Imágenes de páginas


vices and the safety of the Whites; but by the tenth section of this
ultimate and perfect work, in no other case but that of “very
atrocious mutilations” is a power given to any court to deliver a
slave cruelly treated from the convicted master. Various other
cruel practices are prohibited by special descriptions under small
penalties; but on every other conviction than that for “very
atrocious cases of mutilation,” the slave must, and even in those
cases might go back to his brutal master: and if the cruel treat-
ment was inflicted by any other person than the owner of the
slave, the remedy would not apply. Now, as comparatively few
owners reside in the colonies, if the manager, overseer, lessee, or
mortgagee in possession did it, the poor slave must return to his
oppressor, to expiate, by numberless inflictions of which the laws
do not even affect to take cognizance, the offence of having com-
plained to a magistrate, or been the cause of his master's con-
V1ction. -
But if it should appear to the magistrates that the complaint
was groundless, they may punish the complainant (by the Jamaica
act of 1816) in such manner as to them may seem proper.
A West India slave, strictly speaking, has no civil rights what-
ever, for he has no civil character or personality. By the black
fact of this country, the malicious killing, maiming, or wounding of
i cattle is a capital felony, but the cattle have not therefore civil
rights; the crime consists in the injury done to the master's pro-
\perty, or to public morals, or to the police and good order of the
state, not in the violation of any right of the sufferer.
A slave cannot maintain any suit or action whatever, either in
his own name or by guardian. He cannot contract or be con-
tracted with ; he cannot make assignment, bequest, gift, or other
disposition of property, whereby a title may be created to things
incorporeal. A promissory note or bond made to a Negro slave
would have as much legal effect as if the payee or obligee were a
horse or a spaniel. Before the Negroes can be efficaciously pro-
tected, the local laws relative to evidence must be altered. Their
only legal protection is either by the action or suit of the master,
or by indictment or other prosecution at the suit of the crown.
Personal injuries received by him from strangers of free condition
may be the subject of a suit by his master, precisely as the law of
England allows in respect of horses or cattle. It is protection only
to the property which the master has in his slave's person.
By the sixteenth section of the act of Jamaica, vestries may
impose taxes on the parishioners for the support of manumitted
Negroes and Mulattoes, when disabled by sickness or age. In
some of the acts it is expressly recited, that manumissions were
often fraudulent on the part of the master, their object being to
avoid the charge of supporting infirm slaves. If a master wished


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

to withhold subsistence from his disabled slave, a fraudulent manumission would be perfectly needless; for he might much more privately famish him in his servile state, by confining him to the plantation, where he could neither be a prosecutor or a witness. The ruinous nature of the sugar cultivation is F. by the reports of the insular assemblies. In the course of twenty years, ending this year, one hundred and seventy-seven estates in Jamaica were sold for the payment of debts; fifty-five estates thrown up; and ninety-two were then (November 23d, 1792) in the hands of creditors. During the same period, 80,021 executions, amounting to above £22,500,000 sterling, had been lodged in the provostmarshal's office. Previous to the execution of a slave, he is appraised, and the value, not exceeding a limited sum, is allowed and paid to his owner out of the public treasury of the island.— (See sect. 56, act of Jamaica this year.) But in Barbadoes, and some other colonies, it is provided by law, that the party injured by the crime shall first be indemnified out of the sum so allowed, to the extent of the damage sustained. The reason given for this regulation is, that masters, if not indemnified for the loss of their property, would not give up their slaves to public justice, but rather assist them in escaping from it, when accused of capital crimes. This remuneration is injurious in two ways. Were the master's self-interest engaged, he would employ a counsel or solicitor to defend the slave, who, from his ignorance and helplessness, is unable to defend himself. The natural order of things by which men in superior private relations become in some measure pledges to society for the good conduct of their families, is also weakened thereby. The crime of the slave is often the inevitable fruit of the master's oppression, in “not allowing them,” as the act recites, “time to plant or provide for themselves, for which cause such Negroes or other slaves are necessitated to commit crimes.”—“And yet the safety of this island (Barbadoes) requiring that such Negroes and other slaves shall suffer as the law has appointed,” therefore such masters whose neglect of feeding causes the slaves to be guilty of such crimes are not “to be countenanced therein at the charge of the public,” and the treasurer of the island is only to pay the damage to the party injured, and nothing to the master. Here we have men starving, not from idleness, but because their master works them too closely to allow them time to provide for themselves; so that the only alternatives left the slave, is to starve, or be hanged. There is no punishment awarded for the master; but “he is not to be countenanced therein at the charge of the public,” and that is all. This law of Barbadoes was passed in 1688, re-enacted without


any amendment as to these objectionable clauses in 1739, and is, Mr. Stephen says in 1824, “probably still unrepealed.” In this pitiable case of involuntary crime, the legislature, by directing the execution immediately to follow the sentence, shuts out the possibility of pardon : the prosecutor having a private interest in the execution of the criminal, the granting a pardon without his consent might be a matter of some embarrassment, and by the act he had a legal right to insist on the execution of the sentence. In every case, however deserving of mercy, he was to receive part of the price of blood, and therefore might demand its effusion. Dr. Coke returned again to Jamaica. “But the persecution (he says) which we have experienced in this place, far, very far, exceeds all the persecutions that we have met with in the other islands, unitedly considered. Mr. Hammett's life was frequently endangered. Mr. Bull several times narrowly escaped being stoned to death, particularly one night, when he eluded the vigilance of the rioters by being disguised in a suit of regimentals. “We forbear to record specific instances of brutality and wickedness, or to mention the names of those whose sons shall blush their fathers were our foes. “To depart from persecution, was to flee from duty; and to apply for justice, was but another name for sustaining wrong. To abandon the chapel altogether, was to expose it to ruin and demolition; and to persevere in the usual course, was to endanger life. To quit the scene of action was to give up the contest, and to arm those by whom we were oppressed with that victory for which they had been contending, and which would become a formidable weapon on a future day.” Mr. Hammett was obliged to refrain from preaching by candle-light. Dr. Coke, however, on the first evening of his arrival, ventured to open the chapel again for preaching by candle-light, and had a numerous audience; but some of them, he says, were very rude. The following is his report of his proceedings in Spanish Town: “In the evening I appeared in the long-room of the tavern, according to permission, having previously sent notice round the town. When I entered, I found it nearly filled by the young bucks and bloods (as we used to term the debauchees at Oxford), and not a single lady was present: soon afterwards, many of the coloured people, of both sexes, came and filled the vacant places. During my sermon the bucks behaved so rudely, that I observed, before I concluded, that if any house-keeper would lend me a hall, I would preach again the next evening; otherwise, I should probably be obliged to leave the place. • Farewell, sir!" said one; * Good luck to you, sir!" said another: and thus they went on, till

I withdrew. When Mr. Brazier and I consulted together on the subject, we were fully persuaded, from the countenances and behaviour of the coloured people, that the Redeemer's kingdom might be enlarged by preaching the gospel to them, and that we ought not by any means to give up the point. Before bed-time, two gentlemen came to me at my lodging, and offered me their halls to preach in; but, alas! when I called on them the next morning, they had been frightened by their friends, and both of them retracted their engagements. We were then determined to move on the true ji. ‘ from the least to the greatest.’ Accordingly, we hired a poor cheap house (if it may be called by so lofty a name), in the outskirts of the town, of a Mulatto, from month to month. Here I preached in the evening to a considerable number of the people of colour; and, notwithstanding the poverty of the lace, some of the bucks attended, and were ruder, if possible, than the night before. During the height of the noise, I felt a spirit which I think I never felt before, at least in the same degree — I believe it was a spark of the proper spirit of martyrdom. At the conclusion, therefore, of a pointed though short address to the rioters, I told them I was willing, yea, desirous, if the kingdom of Jesus could be promoted thereby, to suffer martyrdom; and my words seemed to have a considerable effect on their minds.” A few days afterwards, Dr. Coke preached at Port Royal, in the house of Mr. Fishley. “There had been some persecution in this place, many of the outrageous in Kingston having agreed to assassinate Mr. Hammett here; but the magistrates behaved with such * and intrepidity, that the persecutors were glad to hide their ea S.” Dr. Coke sailed in a few days for South Carolina, leaving 234 in

the society of Methodists in the whole circuit, which was an increase

of eighty-four since the last accounts were made up. From Easter 1791 to Easter 1792, 640 Negroes were baptized in Antigua by the Moravian missionaries. In 1792, upon the average of four years, Antigua produced and exported only 3900 hlids, of sugar. The national assembly of France passed a decree of thanks to the King of Great Britain, to the English nation, and to Lord Effingham, the governor of Jamaica, for his generous conduct, in o the planters of St. Domingo from the horrors of famine, and in furnishing them with arms and military stores against the rebel Negroes. The West India merchants voted £500 to Captain Bligh, of the navy, for his services while on the West India station. In February, Flora Gale, aged 120 years, died at Savannah-laMer, in Jamaica; she retained all her faculties till within three

ammammamCoke's west Indies, vol. i. p. 425. ; vol. ii. p. 426.


days of her death. There was not a house in that town when she
came to the parish. She was a free black woman, but would never
be baptized, because there might be a dance at her funeral.
General Mathews, the governor of Grenada, conceived so fa-
vourable an opinion of Mr. Owens, the Methodist missionary to
that island, that he offered him the vacant living of Cariacow, if he
would go to England and be ordained by the ii. of London.
“But Mr. Owens (Dr. Coke says), influenced by a sense of duty,
with all the fortitude of a man of God, nobly declined the offer,
and chose to continue a poor dependant Methodist preacher.” The
living of Cariacow was worth about £800 currency per annum.
The Moravian missionaries report, that “their chapel was well

filled with Negroes every Sunday. Thirteen adults had been baptized, and ten had been added to the number of their commu

nicants, in the preceding year.”
: This year, the Moravian missionaries at St. Christopher's added
835 Negroes to their congregation by baptism, or by admission to
their class of candidates for it.

The Moravian Missionary's Account of a Flood at St. Christopher's.

“St. Kitt's, April 11, 1792.

“By this opportunity I send you an account of the dismal situation into which this island, and in particular the town of Basse Terre, has suddenly been thrown.

“Ever since Palm Sunday, we have had at times smart showers of rain. In the night a strong wind arose, with repeated violent gusts of flying showers, which lasted till morning. Towards noon it rained much, and great quantities of water flowed down Collegestreet. At two, it began to lighten and thunder; and the stream increased, so that it spread as far as our new wall; and about eight in the evening, the rain grew more violent. Between nine and ten, we heard much noise. I went into the garden, and heard distinctly the cries and shrieks of the poor Negroes opposite to us; for the waters coming across Mr. L’s cane-lands, had passed through their huts. I would gladly have gone to their assistance, but could not; for the current was very rapid and the water higher than our walled fence. I called upon the Lord to have mercy upon them; but, soon after, saw the Negro houses carried away, with their inhabitants.

“As I went to our burying-ground, I perceived that about fifty feet in length of the wall, from the corner below the gate, was washed away, the planks of the remaining part torn off, and the strong cedar posts bending towards the street. The ground within the wall, to the depth of five or six feet, was washed out, and carried away. It was now between eleven and twelve o'clock at night, and I went in to inform the sisters how things appeared; we

« AnteriorContinuar »