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eather lesser posts, a would enter by the
was to enter the quarter of the Grande Riviere, and clear that long pass, as well as St. Suzanne, of the Blacks and Mulattoes. At the same time, M. de Rochambeau was to enter the east side, after retaking Ouanaminte, and the other lesser posts, and ascend into the district of Valiere, join his troops to those which would enter by the Grande Riviere, and with their united force free the interior of the Negroes. Between these two principal corps, attacking the two extremities, the smaller ones, in the middle, posted at the foot of the mountains De Trou, were also to ascend and push the Negroes from that side.
The success of the plan was complete in the east. Ouanaminte, and various other posts, were rapidly carried; but M. Dussas, after having got possession of Morne Pélé, was forced to abandon it the next day, the 12th of November.
Upon the 31st of December, the municipality at the Cape ordered, that all persons who should arrive at that port, suspected of emigrating, should be arrested and sent back to France.
Captain Russell, in his Majesty's ship Diana, was off Aux Cayes on the 17th of February, when he received the following letter from Billard, the president of the provincial assembly:
“ February 17, 1792 — Midnight. “ Captain Russell will perceive by the freedom of this short note, that I wish him to feel perfectly at liberty on the question which I have the honour to propose to him. Will he assist us with his marines in a sortie which we are about to make in an hour or two against the brigands ? I repeat he is at full liberty in his answer. Our forces are at present far from numerous; and, though each is anxious to exert himself, we want strength. Answer immediately: pardon for the interruption of sleep. In this case Captain Russell would not find it prejudicial to lend Englishmen to combat a horde that might one day disturb Jamaica. The provincial assembly will request it of him in form. I have the honour to wish him a good night, and to be his very humble servant,
have thresh him to feel perreceive by the freedom%??
To this cool request Captain Russell returned the following answer :
« Diana, Aux Cayes, February 17, 1792, " Sir,
Half-past twelve at night. “ Few things would give me more pleasure than a prompt compliance with all your desires. I feel a proportionate degree of pain, that in the present instance I cannot, consistently with my duty as a British officer, comply with your request. It would be
Soirées Bermudiennes, p. 179
Naval Chronicle, vol. xvii. p. 457.
a most flagrant violation of the laws of nations to employ His Britannic Majesty's forces in an hostile manner against any description of the subjects of France. “I am, Sir, with great respect, “ Your obedient and humble servant,
T. M. RUSSELL. 66 To M. Billard, “ President of the Colonial Assembly.”
At a public dinner which was given by the assembly to Captain Russell," he represented to them that there was a Lieutenant Perkins, of the royal navy, confined in a dungeon at Jeremie under the pretext of his having supplied the people of colour with arms. Captain Russell said he had satisfied himself of his innocence - that he had undergone nothing like a legal process, a thing impossible from the suspension of their ordinary courts of justice, owing to the divided and distracted state of the colony; and yet he lay under sentence of death. “ Grant me his life,” said Captain Russell — “ do not suffer these people to be guilty of the murder of an innocent man, by which they will drag down British vengeance upon the whole island.”
The assembly promised that he should be released. Captain Russell sent Mr. Pipon for the order, which was refused — " as it was a promise made after dinner, they did not think it binding." At this time his Majesty's sloop Ferret, Captain Nowell, hove in sight. She had been at Jeremie with dispatches, containing requests from Lord Effingham and Admiral Affleck, that Lieutenant Perkins might be delivered up, which the assembly there, by the following communication, refused; adding verbally, that the imperative voice of the law called for his execution :
The Council of Commons of Jeremie to Captain Nowell, Commander
of His Britannic Majesty's brig the Ferret. SIR - However agreeable it has been for us to have you amongst us, our desire would have been not to retard your voyage to the Cayes : our occupations alone have been the cause of your staying here twenty-four hours longer than you intended.
G. The law imperiously commands us to retain Mr. Perkins, and to send him to the colonial assembly.
is We are,
66 PLIQUE, * Jeremie, 16th Feb. 1792.”
- President du Conseil.”
Captain Russell immediately proceeded to Jeremie, and sent Captain Nowell on shore with the following letter :- .
." His Majesty's ship Diana, off Jeremie, 6 SIR,
Feb. 24, 1792. “ I applied to the provisional assembly at Aux Cayes for the liberation of Lieutenant John Perkins, of His Britannic Majesty's royal navy, and my application was immediately and of course complied with. M. Billard, the president, promised me an order to your assembly to deliver him up to me. That order had not arrived at L'Isle de Vache, where I lay, before I sailed, which must be no impediment to your sending him off to me in safety immediately. If, however, it should unfortunately be otherwise, let it be remembered that I do hereby, in the most formal and solemn manner, demand him. Captain Nowell knows my resolulution in case of the least hesitation. 6 I have the honour to be, Sir, “ Your obedient humble servant,
" T. M. RUSSELL, “ To M. Plique,
“ Captain of the Diana. “ President of the Council at Jeremie.”
Captain Nowell, on landing, was surrounded by a mob. The president read the letter, and said, “ Sir, suppose I do not ?”* In that case," replied Captain Nowell, “ you draw down a destruction you are little aware of. Captain Russell has allowed sixty minutes for you to decide — you see, sir, thirty of them are elapsed.” Some one present said, “ You shall have him, but it shall be in quarters.” Captain Nowell drew his sabre, and said to the president, « Sir, order that fellow out of my sight, or he dies.” The president did so, and after some further conversation Perkins was led from his dungeon and released. At the door of the prison the rack was placed, on which the next morning he was to have been tortured.
On the 2d of March, the council and assembly of Jamaica reenacted their consolidation act, or slave code, which they always do in an original form, as if there were no preceding law existing on the subject; and on every successive call by the House of Commons this ponderous often-seen act is transmitted at full length, so that any amendments can only be ascertained by a laborious collation with the former ones. If the new enactments alone were returned, large sums of the public money would be saved, and how far they had attended to the wishes of parliament be more easily known. Mr. Bryan Edwards boasted that this act had secured as great a latitude of enjoyment and comfort to the slaves as could be done with safety; and the assembly afterwards, in a report of 1799, say, that every thing possible has been done to render the condition of the slaves as favourable as is consistent with their reasonable services 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 treatment 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 complained to a magistrate, or been the cause of his master's conviction.
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 whatever, for he has no civil character or personality. By the black act of this country, the malicious killing, maiming, or wounding of cattle is a capital felony, but the cattle have not therefore civil rights; the crime consists in the injury done to the master's property, 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 contracted 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 protected, 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
maintain any right of the and good orders
of propertissory note os if the pay be efficaciousl Their
cted, the spaniel. h legal effectenos bond made created
al laws before the as if the
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 proved 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 6 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