The ‘enlightened plantocrat’ Bryan Edwards, although born in Britain, spent much of his life in Jamaica. Edwards is generally regarded as a moderate voice in the pro-slavery lobby, arguing for the gradualist line and critical of the abuses of both French and British settlers. He was regarded as a man of liberal views with humanitarian interests and he was dismissive of the pseudo-scientific racial theories of those such as Edward Long. The Speech from which the extract is taken was given in 1789 before a free conference of the Jamaican council and Assembly, called in response to Wilberforce’s attack on the slave trade, in particular the Twelve Propositions introduced in the Commons on 12 May 1789. Despite his arguments in favour of a modified continuance of the trade, some of its supporters felt that he had undermined their case by his admissions of its brutalities.