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able, and to prevent the flesh being annoyed in the conflict between the bones and the boards, they may be covered with banana mats, preferably to pads made with the leaves.”
‘Such is the lodging, which, like the food and labor, so many respectable witnesses pronounced to be proper, liberal, and superior to that of the peasantry, or the lower class of people of every description, in this country. A hut that is weather-proof, and a board, with a coarse mat, to receive the negro's weary limbs by night, are recommended as important improvements; though here, to say of a poor man, that he has not a bed to lie upon," is thought a very moving image of distress.
In this particular, the errors of strangers, or transient guests, in their accounts of the West Indies, may be easily produced by what I have reason to believe is a very ordinary imposition. If, on visiting a planter, they show any curiosity to see the huts of the slaves, commonly called the negro-houses, they are conducted by their entertainer to two or three in the group, which are the habitations of the drivers, carpenters, masons, or other tradesmen, the chiefs of the gang, whose many comparative advantages I have frequently noticed; and in these, though on a cursory outside view not very distinguishable from the other negro huts, the strangers may
find appearances of humble comfort, both as to the dwelling and its furniture; which they are naturally led to regard as fair examples of the general case; though the hut of the common drudges, which it would be rudely prying to enter, would excite only compassion and disgust.' — pp. 359, 360.
In the eleventh chapter, it is proved that the slaves are treated with great harshness, neglect, and inhumanity, when sick. We shall not enter into the details of this melancholy subject, but must content ourselves with remarking, that the proposition advanced by the author is established beyond question.
The last chapter of the work consists of concluding and practical reflections, from which we extract the following eloquent passage.
‘Am I asked what are my practical conclusions, from the shocking and opprobrious facts established in this and my former volume ? What can they be, but one, that the effectual interposition of Parliament should not a moment longer be delayed?
Enough was known before ; more than enough was incontrovertibly proved; nay, enough was always admitted or undenied; to make the legislative toleration of this slavery a disgrace to the British and Christian name. Iniquity, indeed, of every
kind, loses in human detestation, what it gains in mischief, by wide, unreproved diffusion, and by age. We sin remorselessly, because our fathers sinned, and because multitudes of our own generation sin, in the same way without discredit. But if ever those most flagitious crimes of Europe, slave-trade and colonial slavery, shall cease to be tolerated by human laws, and live in history alone, men will look back upon them with the horror they deserve; and wonder as much at the depravity of the age that could establish or maintain them, as we now do at the murderous rites of our pagan ancestors, or the ferocious cannibal manners of New Zealand.
“There is enough in the simplest conception of personal hereditary slavery, to revolt every just and liberal mind, independently of all aggravations to be found in its particular origin, or in abuses of the master's powers. But how much should sympathy and indignation be enhanced, when the cruel perpetual privation of freedom, and of almost every civil and human right, is the punishment of no crime, nor the harsh consequence of public hostility in war, but imposed upon the innocent and helpless, by the hand of rapacious violence alone; and maintained for no other object but the sordid one of the master's profit, by the excessive labor to which they are compelled ?
• Were our merchants to send agents to buy captives from the bandits in the forests of Italy, or from the pirates on the Barbary coast, and sell them here as slaves, to work for our farmers or manufacturers; and were the purchasers to claim, in consequence, a right to hold these victims of rapine and avarice, with their children, in bondage for ever, and to take their work, without wages; what would it be but the same identical case we are contemplating, except that the captives were of a different complexion? Yet the bandits and pirates are hanged; and their vendees, in the case supposed, would have less to apprehend from actions or indictments for false imprisonment, than from the vengeance of indignant multitudes. It certainly, at least, would not be necessary, for the
of their deliverance, to prove to the British Parliament, or people, that the poor captives were overworked, under-fed, driven with whips to their work, punished in a brutal way for every real or imputed fault, and, by such complicated oppressions, brought in great numbers prematurely to
· But an advocate of the unfortunate negroes, in the present day, has to address himself to many who have so far surrendered their judgment to colonial imposture, and their moral feelings to colonial influence and example, as almost to doubt whether personal slavery is an evil, or its unjust imposition a crime. It
was not, therefore, without necessity, that I have torn from that social monster the screen which distance and falsehood had cast before him; and exhibited him to the eyes of the British people in his true and hideous forms.
'Having now performed that painful and invidious task; having shown, by decisive evidence, what the slavery of the sugar colonies really is, both in law and practice; I will not waste the time of my readers, by offering any arguments in proof, that such a state should no longer be suffered to exist. It would, indeed, be worse than idle; it would be insulting their understandings and their hearts to do so. It would be supposing in them a perfect insensibility to every moral obligation. That personal slavery should find apologists and patrons among the people of England, is strange, and opprobrious enough; especially at the present day, when we hail with enthusiasm the march of civil liberty in every foreign land, and are scarcely satisfied with its perfection in our own; but, if our love of freedom be thus grossly inconsistent, I trust our national humanity will be more impartial; and that, though many among us, who profess to detest slavery, civil or personal, in Greece and Spain, and Portugal and Algiers, have defended its far heavier yoke in the sugar colonies, all who are not principals, or accomplices, in the cruel and murderous oppressions which I have here delineated, will view them with abhorrence. I will anticipate, then, no dissent, by any disinterested reader, from my conclusion, that this most odious system ought to exist no more.' - pp. 387 — 389.
Having said so much of the condition of the slaves in the West Indies, we are naturally led to inquire what is the situation of the same class of our own population. Into this inquiry, however, we shall not enter at this time, not because we do not consider it a proper subject of discussion in the Northern States, but because we have already gone beyond our usual limits, and because our information on the subject is not so full and satisfactory as we could desire.
It is but justice, however, to say, that we have good reason to believe, that the usual treatment of slaves, in this country, is, in some particulars, more mild and humane than in the British West Indies. This seems to be established by the single fact, that the natural increase of the slaves in this country is nearly, if not quite, as rapid as that of the whites,* while in the British sugar islands, they are constantly diminishing.
* This, of course, must be understood of the whole United States. In the slave-holding States, the slaves, on the whole, have increased more rapidly than the whites. We cannot, however, say, with certainty, that the natural increase of the slaves, in that section, is greater than that of the whites, on account of the emigration of the whites into the nonslave-holding States, and other causes.
We inclined to believe, that slaves are not so much overworked in this country as they are in the West Indies. The driving system, which is universal in all the sugar colonies, is not so general in this country, but a system of task-work is established in its place.
The causes, which have produced a better treatment of slaves in this country, are sufficiently obvious. We can only allude to them. The most important, probably is, that the disproportion of numbers between the slaves and the whites, is in no part of our country so great, as it is between the same classes in the West Indies. Taking all the British slave colonies together, there are nearly eight times as many slaves as whites, and a free black and colored population considerably exceeding the whites. In some of the islands, there are ten times as many slaves as whites; and in others, the slaves exceed the whites even in a greater proportion. In this country, on the other hand, the slaves are more numerous than the whites only in two States, South Carolina and Louisiana, and in those, only in a very small proportion ; while all the slave-holding States together contain nearly twice as many free persons as slaves.
Another reason, why slavery is not quite so severe in this country as in the British colonies, is, that here food is probably cheaper, and more abundant, than it is in the West Indies.
Besides this, the cultivation of sugar, in which it is admitted that the labors of the slave are more severe and exhausting than in any other, has been but little pursued in this country, compared with the West Indies.
One of the chief causes of the extreme ill-treatment of slaves in the West Indies, is the general non-residence of the owners
Whether the natural increase of the slaves be not quite as rapid as that of the free population of our country, it is difficult to determine. A mere comparison of the censuses will not lead to any satisfactory conclusion, for various elements must be brought into any calculation on the subject, whose value it is not easy to ascertain. These are, the increase of the free population of the United States, by voluntary immigration; the increase of the slave population, before 1808, by new importations; the diminution of the slave population, by enfranchisement; and the diminution of the free people of color, by emigration.
of estates. The great majority of these proprietors reside in Great Britain, and large numbers of them never visit the islands from which they draw their revenues. The consequences to the poor slaves, who are thus left in the hands of men, whose interest in their good treatment and comfort is not very direct and obvious, whose morals are low, and education imperfect, are, as might be expected, very melancholy. In this country, on the contrary, we believe that the entire non-residence of planters on their estates, is very rare.
That the slaves must usually be benefited by the personal supervision of their owners, can scarcely be questioned.
Another circumstance, which, no doubt, has a favorable influence on the condition of the slaves in this country, is the contiguity of the slave-holding States to those in which slavery is prohibited. The opinions upon the law and practice of slavery, which are generally entertained, and in some degree expressed in the Northern States, we believe, tend to diminish the evils of the system. Though the expression of these opinions sometimes excites violent bursts of indignation at the South, yet they are not the less certainly producing changes in sentiment among slave-holders. It can hardly be questioned, that slavery, as it exists, in law and practice, in Maryland, Virginia, and Kentucky, which join upon the non-slave-holding States, and are therefore more readily influenced by their habits and opinions, is milder than it is in the more southerly States.
Having thus conceded, as justice demanded, that slavery in this country is less severe than it is in the British colonies, we trust that our concession will not be thought to extend to any approbation of the system, as it exists here, or of any system of slavery whatever.
It is not our intention, at present, to consider the modes in which the great work of enfranchisement, which is sooner or later to take place in the Southern States, ought to be attempted by their legislative assemblies. But nothing, we believe, would do more to promote this good cause, than a work similar in plan to Mr. Stephen's Second Volume, giving a plain account of the practice of slavery in regard to the time and mode of labor in the cultivation of the principal staples, as of cotton, tobacco, rice, and sugar; the manner in which labor is enforced; the situation of the slaves in regard to food, clothing, lodging, and treatment in sickness, and the varieties of practice in all these particulars, in different parts of the country.
VOL. XI. - N. S. VOL. VI. NO. I.