Page images

his footsteps towards the halls of Justice, and tauntingly told that they fling open wide their gates to men of every complexion and every race. He hurries thither; the doors are blackened with the white clouds-of his foes; the ermine decks the shoulders of his foes; the jury-box is filled with twelve-of his foes,-selected from the motley population he lives in, for the express purpose of doing injustice between him and his adversary. But we hear it said, "this is insidious-there is no such pur66 pose in the selection." Why then, we would ask, is the selection made? Answer us this, ye who charge us with distorting facts, or rather with perverting inferences. Answer and tell us, why the jury is to be purged of all colour, when the man of colour is tried?-freed from all community of feeling and opinion with him, and made up of men expressly and avowedly taken because they have a common colour and origin with the mulatto's antagonist? Who can name another reason for choosing them all whites, except that, if chosen indiscriminately of the two hues, there would be jurors of the same race with the man of colour; whereas the principle is, to have them all of the white man's blood and lineage? Again, let the Christian wrong-doerfor whoso consents to wrong, doeth wrong-resort to the golden rule of his Master, and put himself in the place of his tawny brother. How should we, in Old England, like being tried for our lives by a French or an American jury, sitting under the superintendence of a French or American judge? But that is a poor approximation to the case in hand. Rather let us ask, how would you-Englishmen and whites as you are-like being tried by a all brown mulattoes, or all black negroes, with an African in the seat of the presiding judge? How would you like being told, not only that all your judges were not to be whites like yourself, but that not one of them was to be other than aliens to your name, and complexion, and race? You have already answered the question; you have, wherever you had the power, refused to be tried by judges, any one of whom bore the marks of the hostile colour; and yet you desire the mulatto to think he has justice, when you try him by judges, every one of whom is taken from among his enemies and oppressors! In England, you suffer not the meanest foreigner, of the most hostile nation, or the most barbarous, to be tried by a jury of Englishmen; he must have at least one half of foreign race and birth. No matter from what lineage he is sprung, be it ever so base; from what coast he has come hither, be it ever so hostile; before what gods he bends, be they ever so savage; by what barbarities his caste is disfigured, be they ever so revolting-he may be a rude idolater from New Holland, or a barbarous soldier of Mahomet, or a vile and pros


tituted adorer of the Juggernaut-he cannot be tried by an English tribunal. But the civilized mulatto, begotten by an English father, born in the bosom of an English settlement, trained, it may be, in the refinements of English society, is condemned by his fellow Christian, to be tried by a jury far more likely to do him injustice than the English could by possibility be to wrong any infidel on whose superstitious rites the sun ever rose ; and he is yet further condemned to hear this fellow Christian boast, that he has done his unfortunate and unoffending brother justice.

It may now be fit, as principles alone, how incontrovertible soever, are rarely appealed to with effect, to ask what interest we have in perpetuating such grievances as these-what safety there is in keeping up such a cause of offence in all people of colour? And this question may best be solved by inquiring into the importance of the coloured order. Their numbers in Jamaica alone are said to exceed 30,000, and those of the free blacks 10,000. They therefore greatly exceed the whites in numerical force; and the mulattoes form one half of the militia-being, from the necessity of the case, freely intrusted with the possession of arms. But how much more important an aspect do those numbers-those armed numbers-wear, when we reflect that they stand between a handful of whites and the sable myriads of African slaves by whom they are surrounded, daily and nightly, in town and in country, in the house and in the field, and to whose divisions and want of concert, but, more than all, want of arms and of leaders, that handful owes its prolonged existence in the Charaibean Seas. Moreover, by natural and political causes, the numbers of the whites are daily decreasing; by the like causes, the mulattoes are on the increase. Then let the wealth of the degraded caste be taken into account. Their property is now reckoned at upwards of three millions. One gentleman of that colour has L.150,000 of his own; another, a white planter, left as much to his coloured children; a third left L.200,000 in the same way, and a fourth gave L.200,000 to a mulatto friend who survived him, and L.50,000 to a black woman. Among the petitioners who made the late forcible appeal to Parliament, through Dr Lushington, three inhabitants of one parish were possessed of property to the amount of L.120,000. This is a body of men, we may rest assured, who will wax great in wealth as well as strong in numbers; and it becomes us to think betimes whether it consists best with our interest, and with our safety, to have them for our allies or our enemies.

The existence of the grievance is too palpable to be denied; the planters, therefore, essay to mitigate the asperity of its features; and, failing in this too, they would fain persuade us that the true


remedy is by sending the coloured men to seek redress individually at the hands of the Colonial Assemblies, from which they are by law excluded. "Go," say they, "and bring in private "naturalization bills, as if you were aliens. The fees are now "diminished, and by paying your attorneys heavy costs, you may gradually, and one by one, succeed to the enjoyment of your "just and natural rights." To this the answer is easy, and it is decisive. If the remedy be fit to mention, it must be commensurate with the mischief. Who, then, recommends bringing in eight thousand naturalization bills? But all-all would pass as a matter of course. Is it so? Then what better reason can you give for the obvious process of consolidating all the 8000 bills into one general act? The honourable-minded among the mulattoes feel an honest repugnance to seek this kind of relief, which the wealthy only can obtain; while, from partaking in it at all, the poor are for ever excluded-the poor upon whom the oppression of the disabling laws presses by far the most severely.

We have said much on this painfully interesting question; yet the subject remains unexhausted. The Legislature of the mother country has been powerfully appealed to; the whites of the colonies have begun to feel its pressure; there have, within the two last years, been petitions from the whites in parishes of Jamaica, bearing to their Assembly, and to us at home, the unsuborned testimony of most unsuspected witnesses against one of the worst practical evils which the destruction of the grand evil of all, the African Slave Trade, has left behind it. Threats are much objected to by the Islands, and justly, if any one ever launched such threats at them. But there is a difference between a threat and a warning-a vain, braggart menace, and a fair, open, timely notice. The duty of the Imperial Legislature is to act as the rights of its colonial subjects and the safety of the state demand; and to discharge its own functions for the common good, if the Colonial Assemblies forget or abandon theirs. Incident to this high duty towards the Empire, is another towards the Assemblies, the neglect whereof would give these jealous bodies just cause of complaint. It is fitting to give them due intimation of what must be done in England, if nothing be done in the West Indies. Then, there is a wide difference between acting upon this solemn warning and doing the just things which will render all proceedings here unnecessary, and basely yielding to the menace of an adversary, and doing wrong to escape from his anger. Let not the Assemblies then any longer neglect this warning. It has oftentimes been given, no doubt, and by a power most slow to follow it up-but followed up it will and it must be, unless right and justice have ceased to find favour in the sight of England.

ART. X. Library of Useful Knowledge. Preliminary Treatise. The Objects, Advantages, and Pleasures of Science. Published under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. 8vo. pp. 48. 5th Edit. London. Baldwin. 1827.

THE HE important measure which we had the singular gratifica tion of announcing in our last number but one, has now been fully carried into execution; and the "Society for Diffu"sing Useful Knowledge" may be regarded as established, and in active operation for the good of the country and mankind. Some delay occurred to retard its opening: But on the first of March, its series of Treatises began, and one has since been published every fortnight. The subjects have hitherto been those of Natural Philosophy; and before proceeding to more general matters, it is understood that there will be a few others published upon different branches of physical science. This arrangement cannot be too highly commended. It disarms all prejudices against the design in its origin; it follows the natural and convenient order of instruction; it establishes the Institution and its plans in the confidence of all classes of the community; and it affords time for maturely preparing those treatises which, handling subjects of a more delicate nature, and going over ground not yet made so smooth by former labour, require a more diligent study in those to whom their execution is committed, than the beaten and familiar branches of Natural science. We trust, however, that the appearance of the Ethical and Political treatises will not be unnecessarily delayed. The Society may be assured, that when they are ready, the public is well prepared, and most kindly disposed, to receive them. It is said that they are to be ushered in by some useful Histories, and those of Greece and Rome are stated to be in a forward state of preparation. We rejoice to hear this, and still more to learn that a celebrated philosopher and statesman, who is now understood to devote all his leisure to historical researches and composition, has undertaken to usher these works in with "a Discourse of the Study and Kinds of History." A more interesting or more useful work cannot be imagined, nor one more sure to be ably exccuted.

If we look forward with real delight to its appearance, we contemplate with proportionable pleasure the approach of the works which it will introduce. In two important particulars all our received Histories fail. They make no distinction between authentic and fabulous; and they turn the feelings of the reader, VOL. XLVI. NO. 91. P

the youthful reader especially, into a wrong channel. Those who treat of ancient history, indeed, do tell us where the fabulous times, as they are termed, end; and they now and then express a doubt as to an extravagant and incredible fact that meets their course. But long after giants and dragons have ceased to infest the path of the historian; long after the gods and goddesses have left the haunts of men; long after the heroes who succeeded their divine sires, and claimed immortality for their actions only, have retired from the stage; there are, in the traditions of every country, whole ages quite as fabulous as those that preceded, although the events that fill them are possible without a miracle. Those traditions, treasured up by national vanity, and swallowed by vulgar curiosity, are gravely recited by one historian after another; palmed upon this age, only because that had believed or repeated them; and sucked in by all persons who read, while their minds are tender, the impressions upon them easy to be made and hard to be effaced; until the world, of all ages and classes, has become as convinced of the reality of a series of fables in the early history of nations, as if they had seen the events, or at least heard them recounted by eye-witnesses: And yet nothing can be more certain than that there is little or no evidence even for the existence of the persons who are spoken of as the actors in those scenes. Now, to destroy all belief in such tales, is a sacred duty of those who would promote truth, and soundly instruct the people; to preserve their memory at all, is only desirable, because, from having been so long current, they form the basis of many poetical and rhetorical allusions, which would cease to be understood, if the traditions, how fabulous soever, were entirely forgotten. They occupy, however, in the ranks of history, no other place than the fables of the heathen gods; their only importance arising from the fact, that they were once believed-that they throw some light on the genius or propensities of the age which invented them-and that they then and since afforded the subject of embellishment to the cultivators of the Fine Arts.

The other particular is far more important; and here we do hope and trust, that we shall find the Society speaking the language of a manly and sound philosophy. Those in whose hands the historic pen has hitherto been, and they who have superintended the education of youth in modern times, have written as if they sate and taught in "Athens or old Rome," before a purer system of morals and religion had diffused right principles and humane feelings among mankind. As they have respected Livy too much to make their readers and pupils ever doubt that Curtius leapt into a great hole in the market-place of Rome, for

« PreviousContinue »