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NEVER, perhaps, were mistakes more prevalent upon any subject than they are at present upon that of West India slavery. There are many in this country, and by no means in the lowest stations, who never hear the subject mentioned but they have before their minds chains, dungeons, scourging, maiming, wounding, and death. То their terrified imaginations it appears the land of horrors, where cruelty sits in brief authority, and the oppressed drag out a gloomy life in groans and tears, without any of the comforts of existence, and of course, without manifesting any signs of enjoyment. These false impressions have been mainly owing to a class of authors and orators in the mother country, who, for many years, have
been aiming at effect, more than at truth — who have been less anxious to ascertain and make known the real condition of the negroes, than to give an aggravated and frightful description of it, in order to obtain for themselves the praise and favour which would be most justly due to those who should espouse their cause, if they really were in the situation described.
Embarking, about eighteen months ago,
from Jamaica for Britain, after an absence of twentyone years spent in that island, I chanced to obtain, among other books for entertainment during the voyage, Mr. Stephen's Slavery of the British West India Colonies. I had heard of this work, and was well aware that prejudices against the colonists existed in the mother country ; but I confess, I had no idea, till I sat down to peruse this celebrated performance, how far those prejudices were carried, and still less that such means or such talents were employed to extend and inflame them. In the picture Mr. Stephen has drawn, I could scarcely recognise a single feature of the community in which I had so long resided; and as I perused his eloquent invective (for such I admit it to be), I could not but feel how little
those of my countrymen who had not the same means of knowing the truth, were to be blamed for prejudices thus elaborately instilled into them. Impressed with this idea, I employed the leisure which the voyage afforded in taking notes of Mr. Stephen's errors and misrepresentations, and before I reached England, had written out the greater part of what I now submit to the public; but on my arrival in my native land, after so long an absence from my friends, such matters were for some time lost sight of and forgotten ; and perhaps I should never have returned to the task, had I not learned that those discussions on the subject (fraught with so much danger to the negroes as well as their masters), were again to be renewed in Parliament, — and at the same time seen Mr. Stephen's work represented in the Edinburgh Review as unanswered, and unanswerable by the colonists, and as affording a most excellent account of the slavery in the British West India islands.
It has not been my lot in the course of an active life, to have enjoyed much time for literary pursuits; and, on entering the lists with an acute and eloquent lawyer, I have fearful odds against
me: but I derive confidence from my knowledge of the subject, and from the consciousness of having truth on my side, and trust that my work (however little pretension it may have to that eloquence for which Mr. Stephen's is so much praised) may be useful in making known the actual condition of the slaves, and in exposing the errors, and total want of candour of some of the principal accusers of the colonists.
To the ungraciousness of opposing specious, though visionary, schemes of philanthropy, I am fully sensible; and I never should have undertaken the task, but from a sincere conviction that in doing so, I was advocating the true interests of humanity. The best part of my life has been spent in daily intercourse with the slaves in Jamaica : they are ignorant, it is true; but I have witnessed much goodness among them, and in sickness have often been indebted to their kind attentions. My attachment to them is consequently strong; and in whatever light my conduct may be viewed or represented by those persons in this country to whose sentiments mine are opposed, I can lay my hand on my heart and say, that a conviction of the fatal consequences which would inevitably result to the negroes from the adoption of