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were newly imported Africans, and are in every respect more maintained with provisions rais- comfortable and independent. ed or bought by the master; They form more steady connecor lodged with other slaves, tions, pay more attention to their who had grounds which they families in the way of keeping assisted in cultivating.
them clean, and dressing them neatly; and, in short, have acquired more taste and desire
for domestic enjoyments. Manumissions were at one They are now perfectly free. time burthened with heavy taxes. For cruel or improper pu
Now they are manumised and nishments, slaves had formerly provided with an annuity for no adequate redress.
life; and magistrates are appointed a council of protection,
to attend to their complaints. Formerly the trial of slaves Now the whole evidence and was, I believe, by parol; and conviction must be transmitted the power
of death was entrust to the governor: and, unless in ed to the slave courts, who could cases of rebellion, the sentence order the criminal to immediate cannot be carried into execution execution.
without his warrant. For ten slaves that were exe There is not now more than one, cuted twenty years ago,
and I think not even that pro
portion. Twenty years ago the coast From the increase of the free ing vessels of Jamaica were al- population, the coasting vessels most exclusively manned with are now more commonly manslaves.
ned with free men. The operative mechanics about This description of work is towns, carpenters, ship-build now performed principally by ers, &c. were mostly slaves. free people of colour.
A few years ago, marriage It is now becoming common, was unknown among the free and many of them are careful to people of colour.
preserve the sanctity of the institution.
The number of free persons It is now 35,000, and rapidly in Jamaica, in 1787, was esti- encreasing by manumissions as mated at only 10,000.
well as births.
These few particulars will convey but a very inadequate idea of the progress made by the negroes, and how superior a people they are in every respect to what they were, when the slave trade was abolished in 1807. But if, as Mr. Stephen observes,
every mitigation of slavery is a step towards freedom, this brief statement may be sufficient to shew, that progress is making towards it; and those who have patience to peruse the following sheets, will better comprehend what the extent of that progress is, and what the actual condition of the labourers in the colonies.
A PRACTICAL VIEW
PRESENT STATE OF SLAVERY
THE WEST INDIES,
On Mr. Stephen's “ Slavery in the British West
• PRELIMINARY CHAPTER. Of the necessity and im
portance of describing the state in question. p. 1. In the task I have undertaken, it is not my object to defend slavery: far be it from me to say, that those who established it in our colonies did right, or that being established there, it ought to be perpetual. But the question, when or how slavery may be abolished in any particular country or colony where it exists, is one of no small difficulty, however easy it may seem to many benevolent enthusiasts; and before making an attempt which might produce effects very different from those we intended, it would at least be proper to enquire, first, whether those we would set free, are yet capable of conducting themselves as freemen, or of preserving their freedom,-in short, whether, all circumstances considered, they would be benefited by it; — and secondly, whether we can effect
their freedom with a due regard to justice, which would be equally violated by our depriving a man of his slaves, as by depriving him of any other species of property which the laws of the land have sanctioned the acquirement of, Mr. Stephen himself, though so hostile to the slavery in our colonies, that he seems to think it ought to be abolished at any sacrifice of life and property to the colonists, and even, it would seem, at the expense of some indemnity, to be made them by the mother country, is yet sufficiently moderate on the abstract question.* • The ardent lovers of freedom,' says he, will, I hope, pardon
To no British palate has that rich produce of our soil a higher flavour than to my own. But yet I am not prepared to say, that in no other country, and under no supposable circumstances, ought one man to be bound to serve another for life; and to be liable to corporal punishment by the master. for withholding that service. Let me not be misunderstood, however, as holding the affirmative. I simply mean to decline the discussion of the question, as perhaps, of considerable difficulty; but if not, at least, as one of a speculative kind, which nothing in the arguments I mean to offer, will oblige me to decide.'
Such are Mr. Stephen's ideas on this subject, on which I forbear to enlarge, as my business is not to defend slavery, or to discuss the abstract question, but to correct errors and misrepresenta
* Let parliament enter on the work, says he, and the advocates of the slaves will object to none of the necessary means. I do not except indemnity to their masters, as far as it is justly due. Pref. p. 42.
But as he afterwards labours to invalidate, or at least, to create doubts about the right of the colonists to their slaves, it is very questionable if he thinks any indemnity “justly due."