« ElőzőTovább »
eyes. It is the duty of a clergyman to remind us of our faults, and to tell us to correct them, and how to do so; but it is a weakness in the poor man to think himself, as he often does, in any way better or superior, because it is part of the duties of bis holy office to do so. Such conduct must at all times appear a most farsical superlation of his own professed excellence, and will always meet with disgust and contempt from the unreclaimed and ungodly, and compassion from his more sensible brethren; the former of whom are very naturally inclined to exclaim, like a certain graceless toper, of sackdrinking notoriety, "because thou art virtuous, shall there be no more cakes and ale r" The missionaries have, until the occurrence in question, superintended the instruction of the liberated Africans located in the different villages in the peninsula. During the week, they assemble the children in the churches, and teach them to read and write, and to perform various religious exercises, such as singing church melodies, &c. They have, of course, access to every house; and in the mentally debased condition of the newly-imported Africans, virtuous scruples are so rare among them, that the vicious will find few obstacles to the gratification of any immoral propensity, particularly when it is masked by religion. Mr. D , " the
fallen star" alluded to, was in the daily practice of inculcating moral and religious instruction upon the minds of children, as well as those more advanced in life. His wife and family were living with him in the town when the criminal circumstance alluded to took place,—namely, the seduction of a young English female, who speedily disclosed his villainy. Had it been an African, the occurrence would never have been discovered; and where the tendency to crime has been so manifested, and the facilities of commission so extensive, to what conclusion will a consideration of all the circumstances naturally tend? On the affair being discovered, he threw up his situation; and what makes the matter still more extraordinary, he was countenanced by his brethren, several of whom refused to perform their duties in the schools any longer. The world would be inclined to conclude from this, that they are equally guilty, and afraid of an officially instituted inquiry, and the criminal discoveries to which such an inquiry might possibly lead. But, among the most immaculate there will be occasional slips, and, for all this, there are many good and valuable men among them.—pp. 61—63.
After some further observations on the characteristic features which mark the external appearance of Freetown, Mr. Leonard comes to consider it in its various important relations to this country, as an appointed receptacle for captured slaves. This
Seutleman bears testimony to the truth of the statement which lr. Justice Jeffcott, one of the judges of the colony, delivered in his charge to the Grand Jury of Sierra Leone, in June, 1830. The whole of this excellent charge formed the subject of an article in one of the numbers of the Monthly Review for 1831, which excited no inconsiderable astonishment in the minds of our readers. At least we judge so from the numerous applications forwarded to us from high quarters respecting this charge, as it.was the first European Journal to call the general attention to it. The statement to which we allude was to the effect, that in Sierra Leone, the very spot which had been converted by enormous expense as an instrument for
suppressing the slave trade, in this place there were persons deeply engaged in the abominable traffic. Our author, whilst he expresses his conviction of the truth of the judge's statement, is at a loss for sufficient information to enable him to estimate either the| time when this wicked conspiracy began, or the extent to which it has been carried; but the following facts will be found to throw some light on the nature of the present practice :—One of the schoolmasters in Sierra Leone has been tried for selling some of his scholars: there were lately upwards of one hundred liberated Africans who had been kidnapped from Sierra Leone, and were conveyed to a place near the banks of the river Pongos. Here they were detained until an opportunity occurred of reshipping and selling them as slaves. The place of detention, it appears, is under the superintendance of an Englishman named Joseph, an outlaw, whom the goverment has in vain endeavoured to arrest.* The horrible state in which the kidnapped Africans must be kept in this place i3 revealed at once by the fact, that when the Plumper was in the Pongos river, a female slave rushed one day from the shore to the vessel, and could not be induced to return on any threat or persuasion. She was finally brought in safety to Sierra Leone. His Majesty's ship Favourite boarded a vessel, under French colours, with a great number of slaves, some of whom spoke English like the liberated slaves in Sierra Leone. These, with other cases still more recent, should satisfy every reasonable mind that the practice of contributing to the promotion of the traffic in slaves exists in Sierra Leone.
It is a subject of congratulation with the friends of humanity, that means have been put into practice for terminating the progress of this vile commerce. A place of reception has been established, which, from its regulations, bids fair to be a security to the Government; at least against the open adoption of the slave traffic by any of the inhabitants of the colony. The following is an account of this establishment, as no doubt it has been seen by our author:
The liberated African yard, where the newly-imported Africans are lodged, is a square piece of ground of considerable size, having two of its sides occupied by a range of low buildings, in which the slaves passed the night. T9e rest of the area is surrounded by a high wall, within which is a house for cooking their unseemly food, a well, and several tanks containing water, together with a number of other conveniencies. A building of one story stands in the centre of the square, the ground floor of which is used as a smithy, the upper part as a residence for the blacksmith, a liberated African, and family, unless when the yard is crowded with newlyimported slaves, when poor Vulcan is under the necessity of occupying the corner of one apartment. He is constantly engaged in the formation of instruments of husbandry, such as bill-hooks, hoes, &c. for the slaves who have been recently, or are about to be located.
As soon as an illicit trader in slaves is taken possession of by one of our ships of war, which is generally done after a long chase, all her crew, with the exception of the captain and one or two others, are removed on board the capturing vessel, from which they are usually landed on the nearest part of the coast, an:i two midshipmen, or other junior officers, and from five to twenty men, according to the size of the vessel, are sent on board to navigate her to Sierra Leone, where all slave vessels captured on the coast of Africa by our cruisers are immediately carried, for adjudication by the courts of mixed commission resident there.—pp. 83, 84.
It is unnecessary to pursue our author's description of the constitution of these courts; it is enough to say, that until the courts decide that the capture was legal, the slaves are still kept in their filthy abode. When the decision is made, the slaves are landed and lodged in the liberated African yard just described, and afterwards obtain each a portion of land, where they build huts and form villages. Until the huts are completed, they are lodged either in a depot in the village, or in the houses of the inhabitants, with their consent. Mr. Leonard adds:
As the latter usually find relatives or countrymen among the new comers, they are generally willing to afford them both shelter and assistance. Sometimes they are dispersed among the different villages, instead of being located in one spot. During the first six months after their arrival in the colony, they are fed and clothed by government, each receiving for this purpose twopence per diem, which is found quite adequate to their wants: and after having completed the erection of their huts, which takes but a short time to accomplish, they are employed at any public works which may be going forward, being permitted, during part of the six months, to cultivate the piece of ground allotted to them; the assistant superintendant of liberated Africans, before leaving them entirely to their own guidance, supplying them, from an extensive depot or store kept for that purpose, situated in close proximity to the slave yard, with articles of dress and cooking utensils, together with a quantity of esculent seeds and plants, such as Indian corn and cassada, to rear for their future support. They are all much gratified on receiving these necessaries, considering themselves enriched.
The articles at present supplied to each male emancipated slave on his location cost about 1/. 10s., which, together with his six months' allowance of twopence a-day, make the whole of the mere personal expense of each male adult to his Majesty's government amount to about 3/. The daily allowance is, of course, extended in the cases of persons who, from age or infirmity, are incapable of supporting themselves. Females receive twopence aday for three months only, and as many of the children as possible above a certain age, on condemnation of the vessel, are apprenticed out, as has been already stated, to persons of respectable appearance in the colony. With the exception of those negroes recently arrived, who, from the excessive crowding, and the bad quality and scantiness of the food and water, are almost always filthy, emaciated, and covered with disease, the manumited slaves appear in general to be clean in their persons, sleek and well fed, and very well satisfied with their condition. After a short stay in the colony, the industrious arc occasionally permitted to cultivate patches of waste land in the country, besides their own allotted piece of ground, with the understanding that their occupation of the former shall be temporary. Hy selling the produce of this, they are enabled to obtain many of the comforts and a few of the luxuries enjoyed by their European neighbours.—pp. 86—88.
In order to give some idea of the actual condition of these people, Mr. Leonard presents to us a brief description of a village called Murray Town, and situated a few miles from Freetown. He has frequently visited the inhabitants, who, he says, seemed always very grateful for any attention shown to them. They appeared, from the improved state of their houses, from the nature of the furniture, and the few articles of luxury, such as small mirrors, to be seen in them, to have entered as it were upon the path of civilization, and to have begun to understand its value. Altogether, Mr. Leonard speaks with satisfaction of the progress made by the Africans in proportion to the short time in which they had the opportunity of becoming acquainted with civilized customs. Whilst the adult Africans vary in the amount of the native intelligence which they manifest under particular circumstances,' it would be unfair to judge of the whole tribe from the slaves. The latter have had the misfortune of being brutalized, comparatively, at that age when mental impressions are calculated to act with the greatest force; and it is in vain that we attempt to cultivate them at that period of life when there can be no chance of overcoming the opposition of habit. Hence, Mr. Leonard, with true philosophical discretion, would direct inquiry to the children of the poor Africans, who by the fortunes of the time are located in Sierra Leone, or its vicinity. He himself does not hesitate to state, that by trying that sort of criterion, he has come to the conclusion, that the children in the government schools at Freetown, and those in the schools of the villages, are equal in intelligence and acquirements to European children of the same age. Why is it, then, some sceptic will say, that the liberated Africans appear so obstinately to resist the influence of that machinery for enlightening them, which has been provided by the mother country at so much expense and other sacrifices? The answer of the well-informed author is, that it cannot be to the inherent defect of ability in the African that we are to attribute this effect, for that an adequate explanation of it may be found in a variety of circumstances, which it requires but little sagacity to detect. For instance, how can men partially advanced in civilization, be expected to make progress in intellectual attainments, if it happen that almost every week they are in the habit of mingling in company with barbarians freshly imported from their native country, and whose association they are utterly unable, from various local circumstances, to abandon? Then let us ask, has the system of moral amelioration adopted in Sierra Leone been always the same? Has it even been, all through, consistent with itself? Have not fresh and contradictory plans of education
and enlightenment, succeeded each other in that colony with a rapidity proportioned to the expedition with which the fatal influence of the climate made room for fresh incumbents of its political functions? There is another cause existing in Sierra Leone, which assists in obstructing the advance of the liberated Africans; namely, the disallowance of the export of articles the produce of the colony. Under such circumstances, there is no encouragement for the proprietor or labourer, who spends his time in rearing an unusual quantity of cocoas or yams; and thus an artificial boundary may be said to be placed on the free area of industry. The cause of the backward state of the liberated slaves in Sierra Leone, on which Mr. Leonard lays most stress, is the want of a sufficiently close and severe superintendance of the slaves who have been manumited. Regulations undoubtedly exist, with the view of humanizing and reclaiming the slaves, but they are a dead letter; and
taken to secure the liberated Africans from being kidnapped, and sold again to slavery; or, what is nearly as bad, from relapsing into their original barbarism.
Notwithstanding the existence of these malignant influences, there is some ground for a hope of better things, for Mr. Leonard gladly bears testimony to the marked respect, at least externally, manifested by the slaves to the Sabbath; and he is able to state, that no instance occurred within his personal knowledge of a liberated African being in a state of intoxication.
Some remarks are indulged in by our author on the constitution of society in Sierra Leone; and his experience, at all events, does not lead him to the language of eulogy. From this subject, and from some others of minor interest, we pass on to an account of the condition of the slaves in the captured vessels when first taken. Among those cases of capture, seen by Mr. Leonard, were the following:
On the 3rd of March, 1831, a schooner under Spanish colours was detained by the Black Joke, a British vessel, and brought into the anchorage before Freetown. The slaves consisted of one hundred and eleven men, forty-five women, ninety-eight boys, fiftythree girls, and four infants at the breast, one of whom was born since the period of capture, and whose mother, a sickly and emaciated creature, was suckling it on deck, with hardly a rag to cover either herself or her babe:
The schooner (says our author, evidently writing under the full power of the scene upon his imagination) is only 130 tons burden, and the slave deck only two feet two inches high, so that they can hardly even sit upright. The after part of the deck is occupied by the women and children, separated by a wooden partition from the other slaves. The horrors of this infernal apartment—the want of air—the suffocating heat—the filth—the stench—may be easily imagined; although it is remarked that this ship is
many facts could be adduced