« PreviousContinue »
If he worked unsteadily, he did only what an Englishman, in the same circumstances, would have done. In order to prove that labour in Hayti follows a law different from what which is in operation among ourselves, it is necessary to prove, not merely that the Haytian works unsteadily, but that he will forego comforts to which he is accustomed, rather than work steadily.
This Major Moody has not even asserted of the Haylians, or of any other class of tropical labourers. He has, therefore, altogether failed to show, that the natives of the torrid zone cannot be safely left to the influence of those principles which have most effectually promoted civilisation in Europe. If the law of labour be every where the same, and he has said nothing which induces us to doubt that it is so, that unsteadiness of which he speaks will, at least in its extreme degree, last only for a time, which, compared with the life of a nation, is but as a day in the life of man. The luxuries of one generation will become the neccssaries of the next. As new desires are awakened, greater exertions will be necessary. This cause, co-operating with that increase of population of which the Major himself admits the effect, will, in less than a century, make the Haytian labourer what the English labourer now is.
The last case which we shall consider, is that of the free negroes who emigrated from North America to Hayti. They were in number about six thousand. President Boyer undertook to defray the whole expense of their passage, and to support them after four months after their arrival-a clear proof that the people of Hayti are industrious enough to place at the disposal of the government funds more than sufficient to defray ils ordinary charges. We give the sixth and seventh articles of Boyer's instruction to the agent employed by him on this occasion, as Major Moody states them. It is on these that this whole argument turns.
“ Article VI.-To regulate better the interests of the emigrants, it will be proper to let them know in detail, what the government of the repablic is disposed to do, to assure their future wellbeing and that of their children, on the sole condition of their being good and industrious citizens. You are authorised, in concert with the agents of the different societies, and before civil authority, 10 make arrangements with heads of families, or other emigrants who can unile iwelve people able 10 work, and also to stipulate that the government will give them a portion of land sufficient to employ iwelve persons, and on which may be raised coffee, cotton, maize, pease, and other vegetables and provisions; and after they have well improved the said quantiiy of land, which will not be less than thirty-six acres in extent, or twelve carreaces, government will give a perpetual title to the said land to these twelve people, their heirs, and assigos,
“ Article VII.-Those of the emigrants who prefer applying theinselves individually to the culture of the earth, either by renting lands already improved, which they will till, or by working in the field to share the produce with the proprietor, must also engage themselyes by a legal act that, on arriving in Hayti, they will make the above-mentioned arrangements; and this they most do before judges of the peace; so that, on their arrival here, they will be obliged to apply themselves to agriculture, and not be liable to become vagrants.”
On these passages the Major reasons thus :" In Hayti, even at present, under the judicious government of President Boyer, we find the free and intelligent American blacks receiving land for nothing, having their expenses paid, and the produce of the land to be for their own advantage, obliged, by a legal act, to apply themselves to a kind of labour which is manifestly and clearly intended to better their condition.
“ Why should a free man be thus obliged to act in a manner which the most ignorant person might discover was a duty incumbent on him, and that the result would be for his advantage ? The legal act and its penalties, after such a grant of land, would appear pre-eminently absurd in England." *
We, for our own parts, can conceive nothing more pre-eminently absurd, than for a man to quote and comment on what he has never read. This is
Second Part of Major Moody's Report, p. 30.
Ibid. p. 32.
clearly the case with the Major. The emigrants who were to be obliged by a legal act to apply themselves to labour, were not those who were to receive land for nothing, but those who were to rent it, or to hire themselves out as labourers under others. The Major has applied the provisions of the Seventh Article to the class mentioned in the Sixth. So disgraceful an instance of carelessness we never saw in any official document.
Whether the President acted well or ill, is not the question. The principle on which he proceeded cannot be mistaken. He was about to advance a considerable sum for the purpose of transporting these people to Hayti. He appears, as far as we can judge from these instructions, to have exacted no security from the higher and most respectable class. But he thought it probable, we suppose, that many of those idle and profligate persons who abouod in all great cities, and who are peculiarly likely to abound in a degraded caste, beggars and thieves, the refuse of the North American bridewells, might accept this proposal, merely that they might live for some months at free cost, and then relurn to their old habits. He therefore naturally required some assurance that the poorer emigrants intended to support ihemselves by their industry before he would agree to advance their subsistence.
The Major proceeds thus :“Your Lordship may observe, in the instructions of the President, that only certain modes of rewarding the labour of the free American Black are mentioned, viz. renting land already improved, working in the field to share the produce with the labourer, or, by being proprietors of land, to cultivate on their own account vithout either rent or purchase, having land from the free gift of the government.
“The ordinary mode of rewarding the labourer by the payment of wages, as in England or the East Indies, where the country is fully, peopled, is never onee mentioned or alluded to by President Bayer, who may be fairly supposed io understand the situation of the country which he governs."
For the sake of the Haytians, we hope that Boyer understands the country which he governs, better than the Major understands the subject on which he writes. Who, before, ever thought of mentioning the renting of land as a mode of rewarding the labourer ? The renting of land is a transaction between the proprietor of the soil and the capitalist. Can Major Moody possibly imagine, that, in any part of the world, the labourer, as a labourer, pays rent, or receives it? He surely must know, that those emigrants who rented land, must have rented it in the capacity, not of labourers, but of capitalists; that they must have paid the rent out of the profits of their stock, not out of the gains of their labour ; that even when a man works on his own account, the gains of his labour, though not generally called wages, are wages to all intents and purposes, and, though popularly confounded with his profils, follow a law altogether different. But Boyer, says Major Moody, never mentions wages. How can wages be better defined, than as the share of the produce allowed to the labourer? Does Major Moody conceive that wages can be paid only in money, or that money wages represent any Thing but that share of the produce of which the President speaks? He goes on, however, floundering deeper and deeper in absurdity at every slep.
** In the present constitution of Hayti, as administered by President Boyer, in “Titre sur l'Etat Politique des Croyens,' I lind, under the 47th act, that the rights of citizenship are suspended, as regards domestics working for wages (par l'état de domestique à gages'), in that very republican country, where a person, ignorant of the effect of physical causes, would naturally conclude that
* Second Part of Majer Moody's Report, p. 32.
it would be most unjust to deprive a man lof his right of citizenship, because he preferred one mode of subsisting himself to another, which the gorernment wished to encourage."
Physical causes again! We should like to know whether these physical causes operate in France. In the French Constitution of the year 1791, we find the following Article :~" To be an active citizen, it is necessary not to be in a menial situation, namely, that of a servant receiving wages.
It seems, therefore, that this law which, in the opinion of Major Moody, nothing but the heat of the torrid zone will explain—this law, which any person, ignorant of physical causes, would consider as grossly unjust, is copied from the Institutions of a great and enlightened European nation. We can assure him, that a little knowledge of history is now and then very useful to a person who undertakes to speculate on politics.
We must return for a moment to the North American emigranls. Much misnjanagement seems to have taken place with respect to them. They were received with cordiality, and pampered with the utmost profusion, by the liberal inhabitants of Port-au-Prince. They had left a country where they had always been treated as the lowest of mankind; they had landed in a country where they were overwhelmed with caresses and presents. The heads of many were lurned by the change.
change. Many came from cities, and, totally unaccustomed to agricultural labour, found themselves transported into the midst of an agricultural community. The government, with more generosity than wisdom, suffered them to eat their rations in idleness. This is a short summary of the narrative of Mr. Dewey, who was himself on the spot. He continues thus :
“Although these and other circumstances damped the ardour of some of the emigrants, and rendered them dissatisfied with their situation, yet I have uniformly found the industrious and the most respectable, and such as were fitted to be cultivators of the soil, contented with their condition and prospects, and convinced that great advantages were put within their reach. By far the greater part of the emigrants I saw were satisfied with their change of country, and many were so much pleased that they would not return on any consideration, and said, that they never felt at home before, that they have never felt what it was to be in a country where their colour was not despised. But these were such as went out expecting to meet difficulties, and not to live in the city; and they are so numerous, and pursuing their course with so much enterprise, that I feel there is no more reason for surprise at the industry and contentment which they exhibit, than al the dissatisfaction which has brought back 200, and will perhaps bring back a few more." +
All this statement the Major quotes as triumphantly as if it were favourable to his hypothesis, or as if it were not of itself sufficient to refute every syllable that he has written. Those who came from towns shrunk from agricultural labour. Is this a circumstance peculiar to any climate? Let Major Moody try the same experiment in this country with the footmen and shopmen of London, and see what success he will have. were accustomed to tillage applied themselves to it with vigour; and this though they came from a cold country, and must therefore be supposed to have been peculiarly sensible of the influence of tropical heat. therefore, that their desire to better their condition surmounted that love of repose which, according to the new philosophy of labour, can, in warm, fertile, and thinly peopled countries, be surmounted only by the fear of punishment.
We have now gone through the principal topics of which the Major has treated. We have done him more than justice. We have arranged his chaotic mass of facts and theories ; we have frequently translated his language into English ; we have refrained from quoting the exquisitely ridi
But those who
Second Part o? Major Moody's Report, p. 32.
+ Ibid. P.
culous similitudes and allusions with which he has set off his reasonings ; we have repeatedly taken on ourselves the burden of the proof in cases where, by all the rules of logic, we might have imposed it on him. Against us, he cannot resort to his ordinary modes of defence : he cannot charge us with ignorance of local circumstances, for almost all the facts on which we have argued are taken from his own Report. He cannot sneer at us as pious, benevolent people, misled by a blind hatred of slavery, eager in the pursuit of a laudable end, but ignorant of the means by which alone it can be attained. We have treated the question as a question purely scientific. We have reasoned as if we had been reasoning, not about men and women, but about spinning-jeanies and power-looms.
Point by point we have refuted his whole theory. We have shown that the phenomena which he attributes to the atmosphere of the torrid zone are found in the most temperate climates ; and that, if coercion be desirable in the case of the West Indian labourer, the stocks, the branding iron, and the forty stripes save one, ought lo be, without delay, introduced into England.
There are still some parts of the subject on which, if this article were not already too long, we should wish to dwell. Coercion, according to Major Moody, is necessary only in those tropical countries in which the population does not press on the means of subsistence. He holds, that the multiplication of the species will at length render it superfluous. It would be easy to show that this remedy is incompatible with the evil; that the deadly labour, or, as he would call it, the steady labour, which the West Indian sugar-planter exacts, destroys life with frightful rapidity; that the only colonies in which the slaves keep up their numbers are those in which the cultivation of sugar has altogether ceased, or has greatly diminished; and that, in those settlements in which it is extensively and profitably carried on, the population decreases at a rate which portends its speedy extinction. To say, therefore, that the negroes of the sugar colonies must continue slaves till their numbers shall have greatly increased, is to say, in decent and humane phraseology, that they must continue slaves till the whole race is exterminated.
At some future time we may resume this subject. We may then attempt to explain a principle, which, though established by long experience, still appears to many people paradoxical, namely, that a rise in the price of sugar, while it renders the slave more valuable, tends at the same time to abridge his life. We may then also endeavour to show how completely such a system is at variance with the principles on which alone colonisation can be defended. When a great country scatters, in some vast and fertile wilderness, the seeds of a civilised population, fosters and protects the infant community through the period of helplessness, and rears it into a mighty nation, the measure is not only beneficial to mankind, but may answer as a mercantile speculation. The sums which were advanced for the support and defence of a few emigrants, struggling with difficulties and surrounded by dangers, are repaid by an extensive and lucrative commerce with flourishing and populous regions, which, but for those emigrants, would still have been inhabited only by savages and beasts of prey. Thus, in spite of all the errors which our ancestors committed, both during their connexion with the North American provinces, and at the time of separation, we are inclined to think that England has, on the whole, obtained great benefits from them. From our dominions in New South Wales, if judiciously governed, great
advantages may also be derived. But what advantage can we derive from colonies in which the population, under a cruel and grinding system of oppression, is rapidly wasting away? The planter, we must suppose, knows his own interest. If he chooses to wear his slave to death by exacting from him an exorbitant quantity of work, we must suppose that he gains more by the work than he loses by the death.
But his capital is not the only capital which has been sunk in those countries. Who is to repay the English nation for the treasure which has been expended in governing and defending them? If we had made Jamaica what we have made Massachussets, if we had raised up in Guiana a population like that of New York, we should indeed have been repaid. But of such a result under the present system there is no hope. It is not improbable, that some who are now alive may see the last negro disappear from our trans-Atlantic possessions. After having squandered a sum, which, if judiciously employed, might have called into existence a great, rich, and enlightened people, which might have spread our arts, our laws, and our language from the banks of the Maragnon, to the Mexican sea, we shall again leave our territories deserts as we found them, without one memorial lo prove that a civilised man ever set foot on their shores.
DISABILITIES OF THE WEST INDIA MULATTOES."
The great field of Colonial Policy offers few matters to our view more important at all times, but in the existing posture of affairs more peculiarly pressing upon our altention, than the situation of the people of colour. Those unfortunale persons form a very numerous class of our fellowsubjects; and their industry and general good conduct render them still more worthy than their numbers to attract our notice. They are highly important in respect of wealth; and they suffer under privations entailed upon them by no fault of their own, but arising from the crimes and follies of others, and affixed to their colour by the decrees of colonial wisdom and humanity. Dr. Lushington, the able, enlightened, and honest friend of oppressed men, of what colonr soever, has lately added lo the very great obligations he had before conferred upon the cause of justice and sound policy, by bringing before Parliament and the country this interesting subject, in a speech replete with enlarged views, animated by a spirit of true philanthropy, and lempered by an extraordinary portion of moderation. The same question which Dr. Lushington so ably raised in the Commons was afterwards most admirably stated in the Lords, and with great effect, by Lord Harrowby, President of His Majesty's Council. That enlightened, accomplished, and virtuous nobleman, has always approved himself the firm and powerful friend of the oppressed negro, in all the situations where his eminent talents have been exerted. We shall proceed, without further preface, lo state the case which so lamentably adds one to the numberless examples heretofore given of the unfitness of West Indian legislators to discharge their high functions, and of the absolute necessity which exists for the prompt and efficacious interference of the mother-country,
• Report of the African Institution for 1827. Vol. xlvi. p. 218. June, 1827.