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with the imputation of having left one hundred and seventy human beings, to be sold, for the benefit of his descendants, or the extinction of his debts, into a state of hopeless and hereditary servitude? Would it not be a noble testimony of national gratitude, to redeem these slaves from their forlorn situation, and place them if possible, in a condition to understand and appreciate the doctrines which their late master proclaimed in the face of the world? If disembodied spirits ever revisit the scenes of their earthly pilgrimage, would not the spirit of Jefferson rejoice to discover that his surviving friends had done for him, what he would unquestionably have done himself, if his possessions had been free from incumbrance ? One noble president has bequeathed liberty to his slaves, let those who follow in his wake, imitate, either in person or by proxy, the illustrious example.
and in about sixteen months so perfectly, that she could read any of the most difficult parts of the Scriptures, to the great astonishment of those who heard her. And this she learned without any school instruction, except what was taught her in the family,
The art of writing she obtained by her own industry and curiosity, and in so short a time, that in the year 1765, when she was not more than twelve years of age, she was capable of writing letters to her friends on various subjects. She also wrote to several persons in high stations. In one of her communications to the Earl of Dartmouth, on the subject of Freedom, she has the following lines : “ Should youi, my lord, while you peruse my Wonder from whence my love of Freedom
sprung, Whence fiow these wishes for the common good, By feeling hearts alone best understood 1, young in life, by seeming cruel fate, Was snatch'd from Afric's fancy'd happy seat : What pangs excruciating must molest, What sorrows labour in my parent's breast? Steel'd was that soul, and by no misery mov'd, That from a father seized the babe belov'd. Such, such my case-and can I then but pray, Others may never feel tyrannic sway
?" In her leisure moments she often indulged herself in writing poetry, and a small volume of her composition was published in 1773, when she was about nineteen years of age, attested by the Governor of Massachusetts, and a number of the most respectabie inhabitants of Boston, in the following language:
“We, whose names are under-writ. ten, do assure the world that the Poems specified in the following pages were, (as we verily believe,) written by Phillis, a young negro girl, who was but a few years since, brought an uncultivated barbarian from Africa ; and has ever since been, and now is, under the disadvantage of serving as a slave in a family in this town. She has been examined by some of the best judges, and is thought qualified to write them.”
Her master says, “ Having a great inclination to learn the Latin language, she has made some progress in it.*
A SHORT ACCOUNT OF PHILLIS WHEAT
LEY,—From A. Mott. Although the state of Massachusetts never was so deeply involved in the African slave trade as most of the other states, yet before the war which separated the United States of America from Great Britain, and gave us the title of a free and independent nation, there were many of the poor Africans brought into their ports and sold for slaves.
In the year 1761, a little girl about 7 or 8 years old, was stolen from her parents in Africa, and being put on board a ship, was brought to Boston, where she was sold for a slave to John Wheatley, a respectable inhabitant of that town. Her master giving her the name of Phillis, and she assuming that of her master, she was of course called Phillis Wheatley.
Being of an active disposition, and very attentive and industrious, she soon learned the English language,
* Most of her poetical productions have a religious or moral cast: all breathe a soft and sentimental feeling. Twelve relate to the death of friends. Others on the works of Providence; on virtue, huivanity, and freedom; with one to a
After the publication of the little proprietors. The number of slaves at volume mentioned, and about the 21st that time in the Republic did not exyear of her age, she was liberated; ceed 500. The epoch of that decree but she continued in her master's fa was observed by the Government as a mily, where she was much respected season of festivity and jubilee; and for her good conduct. Many of the the Legislative Power, rejoicing in the most respectable inhabitants of Boston benefit done to humanity, declared in and its vicinity, visiting at the house, its message, that the decrees of the were pleased with an opportunity of Assembly deserved to be registered on conversing with Phillis, and observing
tablets of brass, in the hall of the her modest deportment, and the cul Assembly, as one of its greatest ornativation of her mind.
ments. When about 23, she was married to “ In process of time, the Constitution a person of her own colour, who hay was promulgated by the National Asing also obtained considerable learn sembly, and confirmed the abolition of ing, kept a grocery, and officiated as Slavery by the 13th Article, worded a lawyer, under the title of Doctor as follows:Peters, pleading the cause of his breth “ 'Every man in the Republic is ren the Africans, before the tribunals free ; and no one who takes refuge of the state.
under its laws can be a slave: nor shall The reputation he enjoyed, with his any one be accounted a citizen who industry, procured him a fortune ; but carries on the Slave Trade.' Phillis being much indulged, had not By means of this Article, the Reacquired sufficient knowledge of do public was placed by the Constitution mestic concerns; and her friends con on a footing with the temples of the tinuing their particular attention to ancients, which served as an asylum to her, gave him uneasiness, which ope
the unfortunate. In consequence, durrating on a disposition that was not ing last spring, one hundred slaves, willing to have her more respected belonging to the English settlers at than himself-which first manifested Belize, fled from the colony, and itself by reproaches; which were fol- || sought refuge in the Republic. The lowed by harsh treatment.
superintendent of the establishment tinuance thereof affecting her suscep
demanded the restitution of the fugitible mind, and delicate constitution, tives. The Executive, in the message she soon went into a decline, and died with which it forwarded the demand in 1780, about the 26th year of her to the Legislative Power, gave its age, much lamented by those who opinion in favour of the required resknew her worth. She had one child, titution, influenced, no doubt, by an which died very young; and her hus apprehension that the British Governband survived her only three years. ment would not tamely permit a refu
sal to be given, which would so materially tend to alarm its subjects, proprietors of slaves in the West Indies, where slavery is still tolerated. The
public of Guatimala, on that account, One of the first acts of the Con
were anxious to know the resolve of stituent Assembly of Guatimala was
the Legislative power upon so delithe abolition of Slavery, which dis
cate an affair. The 6th of June was grace of civilized ages was annihilated
fixed for the debate, and the hall of by a decree of the 17th of April, 1824. Nevertheless the law settled a rate of
Congress was crowded to excess. indemnity for the owners of slaves, “ Senor Alvarado, in addressing the Senor del Valle, ever foremost in the Congress, said:- This is the sacred paths of patriotism and humanity, was ægis, under cover of which the slaves very urgent in recommending such a of Belize have taken refuge; and I call compensation, and his example was on you to recollect, that you have followed by the greater part of the
sworn to maintain it inviolate. Shall
we break that oath so shortly after young painter of her own colour. On seeing his works, she vented her grief for the sorrows of
having pronounced it ? What are ber countrymen, in a pathetic strain.
commercial interests, when put in
REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS RELATIVE TO
THE SLAVE TRADE IN GUATIMALA.
competition with the paramount duty of preserving justice? They should weigh as a feather in the balance ! England, it is true, protects the interets of her traders; but is she not bound still more, to prefer and protect the sanctity of oaths
“ His speech was received with reiterated expressions of approbation. After him arose an opponent, who exerted himself to prove the propriety of the restitution; and, by quotations from ancient and modern history, to show that the principles of justice, which ought to regulate the conduct of individuals, cannot be always made applicable to a state.
“Many others followed on the same false side of the argument: but Senor Alvarado was not disheartened ; and, returning to the charge, adduced fresh arguments in reply, declaring, in conclusion, that if the English Government should insist on recovering possession of the slaves by force, he would prefer to fall a victim to violence, rather than become an accomplice to injustice.
These last words, pronounced loudly, and with impassioned emphasis, again drew down the plaudits of his hearers, whose hearts were, without exception, in unison with jus. tice. However, notwithstanding the manly resistance of Senor Alvarado, the discussion was eventually decided by a majority in favour of the contrary opinion; and, in consequence, the Congress ordered the restitution of the slaves-a decision which fortunately was subject to the revision of the Senate. That second legislative Chamber, therefore, resumed the discussion, and pronounced an opposite decision, declaring the slaves to be free : but, at the same time, uniting the rights of liberty with the claims of property, it determined to award a compensation to the English owners of the slaves. The senators who most distinguished themselves in the discussion in favour of these slaves, were the Senors Barrundia, Alvarado, Alcayagua, and Mendez."
embrace the Mahomedan faith. The ambassador was accompanied by two of the principal Bushreens, who carried each a large knife, fixed on the top of a long pole. As soon as he had procured admission into the presence of Damel, and announced the pleasure of his sovereign, he ordered the Bushreens to present the emblems of their mission. The two knives were accordingly laid before Damel, and the ambassador explained himself as follows: “ With this knife, Abdulkader will condescend to shave the head of Damel, if Damel will embrace the Mahomedan faith ; and with this other knife, Abdulkader will cut the throat of Damel, if Damel refuses to embrace it : take your choice.” Damel coolly told the ambassador, that he had no choice to make ; he neither chose to have his head shaved or his throat cut; and with this answer the ambassador was civilly dismissed,
Abdulkader took his measures accordingly, and with a powerful army invaded Damel's country. The inhabitants of the towns and villages filled up their wells, destroyed their provisions, carried off their effects, and abandoned their dwellings, as he approached. By this means he was led on from place to place, till he had advanced three days' journey into the country of the Jaloffs. He had, indeed, met with no opposition; but his army had suffered so much from the scarcity of water, that several of his men had died by the way. This induced him to direct his march towards a watering place in the woods, where his men, having quenched their thirst, and being overcome with fatigue, lay down carelessly to sleep among the bushes. In this situation they were attacked by Damel before day break, and completely routed. Many of them were trampled to death as they lay asleep, by the Jaloff horses ; others were killed in attempting to make their
escape; and a still greater number were taken prisoners. Among the latter was Abdulkader himself. This ambitious, rather frantic prince, who, but a month before, had sent the threatening message to Da. mel, was now led into his presence as a miserable captive. The behaviour of Damel, on this occasion, is never
Abdulkader, king of Foota Torra, inflamed with zeal for propagating his religion, sent an embassy to Damel, king of the Jaloffs, requiring him to
mentioned by the singing men but in terms of the highest approbation ; and it was, indeed so extraordinary in an African prince, that the reader may find it difficult to give credit to the recital. When his royal prisoner was brought before him in irons, and thrown upon the ground, the magnanimous Damel, instead of putting his foot upon his neck, and stabbing him with his spear, according to custom in such cases, addressed him as follows: “ Abdulkader, answer this question: If the chance of war had placed me in your situation, and you in mine, how would you have treated me?” “I would have thrust my spear into your heart;" returned Abdulkader, with great firmness," and I know that a similar fate awaits me.” “Not so,” said Damel, “my spear is, indeed, red with the blood of your subjects slain in battle, and I could now give it a deeper stain, by dipping it in your own; but this would not build up my towns; nor bring to life the thousands who fell in the woods. I will not, therefore, kill you in cold blood, but I will retain you as my slave, until I perceive that your presence in your own kingdom, will be no longer dangerous to your neighbours, and then I will consider of the proper way of disposing of you." Abdulkader was accordingly retained, and worked as a slave, for three months; at the end of which period, Damel listened to the solicitations of the inhabitants of Foota Torra, and restored to them their king.
Park's Travels, chap. 25.
See the poor native quit the Lybian shores,
main? Here the dire locusts' horrid swarms prevail ; Here the blue asps with livid poison swell; Here the dry dypsa writhes his sinuous mail; Can we not here secure from envy dwell? When the grim lion urged his cruel chase, When the stern panther sought his midnight
prey, What fate reserved me for this christian race? O race more polished, more severe than they ! Ye prowling wolves, pursue my latest cries ; Thou hungry tiger, leave thy reeking den, Ye sandy wastes, in rapid eddies rise, 0, tear me from the whips and scorns of men. Yet in their face superior beauty* glows, Are smiles the mean of rapine and of wrong? Yet from their lips, the voice of mercy flows, Aud, even religion dwells upon their tongue. Of blissful haunts they tell, and brighter climes, Where gentle minds, conveyed by death, repair ; But, stained with blood, are crimsoued ó'er with
'crimes, Say shall they merit what they paint so fair ? No, careless, hopeless of those fertile plains, Rich by our toils, and by our sorrows gay, They ply our labours, and enhance our pains, And feign those distant regions to repay. For them, the tusky elephant expires, For them, we drain the mine's embowelled gold ; Where rove the brutal nation's wild desires ? Our limbs are purchased, and our life is sold. Yet shores there are, blest shores for us remain, And favoured isles, with golden fruitage crown.
ed: Where tufted flowrets paint the verdant plain, And every breeze shall med'cine every wound. There the stern tyrant, that embitters life, Shall, vainly suppliant, spread his asking hand; There shall we view the billows' raging strife Aid the kind breast and waft his boat to land.
SELECTED FOR THE AFRICAN OBSERVER.
Why droops this heart, with fancied woes forlorn?
* The author has here given his own opinion of beauty not those of the negroes; among the natives of the interior of Africa, a white skin is considered as a blemish, and even viewed with horror.
FIFTH MONTH, 1827.
(Continued from page 9.)
It has been frequently asserted by law for his ill treatment of them, and the advocates of slavery that a large who may slaughter them at his pleapart of the Africans are slaves in their sure. He has in truth, very little inown country, and that their transpor terest in their preservation, having no tation across the Atlantic, though they means of employing them in profitaare still subjected to the servile yoke, || ble labour, and when provisions are is an important melioration of their scarce, he has even a strong inducestate.
ment to destroy them."* B. Edwards observes, when speak. For these sweeping declarations, no ing of the slave trade, which he ad. authorities are cited, but from whatmits to be incapable of general de ever source he derived his information, fence, “A good mind may honestly he must have been unhappy in his sederive some degree of consolation in
* Hist. W. Indies, vol. 2, p. 99. considering that all such of the wretched victims as were slaves in Africa, are
+ Unless the anonymous witness cited in a for
mer part of the chapter, and the witnesses ex. by being sold to the whites, removed
amined by the Privy Council, and the House of to a situation infinitely more desirable, Commons, are to be considered as such. If they even in its worst state, than that of the are, the conclusion is certainly much too broad
for the premises. The paraphrase owes more of best and most favoured slaves in their
its fulness and generality to the genius of the wri. native country. It is, on all hands, ad
ter, than to the facts established by the original. mitted, that the condition of these poor It may be proper here to remark, that the wripeople, under their own governments,
ter of these essays has no desire to impeach the is the most deplorable that we can con
veraeity of the eminent historian, from whose
work the above extract is taken. We have here ceive a human creature to be subject
an instance, not by any means a novel one, of the 'to. They have no security for proper readiness, even of a powerful mind, to consider ty, nor protection for their persons ;
a conclusion, which corresponds with a favourite
hypothesis, as fairly proved by testimony, which they exist at the will and caprice of a
to an understanding, not similarly biassed, would master, who is not amenable to any
appear totally inadequate to its support. Vol. 1.-5.