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St. Mary's there was nothing con- given to the evidence adduced was trary to the law under which alone a question entirely for the jury. the court acted. However desira- The discrepancies or contradictions ble an alteration in that law of the witnesses were not of such might be, and however much a kind as to destroy their credithe state of things, which for a bility; and, at all events, the jury moment, could render it necessary, had believed them. In all the was to be lamented, still, if the instances in question, rebellious proceedings which had taken place, proceedings had taken place; whatwere conformable to it, could the ever the state of the law might be, House now censure those who, it had been strictly followed ; and having no other rule to guide them the punishment inflicted had been in their legal decisions, felt them- pursuant to its enactments. He selves under the necessity of acting would, therefore, move the followupon its provisions? He did not ing amendment:- That the House stand up as the advocate of that sees, in the proceedings brought law; he did not mean to defend under their consideration, a further the justice or wisdom of it; but, if proof of the evils attendant upon it existed when those trials took slavery, and derives from them an place, the conduct of the court increased convietion of the procould not justly orfairly be attacked, priety of resorting to the measures however deserving the law itself recommended by government in might be of reprobation. The the order of council; but does not forty-sixth section of the existing deem it necessary, however desi-statute provided, that if slaves rable a change of the law may be, should be convicted of rebellion, to impeach the sentences passed murder, robbery, or of compassing according to law, by a competent or imagining the death of white tribunal, and convicted by a jury persons, they should suffer death. sworn to give a verdict according It further provided, that if slaves to the evidence. should be found in possession of The Attorney General and So. fire-arms, swords, cutlasses, slugs, licitor General, in supporting this balls, &c. without the knowledge amendment, frankly joined in adof their masters, they were to suffer mitting the vices of the system of death. Now, it was proved by a law under which the proceedings female witness that she saw a slave in question had taken place; but with a gun and bayonet in his could not concur in stigmatizing possession, and also some powder West-Indian jurors, because they and ball ; and the powder and ball had not done their duty so well as, were found by the officer who perhaps, an English jury would searched for them, in the place have performed it, or imputing the where she had said they were con- highest delinquency to the judicial cealed, in a basket. Here was an and executive departments of Jaact, which, by the law, subjected maica, not for having violated, but the person so offending to the pu- for having observed the law. It nishment of death. If censure was was impossible, said the Attorneyto be laid any where, it was surely general, to look at the case, arising, the law they had to blame, and not as it did, out of the vice of the the

persons whose business it was system, without wishing for a to administer it. The effect to be change. If the white man, upon hiş Voz. LXVIII,

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duced the name of M. Lessein, as ers could have occasioned - and having been present on two occa- that very state of alarm, in which sions, on both of which he proved they might have found themselves, a clear alibi, having been, on one of only rendered mistakes and irreguthem, out of the island, and, on larities more probable. Yet, if the the other, in prison. Throughout proceedings, however much to be the whole of the depositions, if regretted in themselves, were really depositions they might be called, carried on according to the forms there were repeated and barefaced of the existing laws of the island, contradictions; and they were the which the colonial tribunals were contradictory affirmations only of bound to administer, it seemed difslaves, who, the House had often ficult to discover a good reason for been told, were incapable of under- supporting a resolution which censtanding an oath, or feeling its obli- sured them for having followed gation. What opinion was to be their only legal guide, and accused formed of the courts of justice in them of having perverted and vioJamaica, where slaves were con- lated that law. Accordingly, Mr. demned upon

the evidence of slaves Wilmot Horton, in opposing the alone, who were not even examin- motion, did not take his ground on ed upon oath, and whose con- any justification of every part of sciences were crippled by the same these trials, considered merely in fear as their bodies ? for, if when themselves, but maintained that called as witnesses, they gave the courts had only applied the law evidence unpalatable to their mas- which they were bound to apply ; ters, they knew well that they that they had applied it according would only leave the court-house to the forms required by that law, for the work-house. He proposed and in circumstances which fairly the above resolution, that the called for the interference of the Commons of England might have legal authorities. There could, he an opportunity of raising their voice said, be no doubt, that at the time against acts of such crying injus- when the insurrections which occatice and barbarity.

sioned these trials were to have Although in the views thus broken out, the public authorities taken by Mr. Denman of these were convinced that rebellious deproceedings of the colonial tribu- signs existed among the negroes in nals and authorities, too much in- the northern districts of the island, fluence might be allowed to the inflamed by the idea that the intenhabits of thinking and feeling pro- tions of government in their favour duced by the cautious and unim- were frustrated by the masters passioned administration of justice, being unwilling to obey instrucstill enough had been disclosed to tions which had been sent out. excite the gravest doubts, whether, The proof that such was the imin these trials, very great injustice pression on the mind of the duke had not been comunitted, and whe- of Manchester, the governor, was ther the whole proceedings, besides to be found in his demands for being founded on incredible testi- additional troops, and the preparamony, had not been hurried on, tions made to meet the danger from accusation to execution, with with which circumstances induced a degree of interested precipitancy him to believe the island was which only the alarms of the plant- threatened, In the proceedings at St. Mary's there was nothing con- given to the evidence adduced was trary to the law under which alone a question entirely for the jury. the court acted. However desira- The discrepancies or contradictions ble an alteration in that law of the witnesses were not of such might be, and however much a kind as to destroy their credithe state of things, which for a bility ; and, at all events, the jury moment, could render it necessary, had believed them. In all the was to be lamented, still, if the instances in question, rebellious proceedings which had taken place, proceedings had taken place; whatwere conformable to it, could the ever the state of the law might be, House now censure those who, it had been strictly followed; and having no other rule to guide them the punishment inflicted had been in their legal decisions, felt them- pursuant to its enactments. He selves under the necessity of acting would, therefore, move the followupon its provisions ? He did not ing amendment:

-That the House stand up as the advocate of that sees, in the proceedings brought law ; he did not mean to defend under their consideration, a further the justice or wisdom of it; but, if proof of the evils attendant upon it existed when those trials took slavery, and derives from them an place, the conduct of the court increased conviction of the procould not justly orfairly be attacked, priety of resorting to the measures however deserving the law itself recommended by government in might be of reprobation. The the order of council; but does not forty-sixth section of the existing deem it necessary, however desistatute provided, that if slaves rable a change of the law may

be, should be convicted of rebellion, to impeach the sentences passed murder, robbery, or of compassing according to law, by a competent or imagining the death of white tribunal, and convicted by a jury persons, they should suffer death. sworn to give a verdict according It further provided, that if slaves to the evidence. should be found in possession of The Attorney General and Som fire-arms, swords, cutlasses, slugs, licitor General, in supporting this balls, &c. without the knowledge amendment, frankly joined in adof their masters, they were to suffer mitting the vices of the system of death. Now, it was proved by a law under which the proceedings female witness that she saw a slave in question had taken place; but with a gun and bayonet in his could not concur in stigmatizing possession, and also some powder West-Indian jurors, because they and ball; and the powder and ball had not done their duty so well as, were found by the officer who perhaps, an English jury would searched for them, in the place have performed it, or imputing the where she had said they were con- highest delinquency to the judicial cealed, in a basket. Here was an and executive departments of Jaact, which, by the law, subjected maica, not for having violated, but the person so offending to the pu- for having observed the law. It nishment of death. If censure was was impossible, said the Attorneyto be laid any where, it was surely general, to look at the case, arising, the law they had to blame, and not as it did, out of the vice of the the persons whose business it was system, without wishing for a to administer it. The effect to be change. If the white man, upon hiş Voz. LXVIII.

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trial, had an opportunity afforded law in regard to the whites, it had him of knowing the charge, and to application in regard to the thereby preparing his defence, why blacks. Such was the law, and so should not the black slave have the long, said the Solicitor-genēral, ås same advantage? An act of the legis- the law remained in its present lature had lately passed, to compelform, he was unable to discover the charge to be delivered in writ- on what principle those members ing. This act was brought into would proceed, who were for holdthe colonial legislature of Jamaica, ing the governinent of Jamaica but it was accompanied by a proviso, responsible because it had acted in that no objection should ever be conformity with the existing law made on a point of form. Now of that island. Very wise men men were too apt to confound sub- had entertained very grave doubts stance and form, to be permitted of the justice of that rule of our this latitude. An instance of this own law which rejected the teswas supplied in the present case. timony of a Quaker in criminal The prisoners were accused of cases, because he would not take being guilty of a rebellious conspi- an oath. But, although a Quaker racy, and “other charges.” Thus, might thus be unable to convict the prosecutor could adduce what the man who had maimed, or ever evidence he chose, under å robbed him, who would ever think charge so very broad.Here was of venting his indignation against a conspiracy charged, but with the judge who tried, or the jury whom? No individuals were who acquitted, the culprit ? To mentioned. Any overt act men- alter the law was one thing, to tioned ? None. Time ? No which there could be no objection, time specified. — Place ? No cir- but to pass à vote of censure for cumstance or place! When the the observance of an existing law Slave Evidence bill was introduced was a very different thing. The into the colonial assembly of Ja- House ought to separate the maica, it was rejected on the ground defects of the law from the alleged that the slave was too low in the delinquency of the parties, and scale of moral beings-that he had reject a motion which went, not to no character, no distinct notion of denounce the system of slavery, or morality, no fotion of religion, or to censure the law, but to condemn of the distinction between truth individuals who had no power to and falsehood. But when the alter the one, or to abolish the slave was to be tried, other slaves other. were admitted as witnesses, and Mr. Brougham said that, withthat, too, on their baré word, and out admitting that the law had not an exhortation from the judge not been violated, he did not care to speak falsely. It was a known though the words “perversion of rule in this country and the com- law” were left out of the resolumon law of England was in tion, so long as it admitted that force in the West Indies - that general justice had been most hearsay evidence should not be re- grossly violated, and the common ceived. Yet the whole course of rights of humanity assailed. Howthese proceedings showed manifold ever, he had little doubt, that the departures from this important rule; law, bad as it was, had not been for, while it was an acknowledged observed, at least in some of these trials. The charges in St. ed yet another distinction ; for in Mary's were differently stated one instance, at least, there was an from those in St. George's and indictment, neither vague in its Hanover parishes. In the latter, nature, nor charging the slaves with too, the prisoners were tried before conspiring with no one knows a judge by twelve jurors, and who, to do no one knows what, on an indictment bearing some but containing a specific accusation, semblance to our own, and from sufficiently distinct to be under-' the circumstance of the trial have stood, and found by a grand jury, ing been differently conducted in or by persons exercising the funcSt. Mary's, great irregularity might tions of a grand jury. Thus put be presumed to have prevailed in on their trial, and formally erthe judicial proceedings in the lat. raigned, the counsel for the negroes ter. This opinion is strengthened were allowed to superintend their by the admissions contained in the defence: by these counsel objec documents of colonel Còx, one of tions were taken on behalf of their the principal parties in these trials, unfortunate clients, and, in one who, in a letter written on the 19th remarkable instance, the objections of December, states it to be néces were allowed.

But this was a sary to hurry them on. His words solitary instance, and from the are, “I thought it my duty to difference existing between the insist on the magistrates bringing proceedings on each of these trials, the negroes that had been taken coupled with the admission of immediately to trial, and to send colonel Cox, he concluded that their trial and sentences express, some of the trials were conducted as it will, in my opinion, be highly without even that attention to the important for the safety of the proper forms which the present parish, and probably the island, law, detestable as it was, required that they should be executed before and permitted..And thus it was, the holidays." The urgency thus that in the space of one short exhibited made despatch necessary; tropical sun, these miserable slaves and therefore, without any impus were put on trial for life or death, tation of want of charity, or dism for an offence which no reasonable regard for the documents on the man could define; and before that table, and indeed without meaning sun went down, upon evidence to attach any stigma on the character such as no individual in possession of this officer, except that of which of his faculties should receive he had shewn himself deserving, against the lowest and meanest of he (Mr. B.) might be permitted to human beings, though the offence believe that there existed in these and the punishment were the most trials less regularity and attention trifling, these eight men were to legal forms, than was elsewhere capitally convicted, and, having manifested. Besides, there was been condemned, died an ignoone other omission in the trial at minious death, to gratify the headSt. George's not to be found in long impatience of alarmists who that at Hanover; inasmuch as in had determined on having eight the one case á solicitor and two executions before Christmas. counsel were allowed the prisoners, Would the House of Commons but that indulgence was not exo look in apathy at proceedings such tended in the other. There existir as these, and say nothing, from fear

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