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board this vessel, owned and navigated by this nest of scoundrels, was a letter, drawn up in the technical language of the atrocious trade, and affording much insight into the nature of the French government's “ efforts' for putting it down. The following is an extract:
Under the auspices of Mr. Couronneau of Bordleaux, our friend, we have the honour of tendering to you our services at this place. You know, gentlemen, that the advantage which our market offers for the disposal of Ebony, gives it a great preference over any other of our colonies; and it strikes us that it would suit you to send to it a few ship. ments of that sort. We bave received this year a great many cargoes of that article, on account of merchants of Nantz: and towards the end of January, we expect here other ships that have sailed from the lastmentioned port. All our sales have been attended with favourable results.'-—' The last cargo sold here, was that of the Harriett of Nantz: 328 logs were disposed of on their landing, (those that were damaged excepted,) at 225 dollars each.' – This merchandize was of a very ordinary nature, and had suffered much : by getting rid of the article at once you may make a much better thing of it."
The writer then proceeds to give some particular instructions and precautions necessary to be observed, and thus continues :
· The comMANDANT, who is DEVOTED To us, would deliver a letter of instructions for the captain :' 'when once the cargo is on shore, all risk is at an end. We have this day to communicate to you a circumstance that will no doubt afford you as much interest as it does to us.
• The brig, “ Two Nations,” Captain Pettier, which had lately been captured by an English cruizer, (at the moment when she appeared before Uragua with a cargo of Ebony,) and carried to Kingston, bas been released, the admiral having declared that no one had the right of cap. turing the French flag : in consequence of this, the brig returned to Uragua, where she landed 456 logs. Had the wood been good, it would have had a fine sale; but owing to the bad state of the bulk of the cargo, which had suffered much, it is of the smallest kind. The liberation of this ressel offers to us the assurance that our flag will henceforth be respected. The three vessels that were cruizing upon our coast were immediately recalled to Jamaica. As to the Dutch, there is only one English vessel of war in our latitude commissioned to capture them; the others are altogether interdicted that right. We consider, therefore, that there is no longer any risk upon our coast; and that vessels may present themselves with all safety before Uragua, where we constantly keep a pilot. The sales meet with no opposition, and are, carried on in some measure publicly.'— State Papers, pp. 245—247.
The same devilish kind of language appears in the following letter of instructions to the Captain of Les Deur Sæurs, captured on the coast of Africa; it is dated St. Pierre, Sd August, 1824, and signed De la Roche. • You will repair direct to the coast of Africa, to trade there in billets
of ebony wood; the cargo which I give you being well chosen, and as advantageous as possible. I hope that you will bring back one, at your return, that will answer our expectations. I do not wish to have billets, either too large or too small, but particularly sound.
• You will return to Martinique, Pointe des Salines, at the second landing at the sea-shore; taking care not to pass “ Pointe Dunkerque, " so as to expose yourself to the sight of the marine.
• You will land the things with wbich you may be loaded ; at your arrival
you will find orders for you to follow in the continuation of your voyage. Wishing you a fortunate and quick return, I am, &c.'
And under the annexed instructions for the captain and crew is the following memorandum :
• As to the choice of the returu cargo, it is expressly recommended to the captain and to his officers, if there is opportunity of choosing, not to embark any other “ balles” or ballots” (females or males, we suppose) than those that weigh from ten to twenty arabas, (years of age) of which the two-thirds to be in “ ballots,” and the other third in “ balles ;” it being expressly agreed, that if there are any “ balles” or “ballots” found among
the cargo under ten or above twenty arabas, the captain's allowances upon each of the “ balles” or “ ballots” are to be reduced one half, the same for
may be damaged, otherwise than by the chances of the voyage.'-Parliamentary Papers, Class A. p. 15.
Next to the French slavers in point of numbers, and fully equal to them in atrocious conduct, are the Portugueze, whether on the west or the east coast of Africa. Since the separation of his Eu-' ropean and American dominions, Don Pedro of the Brazıls has more than supplied the place of his late father in Portugal as to the slave-trade. Portugal (well says one of the papers before us) * still remains a melancholy exception to the concurrent authority of the rest of Europe. She alone, of civilized nations, continues to class the purchase of our fellow-creatures among the ordinary modes of lawful commerce. Her conduct is mean as well as wicked: for while she has consented to abolish the trade to the northward of the line, and to carry it on to the southward only, nineteen-twentieths of the slaves carried to the Brazils are actually shipped to the northward of the line. To vessels there filled, in point of fact, the captures, by our ships of war, are chiefly confined. The Brazilian slaver clears out for Molembo, for which place he has an imperial license; but he well knows there are no slaves to be had at Molembo; he creeps therefore along the coast from the southward till he reaches Biafra or Benin, keeps a false log, and having entered one of the rivers, takes in his cargo of slaves, generally got ready for his immediate reception of them. precisely in this way that Portugal herself evaded the stipulations of the treaty and carried on the illegal trade. So far, in fact, are the Portugueze from having the least feeling of respect for public PP 2
opinion, that they consider the slave-trade as an honourable and legitimate branch of commerce; and so little horror is felt at the enormities which are constantly occurring, that nothing is more common than for ladies to take shares in an Ebony adventure; we find indeed that, in one capture alone, were four female consignees. We have also discovered, among the papers before us, that the amiable Donna Maria de Cruz, daughter of the governor of Princess Island, of whom we had occasion once before to make honourable mention, is still engaged in carrying on the traffic, though in a small way. The Victor sloop of war fell in with and captured a schooner-boat belonging to this paragon of her ses, called the Maria Pequina. Her burden was five tons; she had taken on board, in the river Gaboon, besides her crew, water, and provisions, twenty-three slaves, sis of whom had already died; they were stowed in a space between the water-casks and the deck, of eighteen inches in height; and Lieutenant Scott reports that, when he seized her, the remaining negroes were in a state of actual starvation.
The Diana, another Portugueze vessel, was also captured by the Victor.
Of all the vessels I was on board of,' says Captain Woolcombe, this was in the most deplorable condition; the stench, from the accumulation of dirt, joined to that of so many human beings packed together in a small space (the men all ironed in pairs) was intolerable. To add to the scene of misery, the small-pox bad broken out among them ; nine died before we took possession, and one almost immediately after our first boat got alongside.'
The • Two Brazilian Friends, one of thirteen vessels which sailed about the same time from Bahia, had 257 slaves on board:
Its filthy and horrid state,' says Commodore Bullen, beggars all description ; many females were far advanced in pregnancy, and several had infants from four to twelve months of age; all were crowded together in one mass of living corruption ; and yet this vessel had not her prescribed complement by nearly one hundred.'
The ' Aviso,' when captured, had 465 slaves on board, of whom thirty-four died almost immediately. The Commodore describes this vessel as in a most crowded, filthy and wretched condition, although she had on board 120 less than her passport from the Emperor Don Pedro authorized her to carry. She had only twenty days provisions on board, and less water, for a voyage to Bahia. The Bella Eliza was privileged for 368 slaves; she had taken on board 381, of whom twenty-two died before they reached Sierra Leone; the passage was seven weeks, and such was the state of suffering from want of water and provisions, that in two days more, it is stated, all hands must have perished. In the first
of these four charnel-houses, the men's slave-room was only two feet seven inches high; in the second, two feet; and, in the third, two feet three inches. It is stated that in some of these vessels were fierce dogs of the blood-hound species, trained to sit watching over the hatches during the night, lest the wretched beings below, driven to desperation, should make any attempt to reach the region of purer air.
But the heart sickens over such details. What the sum of human misery must amount to during the passage across the Atlantic in the ships that escape, we can only form some idea from the state of the few that are captured—for very few indeed they are, compared with those that elude our cruizers. The number of vessels brought for adjudication at Sierra Leone in the year *1824, as stated by the Commissioners, amounted only to six, out of which the number of slaves emancipated was 1,245. The total number of cases adjudicated since the establishment of the Mixed Commission is stated to be fifty-two; and the total number of slaves emancipated up to the 1st of January, 1825,-5,160. In the year 1825 they report the condemnation of six ships having on board 1,660 slaves.
But bodily suffering in these floating dungeons of filth and corruption of disease and death-is but a part—perhaps a small part--of the misery which the ill-fated African is doomed to undergo. If we allow him to possess but a small portion of the common feelings of our nature, we may imagine the mental agony which must attend the eternally recurring recollection of that moment when he was brutally snatched away from friends, family, and dearest connections, to be crammed into the hold of a slaveship; his cruel lot still further embittered by that dreadful state of suspense and anxiety, which a total ignorance as to his future fate must unavoidably produce.—Major Denham has taught us how sword and fire are let loose upon harmless and peaceable villages for the sake of seizing and carrying off the unoffending inhabitants, even far in the interior of Africa, where, contrary to what is observed in most regions, the natives are more civilized than those nearer to the sea-coast; how wars are multiplied upon wars merely because those of the vanquished that escape butchery are slaves, all this in order to satisfy the greedy and rapacious cravings of the native slave-dealers, who are again tempted and urged by the European traffickers.
Here then, on the coast of devoted Africa, is scope enough for the exercise of our humanity. Here is the favourable climate and the fertile soil, on which is nourished and propagated that condition of slavery which we are so anxious to abolish-here is the root; and in vain should we cut down the tree, while the root is
suffered to remain; young scions will shoot forth with fresh vigour, as we have seen them do in the course of the last twenty years. If we really wish to abolish slavery, we must first eradicate the source and origin, the feeder and the nourisher, of it. Yet those who would be thought the most zealous advocates for meliorating the condition of the African, who are most sensitively alive to every thing that interferes with his happiness and comfort—those, in short, at whom the South Carolina resolution points, loudly as they exclaim for the emancipation of our negroes, which would probably tend to their destruction, are wholly silent as to the brutal and inhuman proceedings by which thousands of the same race are still daily brought into the condition of slaves; so that if it were not for the African Institution, (whose means of doing service to the cause are but limited,) we shouid not hear one syllable about all this disgraceful and detestable traffic, except through the channel of parliamentary papers, annually presented by Mr. Canning-to whom the poor African is more indebted for his persevering efforts to shame the remaining traffickers in human beings out of their pursuit, than to all those pretenders to humanity, whose indiscreet interference is calculated scarcely less surely to aggravate his sufferings than to injure our colonists, our commerce, and our empire.
England has done much towards effecting the total abolition of the slave-trade; but she must yet do more. The government has honestly and zealously performed its part, and the persevering and indefatigable exertions of the officers of our cruizers, and their humane endeavours to alleviate the sufferings of the unhappy beings which fall into their hands, are above all praise. At the risk of life and fortune they shrink not from the grateful task of giving liberty to the slaves; but the traffickers are frequently too cunning for them; and the law, as it now stands, affords—to the French in particular--a loop-hole for escape from their own cruizers, and a prohibition against capture on the part of ours. The slave-ships of Portugal, Spain, and the Netherlands, are the only ones subject to capture; but the slavers of France are not even contented with being permitted to carry on their trade with impunity; they have sometimes the audacity to treat our officers with a degree of insolence and defiance which nothing but the strictness of their orders, as the Frenchmen know full well, would prevent them from chastising on the spot.
* This,' says Commodore Bullen,' points out, under what painful circumstances a British officer can attempt to perform bis duty to his country, when he is liable to the grossest insults from a set of wretches, engaged in this most inhuman and infamous traffic, who know and feel they are protected and encouraged by their government."