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Certainly not, if slavery was contrary to the law of England. That it was contrary to the law of England, was fully decided in 1772, after repeated and solemn argument, in the famous case of Somerset. In that case, Lord Mansfield held, that since the extinction of the old villeinage of the Middle Ages, no such thing as slavery had legally existed, or could legally exist, in England. Villeinage had been hereditary : the sole way of proving a man a villein, was, to prove that he had been born so. There existed no other way of recruiting the ranks of slavery. The old notion upon which the colonists had acted, that pagans and infidels and their descendants might be bought and held as slaves, was by this case wholly set aside, as a vulgar error. The particular decision in Somerset's case was limited to England, beyond which the jurisdiction of the court did not extend. But its principles were equally applicable to the colonies, and struck a fatal blow at all the slave laws; for if slavery was contrary to English law, then the colonial legislatures had no power to legalize it.
Slavery had been carried to a much greater extent in some of the colonies than in England; yet for a hundred and fifty years preceding the decision in Somerset's case, West India planters and others had claimed and exercised the right to sell, beat, and control their alleged slaves, as fully in London as in America. The supreme tribunals of England having clearly established it as law, that all persons within the realm of England were free, that great principle became the overruling law of the English colonies, and swept away the only basis upon which the acts of the colonial assemblies legalizing slavery could rest.
It has, however, been attempted to evade this conclusion; and the omnipotence of Parliament has been invoked, as having, at least by way of inference and recognition, legalized slavery in America. For this purpose, several acts of parliament are cited, relating to the African trade; also the act of 1732, for the speedy recovery of debts in the colonies. It is very true, that, in these acts, negroes are spoken of as mer. chandise. In those relating to the African trade, the fact of the transportation of Africans from the coast of Africa, to be sold in America, is fully recognized. But there is nothing whatever, in any of these acts, to distinguish negroes, in this respect, from the servants regularly exported from England, Ireland, Germany, and elsewhere, and sold and rated as merchandise in the colonies. Negroes are nowhere, in these acts, spoken of as slaves, nor is there any shadow of ground for distinguishing, so far as these acts are concerned, between the servitude of Africans and that of Europeans. The importation into the colonies and sale there of servants, to be held for a limited period, to be esteemed during that period the goods and chattels of the purchaser, and to be sold at his pleasure, was undoubtedly legal by the law of England; and there is nothing whatever in the acts above cited, to show that any thing more was intended to be recognized in the case of Africans. Such, indeed, seems to have been the view taken of these acts by Lord Mansfield. If they legalized slavery in the colonies, they just as much legalized it in Great Britain; for the exportation of negroes was not limited to America. But though these acts were cited and relied upon in Somerset's case, Lord Mansfield allowed them no weight.
We are led, in this connection, briefly to notice an oft-repeated statement, that slavery was forced upon the colonies by the mother country, against their will, and in spite of their efforts to prevent it. Bancroft has labored, by insinuation at least, to give some color to this charge, which originated with Jefferson, and made its first appearance in the declamatory introduction to the first constitution of Virginia. Jefferson wished to repeat it, in a still more direct and emphatic form, in the Declaration of Independence. But it was rather too much to ask the delegates from the Carolinas and Georgia to denounce the slave-trade as “a cruel war against human nature, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty." Georgia had struggled against, and had finally defeated, the attempt to make her a free state ; could she charge the king with forcing upon her that “ execrable commerce,” the slavetrade ? Jefferson hated Britain, he hated slavery, and he wished to bring these hatreds into juxtaposition ; but to do so required a very excited imagination. Had any colony ever prohibited the introduction of negroes ; had any colony ever enacted that negroes should stand on the same ground as white servants, and be discharged at the end of seven years' service; and had the king vetoed such enactments - he might then have been justly charged with forcing slavery on the colonies. But no colony ever passed any such law, or thought of it. The vetoes on which Jefferson relied were of a very different sort. The colonies, especially those of the South, wished to raise a part of their revenue by duties on imports, with the double object of lightening the burden of direct tax
ation, and giving protection to domestic manufactures. The English merchants, in whose hands the commerce of those colonies was, were then, as now, advocates of free trade ; they complained of those duties as an interference with their commercial rights, and had interest enough with the British government to procure a standing instruction to all the royal governors, not to consent to such sort of taxes. Among the chief imports into the southern colonies, were negroes. But in seeking to impose a tax of a few pounds on each negro imported, the colonial legislatures no more intended to abolish or to restrict slavery or the slave-trade, than Congress, when it agreed to the square yard minimum upon cotton goods, intended to abolish or restrict the use of muslins and calicoes.
It seems, then, to be very plainly made out, that at the "commencement of our Revolution, slavery had no legal basis in any of the North American states. It existed, as many other wrongs existed, in all of them. In many of the colonies, the assemblies, under a mistaken view of the law of England or their own powers, or through wilful disregard of acknowledged restraints, had attempted to give it the sanction of law. But by that same law of England, which the colonists claimed as their birthright, and to which they so loudly appealed against the usurpations of the mother country, such statutes were all void. The negroes were too ignorant to know their rights, and too helpless to vindicate them. They could not appeal to England, like the South Carolina dissenters, nor had they a powerful party there to support their rights ; but, legally speaking, they were all free.
It remains, then, to inquire, whether the American Revolution, which we are accustomed to extol as an outburst of liberty, a memorable vindication of the rights of man- did, in fact, give to slavery a legal character. Whether men, entitled by British law to their freedom, became slaves under the state and federal constitutions. Interesting and important subjects of inquiry, these! But we have already exceeded our limits; and this inquiry must be reserved for a future occasion.
ART. II. – A System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive ;
being a connected view of the Principles of Evidence, and the Methods of Scientific Investigation. By John STUART MILL. 2 vols. pp. 580 and 630.
Second Edition. London. 1846.
We beg the reader not to take fright at the unpromising heading of our article. After all that can be said, Logic, at least in the common sense, it must be confessed, has to do only with the dry bones and dust, as it were, of thought, from whence all interest has fled. But our business with Mr. Mill's book, on the present occasion, is only to illustrate from it and by it the point of view from which, in England especially, the first principles of science in general are approached and treated by a large class of writers, comprising, particularly in the department of Natural Sciences, some of the most famous names in literature. It is not, then, as a treatise on Logic, in the sense above alluded to, that we have to do with it, but as a system of Metaphysics — namely, as the best recent exposition we have met with of the Inductive System, or however otherwise the prevailing modifications of Bacon's and Locke's philosophy, according to time and place, may be designated. Of the detail of the work before us, therefore, its merits as a system of practical rules or methods, and the manner in which questions subordinate to the general problem are treated, we shall say nothing.
Logic is usually understood to signify merely an account of the forms and arrangement of propositions in the syllogism, and the employment of the syllogism in argument; without regard to the subject matter of the propositions, or to the question whence the syllogistic form is derived, or on what its authority depends; the art, therefore, rather than the science of Reasoning. Mr. Mill, however, following Whately, declares it to be “the science, as well as the art of reasoning," and that " a right understanding of the mental process itself, of the conditions it depends upon, and the steps of which it consists, is the only basis on which a system of rules fitted for the direction of the process can possibly be founded.” But though he makes Logic coëxtensive with Reasoning, yet he confines it to the investigation of data furnished aliunde, and thus presupposes other faculties, to which the obtaining of these data exclusively belongs. So that Logic with him is
but a part of philosophy. It is necessary for us, therefore, in the first place, to justify our procedure in treating his Logic as a theory of Knowledge in general. Truths,” says
are known to us in two ways; some are known directly, and of themselves ; some through the medium of other truths. The former are the subject of Intuition, or Consciousness; the latter, of Inference. The truths known by intuition are the original premisses from which all others are inferred. Our assent to the conclusion being grounded upon the truth of the premisses, we could never arrive at any knowledge by reasoning, unless something could be known antecedently to all reasoning. Examples of truths known to us by immediate consciousness, are, our own bodily sensations and mental feelings. I know directly, and of my own knowledge, that I was vexed yesterday, or that I am hungry to-day. Examples of truths which we know only by way of inference, are, occurrences which took place while we were absent, the events recorded in history, or the theorems of mathematics.” This faculty of Intuition, or Consciousness, is elsewhere called “ direct Perception," "a mental or physical seeing," &c. “ Whatever is known to us by consciousness, is known beyond possibility of question. What one sees, or feels, whether bodily or mentally, one cannot but be sure that one sees or feels. No science is required for the purpose of establishing such truths; no rules of art can render our knowledge of them more certain than it is in itself. There is no logic for this portion of our knowledge.”
The other source, that of mediate or indirect Knowledge, is Inference, or Reasoning. This is the province of Logic, which is “restricted to that portion of our knowledge which consists of inferences from truths previously known. Logic is not the science of Belief, but the science of Proof, or Evidence." “ The distinction is, that the science or knowledge of the particular subject-matter furnishes the evidence, while logic furnishes the principles and rules of the estimation of evidence. Logic does not pretend to teach the surgeon what are the symptoms which indicate a violent death. This he must learn from his own experience and observation, or from that of others, his predecessors in his peculiar science.”
Logic thus presupposes propositions, to which its rules are to be applied. Every proposition “is formed by putting to gether two names," and “consists of three parts; the Sub