascribed to inadvertence; the animus was inferred from the rest. The age of liberality and justice was setting in in earnest, and the people need only wait to hear of the good things tbat were coming to the negroes. So they waited for seven years more; and then they inquired whether any thing had been done; and the answer was, in this as in all former cases, no!hing.

Now came the question, How long was this to last? Was Slavery, or was it not, to continue for ever? Filteen years had now passed, since, by the abolition of the Slave Trade, it was supposed to have become the interest of the planter's tó adopt such measures as might gradually prepare the slave population for freedom; and in Jamaica, at least, no such measures had been taken. In 1823, the prospect of ultimate emancipation seemed no nearer than in 1807. Such being the history of sormer hopes, what mere mockery to renew them now! Surely now, at least, Parliament would assume anothier tone, and insist upon the preparatory measures being passed at once. But it was not to be so. After so many trials, all ending in disappointment, it was yet determined to try one more. General resolutions were

passed by Parliament ; specific measures were to be proposed by Government; the Colonial legislatures were to be recommended to adopt them: should they refuse contumaciously, it would be then time to take further measures. Such was the result of Mr Buxton's motion in 1823. Once more the co-operation of Jamaica was to be sought by conciliation; once more her friends in England came forward with liberal promises on her behalf; once more, let us ask, what was the result?

The result was not long in coming. The resolutions of the House of Commons, indicating the general wishes and views of Parliament, were laid before the assembly; and were answered by an angry protest, and a flat refusal to comply. So long as the right of unqualified legislation was denied, the House

could not yield to any measure proposed for their consideration; • however specious the object might be, or however high the authority from which it emanated.'* Was not this enough? Simple admonition had always been unavailing; to give the admonition weight, you accompany it with a menace; and now you are told that, until that menace be withdrawn, your suggestions cannot even be taken into consideration. Surely if authority is to be used at all, it should be used now.

But no: not yet! That would be to unveil the transcendental majesty—to take the arcanum out of the penetralia. Gentler methods were not yet exhausted. It was true that argument and persuasion had been tried in vain ; true, that suggestions had been rejected as dictation: advice resenäed as unjustifiable interference; the declared wishes of the Parliament and the people of England entertained with contumely; their resolutions and deliberate determination answered with defiance; -true, that the show of compliance which the dread of parliamentary interference had extorted, was too plainly a mere pretence; true, that year after year had passed away since our eyes were opened to the iniquity of the system, leaving us still burdened with the sin, the shame, and the growing danger involved in il-a burden which a word would relieve us from ;-but all was not done yet: one course yet remained, 'the slow and steady course of tempe• rate but authoritative admonition.'+ Here, then, was a new experiment, or series of experiments, to be entered on, which certainly could not be tried out within any assignable period, and might easily be made to last for ever. With a view to the question before us, the results of this experiment (though we have

* Parliamentary Papers, 1824, No. 2, p. 7.

+ Mr Canning's speech in 1824.

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