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|The 1841 Niger expedition|
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The following reports, letters and leading articles from the Times concern the 1841 Niger expedition. Although initial reports were factual, the newspaper soon became highly critical of the planned expedition, considering that the hypocritical leaders of the Society for the Extinction of the Slave Trade, and for the Civilization of Africa were sending the expedition members to an almost certain death for a fatuous cause.
|Extracts from the Times newspaper|
|Tu 2 June 1840|
FIRST ANNIVERSARY MEETING OF THE SOCIETY FOR THE EXTINCTION OF THE SLAVE TRADE, AND FOR THE CIVILIZATION OF AFRICA.
The public announcement that his Royal Highness Prince Albert, who a few days ago accepted the office of President of this Society, would take the chair at its first anniversary meeting, appointed to be held yesterday in the Great Room, Exeter Hall, the demand for tickets was unparalleled, and we understand that on Friday and Saturday last premiums were offered for them. The committee of management limited, as we were informed, their issue to the extent of accommodation which the hall afforded, and though the advertisements had informed the public that the doors would not be opened until 10 o'clock, yet such was the anxiety of those whose good fortune had secured them tickets to secure good places from which to command a good view of the illustrious chairman of the day, that the avenues in Exeter-street and the Strand were, from an early hour, literally blocked up by carriages bearing fair freights, and by pedestrian friends and supporters of the society - to such an extent, indeed, as to render it necessary to give them admission very shortly after 9 o'clock; and long before 10 o'clock every part of the hall, exclusive of the seats reserved on the platform for the committee and leading friends and supporters of the institution, was densely filled by a highly respectable audience. The number of ladies greatly predominated, and their personal beauty and elegance of costume enhanced the tout ensemble of a truly interesting coup d'oeil. About half-past 10 o'clock the tedium of the assemblage, consequent upon so long an interval of time elapsing before the proceedings of the day were opened, was relieved by the performance of a voluntary upon the great organ, the powers of which were put to the fullest test by the performer, whose name we could not learn. His efforts were rewarded by a well-merited and loudly expressed peal of applause. At 11 o'clock precisely his Royal Highness Prince Albert, attended by Mr. Fowell Buxton, Dr. Lushington, and other leading members of the committee, appeared on the platform, and was received by the company standing and with their hearty and enthusiastic cheers, accompanied by the waving of hats and handkerchiefs. At this moment we observed on the platform amongst others the following distinguished individuals: - His Excellency M. Guizot, Ambassador of France; the Duke of Norfolk; the Earl of Ripon; the Earl of Chichester; the Earl of Devon; Lord Ashley, M.P.; Lord Sandon, M.P.; Lord Mahon, M.P.; Lord C. Fitzroy, M.P.; Lord Worsley, M.P.; Lord Teignmouth, M.P.; Lord Seaford; Lord Howick, M.P.; Lord Eliot, M.P.; Lord Nugent, the Bishop of Winchester, the Bishop of Exeter, the Bishop of Chichester, the Bishop of Ripon, the Bishop of Salisbury, the Bishop of Hereford, and the Bishop of Norwich; the Right Hons. Sir Robert Peel, Bart., M.P.; Sir G. Murray; Sir Stratford Canning, M.P.; Sir Henry Hardinge, M.P.; Sir G. Grey, Bart., M.P.; and Sir Alexander Johnstone; the Hon. W. Lascelles, M.P.; the Hon. C. Langdale, M.P.: Sir T.D. Acland, Bart., M.P., Sir R. H. lnglis, Bart., M.P., Mr. Gladstone, M.P., Mr. M. Milnes, M.P., Mr. Vigors, M.P., Mr. Baines, M.P.,&c. Among the general company we noticed Mr. Sheriff Whelden, Dr. Bowring, Mr, S. Gurney, the Rev. Mr. Burnett, the Venerable Archdeacon Wilberforce, &c.
The illustrious President, who was attended by Lord Robert Grosvenor, Lord George Lennox, and Mr. Ansen, officers of his Royal Highness's household, was ushered to the chair by the committee, and on reaching it the great organ poured forth in solemn grandeur the national anthem, the Prince and the whole company standing. Its conclusion was followed by loud and long-continued cheering. As soon as silence was restored:
His ROYAL HIGHNESS, who seemed to feel most sensibly the truly English and enthusiastic reception which had greeted his entrance into the hall, proceeded with great distinctness and with a very slight foreign accent, to open the business of the day. His Royal Highness said - I have been induced to preside at the meeting of this society from a conviction of its paramount importance to the great interests of humanity and justice. (Cheers)
I deeply regret that the benevolent and persevering exertions of England to abolish that atrocious traffic in human beings, at once the desolation of Africa, and the blackest stain upon civilized Europe, have not as yet led to any satisfactory conclusion. But I sincerely trust that this great country will not relax its efforts until it has finally and for ever put an end to a state of things so repugnant to the spirit of Christianity, and to the best feelings of our nature. (Tremendous applause.) Let us, therefore, trust that Providence will prosper our exertions in so holy a cause, and that under the auspices of our Queen (cheering for some minutes) and her Government we may at no distant period be rewarded by the accomplishment of the great and humane object for the promotion of which we have this day met. (Loud and long-continued cheers.)
The secretary having read the report for the past year, Mr. F. Buxton said, he had been requested to communicate to the meeting a letter, which had been addressed by command of Her Majesty the Queen Dowager to a sincere friend of the society. The letter was as follows :-
The secretary read the following letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury :-
Similar letters were read from the Archbishop of York, from the Archbishop of Armagh, enclosing 25 1. as a donation, from Mr. Thomas Clarkson, from the Hon. Mountstuart Elphinstone, as well as the following from the Bishop of London:-
"London-house, May 29, 1840.
"My dear Sir,- I am much concerned to find that the public meeting of the society for the extinction of the slave trade has been fixed on a day on which it will not be possible for me to attend, as I have to attend confirmations in Hertfordshire on Monday and Tuesday next.
"I am the more concerned, as I learn that his Royal Highness Prince Albert has consented to take the chair at the meeting.
"I should gladly have embraced the opportunity of publicly expressing my earnest desire to promote to then utmost of my power the important object of the society. We owe a debt to Africa which we can hardly ever pay in full. But no efforts should be spared by us to diminish its amount, and nothing effectual can be done to that end till the slave trade, that greatest of all human iniquities, is suppressed, nor will any efforts of ours effect that suppression, unless we can open the eyes of the natives of Africa to its wasteful impolicy, as well as its cruelty. When that is done, Christianity will have its free course and do its proper work.
"I think, therefore, that the line of proceeding which the society has marked out for itself it that which gives us, under the Divine blessing, the sound prospects of the final civilization and conversion of Africa,
"Believe me, my dear Sir, yours faithfully,
" P.S. - May I request you to set down my name for a donation of 25 l.?
Mr. F. Buxton then came forward to move the first resolution. When he saw the vast hall in which they were assembled filled as he had never seen it before - when he saw the platform on which he stood so crowded, and by whom - and when, above all, he saw who occupied the chair (loud cheers) - if his first feeling was, as certainly it was, a feeling of thankfulness and congratulation, his next impulse was, if not to shrink from the task imposed on him, at all events to offer an humble apology to the meeting (seeing the gentlemen by whom he was surrounded) that he should move the first resolution; but, as apologies and explanations would take up time, which this day was valuable, he should only say that it was not his fault certainly that he was placed in this prominent situation. He confessed that he was somewhat surprised that the members of the committee, more especially his old Parliamentary friends, should have placed him in a situation well remembered when he was in the House of Commons, the consternation which used to spread from bench to bench when any gentleman who had appeared in print rose to speak on any subject. He averted to this, because it was not his intention to yield to the temptation to give the meeting in his speech, the contents of his book, or any part of his book. ("Hear," and a laugh.) But he must take this opportunity of saying, that the subject was so large, that the best thing he could do would be to reduce his observations within a very small compass indeed. But there was one subject which he could not omit to mention. He hoped he should not be out of order, but, on the contrary should be permitted to state the entire and unfeigned satisfaction in which not he alone, but which the meeting universally, estimated; the high and distinguished honour which had that day been bestowed upon their infant society. (Loud cheers.). He understood that his Royal Highness now in the chair, purposed avoiding party or political meetings (Renewed cheers.) He (Mr. F. Buxton) was assured by those cheers that he might answer for this meeting that in the proceedings of that day there would be nothing of party or political feeling exhibited. (Applause.) Differ many present undoubtedly did; but not to-day. (Cheers). There were seen there assembled persons of every variety of political opinion, and of every shade of religious belief. There might be dissensions, and bitter dissensions, elsewhere; but there to-day, he would venture to say the meeting would be found to be united in one common heart, in one common object, in one common bond, namely, hatred to the traffic in men. (Cheers,) The resolution he had to propose was, "That notwithstanding all the measures hitherto adopted for the suppression of the foreign trade in slaves, the traffic has increased and continued to increase under circumstances of aggravated horror, and prevails to an extent which imperatively calls for the strenuous and combined exertions of the whole Christian community to effect its extinction." The meeting would see that the resolution acknowledged that the efforts of the anti-slavery party had been disappointed, defeated, and baffled; but the question to-day was, "Shall a new effort be undertaken for that object?" (Applause.) What was the state of Africa! Why, it was one universal slaughterhouse, as was proved upon evidence which could not be disputed. What was its trade? A trade in the bodies of its inhabitants, (Cheers) Its religion was human sacrifices. (Loud cheers.) Its trade swept off and mowed down multitudes every day in the year and every hour in the day. Multitudes did he say? Why, thousands were destroyed in the nightly combustions which took place - thousands fell by day travelling the burning sands; and as to a slave-ship, it was impossible to describe, except in the words of Scripture, which said, "A pestilence walketh upon the waters;" nay, the very shark knew the slave ship to be a bark of blood, and expected from it his daily sustenance. (Loud cheers.) He should not attempt to describe the horrors of a slave-ship, but if there were a conviction indelibly implanted in his mind by the torrid masses of the materials of information he had studied, it was that the horrors of Africa were not to be described or even conceived. (Hear, hear.) The tongue of man could not tell them, the ear of man could not receive them; they completely outran the comprehension of man's mind, He could state this fact more that most people, for he had attempted to give a delineation of the slave trade but no one felt more strongly than himself how completely he had failed in a just and adequate delineation of the horrors of that traffic; he would, therefore, wind up the attempted outline by a picture drawn by an inspired hand:- "The whole head is sick, and the heart faint - from the sole of the foot to the crown of the head there is no soundness in it, but sorest wounds" (Loud cheers). He now came to a question which he wished to endeavour to resolve - namely, what was it at which the society aimed? He could not pretend to say that its aim would be rapidly attained - they hoped, however, eventually to attain it (Cheers.) Their aim was nothing less than the achievement of a state of things the very reverse of that which at present existed in Africa. They aimed at peace. (Loud cheers.) He spoke this with great emphasis, because a question had been pat to him by an enlightened and able friend of Africa on that subject. As far as their objects could be attained they were exclusively of peace and they trusted the effect of their exertions would be an abundance of that peace in Africa which would enable every man to pursue his honest calling, and to wander from his dwelling without the apprehension that the man-stealers were prowling in the neighbourhood ready to pounce upon his children. (Hear, hear.) They wanted to establish industry - that industry which should till the land, and out of the land extract a ransom for that unhappy country - that industry which would cultivate the land, and by availing itself of the bounty of nature should transform the face of the country (Hear.) They wanted, however, something more than industry, and here he lay some emphasis upon it - they wanted free labour; they had no intention to endeavour to civilise Africa by the whip and the chain - they desired to exhibit their influence by the extension of freedom, not slavery. They wanted commerce for that country, by which they should carry away the superfluities of Africa, and take to her the produce which the skill and machinery of this country afforded, and they wanted above all, to establish religion in Africa. (Loud cheers.) He said this emphatically, because he had been much criticized and taunted with a fundamental error of the gravest character, inasmuch as he had reposed too great confidence upon the labours of the missionaries. In answer to that, he must say, they had done, and still continued to do, much good in the cause. If it were error to depend much upon the missionaries - if it were error to be anxious for the spread of Christianity, eternal as well as temporal effects - if it were error to believe that Christianity was the only true civiliser - if these were errors, then he stood here not merely convicted, but confessing that such were the opinions which he held. (Hear, hear.) Every man looked at a subject deeply interesting to him with his own peculiar and favourite aspect, and he confessed that his idea was that of Africa being placed under the influence of Christianity. And what was the present condition of Africa? He had already said it was not his intention to quote anything from his own book; but there was one almost inconsiderable circumstance which took place recently in the presence of a gentleman he supposed now to be in the room, which he desired to relate, because it gave a clear and defined picture as to the state of Africa in one point. A king or chief of Africa had just returned from one of his expeditions, in which he had been so successful as to capture many human beings, and had slaughtered as many more. A missionary was present, and called to him a little child, trembling under the apprehensions of the horrors which overhung him. He took compassion on the child, and requested that he might be given to him. Happy would it have been for the boy had it been so. He would have been reared in Christian principles, and perhaps afterwards have been a missionary of the gospel to his own country. But it was not to be so. The fate of the boy was irrevocably sealed. He was devoted to the evil spirit - he was to be offered up to the shrine of idolatry and avarice :-
At this moment Mr. O'Connell, M.P., entered from the door at the back of the platform, and was speedily recognised by some of his admirers in the more distant parts of the hall. He was slightly cheered, until his presence became more extensively known, when the applause became general, and was met by some expressions of disapprobation, and cries of "Chair, chair."
Mr. F. BUXTON resumed. He discovered now the cause of the interruption he had met with. He besought the meeting not to permit the cause of this day to be sacrificed to political feelings. He knew the hon. Gentleman who had just entered, and he verily believed a more strenuous advocate of abolition of slavery did not exist; and he must take leave to say, that if these interruptions were to be repeated or anything likely to injure the cause of Africa should arise he (Mr. F. Buxton) pledged himself that the hon. Gentleman would instantly retire. ("Hear, hear," and cries of "No, no.") He knew perfectly well that the hon. Gentleman's object was to do good to the cause on which they were that day assembled, and he was sure, that if the bone of contention should be thrown down in the meeting, the hon. Gentleman would at once absent himself. Might he (Mr. F. Buxton) then, beg, in the name of poor Africa, that the voice of controversy might now be hushed - that all dissensions for that day at least might cease? (Hear, hear.) He would now, then, proceed. He had already stated the objects at which the society aimed; he must now state the grounds upon which they placed their reliance for success. He most thankfully acknowledged the assistance which had been afforded by a large body of gentlemen to aid and support this cause - a body with whom it was a privilege and an honour to act (hear, hear), but at the same time, though he did not undervalue their assistance, yet the great dependence of the society was not on them, but upon the large assembly he addressed, and through it upon the people of England. These, however, did not form the great hope and bulwark of their confidence. They had a higher hope - a greater confidence. They believed with humility, but with full assurance, that they had God's blessing upon their work: they knew from God's own word that when they engaged in a labour like this - when they looked to Him and Him alone for help - when they sought the benefit of all His creatures, His blessing could not be wanting. (Cheers.) But, as far as human aid and agency was concerned, they wanted not only the hearts and influence of the people of England, they wanted all Christendom to stand up m this cause. Heretofore he was induced to think they had been too exclusive in the quarters from which they looked for assistance. They had a body of real friends in America - friends who after the exposition recently given of the use made of the American flag for advancing and continuing the slave trade, would not let the matter sleep. They had friends, too, in France, and also in a quarter least to be expected - he meant the Vatican (hear, hear), whence had recently issued a bull addressed to Portugal, Spain, Cuba, and the Brazils, which he (Mr. F. Buxton) thought would effect much good. (Cheers.) But they wanted, he repeated, the hearts of that noble assembly; for there was not present one individual, from his Royal Highness in the chair down to the humblest person, who could not reader some service to the cause. This society wanted the aid of the powerful and wealthy - the aid of the intellectual to dedicate to Africa the efforts of their minds and pens, and those who could aid neither by their wealth nor power could render service by their prayers. (Cheers.) The poor could call down the Divine blessing on the momentous and critical expedition which was so soon about to hold intercourse with Africa, and upon the Christian men who were about to peril their lives in the great cause. They might, in that language which was familiar to all, pray "that peace and happiness, truth and justice, religion and piety, may be established amongst them throughout all generations," (Loud cheers.) It would be improper for so obscure an individual as himself longer to detain the meeting; he must, however, he excused if he expressed the deep feelings of gratification with which he saw his Royal Highness in the chair, and to declare his most ardent and fervent desire that Her Majesty, his Royal consort (cheers), might long reign with boundless prosperity and surpassing glory, (Long-continued cheering.) He did not forget the military triumphs which this country had achieved, but he must say there was a road to glory more illustrious, noble, and pure than the battles of Waterloo or Trafalgar had opened. To arrest the destruction of mankind, to throw a blessing upon a continent now in ruins, to give civilization, and to spread the mild truths of the gospel over a region in comparison with which the British empire was but as a speck upon the ocean, was a higher and a nobler road, and his desire and prayer was that Her Majesty might tread it (cheers), and that, crowned with every ether blessing, she might-
The hon. Gentleman, after formally moving the adoption of the resolution, resumed his seat amidst loud and long-continued cheering.
The Bishop of WINCHESTER, on rising to second the resolution, said that his hon. Friend who had just taken his seat had described himself - he would say how unjustly - as an humble and obscure individual. An obscure individual? So long as the annals of this country existed, so long would the name of the hon. Gentleman be identified with the abolition of the slave trade, and he (the Bishop of Winchester) rejoiced that he need not detain either his Royal Highness or the meeting at any great length in seconding a resolution which that excellent individual had moved. (Cheers.) Yet, he should regret if on an occasion like the present there was not some expression - however inadequate and feeble - of the sympathy which the clergy of the church of England felt in this great question. (Load cheers.) He felt it was due to the church to which he had the honour to belong, as it was due to the question, to declare their attachment and adherence to it. If, indeed, this were a question of politics, then with truth might the body to which he belonged hesitate ere they ventured to thrust themselves in the forefront of the battle: but that this was no question of politics under any sense of the word, he felt he had the best guarantee in the fact of his Royal Highness's condescension in taking the chair that day. (Loud and general cheers.) If the question were one of pure commerce, the clergy might with propriety refer it to men of traffic and enterprise, who "run to and fro," and who might watch not without deep interest, but without anxiety, the result, (Hear, hear.) But this was no more a question of mere commerce than it was of politics. The question was rather one which concerned the moral consistency of the religious character of the country at large, and it was on this ground especially that he felt he was not out of place to-day with his right rev. brethren around him, and with the concurrence of the primate of the church, to express their adherence and attachment to the cause of the abolition of the traffic in slaves. (Loud cheers.) It was, in truth, a humiliating thing to consider that some half century after, some 60 years since their first attempts to abolish this detestable and unnatural traffic, they had this day to consider and concert new measures for its suppression. It was, in truth a humiliating thing for this country, that, in the words of the resolution, "notwithstanding all the measures adopted for the suppression of the foreign trade in slaves, the traffic has increased, and continues to increase, under circumstances of aggravated horror." He felt it was humiliating to consider, that at the beginning of the present century Great Britain had prohibited all her subjects from engaging in the slave trade, and under such circumstances it was impossible to deny the high responsible accountability of this country. (Applause.) He trusted the proceedings of this day would go far to redeem the pledge which had been given: he trusted, that having a knowledge of these facts before it, this country would do all that in it lay for the suppression of this trade. This country had not only the knowledge, but she had the power; for could it be said that the mistress of the sea - the Queen of the waters - had not the power? And having the power, it was her bounden duty to apply the remedy. They must not disguise the fact that the traffic had not been extinguished; nay, that it had not diminished, but, on the contrary, that by the latest accounts the numbers exported had increased - that the annual destruction of human life, with all the guilt and misery consequent thereon, had increased from 17 to 25 per cent. (Hear.) With these views, then, he cordially joined in the proceedings of this society; he hailed the union which prevailed that day; he rejoiced in seeing that now, for the first time, this country went forward, not for the depression of national enemies - not for more national conquest - not for national aggrandizement - but for the object of striking a blow at barbarism in Africa - the real root of the evil, and for planting Christianity in lieu of the superstitions and errors of idolatry and sin. (Cheers.) On these grounds, in the name of the church of England, her clergy, and her people, he might well thank God and take courage, and bid this society prosper and God's speed, in the name of the Lord. With these feelings he cordially seconded the resolution.
Mr. F. BUXTON then, by command of his Royal Highness Prince Albert, put the resolution to the meeting, and it was passed unanimously.
Dr. LUSHINGTON, M P., then came forward to move the next resolution - "that the utter failure of every attempt by treaty, by remonstrance, and by naval armaments, to arrest the progress of the trade, and the exposure recently made by the publication of Mr. Buxton of the deep interest which the African chiefs have in its continuance, as the means of obtaining European goods and manufactures, prove the necessity of resorting to a preventive policy founded on different and higher principles," and was loudly cheered. The right hon. And learned gentleman said, though he was here upon compulsion, still he was a willing slave to the cause. The resolution he had to propose was almost a necessary consequence on the facts already presented by the two speakers who had preceded him, and therefore he came at once to the consideration, first, of the reasons which had given birth to this institution, and then to the principles and the common bond by which they were united. They were assembled together because not merely the traffic in human beings was continued, but had daily augmented, and because there was an extent of human suffering, a depth of guilt, and a defiance of the first ordinances of God, which was never before exhibited since the world began; and that defiance had been perpetrated not by those who were buried in the depths of heathen barbarism and pagan idolatry, but by those whose pride it was to know and to acknowledge, and to profess their belief in the eternal God and Saviour, and who did not deny him, but defied him. When this institution was first originated, and when it was proposed to unite and combine together persons professing such an infinite diversity of opinions, it was necessary to lay down some common principle or end; they were well aware that in a society where there were Churchmen, Dissenters, members of the Society of Friends, and Roman Catholics, it was beyond the power of man to devise a plan by which all could continue to promote it. But, in the words of the prospectus, although they deeply and unfeignedly regretted that they were under the necessity of abandoning the idea of directly and immediately attempting to introduce Christianity, they one and all, without a single exception, united in expressing a firm conviction that the evil would never be overcome until Africa had abandoned her pagan rites, and become Christian people. (Cheers.) So again, with respect to education, the same difference arose; but they all knew that when once the road was opened by the efforts of this society, there were other societies and bodies which would avail themselves of it, and carry the object into effect. It had been said that they had laid their foundations on limits so narrow, that little good could result from such a combination; but, remember, the forest must be cut down ere the church can be built - the swamp must be drained ere the stately palace can be erected - the road must be opened before it is possible that exertions, however energetic, however benevolent, however well directed, can be usefully made - they must have a road opened to them before the most zealous operations could succeed. This society, then, were the humble pioneers in this road - they sought the civilization of Africa - they sought to abolish the slave trade by extinguishing the great motive to its continuance - the insatiable lust of avarice - by supplying to the inhabitants these necessaries, those comforts, those conveniences in a mode to which no human being can offer objection, instead of their being purchased by the blood and misery of their fellow-creatures. (Cheers.) Could they suppose that the nations of the continent would not feel, and acknowledge, and imitate the example set them that day? (Cheers.) I have the honour, said the right hon. Gentleman, to witness present here the representative of one of the mightiest nations in Europe. (Cheers.) I hail his presence as an auspicious omen (renewed cheering), and I trust that he (M. Guizot) will convey to his Sovereign and to his country an adequate representation of the zeal and unanimity of the people of England? (Cheers.) I trust - and why should I doubt? - that it will produce its effect. (Hear, hear.) I hope for France, I pray for France, as our first and noblest coadjutor. (Enthusiastic cheers.) I think it right to bring under the consideration of this meeting a proposition founded upon actual experience in these countries - I mean the proposition lately made by Mr. Turnbull in his work on Cuba. It appeared to him, that were it possible that the Spanish Government could be induced to consent to what they have not hitherto consented to - to allow the mixed commission acting there, not simply to inquire into the condition of the slaves when they are captured at the entrance of the river, but after being once imported into the country, to inquire into their mode of treatment, much would be done to do away with the horrors of the system. Now, we, as a society, cannot embark in that undertaking; but it is well deserving the consideration of those who think that no national means ought to be neglected, and ought not to receive the most careful examination, if they tend to the accomplishment of one common object. I feel how wrong it is for me to trespass further on the attention of this great meeting, but I cannot refrain from adding my last wish, that your Royal Highness may never repent the day when you honoured this meeting with your presence. (Great cheering.) The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the second resolution.
The Venerable Archdeacon WILBERFORCE rose to second the resolution, and was loudly cheered on presenting himself to the meeting. He said, however he might fail to express them, the sympathies of his heart were entirely with the society, and it was no small pleasure to him to find himself in this resolution joined with the name of Mr. Buxton - with him to whom he well remembered, in undoubted confidence, it was the settled resolution of his honoured father that he could most safely consign the leadership in this great cause. (Loud and enthusiastic cheers.) He know well with whom he had to do; he knew well the single, settled, generous, and devoted purpose with which that hon. gentleman disdained for a moment to make this cause the medium of personal advancement, and that he would pursue through evil report and through good report the cause he had undertaken; and he took up a remark which had fallen from Mr. Buxton - namely, that the extinction of the slave trade depended on promoting the civilization of Africa. (Loud cheers.) He knew, and many in that meeting would remember, what civilization had done of old in that city which had reached the highest point of earthly civilisation, when the hand of God rained on Athens, and the pestilence was mowing down its ranks, They remembered, then, that that city, in spite of its civilization, had exhibited the most fierce, the most inhuman, and the most deadly hatred in man to man - that then every bond which bound the links of life together was severed at once, and man only saw in his fellow man one in whom he could recognize a prey; and thus it ever had been with those who trusted in human instrumentality to do that which nothing but the presence of God could effect (Cheers.) Although they trusted altogether to Christianity to do the work, no one had looked at the history of the spread of Christianity but must have seen that God had used secondary instruments as the means of introducing Christianity. He believed that the very cause and origin of the commercial plan had been for that ample purpose. He believed that the cause why England did not produce the fruits and spices of the East, and the East did not bring forth the products of England, was simply this - that as the Great Father of All grudged not his gifts, there was no stint on the prodigality of His giving. But that was the source of the necessity which led nation to trade with nation, who thus had an opportunity and power, which other than commercial nations did not possess, of carrying the embargo of civilization into every part of the earth, that every ship laden with commerce might also bear the inestimable boon of everlasting life (loud cheers) - that from no part of the earth should they receive only, without giving for the gold of the West and the spices of the East the more precious wealth - the more blessed frankincense of Christ their master. (Loud cheering.) They knew their hope was in Christianity, but that knowledge conferred duties on them, and might be made instrumental in it. (Cheers.) In the discharge of those duties the church to which he was conscientiously attached was ready to perform its part, and he ventured to anticipate good things from the movement which, under God's blessing, had now begun. There were many favourable prognostics. He did not mean to flatter the meeting with the expectation of the speedy issue of their labours. He had learned that no good work was to be done in this world except by faith and patience They must patiently labour on in faith on God's promises that they might certainly obtain a favourable result. It was this thought that through a many weary day and anxious night animated the heart and upheld the steps of him whom in this matter he desired earnestly to follow. Well he remembered those words - those prophetic words he spoke in answer to some expression of early expectation from a more sanguine fellow-labourer (hear, hear) - "Be not so speedy as to the result of our efforts - I look for no present success - I know well when self-interest is turned for a moment by the acclamations of such meetings as this, and has hung down its head, it will raise itself again when the burst of acclamation is over. I know self-interest is steady, persevering, and long before it is put down; but (he added) I look with confidence to the end." (Cheers) It had been said to a rev. friend now on the platform, "Public opinion is now so strong against us, I can be scarcely heard; but let me live a few years, and then it will be exhibited as strongly on the other side." Your Royal Highness, continued the rev. gentleman, has been happily spared the hearing the discord which has prevailed, but as happily you have arrived in time to seen the unanimous feeling which now actuates the English people upon this important subject. On this principle, and with this good hope, I beg of every one present to devote himself to the work - not as a light thing which may be set about to-morrow, but as a work in which you think that, God helping you, you can never fail. Your labours are directed to the amelioration of the condition of a fourth part of the human race - you devote yourself to no mere earthly triumph - to no pagent of a day, but to a triumph the chariot wheels of which are righteousness (Cheers.)
The resolution was put to the meeting by Dr Lushington, and passed unanimously.
|Tu 2 June 1840|
|Sir R. PEEL was next announced to the meeting, and rose amidst three distinct rounds of waving of hats and handkerchiefs. As soon as silence was restored, the right hon. Baronet said it would have been much more agreeable to his own private and personal feelings if he had been permitted to take a silent and perfectly unostentatious part in the proceedings of that day. There was to him something painful in appearing at this time to interfere with the triumphs of those who had devoted their lives and their best exertions to the furtherance of this cause, and to whom was exclusively due the honour and the virtuous fame of having struggled in furtherance of it when it was exposed to real and pressing difficulties, and it was only because these who had been the consistent friends of the cause - it was only because the hon. Gentleman who had begun the proceedings of that day, and because the rev. gentleman who had just concluded an address proving that he not only inherited the name but the virtues and eloquence of his father - it was only because these had expressed a wish that he (Sir R. Peel) should take an active part in these proceedings that be had overcome the dictates of his own will, and deferred to the wishes of those who were the best judges of what was best for the advancement of the best interests of the cause. (Cheers.) They had imposed upon him the gratifying but most difficult task of attempting to embody in becoming language that which it was, he was sure, the anxious wish of the assembly to convey - namely, their feeling of grateful acknowledgement to his Royal Highness for having undertaken to preside on this occasion (loud cheers) - to express the feelings of high and pure delight that his Royal Highness had auspicated and sanctified this cause by his first appearance in the arena of public discussion, and by manifesting a zealous feeling in the great cause in which the interests of humanity and religion were so deeply involved. (Cheers.) The feeling which he (Sir R. Peel) had to express was not confined to any meeting which could be contained within the narrow walls of that edifice, for that meeting was the fit organ and representative of the feelings of the whole people of England. (Loud cheers.) That meeting, which was attended by persons of every religious persuasion, of every shade of political opinion, was the fitting representative of the only feeling of a great people - a feeling of gratification and cordial delight that his Royal Highness had stepped forward to take a first part in the proceedings of that day. (Loud cheers.) Such was the feeling of a people who in times of great financial difficulty had submitted without a murmur to extraordinary pecuniary sacrifices, for the purpose of purifying themselves from the stain of any participation in the horrors and complicated evils of slavery. They had freed themselves from that stain, but they could not conceal from themselves the mortifying reflection, that in having thus rescued their character, there was but too much reason to believe they had not succeeded in diminishing the sum of human suffering, but, on the contrary, that in individual cases they had aggravated the sufferings of those who were the victims of the slave trade. Since he had come into the room a document had been placed in his hand which he felt it his duty to notice. It seemed placed there by a fortuitous and happy circumstance, as it would serve to convince the meeting, and through it the people of this country, that notwithstanding the vote of 20,000,000 l. to put an end to the slave trade, there was still need of combined and increased exertion. He wanted to bring to the minds of these who heard him the conviction that by the grant of 20,000,000 l. the country had done nothing more than rescue its own character from imputation. This was not a document prepared by any anti-slavery association. It was a document called "the Shipping List of the Cape of Good Hope," - a commercial paper not professing any sentiments, but merely recording commercial transactions. It was dated the 17th of March, 1840, and one half of its intelligence was devoted either to the capture or wreck of slave-ships. The heading of the articles were "Fresh Capture of Slaves," "Progress of the Slave Trade on the East Coast," "The Loss of Slavers at Mozambique Harbour during a Hurricane." The last was the only article he would read :- "On the 24th of January, 1840, during a hurricane from the south-east, two slavers, a ship and a brig, were wrecked at Mozambique harbour, but the crews of both and 200 slaves on board the brig were saved. The ship had arrived the preceding day, and had not taken in any slaves. It was reported that the brig, commanded by a Spaniard, had originally 900 slaves on board, but during the hurricane the hatches had been battened down, and on opening them 300 were found to have died from suffocation." (Great sensation.) "Again the hurricane came on; the hatches were battened down a second time, and the consequence was, that 300 more of the slaves perished from the same cause, and 100 of the remaining 300 died on the passage to Mozambique harbour;" and what had been the conduct of the parties to this mortality - what was the course the vessel had pursued? Why, they returned for the purpose of getting a fresh supply. (Renewed sensation.) Until this country rescued Christianity and the character of the white people from the grievous infamy of these sins, it never would succeed in the great object to which the rev. gentleman who had preceded him adverted, it never would be able to convince the black population of Africa of the moral superiority of their European fellow-men (cheers); scarcely could it convince them of the truths of Christianity, which continued to tolerate such monstrous sins, it was necessary that great exertions should be made by the country for the purpose of preventing the efforts and exertions of this country from aggravating the evils, of the stain from which England was free. (Hear, hear.) There will be (said the right hon. Baronet) some difficulties in the way, and I am not sanguine of early success; but I confess I have that confidence in. the righteousness of the cause, in the conviction that it must meet with the Divine protection, and in the knowledge that the moral influence of this country, and its pressing unanimously its determination on the subject, will so nerve the arm of the Executive Government, that it will compel other countries at least to fulfil the obligations of positive treaties (cheers), and that Africa will thus be enabled to effect its own advancement. It is from the prevalence of such feelings as these that the present meeting has originated; and I must not hesitate to state, Sir, that the position you this day fill, with the knowledge of the whole United Kingdom, is not unworthy of the illustrious station which you occupy (loud cheers); it is not unworthy of the illustrious station which you occupy on the right hand of the throne of England (cheers); it is not unworthy of the high character which at an early period of life you have been enabled to establish, and which is well known in the remotest corner of this empire (cheering), by the combination of virtuous conduct and high mental qualifications and accomplishments. It is not, Sir, unworthy, too, of those glorious recollections which you are entitled to cherish on account of the virtues and sacrifices in a good cause of your ancestors. (Loud cheering.) We do feel that it is not unbecoming this high station, these great advantages, and these proud recollections, that you should be called on with your own hand to lay the corner-stone of an enterprise which has for its object to rescue Africa from debasing superstitions, and to put an end to her miseries by the introduction of the arts of civilization and peace; and, above all, to rescue Europe and the white race, as well as the name of Christianity, from the pollution of crimes the continuance of which forbids ourselves to triumph either over those superstitions, or over the supposed inferiority of that race which we seek to exalt and to make worthy of freedom, by teaching it how to value the privileges and attributes of freedom. (Cheers.) It is by these means, not by war, not by force, but by the blessed means of teaching the natives of Africa that the labours of their sinews, applied to their own land, are more valuable than that labour of blood which is the object of the present detestable traffic - it is by these means, and by teaching these lessons, as well as by proving the absence of every interested feeling, that we can hope ultimately to triumph. (Cheers.) The illustrious consort of Her Majesty had made an exception to the rule which prohibited the attendance of personages in his situation at meetings of political and party character, and had made his first entrance into public life - at all events into an assembly met for public discussion - by coming forward as a zealous advocate for the total extinction of slavery.|
At the conclusion of Sir Robert Peel's address, His Royal Highness Prince Albert quitted the chair, and having bowed to the meeting retired, amidst the most enthusiastic cheering from all parts of the hall. His Royal Highness left at five minutes to 1 o'clock. The Earl of Ripon then took the chair, and the business of the day proceeded.
The Bishop of CHICHESTER rose to move the third resolution:- "That that policy was to be found in the civilization of Africa, by the introduction of Christianity, by the promotion of legitimate commerce, and by encouraging the cultivation of the soil on a system of free labour." His lordship said, though it was but a small part of the business of the day he had to perform, he could not help thinking he ought to do all he could in the great cause. He would allude to the letter of the Primate to the committee that morning. He had once a fear that interested motives might have operated to produce ends of a sordid character, but that fear was removed. He hoped that religious civilisation would be the one great and sole object, and that their proceedings would partake of nothing that was unworthy or impure. It was the love of gain which had produced the very atrocities they had heard of. It would be lamentable if motives of gain were to supersede motives of religion. The state of the slave ship, which had been alluded to by Sir Robert Peel, was most deplorable. Deplorable too, it was, that after all the sacrifices made by this country, that system was suffered still to exist. When the question was discussed in Parliament, he well remembered the nature of the discussions, and he had put his hand to many petitions against the existence of that system. When Mr. Fox and Mr. Pitt debated the question, it was stated that 80,000 slaves were annually transported across the Atlantic, but it now appeared that 150,000 were annually exported to Spanish and Portuguese colonies. Not less than 400,000 persons were annually sacrificed, to enable this importation to exist. They were destroyed by war, by ill treatment, and by disease. Thus 500,000 slaves might be said to be sacrificed every year. They were about to undertake a great - a mighty cause, they must be prepared to meet with obstacles; both men, aye, and devils, both principalities and powers would oppose them; but they would have the blessing of God with them. (Cheers.) Yet, as human means must be employed, it was, amongst other things, pleasing to know that the commander of the projected expedition was entitled to the confidence of the country, and he, the Bishop of Chichester, would say that, of all the persons with whom he was acquainted, he knew of no one who would do so much as that commander would do. Four or five years ago ho commanded the Curlew on the African coast; he found that a vessel had been plundered by the crew of a vessel half pirate, half slaver. The pirates had secured the crew beneath the hatches, and had prepared to blow them up, when a Spanish vessel had fortunately come to their rescue. When he (Captain Trotter), the commander to whom he had alluded, learnt the fact, and obtained information from the American consul, he watched the pirates, and pursued them up a river in the bight of Biafra. They set fire to their vessel, and fled. Captain Trotter pursued them for 15 months in his boats, amongst the native princes, and wherever they went; he got hold of them at last, and sent them to America, where they were tried by Judge Storey, who had pronounced a most high and deserved eulogium on his conduct. The bishop concluded by proposing the resolution.
Mr. S. GURNEY seconded the resolution proposed by the Bishop of Chichester. He observed, that the resolution embodied three points; first, a way by which Christianity was to be introduced into Africa; secondly, the cultivation of the soil of that country; and, thirdly, the encouragement that would be given to commerce. With respect to commercial advantages, he would say there was no worldly policy so sure as that which was based on Christianity. The commercial powers of Africa would be developed for the advantage of the inhabitants of Africa, and also for the advantage of this country. The commerce already commenced was not a mean commerce; it was a profitable one, and was increasing; at present it consisted mainly in receiving almost spontaneous articles; gums, oils, and ivory. The great object of the country should be to turn their efforts to legitimate purposes, not wholly to depend on spontaneous results, but on the results of industry also. Indigo once grow in only one locality, it now grows in many. Wool, which was formerly imported from Spain, came now from Germany, and much also came from Australia. If history showed variations in commercial localities, why might they not obtain both indigo and wool from Africa? Perhaps it might so happen in a few years. He would not say they had not difficulties to encounter; he know difficulties would arise, but they would not be insurmountable. It was, at all events, highly probable great changes would take place. There were other favourable points, Africa was populous, and the population were unsophisticated, why might not artificial wants be created? Such wants would produce civilization. And increase commerce. The other point in the resolution he would allude to; the introduction of Christianity. The introduction of Christianity would tend more than anything else to their object. The olive branch would do more to produce civilization than the musket and the sword, and they might anticipate that their exertions would be the means of hastening that day when Christianity would cover the earth as the waters covered the sea. (Cheers.)
The resolution was put and carried.
Mr. BUXTON apologized for interrupting the business for a few minutes, but he had just received a letter from the secretary of Prince Albert, informing him that his Royal Highness had subscribed 105 l. to the funds of the Society, and had also directed his name to be put down as an annual subscriber for 10 l. This announcement produced great applause throughout the room. Mr. Buxton then said he would interrupt them for a few moments longer to say that the Duke of Northumberland had subscribed 50 l., the Bishop of London 25 l., Lord Broadstone 20 l., John Smith Wright, Esq., 105 l., the Primate of Ireland 25 l., the noble lord in the chair 50 1., Mr. Close 10 l. and the Bishop of Lincoln 20 l. He would also take the opportunity of informing them that subscriptions would be received in the committee room, and at the bottom of the stairs.
The Earl of CHICHESTER moved the fourth resolution, "That in the opinion of that meeting Great Britain is required both by every consideration of sound commercial policy, and by the highest motives of Christian obligation, to exert all her influence and all her power for the effectual suppression of the slave trade, and that the means proposed by that society in accordance with the principles recognized in its prospectus, and in the preceding resolutions, appeared eminently calculated to conduce to the attainment of that great result, and were, therefore, entitled to cordial approbation and support." His Lordship said it was natural on this occasion that the devoted feelings of loyalty and affection felt by all towards the illustrious prince who had at the commencement of the day filled the chair, and the loyalty felt by all present for the Queen, should have been shown as it had been, and that the various speakers should have congratulated the meeting and the Christian world on the fact of his presence. He felt in common with the country the joy diffused by his having been present. He rejoiced that His Royal Highness had witnessed the feeling of the country in the cause of Christianity. (Cheers.) They were justified in believing that the union of these whom be addressed originated in the feeling of Christian men that it was their duty to redress the evils which existed. That the union of men of all parties was the result of a conviction that it was the duty of all to redress the evils which this country had produced and protracted. He felt he owed it to the meeting to apologize for trespassing upon their time, though he had not taken a prominent part he had always been deeply interested in the abolition of slavery, and be was connected with a missionary society that held it their bounden duty to extend the gospel. To suppose Africa could be civilized and commerce and the arts introduced without introducing religion, would be a nugatory notion, for what could man effect without the light of revelation! The history of modern missionary efforts, was an illustration of this; wherever the message of salvation had been carried, civilization had accompanied its steps. The preaching of Christ he believed to be one great object of the society, and it was in that belief he lent his assistance. He trusted the prayers of millions would be offered up to God for their success, and he anticipated the best results.
At this part of the proceedings there were renewed calls for Mr. O'Connell, but they were shortly hushed,
and Mr. C. LANGDALE M.P., seconded the resolution. He felt the necessity of an apology. There was no distinction of political creeds nor of religious opinions about the object they had in view. He would not presume, after what they had already heard, to offer anything new. Nothing would be said in defence of the gross abuses of the system they were met to put down. There was, however, one point to which be would call their attention; Great Britain was under a peculiar obligation to put down the system, because she once had a portion in its iniquity, and it was but a few years that slavery had been blotted out of the code of the empire. But though the property of man in his fellow-creatures had been justly paid for, yet the effects of their past misconduct remained, and they were bound to turn others from that course in which they themselves had a share; they owed a deep debt to the inhabitants of Africa, and they were bound to pay it. They were bound to let them participate in the benefit of commerce, and to introduce peace and good will amongst them by the introduction of Christianity.
The motion having been carried,
Lord ASHLEY moved the fifth resolution, "That that meeting earnestly and solemnly appealed to the whole Christian community to farther the operations of the society by pecuniary contributions, by private and public influence, and by all other means that were legitimate in the prosecution of a purpose, dictated by humanity, approved by sound policy, anxiously desired by the country, and undertaken in the humble hope that the blessing of Almighty God would be vouchsafed to its labours." His Lordship said it might appear presumptuous, after so many distinguished in the cause had addressed them, that he should come forward, but his apology was that he was about to do what he had been requested to do. He exulted in the resolution he was about to propose, and the manner he knew it would be received. That assembly was composed of all grades and classes, and glorious it was to see them all cooperating in the great effort of wiping out the stain which had disgraced the country. It would be impertinent to dilate on subjects which had been so repeatedly urged; he would therefore be very short. They might be told their experiment would fail - he did not believe it would; at all events the experiment was worth a trial. If their perseverance were equal to the magnitude of their cause, and their faith equal to their perseverance, he had no doubt of their ultimate success. Power, science, wealth, freedom, and christianity, were all to be referred to the blessing of Providence. They now sought settlement without dominion, commerce without profit; but their dominion would be the dominion of humanity and truth, and their profit the blessings of countless millions. With heartfelt sympathy he would propose the resolution.
The Rev Mr. CLAYTON rose to second the resolution. He spoke with diffidence, and yet with satisfaction. He had no apology to offer; the cause was his apology. He was a man, and anything relating to the welfare of man was his business. Their object was to declare a war of utter extermination of slavery in all places, and on all occasions. (Cbeers.) It was a glorious day for Britain when she declared the moment a slave set his foot on her soil he should be free, but it was a more glorious day when the British Parliament declared slavery should be no more. A day of still greater glory was to be anticipated, which be ventured to say was at no great distance, when shouts should rend the shores, and voices exclaim, "Slavery is fallen, and shall rise no more." The principles of justice and benevolence must prevail. Justice to Africa, benevolence, humanity, and Christianity, would compel them to undertake the great work, and he was confident that the principles on which they proceeded must prevail. Their proceedings had taken deep root in the public mind. He valued princely patronage, but he had read, "Put not your trust in princes, nor in any son of man," and he had still greater trust in the nation in its determination to civilize and colonize Africa. That determination was imbedded in the minds of the British people, it was as a tessellated pavement in their minds, and no pick-axe could remove it. Revolution, murder, and anarchy had been predicted by those who were averse to the liberation of the negroes in the colonies, but how had the present system worked there? Ask the negroes, and they could tell them. It had worked for the cause of civilisation and religion. He held it good on any occasion when persons of different parties were led to co-operate, because kind affections were cultivated thereby, and asperities were removed; when be remembered who had filled the chair an hour or two ago, it was most gratifying; and he held it as a testimony which would tell in Germany and in all Europe, aye, and amongst their American brethren, they had seen the prince who borrowed lustre from the Throne, reflecting that lustre on their cause. God grant he might long live to witness the perfect success of that cause to which he had lent his youth and his exertions that day! But, beyond even that help, he relied on the King of kings, and prayed that He would prosper their labours, crown them with success, that all flesh might see the salvation of God.
Another cry arose for Mr. O'Connell, but the business of the day was not interrupted.
Sir R. PEEL here rose from his seat, and was long and loudly applauded as he quitted the room.
The Marquis of NORTHAMPTON, in proposing the next resolution, said that he trusted he might be permitted to allude to the last occasion when he had had the happiness to meet His Royal Highness Prince Albert, That occasion was, when, in conjunction with the Earl of Aberdeen, he, as President of the Royal Society, had received His Royal Highness at Somerset-house, when that illustrious Individual had, upon invitation, honoured the society with a visit for the purpose of being enrolled as a member, and as a patron of that society. On that occasion His Royal Highness had identified himself with the science of the country and the literature of Europe whilst on the present day His Royal Highness had identified himself with a much higher object, namely in the cause of humanity. (Cheers.) He deeply regretted that the science of this country had not, even though it had only been for its own advantage, earlier taken an active part in this subject. He felt deep shame that the science of this country, with which he was himself so closely associated, should, until that moment, as it were, not have bestirred themselves. (Hear.) An hon. Speaker who had preceded him had drawn a comparison as it were between piracy and the trafficking in slaves, but he must be allowed to remark that, in his opinion, the suppression of the latter was of far greater importance than the abolition of the former. No piracy had ever caused so much of horror, so much of misery, or so much of desolation as had the cursed, he had almost said the devilish traffic in human flesh. (Loud cheers,) The resolution he held in his hand called upon every one in that room to use their warmest efforts in conjunction with these of the society with a view to the ultimate total annihilation of that slave trade (cheers); and he felt assured from the manifestations which he had that day witnessed that the meeting - that the people of England would readily respond to the appeal. (Loud cheers,) It was a subject of great humiliation that in these days of general civilization and exertion the traffic in human beings yet remains to be put down. It was a matter for reproach of the highest character that, notwithstanding the powers of Europe had to a certain extent become linked together for the purpose, their combined exertions had been unsuccessful, and the trade yet remained. (Hear, hear.) For himself he begged to say it was an end he had long, very long desired to see accomplished, and he could only say that its consummation would be to him a source of unspeakable gratification. (Hear, hear.) The noble Marquis concluded by making a resolution in the following terms: "That in order to promote the interests of this institution throughout the kingdom, it is expedient to establish societies auxiliary to it, and in regular correspondence and connection with it, as extensively as possible. This meeting, therefore, pledges itself to strenuous efforts for that purpose, and earnestly invites the friends of Africa, of every religious persuasion and political opinion, to adopt such means in their respective neighbourhoods as may contribute, under the divine blessing, to its prosperity and success."
Lord HOWICK in seconding the resolution, observed that he had appeared on the platform upon that occasion rather with the intention, by his presence, of manifesting his strong hatred to and abhorrence of the system which it was the object of the society to extinguish, than by a verbal expression of his sentiments on the subject (Hear, hear.) But he had been requested to take a part in the proceedings by his hon. Friend, the leader of the day, and his noble friend in the chair, under whom he had had the happiness to act at the time when he had held office under his Lordship in the Colonial-office. (Hear.) He was now, as he had been then, gratified to act under those directions, and to follow his hon. Friend in his endeavours to effect the total extinction of the slave trade. Whilst in office it had happened to him to have an opportunity of seeing and hearing of the great necessity there was to put an end to that abhorrent traffic, and he had had an unmixed satisfaction when in his place in the House of Commons, under the direction of his noble friend, of promoting the measures which eventually had led to the abolition of slavery in our colonies. (Cheers.) So many hours had elapsed since the meeting had assembled, and the topic had been so exhausted, that he would not attempt to say one word to excite the animosity of all who heard him against the iniquities of a trade in slaves. He entirely concurred in all the opinions which had been expressed, and fully believed that the means proposed to be taken by the society were the only ones that were likely to attain the desired end. The resolution he had to second and support related to the formation of auxiliary and corresponding societies - they had done great good in obtaining the abolition of the system of slavery, and he trusted would be equally efficacious in the putting down of slavery in every shape. British interests were not now involved, all were unanimous, and he felt confident that the co-operation of many men and many minds, all directed to one common purpose, must be, the means of effecting great good. (Cheers,)
The resolution was then put and carried unanimously.
Lord SANDON had been unwilling to offer himself to the meeting, and would not have done so had it not been that from the peculiar position he held in connexion with a great commercial community, he felt he might he enabled to render some service to the good cause by giving in his adhesion on the part of his constituents, the inhabitants of the great commercial community of Liverpool, to the objects professed by that association. (Cheers.) The traders of Liverpool in former days had dealt somewhat largely in enterprises on the African coast, but when the voice of this country had declared that to "trade in man" should no longer be regarded as a lawful act, that to deal in slaves was as much opposed to the laws of God as it was repugnant to the laws of humanity, then the people of Liverpool had not merely abstained, but had enrolled themselves amongst the foremost for its abolition. (Cheers.) For a long period his constituents and their forefathers had carried on and pursued a lawful and a civilizing trade on the shores of Africa; and he mistook much if a portion of them had not been the pioneers of the present movement. (Hear, hear.) A few gentlemen had associated to send out a steam-boat to traverse the Niger, for the purpose of promoting commercial enterprise, and by that means leading the way to civilization - and, as a matter of course, to the extinction of slavery. (Hear.) The noble lord then moved the appointment of a committee, consisting of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the Dukes of Norfolk and Leinster, the Marquis of Normanby, and several other noblemen. There was one name on the list which he wished particularly to allude to. It was that of the Earl of Harrowby. That noble earl had been the fellow labourer in the cause of the slave trade abolition of Pitt, of Fox, and Wilberforce; and though the infirmities of age had prevented him from assisting at the meeting of that day, the spirit which animated his youth did not slumber even now. (Cheers.)
The Rev. J. DYER, in seconding the resolution, expressed a hope that, under the blessing of Divine Providence, the work which had been so auspiciously began on that day might be carried on with vigour and ultimate effect.
The resolution having been put, was carried with acclamation.
The noble CHAIRMAN having observed that the delicacy of the noble lord who had moved the resolution had prevented his mentioning his own name as one of the Vice-Presidents. He was confident that a more effective or a more zealous friend to the cause did not exist.
The Rev. J. W. CUNNINGHAM, on presenting himself to the meeting, said he had much satisfaction in informing them that the resolution which he had to submit to their notice was the last. (Hear, hear.) The speech which he was about to make had this novelty in it, namely, that he was about to find fault with his friend and relative. He had often heard that friend spoken of as the honourable gentleman, and shame was it on the country that he was not an honourable. (Hear, hear.) He alluded to Mr. Buxton. That hon. Friend had commanded himself and others, his willing slaves, to write pamphlets, to speak addresses, and to preach in furtherance of the cause they had that day assembled to advocate, whilst he had himself been engaged in bringing out a book which went to prove that he had ransacked every page of history wherein the subject had been referred to, and then to crown all, he had come forward and almost exhausted the matter by saying everything that it was possible to say on the question, and having done all this, he had next found fault with them for not doing that which, by the course he had adopted, he had rendered unnecessary. (Loud cheers.) Now he should in future suggest that his hon. Relation should, instead of making his speech at the commencement of the meeting, delay it until all others had spoken. (Hear, hear.) A great deal had been said about the natural inferiority of the African race, and he had always observed that these accusations were made by the stronger party against the weaker, for instance, the lords of the creation had constantly insinuated that they were superior to the ladies of the creation; but when he remembered the exertions of the ladies in the great cause in which they were engaged, he could not doubt but that their hearts were as large and their understandings as good as those of the lords of the creation. The Chinese had accused the Europeans with being an inferior race. Were they inclined, therefore, to consider themselves as an inferior race to the Chinese? He would, with a view of showing the capabilities of the African as he existed in our West India Islands, read to the meeting a petition sent over to the Church Missionary Society. (The rev. gentleman then proceeded to read the petition in question. During the time he was reading it he was frequently interrupted by the impatience of the meeting and cries for O'Connell. Its object was to express the sorrow of the petitioners at the withdrawal of the grant by the Church Missionary Society, and the determination to finish the church and school-house then in the course of erection by their own exertions.) Seeing the impatience of the meeting he would not press his observations on them at any length; but he would earnestly recommend all who wished to understand the important objects of the society to read Mr. Buxton's book on the African slave trade and its remedy. He prayed them not to let their enthusiasm in the cause be evanescent. The cry for Mr. O'Connell here increased so much as to drown the remarks of the rev. gentleman. "Let us hear O'Connell - let us have his speech" issued from several parts of the hall.
The Rev. Mr. CUNNINGHAM, however, when silence had been partially obtained, said - he makes plenty of speeches every day, while I make but one in the course of the year. He would refer the meeting to Mr. Buxton's book, and they there would find who Captain Trotter (who was to have the command of the expedition) was, and the grounds of his selection. He wished only to tell the meeting one fact more. Their friend, Mr. Buxton, had told him not to stop his exertions until he had got 10,000 l. (Cheers and a laugh.) Now, perhaps, the meeting would give it to him as the condition of his stopping at that moment. (Renewed cheers and laughter.)
The cry for Mr. O'Connell was again renewed, in the midst of which,
The Rev. Dr. BUNTING was called upon by the noble chairman. He had, he said, to propose a resolution which had for its object "the appointment of Mr. Thomas Fowell Buxton as the chairman of the association (applause), as well as the appointment of Dr. Lushington, Sir Robert H. Inglis, and Sir T.D. Acland, as deputy chairmen, and a long list of noblemen and gentlemen as a committee, with power to add to their numbers, and to fill up any vacancies which might occur. As other speakers, and some of then of the most distinguished rank and influence, seemed to think it their duty to pledge their support, and that of their friends, to the great great cause, be would do the same thing. (Cheers.) He, therefore, begged to pledge himself and the connexion with which it was well known he was associated, to the cause they were that day assembled to support. (Loud cheers.) Whatever power, little as it might be, of any kind that he might possess should be at the service of the society (renewed cheering); and he would at the same time venture to say on the part of that section of the community with which he was connected, that they would give their warmest support to it. (Great cheering.) He begged to press upon all present the practical conclusion to which the speech of his rev. predecessor endeavoured to lead them to, and he would illustrate that by an anecdote completely in point. A person who was constantly in the habit of being late at church, upon one occasion arrived at the church doors just as the congregation were coming out. "What," says he, "is it all said!" "Yes," replied the person addressed, "but there is all yet to do." (Cheers.) That he believed was the case with the society - they had all yet to do. (Cheers and laughter.) The rev. gentleman concluded by seconding the resolution.
The CHAIRMAN then put the resolution to the meeting, and declared it to be carried unanimously.
Sir GEORGE MURRAY next came forward, and was most warmly received. He said that until the resolution had been put into his hand, he had not had the smallest idea of addressing the meeting. (Cheers.) Perhaps, however, he had been called upon on this account. The meeting had already heard men of every political sentiment and different religious persuasions; the nobles of the land and the clergy had addressed them; they had had among them foreign ambassadors - (great cheering) - and probably it was desired that they should also hear the sentiments of a military man on the occasion. (Cheers.) He entered most fully into the feelings and views of that great and distinguished assembly. (Loud cheers.) It had been at all times his most anxious desire, wherever the British authority existed, that every trace of slavery should be extinguished; and wherever British influence and power could be used, that it should be exerted for the same laudable object. (Cheers.) The Society had several grounds on which it made its appeal to these present. In the first place, they had to elicit their feelings in favour of humanity, their religious feelings in favour of Christianity, and they had to direct their understandings to the attainment of their object. The exertions hitherto made for the abolition of slavery had failed of success, because they had not directed their endeavours to the worst of the evil. They had appealed to the understanding of the meeting as to whether they were not proceeding in the right course - their aim being the civilization of Africa, for the purpose of putting an end to that detestable traffic, the slave trade. (Cheers.) The resolution which he had had put into his hands did not require arguments or persuasion to obtain support. He was sure that all would concur with it. The resolution was the cordial thanks of the meeting to the Right Hon the Earl of Ripon, for his able and impartial conduct in the chair that day. (Cheers.) They had been particularly fortunate that day in the manner in which, the meeting had been conducted. (Cheers.) They had had in the chair at the opening of the meeting a rare and satisfactory pledge of the entire concurrence of the Sovereign of the nation in the proceedings in which they were engaged. (Loud cheers.) They had also a sure pledge of the concurrence of the country in the cause, and it was no inauspicious circumstance that so large a proportion of the audience were of the fair sex. (Hear, hear.) A surer pledge could not be given that they were in the right path, that their cause was one of purity, and humanity, and love. (Hear, hear.)
Sir T.D. ACLAND was called on to second this resolution but the hon. baronet was assailed with loud cries for Mr. O'Connell. In the midst of the uproar,
The Noble CHAIRMAN rose, and said that he deeply regretted that any circumstance connected with his name and his situation in that chair upon that occasion should have led to any difference of opinion which should even have the appearance of interrupting the harmony of the meeting. (Hear, hear.) But in the discharge of the duty he had undertaken, he felt bound to state that the name of Sir Thomas Acland had first caught his ear. In conformity, therefore, with the rules generally acted upon on occasions of that sort, he would humbly suggest to the meeting that the hon. baronet should be allowed to proceed. (Cheers.)
Sir T.D. ACLAND then, in seconding the motion, proceeded in warm and emphatic terms to express his full concurrence in the sentiments of acknowledgement to the noble earl in the chair, a nobleman who in himself presented to the view one of the finest and most genuine specimens of English feeling and English honesty in existence. (Loud cheers.) The meeting might depend that that day had already dawned which would most assuredly, in spite of clouds and obstructions, be beheld in all its glory - when Africa would be civilized, humanized, Christianized, and elevated to her right position among the countries of the earth. (Cheers.) Theirs was an enterprise which policy, if not philanthropy, would certainly carry. (Hear, hear.) The society were neither missionaries, nor merchants, nor colonists, nor settlers, but an association of all the good and great in Britain combining to accomplish a work that was most valuable in every good and beneficial enterprise. (Cheers.) In closing, Sir Thomas expressed his thanks, not only for the eloquence, and patronage, and influence, which had been enlisted in the cause, but for the considerate silence, along with the hearty cheering and approving looks of others of bonâ fide and sincere co-operation. (Cheers.)
There was now another cry for O'Connell, which was eventually silenced by cries of "Chair," when
The Earl of RIPON returned his acknowledgements for the kindness of the meeting, and expressed his satisfaction that he had, as a Minister of the Crown, recommended entire abolition of slavery, and that the first vote be ever gave in Parliament was in that cause. (Cheers.) No one could look round on the present vast assemblage without feeling that all the kind feelings of human nature were embarked in their cause. (Cheers.)There was again an attempt to raise the cry of "O'Connell," but the organist struck up, and amidst its "rolling thunder" the disputants and the friends of the Society quitted the scene of action.
|Tu 7 July 1840|
From the LONDON GAZETTE, Tuesday, July 7.
The Queen has been pleased to direct letters patent to be passed under the Great Seal, granting tbe dignity of a Baronet of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland unto the following gentlemen, and the heirs male of their bodies lawfully begotten, viz:-
|Ma 31 August 1840||The Niger Expedition. - On Saturday last the second iron vessel for this expedition was launched from Mr. John Laird's yard, North Birkenhead, and was christened the Albert, by the lady of Captain Trotter, R.N., commander of the expedition. The names of the other two vessels are, we understand, to be the Wilberforce and the Soudan. The latter vessel has received her machinery on board, and will, it is expected, be tried in a few days - Liverpool Albion.|
|Sa 12 September 1840||The discussions on the proposed Niger expedition have led to the consideration of a subject connected with it - viz., the position of Sierra Leone, and the question whether that colony has been successful or a failure. While Mr. Jamieson argues against the expedition, on the ground that it is undertaken on account of the assumed success of Sierra Leone, which he considers "a melancholy monument of the total futility of such settlements," Colonel Nicolls, who writes for an opposite purpose, admits that Sierra Leone is but a "bad bargain." Thus, as these advocates of opposite views both agree in a great measure as far as Sierra Leone is concerned (Mr. Jamieson supporting his assertions with a letter from the Governor of the place), the question concerning that colony becomes in a great measure an independent one. It has found an advocate in Mr. Fergusson, who has written a letter to Sir T.F. Buxton, containing a number of facts, collected with great care, and calculated to exhibit the character of the liberated Africans at Sierra Leone. He admits the miserable condition in which these captured slaves arrive at the spot, having been crammed into a small space, ill fed, and compelled to breathe a noxious atmosphere, and also the bad effect which such a state of bodily misery is likely to have on the mind. Nevertheless, these persons he considers are the elements of a better state of things, and his descriptions are for the purpose of exhibiting the position to which they have now arrived, from a beginning apparently so hopeless. He follows their condition through several grades of society, and says that those who have the most recently arrived occupy mud houses with patches of ground near the villages; some remaining as agriculturists, and supplying various articles of produce, such as vegetables, eggs, poultry, &c., to the Sierra Leone market, while others hire themselves out as labourers. A great number of the articles brought by the Africans to market are in a cooked state, such as cakes of rice, and so on. This is the lowest class of Africans, and, though they seem chiefly to pursue a kind of itinerant trade, Mr. Fergusson states that they never have recourse to begging. Persons of the next grade to these occupy frame houses, where they carry on a petty trade in small articles, such as pins, nails, tape, &c., while others of the same rank watch for the arrival of canoes from the country, and purchase a whole miscellaneous cargo of cattle and fruit, deriving a considerable profit by vending it at retail. The driers of fish, the tailors, carpenters, &c., belong to this class, and the best of them can easily obtain mercantile credit for from 20 l. to 60 l.|
Houses reared on a stone foundation of from six to ten feet form the residences of those who are a grade higher than the persons last mentioned. These houses are well painted, with piazzas before and behind, and frequently furnished with articles of European workmanship. Mercantile pursuits chiefly occupy this class, and, that they may purchase large lots at auctions, they often club together, afterwards dividing the goods, Mr. Fergusson says, with scrupulous honesty. These clubs, offering ready money only, are in high favour with the merchants, and the Africans, perceiving this advantage, pay as low a wholesale price as possible, thus deriving a great profit from their retail trade. Not being encumbered with shop-rents, clerks' wages, &c., they can sell at a price so low that no European is able to compete with them. The land in old Freetown, originally granted to the Nova Scotian settlers, and the Maroons, or free blacks, from Jamaica, who have never become industrious, is eagerly purchased by the liberated Africans, whose booths occupy both sides of the principal streets of the town. All these can obtain mercantile credit of from 60 l. to 100 l.
The highest class carry on similar pursuits to a larger extent, having neatly fitted shops instead of booths, and inhabiting stone houses of two stories. Many of these persons have realized large sums of money, though it is not easy to ascertain the amount of an individual's wealth from the care with which, from motives of policy, they conceal their real circumstances, and affect an appearance of poverty. To show the intelligence which they have arrived, at Mr. Fergusson states, that they form the chief part of the jury at every sessions, and that the colonial judge has expressed his satisfaction at their decisions.
The direction of energy towards agriculture has not, as Mr. Fergusson admits with regret, been so successful as their attention to commerce. The reason given for this by Mr. Fergusson is the want of encouragement to the culture of such articles as would always meet with a ready purchaser, and thus keep up a perpetual stimulus to industry. To show this he refers to the several instances of ginger, capsicum, and Cassada starch, which they began to cultivate and manufacture with avidity, but afterwards left off out of disappointment, arising in one case (ginger) from their want of knowledge, and in the other (capsicum) from underselling. The cultivation of cotton, which, as Mr. Jamieson observes, is not even mentioned in the list of exports from Sierra Leone in 1836, is one which Mr. Fergusson would particularly encourage, as suitable for the soil.This account by Mr. Fergusson, and the description in the Governor's letter cited by Mr. Jamieson to show the wretched state of the colony, are not, though brought forward for opposite purposes, so contradictory as may at first appear. Both the Governor and Mr. Fergusson agree that the Africans are an inoffensive, good-humoured people, and the evils described by the former more particularly apply to the condition of the slaves on their first arrival. Though he would generally give an unfavourable picture, the different grades described by Mr. Fergusson are not touched upon, and hence, assuming the accounts of the latter to be correct, care must be taken lest the misery, probably belonging to the lowest class only be applied to all without discrimination. Even Mr. Jamieson in showing the small quantity of exports, chiefly complains of the paltry amount of the actual products of the soil - a state of things which, with Mr. Fergusson's explanation, is not so desperate as may be imagined, since the same activity which has been shown in commercial pursuits might, with a little guidance, be easily directed towards agriculture, provided the soil is not against it. It seems, on the whole, that from a comparison of the different accounts, there is a fair chance of obtaining a tolerably accurate view of the real condition of the colony.
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