On the 8th of May, the Lords were summoned to consider it; Lord Stormont, after having spoken for some time, moved, that they should hear evidence upon it. Lord Grenville opposed the motion on account of the delay, which would arise from an examination of the witnesses by the House at large: but he moved that such witnesses should be examined by a committee of the House. Upon this a debate ensued, and afterwards a division; when the original motion was carried by sixty-three against thirty-six.
On the 15th of May, the Lords met again. Evidence was then ordered to be summoned in behalf of those interested in the continuance of the trade. At length it was introduced; but on the 5th of June, when only seven persons had been examined, a motion was made and carried, that the further examinations should be postponed to the next session.
[Sidenote: Continuation from July 1792 to July 1793.—Author travels round the kingdom again.—Motion to renew the resolution of the last year in the Commons; motion lost.—New motion in the Commons to abolish the foreign Slave Trade; motion lost.—Proceedings of the Lords.]
The resolution adopted by the Commons, that the trade should cease in 1796, was a matter of great joy to many; and several, in consequence of it, returned to the use of sugar. The committee, however, for the abolition did not view it in the same favourable light. They considered it as a political manoeuvre to frustrate the accomplishment of the object. But the circumstance, which gave them the most concern, was the resolution of the Lords to hear evidence. It was impossible now to say, when the trade would cease, the witnesses in behalf of the merchants and planters, had obtained possession of the ground; and they might, keep it, if they chose, even till the year 1800, to throw light upon a measure which was to be adopted in 1796. The committee found too, that they had again the laborious task before them of finding out new persons to give testimony in behalf of their cause; for some of their former witnesses were dead, and others were out of the kingdom; and unless they replaced these, there would be no probability of making out that strong case in the Lords, which they had established in the Commons. It devolved therefore upon me once more to travel for this purpose: but as I was then in too weak a state to bear as much fatigue as formerly, Dr. Dickson relieved me, by taking one part of the tour, namely, that to Scotland, upon himself.
These journeys we performed with considerable success; during which, the committee elected Mr. Joseph Townsend of Baltimore, in Maryland, an honorary and corresponding member.
Parliament having met, Mr. Wilberforce, in February 1793, moved, that the House resolve itself into a committee of the whole House on Thursday next, to consider of the circumstances of the Slave Trade. This motion was opposed by Sir William Yonge, who moved, that this day six months should be substituted for Thursday next. A debate ensued: of this, however, as well as of several which followed. I shall give no account; as it would be tedious to the reader to hear a repetition of the same arguments. Suffice it to say, that the motion was lost by a majority of sixty-one to fifty-three.