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THE WEST INDIAN CONTROVERSY.
Yes-Wilberforce has set the Blacks to rights,
Don Juan, Canto XII.
It is now, in our opinion, sufficient- view is well, and on the whole temperly evident that this great question is ately written. This we admit freely: once again to be forced in some shape because, whatever other people may do, or other upon Parliament, in the course we entertain a high respect for Mr of the ensuing session. The Clark- Brougham's talents, and are always sons, &c. are publishing new pam- gratified when we find him abstaining phlets with old contents. And Mr from that coarse and virulent strain of Brougham, in a euloge on some of language, which is one of the sins that these productions in the last Edin- most easily beset him, and which has burgh Review, talks openly of the indeed done more to degrade bim in • delusive" conduct of the ministry the general eye, than many of his more in the matter of the Buxton debate. serious offences. When we have said Mr Brougham was present at that de- this, however, we are afraid we have bate, and he made one of the unani- exhausted praise. The article conmous house which accepted Mr Can- tains no new facts of the smallest ning's resolutions : but a few months importance, and exhibits no felicitous have passed, and this eminent states application of intellect to the expoman has had such opportunities of ex- sition of obscure or controverted TRUTH. amining the whole affair candidly and It is a mere string of old commoncompletely during the interval, that places, calmly and cleverly expressed he has been enabled to make up his interspersed with a few specimens of great mind, that he was one of a House glaring, and we can scarcely believe, of Commons that suffered themselves involuntary misrepresentation, both as to be juggled by Mr Canning, in May to facts and as to principles of which last. Societies on societies, meanwhile, more, perhaps, in the sequel
. and associations upon associations, and In the meantime, it is our intention subscriptions on subscriptions, are to direct our own readers' attention springing and spreading everywhere, both to the true facts and the true and embryo petitions begin already to principles, onthe consideration of which stir and quicken. Liverpool, the en- this case must be judged. We shall lightened city of Liverpool, in former have, after a fair and full examination days the great mart and mainspring of both, no difficulty in bringing home of the slave trade, the last that clung the guilt of flagrant and systematic to that traffic, the one only place that deviation from, and suppression of, for a season Rachel-like lamented, and Facts, to those who were beaten in the would not be comforted because it Buxton debate, and, we think, about was not—this very Liverpool, takes as little in shewing that all the three the lead in supporting the wildest parties who were represented in that measures of those, whom for thirty discomfited knot, are chargeable, eiyears she execrated as her most relent- ther with a total blindness to the true less enemies. Blessed change ! Salu- principles of reason, as applicable to the tary transformation! The slave trade question before us, or with the worse of Liverpool was-the Indian free fault of pretending such blindness, for trade of Liverpool is—The days of the purpose of diverting suspicion from the ultra-antiabolition spirit of Liver- the glances of a penetrating,
pervading, pool are gone by- the day of the and most unscrupulous selfishness. ultra-mitigation spirit of Liverpool The report of the debate above menhas dawned and grown. We live in tioned, published by the Mitigation beautiful times !
Society, and enriched with the preface The article in the Edinburgh Re- and commentaries of that body, has
See a paper in this Magazine, No LXXXI.- for October last.
been already more than once spoken example, should we be compelled to of by us. It is, in fact, the most ima talk of the Society for the Mitigation of portant publication, in every point of West Indian Slavery? The Society for view, to which the present controversy the Mitigation of the Mitre, or the sohas yet given rise. It is here that we ciety for the Mitigation of the Duties on can consider at leisure, the expressed East Indian Sugar, would be far nearer sentiments of all parties—it is here the truth. Mr Buxton's far-famed that we can compare the conflicting motion about the slaves was made on statements, and balance the opposed the 15th of May last ; Mr Whitmore's arguments, of the leaders; and it is motion about the sugar followed on the here also, unless we be very greatly mis- 230 day of the same month. The same taken, that we can most clearly detect people-certainly the same influence the system of chicaneries by which the figured on both occasions. Mr Wilhumbler tools of one side are at least berforce was one of the great men on suffered to back the open warfare of both. What have the avowed obe its chiefs. Before a new debate occurs, jects and views of Mr Wilberforce to it were well that the old one should do with the question about the duties be thoroughly sifted and understood. on sugar ?— These gentlemen are so The Edinburgh Reviewer distinctly confident of support from their own charges the ministers with having con- set, and from the gaping multitudes ducted themselves on this occasion whom their sweet words command and like hypocrites and knaves—we at stultify, and so certain, at the same least know not what other meaning time, that they are not to be bearded, can be given to the epithet“ delusive" as to the truth and essence of all their already
quoted from this performance. schemes, by any person, far less any The charge is no light one, and we party whatever in Parliament, that it venture to prophesy, that it will be is not wonderful they should venture effectually answered in the proper much. And yet—if anybody had prequarter. But we, in the meantime, dicted a year before, that the next shall take the liberty to reverse the motion about West Indian slavery situation of the parties, and placing would be made in the same week with a the mitigators themselves at the bar, motion about East Indian sugar, people see what answer they can make to cere in general would have utterly disbelietain charges of the very same charac- ved it.—"No,"it would have been said, ter, which every attentive and candid “ that will, to be sure, be in their reader of the volume in question must minds; but you are going too far now. have in some measure anticipated. They are not quite so regardless of ap
Our general assertion is simply this: pearances; religious as they are, they The speakers on Mr Buxton's side are are a little more wise in their generachargeable with many mistatements as tion, notwithstanding, than you seem to matters of fact, and the mitigation to give them credit for."-Probably no commentators still more grievously so. answer would have been made to this; In proving this, we shall at least do and yet the event has shewn itself. some good; for we shall teach these Say what people may, these men are persons to be more cautious the next not to be altogether despised. The time they come before the senate and very audacity of their proceedings balf the public: we shall probably have redeems their folly. "This open and shorter speeches, and less triumphant thorough-going reliance upon the gulannotations cura variorum. Some ob- libility of John Bull, shews an intistacles, at all events, will be brushed mate and even intense acquaintance away from the threshold, and the ri- with the assailable points of the naval champions will both come with tional character. There are two quackgreater ease into their true arena, and ish ways of doing things; the conhave a salutary fear before their eyes, ciliatory, that is, the pluckless method, in case they should be tempted to of late too often adopted by those who think of bringing any but the right ought to be most above it; and the weapons with them.
bold brazen method the method of A word or two more, however, in the Bishes, the Burgesses, and the limine. It is really very annoying to Buxtons. This last has been adopted, see the extent to which the abuse of and with much success, by the Sociewords and phrases has been carried in ty for the Mitigation of the Duties on the whole of this matter. Why, for East Indian Sugar. They were re
solved to have their two debates—there a decent establishment, are compelled
“ African prince”—but let it be so for Since we are talking of the audacity the moment. What earthly relation of these agitators, we may as well ex- is there between an African prince and hibit one more specimen of this great an English gentleman ? In what does quality of their logic ere we go far- the misery of a new-made slave conther. Mr Clarkson shrewdly and sa- sist?-Is it not in his being carried gaciously illustrates the sin and horror from a good state of existence into a of West Indian bondage, by asking bad one, and in being subjected to the -how an English GENTLEMAN would caprice of another, instead of enjoying like to be made a slave of at Algiers the free command of his own motions? or Tripoli—and whether, if this Eng- The better his previous condition was, lish gentleman had a wife and a family will not his present one be the worse of daughters to partake his enslaved to endure ? And is it not obvious, that condition there, this would have any if any one thing be more likely than other effect than that of greatly in- all besides to embitter his reflections, creasing his misery ? And why, says it will be the discovery, (should such he, why not talk of an EnglisH GEN- be forced upon him,) that the human TLEMAN, since there have been in- being, to whose power he is subjected, stances of AFRICAN PRINCES carried stands in reality lower, everyway lower, off, and enslaved ?- This passage is in the scale of humanity, than himtriumphantly quoted by the author of self? These are questions which we the Critique on Clarkson's Pamphlet, apprehend the worthy Mr Clarkson in the last Number of the Edinburgh himself will have no hesitation about Review.
answering in the affirmative. And what The argument is assuredly one that is the consequence ?-We believe we comes home to our business and our might almost save ourselves the trouble bosoms. An English gentleman, a of saying a word about it. member of the Society of Friends, or Who is an African prince, and what of the House of Commons, or, at any is it that he has to lose? If he be a rate, we shall say of the Mitigation sovereign prince, (which, of course, Society, is lugged out of his bed in Mr Clarkson would consider as the seLondon, and finds himself, after a verest case of all,) what manner of brief voyage, stript to the skin, and man is he? Is he not some ferocious labouring beneath a brazen sun in the brutal savage, the oppressor of some field of some Bey of Morocco. His benighted and most miserable horde wife and daughters, torn from their pi- of savages ? Is he not a creature who ano-fortes, their Sunday-schools, their amuses himself every day with cutting little tea-parties, and the weekly luxury off human heads—and that sometimes of Mr Edward Irving, or Mr Rowland with his own royal hand ?* Are not Hill-torn from the arms of their na- all the festivals of his reign so many tural protectors and from the hope of solemn exhibitions of everything that
. See Macleod's Africa, passim.
is most abominable, and most incredi- few mystical words, when another man ble to us? When he prays to the standing behind with a large scimitar, sedemon of his beastly worship, does he
vers the sufferer's head from his body, ge. not water the holy soil with blood nerally at a single blow, and each repetition poured out like water? Are not his of this act is proclaimed by loud shouts of Children shut up like wild colts ?--Are who
affect to be highly
delighted with the
applause from the surrounding multitude, not his uncles-his brothers, seared in the eye-branded on the cheek – power and magnificence of their sovereign.
“ His bards, or laureats, join also at this maimed-mutilated-murdered every time, in bawling out his strong names (their day, amidst the grim applause of the term for titles of honour) and sing songs more plebeian victims that await the in his praise. These scenes are likewise enbrand or the hatchet of the next whim livened by a number of people engaged in of this crowned brute ? Are not his a savage dance around the scaffolds : should walls and his floors paved with Afric the foot of one of those performers slip, it can skulls ? Are not his reins, if he is considered an ill omen; the unfortunate has a horse, strung with Africau ears, head instantly struck off, whilst the
figurante is taken out of the ring, and his noses, and viler trophies ? Does any man dare to deny that such is the state unusual had occurred.
continues without interruption, as if nothing of things in those African districts
“ The people thus sacrificed, are genefrom which the immense majority of slaves have at all periods been abstract- rally
prisoners of war, whom the king of
ten puts aside for this purpose, several ed? Does any man dare to deny, that months previous to the celebration of his their princes were, and are the chief horrid festival ; should there be any lack of patrons of all the enormities of that these, the number is made up from the most slave trade, which ceased to appear the convenient of his own subjects. There are extreme of horror, only because it years in which they have single, andothers in could not be contemplated otherwise which they have double customs. One of than with them in its foreground?
Does the latter occurred when I was there, and
an enormous number (several hundreds) any man dare to deny that which has
were said to have fallen. But the amount, been asserted by so many witnesses of the most unimpeachable veracity, that probably; was considerably exaggerated
for, as Mr Abson had dispensed with vies. half these African princes would at this ing this part of the ceremony, he could onimoment give even their own ears to
ly judge from the report of those who were see the slave trade re-established among anxious to magnify the grandeur of their them in all its pristine vigour ?-or king, and Mr James, who, three different doubt, in opposition to the celebrated years, took the trouble to count the victims, taunt of Duke Ephraim himself, that never reckoned more than sixty-five, on any for the want of that method of dispo- one occasion. sing of their prisoners of war and their
“ Their bodies are either thrown out in.
to the fields to be devoured by vultures and victims of caprice, the banks of those unexplored and melancholy rivers are
wild beasts, or hung by the heels in a mu. bathed at this hour in a deeper deluge practice exceedingly offensive in so hot a
tilated state, upon the surrounding trees, a of this African blood ?
Climate. The heads are piled up in a heap, Hear for a moment Mr Macleod, for the time, and afterwards disposed of in (in his Account of the African Prince decorating the walls of the royal simbomies, of Dahomy :)
or palaces, some of which are two miles in “ In order to water with their blood the circumference, and often require a renewal graves of the king's ancestors, and to sup
and repair of these ornaments. ply them with servants of various descrip- “ Adahoonza, after a successful attack tions in the other world, a number of hu- upon Badagry, having a great number of man victims are yearly sacrificed in solemn victims to sacrifice, ordered their heads to form ; and this carnival is the period at be applied to this purpose. Mr Abson, in which these shocking rites are publicly his account, says, the person to whom performed.
the management of this business had been “ Scaffolds are erected outside the palace committed, baving neglected to make a prowall, and a large space fenced in round them. per calculation of his materials, had proOn these the king, with the white strangers ceeded too far with his work, when he found who think proper to attend, are seated, and that there would not be a sufficient number the ministers of state are also present in the of skulls to adorn the whole palace; he space beneath. Into this field of blood the therefore requested permission to begin the victims are brought in succession, with their work anew, that he might, by placing them arms pinioned ; and a Fetisheer, laying his farther apart, complete the design in a rehand on the devoted head, pronounces a gular manner. But the king would by no means give his consent to this proposal, ob- allurement in the way of gain--no addiserving, thąt he would soon find a suffici. tional price which the white traders can of. ent number of Badagry heads to render fer for slaves,—will induce THE KING to the plan perfectly uniform,' and learning spare even a single victim of the establishthat a hundred and twenty-seven were re- ed number; and he is equally inexorable quired to complete this embellishment, he with respect to the chiefs of his enemies, ordered that number of the captives to be who are never, on any aecount, permitted brought forth, and slaughtered in cold to live if they fall into his hands. blood.'
" I had once occasion to witness a very “ Messrs Norris and Abson, who had marked instance of this vindictive and unfrequent opportunity of visiting the bed relenting spirit. In a warlike excursion tochamber of Bossa Ahadee, found the pas- wards the Mahee, or Ashantee borders, an sage leading to it paved with human skulls. enemy's town was surprised, and a great They were those of his more distinguished number of the inhabitants were either killadversaries captured at different times, and ed or made prisoners; but especial care placed in that situation that he might was taken that the head of the prince of nightly enjoy the savage gratification of that district should be sent to Abomey, and trampling on the heads of his enemies.' that every branch of his family should, if The top of the little wall which surround- possible, be exterminated; for it was one ed this detached apartment, was adorned which had often given the Dahomian forlikewise with their jaw-bones. What- ces a great deal of trouble. A merciless ever may have been the frailties of Ahadee massacre of these individuals therefore took and his successors, it would seem from all place, in obedience to strict injunctions to this that the dread of ghosts and hobgob- that effect ; and, it was believed, that not lins formed no part of their characters. one of the breed was left alive.
“ From Mr Abson, who had lived thirty- “ A youth, however, about seventeen seven years in this country, the greater part years of age, one of the sons of the obnoxi. of which he had been governor of William's ous prince, had managed to conceal his Fort, the African Company's chief settle- real quality, and not being pointed out, ment in this quarter, and who, ex-officio, succeeded in passing among the crowd of attended at the celebration of these annual prisoners to the Dahomian capital, where, festivities, I had many relations of the bar- after selecting that proportion thought nebarous acts which he had witnessed. cessary for the ensuing sacrifices, the cap
6. The immolation of victims is not con- tors sent the remainder to Grigwee, to be fined to this particular period, for at any
sold at the factories. This young man time should it be necessary to send an ac- happened to be purchased by me, and he count to his forefathers of any remarkable lived thenceforth in the fort, in a sort of geevent, the king dispatches a courier to the neral rendezvous or trunk, as it is called, shades, by delivering his message to who- for those belonging to that department. ever may happen to be near him, and then “ In a very short time after this transordering his head to be chopped off imme. action, it somehow transpired at Abomey, diately; and it has not unfrequently hap- that there yet lived this remnant of the pened during the present reign, that, as enemy's family, and in order to trace him something new has occurred to the king's out (for the scent had, in some degree, been mind, another messenger (as Mr Canning lost, not knowing whether he had been disvery justly observed, like the postscript of posed of to the English, French, or Pora letter) has instantly followed on the same tuguese, or whether he was not actually errand, perhaps in itself of the most trivial embarked,) the king fell upon a scheme, kind.
which strongly displays that species of cun. " It is considered an honour where his ning and artifice so often observed among majesty personally condescends to become savages. the executioner, in these cases ; an office « Some of his Halfheads (who may very in which the present king prides himself in appropriately be termed his mortai mesbeing very expert. The governor was pre- sengers, in contradistinction to the immor. sent on one occasion, when a poor fellow, tals
sent to the shades,) arrived one evening whose fear of death out-weighing the sense at the fort, and with the Coke, (a stern and of the honour conferred on him, on being hard-hearted villain) who, in the absence of desired by the king to carry some message the Yavougah, was the next Caboceer, deto his father, humbly declared on his knees, manded admittance in the king's name, that he was unacquainted with the way; on prostrating themselves as usual, and coverwhich the tyrant vociferated “ I'll shew you ing their heads with dust. On entering, the way,' and, with one blow, made his head they proceeded immediately to that quarter fy many yards from his body, highly in- where the slaves were, and repeated the ce. dignant that there should have been the remony of kissing the ground before they least expression of reluctance.
spoke the king's word, that is to say, de“ The performance of the annual sacri. livered his message. The Coke then made fices is considered a duty so sacred, that no a long harangue, the purport of which was Vol. XIV.