« VorigeDoorgaan »
But, when the merchant-fhips are elcorted by a ship of war, the mode of proceeding seems to be lefs certainly de. termined, either by practice or written documents recogniz. ing it, such as Treaties of Commerce, Marine Ordinances, or Instructions of Governments to the Captains of their ships of war; yel, upon the whole, we may collect it to be as follows. The British ships of war that meet with a fleet of neutral merchant-ships, escorted by a ship of war, ought to apply to the Commander of the ship of war to know their deftination, and the nature of the goods that are on board them, instead of fending a boat with two or three perfons to visit each of the merchant-fhips, and inspect their passports and certificates, or other public papers : and, if the said Commander declares, “ That the ships and their cargoes are entirely the property of the subje&ts of his fovereign, and that none of the goods are contraband, and that the proper declarations upon oath upon this subject have been made by the shippers of the goods before the magiftrates, or custom-house officers, of the port in which the vefsels were laden;" this Declaration of the Commander of the ship of war that escorts them ought to be received as fufficient testimony of the ships and their cargoes being neutral, and not liable to seizure, and the faid merchant-Thips ought to be permitted to pursue theirvoyage without further moleftation. This, at least, is the method of proceeding prescribed for this case by the only treaty, if I recollectright, that makes mention of this case amongst all the treaties relating to this question that have been produced, either by Profeffor Schlegel, or Sulpicius. And it seems to be confirmed in practice by the refistance made by Captain Dedel, a Dutch captain of a man of war, in the year 1762, to an attempt made by an English ship, or ships of war, to visit some Dutch merchant-ships, which he was directed by the Dutch Admiralty to escort ; and by the approbation bestowed on him by the Dutch Admiralty for having made such resistance: and likewise by
the the conduct of the brave Earl of St. Vincent, in the present war (as stated by Professor Schlegel,) in releasing a neutral merchant-vessel, (that had been taken by one of his cruisers, as suspected of having enemy's goods, or contraband goods, on board, when the Commander of a ship of war of the same nation came-up a little while after, accompanied by a large feet of merchant-fhips of the same nation, that he was appointed to escort, and teftified to the Earl of St. Vincent, that the ship which his cruisers had taken had made a part of this fleet, and had strayed from it by some accident, that had made her be considered by their captors as a fingle vessel and not intitled to his protection. The instant release of this veffel by Lord St. Vincent, with an apology for the capture, as having been owing to a mistake, is surely a pretty good proof, that such is the privilege of merchantships, escorted by thips of war, according to the opinions of sea-officers of the greatest Reputation and Experience. This privilege may certainly be abused, and may occasion fome inconveniences to the belligerent nations: and so may every regulation made for the conduct of human affairs, But it must be remembered that we are not now inquiring « what the law of nations ought to be in such a case," (which would, indeed, be a most arduous and difficult question,) but " what it is.” And, as Great Britain has, throughout this war of necessity and self-defence, (which she did not seek, or make, but suffered, or received, from the infolence of the French National Convention, in Fe. bruary, 1793, when governed by the mischievous counsels of Monsieur Brissot,) conducted herself with great moderation and regard to justice, notwithstanding the numerous charges of a contrary spirit brought against her by the dej claimers of France, I should be glad to see her perseved in the same temperate and honourable conduct to the the of the contest, and, for that purpose, avoid any attempt to make
a new Law of Nations on this subject, and content herself with an adherence to that Law, (such as it now is, by the confession of Mr. Jefferson himself, and other persons by no means par. tial to Great-Britain,) with vigour and spirit, in opposition to the wild and capricious resolutions of the variable Emperour of Russia. And that our Government and the nation may be truly informed " what is the prefent Law of Nations in this case, of neutral merchant-ships efcorted by a ship of war,” I hope Sulpicius will fift the matter to the bottom, and give us another Letter that will clear it up to general satisfaction.
I am your humble servant,
ON THE SLAVE-TRADE.
To the Editor of the British Press.
April 3, 1805. It is a very importañít and striking truth, worthy the serious confideration of all those who doubt the enormous wickedness of West-Indian Slavery, that its moft re. fpe&table champions, and even those among them who, by an affectation of candour, have made the most powerful impression on the publick mind, have been obliged to refort to gross misrepresentations of the facts upon wbich they teafon. Sometimes, in order to deprive of our sympathy the wretched victims of colonial despotifm, fallacious representations have been wilfully given of their conduct and character ; at other times, in order to draw a veil over their - fufferings and wrongs, advantage has been taken of the ignorance of the European Publick respecting West-Indian affairs, by diclofing just so much of a particular fact, as would furnish a basis for an inference opposite to the truth, and invidiously suppressing the rest.
Of this practice, Mr. Brougham, in his able work, entitled, An Inquiry into the Colonial Policy of the European Powers, has given fome examples in writers of the first reputation among the Apologists of the Weft-Indian system.
The cart-whip is the planter's ordinary inftrument, both of coercion and punishment. When used for the former purpose by the driver in the field, it is generally applied to the poor labourers in their working posture, without stopping to strip them of the clothes by which their backs may
happen to be defended. The effect is sufficiently severe ; yet not so much fo as commonly to leave permanent marks on the body. But when a punishment is to be deliberately inflicted, the patient is stretched upon the ground, with his limbs extended, and the cart-whip, (which, in the hands of an expert driver, is a most merciless instrument of torture,) is vertically applied, with all his force, and with an iteration sometimes, extending to an hundred lashes, upon that Aeshy part of the naked frame, which alone can receive such extreme discipline, without great danger to life. Not only is the scarf-skin peeled-off by every contact of the lash, but deep incisions are made, which often leave lasting scars of locking appearance: from these scars very few field. negroes are wholly exempt.
This general and notorious fact having been noticed by the Abolitionists, in the first discussion on the Slave-trade, but without a distinct specification, as it would seem, of the part of the body which bore these badges of cruelty, a tour to the Windward Islands was written by one Welto Indian planter of great eminence (Sir William Young), and published in a well-known work of another, (History of the West-Indies, by Mr. Bryan Edwards), in which the following passage appears: “I particularly noticed every negro whom I met, or overtook, on the road; of those, I counted eleven who were dressed as field-negroes, with only trowsers on, and, adverting to the evidence on the Slave-trade, I particularly remarked that not one of the eleven had a single mark, or scar, of the whip, &c.--Never passing a flave, without observing his back, either in the field, or on the road, or wenches walhing in the river, I have not feen one back marked, besides that of the woman observed on Mr. G.'s estate, &c.”
Sir William Young's object in bringing-forward this ftatement is obvioully to discredit the accounts which have