« PreviousContinue »
staked themselves, their wives, and their chil- system which has become the admiration of the dren.” Every one of these sources of slavery world. From all these blessings we most for. has been stated, and almost precisely in the same ever have been shut out, had there been any truth terms, to be at this hour a source of slavery in in those principles which some gentlemen have Africa. And these circumstances, sir, with a not hesitated to lay down as applicable to the solitary instance or two of human sacrifices, fur- case of Africa. Had those principles been true, nish the alleged proofs that Africa labors under we ourselves had lenguished to this hour in that a natural incapacity for civilization; that it is miserable state of ignorance, brutality, and deg. enthusiasm and fanaticism to think that she can radation, in which history proves our ancestry to ever enjoy the knowledge and the morals of Eu- have been immersed. Had other nations adopt. rope; that Providence never intended her to rise ed these principles in their conduct toward us, above a state of barbarism ; that Providence has had other nations applied to Great Britain the irrevocably doomed her to be only a nursery for reasoning which some of the senators of this slaves for us free and civilized Europeans. Al very island now apply to Africa ; ages might low of this principle, as applied to Africa, and I have passed without our emerging from barbashould be glad to know why it might not also rism; and we who are enjoying the blessings of have been applicd to ancient and uncivilized British civilization, of British laws, and British Britain. Why might not some Roman senator, liberty, might, at this hour, have been little su reasoning on the principles of some honorable perior, either in morals, in knowledge, or refinegentlemen, and pointing to British barbarians, ment, to the rude inhabitants of the coast of have predicted with equal boldness, "there is a Guinea. people that will never rise to civilization—there If, then, we feel that this perpetual confinement is a people destined never to be free--a people in the fetters of brutal ignorance would Her duty to without the understanding necessary for the at have been the greatest calamity which bolo to AT. tainment of useful arts; depressed by the hand could have befallen us; if we view with rica. of Nature below the level of the human species; gratitude and exultation the contrast between the and created to form a supply of slaves for the peculiar blessings we enjoy, and the wretchedness rest of the world.” Might not this have been of the ancient inhabitants of Britain ; if we shudsaid, according to the principles which we now der to think of the misery which would still have hear stated, in all respects as fairly and as truly overwhelmed us had Great Britain continued to of Britain herself, at that period of her history, the present times to be a mart for slaves to the as it can now be said by us of the inhabitants of more civilized nations of the world, through some Africa ?
cruel policy of theirs, God forbid that we should We, sir, have long since emerged from bar- any longer subject Africa to the same dreadful Contrast of her barism. We have almost forgotten scourge, and preclude the light of knowledge,
that we were once barbarians. We which has reached every other quarter of the anged in keep
are now raised to a situation which globe, from having access to her coasts.
exhibits a striking contrast to every I trust we shall no longer continue this comcircumstance by which a Roman might have merce, to the destruction of every characterized us, and by which we now charac- provement on that wide continent; imating pria terize Africa. There is, indeed, one thing want- and shall not consider ourselves as charge of Wiis
duty ing to complete the contrast, and to clear us al- conferring too great a boon, in restortogether from the imputation of acting even to ing its inhabitants 10 the rank of human beings. this hour as barbarians; for we continuo to this I trust we shall not think ourselves too liberal, hour a barbarous traffic in slaves ; we continue if, by abolishing the slave trade, we give them it even yet, in spite of all our great and undenia- the same common chance of civilization with ble pretensions to civilization. We were once other parts of the world, and that we shall now as obscure among the nations of the earth, as allow to Africa the opportunity, the hope, the savage in our manners, as debased in our mor- prospect of attaining to the same blessings which als, as degraded in our understandings, as these we ourselves, through the favorable dispensations unhappy Africans are at present. But in the of Divine Providence, have been permitted, at a lapse of a long series of years, by a progression much more early period, to enjoy. If we listen słow, and for a time almost imperceptible, we to the voice of reason and duty, and pursue this have become rich in a variety of acquirements, night the line of conduct which they prescribe, favored above measure in the gifts of Providence, some of us may live to see a reverse of that picunrivaled in commerce, pre-eminent in arts, ture from which we now turn our eyes with foremost in the pursuits of philosophy and sci- shame and regret. We may live to behold ihe ence, and established in all the blessings of civil natives of Africa engaged in the calm occupasociety. We are in the possession of peace, of tions of industry, in the pursuits of a just and le. happiness, and of liberty. We are under the gitimate commerce. We may behold the beams guidance of a mild and beneficent religion; and of science and philosophy breaking in upon their we are protected by impartial laws, and the land, which at some happy period in still later purest administration of justice. We are living times may blaze with full luster; and joining under a system of government which our own their influence to that of pure religion, may illu happy experience leads us to pronounce the best minate and invigorate the most distant extrem, and wisest whir'h has ever yet been framed; a lities of that immense continent. Then may ve
present condi tion, yet en.
ing others bar barians.
hope that even Africa, though last of all the quar- I shall vote, sir, against the adjournment ; ters of the globe, shall enjoy at length, in the even. I shall also oppose to the utmost every pro posiing of her days, those blessings which have de- tion which in any way may tend either to pre. scended so plentifully upon us in a much earlier vent, or even to postpone for an hour, the total period of the world. Then, also, will Europe, abolition of the slave trade: a measure which, participating in her improvement and prosperity, on all the various grounds which I have stated, receive an ample recompense for the tardy kind- we are bound, by the most pressing and indis ness (if kindness it can be called) of no longer pensable duty, to adopt. hindering that continent from extricating herself out of the darkness which, in other more fortunate regions, has been so much more speedily So great was the impression made by this dispelled.
speech, that nearly all the spectators prezent -Nos que ubi primus equis oriens afflavit an. supposed the vote woald be carried aimost by
acclamation. But the private, pecuniary interIllic sera rubens accendit lumina vesper.8
ests which bore upon the House were too weighty Then, sir, may be applied to Africa those to be overcome, and Mr. Dundas' plan of a grad. words, originally used, indeed, with a different ual abolition had the preference by a majority of view :
sixty-eight votes. Mr. Dundas now brought forHis demum exactis
ward his scheme in detail, which was passed by Devenêre locos lætos, et amena vireta
a majority of nineteen, but the bill was lost in the Fortunatorum nemorum, sedesque beatas,
House of Lords. The subject came up, through Largior hic campos Æther et lumine vestit the indefatigable labors of Mr. Wilberforce, ses. Purpuero :
sion after session, until in 1806, after Mr. Pitt's It is in this view, sir—it is an atonement for death, a resolution was passed declaring "that our long and cruel injustice toward Africa, that the slave trade was inconsistent with justice, huthe measure proposed by my honorable friend manity, and sound policy, and that measures most forcibly recommends itself to my mind. ought to be taken for its immediate abolition.” The great and happy change to be expected in A bill to this effect was finally passed, February the state of her inhabitants, is, of all the various 6th, 1807; and January 1st, 1808, was fixed and important benefits of the abolition, in my es upon for the termination of the traffic on the part timation, incomparably the most extensive and of the English. important.10
America, in the mean time, had gone in advance
on this subject, and stood foremost among the na* This passage is taken from Virgil's description tions in her measure, for the suppression of the of the zodiac in his Georgics (book i., lines 230-50), slave trade. In 1794, it was enacted that no and of the sun's progress through the constellations, so that Morning rises on one side of the globe, while person in the United States should fit out any ves-, Evening follows in slow succession on the other. sel there for the purpose of carrying on any trafThis Mr. Pitt beautifully applies to the successive fic is slaves to any foreign country, or for prorising of the light of science on the two continents curing from any foreign country the inhabitants of Europe and of Africa.
thereof to be disposed of as slaves. In 1800, it On us, while early Dawn with panting steeds, was enacted that it should be unlawful for any Breathes at his rising, ruddy Eve for them citizen of the United States to have any properly Lights up her fires slow-coming.
in any vessel employed in transporting slaves • These words introduce Virgil's description of from one foreign country to another, or to serve the Elysian fields in his region of departed spirits
on board any vessel so employed. In 1807, it was (Æneid, book vi., lines 637–41).
enacted that after the first of January 1808, no These rites performed, they reach those happy fields, slaves should be imported into the United States, Gardens, and groves, and seats of living joy,
The slave trade was declared to be piracy by the Where the pure ether spreads with wider sway, And throws a purple light o'er all the plains.
American Congress in 1820, and by the British
Parliament in 1824. 10 The last four paragraphs of this speech, together with three others at the opening of the third head, theme in such cases was usually his country--what "But now, sir, I come to Africa," are specimens of she had been, what she might be, what she ought that lofty declamation with which Mr. Pitt so often to accomplish. His amplifications are often in the raised and delighted the feelings of the House. His | best manner of Cicero, adapted to modern times.
SPEECH OF MR. PITT ON THE RUPTURE OF NEGOTIATIONS WITH FRANCE, DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE OP
COMMONS, NOVEMBER 10, 1797.
INTRODUCTION. FRANCE having declared war against Austria, April 20th, 1792, and against England, February 1st, 1793, all the leading powers of Europe united with the latter, and the contest soon became general. At the ead of four years, the French had triumphed over their adversaries throughout the Continent; all the allies of England were driven from the field, and the Spaniards and Dutch were forced to turn their arms against her. The English, on the other hand, were every where victorious on the ocean, and bad taken all her colonies from France, some valuable islands in the West Indies from Spain, and the Cape of Good Hope and the island of Ceylon from Holland, now the Batavian Republic.
But the internal condition of England made Mr. Pitt desirous of peace, and while his adversaries had nothing to restore, he had large possessions of theirs which he was willing to surrender as the price of a general pacification. Accordingly, on the fourth of July, 1797, he opened negotiations with the French at Lisle, through Lord Malmesbury, who had been sent the preceding year to Paris on the same mission, though without success. There were two parties at this time in the French government—the one mod. erate, the other violent and extreme. Hence, in conducting the negotiation, there was a continual flac. tuation and studied delay on the part of the French, until the violent party prevailed in the revolutionary movement of September 4th, 1797, when they broke off the negotiation, twelve days after, in a rude and insulting manner. Mignet gives a solution of their conduct in his History of the French Revolution : "The Directory, at this time without money, without the support of a party at home, with no other aid than that of the army, and no other means of influence than a continuation of its victories, was not in a condition to consent to a general peace. War was necessary its existence. An immense body of troops could not be disbanded without danger.” The nation was therefore to be dazzled, and the army em. ployed, by an expedition för the conquest of Egypt, as the high road to the English possessions in India Jomini admits, in bis History of the Wars of the Revolution, that “Europe was convinced, on this occa. sion at least, that the cabinet of St. James had evinced more moderation than a Directory whose proceedings were worthy of the days of Robespierre."
On the 24th of October, 1797, the King of England issued a “Declaration respecting the Negotiation for Peace with France," part of which will here be given, as a specimen of the noble and commanding style of Mr. Pitt in his state papers.
“His MAJESTY directed bis minister to repair to France furnished with the most ample powers, and instructed to communicate at once an explicit and detailed proposal and plan of peace, reduced into the shape of a regular treaty, just and moderate in its principles, embracing all the interests concerned, and extending to every subject connected with the restoration of public tranquillity.
." To this proceeding, open and liberal beyond example, the conduct of his Majesty's enemies opposes the most striking contrast. From them do counter-project has ever yet been obtained; no statement of she extent or nature of the conditions on which they would conclude any peace with these kingdoms. Their pretensions have always been brought forward either as detached or as preliminary points, distinct from the main object of negotiation, and accompanied in every instance with an express reserve of fur. ther and unexplained demands.
"The points which, in pursuance of this system, the plenipotentiaries of the enemy proposed for separate discussion in their first conferences with his Majesty's minister, were at once frivolous and offensive, none of them productive of any solid advantage to France, but all calculated to raise new obstacles in the way of peace. And to these demands was soon after added another, in its form unprecedented, in its substance extravagant, and such as could only originate in the most determined and inveterate hostility. The principle of mutual compensation (before expressly admitted by common consent as the just and equitable basis of negotiation) was now disclaimed; every idea of moderation or reason, every appear ance of justice, was disregarded; and a concession was required from his Majesty's plenipotentiary, as a preliminary and indispensable condition of negotiation, which must at once have superseded all the objects, and precluded all the means of treating. France, after incorporating with her own dominions so large a portion of her conquests, and affecting to have deprived herself, by ber own internal regulations, of the power of alienating these valuable additions of territory, did not scruple to demand from his Maj. esty the absolute and unconditional surrender of ail that the energy o? bis people, and the valor of bis Aeets and armies, have conquered in the present war, either from France or from her allies. She required that the power of Great Britain should be confined within its former limits, at the very moment when her own duminion was extended to a degree almost unparalleled in history. She insisted that in pro portion to the increase of danger the means of resistance should be diminished; and that his Majesty
should give up, without compensation, and into the hands of bis enemies, the necessary defenses of his possessions, and the future safeguards of his empire. Nor was even this demand brought forward as con. stitating the terms of peace, but the price of negotiation; as the condition on which alone bis Majesty was to be allowed to learn what further unexplained demands were still reserved, and to what greater sacrifices these unprecedented concessions of honor and safety were to lead!
“ To France, to Europe, and to the world, it must be manifest, that the French government (wbile they persist in their present sentiments) leave his Majesty without an alternative, unless he were prepared to surrender and sacrifice to the undisguised ambition of his enemies the honor of his crown and the safety of bis dominions. It must be manifest, that, instead of showing, on their part, any inclination to meet bis Majesty's pacific overtures on any moderate terms, they have never brought themselves to state any terms (however exorbitant) on which they were ready to conclude peace.
* The rupture of the negotiation is not, therefore, to be ascribed to any pretensions (however inadmissible) urged as the price of peace; not to any ultimate difference on terms, however exorbitant; but to the evident and fixed determination of the enemy to prolong the contest, and to pursue, at all bazards, their hostile de. signs against the prosperity and safety of these kingdoms.
While this determination continues to prevail, bis Majesty's earnest wishes and endeavors to restore peace tobis subjects must be fruitless. But his sentiments remain unaltered. He looks with anxious expectation toothe moment when the government of France may show a disposition and spirit in any degree corresponding to his own. And he renews, even now, and before all Europe, the solemn declaration, that, in spite of repeated provocations, and at the very moment when his claims have been strengthened and confirmed by that fresh success which, by the blessing of Providence, bas recently attended his arms, he is yet ready (if the calamities of war can now be closed) to conclude peace on the same moderate and equitable principles and terms which he has before proposed. The rejection of such terms must now, more than ever, demonstrate the implacable animosity and insatiable ambition of those with wbom he has to contend, and to them alone must the future consequences of the prolongation of the war be ascribed.
"His Majesty has an anxious, but a sacred, indispensable duty to fulfill: he will discharge it with resolution, constancy, and firmness. Deeply as he must regret the continuance of a war, so destructive in its progress, and so burdensome even in its success, he knows the character of the brave people whose interests and honor are intrusted to him. These it is the first object of liis life to maintain; and he is convinced that neither the resources nor the spirit of his kingdoms will be found inadequate to this arduous contest, or unequal to the importance and value of the objects which are at stake. He trusts that the favor of Providence, by which they have always hitherto been supported against all their enemies, will be still extended to them; and that, under this protection, bis faithful subjects, by a resolute and vigorous application of the means which they possess, will be enabled to vindicate the independence of their country, and to resist with just indignation the assumed superiority of an enemy, against whom they have fought with the courage, and success, and glory of their ancestors, and who aims at nothing less than to destroy at once whatever has contributed to the prosperity and greatness of the British empire. all the channels of its industry, and all the sources of its power; its security from abroad, its tranquillity at home; and, above all, that Constitution, on which alone depends the undisturbed enjoyment of its re ligion, laws, and liberties."
This Declaration was laid before the House of Lords, November 8th, 1797, and an Address to the Throne was passed without a single dissenting voice, approving of the course taken, and closing with these words: “We know that great exertions are necessary; we are prepared to make them; and placing our firm reliance on that Divine protection which has always hitherto been extended to us, we will support your Majesty to the utmost, and stand or fall with our religion, laws, and liberties." This address was sent down to the Commons on the tenth, and every one supposed it would be adopted there with equal 008nimity. But Sir John Sinclair, a well-meaning but weak man, who was apprehensive that the tone of the Declaration might produce increased hostility among the French people, proposed a substitute, which dwelt in feeble language on “the various calamities to which nations in a state of bostility were necessarily exposed ;” “deplored the continuance of a war which had already occasioned such an expense of treasure and of blood,” and expressed a bope of "speedily renewing a negotiation so favorable to the interests of humanity." This substitute he proposed, while, with singular inconsistency, be condemned the ministry for the anxiety they had shown to prevent the conference from being broken off, declaring himself “perfectly astonished at the mean and degrading manner in which ministers had carried on the negotiation." He was followed by Earl Temple, a young relative of Mr. Pitt, wbo, in a maiden speech, took up the latter idea in a way perfectly consistent with his principles (which were those of Mr. Barke) and carried it much farther, condemning ministers for negotiating at all, and going back to the origin and conduct of the war in a spirit which (if carried out) would have rendered it eternal.
Mr. Pitt, in his peculiar mode of giving a bold relief to bis position at the opening of a speech, seized on the opportunity thus presented, and placed himself at once at the middle point between these two cxtremes; and after showing the extravagance of each, went on to state the measures by which he had endeavored to obtain peace, in one of the finest specimens of luminous exposition, intermingled with ine passioned feeling, to be found in our language.
Mr. Pitt's posi son between the extremes of
of the war.
SPEECH, & c. Sir,—Having come to this House with the the present frantic government of France-nut firm conviction that there never existed an oc- of the people of France, as the honorable baro casion when the unanimous concurrence of the net unjustly stated; is it our business at that House might be more justly expected than on a moment to content ourselves with merely laproposal to agree in the sentiments contained in menting in commonplace terms the calamities of the address which has been read, I must con- war ? and forgetting that it is part of the duty foss myself considerably disappointed, in some which, as representatives of the people, we owe degree, even by the speech of my noble relation to our government and our country, to state that (Lord Temple), much as I rejoice in the testimo- the continuance of those evils upon ourselves, ny which he has given of his talents and abilities, and upon France, too, is the fruit only of the und still more by the speech of the honorable conduct of the enemy, that it is to be impuied to oaronet (Sir John Sinclair), and by the amend them, and not to us ? ment which he has moved. I can not agree Sir, the papers which were ordered to be laid with the noble Lord in the extent to
on the table have been in every gen- The French which he has stated his sentiments, tleman's band, and on the materials government re the two preced that we ought to rejoice that peace which they furnish we must be pre- the continuar.co
was not made ; much less, sir, can I pared to decide. Can there be a feel desirous to accept on the part of myself, or doubt that all the evils of war, whatever may bc my colleagues, either from my noble kinsman, their consequences, are to be imputed solely to or any other person, the approbation which he his Majesty's enemies? Is there any man here was pleased to express of the manner in which prepared to deny that the delay in cvery stage of we have concluded the negotiation- We have the negotiation, and its final rupture, are proved not concluded the negotiation—the negotiation has to be owing to the evasive conduct, the unwarbeen concluded by others. We have not been rantable pretensions, the inordinate ambition, and suffered to continue it. Our claim to merit, if the implacable animosity of the enemy? I shall we have any, our claim to the approbation of our shortly state what are the points (though it is country, is, that we persisted in every attempt to hardly necessary that I should state them, for they conduct that negotiation to a pacific termination, speak loudly for themselves) on which I would as long as our enemies left us not the prospect, rest that proposition. But if there is a man who but the chance or possibility of doing so, consist- doubts it, is it the honorable baronet ? Is it he ently with our honor, our dignity, and our safety. who makes this amendment, leaving out every We lament and deplore the disappointment of the thing that is honorable to the character of his sincere wishes which we felt, and of the earnest own country, and seeming to court some new endeavors which we employed; yet we are far complaisance on the part of the French Directofrom suffering those sentiments to induce us to ry? The honorable baronet, who, as soon as he adopt the unmanly line of conduct that has been has stated the nature of his amendment, makes recommended by the honorable baronet. This is the first part of his speech a charge against his not the moment to dwell only on our disappoint- Majesty's ministers, for even having commenced ment, suppress our indignation, or to let our the negotiation in the manner and under the circourage, our constancy, and our determination cumstances in which they did commence it—who be buried in expressions of unmanly fear or un- makes his next charge their having persevered in availing regret. Between these two extremes it, when violations of form and practice were in it is that I trust our conduct is directed; and in sisted upon in the earliest stage of it? Does calling upon the House to join in sentiments be- he discover that the French government, whom tween those extremes, I do trust, that if we can we have accused of insincerity, have been sinnot have tha unanimous opinion, we shall have cere from the beginning to the end of the negothe general and ready concurrence both of the tiation ? Or, after having accused his Majesty's House and of the country.
ministers for commencing and persevering in ily I. Sir, before I trouble the House (which I am is the honorable baronet so afraid of being mis
not desirous of doing at length) with a construed into an idea of animosity against the discussiga few points which I wish to recapitu- people of France, that he must disguise the truth
late, let me first call to your minds the -must do injustice to the character and cause of
general nature of the amendment which his own country, and leave unexplained the cause the honorable baronet I as, under these circum- of the continuance of this great contest? Let us stances, thought fit to propose, and the general be prepared to probe that question to the bottom, nature of the observations by which he intro- to form our opinion upon it
, and to render our duced it. He began with deploring the calam- conduct conformable to that opinion. This I ities of war, on the general topic that all war is, conceive to be a manly conduct, and, especially calamitous. Do I object to this sentiment ? No. at such a moment, to be the indispensable duty But is it our business, at a moment when we feel of the House. That the continuance of that war is owing to the But let not the honorable baronet imagine there arimosity, the implacable animosity of our ene- is any ground for his apprehension, that by adopt exy, to the inveterate and insatiable ambition of ling ihe language of the Address, which ascribes
(Jobs Sinclair's Amendment