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Government has declined to legislate on the quality of the offence, although it has been recently employed in amending its code of navigation and maritime commerce. The captain, who, without necessity, throws overboard the goods of his employers, is visited with the whole vengeance of the law: but if he takes on board a greater number of Negroes than his vessel can conveniently transport to her place of destination, and, as has lately happened, quietly casts the supernumeraries into the sea, the crime becomes alleviated, and he escapes with comparative, nay with almost entire, impunity. Public opinion, however, under the exertions of the Abolition Committee and other enlightened individuals in France, appears gradually to be acquiring a firmer and louder tone on this subject. A petition against the slave trade had been presented to both chambers. It is the first movement of the kind which the French public has manifested; and when we remember the small beginnings among ourselves, and the magnificent result which followed, too much importance can scarcely be attached to it. The signatures comprised the names of some of the very first merchants and bankers in Paris. The necessity of prompt and decisive measures by the French government is proved from the horrible fact, that thirty slave-ships had recently sailed from Nantz alone.
It is gratifying to observe, that the rising Republics of South America continue to identify their interests, and their own emancipation from political slavery, with the restoration to personal freedom, of the still more degraded members of the human family, the Negro slaves. By a decree of Mexico, every ship, whether national or foreign, arriving in their ports with slaves, is confiscated; a punishment of ten years' imprisonment is inflicted; and all the slaves on board are ipso facto declared free. The United Pro
vinces of Rio de la Plata also engage to prohibit, in the most effectual manner, all persons residing in the United Provinces, or subject to their jurisdiction from taking any part in the traffic.
The bill for consolidating the Abolition Laws, had passed into a law. One of its most important provisions our readers are aware is the termination of the inter-colo nial slave-trade. The removal of slaves from island to island is permitted only until 1827, and that under very definite and limited re strictions, and with permission upon application by the King in Coun cil, on proof that their removal is essential to the welfare of the slaves.-The Court of King's Bench has pronounced a memorable judg ment, the ultimate consequences of which may be scarcely less impor tant than the celebrated decision which gave freedom to the slave the moment that he touched the soil of England. Some slaves, the property of an English subject resident in East Florida, where slavery is tolerated by law, escaped on board an English ship: their late owner brought an action in this country, against the commanders, Sir Alexander Cochrane and Sir George Cockburne, for harbouring them after notice. The Court held, that no such action could be maintained; the broad intelligible principles and emphatical language of Mr. Justice Best were worthy of the cause, and of the tribunal from which it proceeded:"The Legislature of this country has given judgment upon the question. They have abolished the trade in slaves: they have even bought up at a great price the right of other countries to carry it on. There is no statute recognizing slavery, which operates in the part of the British Empire in which we are now called upon to administer justice. It is a relation which has always, in British Courts, been held inconsistent with the constitution of the country. It is matter of
pride to me to recollect, that whilst economists and politicians were recommending to the legislature the protection of this traffic, and senators were forming statutes for its promotion, and declaring it a bene fit to the country, the judges of the land, above the age in which they lived, standing upon the high ground of natural right, and disdaining to bend to the lower doctrine of expediency, declared that slavery was inconsistent with the genius of the English Constitution, and that human beings could not be the subject-matter of property; and if in deed there had been any express law commanding us to recognize those rights, we might then have been called upon to consider the propriety of that which has been said by the great commentator upon the laws of this country, that, if any human law should allow or enjoin us to commit an offence against the Divine law, we are bound to transgress that human law; for upon the law of nature, and the law of revelation, depend all human laws that is to say, no human law should be suffered to contradict these. Now, if it can be shewn, that slavery is against the law of nature and the law of God, it cannot be recognized in our Courts. If slavery be recognized by any law prevailing in East Florida, the operation of that law is local. It is an anti-Christian law, and one which violates the rights of nature, and therefore ought not to be recognized here. Sir George Cockburn having in the first instance received these Negroes into his ship, he could no more have forced them back into slavery than he could have committed them to the deep." With regard to the trade itself, the Directors have no ground whatever, for indulging a hope that any material or permanent diminution has taken place. With the exception of three vessels, two under French and one under Spanish co lours, captured by the French flag, it does not appear that the French squadron have offered any effectual
interruption to the traffic. During the whole of 1823, there were never at any one time less than three or four vessels under the French flag, trading for slaves, at the Gallinas and Shebar. This must have been well known to the French authori ties on the coast, civil, military, and naval; but, during all that time, not a capture was made. Within the short space of two months the boats of a British vessel, the Maidstone, visited nineteen vessels, all carrying on the trade; yet not one of whom, from the present state of our relations with France, or from the inefficiency of our treaties with other powers, was she authorised to touch. Ten of these were under French colours, furnished with French papers, and belonging to French ports. The object of the voyage was openly avowed and gloried in by some of the masters.
But the French slave-trade is not confined to regular voyages. It is stated, that every coasting vessel belonging to the French settlements of Goree and Senegal is accustomed regularly to purchase two or three slaves in each successive ship, and to import them into these settlements; that the inhabitants may buy slaves, whom they have only to take before the mayor to be regis tered; and that the French government itself is in the habit of making purchases from the inhabitants, and training the persons so purchased to serve in their garrisons. Captain Pince, commanding a merchant ship belonging to Liverpool, during a short stay in the river Bonny, saw about twenty slavevessels under French colours, one or more arriving every two or three days; among others, three first-class brigantines direct from Nantz, each destined to take upwards of 500 slaves. It was generally understood by the French ships there, that their cruizers would not meddle with them: on this head they seemed to entertain no fears. Captain Pince passed under the stern of the Hebe, a French frigate, whilst three French slave-ships were
in sight; but the Hebe took no notice of them.
The Report goes on to detail a variety of cases illustrative of the deep atrocity, as well as the lamentable extent, of the trade as at present conducted. We extract a few specimens.
The Victor fell in with a schooner-boat called Piccaninny Mena. Though only of five tons burthen, she had taken on board in the Gaboon, besides her crew, water, provisions, and some cargo, twentythree slaves, six of whom had al
ready died. The Negroes were in a state of complete starvation, and approaching dissolution: one died the day the boat was seized. The space allowed for them was no more than eighteen inches between the water-casks and the deck.
The Maidstone, it has been mentioned, in two months, boarded nineteen slave-ships; ten of which were French. The Bann, in four months, boarded ten; two of which only were taken, the rest therefore will have succeeded in carrying off about 3000 slaves.
The Diana, a captured vessel, had 143 slaves on board, of whom she afterwards lost 23 on her passage by the small pox. "Of all the vessels I was on board of," says Captain Woolcombe, the captor, "this was in the most deplorable condition: the stench, from the accumulation of dirt, joined to that of so many human beings packed together in a small space (the men all ironed in pairs), was intolerable. To add to the scene of misery, the small-pox had broken out among them: nine died before we took possession, and one almost immediately after our first boat got alongside." The Two Brazilian Friends, another captured vessel, had 257 slaves on board: she was one of thirteen which sailed about the same time from Bahia to Badagry on the same errand. She had been previously boarded at different times, both by the Maidstone and Baun; but in vain,
as the slaves, though then assembled on the beach, had not been on board. Commodore Bullen, who visited this ship, says, " Its filthy and horrid state beggars all description: many females were far advanced in pregnancy, and several had infants from four to twelve months of age: all were crowded together in one mass of living corruption, and yet this vessel had not her prescribed complement by nearly one hundred.”
The Aviso, another captured vessel, had 465 slaves on board; of whom 34 died after their capture, notwithstanding every attention. Such was the filth and crowd that not half could have reached the Brazils alive. Commodore Bullen put the crew on shore in Prince's Island. These wretches, as soon as they found that they must be boarded, had stove in her boilers, as a last malignant effort to add to the misery of those whom a few minutes would place beyond their power. At the date of her capture, she had scarcely twenty days' provisions for the slaves, and less water. How they intended to subsist them till their arrival at Bahia (says the Captain), "is to me a problem, unless they calculated on a great decrease from death."
The Bella Eliza, cleared out for Molemba, but took in her cargo at a place known only to slave-dealers by that fraudulent designation; but which is, in fact, the western bank of the river Lagos. She also had been twice boarded by the capturing ship, before, by embark. ing her victims, she had become liable to be detained. According to the tonnage, as stated in her passport, she was privileged to take 368 slaves: she had taken on board 381, being thirteen more even than this allowance, of whom twenty-two died before they reached Sierra Leone. The passage lasting seven weeks, the suffering from want of water and provisions was so great that in two days more all hands must have perished.
Upon an accurate inspection of these four vessels, to ascertain whether they answered the description in their papers, a remarkable discovery was made of the corrupt and cruel connivance of the official The authorities of the Brazils. tonnage of every vessel is entered in the royal passport, and permission is given to carry a cargo in proportion to that tonnage, at the rate of five slaves for every two tons. On admeasurement, the real tonnage was found, in every one of these instances, to be so much less than the tonnage stated in their passport, that the Diana, according to its passport, was in fact authorized to take five to each ton; the Two Brazilian Friends, four to each ton; the Aviso, above five to each ton; and the Bella Eliza, at the rate of nearly seven to every two tons. The men's slave-room in the first was only two feet seven inches high, in the second two feet, and in the third two feet three inches. Taking into calculation the size of the women's room, and the number shipped, little more than three and one-fourth square feet was allowed to each adult. Indeed, had they attempted to put on board the number to which, according to the false description thus sanctioned by the Brazilian authorities, they would have been entitled, they could not literally have been stowed; although they are stated to have been packed under deck, on deck, Some and in boats, like beasts. of these vessels had on board fierce dogs of the blood-hound species, natives of the Brazils, trained to sit watching over the hatches during the night, lest the wretched beings below should rise either for resistance or for air.
One Oiseau, commander of a French slave-ship called Le Louis, having completed his cargo on the old Calabar, thrust them all between decks (a height of only three feet,) and closed the hatches on them for the night. Fifty were found dead in the morning. As a matter of CHRIST. OBSERV. APP.
course, he only immediately re-
On board a captured vessel was found a letter from a French slaveagent to Messrs. Bannaffe and Lariviere, of Guadaloupe, which furnishes an edifying specimen of WestIndian correspondence. 'It is a sort of circular, soliciting for custom, and evidently drawn up in the current language of the trade; language calculated to make all, except these consignees of human beings, shudder at the depth of moral debasement to which it seems our nature may be reduced. The following is an extract from it:"Under the auspices of Mr. Couronneau of Bordeaux, our friend, we have the honour of tendering to you our services at this place. You know, gentlemen, that the advantage which our market offers for the disposal of ebony gives it a great preference over any other of our colonies; and it strikes us that We have it would suit you to send to it a few shipments of that sort. received this year a great many cargoes of that article, on account of merchants of Nantz: and towards the end of January, we expect here other ships that have sailed from the last-mentioned port. All our sales have been attended with favourable results. The last cargo sold here, was that of the Harriett of Nantz: 328 logs were disposed of on their landing (those that were damaged excepted) at 225 dollars each. This merchandize was of a very ordinary nature, and had suffered much: by getting rid of the article at once you may make a much better thing of it." After some particular instructions, "The commandant, it proceeds: who is devoted to us, would deliver a letter of instructions for the cap
tain: when once the cargo is on shore, all risk is at an end.-We have this day to communicate to you a circumstance that will no doubt afford you as much interest as it does to us. The brig, Two Nations,' Captain Pettier, which had lately been captured by an English cruiser (at the moment when she appeared before Uragua with a cargo of ebony) and carried to Kingston, has been released; the admiral having declared that no one had the right of capturing the French flag: in consequence of this, the brig returned to Uragua, where she landed 456 logs. Had the wood been good, it would have had a fiue sale; but owing to the bad state of the bulk of the cargo, which had suffered much, it is of the smallest kind. The liberation of this vessel offers to us the assurance that our flag will henceforth be respected. The three vessels that were cruising upon our coast were immediately recalled to Jamaica. As to the Dutch, there is only one English vessel of war in our latitude commissioned to cap. ture them; the others are altogether interdicted that right. We consider, therefore, that there is no longer any risk upon our coast; and that vessels may present them. selves with all safety before Uragua, where we constantly keep a pilot. The sales meet with no opposition, and are carried on in some measure publicly."
We turn from these sickening details to the statements in the Report respecting Sierra Leone, from which we copy the following particulars.
The mortality of 1823 at Sierra Leone, though of a most distressing nature, has been much exaggerated. The fever which prevailed did not attack a Black or Coloured person; but out of a White population of 110, the deaths were 25. Serious injury arises to the interests of the colony from the occasional prevalence of severe sickness; and in no respect more, than by the temporary
interruption to which the advancement of education and religious instruction has been exposed, in conséquence of the death of their principal instructors, among whom the mortality was unusually great. The effect of these unexpected losses was, that for a considerable period both properly qualified schoolmasters and also chaplains had been wanting. But the Church Missionary Society, which has now taken off the hands of Government the burden of supplying to the colony the means of religious instruction, has been making great efforts to supply the requisite number of teachers; and their zeal, and that of their missionaries, has only been rendered more remarkable and praiseworthy by the difficulties with which they had to contend.
The regular attendance on public worship consists of nearly the whole population of the colony; and the schools are attended by the whole of the young, and even by not a few of the adults. - Sierra Leone contains about 18,000 inhabitants; of whom, about 12,000 consist entirely of liberated Africans, who for the most part occupy the parishes in the mountains: and nothing can be more gratifying than to know, that the almost impenetrable woods which were the haunts but lately of wild beasts, have been replaced by villages with comfortable habitations, and surrounded by tracts of ground under cultivation, and containing school-houses for both sexes. In one of these, it is reported that, out of 103 children, 64 can read the Scriptures; in others, that out of 1079 scholars there are 710 persons who can read, and so on in different proportions. The churches erected among them are said to have crowded congregations; one in Regent Town usually assembling a congregation of from 1200 to 2000 souls.
In addition to the labours of missionaries, it seems highly important, that persons should be