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The attempts made in Parliament to abolish the slave trade evince the increase of civilisation and moral principle in the country, although these measures were not then carried. The minister of that day entered fully into the sentiments of the country, and said, "Intolerable were the mischiefs of that trade, both in its origin and through every stage of its progress. It was promoted by an application to the avarice and the worse passions of the native rulers. To say that slaves could be furnished by fair and commercial means, was absurd. The trade sometimes ceased, as during the late war; occasionally the demand increased; and then again it declined, according to circumstances. How was it possible that to a demand so fluctuating the supply should exactly accommodate itself? If we make human beings articles of commerce, we learn to talk of them as such. Yet the slaves are not allowed the common principle of commerce, that the supply must accommodate itself to the consumption. The truth was, by the slave trade we stopped the natural progress of civilisation; we cut off Africa from the opportunity of improvement; we kept down that Continent in a state of darkness, bondage, ignorance and blood. Was not this an awful consideration for England? While other countries were assisting and enlightening each other, Africa alone had none of these benefits. We had

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obtained as yet only just such knowledge of its productions as to show that there was a capacity for trade, which was checked by us. Even were the mischief in Africa out of the question, the circumstances of the middle passage alone would be reason enough for its abolition. Such a scene as that of the slave ships, with their wretched cargoes to the West Indies, if it could be laid before our eyes, would be sufficient at once to settle the question. He could conceive no more indispensable duty than that of the abolition of such a traffic. Even if consequences were very different from what they did appear, still he should support the abolition. What an aggravation then of guilt would it be, if the policy of the country, instead of being against the measure, was also for it! A more imperious duty than that of abolishing the slave trade was never brought before the legislature.":

Such were the sentiments responded to by the public voice. A recurrence to the question of the slave trade is here made, as evincing the gradual increase in the civilisation of the country.

It is curious to trace the slow but steady march of improvement, and extension of liberal sentiments, in the question relative to the relief of Roman Catholic disabilities. When this measure was brought forward in the Irish Parliament, it was opposed in a very strong manner, although

* Mr. Pitt's speech, April 10. 1791.

the influence of the central

Government was exerted in its favour, both seasonably and powerfully. The speaker of the Irish House of Commons declared, "It was an absurd and wicked speculation to look to the total repeal of the restrictive laws against the Catholics in that kingdom, or to endeavour to communicate the efficient power the Protestants to the Catholics. If therefore," he added, "I am the single man to raise my voice against such a project, I will resist it." *

of

"Although Mr. Pitt had uniformly and firmly opposed the claim of Catholic emancipation during the existence of a separate legislature in Ireland, he thought fit, in order to facilitate the accomplishment of this favourite object, to give, in concurrence with his colleagues, to the principal Irish Catholics (in return for their assistance, or at least their acquiescence), secret assurances of a complete participation in all political privileges, as soon as the Union should have taken place, and this without being properly authorised to do so by the monarch, whose sanction it was necessary to obtain. When this proposition was made, as the sovereign was not likely to give his consent to the measure, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the other ministers, being resolved to carry their point, resorted in this emergency to an expedient, which they had, as there is reason to believe, found effectual on former occasions; that

Foster's speech, March 1793.

is, an offer of resignation, supposing doubtless that no other administration could be formed. It however unexpectedly happened, that his Majesty, after consulting with his secret advisers, resolved to run all risks, and to accept the resignation thus tendered to him.*

The same measure, rejected in the early part of the century, passed some years after, when the sentiment of the public was more pronounced. †

* Belsham, Hist. of Geo. III., vol. viii. p. 128.
† 1801 and 1829.

264

CHAPTER XII.

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GEORGE III.

Ex

Effect on Public Opinion of the Revolution in France. cesses of the French Demagogues denounced in England. Public Opinion supports the Government in commencing Hostilities with France. Popular Clamour enlisted in the same Cause. Mr. Pitt's Policy. Suspension by the Bank of England of Cash Payments. Effect of this. Republican Societies in Great Britain and Ireland. — Voluntary Contributions of the English Government. - Failure of Negotiations for Peace. Policy of the ruling Powers in France.

PUBLIC opinion in England was roused into great activity by the Revolution in France. This important event properly appertains to the subject of civilisation in that country, and will there be discussed. At present it will not be noticed further than may be absolutely necessary to elucidate our theory in England, where it occasioned a very powerful feeling. When the juxta-position of England and France is considered, it will appear obvious that a mutual connexion must exist between the two countries; and it cannot be contradicted, that unless in a state of warfare, when all direct communication is closed, any public event of a political nature, in one country, exciting much notice, will create a corresponding sentiment in the other. Such was the case on this occasion. At first, the progress of the French Revolution was hailed with satis

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