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lumniate the colonists too strong to be resisted, even when it could be indulged only at the expence of the most palpable inconsistency? Be this as it may, as the reader has seen, on Mr. Stephen's authority, that Englishmen in the colonies rob their slaves, let him now learn from the same authority that they do not, marking the reluctance with which the concession is made, and deciding as he can between such opposite statements.
• It is indeed alleged by the colonial party, that though the master is legally entitled to all the property acquired by the slave, he never asserts that title; and, with a few exceptions, I believe the proposition to be true. The slave's little property is, indeed, sometimes seized by way of punishment, or as a mean of obtaining restitution of property suspected to have been stolen from the master; but upon purely sordid principles, I remember only one instance of such an exercise of the owner's power, and in that, his conduct was generally condemned.' p. 61.
The poverty and starvation of the West Indian of the Slaves in labourers, at least as respects Jamaica, are as unallowances, &c. founded as the charges with regard to cruel and
excessive punishment. However unaccountable it may appear to those who have taken their information from Mr. Stephen, however inconsistent with his description of their situation, and the rapacity of their owners, the truth nevertheless is, that the great body of them are in easy comfortable circumstances; and not a few in the possession of actual wealth.
I shall here state a circumstance which I witnessed shortly before leaving Jamaica; not that there is any thing extraordinary in it, but because it may tend to give a more correct idea of the situation of the slaves. I was present when a gentleman, who owns about sixty-five negroes, delivered to them their annual allowance of clothing. The adults had each seven yards of baize, ten of osnaburgh, and four of linen check, with thread, a hat, cap, knife and needle; being sufficient for three complete suits, one of woollen, and two of linen. Boys, girls, and children were served in similar proportions; the females, young and old, receiving in addition as much printed cotton each as would make a gown. Mothers took the allowances for their families, and some of them went away fully laden, with their little ones running about them. The master of these people had occasion to purchase a considerable quantity of provisions for the use of shipping, and very naturally gave a preference to his own people, as an encouragement to industry. From the recent introduction of island or treasury notes, the circulation of which, had in a great measure superseded that of silver, he had been unable for two or three months to procure small money to pay for these petty purchases, and his clerk had, on receiving 100 or 200 plantains or parcels of yams, given a ticket of acknowledgement. Means being provided, notice was given, when they came for their clothing, to bring those tickets for payment, and I
saw upwards of £30 paid in dollars to the industrious individuals of this gang, for articles sold to their master alone, in less than three months; while they had probably sold as much, or twice as much in the public market. Of course they were not all industrious; but to those who received it, this was entirely surplus wealth, to be stored, or spent in luxuries, as they chose; for they had their houses and land (with ample time to cultivate it), clothing, medical attendance, and in short, every necessary provided for them by their master. It should also be stated, as refuting a distinction Mr. Stephen lays great stress on, that these people are not mechanics, but field negroes and jobbers. I
may add, that several of them are married, and attend church regularly, well dressed, with linen shirts, shoes and stockings, and cloth coats, the quality of which is scarcely inferior to that of their master; nor would they use any kind of ceremony in rubbing shoulders with such a personage as our author himself, in taking their seats inside the church, instead of peeping in with a timid and 'wondering countenance, in order to gratify their "curiosity, at one of the doors or windows.'p. 215. In the parish of St. Thomas in the East, with which I am more particularly acquainted, I affirm from the evidence of my own eyesight, that the congregations in the several places of worship, of which there are six, consisting principally of slaves, would bear comparison, in point of dress and orderly deportment, with the generality of country
congregations in Britain.* Not a few of the slaves, coming from a distance, ride their own horses to church. In the little village of Bath, where there is a chapel of ease, and a Wesleyan meeting-house, the number of their horses, which during divine service are tied up under the shade of the trees in the street, never fails to attract the attention of strangers. By the law, indeed, slaves (for no good reason, that I can see,) are not allowed to own horses; but in this, as in many other instances, the practice is better than the law. It is almost needless to observe, that they purchase their Sunday dresses for themselves, the clothing allowed them by their masters being used only for working dresses, and frequently sold by them when not wanted.
They receive their allowances of every kind Independent air with the same independent feeling that labourers in this country receive their wages, and perhaps with even greater independence of manner. In taking his annual allowance of clothing, a negro examines minutely that he has full measure, that no one receives more than he does, and that what he receives is free from blemish. If he happens to get the end or outside of a web in the least rubbed or damaged, he returns it with the utmost indignity, and will take none if he does not get it
of the negroes.
• Mr. Trew, Rector of St. Thomas in the East, Jamaica, bas transmitted to this society an extract from bis parish register, by which it appears that from the 14th December, 1817, to the 21st of March, 1824, he has married 3488 slaves, and baptized 2056. Mr. Stainsley states, that he has 800 regular attendants, and 200 communicants.--Reports of the incorporated Society for the Conversion and religious Instruction the Negro Slaves in the British West India Colonies, 1824.
as good as others. In fact, there is no feature in the negro character that would strike a stranger more strongly, than the air of independence he will find, where, perhaps, he expected the most abject servility. This may appear paradoxical ; but the truth is, a negro is a very different being from what he is commonly represented : acknowledging fully the master's right to his labour, he justly considers the master bound to support him, and feels under no obligation whatever for the house and land he holds of him, or the other allowances which law or usage assign him for his labour. He knows that for withholding that labour he is liable to punishment by the master who supports him; but he knows also the service required of him, and that he has nothing to fear when that service is performed. He has his own time also; and if any part of it happens to be required by his master, it must be repaid. If a house-servant, for instance, is employed on Sunday, another must take his place some other day in the week, that he may have the day due to him. If a negro makes a feast, and kills a hog for the occasion, this, of course, is at his own expence; but if, when sick, and in the hospital, a few of his own poultry (from a difficulty in procuring others) are killed for his use, he not unfrequently demands and receives payment for them; it being considered as much the master's business to supply him, under these circumstances, with poultry, as with wine, if he stands in need of it.