« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
West Indies is decreasing, and that this decrease is mainly connected with sugar cultivation, it appears, justly remarks the "Reporter," to be the least exceptionable mode of arriving at the truth, to exhibit in a tabular form the statistical facts, bearing on the subject, which may be gleaned from the returns furnished by the colonial authorities, and laid before Parliament. For this tabular synopsis, which appears to have been drawn up with considerable labour and care, we must refer our readers to the " Reporter" itself; but the following are among the appalling results which it furnishes. It appears that the whole decrease of the slave population in our West-India colonies has amounted in six years to about 28,000, being 34 per cent., or
per cent. per annum. When we compare this with the growth of the slave population in the United States of America, where the increase proceeds at the rate of nearly 2 per cent. per annum, it involves a destruction of life equal to 3 per cent. per annum. At the American rate of increase, the slave population of the British West Indies, which in 1818 was 746,651, ought in 1824 to have been 858,648. Its actual amount in that year was only 713,317, leaving a deficit of 145,331, as compared with that rate of increase, which, with all the common disadvantages of a state of bondage, marks the superiority of the United States in the physical treatment of their slaves, and especially in respect to the larger quantity of their food, and the smaller portion of labour exacted from them; for on these must the rate of increase or decrease mainly depend. Now there must be something peculiarly deleterious in the British colonial system which can produce such fearful results-results which form of themselves a complete answer to every attempt, however confidently made, and by whatever shew of evidence supported, which goes to exculpate that
This single fact we hold to establish incontrovertibly, against the system of slavery prevailing in our colonies, the charge of cruelty, and to disprove the evidence which has been alleged in favour of its general lenity. The treatment of the slaves, we are confidently told, has greatly improved of late. Who are they who tell us so? They are the resident planters, the very men whose character and conduct are involved in the question, and who have not only now, but in every successive stage of this discussion, from 1787 downwards, used precisely the same language. The declarations of the colonial legislatures, of the resident planters, of naval and military officers, of medical men, and even of clergymen, were to the full as strong in favour of the lenity of the system in the early periods of the controversy as in the present day. One main cause of this unvarying eulogy, doubtless, is, that, at all times, men, who are interested in upholding any system, are found very dexterous in palliating every circumstance connected with it which might endanger its stability. It is obvious that this tendency will be greatly increased, when those who have an interest in the system are actually engaged in its administration. Their reputation is then involved in its defence. Their pride and self-love impel them to support it, and to resent every attack upon it as a personal attack on themselves. But besides this, it is perfectly natural that men should mistake the growing, and almost unavoidable, diminution of their own sensibility to its evils, for an improvement of the system itself. They can recollect the horror
"oppressed" inhabitants of Hayti have been more than doubling their numbers; and while among the slaves of the United States the increase has been rapidly progressive.
and disgust they felt when first introduced to the sight of the human team in the field-to the driver and his cart-whip, the stocks and and the hot-house, the indecent exposures, and the merciless lacera--The climate of Jamaica and that
tions, which form component parts of the system. Ten or twenty years have quieted these involuntary risings of nature. The sights which originally shocked them have become familiar. At first they were mere spectators, they have since become the administrators of slavery; and they are willing to flatter themselves that the abatement of the pain they once experienced in contemplating it, is to be ascribed, not to that growing callousness of feeling which necessarily springs from familiarity, but to the amelioration of the system under their Own more lenient and improved management. We do not deny that in particular cases great improvements may have been intended, and attempted; but we doubt whether even in these cases much has been effected. But there has been no proof exhibited hitherto, beyond the vague declarations of interested parties, to warrant the belief, that, either in law or in practice, colonial slavery has undergone any substantial amelioration. In this absence of all satisfactory affirmative evidence, the negative evidence arising from decrease of population seems quite conclusive, even if we had not had many recent and well-authenticated instances of oppressive legislation and cruel practice. Even the population of Great Britain and Ireland, whom the West Indians represent as starving, increase; while the peasantry of the West Indies, whom they describe as well fed, and slightly worked, as living happily, and even luxuriously, are decreasing. These too decrease, while the free Maroons on the mountains of Jamaica, though unhappily strangers to the vaunted blessings enjoyed by the slaves around them, increase: nay, they have continued to decrease, while the "wretched" and
of Hayti are the same. In Jamaica, the Negro population has been diminishing from year to year. In Hayti, the Negro population has doubled its numbers in about twenty years, (from 1805 to 1825), its amount being now about a million: that of Jamaica, which in the same period of time, and at the same ratio of increase, ought to have risen to upwards of 700,000, does not exceed 335,000. There is, therefore, a positive waste of life occasioned by the Jamaica system, as compared with that of Hayti, even on its limited scale of population, of 365,000 human beings in twenty years. How is this phenomenon to be explained? It can be explained only in one way. The toil of the Jamaica Negro is uncompensated: it is extracted from him by the impulse of the lash: he is over-worked; he is under-fed. The toil of the Haytian Negro is amply rewarded: it is voluntary : his labour is suited to his strength, and his food is measured by his wants. The Negro in Jamaica is an inferior animal, divested of all civil and political existence, and who dares not raise an arm in defence of his property, or even of his life, against the meanest White person in the island. The Negro in Hayti is a member of the state, and is amenable only to the law which protects him, and which Negroes, chosen by himself, have framed for the common good.
2. It is evident, that, independently of the other evils of slavery, sugar-planting generally, as it is conducted in the British West Indies, is decidedly unfriendly to human life. This arises, in part, from the oppressive labour which attends the digging of the trenches for receiving the cane, and which is executed not by ploughs and cattle, but by men and women; and, in
part, from the privation of their natural rest, to which the slaves are subjected in erop-time, extending to a period of four or five months of the year, during which they are obliged to labour for half the night as well as for the whole of the day.
3. It is further evident, that the destructive influence on human life of sugar planting, as it is carried on in the West Indies, is aggravated by that very circumstance of fertility of soil, which seems most to swell the gains of the planter; and, on the same principle, is further aggravated by the extent of the protection afforded to his produce against competitors, and of the bounties allowed to him upon it. It is not only that these advantages enable him to live at a distance from his slaves, who are thus left to the care of mere hirelings; but that they form a strong temptation to an increased exaction of slave labour. Accordingly we find, that where the lands are most productive, yielding the largest return for the labour of each slave, and a proportionately larger share of whatever gain arises from protection and bounty, the ratio of mortality is the highest. We do not mean to say that the advantages of the plan ter and the mortality of the slave bear such a uniform relation to each other, as may be made the subject of a very exact calculation: the general tendency of things, however, is not the less apparent. If we inspect the first of the tables inserted in the Reporter, it is impossible not to be struck with the mortality which takes place in Demarara, Grenada, St. Vincent's, Tobago, and Trinidad, the very colonies which produce by far the largest quantities of sugar, in proportion to their population, as compared with any of the other colonies, and particularly with Barbadoes and Dominica, which raise comparatively little sugar, and with the Bahamas, which raise none at all. If any of our readers are desirous of investigating
the principle which thus connects the gains of the planter, and the high prices of his produce, with the misery and mortality of his slaves, we would only refer them to the Second Report of the Anti-Slavery Society, pp. 16-33; and to the Reporters, No. 19, pp. 283-285; No. 22, pp. 321, 322; and No. 24, p. 386.-If we are correct in the view we have taken of this subject, shall we blame those, as guilty of exaggeration, who affirm, though in strong language, that the sugar of our plantations is produced by the blood of the slaves; or, as unreasonably squeamish, who object to aggravate the evil, either by consuming that sugar themselves, or by resting satisfied with those fiscal regulations which factitiously enhance its value? This view of the subject supplies, moreover, a satisfactory answer to the argument, on which too many repose as a justification of their supineness in this cause, namely, that it is so obviously the interest of the master to treat his slaves well, that no foreign interference is required to that end; for it shews that various adventitious circumstances may concur, as unhappily they do concur in the case of our sugar colonies, to bring the profit of the master and the well-being of the slave into direct and immediate collision.
4. The progress of manumission in the different colonies is another subject of curious inquiry; some important facts connected with it will be found in the Reporter. The rate per cent. of manumissions from 1819 to 1825, on the whole population of the several islands, varies from three in one hundred, the highest rate, to only one in four hundred, the lowest. average price of slaves varies from 167. 15s. to 90/; and the amount of taxes and fees payable in 1821 to 1825, on each manumission, from 5s. to 391. 5s.
5. It is further evident, that all the alarms respecting the effect of manumissions in producing pauper.
ism, which formerly furnished the pretext for imposing a tax upon them, and which is still one of the reasons alleged for resisting the com pulsory manumission clause, have no foundation whatever in fact. In a free Black and Coloured population amounting to about 88,000, only 227 appear to have received even occasional relief as paupers, being one in each 387 individuals; while of about 63,400 Whites, 1675 have received such relief, being one in 38. The whole of the manumitted slaves and their descendants, therefore, in the West-Indian colonies, are placed more above want than even the Whites; and it is well known that a large proportion of them are industrious and wealthy, notwithstanding the many civil and political disabilities by which their efforts are most unjustly and injuriously repressed.
6. It is unnecessary to advert to the very low state of religious and moral feeling in the West Indies, which is evinced by the small number of marriages of slaves in the different colonies, and by the general absence of all legal sanctions to such marriages ;-circumstances which incontestibly establish the prevalent disregard of the colonial legislatures, and the colonial proprietary, to the best interests of the slave population. We see again in this fact a confutation of that argument, which would lead us implicitly to rely on the master for either clearly perceiving his own interests or for promoting those of his slave.
7. There is only one other point, connected with the above details, to which we would now again direct the attention of our readers; and it is this singular fact, that while the mortality of the slaves seems to keep pace with the productiveness of the soil, and the consequent high. profits of the master, the distress of the planter seems also to run parallel with those apparently favourable circumstances in his lot. The proportion of slaves sold in execution
is greatest in those colonies where their price is the highest, and the quantity of produce they rear the largest. This may only prove, perhaps, that the more fortunate adventurers in the West-Indian lottery are incited, like all other gamblers, by their very success, to indulge in habits of greater profusion, and to become more careless and improvident in the management of their affairs. But even if this should be the real solution of the phenomenon, does it not still shew that the natural course of the moral go. vernment of the world is framed with a singular aptitude to disappoint the cupidity of those, whose object it is to enrich themselves by the rigorous exaction of the uncompensated labour of their fellowcreatures?
For the Christian Observer.
THE late Bishop Heber commenced, in several Numbers of the Christian Observer for 1811 and 1812, a series of Hymns composed or adapted for the Church Service throughout the year. Having gradually enlarged his collection, he hoped it might be deemed worthy of general adoption in churches; and for this purpose he intended to publish it shortly after his arrival in India, but was prevented by the arduous labours of his episcopal office. The volume has, however, just been given to the world, but with some considerable inaccuracies. The well-known hymn, "Lo, He comes with clouds descending," and the still more popular Hymn for Easter-day, are attributed to the Bishop in the text; though the error was discovered in time to paste in a slip of paper at the end of the copies to correct it. One hymn is said to be "contributed by Sir Walter Scott;" but that hymn is the well-known version of the Dies Iræ in the Lady of the Lake. These, and some other mistakes, will doubtless be corrected in a new edition. In the mean time,
the following compositions from the pen of this pious and highly gifted prelate will deeply interest every lover of devotional poetry; though it is doubtful whether all the poems in the volume are adapted for public worship. The metre alone, in several instances, forbids it.
There are some excellent hymns in the volume from the pen of the Rev. H. H. Milman; one or two of which, with a few additional ones from Bishop Heber, it is proposed to insert in another Number.
FOURTH SUNDAY IN Advent.
THE world is grown old, and her pleasures are past;
The world is grown old, and her form may not last;
The world is grown old, and trembles for fear;
For sorrows abound, and judgment is near! The sun in the heaven is languid and pale; And feeble and few are the fruits of the vale; And the hearts of the nations fail them for fear,
For the world is grown old, and judgment is near !
The king on his throne, the bride in her bower,
The children of pleasure, all feel the sad hour;
The roses are faded, and tasteless the cheer,
For the world is grown old, and judgment is near!
The world is grown old!-but should we complain,
Who have tried her and know that her promise is vain?
Our heart is in heaven, our home is not here,
And we look for our crown when judg
ment is near!
ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST'S DAY.
OH God! who gav'st thy servant grace,
And lean on thy protecting breast:
To feel thy presence from above, And in thy word, and in thy will,
To hear thy voice, and know thy love; And when the toils of life are done,
And Nature waits thy dread decree, To find our rest beneath thy throne, And look, in humble hope, to Thee!
SECOND SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY.
INCARNATE Word, who, wont to dwell
THIRD SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY.
LORD! whose love, in power excelling,
Hear us, help us, when we pray!
From infuriate passion's rage,
From the Tempter's dark intrusions,
From the drunkard's jest obscene,
FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT.
OH Thou whom neither time nor space
Save through Thy Spirit and Thy Son! And Thou, that from thy bright abode To us in mortal weakness shown, Didst graft the manhood into God, Eternal, co-eternal Son!
And Thou, whose unction from on high
Dread Spirit! art for ever one!
SPIRIT of Truth! on this thy day
We ask not, Lord! thy cloven flame,
With fervour in our own.