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and professing the most humane and generous purposes, have not, first, by an utter neglect of the objects committed to their care, forfeited their title to public esteem; and secondly, by encouraging the practice of those very barbarities which they were designed to repress, have not been carrying on a series of imposture and fraud.
So zealous are we in the real cause of the abolition, and so ardent in our desire to extend the blessings of civilization to any part of Africa, that we should be very slow to listen to any charges brought against an institution, formed to promote these praiseworthy and noble ends. The accusations, however, of Dr. Thorpe are too earnest and too reiterated not to force themselves upon our attention, while the local situation which he held adds weight and consideration to his testimony. It is a controversy in which the public is bound to take a cautious, steady, but a decided part, as upon their determination must rest the claims of the African Institution to their confidence and support. It will be our purpose, without either a partial or a party spirit, to introduce them to a few of the principal points of the question, from which its general bearings may with tolerable accuracy be ascertained.
To the accusations of Dr. Thorpe against the Sierra Leone Company, the directors of the African Institution, as identified with the former, both in the ends to be pursued, and in the persons concerned, has taken upon itself to reply. The two first charges, which Dr. Thorpe prefers against the company, are those of monopoly in their trade, and of mystery in the exhaustion of their finances. On the first of these we shall not dwell, as so much appears to be said on both sides without determining the question, which at last is not much to our present purpose. To the second they very properly reply, that their affairs have been four times the subject of parliamentary enquiry, in the course of which investigation, it did not appear that their funds were misapplied. With this answer, we, who were not subscribers to the company's stuck, profess ourselves perfectly satisfied. Otherwise we might have been tempted to have pursued the enquiry farther, and to have entered into a stricter examination of the unproductive expenditure of four hundred thousand pounds, than the rough and unbalanced account in the appendix will at present enable us.
The next accusation is, that the best servants of the company were obliged to seek establishments under the native chiefs, and were by this means forced into the Slave Trade. The fact is acknowledged in the Special Report, and appears also in evidence before parliament. The Special Report however denies that these were the best servants of the company, because they
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embarked in the Slave Trade. That they were, however, the best servants of the company before this transaction remains uncontradicted, and that they are still now in repute appears from the circumstance of one being at present Mr. Macaulay's agent at Sierra Leone, and another Sheriff of the Colony. It is also somewhat remarkable, that, although these men were under a bond to the company, with a severe penalty attached to it, not to engage in the Slave Trade, the penalty was never enforced.
Dr. Thorpe, fourthly, charges the company with failing in their engagements to the Nova Scotian settlers. To these were promised upon their arrival, twenty acres of land to each man, ten to each woman, and five to each child. Of this quantity of land, it is allowed that only one-fifth was actually granted. The remaining four-fifths was, as the Special Report asserts, repeatedly offered, but that the offer was for obvious reasons repeatedly declined. Against this assertion is produced a petition from these very Nova Scotia settlers to the directors of the Sierra Leone Company, as early as 1793, bitterly complaining of the ion-performance of the company's promise. The Special Report then goes on to assert, that as a proof of the just intentions of the company, they stipulated, on the transfer of the colony to government, for the performance of the engagements, It is surely rather extraordinary, that, during the long time in which they held the colony in their hands, the company should think it inexpedient to perform their promises, but that on its surrender, they should feel so anxious to grant away-what could be no longer their own. As, however, to the amende honourable, come when it may, we can raise no objection, the Company must have their due share of credit in this transaction.
Dr. Thorpe next charges the Directors with neglecting to furnish the settlers with implements of husbandry, and with discouraging, from interested motives, cultivation in the colony. The first of these charges is met by the Special Report with a direct denial, and in this state of assertion and counter assertion, the matter stands. Upon the second more important question, as it involves the policy of the Company, we shall dwell at a more considerable length. The Special Report asserts, that every attention was paid to the cause of cultivation, that various advantages were held out, and premiums proposed to those who might engage in agriculture; that a farm and garden of experiment were instituted, the former under the superintendance of Dr. Afzelius, an eminent botanist in the University of Upsal, that valuable plants and seeds were sent out more than once, and that nothing was neglected which might promote the interests of cultivation. That notwithstanding all these exertions cultivation was at a very low ebb the Special Report allows, but assigns other
causes for the failure-the general indisposition of the settlers to agriculture, and their preference to any other means of maintenance the insurrection of the colonists in 1800-the combination of the natives against the colony in 1802-the uncertainty of the inhabitants as to the future evacuation of the colony till the determination of Parliament was known. For the success of their exertions in a subsequent period the framers of the Special Report refer to the testimony of Mr. Thompson, the first governor of the colony, after it had been surrendered to the crown. His words in a letter to the Secretary of State, Lord Castlereagh, are as follows:
"I have the honour to report to your Lordship, that I found the appearances of the colony, in any respects, more favourable than I had any reason to expect. The quantity of stock of all kinds which fill the streets of the settlement, and the very respectable appearance of the inhabitants, are strong indications of prosperity and of the increase of domestic industry."
Now giving this testimony its full weight, it cannot surely be referred only to the commercial and not to the agricultural state of the colony. It is not farming, but mercantile stock, that could fill the streets of a colony; to bring this testimony, therefore, to prove the advanced state of agriculture and cultivation, is not quite dealing fair with the public. In a subsequent passage, however, the principal point of the question will be found.
"Mr. Thorpe would insinuate that the Company discou raged cultivation in the Colony, for the sake of the rice trade which they carried on for its supply. The Company did indeed take great pains to supply the Colony with rice and cattle, whenever circumstances like those which have now been mentioned rendered such a supply peculiarly needful. They also made a point of purchasing the rice which was offered for sale by the natives, with a view of encouraging their industry, as well as redeeming the pledge they had given of affording them a market for their commodities; but there was no branch of their trade by which they appear to have sustained heavier losses, than by this. It proved almost uniformly a losing traffic." P. 22.
Now the same complaint which Dr. Thorpe makes against the company was made as early as 1793, by the Nova Scotia settlers, who complain that the agent of the Company created a monopoly of all the necessaries of life, which they sold at a profit of 100 per cent. contrary to their agreement, which promised them the same articles at a profit only of five per cent. In addition to this, Dr. Thorpe produces an extract from another
letter of Governor Thompson, dated August 14, 1809, which will present to the reader some other views of the subject.
"I have not the smallest doubt that the Agents of the Sierra Leone Company clearly saw it to be their interest that the Colony should not be cultivated. It is true they pretended to encourage cultivation, but they took care always to leave good and sufficient weight in the other scale. Who would cultivate, when he did not know whether his land was secure to his children or to himself? Who would, cultivate, when, for want of any sufficient force to produce respectability in the eyes of the natives, every man was afraid to go without the wall of the town, for fear of being murdered? And now to prove the allegation, the Agents of the Sierra Leone Company were the dealers in the European and American goods. If the inhabitants did not cultivate, they employed themselves in some other way, (principally on public works) for which they received paper money. This paper money they were obliged to exchange for goods from the Agents of the Sierra Leone Company to buy rice from the natives. Had rice been grown in the Colony, it would have taken from the custom of the shops kept by the Agents. It is no wonder they were not very zealous. I verily believe this to be a true state of the fact. Many of the calumnies and inventions of the Agents of the Sierra Leone Company seem to point in the same direction. When I moved a party of the natives of Bambarra into the mountains, a death blow to their plans and a signal for cultivation that never will be forgiven, we were told that we were forming a banditti to plunder the Cassada fields, (for, God help them, they had nothing else to plunder) that they would be joined by the natives, that they would-in short, there was no end of it." Dr. Thorpe. P. 11.
To the evidence of Governor Thompson, the framers of the Special Report cannot object, as they appear desirous on some occasions of pressing it into the service. We could have wished that this gentleman, instead of having been sent by some influence or another to a distant part of the globe, had been brought home to have given that copious, clear, and decisive evidence upon this important business, which must for ever have set the matter at rest.
Upon the education of a few African boys in England, much money was expended; from all, however, we can fairly collect, there appears to have been much more show than utility in the measure. The Special Report asserts the existence of local schools for the children both of the colonists and of the neighbouring chiefs, which Dr. Thorpe is not disposed to deny; it does not appear, however, that these had much effect upon the habits and morals of the colony. As to the general promotion of civilization in the interior, the Special Report makes out no
case at all; it only asserts, that the attempts which were frequently made, were frustrated by the influence of the slave trade.
Passing over a few less important points and minor charges of oppression and neglect, we come now to the most grave and important accusation which Dr. Thorpe has preferred against the agents of the Sierra Leone Company, being no less than that of carrying on a traffic in that infamous trade, which the colony was established to discourage and repress.
The following is the account in the Special Report of one of the transactions alluded to by Dr. Thorpe :
"In November 1807, an American Slave Captain, of the name of Bradford, attempted, in the river Sierra Leone, about five miles above the Colony, to kidnap eleven natives, who had come on board his vessel to trade. He succeeded in securing five; two were drowned in the scuffle, and four escaped. Dreading the vengeance of the natives, Captain Bradford instantly took refuge in the harbour of Sierra Leone, intending to sail with the next tide. The native chiefs, however, reached the Colony, with the news of this outrage, in time to put it in Governor Ludlam's power to call the ruffian to account. His legal right to interfere was indeed extremely doubtful. He nevertheless ordered the Captain to be seized, and a full examination to be instituted. Had the jurisdiction of the charter of justice extended to the place where the outrage had been committed, he might possibly have been convicted of murder. But under the peculiar circumstances of the case, ali that Governor Ludlam felt that he could properly do was to require the Captain to make satisfaction for the outrage to the utmost demand of African law, or, in case of his refusal, to abandon him and his vessel to the retaliation of the natives. The Captain agreed to the former alternative. The five persons who had been kidnapped were instantly set at liberty. About 2001. worth of goods, all that he had remaining on board, were brought on shore, and delivered to the injured natives; besides which, ten of his slaves were taken out of the hold of his vessel, and landed in the Colony.
"In satisfying the demands of the natives, the simplest course for Governor Ludlam to pursue would have been to deliver over these ten slaves to the native chiefs, who would have willingly accepted them in satisfaction of their claims.
"Nevertheless, as the slave trade had not yet ceased, there was but too much reason to apprehend that these poor creatures would be again sold, (as, according to African law, they might lawfully be, before domestication), if they were given at once into the hands of the native chiefs. To prevent this, and to secure at the same time still further benefit to the rescued slaves, Mr. Ludlam proposed to bind them as apprentices for fourteen years to any respectable Colonists who would pay to the Native Chiefs their customary value, which, according to their own laws, the Chiefs were