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means of such instruction with the harsh duties and harsher discipline to which these poor beings are subjected. The gift even of the rest of the Sabbath is more than the established æconomics of a sugar plantation permit even the most independent planter to confer, while the law tacitly sanctions its being wholly withheld from them,
“Generally speaking, throughout the whole of our West Indian islands, the field slaves, or common labourers, instead of being encouraged or even permitted to devote the Sunday to religious purposes, are employed either in working their provision-grounds for their own and their families' subsistence, or are attending, often carrying heavy loads to, the Sunday markets, which frequently, in Jamaica, are from ten to fifteen miles distant from their abodes.
“These abuses confessedly continue to prevail in despite of the urgent remonstrances, for more than the last half century, of mem. bers of the colonial body, and these sometimes, like Mr. B. Edwards, the most accredited advocates for the interests and character of the West Indians.” P. 25.
The state of the Colonies in 1791 and 1792, has little or nothing to do with the fact which Mr. Wilberforce undertook to prove; unless bis ten-fold repetition of that wornout tale be considered evidence of his inability to bring forward modern instances of misconduct. The confessed conti
uance with which onr extract closed may serve to introduce the reader to Sir Henry Martin. This gentleman, in a plain and sensible manner, upsets the whole of Mr. Wilberforce's assertions by subjecting them to the simple test of trath. Can any thing savour less of “ unrelenting cruelty" and "heathenish immorality" than the following modest and unpretending details :
“ The Negroes have moderate labour, estimated individually, even before the introduction of the plough, at less than one half that of an English day labourer; they have ample time allowed for their meals, viz. half an hour for breakfast, and two hours for dinner ; they are well clothed twice a year ; they are abundantly fed by the planter, so as to need no other resources; yet they have, for their sole use, mountain or other land on the estates, and considerable gardens round their cottages ; in both of which they have all the tropical fruit trees, as shaddock, mangoes, oranges, limes, lemons, and numerous others, also pine-apples, melons, cassada, arrow-root, and most of the English vegetables; and they breed pigs and poultry : all these articles they consume themselves, or sell at the markets. Their treatment, as to discipline and punishment, is certainly much milder than that of the sailor or soldier. The Negroes have the best medical care ; each estate has an hospital, attended twice a week invariably by a professional gentleman of the first respectability; and, in cases of dangerous sickness, or surgical operations, daily, or as much oftener, as he may consider necessary, for all which extra business he receives additional payment.
* The English plough is now getting very generally into use ; my own land is wholly cultivated by it. I once measured the garden of a field negro on my property, it lay round his cottage, and was 120 yards in length, and 35 yards in 'width; and fully cropped. In proof that their cottages, &c. are esteemed their exclusive property, I hired some houses and 17 rooms, at one dollar per month for each room, from the negroes upon my own property; for the accommodation of a gang which I had purchased from au estate till houses were built for their occupation.
“ Convenient lock-up houses are built near the hospital, for the confinement of men and women, separately, as a punishment; ' which is substituted for personal infliction, whenever it can reasonably be done, and, in respect to women, invariably, as far as my own actual knowledge extends. No punishment on a plantation can exceed thirty-nine lashes, (without the order of a magistrate,) and this is generally for such crimes as in England would be death Many, or most of their punishments arise from the idle and illdisposed robbing the gardens of the industrivus ; and I can affirm, that even when a few lashes (eight or ten) aré necessary (where confinement for similar offences may have failed) it is really trifling, as compared to one half the number given by the cat in the navy or army; and a white person always attends the punishment. It the Negroes consider themselves ill-treated, they can (and sometimes do) complain to the sitting magistrates for the week, or to the governor, who is generally a military officer of high rank, with every motive to act impartially, and their real grievances are properly redressed. For great matters they are always under the protection of the law. They have a regale, or harvest home, when the crop is finished, and three or four holydays at Christmas, with presents of particular articles of provision *.
They are mostly members of the Moravian Church, many of the Church of England, and some, I am sorry to say, of no Church, I mean Dissenters, who are generally dissatisfied, self-sufficient, and troublesome; very few, I believe, are Heathens. They all have the opportunity of attending the Parish Churches or Moravian Chapels. On Sundays I have constantly noticed both men and women, neatly dressed, proceeding in parties to attend Divine Service. The Moravian Priests receive annual presents for their religious attendance upon the Negroest.
“ After the foregoing statement, my reader will probably be surprised at the following quotation from the first page of Mr. W.'s Appeal : ' The Negro slavery in the British colonies is a system of
^ * If it should be said, that I merely describe what is done upon my own property, I answer, that I certainly state such particulars as have come under my own knowledge ; but I conceive they may be taken as a fair medium specimen of general usage."
"p. I paid 1001. last year towards erecting a new Moravian chapel near my estates."
the grossest injustice, of the most heathenish irreligion and immorality, of the most unprecedented degradation and unrelenting cruelty ; a national crime of the deepest moral malignity; containing those essential and incurable vices which will ever exist whereever the power of man over man is unlimited.'
“ This violent and abusive language I can readily forgive ; but the last sentence, implying unlimited power to be possessed by the planter over the Negro, is an assertion too ridiculous for any person pretending to write on West India affairs.
Again, in page 21 he says, “Licentiousness is not confined to the Negroes; the fact is perfectly notorious, that it has been the general policy to employ, instead of married managers and overseers, single young men, as the immediate superintendants of the gangs, and hence it too naturally follows, that they who from their being the depositaries of their master's authority ought to be the protectors of the purity of the young females, too often become their corrupters.'
“ This is a gross and disgusting charge, and I utterly deny the notoriety of such a policy, for I never even heard of it; and, if any planters pursued it, they must be blind to their interest, as well as careless of their reputation, for the general policy is, to have black, and not mongrel children *
page 24, Mr. W. favours us with his further opinion of the West India system, describing its physical evils as cruel, odious, and pernicious, but that the almost universal destitution of religious and moral instruction among the slaves, is the most serious of all its vices.
6. The planters recommend and urge the Negroes to attend to their religious and moral duties, but as they dare not presume to take upon themselves the office of the priesthood, like our modern methodists, what more can they do? Are they to force religion and morality upon the Negroes, vi et armis + ?
“ It is affirmed, page 27, that the gift even of the Sabbath is more than the established economies of a sugar plantation permit even the most independent planter to confer, while the law tacitly sanctions its being wholly withheld from them.'
“* I give my manager five pounds for every bluck child born alive upon my property, and five pounds annually for each increase beyond the decrease in the whole pop ulation."
at I conceive that English Gentlemen would not be well pleased to have their conduct brought under public discussion by an accusation that they did not do every thing (which their accusers might deem right) for the religious and moral improvement of their servants, labourers, or dependents.
“I can truly say, that I never heard the Liturgy more solemnly and impressively read, por better sermons preached, both as to matter and manner, than by the Rey. Mr. Harman, rector of St. John's in the island of Antigua ; the body of the church was always filled with Negroes, whose attention to the service, and punctuality in bueeling and standing, at the proper time, was truly commendable, and many made rise of their Prayer Books. The clerks in all the Parish Churches are invariably men of education, which greatly adds to the effect of the church service."
“ I think it was Mr. Barham who said, he had never met a person less acquainted with the real state of West India affairs than Mr. W. or who had more obstinately rejected inforınation upon the subject.' Probably Mr. W. forgot this precept of the wise son of Sirach, · Blame not before thou hast examined the truth, understand first, and then rebuke.' Eccles. xi. 7.
“ The above assertion respecting the sabbath, as well as the numerous other mistatements in the Appeal' sufficiently confirm the remark of Mr. Barham." P. 8.
“ In page 42, Mr. W. accuses the Colonial assemblies for iinposing fines on the manumission of slaves, by which I infer that he is ignorant of their object, viz. to prevent unfeeling persons from emancipating old or crippled slaves merely to elude the expence of their care, maintenance, and taxation ; for by this act, the owners must pay into the Treasury a sufficient sum to support the freed person, or give a bond to that effect, in case they should become a burthen upon the community.
Page 43, it is said — In truth, West Indians must be exempt from the frailties of human nature, if living continually with those wretched beings, and witnessing their extreme degradation and consequent depravity, they could entertain for the Negroes in any unimpaired degree, that equitable consideration, and that fellowfeeling which are due from man to man so as to sympathize properly with them in their sufferings and wrongs, or form a just estimate of their claims to personal rights and moral improvements : and proves the criminality of committing to the Planters the destiny of the slaves.' This is a severe assertion from a person who has no local knowledge ; and comes with very bad grace from one so peculiarly charitable! As far as my own experience and information extend, I can give it the most unequirocal contradiction as to its general application : individual instances of bad feeling and bad conduct, may no doubt be produced against Planters, as well as every other class of persons, but I affirm that a mutual and very considerable degree of kind feeling does generally exist between the Planter and his Negroes ; and I utterly deny that the latter are the wretched and degraded beings' which he describes them; but, on the contrary, I contend that they have much shrewdness, ability, and feeling ; and continually "evince the utmost attachment to the Planters, and their families : it is therefore highly disgusting to hear them so traduced, and by a Gentleman, professing himself their great friend: but in his anxiety to disgrace and disparage the Planters, he overwhelms the Negroes in the general calumny *.
• * If proof were wanted that the Negroes do not consider themselves so ill treated as their soi-disant friends assert, continual instances might be given of Negro servants (slaves) gladly returning to the West Indies with their masters. Last year a friend of mine sent his servant back at his request. I have twice been applied to by Negroes personally, who had run away from my property, and came to solicit me to send them out again; thus voluntarily offering to return to slavery.”
Their good humour, cheerfulness, and gaiety of disposition is notorious, I believe I may say proverbial. *"
Nothing can be more direct than the contradiction between these accounts. And which are we to believe; the decla. mation of Mr. Wilberforce, or the evidence of Sir Henry Martin? The former adduces no recent evidence in support of his position, but endeavours to fix our attention upon past times.' The latter is corroborated by the published reports of all the West Indian governors. It is needless, therefore, to add another word upon the subject. Mr. Wilberforce has failed to establish his facts, and he reasons most incorrectly from them, even if his facts were true. He admits, what every one else has long known, that the condition of the West Indies has been seriously injured by his refusal to accede to the proposal made by Mr. Dundas, in 1792. He admits that the abolitionists judged too favourably of human nature, that is to say, mistook and misrepresented the effect of their own measures. He insinuates that the importation of slaves is not yet discontinued, and makes sundry minor concessions, of which the candour would be more conspicuous and commendable if they did not assist him in supporting his wholesale denunciations against the white population in the West Indies. But what pretence is there for asking us, to trust the future welfare of those islands to a person who has made such mistakes upon the subject? If in 1792, he over-rated human nature, who shall guarantee us against as erroneous an estimate in 1823 ? If Mr. Dundas ought to have been listened to on the subject of the Abolition, who can refuse a similar favour to Mr. Canning or Lord Bathurst, upon the more difficult question of emancipation? If the Abolition Bills, and the Register Bills, are still ineffectual and incomplete, in spite of all the patching of Messrs. Stephen and Brougham, who will believe that it is expedient to proceed in opposition to the West Indian interest, instead of listening to their objections, and adopting plans which they will execute. The last is the most important consideration, and it is so entirely overlooked by Mr. Wilberforce and his prompters, that they can never carry their measures into effect. Instead of endeavoaring to conciliate and encourage
« * It surprised me on first visiting the West Indies to observe the unchecked and often disputatious familiarity of the house Negroes, or servants; and at large dinners I have frequently observed them wholly engrossed by listening to any good stories, and laughing loudly at them. If singing took place, it was impossible to keep them out of the room. I mention these anecdotes to confirm my statement, and to prove that the Negroes are not in a wretched state of servitude."