Zachary Macauley.

The Anti-slavery reporter and aborigines' friend online

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ments to the kind of commerce, the absence of which is so strenuously
alleged to be prima facie evidence against the probability of a large
sugar trade with the East Indies ? If so, all we need say in reply is,
" Remove your restrictions ; set free our energies ; and then if we do
not succeed, abjure your own principles and revert to the exploded
dogmas of other days.'' Unquestionably no great trade can be esta-
blished all at once. It must have its beginning, and its gradual pro-
gress^ Thus was it with East Indian indigo. At present, the culti-
vation of sugar, by British capital, has not even commenced in that
quarter. The discouragements both there and in this country are so
great, as wholly to prevent the application of capital in that direction ;
and until these discouragements are obviated, the trade must remain
in its present state oT depression and insignificance. The necessities
indeed of the merchant, not his own will, oblige him from time to
time to bring sugar to this country as dead weight ; but if he were
relieved from the burdensome tax he has to pay upon it, he would bring
it freely and regularly, and its growth would increase to the full extent
of his demand. It is not enough to say to him, you may carry the
sugar of India to the continent His answer is, '* My voyage is to London.
If I send it to the continent direct I shall have no dead weight for my
sliip ; and if I send it to the continent, after having made the voyage
to England, I shall send it under every possible disadvantage, and ^

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« Eemarki on thi. Wut Indian Monopoly, 318

loaded with double charges, there also to meet, in some other countries,
^t least, of Europe^ as well as in England, with protecting duties
in favour of their own colonial produce. Besides, my transactions are
with England. It is there I wish to form my establishments and to
realize not only my profits, but my commissions, instead of transferring
those commissions to foreigners ; — and, if I must submit to send
my heavy goods, (my sugar, for instance,) to the continent, I must
change my whole plan of trade, and send my light goods thither direct,
as well as my heavy goods, form my establishments th^re, and abandon
England entirely." Many other reasons might be assigned to shew
that the real escape from the dilemma on the horns of which it has
been attempted to place us, is to be found in the removal of the absurd
restrictions which prevent the due developement of British capital and
native industry in India ; and which most unjustly load with imposts,
m this country, the produce of that capital and of that industry.

We have said that there is one exception to the statement that no
sugars go direct from the colonies of Great Britain to the continental
market. It is the case of some estates in that part of Dutch Guiana,
which, in 1814, was ceded to Great Britain, and in favour of which a
stipulation was then obtained that their produce should not be brought
hither, but carried to Holland. This was thought at the time to be a
great boon to the proprietors. At this very moment, however, we un-
derstand that those proprietors are earnestly pressing the Government
of this country to relieve them from this injurious distinction, and to
permit them to send their sugars to the British market, the loss to
them of not being allowed to pass through that market, notwithstand-
ing the double voyage, being considerable. We have here an addi-
tional proof of the heavy burden to which this country is subjected
for the support of slavery.

It is a farther confirmation of it, that a practice has recently grown
up oi extracting from the molasses imported from the West Indies the
sugar contained in it, and either bringing that sugar into consumption
at home, or exporting it in a refined state to the Continent. It seems
right to warn the Government of the extensive frauds which may
thus be practised. It is obviously easy so to manage the manufacture
of sugar in the West Indies, as that a very large proportion of
saccharine matter shall be held suspended in the molasses ; and as the
duty on molasses is only 10s. per cwt. it is further obvious, that on all the
sugar that may be extracted from it, and brought into consumption at
home, there might be a clear gain to the importer of 17^. per cwt. being
the difierence between the duty on sugar and that on molasses. And
supposing the sugar so produced to pass through the process of refine-
ment, the gain would be materially greater. Thirty hundred weight
of such raw sugar will have paid of duty on importation only the sum
of 15/.; and ye{, when refined and exported, it may yield the same
amo^nt of drawback, &c. on its exportation, as we have shown to be
derived from the same quantity of Muscovadoi when refined and ex-
ported, though 3t) cwt. of Muscovado pay a duty of 40/. lOs. on im^
portation. What is to hinder a sugar baker in this country, having a
sugar estate in the West Indies, to import all his sugar, in me state o{

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394 Ca^ qfUm thr^lfaiVM Skms.

a thick syri^>, at tb^ low rate of duty of lOi* a ton, and to receivd oto it«
exportation, in a refined state, an amount of drawback which shall afford
him a most enormous profit ?


Being an Appeal to the Justice and Humanity of the British Parlia"

menty in behalf of One Hundred and Twenty Black Men, Women,
'_ and Children, whom it is proposed, for the profit of this Lady^ to

transport from a British to a Danish Colony,

Miss Thrblfall, an English lady, is the proprietor of 120
negroes, now residing in Tortola, one of the Virgin Islands. Con-
ceiving that she can employ them more profitably in the Danish island
of St. Jan, where she also possesses land and slaves, than <m the com-
paratively exhausted soil of Tortola, she desires the British Parliament
to enable her to transport these 120 negroes from the latter to the
former colony.

Mr. Wiknot Horton having ^ven notice of his intentimi to prq)08e
some amendments in the Consolidated Slave Trade Abolition Act,
Miss Threlfall has announced her purpose of taking that opportunity
to introduce, by means of certain friends she has detained in the House
of Commons, a clause to the above effect.

This project cannot but appear most extraordinary, to those who are
aware that the removal of negroes from any British possession to that
of any foreign power, for the purpose of being treated as slaves, has
been ranked by statute with crimes of the deepest die : it is classed and
punished as piracy.

. The statement of tins lady indeed assumes, that the prohibition of
such a transfer as she contemplates is of a recent date, '' arising,'' she
asserts, *^ from the operation of the late act for consolidating the laws
against the slave trade ;" and she complains of that act on this ground
especially, as " affecting" her interests as the " proprietor of an estate
in Tortola," and affecting also *' the welfare of the slaves employed
upon it."

This, however, is an entire misrepresentation of the facts of the case.
In the year 1806, twenty-one years ago, the removal of slaves from a
British to a ^eign possession was made, by the act of Geo. III. chap.
62. a highly penal cdSence ; and in 181 1, it was made a felony, punish*
able by transportation or the hulks. And the only new feature which
has been introduced into the more recent act, of which Miss Threlfall
complains, is, that the crime which she now asks the licence of Par*
liament to perpetrate, instead of being punishable with transportation,
may be punished with death.

It is, therefore, not true that the difficulty which Miss ThrelfisU seeks
to obviate is of recent creation. It has existed in full force for twenty-
one years ; and the only real difference is, that now the offender, in-
stead of being subjected to fine and forfeiture, or to exile or the hulks,
may be consigned to the gallows. *

Miss Threlfall, indeed, veiy ingenuously confesses, that she has for
years been committing with impunity the very felon jr desc^bedand

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Case o/Mi$s Thrtlfuli's Sla¥$s. 386

punished by the act of 1611. She niiiy not be aware, otherwise she
would hardly have made this rash confessioTii that by such conduct she
has not only (pade herself liable to very heavy foifeiiures, but to the
pains and penalties of felony.

But whatever may be Miss Threlfall's liabilities in this respect, k is
obvious that her plea, drawn from the recent date of this prohibition, is
altogether unfounded. And it is equally unfounded, that there are in her
case any new circumstances, any circumstances which have not existed
in full force for the last twenty years.

It would not have been a very modest request, to have-asked the
British Parliament to violate its own deliberate enactments, ^even if the
object were only to escape pecuniary penalties, and if tlie subjects of
the prohibition were not human beings, but bales of goods. But in the
present case, the boldness of the applicant extends to the request that
rarliament would grant to her its licence to perpetrate an act which it
has solemnly denounced, in the face of the country and of the world,
as a crime worthy of deaUi ; and to grant this licence, regardless of
the feelings and ^e future destiny of 120 humaa beings, who are to be
the innocent and uaofiending victims of ita compliance.

Suppose a smuggler, or even a highwaymaa, were to approach the
bar of Parliament, applying for a statutory licence to. defhuid the
revenue, or to plunder a certaiii number of his Majesty's subjects, and
should enforce his application by a plea ad miserkorduxm in bekalf of
his wife and children, whom with his diminished means he was no
longer able to maintain ; would there, in such an application, be any
thing more directly opposed to justice^ than in Ae application of this
lady. Indeed her proposition is infinitely more revolting to kumankyy for
it sacrifices the happiness of 120 men, women, and children, for the sole
purpose of adding to Miss Threlfall's income.

But we are told, (for it obviously would not have been decent to

Sice the proposed measure on its real ground, the pecuniary profit of
iss Threlfall,) we are told that this removal is called for by a regaird
to the welfare of the slaves themselves, as well as to the interests of
their proprietor.

We will not affirm that this is known to be, but it most unquestion-
ably is, an unfounded pretence.

These negroes are to be taken from Tortola to St. Jan, because the
soil of the latter colony, it is said, is more productive than that of the
former. This, however, will be found to constitute one of the strongest
reasons which humanity has to urge against the proposaU

Putting the consideration of general principle wholly out of the
question, it now stands proved by the most unquestionable statistical
facts, furnished by the colonists themselves, that, throughout all the
slave colonies, the duration of life, and the amount of comfort among
the slaves, increases in proportion, not to the productiveness, but the
unproductiveness of the soils they cultivate for their masters* benefit ;
and also that the hope of deliverance from the bitter yoke of their bon-
dage, is increased in the same relative proportion.

If in Demarara the slaves decreaae rapidly, while in the Bahamas
ibey incr^saae as fast as they decrease in Demarara, what is the grand

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386 CaB9 of Mm ThrelftdVi SI(W6i.

cause of this di^rence? It is that the soil of Demarara is so rich as
not only to be capable of sugar culture, with all its attendant op-
pressioti, but to make that culture a source of large comparative profit
to the planter ; while the soil of the Bahamas is only fit for the growth
of pasture and of provisions, and perhaps of a little cotton*

Again, why does the population even of Barbadoes increase a*
compared with that of Grenada, St. Vincents and Trinidad, but because
the soil of these three islands is more productive than that of Barba-
' does, and therefore affords a stronger stimulus to the rigid exaction
of slave labour, and to the adoption of that species of cultivation,
which in rich soils is most profitable to the master, while it is the most
destructive to the life and comfort of the slave ?

Every proprietor of a cotton mill, and every post horse master in the
kingdom, fully understands the principle on which this apparent
anomaly proceeds. — ^A high profit on the manufacture of cotton goods,
will infallibly abridge the duration of the machinery which produces
them. — A contested county election will probably kill or injure more
horses in a month, than at another time would be killed or injured in
a year. The profits indeed of the weaver, in the one case, and of the
post boy in the other, might and probably would increase with the
profits of their respective masters. So also would those of the negro
labourer, if he were a free man, receiving wages in proportion to his
exertions. But the negro labourer is a slave, and receives no wages.
He is the machine worn down by friction ; or he is the post horse
excited to undue and prolonged muscular exertion, by the whip and
the spur, in order to swell the gains of his owner.

By transporting slaves therefore from a less to a more productive
soil, we insure for them, independently of a variety of other evils, an
aggravation of the miseries of their lot, and an acceleration of debility
and death.

The poverty of the soil of Tortola, is a main reason assigned by
Miss Threlfall, for desiring the expatriation of her slaves. The poverty
of soil, however, of which she complains, is not. the incapability of
producing provisions fit for the sustenance of the slaves, but of raising
articles affording a profit to the owner. This is evidently no ground of
complaint to her slaves, as we shall see presently. But if it were,
wherein does her case differ from that of every other planter in Tortola ?
Major Moody, whose authority may be relied upon as to this fact, states
the deterioration of the soil, and its incapacity of profitably producing
sugar, to be the universally and well-founded complaint of every
owner of land in that island. If this reason should be admitted as
valid for decreeing the exile of Miss ThrelfalFs slaves, it may be
pleaded with precisely the same force for dooming the whole servile
population of Tortola to a similar exile.

If we may rely on the same authority, however, we mean that of
Major Moody, such a measure, notwithstanding the poverty of the
soil of Tortola, would infallibly prove a calamity and not a blessing to
the slaves.

The Major in one of his parliamentary reports, has given us, on the
»ithority of a Dr. Stobo, whose conclusions he adopts as entitled to

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Com of Mkz ThvlfMi Skmi. 387

cre<yt, th« following staiteinent of viiibh property poBiested by th«
slaves of Tortola» consistkig of about 5000 meD, women, and children^
or about 1200 to 1500 families, via;.—

38 Horses at 7/. \0s. each . • . £285

938 Head of horned cattle, at 5/. . . 4690

2125 Goate at IO5 1002 10

1208 Pigs at 10« 604

33,120 Poultry at \s.6d. . . . . 2484

23 Boats at 5/. 115

Fish poU and fishing tackle . . . 123 10

Buildings, chiefly in town . • . 700

Furniture, utensils, &c. . • . 4968


'' In the above,^' it is added, ^ I have not estimated the disposable
portion of esculents and fruits ; and of cotton, raised by slaves. They
cultivate on their own account, about 1675 acres of land, which is
estimated to yield annually, 3/. 1 O5. sterling per acre, in total, 5862/. 1 0#.
After supporting themselves, the surplus they dispose of at market,
which amounts to a very considerable sum. The industrious also
possess, in cash, considerable suras. I am fully satisfied they are
possessed of capital, arising from the sale of stock and crop, to fully
the amount of 5000/. steriing." — Parliamentary papers of 16th of
March, 1825, No. 115, p. 152.

The truth of this representation of the state of things, among the
slaves in Tortola, rests on the authority of Dr. Stobo, sanctioned and
substantiated by Major Moody. Assuming it to be true, it affords a
fresh proof of the fact already established, that the unproductiveness
of the soil, to the master, is not only compatible with the welfare of the
slave, but a direct cause of his comparative comfort and prosperity ;
the effect of such a circumstance being that he has both more land to
cultivate, and more time for its cultivation, as well as for looking after his
fruits and his esculents; his pigs and his poultry; his goats and his
cattle ; his horses and his fishpots.

No such estimate as the above can, we venture to say, be truly exhi-
bited in those colonies which are comparatively fertile and productive.

And it is from this state of comparative ease and comfort, and, ao*
cording to Major Moody, of considerable capital, and even surplusage
of enjoyment, that Miss Threlfall would doom her unoffending slaves
to an exile necessarily involving the sacrifice of much of their little pe«-
cuHum, and introducing them into a new situation where the soil is
more productive, and therefore too good to be freely given to the slaves
for their own use as in Tortola ; where indeed it may be of a fertility
which renders their time and their muscular exertion too beneficial to
their owner to be left at their own disposal, without the compelling and
stimulating power of the cartwhip.

Of the cruelty which must ever attend such removals, for such objects,
W(B have a most striking illustration in an occurrence which took plao^
in the very same Island so recently as 1823 and 1B24.

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d^ Case of Miss ThrtlfaWs Slaves.

In order to aoticipaite tiie pafisbg of Dr. LushiDgton'^ bill, ppobibitin^
tlie interooionial slave trade^ a planter of Tortola, of the name of Pidcer-
^ ing, determined to remove thenee a gang of Slaves amoMnting to
300 or 4^0 individuals. He first wished to obtain from Parlia-
ment a licence to remove them to Demerara. Defeated io this object,
and fearful that Dr. Lushington's bill would eflfectually bar the door
against any similar transfer, he hurried them off to Trinidad, where it is
known that, from the fertility of the soil, slaves yield about three times
as much to the planter, ^hile they die almost three times as fast, as in

There lies on the table of the House of Commons a paper giving some
account of this transaction. It is of the 3rear 1825, and is numbered
235. We there learn that the slaves of Mr. Pickering manifested the
very strongest reluctance to this measure, though at first it was pretend-
ed to be merely for their benefit and entirely with their consent. This
reluctance was not to be wondered at. They were all, like Miss Threl-
fjsllV negroes, Creoles of the Island. They had, like hers, near oon-
nexions in all the neighbourrag estates ; and they had acquired, as it may
be presumed hers also have done, a considerable peouHum. They were
DOW to be torn from their country and relations ; to be driven to sacrifice
their gardens and their Kve stock; and to be transported to a new and
untried situation, where they might have to open new lands subjected to
a variety of privations, and to treatment infinitely more severe than they
had jet experienced. Such at least appears to have been tlieir well
grounded impression of the fate that awaited them ; and to avoid it, if
possible, a number of them, in October, 1823, .adopted the desperate ex-
pedient of abandoning tiie plantation and endeavouring to efiect their
escape. They, of course, did not succeed m this rash attempt, and a
body of dave hunters being sent in pursuit of them, they wece seized
and confined in jail. On the 1 7th of November, 1823, six of them <were
brought to trial, for rebellion, before Mr. Porter (the gentleman who
signs Miss ThrelfalPs certificate) and three other Justices* They were
foimd guilty, and three of them were sentenced to receive, and did re-
ceive, 63 lashes each on the bare back ; and three others 39 lashes each
in like manner. It was moreover ordered " that after the infliction of
this punishment they should be remanded to jail, there to be kept in
close confinement in irons until they could be transported from this
Colony ; and that they slfould be banished from these Islands for ever,
as soon as possible, to such place as F. J. Pickering should think proper ;
and that if they, or any of them should be ever found voluntarily at
large again, within any part of these Islands, they, or either of them^
•faould suffer death."

Mr. 'Porter, the President and Judge (Miss Threl&lPs friend and
voucher) states that he expected to )iave been called to assist in forcing
Mr. Pickering's slaves on board the vessels that were to convey them to
Trinidad ; but that after this trial, he says, ^* I found that happily there
was no occasion to perplex myself; for the negroes went voluntarily !"
^*At least," he adds, "I heard nothing to the contrary!" Doubtless not.

The account of this transaction is bad enough as it stands on the face
of the parliamentary record. But a private letter from Tortola, written
shortly after the deportation took place, adds to it some fresh horrors.

Digitized by


Case of Mm ThrelfaU's Sla^. 399

After giving^ the particiilara of the trial as they appear in the above ae*
count, the writer observes, — ** The last scene was to see the master going
to the jail," (where it seems 24 of the men who had absconded were
confined) " lashing them toge^er, two and two, to be transported oA
board of a sloop for Trinidad ; and 1 nnderstand they were put in irons
on board. The next morning it was shocking to hear the screams of
their mothers, wives, (some of them pregnant) brothers, children, &c.,
who came to town on the Sunday morning to take their last farewell of
the imprisoned party, when, to their surprise, they had been all trans>
ported the evenmg before. " " The consternation among the negroes is
shocking to relate. All George's and Martin's slaves, it is expected,
will be sold and sent to the same place."

In another letter the same gentleman observes, — " I am told that it is
said in the English papers that the negroes are glad of the change, and
even dancing for joy. I wish it was in the power of my pen to describe
those painful separations which have been witnessed in this colony
during the last 12 months. From first to last there have been ten or
twelve vessels cleared .for Tri»idad with slaves. Qod only knows what
would have been the result of these removals, if it had not been for the
Methodist preachers, who preached snfbmission and obedience to the
slaves, and who attended and prayed with them to the last, and as the
slaves were Methodists^ they bowed to their pastors with gratitude. — An
old negro, belonging to Todman's estate, parting from his mfe and
children on the beach, fell lifeless. He was taken up and medical aid
was called."

A variety of terther details might be given of the miseries pfodnced
by these removals, and particularly of the large sacrifices of property
and comfort incurred by these^ Expatriated negroes, thus subjected to
exile without even the imputation of a crime. But the above extracts
must suffice for the present.

Now the precise object of Miss Threlfall's application to Parliament
is to renew, in the case of her slaves, the various horrors above de*
tailed, and the recurrence of which, it might have been hoped, the Bill
of Dr. Lushingtori would have for ever prevented.

These evils, however, dreadful as they are, are but a part of those in-
volved in the application of Miss Threlfall.

The negroes of Mr. Pidcering were removed, not to a foreign, but to
a British colony, where some regulations at least are in force for the
amelioration of their condition and for the ultimate extinction of slavery
itself. The negroes of Miss Threlfall are to be removed to a colony
which no British regulations can reach ; and in which no similar mea-
imres for the mitigation and extinction of slavery are contemplated.

The negroes of Mr. Pickering, after being landed in Trinidad, are
protected, by Dr. Lushington's bill, from the possibility of any subse-
quent removal or separation. The negroes of Miss Threlfall, if removed
to St. Jan, will be placed beyond the control of a British Act of Parlia-
ment. They may be sold singly to the highest bidder, and may be dis-
persed, without ceremony, to the ends of the earth ; while, even in St.

Online LibraryZachary MacauleyThe Anti-slavery reporter and aborigines' friend → online text (page 57 of 58)