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our profession. He thinks that his brethren out of their humble means may help his voyage to England; and he asks me, as the ancient friend and advocate of his race, to advise him how he shall proceed, and to tell him if he shall meet with no obstruction, or may even find encouragement, among my brethren of the bar. I have at once answered that obstruction there will be none, and that I can almost undertake, for one or other of our equity draftsmen, or special pleaders, receiving him as a pupil. He is a native of Barbadoes, and resides there. Let me add to the credit of the people of Brazil, that they have long practically treated the people of colour in all respects on the same footing with whites. Professional men of that caste are, in every particular, employed and received in society without the least regard to the difference of colour; a statement which I was authorized, by the Portuguese minister, to make in our house three years ago, and in so stating I was under the painful necessity of contrasting the Southern with the Northern portion of the American continent.
“And now, my dear old friend, the oldest now left me, as I shall feel too severely when I go to the Edinburgh meeting, to which the great kindness of all the parties there has invited me, where I shall hardly see one of those whom we knew sixty-five years ago—I release you from this long letter; but I must add a few words on a matter to which I alluded painfully last year. To-morrow I set out for our great Social Science congress at Bradford, where I shall be among my Yorkshire constituents, and have perfect freedom, both from them and from the constituted authorities of every description, spiritual and temporal, civil and military, to discuss, without restraint, subjects of all kinds affecting the well-being of the community, often, it may be, giving umbrage to princes, principalities, and powers; sometimes, peradventure, giving offence to the people in their various classes. Now, I can hardly think of this liberty and security (for such it is) which we enjoy, and not wish, with the same earnestness with which we ourselves prize the inestimable Llessing, that other nations shared it, especially our nearest neighbours. Sincere respect and affection for them is, I confess, only the second reason for this wish. My first is our own deep interest in their possessing it. My confidence is entire in the good sense and right feeling of the great bulk of that renowned people; and with a constitutional government they never would encounter the hazard of being overpowered by the multitude, armed and unarmed. Even in the present state of things we may trust the government and the nation-and we do trust them ;-but we trust our own government and our ownselves more, and we must be content to undergo such heavy burdens for defensive preparations by sea and by land, as shall make attack not only impossible to succeed, but impossible to be attempted. The burden is common to us and to our French neighbours; and it is devoutly to be hoped that they, as well as we, may be relieved from it, for it presses severely upon all.”
ART VI.-CONSTITUTIONAL RELATIONS
GREAT BRITAIN AND HER COLONIES.
1. Colonial Administration of Great Britain.
Great Britain. By SYDNEY Smith Bell, of Lincoln's Inn; one of the Judges of the Supreme Court of the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope. London : Longman & Co., 1859.
ALTHOUGH Mr. Bell's treatise does not contain facts new he handles, nor propound many arguments which have not before been urged, yet it is a volume timely and valuable. We would that we could dispense a thousand copies of it among the members of the two Houses of Parliament, and with each copy a writ of mandamus, compelling every one, before the next assembly of the august bodies, to read it and ponder over it. A calm view of the basis of the relation between Great Britain and her Colonies - their past history, their present position, and their probable future-would be as advantageous to the members of the British legislature, as it would be a rare accomplishment; for if there be one department in our governmental system which, by its badness, inconsistency, and mischievousness, has deserved condemnation, it is the Colonial Office.
It is true that, partly by the talents and labours of the late Sir William Molesworth, and partly by the extraordinary growth and strength of certain of our colonies, the worst forms of the old, obnoxious, and foolish policy in vogue among English statesmen, has been modified. Light has dawned in gleams upon their mind, but we see no generous principle in operation, which may secure the country hereafter from dangerous collision with her colonies, nor any guarantee that constitutional government shall, as a right, be applied when possible, to our countrymen, who leave their native shores to plant new nations in other climes.
Without principle or fixed policy-unless red-tape rules may be called principle, and a shifting accidental mode of alternate interference and neglect be termed a policy—the management connected with our colonies has been simply vicious; and though now improved, is still capricious, depending upon sundry chances for its application, as occasions and difficulties arise.
The work before us expresses in clear language, and with incontrovertible illustrations, the history of our colonial management, and the condition of our colonies in respect of their constitutional government. The history is one of a character humiliating to the imperial legislature, and affords evidence of how little is known of the real theory of the British constitution, of the rights of colonists, and generally of the philosophy of government. And yet, England has had lessons read to her, severe and unmistakable-in loss of honour, blood, and treasure, stern truths have been taught her. The history of the struggle of the United States, and its issue, ought to be enough to open the eyes of any people, however proud or indifferent to speculating on its future. These events, which should have been to the nation "for reproof, for correction, and for instruction," have not, we admit, been altogether lost to England for these purposes when a colonial crisis seemed at hand; but they have assuredly not been so regarded as to produce a consistent, living, and abiding rule of government.
The attempt to impose a stamp duty upon the North American colonies, was only the immediate and ostensible cause of the rebellion ; for it formed but a part of the selfish and shortsighted policy which had been transmitted from one generation of legislators to another, and had alienated the heart of the colonists from the parent state. In 1660, the produce of the colonies was virtually prohibited from being exported to any foreign country. Three years later, no production or manufacture of Europe was permitted to be imported into British plantations unless shipped from "England, Wales, or Berwick-upon-Tweed,” and in English built ships. The charters of some of the American colonies gave them power to express by legal acts their discontent, and in some measure to exercise a sort of retaliation ; but this was inadequate to prevent the last act of unconstitutional folly of the British government of that day, which resulted in the assertion of their independence by the United States. Not, however, until the issue of the struggle was uncertain, did the parliament admit that “taxation by the parliament for the purpose of raising a revenue in his Majesty's colonies, provinces, and plantations in North America, has been found by experience to create great uneasiness and disorders among his Majesty's faithful subjects.”
And it was then, moreover, that they saw the justice of enacting that “from and after the passing of this Act (18 Geo. III., c. 12), the king and parliament of Great Britain will not impose any duty, tax, or assessment whatever, payable in any of his Majesty's plantations in North America, or the West Indies, except only such duties as it may be expedient to impose for the regulation of commerce; the net produce of such duties to be always paid and applied to and for the use of the colony, provinces, or plantation, in which the same shall be respectively levied." Though this concession came too late for the purpose of àverting the impending disaster, yet it established a new and important and leading principle. Nevertheless, at the very time, Pitt, who approved of the enactment, and applauded the resistance of the colonists to the imposition of the odious tax, who himself had extorted from the government the declaration of this doctrine, was holding language calculated to alarm and disgust them, and invoking a tyranny as galling as that he denounced.
"Let the sovereign authority,” he exclaimed, " of this country over the colonies be asserted in as strong terms as can be desired, and be made to extend to every point of legislation whatever, that we may bind their trade, confine their manufactures, and exercise every power whatever, except that of taking money out of their pockets without their own consent.” Our monstrous trade and navigation laws were still to be maintained-so we lost America. Freedom, independence, self-government, were not to be granted voluntarily to our colonists, and so they seized them-their birthright and inheritance--and happily have since maintained them.
Mr. Bell remarks, truly enough we fear, that the policy of England has been based upon the doctrine of Mr. Pitt, that the imperial parliament has a supreme legislative power over the colonies; and that his practical application of that doctrine has been to produce another doctrine which Lord Sheffield applied to the North American and West Indian colonies, viz., that“ the only use of them was the monopoly of their consumption, and of the carriage of their produce." The doctrine of England's
preme power over colonies, is, as Mr. Bell shews, in direct violation of the spirit of her constitution. The exercise of the power, he observes, has been limited to passing regulations, under the innocuously sounding names of “customs” and “navigation" laws; but the “truth will probably appear to be, that the rule of British colonies has been as despotic in its character as ever was that of the Spanish rule, and that the difference has been, not in the character of the rule, but in the extent to which it has been exercised.” At the same time it must be conceded (alas, for the idea of freedom in European states !) that, generally, the British
VOL. VIII, NO. XV.