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"My dear Sir,
"London, 4th of Nov. 1807.
A word in private respecting the African Institution. I cannot help regarding it as an important engine. We have many zealous friends in it, high in rank and influence, who, I am persuaded, are anxious to do what can be done, both for the Colony and Africa. Mr. Perceval and Mr. Canning are with us decidedly. Lord Castlereagh, with whom our business more imme-* diately lies, is good-humoured and complying, but his Secre
Caret in pencil.
In the margin in pencil-and Mr. Wilberforce desires me to
add, disposed from a point of tary Mr. Cook is hostile to the honour to do the utmost for the Abolitionists.
Interlineations in the ori
may be disposed to whole thing and [will eagerly] seize any circumstance which will put it in his power to do us mischief.
"You will see how very important it is to be aware of this in your communications with
: Words [will eagerly] de Government. Indeed, in all the faced.
ostensible letters you write, whether to Lord Castlereagh, the African Institution, or myself, it
effect of what you say on lukewarm friends, and in the hands with
Words in italics underscored will be right to consider the in the original.
of secret enemies, for such will unavoidably mix us.
hands there are truths which will be made to produce all the effect of falsehood, and instead of being used as they ought to be, as a spur, will be employed as checks to all exertion. I cannot mean, of course, that you should, in any degree, varnish your representations. I merely mean that you should not unnecessarily discourage the exertions of benevolence. People who do not know you, will suppose the case to be desperate where you seem to doubt; and your testimony, if convertible to an adverse purpose, would be formidable. Your own mind will suggest to you the guards, limitations, and exceptions, with which what I now say should be received.
I have NO DOUBT that
Words in small capitals underscored with a double line in the original.
be highly important." "
Government will be disposed to adopt almost any plan which we may propose to them with respect to Africa, provided we will but save them the trouble of thinking. This you will see to
From this letter, the publication of which has naturally enough incensed Mr. Macaulay, it is tolerably clear, that the African Institution was intended as an engine in the hands of its managers, for the government of Africa. With the concerns of this growing part of the British territory, Ministry seem to have been but little acquainted, and willing enough to listen to the suggestions of those who had dedicated so much of their attention to its affairs. This appears from many of the most important appointments, the source of which is easily to be traceda While, however, Government was to be saved the trouble of thinking, a conspiracy was formed for a most extraordinary purpose, for no less than the possession and controul of all the forts and settlements on the coast of Africa: a gigantic grasp at power and profit by a private party, which we believe unprecedented in the annals of the country. We extract Mr. Macaulay's own words from the Appendix to his own pamphlet.
"What has suggested itself to me as desirable to be done, I will now state in a few words.
"1. To appoint a Board which shall confine its attention entirely to Africa, and which shall comprise a few of those individuals, as Mr. Thornton, Mr. Wilberforce, &c., who have interested themzelves about Africa.
2. To place under the management of this Board not only Sierra Leone, but Goree, and all the forts on the Gold Coast.
"3. To station at different parts of the Continent, from the River Gambia to Angola, intelligent persons, under the name of Consuls, or any other name which may be preferred (perhaps about a dozen), with adequate appointments; whose business it shall be to procure accurate information respecting the neighbour hood and the interior countries, and to embrace every favourable opportunity of improving the British interests in Africa, either by making treaties with the native powers, or by introducing among them persons who may instruct them in useful arts, and, particularly, who may set them an example of profitable industry. Such a person might do much in opening the eyes of the Africans to their true interests, and pointing out to them the channels into which their industry might be advantageously directed." Ma caulay's Appendix. P. *17.
This private suggestion is backed up however by a public memorial (nearly of the same date, May, 1807) addressed to Lord Castlereagh by Mr. Macaulay.
"The British settlements in Africa form at present a very loose and disjointed whole, subjected to great diversity of management, and pursuing ends which widely differ from each other. Goree is a military government, immediately under the direction of his Majesty. Sierra Leone is at present governed by the Sierra Leone Company, by the authority of a Charter of Justice obtained
from the King. Bance Island, a fortified settlement in the same river, is the property of Messrs. J. and A. Anderson of London, who hold it by virtue of an Act of Parliament passed in the year of the reign of who have hitherto used it as a slave factory. The forts on the Gold Coast, seven or eight in number, are in the hands of the African Company, who receive annually from Parliament the sums required for their maintenance, and who continue a company for the sole purpose of managing these forts, which were originally constructed, and have hitherto been supported, for the protection and encouragement of the slave trade.
"With a view both to the British interests in Africa, and to the improvement of Africa itself, it appears to deserve consideration whether these establishments, as well as any other which may hereafter be formed in Africa, should not be taken under the immediate government of his Majesty. Otherwise it is not likely that any uniform plan of policy can be pursued with respect to that country, nor any liberal and concurrent efforts made to amend the condition of its inhabitants. It will also in that case naturally become a question, whether the different settlements on the coast of Africa should be independent of each other, and subject only to the direct controul of his Majesty's Government at home; or whether a presidency should be established at one of those settlements, under the general controul and direction of which the others might be placed. Supposing the latter, which seems the better plan to be adopted, I should entertain no doubt, for reasons not now necessary to be specified, that Sierra Leone is the best situation for such a presidency." Macaulays Appendix. P. *31.
Now it happens, that so far from these forts on the Gold Coast being built for the purpose of protecting the slave trade, according to the assertion of Mr. Macaulay, that they were built in the 30th year of the reign of Elizabeth, being the year 1587 *, a trade with the Coast of Guinea having been established as early as the reign of Edward the Sixth. Now the first British settlers in the West Indies did not arrive there till 1623 or 1624, nor was Jamaica captured before 1655, consequently before that period no traffic in slaves could have taken place. So that these forts," originally constructed for the encouragement and protection of the slave trade," were built forty or fifty years before that trade had any existence.
But let our readers cast their eyes upon the map of Africa, and then they will understand the gigantic extent of Mr. Macau. lay's project. To make room for the "board to be composed of the few individuals," the African Company are to be dispossessed of their rights, and all principles of justice and policy
* Vide Postlethwaite's Dictionary of Commerce.
reversed. It is true, that the slave trade, while it existed, was protected by these forts; but is there any reason, now it is abolished, that these forts should not return to the purpose for which they were first constructed, for the protection of a just and honourable traffic, and for the civilization of that part of the African Coast.
The cause of the African Company has been taken up with equal justice and spirit by the learned author of the pamphlet, which stands seventh in our list.
"If proper enquiries are instituted it may be found, that the African Company, without making any pretensions, have really done what the African Institution, with all their pretensions, have failed in doing-promoted the civilization and industry of Africa; that they possess that local knowledge which the African Institution want, several of the Directors having filled the situations of Governors of the different forts on the coast; that they have offered suggestions to Government for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, which have been adopted, and of which the African Institution have taken the credit to themselves; and the public ac counts will prove, that they maintain eight or nine settlements, at much less expence than Sierra Leone alone costs the country.
"The African Company annually send from home, the supplies necessary for the different settlements under their management; and by laying in judicious assortments of goods purchased for ready money, and chartering vessels to take them out at a very low rate of freight, they make a considerable profit for the public on their investments; and yet supply their officers and servants on much more reasonable terms, than they could procure the same articles through any other channel. At Sierra Leone, supplies are bought on the spot, generally of persons connected with the African Institution, who, it is said, well know how to regulate their shipments, so as to meet the necessary demands of the settlement; and are paid for at a high rate in Government bills, which are usually sold at a very heavy discount. A comparison of the prices paid by Government at Sierra Leone, with those charged by the African Company for the same articles, would shew that a great annual saving of the public money might be made, by introducing the system of the African Company at Sierra Leone." Thoughts on the Abolition of the Slave Trade. P. 82.
From all that we have collected upon this subject, we fully coincide with the decision of the author, that if an impartial investigation were to take place, the result would be not to dispossess the African Company of the settlements on the Gold Coast, but to place Sierra Leone also under their management. The great difference between the two Companies appears to be this; that with the African Company, Africa is the sole object of their speculations; but that with the African Institution, Africa
is but a mean of furthering their power and extending their inAluence at home.
We most heartily trust, that Government will not allow themselves" to be saved the trouble of thinking" upon these im portant points, but that now, whilst their attention is no longer exclusively demanded by the affairs of Europe, they will view with a scrutinising and jealous eye the abuses which have already grown so rank in the conduct of their own Colonies.
We now proceed to examine a few of Dr. Thorpe's charges against the African Institution.
First, as to the alleged neglect of education.
The first report of this body asserted, that "they were opening schools for teaching the Arabic and Soosoo languages, and endowing schools for reading and writing English. The se cond and third Reports state, that the Resolutions of the Board, on the subject of education, had been carried into effect. Even in the sixth Report, p. 29, we have the following passage, "The Directors are disappointed not to have had before this time some more specific details to produce, with respect to the progress of improvement in Africa, by means of schools, and other institutions under the patronage of the Society." Now, quibbling apart, what is the meaning which any man of plain sense would collect from this sentence? That there were, or that there were not, schools established under the patronage of the Institution at Sierra Leone? Clearly that there were, but that the institution had it not in their power to lay before the public any specific details of their progress. For of the general good effect arising from the education of youth mention is made in a preceding sentence.-Will not then the public be astonished to hear from their own confession, that no such schools were ever established, but that the establishment consisted solely in the offer. The reader will be curious to see the language of the Special Report upon this head.
"Mr. Thorpe observes in a note (p. 10), that the Second and Third Reports state that the resolutions of the Board on the subject of education had been carried into effect. These Reports did doubtless assume that those resolutions would be carried into effect, there being no reason at that time to suppose that the Governor would prove unfriendly to their designs. In a subsequent Report (Sixth, p. 29.) it is distinctly stated that they had not been carried into effect. The weight of Mr. Thorpe's charge (p. 15), and any supposed inconsistency in the different Reports are thus done away. It was not extraordinary that the Directors should express their disappointment not to have made more specific details to produce with respect to African improvement; because they had repeatedly urged on subsequent Governors their