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Perhaps you are of opinion that Sir Charles Price experienced ro pecuniary loss by the course he pursued, but rather the contrary, from the improved condition and the improved industry of his other slaves ?-He certainly did ; there is no question about that fact.
Did not he lose the wages he paid to those men ?-No; he more than gained them by the improvement of others.
Did the emancipated slaves remain on the estate ?—They continued there until their wages ceased to be paid to them. They did not fall into poverty, but while they continued to keep them up in this economical way, it succeeded remarkably well.
Do you know what became of those persons on the property changing hands ? — They went into the towns, and of course they were lost sight of.”
Sir Charles Price died about the year 1764. Sir M. Clare is asked, whether he conceives that any good might arise to the negro, if other proprietors were to follow his example. He hopes that it would, but interposes a doubt, founded on the allegation, that the character of the negro is very much altered since then! A little further, however, he is asked to state his grounds for the opinion, that the character of the negro has retrograded, so as to render him less worthy of being entrusted now, than in the days of Sir Charles Price; and his reply is : “ The character is the same : the only difficulty would be in his being kept under the same authority to work." He is subsequently asked, whether he ever saw a free negro work in the fields, and whether he believes that any negro, having been a slave, would, after he was freed, work in the fields. His answer is : “ Never. No (free) negro will ever lay hold of a hoe ; they will never touch it." Now it is a little remarkable, that an experienced witness, examined before the Commons' Committee, when asked whether the free blacks of Antigua engage willingly at labour, replies : “ Certainly, upon all occasions : it is only to hold out the hope of reward before them, and they work cheerfully.” “Do they engage in field labour ?” “ They do not : the proprietors would not permit them to do it, lest it should have the effect of poisoniny the minds of the slaves.”—pp. 56-58.
Another example is that of the blacks in Trinidad. In the month of September, 1816, six hundred and thirty-two American blacks, who had fled to British ships in the previous war, were transported to Trinidad. Here, the year after their arrival, they were joined by sixty-three female Africans, who had been taken in slave ships. The settlement was ultimately (January, 1821) augmented by desertions of slaves from America, to the number of seven hundred and seventy-four persons. In the year 1825 the negro community amounted to nine hundred and twenty-three. At this time they had been under the superintendence of Mr. Mitchell, appointed by the British government; and it is from this individual that we derive any account we possess of these negro colonists in Trinidad. He distinctly stated before the Parliamentary Committee, that these freed negroes labour industriously in their own grounds, and maintain themselves and their families in a respectable manner, for that they are remarkable for peaceful and domestic habits, and for moral and religious lives. They are in the habit of being hired out to work by piece on plantation ground, and that which they undertake is always sure to be well executed. Mr Mitchell states that he does not think that sugar estates could be entirely cultivated by free labourers ; but the only reason why this class of labourers would not answer is, because the proprietors of the estates often require of those they employ to do a great deal of duty in a very short interval, as, for instance, to make a large quantity of sugar before a particular day, which, perhaps, would require of them to labour uninterruptedly for twenty-four hours together. To this the free labourers would not submit. The Rev. W.I. Austin gives an account of two settlements in the colony of Surinam, of slaves who, in consequence of the violence used towards them, emancipated themselves. He was in the habit of trafficing with these slaves, whose chief business it was to bring down timber from the interior of the country. This wood was hewn by the slaves, sometimes it was sawed by them into planks, and other forms of timber; and the barter which they received in return consisted of rum and sugar, and some other articles, such as rice and yams. The Rev. gentleman bears testimony to the fact, that these slaves amassed property to an amount that must be considered very great in reference to their situation in life. An intimate friend of Mr. Austin's, who had been both a physician and a planter, told him that he had, deposited with him, to the amount of three hundred pounds belonging to different individuals. Mr. Austin declares that he never saw one of these slaves in the slightest degree disguised in liquor.
But the experiments made in the Island of Cuba seem, above all others, to have placed the question of emancipation in its true light. In this island freedom is frequently granted to the slave. The government (it is a Spanish colony) encourages this practice ; and slaves, even when they are in a state of bondage, make money by working on their own account, and can afford to purchase from their masters the time to do so. This was the state of things when Humboldt visited South America ; and as this visit is dated far back, it is fortunate that we have a witness in the person of the Honourable Charles Elphinstone Fleeming, as to the actual state of the slaves in Cuba at the present time. This gentleman, it may be necessary to observe, was summoned to give evidence before the Coinmittee of the House of Commons. His evidence bears the marks of a high intellect, as well as of a humane and considerate mind. A few answers to some of the most important questions, which we shall select from his testimony, will serve to demonstrate the opinion which he seems to have formed merely from experience:
Have you seen a good deal of the people of colour in Cuba ?—Yes.
What did their condition appear to be ?—They are in good condition ; some of the brown people are very rich people ; some of the blacks, too, are very wealthy people.
What is the condition of the lower class of free people ?-All the free people are in very good condition in the island of Cuba.
Have you ever heard or seen any thing in Cuba which would lead you to believe that the free people of colour were not industrious ?-No; I never heard in Cuba any complaints of their want of industry; I think they are, generally, as industrious as the Spaßards.
Did you ever know or hear of any instance of free persons of colour being employed in the cultivation of sugar in Cuba ? -Yes, a great many; I have seen white people employed in Cuba, the people that came from the Canary islands, in field work, and they manage all the indigo.
Among the Creole slaves in Cuba, does discontent exist in the same degree as it exists in Jamaica ?-No; there is very little discontent among the slaves in Cuba, because they have it in their power to apply for legal manumission, or, as it is called in the English islands, compulsory manumission; they are all valued, and whenever they make up their price, they may free themselves if they please, or their children, or their wives. They work by piece-work; they are not driven generally, although some of the estates in the possession of the English and Americans do drive, but I never saw a Spanish estate drive.
Are the Committee to understand, then, that freedom is not placed beyond the hopes or the means of acquirement of any slave in the island of Cuba ?—No; freedom is not beyond the hopes of every slave in Cuba ; and they may change their masters whenever they please, if they can find another who will give the price: this is frequently done.
Supposing the slaves to be emancipated generally, do you believe they would be capable of maintaining themselves by their own labour 1-Yes; I think they would, certainly; and, judging from what I have seen in Cuba, Curaçoa, Bahamas, and Trinadad, able to cultivate the land as well as it is now.
Did you observe, upon the whole, that they were industrious in their habits, or otherwise –The slaves are not industrious, unless when they work for themselves ; but when they work for themselves upon the Saturdays that they have, and the Sundays, they are very industrious in cultivating their own lands. I have had slaves who worked for hire afterwards most industriously.
When they work for the benefit of their master under compulsion, they are not so industrious as when they work for their own benefit ?--Certainly not; it has always appeared to me, that slaves worked in a gang, and under overseers, did as little as they could avoid doing—but, by hire, work as much as they could do.-pp. 66–71.
Mr. Conder proceeds to notice the striking results of emancipation in the Cape colony, where a great number of slaves, at a given period, received their liberty, and became much more profitable, as free labourers, to their employers, than they had been when apprenticed to their masters.
But, it is a curious, though by no means a surprising, fact, that the West Indian proprietors themselves should be accessory to the manifestation of the capability of the slaves to be stimulated to in
dustry by natural motives. These proprietors have established a principle of letting out task-work; and, forgetting the effect which they produce against their cause, they boast, that, by the stimulus of the task-work, they have made the negroes more healthy, and certainly more cheerful. The principle of this plan has been tried, and has proved successful.
Mr. Conder, in this pamphlet, has done the state some service. It is a plain, unvarnished detail of facts, alike free from the excesses of hostility, on the one hand, as it is from the heat of intemperate zeal, on the other. It forms merely a fair and candid, but, we must say, a highly satisfactory series of proofs establishing, beyond all question, the truth of the statements which he made in the commencement of his pamphlet; and glad are we, that principle, good sense, judgment, and capacity are thus found in the ranks of that illustrious force which is still struggling for the amelioration and improvement of the human race.
The object of the pamphlet written by Mr. Cropper, and the title of which stands at the head of this paper, is, to show that the contemplated loan of fifteen millions, on condition of the emancipation of the slaves, would be more than counterbalanced, even in a pecuniary sense, by the saving of the present expenses of slavery to the country. The statements of Mr. Cropper are all built on authentic facts, and deserve attentive perusal.
Art. IX. Narrative of a Residence at the Court of London. By
Richard Rush, Esq., Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary for the United States of America, from 1817 to 1825. London: Bentley. 1833.
The announcement of such a work as this is calulated to excite an extraordinary sensation in the public mind, inasmuch as it is likely to produce an impression that a great deal which had been long merged in mystery will now be unfolded. The politicians turn greedily to such a work, in which they have a hope of seeing all their difficulties removed, and a full clearing up of all those complicated measures which, during their operation, had excited so much surprise. We fear, however, that those who seek for a key to any of the political events of the last twenty years, will fail to find inuch assistance in the exposition of Mr. Rush : for, although he handles, with apparent frankness, every question affecting the relations of his own with this country, yet, after a careful examination of his statements, we are bound to declare our opinion, that very little information is added, respecting these points, to what was generally known before. We are anxious, in stating this much, to avoid the possible chance of conveying a censure on Mr. Rush for this absence of information, which he might have been able to furnish ; we willingly believe, that in any reserve which he has thought it necessary to adopt, he has been influenced solely by a sense of his duty as a confidential agent. We must say, however, upon the whole, that though this work is scarcely worthy of being recognised in the political world, it forms a very pleasant personal narrative, in which we are led to think infinitely less of the minister than the man. Under these circumstances, we can expect to meet with a very few topics only that can call for much commentary; we shall therefore proceed at once to accompany the lively author in his voyage from the shores of America to England. It was on the 19th of November, 1817, that he embarked, at Annapolis, in the Franklin, 74. The voyage was accomplished with the usual facility, and, on the 19th of the following month, Mr. Rush and his family found themselves safely and pleasantly moored at the George Inn, in Portsmouth. Here, whilst waiting the summons to dinner, they heard a peal of bells. Mrs. Rush was particularly fond of music; and she waited, with erect ears, until a favourable breeze transported the pleasing sounds towards her. What was the joy of the party, when they understood that the bells were rung to express, the satisfaction of the town-people at the arrival of his excellency the Ambassador! The object of the bell-ringing was, however, soon placed beyond all dispute by the appearance of a body of the ancient craft of bell-ringers, who presented themselves at the hotel, and were readily admitted by the minister. The spokesman addressed his excellency in good set phrase, telling him, that he and his companion had come, with their due and customary respects, to wish him joy on his safe arrival in Old England, as ambassador, extraordinary from the United States, hoping, at the same time, to receive from him the usual favour, such as they had received from other ambassadors, for which they had their look to show. Mr. Rush looked over the pages, and saw there the names of he knew not how many ambassadors, and other diplomatic functionaries arriving from foreign places, with the donations annexed toeach : so that he concluded that Magna Charta itself was not a more in-, portant document to the liberties of England than this book to the bell-ringers of Portsmouth. He cheerfully furnished his gratuity, to the delight of the venerable applicants. It is curious to observe the minuteness with which Mr. Rush describes the attention shown him, even by the hotel-keepers. He describes, as an unusual circumstance, the array of the hotel-servants, in a line on each side of the entry, thanking the party as they passed along. These were attentions unknown, we suppose, in America, and therefore excited all the satisfaction which is derivable from novelty.
Between Portsmouth and Godalming, a distance of thirty-eight miles, Mr. Rush was surprised to find so few houses along or near the roadside. He had, in fact, arrived in England charged with the impression, that he was coming to an over-peopled country ; and though, as a sensible man, he did not suppose that every inch of