[Footnote A: The late Mr. Whitbread, to whom one day in deep affliction on this account I related accidentally a circumstance of this kind, generously undertook, in order to make my mind easy upon the subject, to make good all injuries, which should in future arise to individuals from such persecution; and he repaired these, at different times, at a considerable expense. I feel it a duty to divulge this circumstance, out of respect to the memory of one of the best of men, and of one, whom, if the history of his life were written, it would appear to have been an extraordinary honour to the country to have produced.]
[Sidenote: Continuation from July 1794 to July 1799.—Various motions within this period.]
I purpose, though it may seem abrupt after the division which has hitherto been made of the contents of this volume, to throw the events of the next five years into one chapter.
Mr. Wilberforce and the members of the committee, whose constitutions had not suffered like my own, were still left; and they determined to persevere in the promotion of their great object as long as their health and their faculties permitted them. The former, accordingly, in the month of February, 1795, moved in the House of Commons for leave to bring in a bill for the abolition of the Slave Trade. This motion was then necessary, if, according to the resolution of that House, the Slave Trade was to cease in 1796. It was opposed, however, by Sir William Yonge, and unfortunately lost by a majority of seventy-eight to fifty-seven.
In the year 1796, Mr. Wilberforce renewed his efforts in the Commons. He asked leave to bring in a bill for the abolition of the Slave Trade, but in a limited time. The motion was opposed as before; but on a division, there were for it ninety-three, and against it only sixty-seven.
The bill having been brought in, was opposed in its second reading; but it was carried through it by a majority of sixty-four to thirty-one.
In a future stage it was opposed again; but it triumphed by a majority of seventy-six to thirty-one. Mr. Elliott was then put into the chair. Several clauses were adopted; and the first of March, 1797, was fixed for the abolition of the Trade: but in the next stage of it, after a long speech from Mr. Dundas, it was lost by a majority of seventy-four against seventy.
Mr. Francis, who had made a brilliant speech in the last debate, considering that nothing effectual had been yet done on this great question, and wishing that a practical beginning might be made, brought forward soon afterwards, a motion relative to the improvement of the condition of the slaves in the West Indies. This, after a short debate, was negatived without a division. Mr. William Smith also moved an address to His Majesty, that he would be pleased to give directions to lay before the House copies of the several acts relative to regulations in behalf of the slaves, passed by the different colonial assemblies since the year 1788. This motion was adopted by the House. Thus passed away the session of 1796.