페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

to his cell and the hangman. In this tures, “You are come,' said he ; 'to be situation he did not, however, forsake spectators of my sufferings : you are himself; and it was now, when preju mistaken; there is not a person in this dice and persecution had spent their crowd but suffers more than I do. I last arrow on him, that he seemed to am cheerful and contented, for I am put on his proper nature, to vindicate innocent.' He then observed, that not only his innocence, but the moral he truly forgave all those who had equality of his race, and those mental taken any part in his condemnation, energies which the white man's pride and believed that they had acted would deny to the shape of his head conscientiously from the evidence beand the woolliness of his hair. Main before them; and disclaimed all idea taining the most undeviating tranquilli of imputing guilt to any one. He then ty, he conversed with ease and cheer turned to his counsel, who, with feelfulness, whenever his benevolent coun ings which honoured humanity, had atsel, who continued his kind attentions tended him to the scaffold; ‘To you, to the last, visited his cell. I was pre Sir,' said he, 'I am indeed most gratesent on one of these occasions, and ful: had you been my son, you could observed his tone and manner, neith not have acted by me more kindly :' er sullen nor desperate, but quiet and and observing his tears, he continued; resigned, suggesting whatever occur *This, Sir, distresses me beyond any red to him on the circumstances of his thing I have felt yet: I entreat you will own case, with as much calmness as if feel no distress on my account: I am he had been uninterested in the event; happy.' Then praying to Heaven to yet as if he deemed it a duty to omit reward his benevolence, he took leave none of the means placed within his of him, and signified his readiness to reach for vindicating his innocence. die; but requested he might be excuHe had constantly attended the exhor sed from having his eyes and hands tations of a Methodist preacher, who, bandaged: wishing, with an excusable for conscience sake, visited those who pride, to give this final proof of his unwere in prison;' and, having thus shaken firmness : he, however, submitstrengthened his spirit with religion, ted, on this point, to the representaon the morning of his execution, break tions of the sheriff, and died without fasted, as usual, heartily; but before the quivering of a muscle. he was led out, he requested permission to address a few words of advice William Crafts, mentioned in the to the companions of his captivity. 'I preceding narrative, has been recently have observed much in them,' he ad numbered with those that were and ded, 'which requires to be amended, are not. His career though not long, and the advice of a man in my situa appears to have been highly honouration may be respected. A circle was ble. Though his political opinions accordingly formed in his cell, in the were not popular, his acknowledged midst of which he seated himself, and talents procured his repeated elecaddressed them at some length, with tion to a seat in the General Assembly a sober and collected earnestness of of his native state. In this situation, he manner, on the profligacy which he rendered important services to his conhad noted in their behaviour, while stituents. He was early distinguished they had been fellow-prisoners; re for his love of letters, and laboured ascommending to them the rules of con siduously to diffuse among others, a duct prescribed by that religion in

similar taste. To use his own language, which he now found his support and he felt that “knowledge was the life consolation.

blood of republics,” that the eagle was “Having ended his discourse, he the bird of light, as well as of liberty. was conducted to the scaffold, where In the legislature he always advocated having calmly surveyed the crowds every measure which had for its obcollected to witness his fate, he re ject, the encouragement of scientific quested leave to address them. Ha and literary institutions. And to his ving obtained permission, he stept firm powerful eloquence, the peor of South ly to the edge of the scaffold, and hav Carolina, are deeply indebted for the ing commanded silence by his ges means of literary instruction.

THE

African observer.

SIXTH MONTH, 1827.

NEGRO SLAVERY.

(Continued from page 37.)

In the preceding numbers, a con than the one, who, though subjected to cise view has been taken of the slave.

similar privations, beholds his lot but ry of the ancient world, as well as of little below the general doom. We the branch of African slavery which may therefore conclude that negro properly belongs to that quarter of the slavery, as existing in the United globe. We have seen that among the States and British West Indies, if not nations of antiquity, the institution was actually more mitigated than among generally mitigated, either by positive any other people, ancient or modern, laws, or established usages, so as to must be in effect more degrading and lose its most repulsive features, and oppressive than any other with which place its victims in a situation approx we are acquainted, from its contrast imating to that of the class who were with the high degree of civil and podenominated free. And that the do litical freedom by which it is surmestic slavery of Africa is so mild as rounded. Our plaudits of liberty, to be scarcely distinguishable from tho stveetly musical to ourselves, freedom.

must grate harsh discord on the ears To estimate the burden of slavery of the slave. correctly, we must compare the con Strange and paradoxical as it may dition of the slaves with that of the

appear, there is reason to believe, that freemen of their own age and country, those nations who plume themselves not of those who enjoy a more limited most highly on their refinement and or more ample share of civil and poli-humanity, and are most scrupulously tical freedom. Every thing is estimat- | jealous of their own liberty, still hold ed by comparison; and the man who

the iron rod of slavery with a more is deprived of every civil right, while rigid and relentless grasp than any all around him are basking in the sun

other people under whose dominion shine of freedom, must feel the fangs the hapless negro has been permitted of servitude much more poignantly

to fall. Vol. 1.-9

The treatment of slaves among the Hence when the master is in embarSpaniards and Portuguese of the wes rassed circumstances, it is reasonable tern world, is generally admitted to to suppose that the labour exacted apbe much more humane than among proaches as near the limits of the nethe English and Dutch. At Brazil, gro's physical powers as it can be the curates appointed by law as the brought by the terrors of the lash; and defenders of negroes, can, like the that the support allowed is reduced Athenian and Roman magistrates, res nearly as low as the nature of the case cue the slaves from cruel and tyranni will admit. This, indeed, appears to cal owners, by a judicial sale. Among || be admitted by the West Indians the Spaniards, previously to the late themselves, in their official reports ; revolutions, manumissions could not and as the planters are well known to be refused, on the payment of a sum be generally in debt, the life of a fixed by the law. The slaves were West Indian slave must be a scene of even permitted to purchase their free drudgery, to which few parallels can dom for a day in the week; by which be found among the civilized nations means, with industry and economy, of the earth. the whole might be gradually redeem In addition to the labour exacted by ed. The policy as well as humanity | the terror of the lash, during the six of such a provision, requires only to be working days, and, through several intimated in order to be seen.

months of the year, during the half of As negro slavery, as well as our the night, the West Indian slaves are common law, was bequeathed to us by usually compelled to appropriate the our political parent, a brief review of remaining day of the week to the cultiits present state, as existing in law and vation of their own provision grounds. practice, in the British Colonies, will | Though in this employment they are be attempted; together with some pa no longer followed by the driver's rallels in the legal condition of slaves whip, yet a motive little less imperiin the United States. I do not here ous urges them to exertion. Their inquire what class, either as regards masters, instead of assigning them a complexion or origin, are subjected to the servile yoke; but merely what is the chiefly indebted to the Slavery of the

British West India Colonies, &c. by legal condition of those who are thus

James Stephens, Esq. of London, and subjected. The classes who are or for the laws of the United States, to may be held in slavery, and the tenure a manuscript work, now offered for by which they are held, will be re

publication, by George M. Stroud, of

the Philadelphia Bar. The former served for a subsequent number.

work, being already before the public, The master is the sole arbiter of the needs no encomium of mine. The latkind and degree and time of labour,

ter is a well digested compilation, to which the slave shall be subjected;

comprising in a small compass a large

amount of information, which, taken and of the subsistence, or means of ob in connexion with the notes and obtaining a subsistence, which shall be

servations of the writer, must prove given in return.*

highly interesting to such readers as are desirous of obtaining, at a small

expense of money and time, an ac* For the legal condition of the quaintance with this momentous subslaves in the British West Indies, I am ject.

seven.

sufficient quantity of food ready prepared, as a remuneration for their six days' labour, generally allow them a small portion of arable land, from which they are expected to derive their principal supply. And to obtain a support such as nature demands, the poor slaves must employ in this spe. cies of labour, the day which, among Christian nations, is usually considered as sacred to devotion or repose. The complaint of the poet,

Even Sunday shines no Sabbath day to me, would be, in their mouths, emphatically true; being, in all probability, the most actively employed of the

For voluntary labour, or that which'is impelled by hope as well as fear, is generally the most ardent, and though least felt as it passes, must contribute in the greatest degree, to the exhaustion of the physical powers. “ In Jamaica,” says Bryan Edwards, " the negroes are allowed one day in a fortnight, except in crop,* besides

* The time of crop signifies the time the mills are grinding cane to make sugar; which continues, according to Bickell and others, nearly half the year. During that time the allow. ance of a day in the fortnight is withheld, and one half of the night, or the whole of the alternate nights, added to the season of labour. What number of holidays are usually allowed in practice, I am not informed; but the laws of Jamaica, supposing them faithfully observed, do not appear to secure, in addition to a day in two weeks out of crop, more than four or five in the year; and so anxious has the legislature of Jamaica appeared to restrain the excess of indulgence, that the masters are prohibited by law from granting two holidays in succession, except at Christmas, when two and no more are permitted. See Consolidated Slave Act, section 18. It may be added, that notwithstanding their unremitted labour during the

Sundays and holidays, for cultivating their grounds and carrying their provisions to market. Some of them find time on these days, besides raising provisions, to make a few coarse manufactures, for which they find a ready sale. The most industrious do not, I believe, employ more than sixteen hours in a month in the cultivation of their provision gardens, and in favourable seasons this is sufficient. Sunday is their day of market, and it is wonderful what numbers are then seen, hastening from all parts of the country towards the towns and shipping places, laden with fruits and vegetables, pigs, goats, and poultry, their own property. It is supposed that upwards of 10,000 assemble every Sunday morning, in the market of Kingston, where they barter their provisions, &c. for salted beef and pork, or fine linen and ornaments for their wives and children.” Hist. W. Ind. book iv. ch. 5.

If even some of the field negroes can effect what is here indicated, in the few hours allotted to their own disposal, it must be obvious that the system is, some way or other, extremely impolitic, or their masters, who enjoy the profits of their labour during at least six days upon an average in the week, instead of sinking under accumulating debts, must amass estates with unparalleled rapidity. The impolicy of slavery, however, will re. quire, and probably obtain in a subsequent stage of the inquiry, a more distinct consideration.

season of crop, the slaves appear at that time in much higher condition than during the rest of the year. This results from the ee use which they make of the nutritious juice of the cane; a fact however which gives some idea of their starving condition through the remaining months of the twelve.

In regard to the means of support, any legislative enactment on the subthe situation of the West Indian slave i ject. In several of them, indeed, there presents a strange anomaly to the are laws, ostensibly designed to limit usual law; his comforts and supplies this authority—The Carolinas, Georbeing nearly in an inverse ratio to the gia, Louisiana, and Mississippi are of productiveness of the soil. Where the this number. soil is well adapted to the cultivation of canes, the allotments of the slaves

A law of South Carolina, passed in are liable to be stinted, whilst their la- 1740, designed, as we find by the prebour, on account of its superior im- amble, to correct abuses then existportance is rendered more severe than ing, provides, that no slave shall be on thinner soils. In the Bahama required to labour more than fifteen

hours in twenty-four, during the sumLslands, where the land is much erhausted, the slaves are not only more

mer season, nor more than fourteen liberally endowed with lots for their during the other half of the year. In own use, but the supplies from their Louisiana, a law of 1806, prescribes

that the slaves shall be allowed half masters are also more copious, than in the Leeward Islands, where sugar is

an hour for breakfast, and two hours

for dinner, during one half of the year, generally cultivated. In the latter islands, the provisions are mostly

and an hour and a half during the bought, and hence money or credit is

other; with the proviso, that half an required to obtain them; in the former

hour in the day may be deducted from they are raised on the islands where

this time, in case the owners cause the they are consumed, and hence the

meals to be provided for the slaves. embarrassment of the master affects

But when the labour of the day shall less injuriously the condition of the

begin or end, the law does not profess slave.

to declare. The laws of Georgia and In the United States, the situation

Mississippi prohibit the owners or of the slaves, though in fact much

overseers from exacting from the more favourable than in the British

slaves any labour, (works of absolute islands, is, as far as the laws in most of

necessity and the necessary occasions

of the family excepted,)“ on the Lord's the slaveholding states are concerned, very nearly similar. One all-pervading day usually called Sunday.” In Georprinciple runs through the system.

gia also, the owner, not the overseer, The slaves are considered not so much

who shall require of any slave, a greatin the light of sentient beings, possess

er quantity of work than he is able to ed of inherent rights, but as property

perform, and withhold the necessary over which the right of ownership is

food, and otherwise abuse, so as to imeither absolute, or to be very cau

pair the health of such slave, is liable, tiously touched. In most of the states,

upon sufficient information being laid

before the grand jury, to be presentthe authority to regulate at discretion

ed and subjected to a criminal prosethe time and degree of labour, as well as the kind and quantity of food, re

cution; and if convicted, to be punishsults as a necessary consequence from

ed with fine or imprisonment, or both, the nature of the relation between

at the discretion of the court. master and slave, and the absence of In Louisiana every owner is requir

« 이전계속 »