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others also, ‘ as universal qualities of slavery, and * as involved in the very meaning of the term. • They certainly did belong to the slavery of an'cient Europe. The vassalage of Africa is hereditary, and perhaps perpetual.' p. 125.
Ву • the law of villeinage in England, the issue of ' slaves followed the condition of their father.'
These premises lead back to the conclusion; that slavery has ever been hereditary and perpetual; but this conclusion must be again denied, or at least not allowed to be a precedent sufficient to excuse or justify the same feature in the slavery of the British West Indies; where, with consistent inconsistency, belying his own canon, he denies it is the law, and modestly sets up his own opinion, not only in opposition to the ancient customs and usages he has quoted, but in opposition to the decisions of the modern courts, “which, it seems, · have mistaken the cruel wrong for right.' ”
• He (the planter)', says he, “buys a life interest * in bondage, under one law, and converts it into · an inheritance by another; unless we ought ' rather to say, that he makes this injurious con* version without any law whatever. He can plead only that his brother planters, and their predecessors, have been used to inflict the same cruel wrong, and that the courts have mistaken it for right.' p. 126. The planter may go farther, and plead the authority of Mr. Stephen's own act for the general Registration of slaves in 1815, which
expressly recognises the property in slaves and their offspring. How strange, that ancient 'cus'toms and usages, modern courts,' and eminent writers (including our author himself), should all have mistaken the cruel wrong for right,' in supposing that the master held a right of property in the offspring of a purchased slave !
It would have been kind if Mr. Stephen had stated the law under which the colonists hold • life interest in their slaves, that his readers might have judged for themselves what this in
jurious conversion' is. The truth is, as he well knows, there exists no such law.
The state of villeinage was virtually acknowledged in England by laws for its regulation, and so has the slavery of the colonies; but has Mr. Stephen in his researches found an English statute establishing this state of oppression, and enacting that from and after the passing thereof, one part of the people and their offspring shall as villeins, or slaves, be held as the lawful property of the other? If he can invalidate the claim of the colonists to the issue of their slaves, on the plea that there is no statute law giving a right to them, it should have required little ‘metaphysical subtlety,' in the lawyers of former times, to effect the enfranchisement of the villeins of England, since he will admit, we suppose, that no statute can be found entailing the state of villeinage on the offspring of villeins.
Speaking of slavery as hereditary, Mr. Stephen
says, “They are slaves to the latest posterity;
except that the female descendants may, at the ‘ price of pollution, and by submitting to the lusts ' of their oppressors for three generations, restore · freedom to a portion of the fourth. p. 128.—' A · female slave marrying,' or breeding by 'a negro ' or a mulatto, attaches slavery on her offspring;
but let her breed by a white keeper, and they, if ‘she be a mestize, will be free: if she be a mu
latto, or negro, her daughter or grand-daughter, ' will have the same reward for prostitution. * From what legal authority these canons of ' slavery are derived, the colonial proprietors have never, I believe, attempted to explain.' p. 122.
This is given as the law of Jamaica, but no authority is quoted; nor is it said where these canons (the derivation of which we are called upon to explain) are to be found. The writer of these remarks is not aware that any such exist: most likely the error has originated in the circumstance, that people of the above description, when freed by the regular course of manumission, enjoy all the privileges of white persons (from whom they are undistinguishable in colour), which the negroes do not: and, had the law given freedom to a class of people, with one-sixteenth of African, and fifteen-sixteenths of English blood, few will perhaps think that the distinction would have merited the contempt implied in Mr. Stephen's expressions : at all events, he ought to have ascertained that such canons of slavery really
existed, before he reproached the colonists with them, and called for an explanation of the legal origin from which they were derived.
· Submitting to the lusts of their oppressors,' and ‘breeding by a white keeper,' are well chosen terms for the English reader, who is not aware that there are, or rather that there were not till lately, any regular marriages known among the black or coloured people; and that husband and keeper were considered synonymous terms. Of course there was no degradation to the female, but the contrary, in this sort of marriage, as she regarded it, with a white man.
With the progress of religious and general education among the free people of colour, marriages are becoming more frequent. As regards the past, the candid will admit, that it has not been the least misfortune of Europeans, toiling for a subsistence in these dangerous climates, that the blessings of marriage and domestic happiness have in a great measure been denied them.
• CHAPTER 1V.-Of the legal nature and incidents of colonial Intercourse of
the Slaves with slavery, as they respect its relations to persons of free con- free persons. dition in general, the master and his delegates excepted.'
The merits of this chapter will be more briefly discussed, as, besides turning on dry legal questions of little importance as regards the practical state of slavery, it was written so long ago as before the abolition, and contains very little ap
plicable to the state of things now existing in the colonies. The first page will afford a pretty fair specimen of the sophistry of the whole chapter.
• The enslaved peasant, attached to an extensive domain, as in Russia or Poland, may find his legal relations to free persons in general, of little moment to his security or welfare. To him the lord, the family and the agents of the lord, and his brother bondmen, constitute for every important purpose, the whole community; for as it is with them alone that he has any ordinary intercourse, from their hands only, can he often receive either good or evil. Such must have been generally the case with all territorial slaves in ancient Europe ; and probably is so in every country in which such men are still to be found, except in the western world. p. 129.
That such ever has been, and ever must be, the state of slavery, is such a plain and self-evident proposition, that one's curiosity is excited to learn how the slavery in the western world can afford an exception to it. It is thus established:
• But the plantation negro, in our colonies, is exposed to daily intercourse with free persons, who are wholly unconnected with the owner to whom he belongs. He cannot attend the team to a town or shipping place, go to the market, or neighbouring rivulet, or pass on any occasion beyond the boundaries of the estate, without meeting white persons, who possess, in regard to him, neither the rights nor feelings of a master.' p. 129.
True; but what harm will it do him to meet a white person, who has neither the feelings nor the rights of a master? Were Mr. S., or any of his friends, the Edinburgh Reviewers, to presume to injure, or maltreat another man's slave in Jamaica, when attending his team to the shipping port, I will answer for it, he would soon learn that