« السابقةمتابعة »
Honourable Company, having written to me on the subject, I have felt much uneasiness, for it does not accord with your good character. This durbar has always maintained friendship with the Honourable Company; and notwithstanding this, you have acted so unreasonably in this respect, that I am much distressed. No one has, until this day, wantonly quarrelled with this court, who has not in the end suffered loss. Do not again address me on this subject." Nevertheless Colonel Walker did persevere; and at length by publicly discussing and exposing the enormity of the practice, many of the supporters were led to abhor infanticide; and although Governor Duncan had only received a cold approval from his superiors, he had the satisfaction of saving many thousands of infants by his spirited and benevolent interference through Colonel Walker. The supreme government acknowledged that his plan was worthy of humanity; but added, "the speculative success of it can not be considered to justify the prosecution of measures which may expose to hazard the essential interests of the state." Yet it is probable that no speculation in India ever raised the British character so high in the estimation of the natives; for many of the mothers came some years afterwards to Colonel Walker's tent in Kattywar, and placed their female children in his hands with all the natural marks of affection, emphatically calling their little ones his children. Public opinion, however, was still adverse to the preservation of them, for the little ones in many instances were disguised as boys. The innocent creatures appeared ashamed of acknowledging their sex, and assured Colonel Walker that they were not girls, calling on their fathers with infantine simplicity to corroborate their assertions.
ART. XI.-Abolition of the African Slave Trade.
HERE is a passage in a letter of the Poet Cowper, which has always appeared to us to breathe, as every thing which fell from his pen did in general breathe, the soul of practical good
"I wish," says he, to his friend Mr. Unwin, (Lett. lxviii. în Haley's Life of Cowper, vol. iii. 4to. edit. 4. p. 166.) “ I wish that, by Mr.'s assistance, your purpose in behalf of the prisoners may be effectuated. A pen, so formidable as his, might do much good, if properly directed. The dread of a bold censure is ten times more moving than the most eloquent persuasion. They that cannot feel for others, are the persons of all the world who feel most sensibly for themselves."
There are three things which the press can do towards the attainment of a good end. It can first of all demonstrate-make clear and certain that the end is actually good. Secondly, it can adduce such considerations as are calculated to persuade men to lend their co-operation,-it can show how much of human misery would be avoided, and how much of happiness would be generated, if the end were attained, it can endeavour to bring the sense of that happiness and misery home to the bosoms of the parties concerned,
to make them fix their attention upon the individuals who suffer, and who might be made to enjoy, and if possible to work upon them by that conception of the happiness and misery of others, which only the herd of the bad and worthless can easily resist. All this, however, may be performed, and still the progress may be very small toward the attainment of the object we desire. A third office, then, remains for the press, which, according to Cowper, is often the most effectual; namely, that of making "those who cannot feel for others, feel for themselves."
The two former services have been rendered to the great cause of the Abolition of the Slave Trade by the press, in a manner as perfect as it is almost possible to conceive. Of the goodness and importance of the end, the demonstration is so complete, that at least there are no gainsayers. The subject is so well understood.; and the unfavourable sentiments of mankind are so competently anticipated, that no man dares to look his company in the face and say that he is a friend to the Slave Trade. This, undoubtedly, is a great step to have gained. That it has been gained, chiefly, through the instrumentality of the press, and could not have been gained without it, seems a proposition that will not be contested. It is one of the most signal proofs which we have yet to record, of the beneficial influence which is excited by the press on the destinies of mankind.
Nor is the demonstration of the goodness and importance of the end, the only service which has been rendered by the same instrument to the same great cause. There is not a mode in which the feelings of humanity could be enlisted on its side, which has not been employed with a skill and perseverance never yet surpassed.
All this, however, unfortunate experience evinces, does not suf fice. All this has been done, and the Slave Trade still continues. We do not wish to speak the language of exaggeration; nor can we afford to go into details. We, therefore, must direct the reader, for evidence, to the recent Reports of the African Institution; whence he will draw a conclusion with respect to the extent of the ravage which in this channel is still committed upon humanity, a conclusion which, if he has a human heart in his bosom, must affect him with horror.
Of the men who are responsible for this great mass of human misery, there are two sorts. There are men who are indifferent; and there are men who are interested.
Upon both, it is by censure alone that the press has the chance of producing any effect. The indifferent are in this case a large body, as they almost always are, when it is merely the general interest of humanity that they are called upon to support. The interested are a small but powerful body, as they too are in almost
all cases where much difficulty attends the removal of any of those factitious evils, which form the grand sources of the misery of mankind.
The only way of operating upon such men, is, according to the excellent rule of Cowper, since they cannot feel for others, to make them feel for themselves. Hence is clearly seen the importance of the censorial functions of the press. Hence, also, is seen, the importance of having liberty to employ the severest censure; since to produce any salutary consequence, it must be a censure to make the selfish and worthless part of mankind feel for themselves. Hence, too, is clearly seen the cause of that hatred which is borne to this liberty, by the two classes of the men who deserve it, by them who care little how it fares with the rest of mankind while they themselves are well, and by them who in some shape or other are making or wish to make a prey of a portion of their species.
The press having employed, and having exhausted its powers, in demonstrating, and persuading, on the subject of the Slave Trade, the time is evidently arrived, when it should employ, and, if need be, employ to the utmost, its censorial powers. And the grand object of the address which we are now presenting to the friends of the abolition is, to convince them, that they must speak out; that they must name the parties to whom both primarily and secondarily the mischief is to be imputed; and must describe their conduct in the terms which it deserves. They must speak of it in terms, according to the excellent rule to which we have already referred; such as will make the guilty feel for themselves. To do this, nothing less will suffice, than to rouse against them the disgust, the abhorrence, and indignation of mankind. This, when raised to the proper height, makes the most powerful, and most unfeeling of men, to feel for themselves; and through the medium of feeling for themselves, to act as if they felt for others. The friends of the abolition have shown so much courage, and have admirably braved so much obloquy, that they must not startle to risk a little more. No question, they will be abused. If they em ploy the censorial powers of the press with such boldness and severity as is necessary to produce the effect which they desire, they will be stigmatized as libellers. They will be told, that it is not the liberty, but the licentiousness of the press, of which they avail themselves. It will be affirmed, that their conduct is of a horrid tendency,-setting an example, which, if generally pursued, must subvert the order of society, extinguish religion and morality, and reduce human beings to the condition of brutes. All the artillery, in short, which can be played off, when the press is employed to the worst of purposes, will be employed to bring odium upon them and their cause. But this, if they act with the wisdom
and consistency which hitherto have distinguished them, they will not regard. They will consider that this is a fate, which they who employ the censorial powers of the press, to relieve mankind from any source of evil, by which other men profit, are necessarily exposed to, and which they are sure to incur. They who make the profit, and who are unwilling to part with it, hate, of course, the operation which tends to tear it from them; they wish to put an end to that operation, if possible; and therefore they apply to the censorial function of the press all the epithets of abuse, which they have any hope can be made to stick. They do not distinguish the occasions; and observe that the censorial operations of the press are good or bad, just as the occasion is proper or improper, on which they are applied. They hide from themselves, or at any rate they endeavour to hide from others,-that praise or blame, in their largest acceptation, and by whatsoever instrument applied, can be called neither good nor bad, in the abstract. They are good or bad, no otherwise than as they are properly or improperly applied. And there are of course occasions, on which the highest praise and the highest blame are appropriate, desirable, and calculated to do good.
On all occasions, therefore, on which men hear abusive epithets heaped on the use of the censorial powers of the press, they should stop from joining in the insidious cry, till they have first asked themselves, and ascertained to what persons or things it is, that the censure has been directed; for, if they are persons or things who deserved the censure, it has been good; and is evil, then, and then only, when applied where it is not deserved. If it is applied to persons, by whose conduct any great good is withheld from mankind, and in respect to whom it may be expected to have a power, when other means of prevailing upon them to conform to the calls of general good, cannot easily be found, it is one of the most important instruments which providence has placed in the hands of man; and they deserve the greatest praise, who employ it with the greatest effect.
We have observed, that there are two classes on whom the censures of the press, when the removal of some of the inveterate evils afflicting humanity is in view, may be employed with advantage, the indifferent, and the interested. The conduct of the indifferent, on such occasions, is worthy of particular attention. They are not less exasperated against the freedom of the press, nor less zealous in the use of the means by which it may be discredited and put down, than those are who profit by the mischief, and who are the principal cause of its prolonged and hateful existence. This, at first sight, may appear a little extraordinary, because it is a
truth that, heretofore, on the part of the press, this class of persons has been unduly, and somewhat unthinkingly, spared. The attention of writers has been chiefly engrossed by those who, on each occasion, appeared to have the principal interest, in some mischievous practice or institution, and whose endeavours were positive, not like those of the indifferent, merely negative, to preserve it in existence. As the censures of the press passed over the heads of the indifferent, they might have been expected to be quiet, and to leave the task of crying it down to those who suffered by its exertions. But they have acted otherwise; and their voice is almost uniformly heard swelling earnestly the chorus of those who indiscriminately abuse the use of censure by the press, and utterly disregard the difference of its being justly or unjustly, usefully or hurtfully, bestowed.
Their conduct is not without an adequate motive; and that mo tive is far too seldom understood. The fact is, that this indifference itself furnishes a motive, as will be clearly seen, when the case is looked into with a little attention; and a motive, which impells them in a direction opposite to the general good.
Every man, of course, the indifferent (who fails not in point of selfishness), as well as others, desires good things of all sorts for himself; among other things, the favourable regards of mankind. But for their favourable regards, those who are willing-which he is not to take pains to promote the interest of mankind, are rivals; and, as often as they succeed, triumphant rivals. They are, therefore, objects of his hatred. He is the enemy of the philan thropist and the patriot. He does not wish success to their designs, because their lustre will, in that case, obscure his own. He is thus the natural ally of all the more active enemies of mankind; of those who labour to prolong mischievous practices and institutions, on account of the benefit which they derive from them; and on most cccasions they obtain his co-operation. In the cause of humanity it is eminently true, that he who is not for it, is almost always against it. The reason, therefore, is apparent, why those who may be held as the indifferent class-those who have little regard for the good of mankind, are almost always ranked among the enemies of the press, that is, of censure by the press; without which its other functions would be an instrument of evil, not of good-the cause of universal and mischievous delusion.
These are considerations, which, in the present stage of the business, they have so faithfully pursued, it behoves the friends of the abolition of the slave trade, in our opinion, most attentively to weigh; and if they are convinced as we think they assuredly ought to be, that loud and unsparing censure is now the