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the slaves there are not to be so treated with impunity.
It is strange the Russian or Polish slaves should not have occasion to go beyond the limits of their master's domain, and that “such must have been
the case with all territorial slaves in ancient
Europe ;' but whatever truth may be in this, certainly there never were bondmen of whom it. might be more truly said, than of the slave in the West Indies, that to him, the lord, the family
and the agents of the lord, and his brother bond* men, constitute, for every important purpose, • the whole community.'
· Section II. — The colonial slaye cannot be a party to any On the legal
civil suit, either as plaintiff or defendant; nor can he be protection of received as informant or prosecutor by any court or magistrate, against a person of free condition.' p. 131.
But, answers Mr. Stephen, • There are two possible modes, by which men in the defenceless condition which has been described, may be supposed indirectly to derive some legal protection, and in which it has been pretended that they actually are protected by the laws of our colonies, against the oppression of strangers, notwithstanding their civil incapacities: they are, first, by the action or suit of the master; second, by indictment, or other prosecution, at the suit of the crown.' p. 132.
• Section III. — The action or suit of the master against other
persons of free condition by whom his slave has been injured, is a mode of redress applicable only to a particular species of wrongs, and is improperly represented as legal protection to the slave.'
• But,' continues Mr. Stephen, the interest which a master has in the labour of his servant, or apprentice, is an interest which the law of England recognizes, and therefore it gives an action to the former, for any hurt unlawfully done to the person of the latter, whereby his service is interrupted or lost. On the same principle it has rightly been considered as law in the West Indies; and in a few extreme cases' (qualified as usual) • has been practically received and acted upon as such, by the insular courts, that the master of a negro slave
maintain an action against any man, who, without his authority, beats or wounds a slave so severely, as to occasion a loss of his service.' p. 134.
The question in the minds of all dispassionate men is, whether the slaves actually are protected from injury: the mode or the manner in which this is effected is of secondary consequence, whether by suits in their own name, or in the name of their masters.
Speaking of the infringement of a slave's property, Mr. S. thus expresses himself: There is ‘one species of injury, for which I admit that an * adequate remedy might be found in the master's
right of action, were it not for certain general • impediments to the course of justice in the colo‘nies, which will soon claim our attention.* •If “ a negro (says the council and assembly of St.
Christopher) is deprived of his property (which * in legal consideration is the property of the master), by another negro, or by a free person, the master
Every admission by our author of any protection to the slave, is accompanied by sach guarded qualifications as may make it, if possible, appear of no avail.
of such a negro has the same legal remedies for
the recovery of it, as he has for his own imme• diate property. This answer, though evasive ‘ and disingenuous, is true.' p.
139. The same remark applies here as in the former
It is of secondary importance by what means the property of the slave is protected; if in point of fact, as here admitted, it is so. The law, it is true, puts in his own hands no legal means of protecting his property, yet it is protected: the law does not recognize him as the possessor of property, yet he does
it. The question is thought by many to be attended with difficulties; but, for my own part, I can see no sufficient reason why those who de facto are allowed to possess property, and are never disturbed in the possession of it, should not be entitled by law to possess it.
When a slave purchases a horse, he takes the bill of parcels in the name of some free relative or acquaintance, that if his horse should happen to go astray and be put in a pound, he may be able to reclaim him. Their titles to slaves are held in the same manner. In their dealings with one another, when a slave, as sometimes happens, cannot obtain payment of a debt due to him by another slave, he applies to his master or overseer, who gives him a letter to the master or overseer of the other slave, stating the particulars of the claim, and requesting an investigation and settle
ment of it, if found correct. Applications of this kind always receive every possible attention ; and in this way their differences are usually settled. In the same manner the master or overseer will attend to the slave's claim against free persons; as, on the other hand, these apply to his master or overseer, when they have any
claim on a slave which they cannot otherwise get settled.
Mr. Stephen complains, that “slaves cannot contract, or be contracted with : that a promissory note or bond made to a negro slave, would * just have as much legal effect in the colonies, as if the payee or obligee were a horse or a spaniel, p. 140; and challenges us to produce 'the record of a single action founded on the .contract of a slave, from any court in the West • Indies.' p. 141.
But what injury have the negroes sustained from this ? Not yet taught to read and write, and having no faith in paper, they very wisely give little credit, and deal principally in doubloons and dollars. Such, indeed, is their predilection for the precious metals, that even the island treasury note they will on no account receive. Records of actions, therefore, founded on the contracts of slaves, or their promissory notes, can scarcely be expected.
Section IV. -The legal protection of the slave against strangers by indictment, or other prosecutions at the suit of the crown, is also of a very narrow extent. p. 142.
There is little worth noticing under this head. Numerous references are made to old obsolete laws in the Leeward Islands, and evidence founded thereon, of which Mr. Stephen has been prudent in not giving the dates. It is evident, as he acknowledges indeed, that this legal matter was composed long ago. To suit the present times, however, it was necessary to say something of the late consolidated slave law of Jamaica, which has come unseasonably in the
way, and given a marked incongruity to his whole fabric of assertions and arguments.
• Even the meliorating acts,' says he, which have since been passed in several islands, will be found in general not to hold out to them (the slaves) any protection against strangers of free condition, except in the few special cases in which it is affected to be given against the master himself. They relate in general only to one species of injury, that of violence to the person; and so far are the new acts from making all injuries even of this kind, indictable, that they plainly imply the contrary ; since the greater part of them prohibit it only by special and aggravatory descriptions, such as wanton and cruel beating, wounding, &c.' p. 148.
Now if a stranger of free condition offers an injury, however slight, to a slave over whom he has no authority, and with whom he has no connection, there surely would be little difficulty in proving it to have been wanton and cruel :' but in point of fact, there is so little connection, so