Page:The slave trade of east Africa.djvu/32

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.


principles seem in theory to govern the selection of any place where the experiment could be tried; but there are other practical facts which must bear their full share in the matter. In the first place, such a settlement must be protected until able to protect itself; and what power can grant this protection? Assuming for the moment that, upon the principle of going as near the root of the evil as possible, the Island of Zanzibar itself, or the adjoining mainland, were selected, what protection could such a settlement expect from the government of Zanzibar? Willing as the present ruler may be, can he control his people? A nation of Mohammedans, who regard slavery as lawful and expressly sanctioned, could they be expected willingly to stand by and see free labour existing as a perpetual condemnation of their domestic slavery? Or, supposing some place selected further removed from the Island of Zanzibar, the thought instantly occurs. Who is to protect such a settlement from the slave-raids of the Arab dealers? It is to be feared that any such settlement might fall an easy prey to the force they might bring on such an expedition.

It seems impossible to hope for a secure shelter on any but British territory for a settlement of free negroes; and we question the probability of our Government, even were it considered advisable, being able to obtain any territory where the experiment could be tried. Thus, then, we appear to be driven from Zanzibar and the mainland, and compelled to abandon our governing principles for the shelter of the British flag. There now only remain islands removed to some distance from the coast, where, though abandoning the hope of organizing a community whose example should teach the surrounding tribes the more desirable results of civilization, yet nevertheless the Church Missionary Society would have the opportunity of training up a native agency, both pastoral and lay, who might, among their own tribes, form the nuclei of many such communities. Of these islands may be named, as British territory, Mauritius and the Seychelles; the latter, lying in 3° South Latitude and 130° West Longitude, form a cluster of five or six small islands, which are British territory, and are governed by Mauritius. To these islands many liberated slaves are now taken by our cruisers; and unfortunately, there being no sufficient supervision or control, much immorality has been the result, and the Government have been urged not to liberate any more negroes there. The Bishop of Mauritius is, however, very strongly in favour of the Seychelles being selected. There remains the Island of Mauritius, which, however, is too far removed from the cruising grounds of our East Coast squadron to be available as the regular depôt. No doubt many objections may be urged against the Seychelles, but others equally strong may be urged against any other place; and therefore, while the trade lasts, and our cruisers capture slavers and liberate slaves, the Seychelles Islands seem to be the most suitable depôt; and after a careful consideration of the subject, it does seem that no place would be so suitable for commencing the experiment.