British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

proposed measures of relief, and that the colonial legislature could not reject that proposal without incurring another danger at least as imminent. Throughout this protracted controversy, the voice of dispassionate reason has, unhappily, been seldom heard or heeded, amidst the violent invectives with which the contending parties have mutually assailed each other. It is at once my duty and my earnest desire, to inculcate on all parties a spirit of moderation and mutual forbearance, and to warn them of the inevitable calamities which must follow, if interests so momentous shall continue to be made the sport of angry passions. In considering the situation of the gentlemen with whom the legislative authority in Jamaica resides, I cannot forget the difficulties with which they have to contend, nor employ any other language than that of conciliation and respect. Yet I would wish with the utmost earnestness to impress upon them, that they cannot safely overlook the state of society and of public opinion throughout the civilized world, and especially in this kingdom. Were they resident here, they would need no assurance of mine to convince them, that the views of His Majesty's Government on the subject of negro slavery are in harmony with those of Parliament and of the nation at large, and that during a discussion of nine years' continuance, men of all ranks have been progressively acquiring a more uniform and firm conviction of the soundness of those views. It were a fatal mistake to suppose, that the voice of the country at large on this subject is nothing more than the transient clamour of a small but importunate party; yet it is an error into which, at such a distance, the local legislature may not improbably fall. . . .

His Majesty therefore cannot revoke the instructions which your Lordship will have already received on the subject of negro slavery. If, however, the events which have formed the subject of this despatch should have compelled you to suspend the execution of the orders you have received, you have His permission to continue that suspension until the restoration of general tranquillity; but you will take the earliest occasion after internal peace shall have been re-established, for again directing the attention of the Council and the Assembly to the subject. . . .


40
CIRCULAR DISPATCH FROM LORD GODERICH TO CERTAIN WEST INDIA GOVERNORS, 9 June 18321

The Committee of the House of Lords was appointed on the petition of the merchants and others interested in the West Indian property, and has been instructed to investigate the actual condition of the slave population, and the state of the law by which their treatment

____________________
I

Parl. Papers, 1831-2 (649), vol. xlvi, pp. 7-8; i.e. those colonies with legislatures.

-586-

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