Zachary Macaulay.

Anti-slavery monthly reporter online

. (page 50 of 72)
Online LibraryZachary MacaulayAnti-slavery monthly reporter → online text (page 50 of 72)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


tection to the slaves, or the punctual execution of the l%ws in their
favour."

. And yet the framers of the Report of the Conversion Society, from
whom we mi^ht expect some sympathy with the oppressed and unpro*
tected slave, in their eagerness to accredfit those who oppress him and who
actually refuse to him the protection of law, step aside in order to commend
this abortive, and delusive, and deceptive protectorate; thu^ aiding the
colonial authorities to thrpw dust into the eyes of the people of England,
and to perpetuate, in all its unmitigated harshness, the wretched sys-
tem of colonial bondage. They thus, in feet, counteract the eSbits of
His Majesty to extinguish slavery, and. even assbt to rivet more firmly
the chams of the slaves. Their conduct is actual treasoQ t9 the cause
they have undertaken.

We cannot but express our surprise that Mr. Huskisscm's acute mind
should have suffered him to assume as true, the allegations of a colonial
preamble. The abolition of Sunday markets, he trusts, will not be pro-
ductive of distress or hardship to the slaves, although a day is not givai
in lieu of it, ** as it appears, by the preamble, that it has been customary
for slaves to bring the produce of meir labours to market on Qther days
than Sunday s.** Now Mr. Huskisson might have ascertained, that this
preamble has no foundation whatever in truth. Slaves do indeed bring
produce to market on other days than Sunday, but it is only their mas-
ter's produce and not their own. The masters may send them thither
during the week. They cannot by any possibilitv go there of them-
selves. They are at work every day in the week ttom five in the mom*
ing till seven at night. They cannot, and they do not go to market on
those days on their own account. If employed to carry loads thither
on their master's account, it is but a part of their daily toil, and thoe-



Digitized by



Google



Correspondence of Qovemment with 6arbfndoe$. 347

fore when the Assembly assert it to be customary for the slaves to bring
their produce to market on othe];^days than Sunday, they assert what is
altogether untrue. (See Reporter, No. 15, p. 21, and No. 41, p. 316.)
In every other part of Mr. Huskisson's aMe comment we most en-
tirely concur. " These acts," he says, " do not prohibit the nse of the
whip as a stimulus to labour. They do not attempt to define the extent
of punishment an owner may inflict. They impose no restMint on the
frequency of punishments, nor do they require the suspension of them
for any period after the commission of the crime. The punishment of
slaves may be inflicted in the absence of all free witnesses, and women
are to remain liable to be corrected by the whip. The owner is not re-
quired to record the punishments he may inflict, or to make any report
of them to any oflicial authority. A second conviction of cruelty in
punishing slaves is not to be followed by any forfeiture of property, or
by any incapacity for the future management of slaves."

*' The clause requiring that punishments by whipping should be in-
flicted * with the like instrument and in the like manner now in use
in the navy and army,' would seem to have been inconsiderately
adopted. These instruments are intended for the correction of men in
the maturity of life, guilty of serious offences. They would be most
formidable mstruments, if the young, the aged, and the infirm, were to
be the sufferers ; and, in the case of females, I should hope that no man
could seriously think of resorting to them.* The case supposed of a
woman being flogged in an indecent manner, or of a pregnant woman
being flogged at all, would seem to require some much more severe pu-*
tiishment than a fine of £10' currency." " There is no limitation as to
the time during which refractory, disorderly, or runaway slaves may be
confined in the stocks. The offence of maiming, mutilating, or dismem-
bering a slave, even if twice committed, is to be punished in a manner
very inadequate to the enormity of such an offence. Such a criminal
certainly ought not to retain the profits to arise from the property he
has so maimed."

** On the subject of marriage, I regret to say, that the provisions of
this Act are very defective ;" and after specifying some particulars, he
observes, *' that it cannot be. permitted that any class of his Majesty *s
subjects should be deprived of the power" (as they are by this Act) '< of
forming matrimonial connections, except upon conditions which may
often be revolting to their feelings and injurious to their moral cha*
racter."

** The means of protecting the property of slaves are very inadequate.
A remedy is given in the single case of property being taken away ; but
this is only one of many injuries the slave may sustiun," for which ** no
action could be brought by the slave or for his benefit The r^t of

I>roperty is further restricted, without any apparent aocotsity, by the
ong list of articles of which a slave is not permitted to be ^e pro-
prietor."

** The rule of admitting the erideaee of 4aan$ k laid down with so

* How wU( those doaHoanw IfffiilaiWi w^ hare been flogging naked women
aH flpk^aia with<iie<^ijrftiyiia[gb<itilr. Huskisson^s horror of the col/ .



Digitized by



Google



34B CarruiMmdenee qf (hvemment wUh Barbado€t.

mmy qaalificatioas ai groatlj U> impair its value. There i» no aeceg-
aftrj connection between the Daptism of a witness and his credibility i
nor is it apparent why a man's testimony is less entitled to belief, if his
baptism has taken place among Dissenters. Slaves instructed wholly
by Dissenters \^1 continue incompetent to give evidence whatever may
be their character or their knowledge. Neither wiU a slave be admis-
sible as a witness if the prejudice or interest of the master should mduce
him to discredit the character of the slave. To require circumstantial
evidence, in all cases, will frequently operate as a practical exclusion of
the most unobjectionable evidence^^But, if these vartons restrictions be
neeessary, it is not easy to perceive the justice of entirely disregarding
them all, when the party against whom the evidence is given is himself
a slave. Neither can I discover why slave testimony, when in favour of
a slave, is not to be received with the same latitude as when it is
adduced against him. In one respect, it may be doubted whether the
Act does not admit the testimony of slaves loo readily. They may be
witnesses /or their owners, a rule of quei^nable policy when the extent
of the owner's influeace is considered"

** On the subject of the separation of fomilies these Acts are
prolessedly silent, on the grouna that an earlier statute had already
prevented that abuse.'' But this statement, Mr. Huskisson shews to be
a misrepresentation on the part of the Assembly : as, on examination,
'' that statute does not prevent the Provost Marshal from seizing one
member of a family apart from the rest, nor from seising an entire
fiimily and seUiog them in separate lots."

Again, speaking oi the clauses which aim at the improveosent of the
slaves, he observes, that the law as to clothing is ** too indefinite to
produce any practical results ;" and those respecting religion *^ are
f4ainly not nramed in such a manner as to ensure obedience*'

'' On the subject of crimes committed by slaves, these Acts contain
an enumeration of offences, so numerous, and, in some instances, sa
trivial as to impart to the law a tone of jealousy and harshness." ** No
distinction is made between the attempt to steal and the actual commis-
sion of ^e crime." ** The compassmg or imagining the death of any
person, it is most inexpedient to introduce into a catalogue- of Capital
crimes, or indeed to notice at all, except with reference to the B^ing."
** The application of the criminal law of England to all crimes com-
mitted by slaves shouki have been accompanied bv a declaration that
the same law is in force for the punbhment of all crimes committed
against them."

Mr. Huskisson, further expresses the entire , disapprobation, by hit
Majesty's Government, of the rule by which the value of a slave,
executed or transported, is paid to the* owner, even though the cricse
nay have been the efiect of the owner's nusc^Dnduct ; and idso of the
law making Obeah a capital crime ; a law, however, the cruelty and
injustice of which, Mr. Huskisson does not seem to be aware, depend not
merely on the punishment being capital, for it stands on grounds equally
absurd as our own old law of witchcraft He likewise disapproves of
the unjust and cruel enactment <' which prevents a slave paying hire
for himself to his owner/* or ** trading as a huckster and petty chap*



Digitized by



Google



Carretpandence of Oavemtnent with Barbadoes, 349

Matki/' being, he conceiyes, ^* an aggravation of the evib of slavery
which is not compensated by any cq^parent advantage/'

But, notwithstanding the revolting picture thus drawn byMr.Huskis-
aon, of the new Barbadian Acts, those Acts, we regret to say, have been
fdUnoed by his Majesty. The allowance is accompanied, however, by
a strong recommendation to proceed forthwith to aaopt into their cpde
the suggested alterations of Mr. Huskisson ; in other words, wholly to
recast it.

Is it not extraordinary that the Government of this great country
should persist in such a system of colonial legislation as this ; — that
instead of at once calling on Parliament to frame a rational code for
the colonies, they should engage in this unceasing conflict of clauses
and enactments, this strife of words, which tends to no useful resuh ; —
that instead of sweeping away the multiplied abommations of die colo-
nial statute books which are at once an outrage on common sense,
and a violation of the plainest principles both of policy and justice, they
should still allow the petty oligarchies of the colonies to go on op
pressing hundreds of thousands of the King's subjects, in the King's
name, and by the King's authority; and should thus pos^)one to a perrod
indefinitely protracted the fulfilment of the pledge they have given to
the country on this subject ? We say to a period indefinitely pro-
tracted ; for who, that has read the new codes of Jamaica, the Bahamas*
Barbadoes, &c., and marked die miserable subterfuges and evasions
by which the legislatures strive to retain in its vigour their cruel
despodsm; and die barbarous enactments, whioh are the result of five
years of deliberation, enlightened by the wisdom of our successive Secre*
taries of State for the colonies, can contemplate the present course of
proceeding as better than mockery^or derive from it the slightest hope
of an effective amelioration ?

If we look only at the view given of the legisladon of Jamaica and
Barbadoes, even in the calm and unimpassioned statements of Mr.
Huskisson, and deduce thenoe the facts of the case, we shall still have
before us as hideous a picture of the colonial system and the state of
society existing there, as has ever been exhibited in the pages of the
Antt^lavery Reporter itself.

The account giv^n above of the new law of Barbadoes, which its
Assembly, in the year 1827, hold up as the work of enlightened hu-
manity, and as calculated to crown them with glory, is not our account
of it ; — it is that of Mr. Huskisson. But then, it fully bears out our
account of it, and gives the stamp of official authority to the inost un-
fevourable representations we have ^ver ventured to make of colonial
manners, colonial feelings, and colonial legisladon.

An ostentatious parade is made of an act passed, in January last, by
the Barbadoes legislature, in favour of the free people of colour ; and
certainly its titte is not a litde imposing ; ** an Act to extend the benefits
enjoyed by white persons to all free coloured, and free black persons.*'
On looking into this act, however, we find the whole promise of its
outset, to dwindle into a matter of utter insignificance, as compared with
the number and magnitude of the civil disabilities under which the free
colouied popule^tion of Barbadoes are placed. — It merely enacts that they

2 u



Digitized by



Google



350 Carre9p(mdence with Antiffua and Si. Ckri$tapher.

shn\\ enjoy the same protection as irhitiM f^om tfie hMiilts and sssaviCs:
of slaves ; and that they shsdl be allowed to vasptxn the<x)ttDa smd ti»e
aloes grown by their own slates, or by stares nndttt thek charge !
4. AutiGUA, p. 47 — 50.

This island has hitherto done nothing but make idle professions, and
praise its own humanity, and interchange compliments with the Go-
vernor. Their future performances may be inferred from the exalted
opinion they entertain of *' the many salutary and humane laws which
form their slave code ;** — laws which it seems impossible that their
Governor, Sur Patrick Ross, could have read, when he says, that " to a
certain extent, ^e wishes of Government have been anticipated bv thB
existing laws of the island." We have looked carefully into those laws,
and we protest solemnly, that we cannot discover even a single clause
to justify this statement of the Governor. The slave code of Antigua
appears to us to be one of the very worst in the West Indies, with
scarcely a single redeeming enactment.

5. — St. CHitisTOPHBR, p. 51— *65*

In the Reoorter, No. 38, p. 270—276 will be found a careful analysis
of the new slave a>de of St Christopher's, and which was then made to
shew how little it merited the eulogies pronounced on &e humanity
of its provisions, by the Duke of Wellington in the House of Lords,
and Mr. Huskisson in the House est Gommotis. We have there
proved most incontestably, (and after an anxious reconeideratiofi of
the subject, we ref^r with the most entire confidence to that expo*
sition,) that the actual slave code of St. Christopher, including not
only the new law, but the unrepealed and still existing provisions
of the old, is one of Che harshest of the many harsh codes. It was
therefore with the most unfeigned astonishment, and we may add grief,
that we read in Mr. Huskisson's despatch of the 7th of Mareh, ld28,
Ae following passage : — ** I am commanded by the King to coi>-
vey through you. Sir, to the Council and Assembly of St. Christopher,
the expression of his gracious and high approbation of the measures
which they have adopt^ for improving Uie condition of the slave popu-
lation of the island. This act is remarkable !bt the wisdom and huma-
nity of the greater part of its provisions ; and it is peculiarly gratifyioff
to find that the legislature of this ancient colony has given the fm
sanction of their authority to measures, which have elsewhere excited-
80 much alarm, ^nd called forth such tit^nt remonstrance. The^
benefit of the law under consideration win not be oonflned to St.
Christopher, but the Council and Assembly wiil, I donbc not, harve ^e>
gratification of influencing the legislatures of ihe neighbouring colonies
to adopt their enlightened views, and to imitate their example." It is
perfectly inconceivable to us, how the aeuOB mind of Mr. Huskisson
could have been so far misled as to have thus eulogized an act, which
gives due effect to no one recommendation of his Majesty ; which wholly
rejects or dexterously evades almost alt of them ; and which leaves in their
unmitigated harshness some of the worst features of the ancient slave
code. It would be difficult to estimate tfie ^vil which may thus be done.
And it would seem incumbent on Mr. HiM^iti«on, by a muok atowal of



Digitized by



Google



Chrretpfmience of Gov^mmetU wUh TrMML 9^1

bis mistake, to repair, ai ftr a» ig qow postible, the past, and to prevent
^ future congequeiices of 9mAx ypfortunate^ and (we faj it wltb tb%
lOQst entine conyictioo) unfounded comni^ikdation.

6 ^Trinidad, p. 67—121.

, The balf-y^y Reports of the Protector of Slaves in this island, for
1827, are before us, aad occupy fifty "five folio pages. The abstjnwt of
them will be brief*

One case of cruelty, ^at of a negro girL Mary Noel, cart»whipped by
her ov^rseer^ l^fr. (^ampbier, in defiance of the law, failed to meet its
due punishment, in consequence of a technical defect discovered in a
clause of the Order in Council. The defect has since been remedied
by a prodamatioQ of the Governor, but too late to meet this particular
case.

Nine criminal prosecutions of slaves, involving the trial of fifteen jn-
dividualf^ \iaA taken place. Two of these were acquitted. One man, fi)r
fihsconding during three years, was sentenced to three years of imprispn-
loent and hard lii^>our» Ano^er ^lan, for running away and " intending
tojr ever to deprive tus owner of his services and \Sooux\ was condemned
to wear round his leg, while at work, an iron clog of six pounds weight
for three months. Five men, for absconding from the service of their
masters for a considerable spa^e, were condemned to imprisonment and
bard labour, for periods vaxying from one year to seven years, and to
stripefi, yarying from 80 to 150. Two slaves, a man and a woman, for
an attempt to poison their master, were condemned to imprisonment
^nd hard labour for ten years. One man, for cutting and maiming an-
pther, w^ punished with 100 lashes ; and another man, ibr a similar
pfience, was condemned to 200 lashes* and imprisonment and hard labour
for five years. One man, for theft, was condemned to three years impri-
sonment and hard labour ; and anotber, for the same crime, to eignty
* stripes in addition to imprisonment and hard labour for two years.

After the expiration of the term pf punishment they are all to be re-
{turned to their owners.

Besides th^ case of Mary Noel, already mentioned, one man (free)
j^as tried fpr assaulting and killing a slave, but was discharged in con*
seq^^e^c^ of tbe absence of the witnesses. Another, for shootmg at, and
^oiinding a slaves was sentenced to six months imprisonment and pay-
ment of the costs. A lady, tried for wounding and assaulting a slave
boy, was acquitted. A Mr. Wells, for inflicting severe blows on a female
slave, and her infant child, was condemned to pay a fine of £6 sterling,
or, failing to do so, to be imprisoned one month ; and a Mr. Chirade^
^r causing a sl^ve to be jl^ally cart-whipped, Hogged, and scourged
on his posteriors, legs, ^* was sentenced to pay xlO, and then to be
discharged.

. The reader will be struck with the vast difierence in the measure of
panishipent supplied to the slaves and to the free.
- The number of suits instituted by the Protector, durine the year, to
^mpel the mt^inmission of slaves, was thirty-six, of which eight were
^tiU undecided- The otber twenty-eight had been decided in favour of
the slaves. The whole sum they had to pay was £1657. 6s. M, ster-
^g> being at the ntte of £^5. 12s, 4c(. for each* One man is mad^ to



Digitized by



Google



Z52 Correipondence of Oovemfftent with TrhMad,

pay £168., and a woman for herself and child £140. 6s. Bd. In one
caie the mother, Roeetta Began, continumg a slave, redeems her infant
Eugenia for £19. 10^^ Of the e^t cases yet undecided, five had not
proAoced any part of their purchase money; two others had not yet
been appraised; and the eighth had produced the sum of £108. St. Bd,
but it prored insufficient, the appraisers having valued him at double
the amount of his hard earned accumulations, namely at £3 1 6. 1 3s j 4d.

The number of slaves manumitted by private agreement, during the
same time, was one hundred and thirty-nine. Of these, thirty^five were
manumitted gratuitously, either ** for good and ftdthful services,'' or ** for
love and affection/' or *^for divers good causes and considerations," and»
in two cases, *' for their mother's faithful services." The raniimiqp
one hundred and four paid for their freedom a sum of £6468. 2s. 6d.y
being at the average rate of about £62. 4s. sterling.

Of the total number of one hundred and sixty-seven slaves manu-
mitted, either by suit or by agreement, 66 were males and 101 females.

Of the persons so manumitted, many, both men and women, are said
to be employed in ^* cultivating a piece of ground ;" and many others',
according to their sex, as *' domestics," ** washerwomen," *^ hockst^ii/' or
" in needlework," or as "joblnng masons," "jobbing carjyenters," ** tai*
lors," " coopers," &c, — ^Tlae highest price exacted by private contract,
for a man, is £151. A woman, thirty-nine years of age, is made to pay
£119.; and four others, whose ages are respectively forty-six, thirty-^
eight, thirty-four, and twenty-one, pay £108. each. A child of nine
months old is sold for £7.; one of sixteen months for £10. 16s.; another
of the same age for £17. 5$. A boy of four years old is made to pay
£32. 13s. 4d.; another of nine £43. 6s.; and a girl of eleven £86;
13s. 4d. I Several other children, from seven to twelve years, are priced
at from £10, to £22. 10s.

The total number of manumissions from the 1st of January 1821, to
the 3l8t of December 1827, (seven yeanf) >> ^65, of whom 389 were
manumitted gratuitously, or by will ; and 576 for a sum of £37,406.
sterling, being at the average rate of £64. 18s. 9d. The number of
adults manumitted, in proportion to children under fourteen years, is
about four to one. During the first half of these seven years, the
number of manumissions was 377. During the second half, viz. from
the day on which the Order in Council came into operation, the 24di of
June 1824, to the end of 1827, the number was 588. The average price
of the manumissions for which a valuable consideration was given, was,
in the first half £70. 10s. 8d., in the second half £62. 13s. 2d. ; shew-
ing that, on the whole, notwithstanding the unjust and oppressive prin-
ciple attempted to be established in the case of Pamela Monro, the ma-
numission clause has operated not unfavourably to the slave.

The sums paid into the Savings Bank by slaves in 1827, including
the accruing mterest, was 1473 dollars; the deposits at the commence-
ment of that period having amounted to 133S dollars. From the
aggregate of these sums, 2269 dollars had been withdrawn by the de-
positors, manifestly, in most cases, to pay for their fineedom. One
man, a slave of the Colonial Government, of the name of Azor Brie,
had deposited 500 dollars. The whole of this sum, (£108. 6s. 8^0
hardly earned no doabt, was wrested from him by that goven^ent for



Digitized by



Google



Correspandence of Oov^mment with Trinidad. 353

leave henceforward to employ his bones and muscles for his own ptofit
instead of theirs.. Sophia Lucy withdrew 154 dollars for the purpose
of paying her price of £32. 10«. Grace Carr withdrew 100 dollars, to
assist her to pay the Rev. J. H. dapham^ her owner, a sua of £33.
AnoUier Sophia, withdrew 372 dollars, or £80. 3«. 4d.| being the price
exacted for her liberty, by her master, Henry St. Hill.
. We regret to perceive a breach of the consolidated slave trade abo*
lition law in one instance, by the express permission of the governor*
In April 1827 he permitted a planter, of the name of Jean Louis Marc,
to import sixteen slaves from the island of Monos to his estate in Trini-
dad, on the stale and inadmissible pretext that their removal would be
for their advants^ and comfort. This proceeding, we trust, will be
thoroughly in?estigated, and the whole of the papers connected with it
produced ; and we feel the call for such an inquiry to be the more urgent,
because the same governor who ventured thus to violate a solemn act of
Parliament, in the last despatch he appears to have penned, on the 7th
pf March 1828, strenuously labours to persuade his Majesty's Oovem*'
ment of the propriety of legalizing the transfer to Trinidad '^.of such
slaves as their owners may be willing and able to bring from the ex-
hausted soils on which they are now obliged to labour so severely, for
their own support, as well as for that of their masters." ** I have before
had occasion," he says, ^' to shew that this climate is not unhealthy to
men of this class, even when placed on forest lands, which they have
cleared and brought into cultivation ; and I also submit a return of the
same gang in 1826." — '' I have only now to point out, that in this
island the slave will be placed in the full enjoyment of that protection
which parliament has im)nounced to be his due."

But did it never occur to Sir Ralph Woodford that his representa-
tions and reasonings on this subject were completely disproved by the
single fact, that the slaves in Trinidad decrease more rapidly than in
any other colony; and that this extraordinary destruction of human



Online LibraryZachary MacaulayAnti-slavery monthly reporter → online text (page 50 of 72)