Page images
PDF
EPUB

ites will not be said, by the most hardy vindicator of the modern Man-Merchant, to have been worse than that to which the children of Israel themselves had been subjected in Egypt. Of that state they always spoke as a state of the most intolerable oppression. In comparison of it, every other servitude was light. Their deliverance from it, as typical of another and greater deliverance, was called, by way of eminence, their redemption. So powerful was their impression of the horrors of this state, that the iron fur: hace, the furnace of affliction, and similar expresfions, seem inadequate to express their conceptions of it į and Egypt, the land of their captivity, is emphatically termed the bouse of bondage : and it is by the recollection of their suffering in that country, that the Almighty enforced upon them the injunction to be kind to the strangers that dwelt

among them.

Yet what, after all, was the nature of this Egyptian bondage? Was its dreadful severity such as to diminish the number of flaves, and to require fresh importations to fillup the void which was caused by excesive labout, harsh treatment, and scanty food? By no means. They multiplied so rapidly as to become an object of terror to their oppreffors from their very increase. Had their labours no known measure or limit, or, was it forced from them at the caprice of an overseer or driver, by the compelling power of the cart-whip? No such thing. It was the subject of specifick and uniform regulation : tasks were appointed: the tale of bricks was previously named. And, as to food, the Aesh-pots of Egypt had become proverbial

among them.

Having now, as I conceive, incontrovertibly established the radical difference between any Navery which could have existed among the Ifraelites, and that which now exists in the West-Indies, I have at least demolished every thing like argument in favour of the Scriptural sanction of the African Slave-Trade. I would, therefore, entreat those well-meaning men in this country, who, from unacquaintance with the real state of things in the West Indies, have 100 readily conceded that the system of West-Indian bonde age has any countenance in Scripture, to retract that concelfon; and to be no longer imposed-upon by the mere fimil.. arity of a name, when the things are in their nature fo essentially diftinet. And let not the Man-Merchants, nor their advocates, any longer insult the common sense, to say nothing of the religion, of their country, by arguments fo absurd and impious.

It will scarcely be expected that, after this confutation of the argument deduced from Scripture in favour of the Slavetrade, I should think it necessary to prove the contrariety of those practices to which this trade gives birth, as well as of the principles on which it is founded, to the whole tenor and scope both of the Old and of the New Testament. That the spirit of the Christian religion stands opposed to the Dave-trade is too obvious to require proof; I Thall, therefore, content myself with having rectified the misconceptions which have arisen on this subject from the ambiguous use of the term Navery, and with quoting two or three passages of Scripture, which seem to have a pretty decifive bearing on the question.

“ Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.”

*** The law is made for the lawless and disobedient; for men-stealers."

“ And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he thall surely be put to death.”

Your's, &c.

AN ABOLITIONIST.

[ocr errors]

FURTHER REFLECTIONS ON NEGRO-SLAVERY.

The two preceeding Letters concerning the state of the Negro-laves in the Wes-Indies (of which I do not know who are the authors,) seem to convey a clear and distinct account of the very harsh and dreadful punishments which are sometimes infli&ed on them by cruel masters, or by the overseers entrusted with the management of them by masters of a different character. But these great abuses of power over them we may reasonably suppose to be not very frequent; and it is almost certain that, now that (by the late act of Parliament for abolishing the Slave-trade,) the West-India planters will be deprived of the means of purchafing new Slaves from Africa, the treatment of their present Slaves will be much milder and more careful than before. For it will now be the interest of their masters not to over-work their Slaves, but to require from them only such a moderate degree of labour as will contribute to keep them in health and vigour for many years to come, and enable them to raise families of children to assist them in their service to their masters, and supply their places when they die. And for this purpose, the excellent infti. tution of marriage, or fome finilar and nearly equivalent union between the male and female Slaves, (by allotting one woman to one man, to the exclusion of promiscuous concubinage,) and with a great diminution of the labour of the female Slaves during their pregnancy, will, no doubt, be established in most of the plantations, together with suparare habitations for every married couple, with proper accommodations for rearing their children. And, when thele changes in the condition of the Negro-Slaves in the West Indies shall be effected, (which seem to me to be almost necellary U 3

conse

consequences of the Abolition of the Slave-Trade,) they will be so much happier than they had been before, that they will almost cease to be objects of compaffion ; though it will be still to be wished that they may, in some future period, and by gradual emancipations of them, by their Masters, as rewards of their good behaviour and long and faithful services, be advanced to the still better condition of British freemen. This, however, cannot be done suddenly, without throwing those Colonies into general confufion; as has been the case in the rich and populous French Colony of Saint Domingo, in consequence of a wild, unjust, and, we may venture to say, mad Decree passed by the first French National Assembly, called the Constituent Assembly, which ordered all the Naves in it to be immediately confidered as freemen. But this was a measure which Mr. Wilberforce, and the late Mr. Charles Fox, and Lord Grenville, and the other members of Parliament, who have for so many years contended for the abolition of the Slave-trade, and have at length succeeded in their noble attempt, always declared to be no part of their plan; nor, as I believe, did any of the friends to the Abolition of the Slave-Trade, out of Parliament as well as in it, throughout the whole Kingdom of Great-Britain, ever with to see so unjust and dangerous a project undertaken. It was a measure fit only to be adopted by the wild and wrong-headed enthusiasts of the National Assembly of France, who, under the mildest and most beneficent of all their kings, the virtuous Lewis the XVIth. (who had already granted to them in the Royal Session of the 23d of June, 1789, three weeks before the taking of the Bastille, all the concessions and privileges essential to the permanent establishment of liberty amongst them, which had ever been wished-for by their most zealous and intelligent patriots,) thought fit to overturn the antient, and well-established Monarchy under which they and their

anceftors ancestors had lived, and under which they had, but a few years before, been uncommonly successful in the war they had carried-on against England in support of the revolted English Colonies in North-America. Such a Nation only as France was at that time, under the dominion of a sort of general frenzy that seemed then to have seized them, could think of adopting fo extravagant and ruinous a measure. The emancipation of the Negro-Slaves that are now in the English Weft-Indian Colonies mult, therefore, be brought about by gentle degrees, and with the consent, or, rather, by the fingle and separate acts, of their several masters. And the best method of effecting this further happy change in their condition that I have any where met-with, is that which is described by Lieutenant Jobn Harriott, in the 36th chapter of his curious and valuable History of his own Life and Adventures, published in two small volumes in duodecimo, in the year 1807, under the title of Struggles through Life, which I have read with great pleasure, and believe to be a very fair and faithful narrative of the several adventures and undertakings in which he has been engaged, and in which he has exhibited great proofs of Courage, Industry, found Judgement, Benevolence, and Publick spirit, and has given excellent advice to prevent English farmers from leaving Old-England to go to NorthAmerica, and settle there as Land-owners, in the hopes of being soon possessed of some hundreds of acres of good land, brought into good cultivation; which hopes, be well observes, will, most probably, be grievously disappointed. What he has said upon this subje& brought to my recolle&tion the following query of Doctor Berkley, the famous Bishop of Cloyne, in the former half of the last Century. Query, " whether it is not possible that a man may be lawful owner, in posseffion, of a tract of land containing twenty thousand acres, and the land very good and capable of producing

« PreviousContinue »