In the meantime, Mr. Peel had, in the previous month, communicated with the Duke of Wellington, and intimated his wish to retire from the Cabinet, and from the leadership of the House of Commons, in consequence of his being in the minority upon a question which, of all others, most deeply affected the condition and prospects of Ireland, with the government of which he was charged as Home Secretary. The Duke of Wellington's sentiments did not differ from his as to the embarrassment that must arise from divided counsels in the Cabinet. The Duke also acted upon the earnest advice of Mr. Peel not to take a course which would preclude an early settlement of the question. In the debate on Lord Lansdowne's motion, on the 9th of June, that the Lords should concur in the resolution passed by the House of Commons, the Duke and Lord Chancellor Lyndhurst took part in the debate, and, though they did not concur in the resolution, which was rejected by a majority of 44, the general tenor of their speeches and of those of the bishops led Lord Lansdowne to observe, in reply, that he thought the noble lord on the woolsack and the noble duke must have had the intention of conceding the Catholic claims, for no one knew better than they did the danger of holding out expectations which could not be realised. The Session of 1828 was closed by a Speech from the Throne on the 28th of July. As only three weeks of the Session had to elapse after the Clare election, Mr. O'Connell did not offer to take his seat, preferring to make the most of the "M.P." in the work of agitation till the meeting of Parliament in the spring. And, besides, he was probably aware that he would have no opportunity of making a speech. If he appeared, the Speaker would desire him to take the oaths required by law; and if he declined, he would treat him as a stranger and intruder, and listen to nothing he had to say. He could not be summoned to the House, and compelled to attend, because he was not returned at a general election; and it was thought better to let him enjoy his senatorial honours unmolested for six months, than to enter, at the close of the Session, into an irritating and protracted contest. VIEW IN OLD PARIS: THE PORTE AU BL, FROM THE END OF THE OLD CATTLE MARKET TO THE PONT NOTRE DAME. (From a Print by De l'Espinasse in 1782.)

A second question regarding the late Minister became immediately necessary. He had died deeply in debt. It was one of the fine qualities of Pitt that he never had a love of money, or an ambition to create a great estate at the expense of the country, like too many statesmen. At an early period of Pitt's ministerial career, though a bachelor, he was so hopelessly in debt, that his friend, Robert Smith, afterwards Baron Carrington, had looked into his affairs, and declared that, of all scenes of domestic robbery by servants, and wild charges by tradesmen, he had never witnessed anything to compare with it. The financial management of his own income and that of the nation were just on a par in Pitt's case. He let his own money go like water, and he would have flung any quantity of the nation's property away on his quixotic scheme of propping up the thoroughly rotten and hopeless condition of the Continental governments. A strong effort was now made by such of Pitt's creditors as had advanced money to him, to be repaid by the nation. In this endeavour none were more eager than his great friends and relatives, who had been enabled by him to draw a hundredfold from the nation what they had lent him. Wilberforce, however, proposed that they should not only forego their individual claims, but should contribute each a moderate sum towards the raising of forty thousand pounds, which would pay his tradesmen; but here the great relatives and friends became dumb and motionless. Spencer Perceval offered a thousand pounds, and one or two others made some offers; but the appeal was in vain, and a motion was proposed by Mr. Cartwright, on the 3rd of February, that the nation should pay this sum. This was carried at once.

It was deemed necessary, before the end of the Session, which would close the term of Parliament, to renew the Alien Act. It had been renewed in 1814, and again in 1816, each time for two years. On the last occasion it had been vehemently opposed, and as determined an opposition was now manifested against its renewal. From the 5th of May to the 29th the fight was continued, every opportunity and advantage which the forms of Parliament afforded being resorted to to delay and defeat it; but on the 29th it passed the Commons by ninety-four votes against twenty-nine. It was introduced into the Lords on the 1st of June by Lord Sidmouth. But it had been discovered that, by an Act of the Scottish Parliament of 1685, all foreigners holding shares in the Bank of Scotland to a certain amount became thereby naturalised; and, by the Act of union, all subjects of Scotland became naturalised subjects of England. A clause, therefore, was introduced by the Lords to obviate this, and passed; but on the Bill being sent down to the Commons it was struck out; and Ministers were compelled to allow the Bill without this clause to pass, and to introduce their separate Bill, which was passed on the 9th of June.

It was resolved to bring the matter before Parliament. Wilberforce gave notice of motion on the subject, but falling ill at Bath, Clarkson applied to Pitt and Mr. Grenville, and was strongly supported by Granville Sharp and the London committee. Pitt had not considered the subject till it was forced on his attention by the evidence before the Privy Council; but he had come to the conclusion that the trade was not only inhuman, but really injurious to the interests of the nation. He consented to introduce the question, and, on the 9th of May, gave notice that early in the next Session Parliament would take into consideration the allegations against the slave trade, made in upwards of a hundred petitions presented to it. He recommended this short delay in order that the inquiries before the Privy Council might be fully matured. But both Fox and Burkethe latter of whom had been thinking for eight years of taking up the questiondeclared that the delay would be as cruel as it was useless; that it did not become the House to wait to receive instructions from the Privy Council, as if it were dependent upon it, but that it ought to originate such inquiries itself. Sir William Dolben supported this view of immediate action, contending that at least a Bill should be brought in to restrain the cruelties of the sea-passage, which would otherwise sacrifice ten thousand lives, as hundreds of thousands had been sacrificed before. This was acceded to. Pitt's resolution was carried by a considerable majority; and Sir William Dolben, on the 21st of May, moved to bring in a Bill to regulate the transport of slaves. Sir William stated that there was no law to restrain the avarice and cruelty of the dealers, and that the mortality from the crowding of the slaves on board was frightful. But where, all this time, was the Great Commoner? The whole world was astonished when the fact came out that Pitt would accept no post in his own Ministry but that of Privy Seal, which necessitated his removal to the House of Peers. The king himself offered no opposition. Pitt's colleagues were not only astonished, but confounded; for they calculated on having his abilities and influence in the House of Commons. "It is a fall up stairs," said the witty Chesterfield, "which will do Pitt so much hurt that he will never be able to stand upon his legs again." No doubt it was a great mistake, but the infirmity of Pitt's health is an abundant excuse. This matter settled, Chatham condescended to coax the haughty Duke of Bedford, whom he met at Bath, to join him. He explained that the measures he meant to pursue were such as he knew the Duke approved. Having heard him, Bedford replied, proudly, "They are my measures, and I will support them, in or out of office." It was understood that he would receive overtures from Chatham, and, in these circumstances, Parliament met on the 11th of November.

Ten years passed away from the adoption of Mr. Canning's resolution, and little or nothing was effectually done to mitigate the system, not-withstanding various subsequent recommendations of the British Government. The consolidated slave law for the Crown colonies contained in an Order in Council issued in 1830, was proposed for the chartered colonies as a model for their adoption; but it contained no provision for the education or religious instruction of the slaves. All the chartered colonies, except two, Grenada and Tobago, had legalised Sunday markets, and they allowed no other time to the negroes for marketing or cultivating their provision grounds. The evidence of slaves had been made admissible; but in most of the colonies the right was so restricted as to make it entirely useless. Except in the Crown colonies, the marriage of slaves was subject to all sorts of vexatious impediments. The provision against the separation of families was found everywhere inoperative. The right of acquiring property was so limited as to prove a mockery and a delusion. The Order in Council gave the slaves the right of redeeming themselves and their families, even against the will of their owners; but all the chartered colonies peremptorily refused any such right of self-liberation. In nearly all the colonies the master had a right by law to inflict thirty-nine lashes at one time, on any slave of any age, or of either sex, for any offence whatever, or for no offence. He could also imprison his victims in the stocks of the workhouse as long as he pleased. There was no return of punishments inflicted, and no proper record. An Order in Council had forbidden the flogging of females; but in all the chartered colonies the infamous practice had been continued in defiance of the supreme Government. The administration of justiceif the term be applicable to a system whose very essence was iniquitywas left to pursue its own course, without any effort[367] for its purification. In July, 1830, Mr. Brougham brought forward his motion, that the House should resolve, at the earliest possible period in next Session, to take into consideration the state of the West Indian colonies, in order to the mitigation and final abolition of slavery, and more especially in order to the amendment of the administration of justice. But the national mind was then so preoccupied with home subjects of agitation that the House was but thinly attended, and the motion was lost by a large majority. The Reform movement absorbed public interest for the two following years, so that nothing was done to mitigate the hard lot of the suffering negro till the question was taken up by Mr. Stanley, in 1833, in compliance with the repeated and earnest entreaties of the friends of emancipation. The abolitionists, of course, had always insisted upon immediate, unconditional emancipation. But the Ministerial plan contained two provisions altogether at variance with their views; a term of apprenticeship, which, in the first draft of the measure, was to last twelve years, and compensation to the ownersa proposition which, though advanced with hesitation, ultimately assumed the enormous amount of twenty millions sterling. On the principle of compensation there was a general agreement, because it was the State that had created the slave property, had legalised it, and imposed upon the present owners all their liabilities. It was therefore thought to be unjust to ruin them by what would be regarded as a breach of faith on the part of the legislature. The same excuse could not be made for the system of protracted apprenticeship, which would be a continuance of slavery under another name. If the price were to be paid for emancipation, the value should be received at once. This was the feeling of Lord Howick, who was then Under-Secretary for the Colonies, and who resigned his office rather than be a party to the apprenticeship scheme, which he vigorously opposed in the House, as did also Mr. Buxton and Mr. O'Connell. But the principle was carried against them by an overwhelming majority. Among the most prominent and efficient advocates of the negroes during the debates were Mr. Buckingham, Dr. Lushington, Admiral Flemming, and Mr. T. B. Macaulay. The opposition to the Government resolution was not violent; it was led by Sir Robert Peel, whose most strenuous supporters were Sir Richard Vivian, Mr. Godson, Mr. W. E. Gladstone, and Mr. Hume. In the House of Lords the resolutions were accepted without a division, being supported by the Earl of Ripon, Lord Suffield, Earl Grey, and the Lord Chancellor Brougham. The speakers on the other side were the Duke of Wellington, the Earl of Harewood, Lord Ellenborough, and Lord Wynford.