British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

principle of colonial existence, and let it be further recollected that these clamorous advocates for the introduction of British laws, while they call for so much as suits their own purpose, as loudly resist the admission of any principle favourable to the rest of the community. I consider it to be incompatible with our physical powers because we have not the means within ourselves of giving effect to its leading principles in the administration of justice. Impartiality of decision arising out of an absence of all interest or connection between the judges and the party is the foundation of the excellence of the trial by jury in England. In the small circle of a West Indian island no juror was I believe ever yet impanelled who was not previously apprized of what he considered the merits of every cause he was likely to try; and when to this natural cause are added the laxity of morals and the general absence of education throughout even the better classes of a West India colony, what can result from the powers of the English constitution in such hands but injustice and oppression, and if these causes operate so powerfully on the character of a juror how much more mischievous must be their operation when embodied in the person of a legislator. To discuss the morality of a community is an invidious task, yet what must be the general character of the morality of any class of men among whom not only is concubinage universal and the married state a mere exception to the general rule but also the parent has so entirely separated from himself the first feelings of the morality of nature as to be content to abandon his unprotected unprovided female orphan child to follow the fate of her mother, to gain a temporary support by prostitution and suffer in her turn the miseries of desertion.

Such my Lord is my view of the general question as it would be applicable to every West India colony. . . .


9
TRINIDAD: LORD LIVERPOOL TO GOVERNOR HISLOP, 27 November 18101

SIR,

The great pressure of public business, arising out of the important events which have been passing for the last three or four months, has prevented me from sending you the definitive instructions of His Majesty's Government on the subject of the future constitution and laws of Trinidad, as I had hoped to have been able to do long before this period.

I think it may be material, however, to lose no time in informing

____________________
1
Parl. Papers, 1810-11 (184), vol. xi, pp. 333-5. Robert Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool, had succeeded to this title on his father's death in 1808. In 1809, under Spencer Perceval, he became Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and then for War and the Colonies. In June 1812 he became Prime Minister.

-93-

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