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tions regarding the treatment and present condition of the slaves in Jamaica; which I am enabled to do from a personal and intimate knowledge of their state, acquired during a long residence in the island.
Mr. S. pretends to advance nothing against the The best evi.
dence regarding colonists but on the very best evidence. • I shall the colonies. ‘not,' says he, assume the truth of any state* ment adverse to the colonial system, that has
ever been controverted, however unimpeachable the testimony may be on which it stands, until * I have shewn it to have been directly or indi
rectly confirmed by the concessions of the colo' nists themselves, by the witnesses produced on 'their part, or the answers solemnly given by “the West India legislatures, and their public
agents, to the Privy Council.' pp. 10, 11. But those who have patience to peruse these sheets, will know what account to make of these professions of candour and regard to truth. He even seems to admit that he has given no credit to the evidence adduced by the colonists, but where he could make it read against them. What faith, ' says he, 'was due to such testimony when it
went to contradict the charges of abolitionists, or 'the testimony adduced by them, I shall not here
stop to enquire-its authority on that side will be better estimated when we have seen a little
of its particular style and character,' p. 10. Let the impartial reader judge what chance there
is of coming at the truth in this way, by selecting, like a special pleader, from a mass of evidence, such parts only as may be made to read against the accused party, and giving implicit faith to these; while none is given to those parts which contradict the charges; — thus making the credibility of the evidence to depend on its telling against the accused.
The colonists, it is true, are accused of prejudices, and supposed to receive a bias from selfinterest; but if the whole body of planters (and the supposition is not very liberal) were without exception to be regarded as so blinded by prejudice, or so void of truth, that their testimony could not be received, is there no alternative for the impartial British public but to listen to their enemies, those party philanthropists who are all benevolence to one part of their fellow-creatures, and all hatred to another? Are there not welleducated men, officers in the service of government, civil, naval, and military, almost every day returning from the colonies ? Many of these, doubtless, went out from the mother country with strong prejudices; but have they, on their return, told this tale of horror? Have they said that the slaves are ill-treated, oppressed, or unhappy? Have they not borne testimony to the contrary? And is there any thing so very captivating in the system and management described by Mr. Stephen, that even a person who has no interest could not see it (were it to be seen) without being ena
moured of it, adopting the prejudices of the colonists, and becoming a convert to their cause against truth and justice? The poet tells us that
Vice is a monster of such frightful mien,
and if the slavery in our colonies bore any degree of resemblance to the picture Mr. S. has drawn of it, could it be seen by such men without horror ?
Again, there are seven or eight hundred sail of vessels employed in bringing home the produce of those possessions, the masters of which are well acquainted with the plantations in the vicinity of the ports where their vessels are loaded; have they seen the poor blacks overworked, stinted of food, unmercifully whipped, or otherwise illtreated ? Moreover, almost every family in the kingdom has some relation or acquaintance who has resided in, or visited the colonies, and can speak to the condition and treatment of the slaves; and are these relations or acquaintances less worthy of credit than those writers or orators who have not crossed the Atlantic to obtain for themselves a knowledge of slavery, as it now exists in the colonies, and yet (with the advantage of appearing to have justice and humanity on their side) have been able, by unsupported charges and vague declamation, to raise such a flame in the kingdom?
Let such authorities be consulted by those who would form a correct judgment on this matter, and who admit, that when we have to reason
with a practical purpose concerning existing ‘ establishments, the most particular and experi* mental view of them, will ever lead to the soundest and most satisfactory conclusions.'
Feelings of the
Even in his preliminary chapter, Mr. Stephen betrays the hostile feeling with which he is actuated towards the English colonists. Speaking of Onesimus, a slave who was sent back by St. Paul to his master, a Christian convert, without any injunction to alter his state, he remarks, that the state of slavery (that among the Greeks) to which Onesimus was sent back, was very different indeed from that of a negro slave in the West Indies; and in a note, very characteristic of the spirit of his work, he adds—
• A West Indian will readily perceive, by his own feelings' one important distinction, indicatory of others, still more important: Receive him as a brother beloved. How destructive of the Apostle's benevolent design, how inconsistent with the rest of his conciliatory style, would have been this phrase, if Onesimus had, like a negro slave, been, from his very cast and condition, independently of his fault, an object of aversion and contempt, with his master! A vile negro, a brother! Foh! the humiliating idea would have been offensive, even in a religious metaphor, and from the pen of an apostle!' p. 6.
A West Indian does not, and cannot perceive by his own feelings, the existence of any such aversion to, or contempt for his labourers; nor can it enter into his imagination to conceive, on what principle it would even be supposed, that he should entertain such monstrous and unnatural feelings towards a people on whose labour and
welfare his every prospect in life depends. Negroes themselves would smile at such an absurdity. So well aware are they of the existence of a contrary feeling on the part of their masters, that when treated, as they conceive, rather harshly by a person in charge of them, and who owns no slaves himself, it is a common expression with them, “He does not feel for a negro, he has got none
himself. This short but significant expression conveys a very different impression of the disposition of the masters from that which Mr. S. ascribes to them in almost every page of his book. Which of the two bears most the stamp of truth, let common sense, and common feeling decide. Nor is it only among the masters, who are most interested in the labour and welfare of the slaves, that a friendly disposition towards them is to be found; but generally also among the managers of plantations. In fact they could have no comfort in their situations, if they acted otherwise. Negroes are not deficient in intelligence; they are perfectly aware what is due to them; and if any improper severity on the part of the manager gives them cause of complaint, they are not slow in making their grievances known, either to the master, or, in his absence, to his representative the attorney, upon whom the overseer is dependent for his situation, or to the magistrates, who are ever ready to attend to their complaints.
In opposition to that unnatural hatred of their slaves, and contempt for them, with which the