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barked upon the soil and industry from which it arose; and far more capital has been withdrawn from the colonies, and laid out upon the soil of the mother country, than has moved in the contrary direction; whence otherwise the Morants, Dawkins, Pennants, Beckfords, Taylors, Lascelles, &c.&c.&c.? Again we have numerous complaints from the colonists both at home and abroad, of the hardships and disadvantages which they have to encounter, and these are unquestionably well founded. Oh, then, it is plain that the cultivation of the colonies is a losing speculation, ruinous to those embarked in it, and a sacrifice of capital by the empire! Why not then pronounce the same of British agriculture ? Compare the petitions and memorials of the growers of corn in Great Britain with those of the growers of sugar in the colonies, and either condemn the agriculture in both as a waste of capital and labour, or admit that each has been on the whole the source of wealth and property, though labouring occasionally under temporary difficulties.
On the Driving
Appendix No. 5. contains a description of the driving system, extracted from a pamphlet written by Mr Stephen twenty-two years ago, called the Crisis of the Sugar Colonies. The labour selected to give effect to this description is holeing a cane piece, that is, turning up the ground with hoes for the reception of the cane plants; which when done gives it the appearance of a field drilled for turnips, the
drills or holes 4 or 5 feet wide; the cane is planted in the furrow in the same manner as potatoes.
This labour is always done with the plough, when the land will admit, but on steep hill-sides, stony, or low swampy ground where a number of large trenches must be kept open to draw off the water, the hoe must be used. The richer the soil of a plantation, the less of this labour is required, as canes continue to grow, or ratoon, as it is called, from the same root, for five, ten, or even twenty years; consequently only a small proportion of the field requires to be replanted each season.
Mr. Stephen's description of the driving system he thinks made a strong impression on some * minds, but its effect was taken off, by the bold * contradiction given to the statement in point of • fact:' and no wonder it was contradicted; for never was a grosser misrepresentation put forth. Holeing a cane piece is the only hard field-work a negro has to perform; cleaning of canes is much the same kind of labour as hoeing a field of turnips, or potatoes, at which a youth of fifteen can do as much as a man of thirty. At holeing, therefore, able people only are employed; while the old, the young, and the weakly, are more advantageously occupied at lighter work. In no way would it be possible to equalize the strength of labourers to such a nicety, as to make them advance, as Mr. S. asserts they must, when digging cane holes, “in a line like troops on a parade ;' nor would this be of any earthly use for the proper
hole or section being finished
performance of the work. The trenches or drills are marked off from one end of the field to the other, with pegs stuck in the ground, at the distance of four feet, which at the same time mark the cross sections thus : The negroes work across the field, moving backwards from one peg or trench to another; and each having his own distinct section, a person
of superior strength following his own, may advance before the others if he pleases, and rest till they come up; and, therefore, as at any other work, the able and willing are commonly in advance, while the weak and the lazy follow in the rear. Generally, however, as in a harvest field at home, a man and a woman are placed together, and work two sections jointly, thus equalizing the strength of the two.
So much for the truth of Mr. Stephen's description,—no breathing time to be allowed; the 'in equal time with the others, and the urging on ' to equal speed with the whip the male or female,
* old or young, weak or strong, so as to dress in • line like troops on a parade'!
In this, as in many other instances, our author is not more at variance with truth than with com
What would be thought of a farmer in England, who, in cutting down a field of wheat, should allot an equal extent to the old and the feeble, as to his ablest labourers, and order them all to advance in parade style? Is it not evident that one or two old or feeble persons, even if urged on to destruction, must infallibly retard all the others; and yet this is exactly what it is alleged the farmers of the West Indies do! A body of negroes may commence the first trench together, but I affirm, that neither Mr. Stephen, nor any other person, ever saw them finish even one section at the same time, much less continue to fall back for a whole day in line.
Carrying canes from the field to the mill by negroes, which is mentioned in The Crisis, is a thing I have never seen; nor does such a practice, I presume, now exist in any of the colonies, as the price of sugar would not repay such an enormous expence of manual labour. In Jamaica the canes are carried by mules upon hilly estates, and in carts drawn by oxen in the plains. The practice of making the negroes, when returning from the field at night, procure and carry home with them a bundle of grass for the overseer's stable, was also obsolete before my time. I have often heard it spoken of, and always reprobated as a
hardship to the negroes, which the value of the object did not at all compensate. Mules are now employed to do this; and as the negroes return home at night or at dinner-time, every industrious individual may be seen laden with a bundle of firewood, hog-meat vine, or cane tops for the use of his hogsty; unless in situations near the sea or a river, where many of them go to examine their fish-pots, or traps, which they are ingenious in constructing, and with which they catch a great quantity of fish. There can scarcely in any country be a more pleasing sight than a group negroes returning home from the field in the evening, dancing together on the road, singing, laughing, and making such a noise as in the serenity of a West India evening, may be heard at the distance of a mile.