vernment of reform. They had been placed there as a security against the abuse of absolute power, for the benefit and protection of the natives; and in abolishing them, we removed the strongest guarantee for the good government of the people of that country. He altogether doubted the propriety or wisdom of the proposition for doubling the number of members of the council of the governor general. With the assistance of that council, the governor-general was to legislate for the whole of India. Now, it was plain, that they could not legislate for distant places as well as if they were on the spot; and it was obvious, that the advantages of those local legislatures which it was proposed to abolish, would not be supplied by this distant legislation. The Supreme Court, too, which had been placed there for the protection of the natives against the abuse of European power, was to be rendered useless, by being rendered subordinate to, instead of being, as it at present was, independent of, the governor-general. Of late years, certainly, some inconvenience had arisen from the independent jurisdiction of that court. Let them, then, restrict that jurisdiction if they pleased, but let them leave it, for all the purposes of good, independent, and untouched. Was every security hitherto given for protection to the natives of India thus to be swept away? Another part of the plan was, that Europeans should have full liberty of going into the interior of India. He would venture to say, that not a man hitherto in this country, that could give a colourable pretext for going to India had ever been refused a licence to go there, It was a great mistake

to suppose that capitalists went out to India. No British capital went out to India. The capital with which India was worked, was capital raised by the civil and military servants of the Crown in that country. Another part of the plan was, to place all persons in India under the same law. It would be utterly impossible to do that consistent with native usages and prejudices. If they were to alter the laws there so as to induce Europeans to live under them, they must, in doing so, violate all the prejudices and feelings of the natives, and, instead of producing satisfaction, they would excite abhorrence and disgust amongst the natives throughout the whole of India.

A bill, founded on the resolutions, having been brought into the House of Commons, was read a second time, without any division, on the 10th of July. Mr. Buckingham alone-who had first brought himself into public notice by complaining of the notice which his own proceedings in India had attracted from the local authoritieswho had then traversed the kingdom, lecturing on the enormities of the Company, and had, therefore, been returned, by one of the new constituencies, as a tried enemy of tyranny, protested against the principle of the bill, in so far as it continued to the Company the territorial government-a government which, in his opinion, had been utterly disastrous to the natives of India; and he moved, as an amendment, "That the confiding the political administration of our East-India possessions, with the interests of 100,000,000 of people, to the direction of a jointstock company, and taxing the natives of those countries for the

payment of the dividends of a mercantile concern, to the constantly-varying holders of EastIndia stock, is a question involving too many important considerations to be hastily decided on, more especially for so long a term as 20 years; and that, as the other business of the session is already more than sufficient to occupy the whole time and attention of the legislature to bring to a satisfactory completion, it is expedient that a short bill be passed for the opening of the China trade in April, 1834, and that all the arrangements which may be thought desirable for the administration of India should be deferred till next session." Nobody supported the amendment. In the Committee, a motion to reduce the period of the Company's possessions from 20 years to 10, was rejected; and the provisions for extending the influence and utility of the Anglo-Indian Church were carried, notwithstanding much opposition from those members who could not tolerate the existence of religion as an institution connected with civil government.

In the Lords, Lord Ellenborough objected strongly to the change which the bill would make in the constitution of the local government of India. It was proposed to deprive the subordinate presidencies of the power of sanctioning any expenditure, creating any of

fice, or increasing any salary, or of passing any act of legislature,nay, more, it was evidently the intention of this bill, that the Board of Control and the Court of Directors should have the disposal of the patronage now in the gift of the governors of the subordinate presidencies. The consequence of such an alteration would be to deter men of station and talent from accepting the office of governor of a subordinate presidency; so that, in the event of any future governorgeneral not possessing those high and commanding qualities which were necessary for the conduct of government, there would not exist, as had hitherto been the case, a body of men in India capable of directing the affairs of that empire. The House should bear in mind, that the use of these councils was, that they made it necessary for the reasons, on which any important act of government was founded, to be recorded, and the Government at home had thereby an opportu nity of knowing the opinions, not only of the governor, but also of those persons who had great experience in the government of India. He therefore moved, "That all provisions in the bill which went to alter the existing laws in the EastIndian presidencies, should be omitted." The amendment, however, was not pressed to a division.


Resolutions proposed by Government for the Abolition of Slavery in the West Indies-Debate on the Resolution to convert the Service of the Negro into a Compulsory Apprenticeship for a limited time-Changes in, and Debate on, the Compensation to be given to thee PlantrsBill brought in Division on the subject of Apprenticeships, — The periods of Apprenticeship reduced-Factory Bill-Debate onMotion for a Commission to collect Evidence-Motion of Ministers to refer the Bill to a Select Committee, lost-Motion of Ministers to extend the Hours of Working, carried-The Corn Laws.

NOTHER measure of still greater importance regarded the western dependencies of the empire-negro slavery. The excitement attending the Reform Act had not been neglected by the friends of immediate and total emancipation. Meetings were held; petitions were got up; the folly of expecting that anything would be done by the colonial legislatures was loudly insisted on; and Government found themselves compelled to apply themselves to the task of framing a measure for the gradual abolition of slavery, to avoid the necessity of opposing some ruinous scheme of crude philanthropy. On the 14th of May, Mr. Stanley, who had exchanged the secretaryship of Ireland for that of the colonies, explained the ministerial scheme to the Commons, in a committee of the whole House. After stating, that the increasing force of public opinion rendered it impossible to delay longer the consideration and settlement of the question, he entered at great length into a comparison of what parliament, at various times, had recom◄

mended and resolved, with what the colonial legislatures had done; ariving at the conclusion, that the latter had manifested no disposition to carry into effect the wishes and determinations of the mother country, and that if ever there was a case which justified the exercise of the paramount authority of parliament, it was when, as in the present instance, every means of remonstrance and warning had been used in vain. Government, therefore, had resolved to propose a plan which would insure the extinction of slavery, and manumit, not only future generations, but likewise the existing generation, while it would prevent the dangers of a sudden transition. They had not determined that the slaves should continue as they were for any limited number of years, and should then be unconditionally free; for they thought, that a period, in which the slave was left in such an undefined, unlimited, and uncertain condition, would be a period of anxious irritation to all parties-that it would be a period of great excitement, and probably

of much danger; above all, that it would be a period of unmitigated authority on the part of the master, and of determined and irresponsible disobedience on the part of the slave. It had been thought more safe and useful to place the slave, for a limited time, in an intermediate state of apprenticeship. He would be made to enter into a contract, by which his master would be bound to give him food, and clothing, and such allowances as were now made to him by law, or to give him in lieu thereof a pecuniary allowance. For this consideration he would be called upon to work for his master threefourths of his time; leaving it to be settled between them whether that should be for three-fourths of the week or of each day. The remaining fourth of his time he would be at liberty to transfer his labour, if he so thought fit, elsewhere; but if he were inclined to give it to his master, his master would be obliged to find him employment according to a fixed rate of wages. One of the great difficulties was, how to fix this scale of wages for free labour. How could any man in this country fix a rate of wages, applicable, he would not say to all the islands, but, to any two of them? Could the House say, that it would fling this question loose to the world-that it would leave the negro to work or no, as he pleased, and to satisfy himself, as a man easily could in a tropical climate, with a bare supply of the necessaries of life? În some of the islands it might be difficult to obtain even that; but in those where the quantity of land unoccupied was as great as the fertility which distinguished it, the wants of men, living in a tropical climate, would be so few,


that it would be impossible, under a system of free and unrestricted wages, that the state of society, as it now existed, should not come to an entire cessation. To remove the slave suddenly from labour, and to place him in a situation in which he would be called upon to provide for nothing more than the necessities of life, would be to extinguish labour-would be to extinguish civilization-in a word, would be to fling before the negro population the desire to recur again to savage life. He contended, that some restrictions in that measure were necessary, not only for the security of the master, but also for the welfare of the slave. fix the scale of wages was the dif ficult point. He could devise no better mode than that of compelling the planter to fix a price on the labourer at the time of his apprenticeship, and by enacting, that the wages to be paid by the master should bear such a proportion to the price fixed by him, that for the whole of his spare time, if given to the master, the negro should receive one-twelfth of his price annually. In this way the master and the slave would both act in reference to each other. If the master fixed a high price for his negro, he would have to pay him high wages in proportion to that price. If he fixed a low price, then, upon the payment of that price by any other person, on his behalf, the negro would be positively and absolutely free. The proposal, then, was, that the apprenticed labourer should give up to his owner three-fourths of the profits of his labour, in considera tion of the food and clothing which he received from him; that he should be at liberty, if he so thought fit, to give one-fourth of his labour

elsewhere; but that, if he gave it his master, whose interest it would be to receive it, he should receive for it an amount of wages proportional to the price set upon it by his master. The Government had thus divided the price for his freedom into so many instalments, that, at the end of twelve years, the full price put on the slave by the master would be paid to the master out of the proceeds of the slave's industry.

This measure, Mr. Stanley continued, must necessarily occasion loss to many of the West-Indian proprietors, and it was not fitting that on them alone should be thrown the loss arising from the destruction of a species of property, into the legality of which he would not enter, but which had been repeatedly recognised by parliament. From the returns of West-Indian property made to the Board of Trade, it appeared that the net profits arising from the cultivation of sugars was 1,200,000l. a year. The House had not equal data for calculating the net profits upon rum and coffee; but, taking them to amount to 250,000l. or 300,000l. a-year, the total net profits of West India property would amount to 1,500,000l. ayear. Ministers proposed to advance to the West-India body a loan to the amount of ten years' purchase of this annual profit, or, in other words, a loan of 15,000,000l. It would remain as a question with parliament, in what manner, and upon what condition, that loan should be repaid to the country. That sum might be considered equal to one-fourth of the proceeds of the slave's labour, and with that sum and the other three-fourths of his labour, the planter, at the end of twelve years,

would have received a just com→ pensation for the price of his slave, and for all the expense to which the slave might have put him for food and clothing. It was only right, however, to state, that, during that time, the planter would have to pay interest upon his loan, and to that amount he might perhaps be considered a loser. This remuneration must be borne either by the produce of negro labour, or by the revenue of the mother country, for it would not be fair or just to lay it upon the planters. There might be gentlemen who thought that you ought not to take any thing from the profits of the negro, so long as he continued a slave. In that opinion he could not concur. He thought, that taking a portion of their wages from them now, for the purpose of purchasing their freedom hereafter, would induce them to lay by some part of their earnings afterwards when they became free, would teach them habits of prudence and forethought, and would materially tend to their moral improvement. He thought such a plan much better than saying to them, “You shall work three-fourths of the day for your master, and your master's advantage; but for the remaining fourth, which belongs to you, you may work or not as you please, for in either case food and clothing will be provided for you." It might be necessary, likewise, to add to the provisions of the bill, that, the want of which had rendered all former enactments null and void-he meant, that it might be necessary to give to the executive some discretionary power. It might be necessary to distribute through the chartered colonies what already existed in the Crown colonies, nainely, stipendiary ma

« VorigeDoorgaan »