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between the proprietors of estates and their dependents now settled on them ; it contemplates a change of the mode by which the bulk of the population in the colonies have hitherto been governed ---a change in the existing relationships of society-and, to be effectual or beneficial, it must contemplate a change in the very character and habits of the negroes. Yet, with all the difficulties attending it, negro emancipation is a question, the merits of which every body seems to think he is capable of discussing and settling.
To take a view of a few only of these difficulties, let us look at the present situation of matters in the colonies. The proprietors, generally white people, hold extensive domains, upon which their numerous dependents, the negroes, are now domiciled. These are the property of the landlord on whose estate they are settled : but the connection, if it implies that the slave must work for his master, equally implies that the master must protect and provide for his slave. He gives them a proportion of his land to cultivate for their own use — provides them with clothing - attends to them in sickness, and supports them in old age.) In return, they labour for him in cultivating that part of the domain retained in his own hands, from the produce of which they, as well as their master, are in a great measure supported. Such is the constitution of society in the colonies. Emancipation at once dissolves the compact, and throws the whole community into utter confusion. The master is no longer entitled
to the labour of his emancipated slave; the slave should therefore no longer be entitled to a house and grounds on the estate of his former master. The emancipatists, however, seem disposed to dissolve the compact on one side only; they are clear that the master should no longer have any right to the services of the slave, but they never contemplate that the emancipated slave should no longer be entitled to the land he held from his master in return for his services. And indeed it is quite clear that the emancipated slaves must continue to occupy their lands; for it would be absurd to suppose that nearly the whole, or even any considerable part of the population of a country, could be turned out of their homes by the landholders; more especially, in this instance, at the moment when the negroes were told that the government, or the king of England, had put an end to the power of the masters over them. The freed negroes, therefore, on the different plantations, would continue to occupy their houses and lands, while the master, having no longer the power of punishing them, would no longer be able to exact payment in labour for the maintenance they derived from his estate; so that emancipation would deprive him not only of his labourers (whose services he had purchased), but of that part of his land which they now occupy, and in effect of the whole, since his cane fields and expensive manufacturing establishments could no longer be of any value, when he could no longer get labourers to work in them.
Perhaps it will be said, do not the people in this country work, although free ? and must not the freed negroes in Jamaica also work, to enable them to live? True, they must cultivate their own grounds, but nothing more. The free labourers in England must work or starve, but there would be no occasion that they should work for others, if they had land rent-free, sufficient for their support. As slaves, the negroes must work—their services are sold for life, but in return they have a provision for life; and if this provision cannot be taken from them when emancipated, which it clearly cannot, they would be placed in a situation quite different from that of the labourers at home. Give these in the same manner the fee-simple of houses and land sufficient to maintain them and their families, and not many of them, more than of the negroes, will hire themselves out as labourers.
But, again, it will be asked, if the negroes when freed continue in the possession of the land and houses they now occupy as slaves, will not the proprietor be entitled, and able, to exact rent from them ? and must they not work to enable them to pay that rent? The rent they now pay, as already observed, is in labour, which, under the present system, the proprietor can exact: but this power would cease when they were emancipated, unless, like the proprietors at home, he could turn them out of their possessions, which no proprietor would be able to do —as, in their minds, emancipation by the king or government always implies that they are
to have a right to their homes; and, beyond all question, the first attempt to remove them would be the signal for revolt. It is a great mistake to suppose that the civil magistrate could accomplish this in Jamaica, and, as in England, enforce the law on such a point; the negroes are as yet in a great measure ignorant of the power or the restraints of the law. The authority of the master has ever been so immediately before their eyes, that they are scarcely sensible of any other restraint. They know that they may be transported by a court for desertion, or hanged for murder, but the power of punishment possessed by the masters, is that by which they have hitherto been chiefly governed. Annul that power, and they will scarcely conceive themselves under any authority; order or government will be at an end; the cultivation of the plantations will cease; and the proprietors, instead of attempting to turn the freed negroes off their estates, must themselves abandon the possession, and seek safety in flight; leaving a disorganized rabble to such new order of things as unforeseen circumstances in the womb of revolution may produce.
Thus the project of emancipating the negroes, if it does not amount to a proscription of the colonists, carries in it an Agrarian law, infinitely more ruinous to the proprietors in the West Indies than that which occasioned such tumults and disorders in republican Rome; and the reflections of an eminent writer on that interesting passage of ancient history, are so strikingly applicable to the present
question, that one would almost suppose they had been written for it. *
Nor can it (as some think) in any material degree lessen the danger, that emancipation is not to be immediate, but to commencé with the children to be born after a certain date. The moment the principle is announced, and the slaves are told that the King of England has given freedom to their children, that moment their minds are unsettled, labour becomes irksome, and restraint insupportable. They will ask, if their children are to be free, why should not they be free also ? If their children are not to
This act, as it concerned the interest of alınost every inhabitant of Italy, immediately raised a great ferment in every part of the country. Persons holding considerable estates in land were alarmed for their property. The poor were elated with the hopes of becoming suddenly rich. If there was a middling class, not to be greatly affected in their owu situation, they still trembled for the effects of a contest between such parties. * * * The distinctions of poor and rich are as necessary in states of considerable extent, as labour and good government. The poor are destined to labour, and the rich, by the advantage of education, ivdependence, and leisure, are qualified for superior stations. The rich were not witbout some violent convulsiou to be stript of estates which they themselves had bought, or which they had inherited from their ancestors. The poor were not qualified at once to be raised to a state of equality with persons inured to a better condition. The prospect seemed to be as ruinous to the government as it was to the security of property, and tended to place the members of the commonwealth, by one rash and precipitate step, in situations in which they were not at all qualified to act.
The rich urged, that the public faith under which they were suffered to purchase, was now engaged to protect and secure their possession : that in reliance on this faith they had pledged them for the dowries of their wives and the portions of their children, and mortgaged them as security for the debts they had contracted : that a law regulating or limiting the further increase or accumulation of property might be suffered ; but that a law, having a retrospect, and operating to the violation of the rights, and the ruin of so many families, was altogether uojust.
Parties looked on each other with a gloomy and suspicions silence.-Fergusson's History of the Roman Republic, Book ii. chap. 2.