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NEGRO SLAVERY.



OBSERVATIONS,



IN ANSWER TO AN



ADDRESS



CLERGY OF THE ESTABLISHED CHURCH,



AKD TO



OHRISTIAK MINISTERS OF EVERY DENOMINATION.



Blame not before thou hast examined the truth : understand first,
and then rebuke." — Ecclenaniicus^ xi. 7-



Copies ofihis Pamphlet, for Dis-tributiou., may be had on appluafion at
No. 60, Si James Street.



LONDON :

PIBLISHED BV SMITH, ELDER, AND CO. 65, CORNHILL

AXD AVIIITMORE AVD FEW. CHAR ING-CROSS.

1826.






i



J-ic



'* In times of real security, we ^hoDld not inflame the minds of ilie popu-
lace with affected apprehensions ; before we complain of grievances, we
should be sure tliey exist : we should never violate, knowingly, the laws of
truth and justice. Wc should be restrained by a sense of honour from ca-
lumniating the innocent."

Defence of the Dvke of Bedford, in Reply to Jufiivs,



OBSERVATIONS,

ETC. ETC.



^ An " Address to the Clergy of the Estahlished Church, and to

p Christian Ministers of every Denomination," has lately heen

extensively cu-culated, and, as it is understood, sent to every
clergjTnan and dissenting minister throughout the empire. The
great object of this Address is to induce them to employ the
Pulpit for the purpose of " diffusing a knowledge of the evils
of colonial bondage throughout the land, and of exciting increa-
sed efforts for speedily putting a period to the state of slavery it-
self throughout the British dominions,"

In carrying these objects into effect, various subsidiaiy means
are to be employed, and the Chi-istian minister is invited to
" unite in petitioning Parliament to emancipate the slaves from
their cruel bondage ;" and " to abstain as much as possible from
the use of those articles which are the produce of the tortures
and agonies of his fellow-creatures."

Whatever effect this Address may liave had upon some deno-
minations of Dissenters, we feel confident that the Clergy of the
Establishment know too well the duty which they owe both to
religion and their own sacred character — both to God and rnan^
to attend to such an invitation.

We are not going to enter into any defence of slavery in the
abstract :— far otherwise ; but we shall protest against all such
appeals as the present, which, instead of approaching the moment-
ous subject of emancipation with the caution and sobriety diLe to
its ifnportance, addresses itself solely to the passions of men, and
can only serve to excite initation, without effectually accom-
plishing any praiseworthy or useful purpose. The English Cler-
gy well know, that from the earliest ages of the world, and in
almost every part of it, slavery has existed ; — they know that even
in this country a species of bondage continued until a period
later than the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and that its abolition iu



the West India colonies, with safety^ whether as regards the
welfare of the master, or that of the slave himself, must be the
work of time, Mr Stephen says, " Slavery is not to be ploughed
up by revolution, or to be mown down by the scythe of a legis-
lative abolition ; but to be plucked up, stalk by stalk, by the
progressive hand of private and voluntary enfranchisement." — ■
" It is to be accomplished by th^^same happy means which for-
merly put an end to it in England, namely, by a benign though
insensible revolution in opinions and manners ; by the encourage"
ment of particular manumissions, and the progressive melioration
of the condition of the slaves — till it shall slide insensibly into
general freedom."* — (Report of the African Institution, 1815,
pp. 41, 8.)

In the Address we are noticing, the Clergy are ^expressly in-
vited to come forward, because, as it is alleged, negro slavery is
repugnant to the truths and duties of Cliristianity, and a heavy

• " Will the happiness of the slaves be promoted by their sudden, and, as
we thmk, indiscreet emancipation ? Will not the slave who has been compul-
sorily induced to work suddenly lapse into indolence of body and of mind ? —
All sudden changes are attended with considerable inconveniences ; because,
to useDr Paley's pregnant apothegm, * man is a bundle of habits.' These ha-
bits are contracted by the great law of association oi ideas ; and no permanent
change of character or condition can take place, until, by time and careful edu-
cation, a new train of associations is superinduced, whereby new habits will ne-
cessarily be contracted.— -Until the condition of slaves is gradually ameliorated
—until their minds are instructed, and they are taught the arts of life,— their
emancipation would be a greater act of cruelty to themselves than the loss of
their services to their masters. They are intellectually as children ; and what
is comprehended under the word liberty, is no more understood by them than
the occupations of men are understood, and capable of practice, by a cluld.>«
Let the slave be instructed, and trained, by gradual approaches, for freedom.
Such has been, and ever will be, the course of Divine Providence with re-
spect to mankind ; because it is suitable to the constitution of our nature.
Our very religion is conveyed to our understanding by the analogies of free-
dom and slavery."— .(<' House of Bondage ;" by the Rev, B. Bailey, M.A,
Curate of Burton«upon»Trent," pp. 38, 32.)



responsibility is said to press upon every minister of the Gospel
who shall shrink from " denouncing and reprobating its enor-
mous and accumulated evils." — Now, it is well known that our
Saviour lived and preached in the midst of a slave population,
<' without doing one act, or uttering one word, that could in any
manner set that population at variance with their masters ;* and
both from the conduct of our Saviour, and of St Paul, we may
draw that inference which fell from more than one noble lord in
the course of a late debate,f that Slavery and Christianity are
not incompatible. Lord Bathurst observed, " I have seen, with
deep regret, uncalled-for declarations, which have been made
elsewhere, that a state of slaveiy is forbid by the Bible, and is
utterly repugnant to the principles of the Christian religion. My
lords, I am not prepared to admit that slavery is forbid by the
Bible. It is not against the powers that are, but it is against the
uncharitable use of the authority of tliose powers, that the in-
junctions of the Gospel are especially directed." — *^ The divine
Founder of Christianity, who knew what was in man, foresaw the
effects which the Gospel would work upon the habits and man-
ners of the world. He therefore left the question of personal sla-
very to be decided by the coiu-se of Providence, overruling the
events of men's actions. Such an enlightened man as St Paul,
independent of his inspiration, might, by his characteristic perspi-
cacity, have foreseen that the condition of all classes of persons,
but especially of servants or slaves, would be considerably amend-
ed by the general diffusion of Christianity : — yet, so far from
preaching the right of freedom to those who were in bondage, we
find that he gives directions to servants, whether bond or free,
how to conduct themselves towards their respective masters." —
(" House of Bondage," p. 43.)

Following these high examples, the Christian minister will

* Blackwood's Magazine, Dec. 1824, p. 685. The admirable papers on
the West Indian Controversy, which appeared in this work m 1823 and
1824, are doubtless well known to our readers.

t Debate, House of Lords, 7th March 1820.



feel it his duty, so tar from exciting disunion between mabter and
slave, and promoting discord in a state of society where the ma-
terials are so peculiar, and the parts so disproportionate, to em-
ploy religion to its noblest purposes, and to use it as the cemeiit
which can alone bind together this frame of society. " Christi-
anity (as it has been well observed) is the only bond sufficiently
comprehensive to effect this ; it embraces equally the freeman
and the slave : and while it permits and sanctions the inequality
of their stations, it acknowledges them both as equal objects of its
regard. It tells them that they are all the children of one com-
mon Father, and the heirs of one common promise, — partakers
of the same lieavenly grace, and candidates for the same heaven-
ly reward. As brothers in the eyes of God, it bids them meet
together in the same house of prayer, and join in the same ser-
vice of praise and thanksgiving ; while abroad and at home it still
equally impresses upon them their relative obligations, and incul-
cates equally the duty of kindness and compassion in the master,
of good-v/ill and obedience in the slave." — (Bishop of Exeter's
Sermon, preached before the Incorporated Society for the Pro-
pagation of th€ Gospel, in 1824, p. 18.)

The Address has grossly misrepresented the present condition
of the negro ]K)pulation. Every epithet has been employed
which could convey the idea of existing cruelty and oppression
on the part of the master, and of wi-etchedness and misery on
that of the slave.

It further calls upon the public, and especially the clergy, to
" resort to decisive and effectual measures," to " strain every
Kerve," and " to concentrate their forces in the strenuous use of
every means by which the country may be soonest purged of this
deep pollution" of negi-o slavery.

To accomplish the abolition of negro slavery in the West India
-colonies gradually and safely, the efforts of the British Parliament
have of late been unceasingly directed. In 1823, resolutions were
unanimously passed by the House of Commons, and which have
eince been adopted by the House of Lords, for effecting that ob-



ject, by imparting to the slaves a participation in those civil rights
and privileges which are enjoyed by other classes of his Majesty^a
subjects, and by a ueterniined and persevering, hut judicious and
iettiperaie, enforcement of such measures as should effect a pro-
gressive improvement in the character of the slave population,
60 as to prepaie them for that pai'ticipation in those rights. — To
tliose v.^ho ai'e " straining every nerve" to terminate slavery, mea-
sures of this sober character will not be palatable ; but the mo-
derate and discreet philantlu-opist will rest satisfied with them,
and he will rejoice to find, that while much remains to be done,
much has been done for the amelioration of the cwidition of the
slaves in the West Indies. It has been shown again and again,
that their condition, both as regai'ds their temporal comforts and
their moral culture, has, within the last few years, undergone a
manifest improvement; and if their masters be only permitted for
a short period to pursue in peace the plane which they have in
contemplation, the abolition of slavery will be accomplished by
its sliding (as Mr Stephen has stated) insensibly into general
freedom.*

14; may be distinctly asserted, that slavery in the West Indies
is not what it is represented in this Address, it is not a " fright-
ful complication of misery and crime ;" nor is it, as now consti-
tuted, that " horrid and baibarous system which tyrarmizes over
unhappy victims." Let us first refer to the testimony of an indi-
vidual perfectly unconnected with the colonies, and who has very
recently given us his voluntary testimony as to the present state
of the negroes. — Mr Coleridge, an English gentleman, who visit-
ed twelve of the West India Islands in 1825, in the suite of the
Bishop of Barbadoes, for the recovery of health, and from mo-
tives of ciu-iosity, tells us : "I have been in twelve of the Bri-
tish colonies ; I have gone round and across many of them, and
have resided some months in the most populous one of its size in
the whole world. I have observed with diligence, I have inqui-
red of all sorts of people, and have mixed constantly with the co-

* Within a period of thice years (from 1820 to 1823), 4000 vuiuiitar^
manuriiissiona have taken place in Jamaica ajonc.



8

loured iiJiabitants of all hues and of every condition. 1 am sure
I have seen things as they are^ and I am not aware of any other
bias on my mind, except that which may be caused by a native
hatred of injustice, and a contempt and disdain of cant and hypo-
crisy." NoWj having had these fair opportunities of judging of
the state of the population of the West India colonies as they are,
he beai'S this important testimony to the owners of slaves : —
" From the general and prominent charge of cruelty, active or
permissive, towards the slaves, I for one acquit the planters."
He tells us further, that the " slaves receive no wages, because
no money is paid to them upon that score, but they possess ad-
vantages, which the ordinary wages of labour in England doubled
could not purchase. The slaves are so well awaie of the com-
forts which they enjoy under a master's purveyance, that they
not unii-equently forego freedom rather than be deprived of them.
A slave beyond the prime of life will hesitate to accept manu-
mission. Many negroes in Barbadoes, Granada, and Antigua,
have refused freedoln when offered to them." And he also makes
the following important observations : — " I hope and believe,"
says the author, " that the time is almost come when the cause
of religion and real philanthropy, as it respects the West Indies,
will be placed on its true footing ; and it is highly worthy of the
counsels of England to see that this cause be speedily disencum-
bered of the trammels which prejudice, ignorance, and hypocrisy,
have respectively heaped upon it. In setting about the conver-
jgion of more than 800,000 black slaves into free citizens, we
must act sensibly and discreetly ; especially we must begin with
the beginning, for it is n.ot a matter of decree, edict, or act of
parliament ; there is no hocus pocus in the thing, there are no
presto movements. It is a mighty woi% yet, mighty as it is, it must
be effected, if at all, in the order and by the rules which reason
and experience have proved to be alone eftectual. If we attempt
to reverse the order, or to alter the mode, we shall not only fail
ourselves, but make it impossible that any should succeed." —
(Six Months in the West Indies, in 1825.)



9



Mr M'Doimell, in his *' Considerations on NegTo Slavery,"
has shown that " the negroes aie not that degiaded, miserable
set of beings they are so generally supposed to be." — " The first
sensation," he observes, " which a stranger experiences on visit-
ing an estate, is that of unqualified sui-prise. In place of be-
holding that scene of chains and cruelty which had been asso-
ciated with his idea of slavery, he finds everything indicative of
cheerfulness and content ; an active, animating picture of indus-
try lies before him ; every now and then is heard a loud and
general laugh, evidently that of persons free fi'om care : in his
Avalks about the grounds, he is saluted with courtesy ; and he sees
the proprietor received really with aflection. After the work of
the day i* over, if he proceed to the negro houses, he will be still
more gratified ; he there beholds apartments well fitted up, and
comfortable ; the little children before the doors gamboling about
in sportive innocence ; and the whole presenting such an appear-
ance of satisfaction and happiness, that he is at once prompted
to exclaim, What is it Mr Wilberforce would have ?" — (Consi-
derations, p. 213.)

If the reader would wish to have details of the management
of a West India estate, and of the general treatment of the ne-
groes upon it — the regulations adopted for divine service and
for the education of the children — their privileges — the atten-
tion shown to them when sick — their allowance of food — a de-
scription of their houses,* and the indulgences granted to them,
— we would refer -him to a Report in the Proceedings of the In-
corporated Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign
Pai-ts, for the year 1823. This Report was furnished by the ex-
emplary Chaplain to the negi'oes on the Codrington Plantations,
the Rev. J. H. Pinder ; and it proves, amongst other gratifying
facts, that the existence of slavery is not (as it has been fre-
quently asserted) incompatible with an increase of population—

■ " Around the houses is a patch of land, under ixeat cultivation. This
httle property the negroes have permission to leave at iheir decease to any
lelative or friend, being a slave on the estale." — (Report, Ac p. 212.)

6



10



•^ within the bhort period of eight years, nearly one-sixth ha-
ving been added to the number on the establishment." — (Re-
port, p. 206.)

Whilst the Clergy are thus stimulated to wage war against
elaverj^, the difficulties and dangers that surround this great
<juestion are entirely overlooked. " If there be a question, at
which it is impossible for any person, the mOst careless, to look
with indifference, but which any man, who approaclies it as a
subject of legislation, must view with the deepest awe, — it is the
question now before us. To speak of the difficulties which en-
compass it, as compared with almost any other question which
has ever occupied the attention of Parliament, would be to di-aw
but a faint and feeble picture of those difficulties ; thcJy are, in-
deed, apparent to the most casual observation ; but he who has
to probe and prove them, for the pui-pose of applying a remedy,
finds them thickening around him at every step, and leaving him
frequently nothing but a choice of evils." — (Mr Canmng's Speech
in 1824, p. 3.)

Emancipation, that real emancipation, which would prove to
the slave a blessing, and not a curse, must, we repeat, necessarily
be the work of time. This was fornierl?/ the opinion of the most
sanguine and zealous abolitionists themselves. In 1807, they
were " unanimous that emancipation could not profitably take
place, until the slaves had been prepared for its reception by an
improvement of their character, growing out of an amelioration of
their condition, and involving necessarily a change of treatment,
which would approximate them to the state of free persons." — -
(The West India Question practically considered, p. 24.)

Mr Wilberforce himself, at this period, spoke of " those dan-
gers which might justly be apprehended from the sudden eman-
cipation of men, most of whom must be destitute of those habits
which are necessary for enabling them to act with propriety as
freemen." — (Ibid. p. 26.)

Mr Canning observed (in the same admirable speech which
we have already qvioied) - *' I would proceed gradually because



11



I would proceed safely. I know that the impulse of enthiisiasiw
would carry us much faster than I am prepared to go ; I know it
is objected that all this preparation will take time. Take time !
to be sure it will ; to be sure it should ; to be sure it must ! —
Time ! — why, what is it we have to deal with ? Is it with an evil
of yesterday's origin ? — with a thing which has grown up in our
time ; — of which we have watched the gi-owth — measured the
extent, and which we have ascertained the means of correcting-
or controlling ? No ; we have to deal with an evil wdiich is the
growth of centuries, and of tens of centuries ; which is almost
coeval with the Deluge ; which has existed, under different mo-
difications, since man was man. Do gentlemen, in their passion
for legislation, think that, after only thirty years' discussion, they
can now at once manage as they will the most unmanageable,
perhaps, of all subjects ? or do we forget that, in fact, not more
than thirty years have elapsed since we first presumed to ap-
proach even the outworks of this great question ? Do we, in the
ardour of our nascent reformation, forget that, during the ages
for which this system has existed, no preceding generation of
legislatures has ventured to touch it with a reforming hand ? and
have we the vanity to flatter ourselves, that we can annihilate it
at a blow ? No, no ; — we must be contented to proceed, as I
have already said, gradually and cautiously." — (Speech, p. 22.)
From the manner in which this subject is usually treated at
the present day, and from the various accusations which are
brought against the proprietors of slaves, it would seem as if tlie
object were to charge upon them all the evils which may have
emanated from this frame of society. But " it is both absurd
and unjust," as the Lord Chancellor justly observed, * " to lay
the whole blame of the existence of slavery on the \\^est India
planter : it ought to be recollected, that the traffic in slaves was
fostered, encouraged, and almost instituted f)y the British Con-
stitution, — that when some of the islands, on more than one oc-
iL'asion, proposed to limit the number of slaves to be brought into
ihem, this country would not allow of any such limitation/'

* Debate. 7^1i Mavcli lO^b'.



12



The West India planter, therefore, whether entitled to hit
slaves by descent, devise, or purchase, is the owner of property
which the laws of Great Britain have sanctioned and confirmed as
completely and as solemnly as an estate in land, or tithes, or in
any other species of property possessed by the subjects of this
realm. This is a point which ought never to be forgotten, and
with every conscientious man it will have its due weight — ^bring-
ing to his recollection the golden rule of dealing the same mea-
sure to his neighbour and liis neighbour's goods as he would wish
to have dealt to himself and to what belongs to him.

Not only against the address, which is the particular subject
of these observations, but against all others of a similar character,
emanating from the Anti-slavery Society, which attempt " to
wrest from the hands of the Government this great national ex-
periment, by inflaming the public mind against slavery as a sys-
tem, (the truth of wliich, hi the abstract, no person can be found
fo deny,) and by engendering those feelings of horror and indig-
nation which such appeals are calculated to produce, too strong a
protest cannot be entered ; nor can too much caution be recom-
mended to those candidates at the next general election, whom
it may be attempted to involve in pledges and promises upon this
subject, from which their better judgment will revolt, when they
are called to fulfil them." — (The West India Question practi-
cally considered, p. 105.)

To those individuals who liberally scatter these appeals through-
out the country, as well to those who earnestly wish for the
abolition of slavery in the West India Colonies from motives of
humanity, as to those who seek only to plunge them into anarchy
and confusion, we would address ourselves in the emphatic lan-
guage of the Lord Chancellor ; and, as the advice comes from one
whose opinion is, and ever will be, regarded with the profoundest
veneration, it is earnestly hoped that it will not, m this instance
alone, be disregarded:—" I cannot help saying (observed his
lordship*) that while I feel most anxious, in common with your
lordships, for the amelioration of the condition of the slaves in
* Pebate, 7th March 182fi,



l,i



the West Indies, and for the entire abolition of slavery, whenever
that abolition can be accomplished, at the earliest period that
shall be compatible with the well-being of the slaves themselves,
with the safety oftlie colonies, and with a fair and equitable con-
sideration of the interest of private property — yet, my lords, my
fixed opinion is, that these great and desirable objects have been
more retarded by the i7itemperate zeal of those who Imve beeti the
advocates of such measures, than it had or could be by any direct
c^pposiiion on the part of those who have opposed tliem.''

We cannot conclude without offering a tew remarks on the
religious instruction of the slaves, the most important branch of
this momentous subject. The establishment of an Episcopacy
in the W^est Indies gave pleasure to every man interested in the
real welfare of the slave, and in the promotion of genuine Chris-
tianity ; to all such, at least, as conceived that the task of im-
parting religious instruction to the negro " could not be confided
so safely or so advantageously as to the hands of a regular church
establishment, whose duty and interest it would be to assist the
local government, to calm the fear and allay the ferment of the
times, to reconcile the planter to the propriety of gi'anting, and,
in due time, to fit and prepare the negro for receiving, that liber-
ty which, with religion and the love of order, will be really a


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Online LibraryCape of Good Hope (South Africa). ArchivesNegro slavery; observations in answer to an Address to the Clergy of the Established Church, and to Christian ministers of every denomination. → online text (page 1 of 2)