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own lands, section 4th :---that they shall have half an hour for breakfast, and two hours for dinner, section 20:~-that they shall have the usual holidays which custom has established at Christmas, Easter, and Whitsunday, section 21 :—that no sugar mills shall work between seven o'clock on Saturday evening, and five on Monday morning, section 5 :—that a woman having six children alive, and to take care of, shall be exempted from other labour, section 12:—and that a statement on oath of the clothing served all slaves annually shall be rendered to the vestries of each parish to be approved of according to law, section 8.
These excellent regulations, as well understood by the negroes as by the white people, and fully acted up to, speak a different language from Mr. Stephen, and completely disprove his canon.
That the twenty-six days allowed by law to the slaves for the cultivation of their lands are sufficient, and more than sufficient, we have the authority of Mr. Stephen himself. Enlarging on a favourite topic, the starvation of the 'poor, op' pressed bondmen,' he asks, p. 91. • Why are • these poor beings, who, in a climate, and on a ' soil, that would yield them a year's subsistence for *the labour of a week, worked hard, not for one week in the year, but the whole fifty-two, to
endure nevertheless the miseries of famine ?' In this instance it is evident the colonists are more liberal than the philanthropist thinks necessary, as it is undeniable, that instead of a week, they
allow these poor beings a month (twenty-six working days) to cultivate their lands.
In a note in the same page, he says, "Mr. Barham, in his Considerations on the abolition * of slavery, has repeated this statement (that from • the exuberant productiveness of a tropical soil • and climate, the labour of a week will furnish ' subsistence for a year) which his brethren, the
sugar planters, have often made before. A hun'dred West India authorities might be cited to • the same effect; and I have one at present before ' me, which may be the more satisfactory, because . it comes from Haiti, where the theory is in some
degree reduced into practice;' the negroes there ' working for themselves at their own choice, and ' many of them doubtless no more than the subsistence of their family demands.'
If this is the case—if all the labour performed by the emancipated slaves of St. Domingo amounts only to one week in the
year, it would surely be superfluous to look for any other argument to satisfy the people of England what they are to expect from their colonies when placed, as proposed, in the same enviable situation. How far such idleness is a blessing to an ignorant people, or likely to promote their civilization, is a question not difficult to answer.
To conclude on this subject, the law of Jamaica, as has been shewn, provides that the slaves shall
have twenty-six working days, at least, in the year ' allowed them to cultivate their own lands, be
• sides the usual holidays which custom has esta'blished at Christmas, Easter, and, Whitsunday · for their diversions. This number of days, and often more, is given to them; the overseer of every plantation in Jamaica solemnly swears to the fact; — yet Mr. S. asks Why are these poor 'beings worked hard, not for one week in the year, · but the whole fifty-two? And the Edinburgh Review with equal effrontery asserts, that the • slaves must devote the greater part of Sunday ' to working in their provision grounds, no other time being allowed them for that purpose.' No. 79,
Moster's discretion in punishing his slaves limited by law.
Rule IV.- The master may imprison, beat, scourge, wound, and otherwise afflict or injure the person of his slave, at his discretion.'p. 36.
With what unblushing effrontery is this false assertion brought forward and made an undisputed canon! Any person in London may steal, rob, murder; but if he does, it is at his peril: and any person in Jamaica who wounds or injures the person of a slave, must equally abide the consequences of such flagitious conduct. It is true, the master has a discretion in punishing his slaves; but, instead of being absolute as represented in the canon, Mr. S. well knows that it is limited to the infliction of thirty-nine stripes. To this canon then, as to his delineation of negro slavery in general, we may apply the line of the poet regarding the Popish plot
• Some truth there was, but dash'd and brew'd with lies.'
To inflame the public feeling against the colonists, he quotes, under this head, an obsolete statute, which long disgraced the little island of Barbadoes, by which the murder of a slave subjected the perpetrator to only a small fine; and, commenting on the words of the act by which that law was repealed, and which are not perhaps the fittest that might have been employed, he takes ample advantage, by putting the worst construction on them, of a circumstance he himself notices in his preface, that “in many or most of the colo
nies, acts were drawn up and passed, without any * professional aid, by the planters and other mem· bers of Assembly. p. 60.
Mr. Stephen, throughout his book, strives by Colonial and
Roman Slavery every sort of artifice to aggravate the slavery of
compared. the British West India colonies, and represent it as infinitely more degrading, cruel, and oppressive, than any other that ever existed among mankind. For this purpose it is often necessary not only to exaggerate the severities of our colonial slave laws, as they existed thirty or forty years ago, and to impute to his countrymen there, the most unheardof cruelties, but also to palliate the undeniable severity of other slave codes. The following is a curious specimen of this :
· The Roman father might put his son to death, as well as his slave, was entitled to the property he acquired, and might exercise over him the same inferior authorities of scourging, imprisoning, chaining, and even selling into slavery. Nay, the
Roman law, barbarous as it was in regard to slaves, carried the power of the parent, higher than that of the master; for the son might be three times sold; the slave only once. If the latter was enfranchised by the buyer, he was for ever free; but the son, though manumitted by a first and second purchaser, might be sold a third time by the father. It is certainly some excuse for the Roman lawgivers, and if the manners of their country, at the time of the introduction of the law of the twelve tables, were fully known, perhaps the excuse might rise almost into a justification, that the paterfamilias was not intrusted with greater power over his slaves, than over his own children, who were equally amenable to the same MILD DOMESTIC FORUM.' p. 43.
God forbid that the slavery of the British colonies should have any features of resemblance to that among the Romans, where all the captives, during the endless wars in which the republic was engaged, were devoted indiscriminately to the sword or to slavery; where the amphitheatre echoed to the groans of the dying gladiators, or the earth itself laboured with the multitude of crucified slaves! How extremely uncandid and disingenuous in our author, even on his own description of it, to call that atrocious system a mild domestic forum; and to represent that of our colonies in the West as tyrannical and oppressive in comparison !
Perhaps the reader may ask if there were no circumstances to excuse,'
excuse,' if not to justify our early colonists for the severity of their laws; - such as the savage character of the newly imported Africans, some tribes of whom were altogether