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of the poor in England,) and equally so to the cares and anxieties which often perplex their masters, they are thoughtless, contented, and happy.
• Chapter VI.-On this state of slavery in respect of its com
mencement and dissolution.' p. 334.
• Sect. I.-Reasons for this branch of the inquiry.
The two first of these sections are of a general Remarks ou
the Registry nature, and, having no particular reference to the Bill. West Indies, may be passed over. The third
* Mr. Dallas, of Jamaica, must have seen and felt this when he wrote the following verses so truly descriptive of the negro:
What are the joys of white man here?
What are his pleasures? say;
But on my bonja play.
Dho' he look smart and gay;
While I my bouja play.
Me poor but me is gay;
Me on my bonja play.
is principally occupied with an elaborate argument against a report of the Jamaica Assemibly in 1815, when the colonies were threatened with a registry law by the British parliament, or rather by the African Institution through parliament. The agitation of this question was preceded by a manifesto from Mr. Stephen, under the title of Reasons for Registry, exceeding in abuse of the colonists any thing that had previously issued from the press, already groaning under reports of the African Institution and two-penny pamphlets on the oppression of the negroes. Yet the measure failed, and as there was, perhaps, next to the insurrection at Barbadoes, nothing that aided more in defeating this project of parliamentary interference with the internal affairs of the colonies (and the placing them, in fact, in the grasp of a hostile faction) than the able report transmitted from Jamaica, and laid before parliament, we can be at no loss to account for the
special hostility it excited on the part of the anticolonists.*
Colonial and Roman Slavery.
Against a charge by Mr. Stephen, in his Reasons for Registry, that the British colonial slavery exceeded in cruelty and oppression any thing ever
This excellent report was drawn up by the late Mr. John Shand, to whom Jamaica was greatly indebted on that trying occasion, as on many others; he had the merit of introducing into the House of Assembly the meliorated Slave Code of 1816, so frequently referred to ; and previously, a bill for exteuding important privileges to the free coloured population,-a measure of sound and liberal policy, reflecting the more honour on Mr. Shand, as there existed a strong prejudice against such concessions.
known in the world, this report instanced the slavery of the Romans as incomparably more cruel and oppressive. Mr. S. labours this point very hard, and through the whole of his ponderous volume palliates and justifies the Roman, while he exaggerates the severity of the British West India slave laws. Into these comparisons it has been no part of my purpose to enter, as leading into too great detail ; but the following description of Roman slavery, from the pen of its defender, is so much in point, and marks so strongly the difference between the two states, Roman and Colonial slavery, that I cannot resist giving it a place.
• In analogy to the inflictions by the public magistrate, the paterfamilias, or lord of the Roman household,' in the West Indies the slave-master,) who had judicial authority,' (in the West Indies, despotic power,) 'over his slaves and children, even to the extent of capital punishments, established his ergastulum, a domestic prison and workhouse, and condemned his criminal slaves' (in the West Indies, victims of oppression)" to such periods of confinement and penal labour in it as their offences seemed to him to deserve; adding, in heinous cases, stripes, or severer corporal punishments, and even death itself. On his domains in the country, the ergastuli were brought out in the daytime to their rural labours; but, to denote their correctional state, and to prevent their escape, they often wore chains or gyves on their legs.' p. 341.
Thus we see, on the authority of Mr. Stephen himself, that the lord of tlie Roman household' had an absolute and uncontrolled power over his slave; could punish him to any extent; work him in chains; even put him to death. The power of the master in our islands is limited to the infliction
of thirty-nine stripes; yet see how this impartial commentator can palliate when palliations will serve his purpose. If the Roman slave-master punished his slave, it was ' often, no doubt,' we are told, ‘for offences which the civil magistrate would otherwise have taken notice of, and punished with death or the mines.' p. 341. Does Mr. S. not know that a West India master also often satisfies himself with the comparatively lenient punishment (which he can inflict) of thirty-nine stripes for a crime that would, if brought before the civil magistrate, subject the culprit to death, or send him to the Spanish mines ? Oh, no! I had forgot, that blood-thirsty Englishmen in the colonies slit open the noses, cut off the ears, the feet, the hands, and other members of their slaves for ' petty misdemeanors—nay, even for actions in their nature innocent!'
Mr. Stephen is obliged to admit that there was a great number of chained labourers in Italy, but insists that they were the convicts of the public or domestic tribunals. p. 345. 'Domestic tribunals' ' is another of those fine phrases so tenderly and courteously appropriated to the lords of the Roman households.' In the West Indies, it would have been slave-owners, or petty despots. The domestic tribunals of Jamaica, however, possess no such despotic powers, as Mr. Stephen well knows.
From this he passes to the West India workhouses :
• Jamaica,' says he, 'if I mistake not, was the first of the British colonies that adopted these terrible slave-prisons, called workhouses, and the public or parochial slave-chains, which thirty years ago were unknown in the Leeward Islands, and, as I believe, in all the Windward Islands we then possessed ; but now the bad example has been followed at Antigua, St. Christopher, Grenada, Dominica, and Tobago, and perhaps in our other colonies. Their having been so long dispensed with in most of our islands is a pretty satisfactory proof that they cannot any where be necessary.' p. 354.
According to our author's usual custom, this is placing before the British public one side of the question, and keeping the other in the shade. Who would not rather that such establishments were abolished if they could be dispensed with ? Not the colonists surely, to whom they are so heavy a burthen. Unfortunately, there is another point to be considered, upon which we shall be glad to have Mr. Stephen's counsel:—what is to be done with the criminals: He has said that thirty years ago workhouses were unknown in the Leeward Islands, but he has not said if crime was happily then unknown also, or how the criminals were disposed of ;-a very essential piece of information one would think to enable a man of sober reason to form an opinion, whether those establishments were injurious or beneficial to the wretches condemned to them. If bard labour is between them and death or banishment to the Spanish mines, it is surely the most merciful of the three. But it is enough for Mr. S. if a prejudice can be excited against the colonists, by depicting and commiserating all the hardships incident not only