William Ellery Channing.

The complete works of W.E. Channing: with an introduction online

. (page 151 of 169)
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foot, and partly on mules or horses of their
own. They now entirely support the mission,
and are enlarging their chapel at the expense
of j^i.ooo sterhng. Their subscriptions to
this and other collateral objects are at once
voluntary and very hberal. * I have brought
my mite for the chapel,' said a black woman,
once a slave, to S. Oughton, a day or two
before our meeting ; ' 1 am sorry it is no
more ;* she then put into his hand two pieces
of gold amounting to five dollars."— pp. 74,


" Here it may be well to notice the fact,
that the great majority of estates in Jamaica
belong to absentee proprietors, who reside in
England. In amaica, they are placed under
the care of some attorney, or representative
of the owner ; one attorney often undertaking
the care of numerous estates. Under the
attorney is the overseer, on each particular
property, on whom the management almost
exclusively devolves. This state of things is
extremely unfavourable to the welfare of Ja-
maica. If the proprietors cannot give their
personal attention to their estates, it would
certainly be a better plan to lease them to
eligible tenants on the spot, — a practice which
has of late years been adopted in many in-
stances. It is only surprising that estates,
never visited by the proprietor, and seldom
by the attorney, but left to the care of in-
experienced young men, often of immoral
character, should prosper at all. Nor would
they prosper, even as they now do, but for two
causes ; first, the exuberant bounty of nature,
and secondly, the orderly, inoffensive con-
duct and patient industry of the negro race."
-p. 85.

" Tne rapid diffusion of marriage among
the negroes, and the increase of it even among
the white inhabitants in Jamaica, is one of

the happiest results of freedom. We were
assured, on good authority, tliat four times
as many marriages took place last year in
Jamaica as in an equal population, on an
average, in England, — a fact which proves
not only that numerous new connections are
formed, but also that multitudes who were
formerly hving as msm and wife without the
right sanction are now convinced of the sin-
fulness of the practice, and are availing them-
selves with eagerness of the marriage cove-
nant. It appears that upwards of sixteen
hundred negro couples were married in the
Baptist churches alone during the year 1839."
—p. 86.

" In the Parish (or County) of St. Mary,
rent and wages have been arranged quite
independendy of each other, and labour has
been suffered to find its market without ob-
struction. The consequence is, that there
have been no differences, and the people are
working well. The quantity of work obtained
from a freeman there, is far beyond the old
task of the slave. In the laborious occupa-
tion of holing, the emancipated negroes p>er-
form double the work of the slave in a day.
In road-making, the day's task under slavery
was to break four barrels of stone. Now^ by
task-work, a weak hand will fill eight barrels,
a strong one from ten to twelve." — p. 89.

'•At the Baptist station at Sligoville we
spent several hours. It is located on a lofty
hill, and is surrounded by fifty acres of fertile
mountain land. This property is divided
into one hundred and fifty freehold lots, fifty
of which had been already sold to the eman-
cipated labourers, and baud proved a timely
refuge for many labourers who had been
driven by hard usage from their former
homes. Some of them had built good cot-
tages ; others, temporary huts ; and others,
again, were preparing the ground for build-
ing. Their gardens were cleared, or in pro-
cess of clearing, and in many cases already
brought into fine cultivation. Not a hoe,
I believe, had ever been driven into that land
before. Now^ a village had risen up, with
every promise of comfort and prosperity, and
the land was likely to produce a vast abun-
dance of nutritious food. The people settled
there were all married pairs, mostly with
famines, and the men employed the bulk of
their time in working for wages on the neigh-
bouring estates. Tne chapel and the school
were immediately at hand, and the religious
character of the people stood high. Never
did 1 witness a scene of greater industry, or
one more marked by contentment for the
present and hope for the future. How in-
structive to remember that two years ago
this peaceful village had no existence 1 " —
p. 90.

" Oa our return home we visited two

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neighbouring estates, of about equal size
(I bebeve) and equal fertility; both among
the finest properties, for natural and local ad-
vantages, which I anywhere saw in Jamaica.
One was in difficulty ; the other all pros-
perity. The first was the estate already
alluded to, which had been deprived of so
many hands by vain attempts to compel the
labour of freemen. There, if I am not mis-
taken. I saw, as we passed by, the clear
marks of that violence bjr which the people
had been expelled. The second, called
' E>awkin's Caymanas.' was tmder the en-
lightened attorneyship of Judge Bernard,
who, with his lady, and the respectable
overseer, met us on the spot. On this pro-
perty the labourers were independent tenants.
Their rent was settled according to the
money value of the tenements which they
occupied, and they were allowed to take
their labour to the best market they could
find. As a matter of course, they took it to
the home market ; and excellently were they
working on the property of their old master.
The attorney, the overseer, and the labourers,
all seemed equally satisfied, equally at their
ease. Here, then, was one property which
would occasion a hcut report of Jamaica ;
another which would as surely give rise to
a go^ report. As it regards the properties
themselves, lx)th reports are true; and they
are the respective results of two opposite
modes of management.

"At Dawkin's Caymanas we had the plea-
sure of witnessing an interesting spectacle;
for the labourers on the property, with their
wives, sons, and daughters, were on that day
met at a picnic dinner. The table, of vast
length, was spread under a wattled building
erected for the purpose, and at the con-
venient hour of six in the evening (after the
day's work was finished) was loaded with all
sorts of good fare— soup, fish, fowls, pigs,
and joints of meat, in abundance. About
one nundred and fifty men and women of
the African race, attired with the greatest
neatness, were assembled, in much harmony
and order, to partake of the feast; but no
drink was provided stronger than water. It
was a sober, substantial repast— the festival
of peace and freedom. This dinner was to
have taken place on New-Year's Day; but it
so happened that a Baptist meeting-house in
another part of the island had been destroyed
by fire; smd, at the suggestion of their
minister, these honest people agreed to waive
their dinner, and to subscribe their money,
instead, to the rebuilding of the meeting-
house. For this purpose they raised a noble
sum (I believe considerablv upwards of /"xoo
sterling); and now. in the third month of
the year, finding that matters were working
weU with them, they thought it Well to in-

dulge themselves with their social dinner.
By an unanimous vote, thev commissioned
me to present a message of tneir affectiooAte
regards to Thomas Clarkson and llKKnas
Fowell Buxton, the two men to whom, of a&
others, perhaps, they wer# the most indebted
for their present enjo3mient.*' — pp. 91. 9a.

"After breakfast we tfawre to Kelly's, one
of Lord Sligo's properties. We saw \\a
people on this property busily engaged §a
the laborious occupation of holing, a woric
for which ploughing is now pretty generally
substituted in Jamaica. ' How are jrou afl
getting along?' said my comp«nion, to a
tall, bright-looking black man. busily engaj^
with his hoe. * Right well, massa. nght
well,' he replied. ' I am from Americn,* said
my friend, 'where there are many slaves;
what shall I say to them from jrou? shall
I tell them that freedom is working well
here?' 'Yes, massa,' said lie, 'much veil
under freedom, — thank God for it !' • Much
well ' they were indeed doing, for tbey were
earning a dollar for every hundred cane
holes ; a grreat effort, certainly, but one
which many of them accomplished by four
o'clock in the afternoon. 'How is this?'
asked the same friend, as he felt the lumps
or welts on the shoulder of another man.
• Oh, massa,' cried the negro. * I was flogged
when a slave. — no more whip now,-^
free !'" — p. 96.

• The prosperity of the planters in Jamaica
must not be measured by the mere amount of
the produce of sugar or coffee as compared
with the tune of slavery. Even where pro-
duce is diminished, profit will be tncreased,^—
if freedom be fairiy tried, — ^by the saving of
expense. ' I had rather make sixty tierces of
coffee,' said A. B., ' under freedom, than ooe
hundred and twenty under slavery ; sudi is
the saving of expense that I make a better
profit by it ; nevertheless, I mean to maJti
one hundred and twenty, as before" — p. 118.

•"Do you see that excellent new stone
wall round the field below us?* said tltt
young physician to me, as we stood ftt A. BL's
front door, surveying the ddightful soenecy.
' That wall could scarcely ha\'e been bu3t it
all under slavery or the apprenticeship ; ibt
necessary labour could not then have bea
hired at less than £$ currency, or about) n.
per chain. Under freedom, it cost o^
from $ 3*50 to $ 4 per chain, — ^not one-tt h d
of the amount. Still more remarkable is Ae
fact that the whole of it was built under Iht
stimulus of job-work, by an invalid ndgni
who. during slaverv. had been given Vp'lo
total inaction.' This was the substance of
our conversation. The information wasaficc^
wards fully confirmed by the proprietor. Bb^
was the fresh blood infused into the n t flto <f
this decrepid person by the genial biM of

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freedom, that he had been redeemed from
absolute uselessness, had executed a noble
work, had greatly improved his master's
property, and, finally, had realized for him-
self a handsome sum of money. This single
fact is admirably and undeniably illustrative
of the p>rinciples of the case ; and for that
purpose is as good as a thousand."— p. 1x9.

"I will take the present opportunity of
oflfering to thy attention the accotut of ex-
ports from Jamaica (as exhibited in the return
printed for the House of Assembly) for the
last year of the apprenticeship, and the first
of full fireedom : —


Sngar, for the year ending 9th month

(Sept.) 30, 1838 .... 53,825
Do. do. do. do, 1839 45,359

Apparent diminution 8,466
" This difference is much less considerable
than many persons have been led to imagine ;
the real diminution, however, is still less;
because there has lately taken place in
Jamaica an increase in the size of tne hogs-
head. Instead of the old measure, which
contained 17 cwt., new ones have been
introduced, containing from ao to 22 cwt.,
— a change which, for several reasons, is
an economical one for the planter. Allow-
ing only five per cent, for this change, the
deficiency is reduced from 8,466 hogsheads
to 5,775 : and this amount is further lessened
by the fact that, in coasequence of freedom,
there is a vast addition to the consumption of
sugar among the people of Jamaica itself, and
therefore to the home sale.

"The account of cofifee is not so favour-


Coffee, for the year ending 9th month

(Sept.) 30, 1838, . . . 1x7.313
Do. do. do. do. X839 78,759

Diminution (about one-third) 38,554
"The coffee is a very uncertain crop, and
the deficiency, on the comparison of these
two years, is not greater, t believe, than has
often occurred before. We are also to re-
member that, both in sugar and coffee, the
profit to the planter may ^ increased by the
saving of expense, even when the produce is
diminished. Still, it must be allowed that
some decrease has taken place on both the
articles, in connection with the change of
system. With regard to the year 1840, it is
expected that conee wiU, at least, maintain
the last amount ; but a further decrease on
sugar is generally anticipated.

* ' Now, so far as this decrease of produce
is connected with the change of system it is
obviously to be traced to a corresponding
decrease in the quantity of labour. But here

comes the critical question — the real turning
point. To what is this decrease in the quan-
tity of labour owing? I answer deliberately,
but without reserve, * Mainly to causes which
class under slavery, and not under freedom.'
It is for the most part the result of those
impolitic attempts to force the labour of free-
men, which have disgusted the peasantry, and
have led to the desertion of many of the

" It is a cheering circumstance, that the
amount of planting and other preparatory
labour bestowed on the estates during the
autumn of 1839 has been much greater by all
accounts than in the autumn of X838. This
is itself the effect of an improved understand-
ing between the planters and the peasants;
and the result of it (if other circumstances be
equal) cannot fail to be a considerable in-
crease of produce in 1841. I am told, how-
ever, that there is one circumstance which
may possibly prevent this result, as it regards
sugar. It IS, that the cultivation of it under
the old system was forced on certain proper-
ties, which, from their situation and other
circumstances, were wholly unfit for the pur-
pose. These plantations afforded an income
to the local agents, but to the proprietors were
either unprofitable or losing concerns. On
such properties, under those new circum-
stances which bring all things to their true
level, the cultivation of sugar must cease.

"In the meantime the imports of the
island are rapidly increasing, trade improving,
the towns thriving, new villages rising m
every direction, property much enhanc^ in
value, well-managed estates productive and
profitable, expenses of management dimi-
nished, short methods of labour adopted,
provisions cultivated on a larger scale than
ever, and the people, wherever they are pro-
perly treated, industrious, contented, and
gradually accumulating wealth." — pp. 132-


" My narrative respecting the British West
India Islands being now brought to a close,
I will take the liberty of concentrating and
recapitulating the principal points of the sub-
ject m a few distinct propositions.

" ist. The emancipated negroes are work-
ing well on the estates of their old masters. —
Nor does Jamaica, when duly inspected and
fairly estimated, furnish any exception to the
general result. We find that, in that island,
wherever the negroes are fairly^ kindly ^ and
wisely treated, mere they are working well
on the properties of their old masters; and
that the existing instances of a contrary
description must be ascribed to causes which
class under slavery, and not under freedom.
Let it not, however, be imagined, that the
negroes who are not working on the estates
kA their old masters are, on that account.

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idle. Even these are in general bosily em- me, * the universal practice of the cdoared

ployed in cultivating their own grounds, in people, has wholly disappeared from amongst

various descriptions of handicraft, in lime- them. No young woman of colour thinks of

burning or fishing, — in benefiting tl^emselves forming such connections now.* What is

and the commumty, through some new but more, the improved morality of the blades )s

equally desirable meditun. Besides all this, reflecting itself on the white inhabitants :

stone walls are built, new houses erected, even the overseers are ceasing, one after

pastures cleaned, ditches dug, meadows another, from a sinful mode of life, and are

drained, roads made and macadamized, forming reputable connections in marriage.

stores fitted up, villages fonned, and other But while tnese three p<»nts are confessedly

beneficial operations effected ; the whole of of high importance, there is a fourth which

which, before emancipation, it would have at once embraces and outweighs them all,— T

been a folly even to attempt. The old notion, mean the diffusion of vital Christianity. I

that the negro is by constitution a lazy know that great apprehensions were oiter-

creature, who will do no work at all except tained— especially in this country — lest, oa

by compulsion, is now for ever exploded."— the cessation of slavery, the negroes should

pp. 137, 138. break away at once from their masters and

" 2n(i. An increased quantity of work their ministers. But freedom has come, and

thrown upon the market is, of course, fbl- while their masters have not been fcnsaken,

lowed by the cheapening of labom"."— their religious teachers have become dearer

p. 138. to them than ever. Under the banner of

"3rd. Real -property has risen and is liberty, the churches and meeting-houses have

rising in value. — I wish it, however, to be been enlarged and multiplied, the attendance

understood, that the comparison is not here has become regular and devout, the congre-

made with those olden times of slavery when gations have in many cases been more than

the soils of the islands were in their most doubled ; above all, the conversion of souls

prolific state, and the slaves themselves of a (as we have reason to belie\'e) has been going

corresponding value ; but with those days of on to an extent never before known in th«e

depression and alarm which preceded the Act colonies. In a religious point of view, as I

of Emancipation. All that I mean to assert have before hinted, the wldemess, in many

is, that landed property in the British colo- places, has indeed begun to • blossom as the

nies has touched the bottom, has found that rose.' ' Instead of the thorn' h4xs 'come up

bottom solid, has already risen considerably, the fir-tree, and instead of the brier' has

and is now on a steady ascending march ' come up the myrtle-tree, and it shall be to

towards the recovery of its highest value, the Lord for a name; for an everlasting sign,

One circumstance which greatly contributed that shall not be cut off.' " — pp. 141, 142.
to produce its depreciation was, the cry of I have now given a few extracts from Mr.

interested persons who wished to run it Gumey's book. They need no comment,

down ; and the demand for it which has Indeed, nothing can be said to convince or

arisen among these very persons is now move the reader, if these simple records of

restoring it to its rightful value. Remember emancipation do not find their way to his

the old gentleman in Antigua, who is always heart. In the whole history of efforts fof

complaining of the effects of freedom, and human happiness, it is doubtful if another

always buying land," — pp. 139, 140. example can be found of so great a revoluticdi

••4th. The personal comforts of the labour- accomplished with so few sacrifices and such

ing population under freedom are multiplied immediate reward. Compare with this the

tenfold." — p. 140. American Revolution, which had for its end

*' 5th. Lastly, the moral and religious im- to shake off a yoke too light to be nanrad by

provement of this people, under freedom, is the side of domestic slavery. Through whit

more than equal to the increase of their com- fields of blood and years of suffering did we

forts. Under this head there are three points seek ciWl freedom—a boon insignificant m

deserving, respectively, of a distinct place in comparison with freedom from an owaer^f

our memories. First, the rapid increase and grasp I It is the ordinary law of Provideaaoev

rast extent of elementary and Christian edu- that great blessings shall be gained by great

cation, — schools for infants, young persons, sacrifices, and that the most beneficial social

and adults, multiplying in every direction, changes shall bring immediate sufifertK

Secondly, the gradtial, but decided, diminu- That near a million of human beings ^low

tion of crime, amounthig, in many country pass in a day from the deepest degradatSoo to

districts, almost to its extinction. Thirdly, the rights of freemen with so httie agitatkia

the happy change of the general and almost of the social system, h a fact so strmSkg^ fh«t

universal practice of concubinage for the we naturally suspect, at first, some tingfe« of

equally general adoption of marria§:e. 'Con- the picture from the authors 3ym| M rtB >;

cubinage,' says Dr. Stewart, in his letter to and we are brought to full convictiaii «rt^ Igr

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the simplicity and minuteness of his details.
For one, I should have rejoiced in emancipa-
tion as an unspeakable good, had the im-
mediate results worn a much darker hue. I
wanted only to know that social order was
preserved, that the laws wer6 respected, after
emancipation. I felt that, were anarchy
escaped, no evil worse than slavery could
take its place. I had not forgotten the doc-
trine of our fathers, that human freedom is
worth vast sacriJices, that it can hardly be
bought at too great a price.

I proceed now to oflfer a few remarks on
several topics suggested by Mr. Gumey's
book ; and I shall close by considering the
duties which belon|^ to individuals and to the
Free States in relation to slavery.

The first topic suggested by our author,
and perhaps the most worthy of note, is his
anxiety to show that emancipation has been
accompanied with little pecuniary loss — that
as a moneyed speculation it is not to be con-
demned. He evidently supposes that he is
writing for a people who will judge of this
grand event in history by the standard of
commercial profit or loss. In this view, his
simple book tells more than a thousand satires
against the spirit of our times. In speaking
of West Indian emancipation, it has been
common for men to say, We must wait for
the facts ! And what facts have they waited
for? They have waited to know that the
master, after fattening many years on op-
pression, had lost nothing by the triumph of
justice and humanity; that the slave, on being
freed, was to yield as large an income as
before to his employer. This delicate sensi-
bility to the rights of the wrong-doer, this
concern for property, this unconcern for
human nature, is a sign of the little progress
made even here by free principles, and of
men's ignorance of the great end of social

Every good man must protest against this
mode of settling the question of Emancipa-
tion. It seems to be taken for granted by
not a few, that if, in consequence of this
event, the crops have fallen off, or the num-
ber of coffee bags or sugar hogsheads is
lessened, then emancipation is to be pro-
nounced a failure, and the great act of freeing
a people from the most odious bondage is to
be set down as folly. At the North and the
South this base doctri66 has seized on the
public mind. It runs through our presses,
not excepting the more respectable. The
bright promises of emancipation are too un-
important for our newspapers ; but the fear-
ful intelligence that this or that island hai>
shipped fewer hogsheads of sugar than in the
days of slavery, is thought worthy to be pub-
lished far and wide ; and emancipation is a
cunse, because the civilized world must pay a

few cents more to bring tea or coffee to the
due degree of sweetness. It passes for an
" ultraism" of philanthropy to prize a mil-
lion of human beings above as many poonds
of sugar.

What is the great end of civilized society?
Not coffee and sugar; not the greatest pos-
sible amount of mineral, vegetable, or animal
productions ; but the protection of the rights
of all its members. The sacrifice of rights,
especially of the dearest and most sacred, to
increase of property, is one of the most
flagrant crimes of the social state. That
every man should have his due, not that
a few proprietors should riot on the toil,
sweat, and blood of the many, — ^this is the
great design of the union of men Into com-
munities. Emancipafion was not meant to
increase the crops, but to restore to human
beings their birthright, to give to every man
the free use of his powers for his own and
others' good.

That the production of sugar would be
diminished for a time, in consequence of
emancipation, was a thing to be expected, if
not desired. It is in the sugar culture that

Online LibraryWilliam Ellery ChanningThe complete works of W.E. Channing: with an introduction → online text (page 151 of 169)