Old Jewry London, July 8, 1794 |
We flattered ourselves in the beginning of the sessions that at the end of it We should have had a more favourable report to have made to our friends in the country on the subject of our own labours in the cause of the Abolition of the Slave Trade, than We are at present capable of giving them. The War, which must have necessarily brought more business than ordinary to Parliament, and Hastings's Trial, which has continued to take up time in the Lords, have co-operated to retard the determination of this great question. Not only a less number of days have been allowed for the examination of evidence than heretofore, but even these have been trespassed upon, in consequence of the two causes just mentioned, so that upon the whole but little progress may be said to have been made during the present sessions.
Though, however, We cannot dwell with much pleasure on the result of our endeavors at home, during this period, yet We may congratulate our friends on the progress which the cause of the Africans has assuredly made in foreign parts.
By advices from the Pennsylvania Society, We have great satisfaction in announcing that the American Congress have unanimously abolished that part of the Trade, by which the subjects of the United States were accustomed to supply foreigners with slaves. This event is productive of joy, not only because We consider it as a leading and preparatory step to a still more important one on that Continent, but because it clears our way at home by removing a miserable argument often resorted to, "That England were to abolish the Slave Trade, no good would be done to humanity, inasmuch as other nations, (but America in particular) would take it up."
We are also enabled to state from the last advices from Sierra Leone the very thriving state of the free settlement founded there. The growing intercourse between the Company and the native Princes, the friendship already existing between them in several instances, the education afforded children as well as those of the inferior natives, the maxims constantly attempted to be disseminated among all of them with respect to the injustice and wickedness of the Trade in Slaves; the light, knowledge, and civilization in short, which the Directors continue to occasion to be diffused through the range of their African connexions all round their settlement, afford us the pleasing expectation that there will be one spot at least on the Continent of Africa, of no inconsiderable extent, which will be called to rational freedom, and where all the sources of the Slave Trade will be completely dried up and dissipated: while in the more distant parts, where the Company's concerns are extending by sea, as no opportunity will be lost of disseminating the same notions, we may hope a bias will be given to the natives, which, under the divine influence, may produce such dispositions and sentiments with regard to this disgraceful Trade, as may have a tendency to reduce it, year after year, to limits still more narrow and confined.
Whoever reflects cooly and candidly on the progress just mentioned on the Continents of Africa and America, and takes into consideration that a resolution has already passed the British House of Commons for the Abolition of the Trade, and bears in mind at the same time the slowness with which all human improvements go on, and must necessarily go on if encountered by interest and prejudice, must confess that the labours of this Committee (to which this progress is in part to be ascribed from the light it has continued to furnish from time to time) have not been expended in vain : that there can be no reason to be discouraged by delays arising from incidental causes: but, on the other hand, that there is every encouragement steafastly and zealously to persevere; for that it is almost morally impossible, these and other things being duly considered, that We should not eventually succeed.
We have therefore now little more to say to our friends in the country, than that We are determined to go on in a legal and constitutional way, regardless of the time or labour it may cost Us, till the great object of our institution be accomplished, and that they may be assured, that the business will be brought into Parliament early in the ensuing sessions.
Signed, by order of the Committee,
GRANVILLE SHARP, Chairman.