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(Not Advocates for the Abolition of the Slave Trade,)
TO ILLUSTRATE SOME PARTS OF THE ARGUMENT URGED IN THE
I He following passages are quoted from authorities the most unexceptionable that can be imagined in this discussion; viz. from writers who either lived before the commencement of the traffic, or shew themselves decidedly hostile to the Abolition. The number of these extracts might be indefinitely multiplied; but as they are given rather to illustrate than to prove the parts of the case to which they refer, it is not necessary to insert all that may be found.
Mr. Smith, who was in the employment of the African Company, says, That the discerning natives account it their greatest unhappiness, that they were ever visited by the Europeans. They say, that we Christians introduced the Traffic of Slaves, and that before our coming they lived in peace; “ but,” say they, “it is observable, that wherever Christianity comes, there comes with it a sword, a gun, powder and ball.” Voyage, p. 266.
Monsieur Brue, who was Director General of the French Senegal Company, and resided eleven years in Africa, in giving a full description of the Trade, with the most friendly opinion of it says: “The Europeans are far from desiring to act as peacemakers amongst them. It would be too contrary to their interests ; for the only object of their wars is to carry off Slaves : and as these make the principal part of their traffic, they would be apprehensive of drying up the source of it, were they to encourage these people to live well together.
“ According to the wars which these people have with each other, and their success, the Slave Trade here is better or worse." Again : « The neighbourhood of the Damel and Tin keep them perpetually at war, the benefit of which accrues to the Company, who buy all the prisoners made on either side, and the more there are to sell, the greater is their profit; for the only end of their armaments is to make captives, to sell them to the white traders.
* Their campaigns are usually incursions to plunder and pillage ; and they have every thing they wish to aim at from their wars, when they are able to make captives from one another, because that it is the best merchandize they have to trade with the Europeans. Avarice, and the desire of making Slaves, in order to have wherewith to buy European commodities, are often the veritable motives for going to war.
« This prince and the other negro kings have not always Slaves to treat with : but they have always a sure and ready way of supplying the deficiency, that is, by making inroads upon their own subjects, carrying them off, and selling them ; for which they never want pretensions in order to justify their pillage and rapine, when those they have seized have relations in a situation to resent the injury.” Vol. IV. pp. 147. 217; and V. pp. 115. 133.
Mr. Moore, who was factor to the Royal African Company for seven years, says,
“ Whenever the King of Barsally wants goods, or brandy, he sends à messenger to our Governor at James Fort, to desire he would send a sloop there with a cargo. This news being not at all unwelcome, the Governor sends accordingly. Against the arrival of the said sloop, the King goes and ransacks some of his enemies' towns, seizing the people, and selling them for such commodities as he is in want of, which commonly are brandy or rum, gunpowder, balls, guns, pistols, and cutlasses for his attendants and soldiers, and coral and silver for his wives and concubines. In case he is not at war with any neighbouring king, he then falls upon one of his own towns, which are nu. merous, and uses them in the very same manner. It is owing to the King's insatiable thirst after brandy, that his subjects' freedom and families are in so precarious a situation ; for he very, often goes with some of his troops by a town in the day time, and returns in the night, and sets fire to three parts of it, and sets guards to the fourth, to seize the people as they run out from the fire. He ties their arms behind them, and marches them to the place where he sells them, which is either Joar or Cabone. Yesterday, 20th March, 1732,' says Moore, • the King fell upon one of his own towns, and having taken a good many prisoners, brought them along with him, with intent to sell them to Captain Clarke, a separate trader, now at anchor at Rambo's Port.” p. 173.
“When the native princes put a stop to trade, it is true," says M. Brue, “ that the French have been forced sometimes to make use of violent means themselves; and not being able to get the princes to discharge the loans they had borrowed from the Company, they have pillaged some village, seized the inhabitants and carried them off for Slaves : after which, they have balanced accounts with the King; and if they had seized more Slaves than they ought, in balance of the account, they have paid him the difference.”
“ But these expedients," he adds, “ are not always successful, and though one was even sure of being paid by these sorts of executions; il faut en user sobrement,” says he, “ one should not have recourse to them too frequently, lest it should draw the ill-will of the country upon us, and sooner or later we should be made to repent of going thus violently to work.” p. 198.
Artus, Barbot, Bosman, Loyer, Nyendael, &c. inform us, that in their time all crimes were punished by mulcts and fines; but since the introduction of the Slave Trade, Slavery has become the universal punishment.
Mr. Moore, above quoted, says
« Since this Trade has been used, all punishments are changed into Slavery. There being an advantage in such condemnation, they strain for crimes very hard, in order to get the benefit of selling the criminal. Not only murder, theft, and adultery, are punished by selling the cri. minal for a Slave, but every trifling crime is punished in the same manner.” p. 42. · The difference between a domestic Slave in Africa and a Negro transported to the West Indies may also be learnt from Mr. Moore : “ Some people,” says he, “ have a good many house slaves, which is their greatest glory; and they live so well and easy, that it is sometimes a hard matter to know the slaves from their masters or mistresses; they very often being better clothed, especially the females, who have sometimes coral, amber, and silver, about their hands and wrists to the value of 201. or 30l. sterling. Many of the slaves are born in their families. There is a whole village near Boncoe of two hun. dred people, who are all the wives, slaves, or children of one man. I never heard of but one that ever sold a family slave, except for such crimes as would have made them to be sold had they been free. If there are many family slaves, and one of them commits a crime, the master cannot sell him without the joint consent of the rest ; for if he does, they will all run away, and be protected by the next kingdom to which they fly.” p. 110.
Bosman informs us, “ That the inhabitants of Coto, upon the Slave Coast, depend upon the Slave Trade ; for their most advantageous trade is taking a journey inland, and stealing men. It is the best part of their subsistence.” p. 308.
The name of Mr. Park, the celebrated African traveller, must be well known in France; but it may not be so well known that that interesting publication, the account of his travels, was drawn up and published by Mr. Bryan Edwards, one of the ablest and also the warmest opponents of the Abolitionists. “War," he observes, “is certainly the most general and most productive source of slavery.” p. 292. He says, there are two kinds of warfare; one similar to that which prevails among all nations, the other peculiar to Africa: it is called tegria, or plunder, and is thus described :
“ Wars of this description are generally conducted with great secresy. A few resolute individuals, headed by some person of enterprise and courage, march quietly through the woods, surprise in the night some unprotected village, and carry inhabitants and their effects, before their neighbours can come to their assistance. One morning, during my stay at Kamalia, we were all much alarmed by a party of this kind. The king of Fooladoo's son, with five hundred horsemen, passed secretly through the woods, a little to the southward of Kamalia, on the morning following, plundered three towns belonging to Madigai, a powerful chief in Jallonkadoo. : « The success of this expedition encouraged the governor of Bangassi, a town in Fooladoo, to make a second inroad upon another part of the same country. Having assembled about two hundred of his people, he passed over the river Kokoro in the night, and carried off a great number of prisoners. Several of the inhabitants who had escaped these attacks were afterwards seized by the Mandingoes, as they wandered about in the woods or concealed themselves in the glens and strong places of the mountains. - “ These plundering excursions always produce speedy retaliation; and when large parties cannot be collected for the purpose, a few friends will combine together, and advance into the enemy's country, with a view to plunder, to carry off the inhabitants. A single indi. vidual has been known to take his bow and quiver, and proceed in like manner; conceal himself among the bushes, until some young or unarmed person passes by. He then, tiger-like, springs upon his prey; drags his victim into the thicket, and in the night carries him off as a slave.”-P. 293.
“ Early in the morning, the remainder of the Moors departed from the town. They had, during their stay, committed many acts of robbery ; and this morning, with the most unparalleled audacity, they seized upon three girls, who were bringing water from the wells, and carried them into slavery.” p. 166.
See also p. 336.
6 When a Negro takes up goods on credit from any of the Europeans on the coast, and does not make payment at the time appointed, the European is authorised, by the laws of the country, to seize upon the debtor himself, if he can find him; or if he cannot be found, on any person of his family ; or, in the last resort, on any native of the same kingdom.” p. 296.
Mr. Park agrees with all other writers on the state of Africa, in describing the circumstances of the domestic slaves as easy and comfortable, and in admitting that they can only be sold to foreigners, in cases which authorize the sale of free men, such as capture in war, con. demnation for certain crimes, &c.
“ In all the laborious occupations above described, the master and his slaves work together, without any distinction of superiority.” p. 286.
“ The domestic slaves, or such as are born in a man's own house, are treated with more lenity than those which are purchased with money. The authority of the master over the domestic slaves, as I have elsewhere observed, extends only to reasonable correction : for
the master cannot sell his domestic, without having first brought him to public trial before the chief men of the place.” p. 287.
That the barbarism, depopulation, and barrenness of Africa increase as we approach the mouths of the rivers and the bays on the western coast, is a general fact, amply testified by Mr. Park, and, as I have stated in my letter, is so repugnant to the history of mankind in every other region, that it furnishes the strongest support to the statements of those who attribute the incivilization of this continent to the Slave Trade. As he proceeds eastward he says,
« The towns were now more numerous, and the land that is not employed in cultivation affords excellent pasturage for large herds of cattle; but, owing to the great concourse of people daily going to and returning from Sego, the inhabitants are less hospitable to strangers.” p. 191.
Compare the following passages, extracted as a specimen, from Mr. Park's Travels, with Mons. Malouet's statement of the condition of the Negroes in the interior of Africa.
Park's surprize on entering into the interior of Africa, is thus described :
• I had a most enchanting prospect of the country: the number of towns and villages, and the extensive cultivation around them, surpassed every thing I had ever seen in Africa. We departed from Loomoo, and continued our route along the banks of the Krieks, which are every where well cultivated, and warm with inhabitants. Cultivation is carried on here on a very extensive scale. From the best inquiries I could make, I have reason to believe that Sego, about, perhaps, a thousand miles from the sea coast, contains altogether about thirty thousand inhabitants. The view of this extensive city, the numerous canoes upon the river, the crowded population and the cultivated state of the surrounding country, formed altogether a prospect of civilization and magnificence, which I little expected to find in the bosom of Africa.”... pp. 195, 196.
“ About eight o'clock we passed a large town called Kabba, situated in the midst of a beautiful and highly-cultivated country, bear. ing a greater resemblance to the centre of England, than to what I should have supposed had been the middle of Africa,”-p. 202. : “ We passed, in the course of the day, a great many villages, inhabited chiefly by fishermen ; and in the evening, about five o'clock, arrived at Sansanding, a very large town, containing, as I was told, from eight to ten thousand inhabitants.”—p. 203.“ Passing by a creek or harbour, I observed twenty large canoes, most of them fully loaded, and covered with mats, to prevent the rain from injuring the goods."-. 206.
“ The Negroes in general, and the Mandingoes in particular, are considered by the Whites on the coast, as an indolent and inactive people; I think, without reason. Few people work harder, when occasion requires, than the Mandingoes; but, not having many opportunities of turning to advantage the superfluous produce of their labor, they are content with cultivating as much ground only as is necessary for their own support."-pp. 280, 281.