Page images

very good crops of corn, or other useful vegetables; and his title to the land be quite clear and undisputed to him and his heirs for ever; and the land clear of all mortgages, or rentcharges, or other burthens, or outgoings, whatsoever; and yet that the said man, though fo great a land-holder, may be in want of a dinner.” The Bishop had spent a few years in North-America ; and there, I conjecture, this query came into his head.—But to return to the subject of the emancipation of the Negro-Slaves in the WestIndies, the suggestions of Mr. Harriott for the gradual attainment of this important change in their condition, contained in the said 36th chapter of his useful and entertaining work, are so judicious, and so well-described, that I Mall here present my readers with the whole of that chapter in the author's own words.



tbrough Life,vol. II. pages 232 to 248,


« Slavery in North America, in Turkey, Barbary, ibe

European States, up tbe Mediterranean, and in the East and West Indies ; Observation on Slavery ; Hints for a gradual Emancipation,

« In some parts of my account of America, my objections to any thing that seemed to countenance slavery are cursorily mentioned ; and yet I afterwards acknowledge to have purchased fome flaves. I wish to remove any appearance of inconsistency on this head, and know not how I can do it better than by giving my opinion on the longcontested point for the abolition of flavery. It is an opinion I gave, some years back, to a much-valued friend, who re



quested it when the subject was so generally agitated and claimed the publick attention. It is true, since that time, I have myself purchased slaves; yet have I never changed my opinion, but remain more and more confirmed in it.

Having seen Slavery in a variety of shapes, in different parts of the world, not to have considered it would reflect on my humanity : I have often, very often, and with sensations that varied as the time and circumstances occurred; and I believe the surest, shortest, and clearest, way of delivering my thoughts on the subject, will be by sketching an outline of the kinds of Slavery that have fallen within my notice. In the general acceptation of the term Slavery there is not, cannot be, a more încere well-wisher for a proper abolition than myself. How that is best to be carried into execution, so as to produce the greatest good and occasion the least evil, deserves serious confideration.

“ In North-America, taking those parts to the northward and eastward of Pennsylvania, the Slaves are much happier from being better fed, cloathed, and taken care of, than they would be if left entirely to their own liberty; I am an advocate, however, for restoring them to their natural rights. To enfranchise the whole immediately would not be the best possible good for them. What has already been done (in bringing them, or their ancestors, from Africa, to make them Slaves) cannot be undone ; but a continuance of the horrid traffick is unjust and wrong in the extreme.

“ In Turkey and Barbary there are two (or more) kinds of Slaves : those who are bought, and the Europeans who are made prisoners of war. The first we may class with the negroes in America and the West-Iudies, while the latter are to be pitied the most of any description of Naves I have seen. Dreadful, indeed! is the situation of these unhappy mortals, compared with whom the Naves in our plantations are freemen. And here we may lament that we have


not the power to interfere respecting a quick abolition of their Slavery.

“It is unnecessary to notice all the similar kinds of Slavery seen in different countries ; I Mall select those only that appeared to me to differ from the rest. In all the European States up the Mediterranean, they have Slaves who have been condemned as such on account of crimes, The juftice or injustice of their sentences is no part of the present inquiry; but, admitting they were fairly tried and convicted, I hesitate not to say, I think it much more justifiable to deprive them of their liberty than to take-away their lives, let the crime they have committed be what it may. Of course I am no advocate for abolishing this kind of Slavery ; yet it requires numerous regulations to make it answer the intended purposes of punishment, repentance, reformation, and example.

“ In the East-Indies Slavery assumes a milder aspect, Slaves being chiefly bought and kept for domestick uses. The native poor, with large families, in times of scarcity, think they cannot do better than to dispose of their children either to the opulent natives or Europeans; and, being sold when young, they become strongly attached to their malters or mistresses, from whom they receive every thing, even to superfluities; so that to enfranchise them, and turn them adrift to get their own livelihood, would be a punishment in nine cales out of ten.

“One matter of fact is worth a dozen suppositions. I had a boy sent me from Bengal to Mafulipatam, when about eight years old, as a present. My friend, who sent him, wrote me word it was an act of charity: for the mother had been some time importuning him to take the boy for a slave; and, on mentioning his intention to fend the boy fuch a distance, she was perfe&tly satisfied when informed it was to an Englith Officer of his acquaintance. The boy continued with me for some years. When about to leave India, I offered him his liberty, and to send him back to Bengal, On the first mention of the circumstance, he threw himself at my feet, as I sat; and, lifting one of them up with his hands, placed it on his head upon the ground, and desired me to kill him rather than turn him away. I accordingly kept him until we arrived at St. Helena, where I made some stay; and it became a serious confideration upon learning that there had lately been great disturbancces in England by the emancipation of such numbers, who, thus freed from servitude and restraint, were swarming about the streets of London, distressed to the greatest degree. This determined me; I gave him his choice, to go-back to Bengal free, or to be placed with some worthy family at St. Helena. Finding me resolved not to take him to England, and noticing how happily they lived in the island, he preferred being turned-over to a master and mistress who would take care of him, to having his liberty and returning to his native country; and I am fatisfied he made the wiser choice.

“ The Malay Naves, that I observed on the coast of Sumatra, both in the Dutch and English settlements, differ so little from those in the other settlements in the East Indies, that it is unnecessary to say more concerning them, than that their Slavery frequently originates in an extravagant fpirit of gaming, which induces the father, when he has nothing else to stake, to gamble-away the liberty of his children : and hence, I infer, arises that extraordinary kind of madness, fo peculiar to the Malays, termed running a muck. I believe, the nervous system of a lofing gamester is more violently agitated and convulsed by the sense of his losses, than by any other voluntary self-inflicted operation whatever; and, where the paroxysm of the disorder has risen to such a height as to induce the miserable man to hazard his children becoming llaves to another, there is scarcely any other rashness he can be guilty-of that need excite surprise ; yet the manner in which he feeks destruction, which I have related in a former part,* is unaccountable.

other "" Vol. ). chap. xlv, p. 205.

“ I have reserved to the last my observations on the treatment of Naves in our Wen-India plantations, as they only are the real subjects of the Abolition-act; and I conceive the foregoing will not be deemed either foreign to the subject, or fuperfluous, fince it may help in some degree to account for the apparent difference in the evidence given by different gentlemen before the houses of parliament, as well as the contradictory accounts in the publick papers. The inhuman and horrid practice of obtaining and conveying men, women, and children, from their native land, merely because they are black, and therefore reckoned fitter for work in hot climales than Europeans; the original purchase, conducted by fraud, force, and artifice ; the transportation and sale of them, in a foreign country, for Naves; altogether present the pillure of so diabolical a traffick, that I cannot sufficiently express my surprize at finding there are yet advocates for its continuance, after the inhumanity of the practice has been so ably and justly exposed : for it is a mockery of justice, as well as an insult to common understanding, to say, that, from motives of humanity, they are removed by compulfion from a worfe to a better fituation.

“ Let us suppose there were inhabitants of some distant country, as superior to us in strength of arms and understanding as we esteem ourselves to the poor Africans; and, trusting in that strength, let us farther suppofe they were to come hither, and, among others, to make free with these advocates for Navery. I imagine these gentry would not be better reconciled to their fate, from being told, by their masters, it was doing them a kindness to carry them from


« PreviousContinue »