« PreviousContinue »
and influential laity, will not ultimately decide aright on the subject; we are too confident of the merits of the cause to have any doubt on this point; but we do fear lest she should, as on some former occasions, procrastinate her resolves; and instead of doing the work, as by her weighty influence she might, and ought, allow it to be done by other hands, and, instead of just popularity, reap only reproach. It is a moral duty of a religious establishment in a matter not of mere secular expediency but of Christian obligation, to take the lead, and not to wait till statesmen tell her they have settled the point, and she may now vote without offence. It would be an honourable spectacle, and auspicious to the best interests of our church, to see our prelates, on a question of this nature, rising, as they did one after the other in a late memorable debate (though then on opposite sides), and declaring one and all their determination to wash their hands of their national share of the guilt of our blood-stained colonies. Slavery could not survive such a protest: it would be extinguished almost without a struggle, and fruits of righteousness and peace be planted in its place. Such will yet, we feel assured, be the case; but who shall be the honoured instruments of the wished-for consummation, must be a subject of anxious consideration with all who wish to see, especially in these troublous times, every measure of justice, humanity, and wisdom, descending spontaneously from the high seats of rule and authority, rather than forced upwards by the strength of public opinion. But right and wrong are not matters of party; and if a thousand Cobbetts or John Bulls urged the abolition of colonial slavery, instead of clamouring as they do in the service of those who have a selfish interest in its continuance, this would not alter the question; nor ought it to influence the votes of those who would wish to decide upon it as a matter
of conscience, and not of political party. Earnestly do we wish that not merely on this point, but upon all subjects whatever, every public man who professes to be a Christian would weigh his responsibilities before God; and not count votes before he decides whether he can afford to keep a conscience. We speak strongly upon the subject, because this habit of following a multitude, whether to do good or evil, and making our party, not our conscience and reason, our guide, is the bane of our national legisla tion. We have heard it lamented again and again, by some of our most judicious and religious senators; and too often with the deploring remark that they knew not how to break through it. But Christians must know how to break through whatever prevents their adherence to the laws and the example of their Saviour.
But it is time to turn to the able and excellent publication before us. We need not give a syllabus of its contents, as our readers have such an outline already in the Anti-slavery Reporter attached to our last Number; nor need we quote largely from it, as most of the chief facts and arguments have been anticipated in the numerous articles on the subject of colonial slavery in our volumes, and the Anti-slavery Reporters appended to them. But we strongly recommend it for diligent perusal and wide circulation, by all the friends of this cause of justice, humanity, and religion, who will find in it an admirable manual for their own reading and reference, and for lending to intelligent persons seeking information on the question. It offers, in a condensed form, a great variety of valuable materials, many of them new even to well practised readers on the subject; and at a time when Anti slavery meetings are being held, and petitions drawn up, throughout the country, we doubt not it will prove of great service to the cause in which its author has so zealously and honourably embarked.
May the blessing of God rest upon his labours! If he wishes for a motto for his next edition, we will give him the following from Sir Walter Scott's treatise, just published on "Demonology and Witchcraft." That gifted author justly remarks, that "the boast of the English nation is a manly independence and common sense, which will not long permit the licence of tyranny and oppression on the meanest and most obscure sufferers." We believe it; and without the aid of demonology we venture to predict, that a hundred years hence it will form as great a subject of reproach that this boasted "manly independence and common sense so long permitted the "tyranny and oppression of Negro slavery, as it does now that our forefathers tortured and burned hundreds of poor helpless creatures for the pretended crime of witchcraft.
We were closing the volume; but it might not be gracious to shut it without one or two quotations by way of specimen. It were easy to multiply extracts highly important, and charged with melancholy interest.
We select the subjoined passage, because it affords an answer to the argument so often, but unjustly, urged, that it was England that began the slave trade, and continued to cultivate it for her own benefit; the colonists being scarcely willing to accept the offered boon. England has been deceived throughout in the matter; and is deceived now (or at least was, for we hope the deception is sufficiently exposed) as respects the alleged comfortable condition of the slaves.
"Captain, afterwards Sir John Hawkins, was the first Englishman who disgraced himself and his country by engaging in this nefarious traffic. Conceiving that it would be a profitable speculation, he obtained the assistance of some wealthy persons in London; and in 1562, having fitted out three ships, and sailed to the coast of Africa, he fell on the defenceless Negroes sword in hand, burned and plundered their towns, and, seizing on 300, sailed
with them to Hispaniola; sold them; and with other articles of merchandize, the price of blood, arrived in England.' He was afterwards appointed to one of the Queen's ships, to proceed on the same adventure. But Elizabeth appears to have been deceived; for,' says Hill, the naval questioned Hawkins, she expressed her historian, quoted by Clarkson, having concern lest any of the Africans should be carried off without their free consent, in which case she declared that "it would be Heaven upon the undertakers. detestable, and call down the vengeance of » It seems, then, that it was represented to the government at home that it was as labourers, taken away voluntarily, that they were transported to the Spanish colonies, and not as slaves.
"It appears also froin Labat, a Roman missionary, that in order to induce Louis XIII. to sanction the practice of slavery in his colonies, he was persuaded that it was for the good of the Negroes' souls and the glory of God, this being the only way of converting them to Christianity. Deceived by this hypocritical representation, the monarch gave his consent.
"Having thus commenced, this shameful traffic proceeded, and gathered strength day by day. As British settlements were formed in the West-India islands, during the reign of the two Charleses, the colonists commenced plantations and stocked them with slaves. The Buccaneers enriched these settlements with their spoils, and, accustomed as they were to deeds slaving of their fellow-creatures would of blood, to cruelty and rapine, the enshock no feeling of their minds. Mr. Edwards says, that from 1700 to 1786 the number imported into Jamaica was 610,000! I say this,' he observes,' on sufficient evidence, having in my possession lists of all the entries.' The total import into all the British colonies from 1680 to 1786, may be put at 2,130,000.' flourishing period of the trade, there sailIn 1771, which he considers the most ed from England to the coast of Africa one hundred and ninety-two ships provided for the importation of 47,146 Negroes. And now, he observes (1793), the whole number annually exported from Africa by all the European powers is 74,000, of which 38,000 are imported by the British. In this abominable traffic in human beings Britain did not take the lead; but, having once embarked in it, she threw into it her accustomed energy, and soon surpassed all the rest.
"Thus we see that Mammon, at whose shrine the original natives of the WestIndia islands were sacrificed by thousands and tens of thousands, was the cruel deity by whose inspirations Negro slavery was commenced : fraud and hypocrisy pleaded his cause, while treachery and violence were the agents he employed. Unprincipled adventurers, for the love of gain,
embarked in this unholy enterprise; governments, imposed on, or not aware of the enormities of the system, first tolerated and then encouraged it, till long custom gave it a kind of sanction; and, this horrid upas, blighting and withering all that comes within its pestilential in fluence, struck deep root in our colonies; there it still flourishes, the Black man's plague, and the White man's curse; and will continue its mischiefs, till it is uprooted by human benevolence, or perishes smitten with the vengeance of offended Heaven.
"On taking a survey of what has been done by the friends of humanity towards the extinction of this evil, we perceive three distinct steps of advance :-the decision of the judges in Westminster Hall in 1772, which bauisbed Negro slavery from England; the Act of Parliament passed in 1807, which abolished the slave trade; and the unanimous resolutions of the House of Commons in 1823, which pledged Parliament to the extinction of slavery." pp. 120-122.
A fourth epoch, we trust, is the year 1830, in which the friends of the cause, being quite convinced, after long and almost fruitless toils, that the slave-owners do not really intend to do any thing effectual to bring slavery to an end, have come to the resolution that prompt and complete, though also just and wise, measures must be forced upon their reluctant consent, or carried into execution without it.
If, in reply to the assertion that bad as may be the slave laws, the actual practice is humane, and the actual state of slavery not severe, we were to begin quoting from our author, long and numerous indeed must be our extracts. only two or three.
"Besides the power of the owner or manager, for the employment of which no one has a right to call him to account; the driver possesses also the power of summary punishment, and, besides the presence and actual infliction of the lash as a mere stimulus to exertion, as a waggoner stimulates the horses of his team, not unfrequently exercises that power. If the Negroes are late in the field in the morning, or after dinner, he may inflict the lash, within certain limits, on their bare bodies, whether they be men or women. If they flag in their work, through idleness, or weakness, or fatigue, the driving whip may be employed to quicken them. Dr. Collins, who was him self a planter, says, that it is generally
bestowed with rigour on the weakest of the gang, and those who are so unfortunate as not to be in favour with this subdespot. If any offend,' says Mr. Bickell, more than ordinarily, Master Driver, who has almost unlimited power, takes him or her from the ranks, and, having two or three strong Negroes to hold the culprit down, lays on lashes with all his might. Thirty-nine is the number specified by law, beyond which even a White man cannot legally go in one day;' (and ten the number a driver may inflict by his own authority); 'but I have seen a Black driver lay on most unmercifully, upwards of forty at one time, whilst his fellowslave was crying out for mercy, so that he could be heard a quarter of a mile from the spot. And no wonder that such should be his cries, since Mr. Cooper, in the work already referred to, says that ' each lash, when the skin is tender, and not rendered callous by repeated punishments, makes an incision on the parts to which it is applied, and thirty or forty such lashes leave them in a dreadfully lacerated and bleeding state. Even those that have become the most callous can
not long resist the force of this terrible instrument, when applied by a skilful hand, but become also raw and bloody: indeed, no strength of skin can withstand its reiterated application.' Dr. Wiliamson, already quoted, who was an advocate for the colonial system, observes to the same effect: If, in a warm day, we pass by a gang when they are uncovered behind, it is a reproach to every White man to observe in them the recently lacerated sores, or the deep furrows which, though healed up, leave the marks of cruel punishment. If it were necessary, many other testimonies might be adduced to the same purpose." pp. 35, 36.
"What, indeed, could be expected from a system of legislation, when the oppressors make laws for the oppressed, slaveowners for the slaves? Who can seriously suppose that the habits and prejudices of those who are accustomed to slavery are favourable to the formation of a code of' laws which shall effectually protect them from the overbearing tyranny of White men? Can it be reasonably expected, that a system which has its foundation in the perversion of all right should produce laws distinguished for their justice? Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?' Did not the Speaker of one of these legislatures (that of Barbadoes), on lately passing a bill which, professing to adopt reforms forced on them by the voice of the British people, nevertheless contained enactments that would disgrace the Barbary States if they were to attempt to legislate on such a subject, congratulate the assembly on the monument of benevolence which they had reared, and for which they might anticipate the admiring gratitude of posterity?
"It is no wonder, in such circumstances, that the administration of the laws is such as to shock all our ideas of what is right and proper. The following cases are extracted from Jamaica newspapers. "Public Advertiser, Kingston, Jamaica, April 22d, 1825.
"Sentence. For manslaughter-The prisoner was put to the dock, and by his council, Mr. Recorder, pleaded his clergy. His honour then passed sentence :-You were indicted for the wilful murder of a female slave, but the jury only found you guilty of manslaughter. It appeared in evidence, that you were amusing yourself by discharging a loaded gun through the window of your dwelling-house; after some time, this gun was reloaded by one of your companions, and you proposed firing it over an assemblage of Negroes: he declined; when you pointed out a Negro of your own property, and proposed to fire at him: he again declined: you then renewed your proposal to fire it over the crowd; and upon his refusing, you seized the gun; the result was, that this female slave, who was sitting in the crowd, was shot, and the melancholy event was soon announced to you by the cries and lamentations of her mother. By your heedless conduct you have hurried a fellow-creature out of existence, you have bereft a mother of a child, and you have affixed a stain upon your own character, which it will require a long life of pru dence and humanity to obliterate. The humane jury who tried you, accompanied their verdict with a recommendation to mercy. We will give that recommendation its due weight, and not inflict the full extent of punishment upon you: we hope, however, that the punishment we shall inflict will act as a warning to others, and make a due impression on yourself.' The prisoner was then sentenced to twelve months' imprisonment." pp. 45, 46.
"There is another class of sufferings at which we shall briefly glance, which arises from those social feelings which the God of nature has imparted to man. Depressed and degraded as is the condition of the slave, he is still susceptible of strong affection and ardent attachment. In his native Africa, and in his state of exile and of bondage, the Negro is allowed to possess a considerable share of sensibility. Gratitude to a benefactor, attachment to a friend, love to the woman of his choice (though the law has long refused to her the sanctions of a wife), filial affection, and tender regard for his offspring, still remain to him, amidst all the vices which his enslaved condition has engendered; but in all his social feelings he is exposed to the keenest misery by this wretched system. If he has a wife, he dares not protect her from the driver's lash, from cruel and indecent punishment, or from the White man's outrage. If he has daughters, he dares not
defend them from brutality and violence. If he murmur, there is the tormenting lash: if he resist, it is death!
"And, besides this, there are the separations to which they are liable, by which the nearest ties may be burst asunder." p. 52.
"Mr. Bradnack, another missionary, says, I know an instance of a Negro and his wife being sold to different islands, after living together twenty-four years, and raising a family of children.'
"One case more I beg leave to mention, which was stated at a public meeting by Mr. T. Pennock.
"A few years ago it was enacted, that it should not be legal to transport once established slaves from one island to another and a gentleman owner, finding it advisable to do so before the Act came in force, the removal of great part of his live stock was the consequence. He had a female slave, a Methodist, and highly valuable to him (and not the less so for being the mother of eight or nine children), whose husband, also of our connexion, was the property of another resident on the island, where I happened to be at the time. Their masters not agreeing on a sale, separation ensued, and I went to the beach to be an eye-witness of their behaviour in the greatest pang of all. One by one the man kissed his children, with the firmness of a hero, and, blessing them, gave as his last words-(oh ! will it be believed, and have no influence upon our veneration for the Negro?) Farewell! Be honest and obedient to your master!' At length he had to take leave of his wife there he stood (I have him in my mind's eye at this moment), five or six yards from the mother of his children, unable to move, speak, or do any thing but gaze, and still to gaze, on the object of his long affection, soon to cross the blue wave for ever from his aching sight. The fire of his eyes alone gave indication of the passion within, until, after some minutes' standing thus, he fell senseless on the sand, as if suddenly struck down by the hand of the Almighty. Nature could do no more; the blood gushed from his nostrils and mouth, as if rushing from the terrors of the conflict within; and amid the confusion occasioned by the circumstance the vessel bore off his family for ever from the island! After some days he recovered, and came to ask advice of me! What could an Englishman do in such a case? I felt the blood boiling within me, but 1 conquered. I brow-beat my own manhood, and gave him the humblest advice I could afford.'
"These agonizing separations cannot now take place, it is true, by removal to another island, except by an evasion of the law; but they may still be repeated by a transfer to another owner in some distant part of the same colony, so that the parties thus severed may never meet again.
"In fact, their whole state is that of complete degradation; and the manner in which they are treated is assimilated, as much as possible, to that of cattle." pp. 53, 54.
Scripture Natural History; or a Descriptive Account of the Zoology, Botany, and Geology of the Bible, with engravings. By W. CAR
PENTER. 1 vol. 8vo. 14s. Scripture Natural History, for Youth. By Mrs. ESTHER COPLEY (late Hewlett). With numerous engravings. 2 vols.
THERE have been numerous works, both scientific and popular, written upon the natural history of the Bible, the inevitable character of which, we fear, too often is, that they elucidate the clear passages and leave the difficult ones unsolved. It seems impossible, at the present day, to ascertain minutely what particular plants, animals, and minerals, were meant in any very ancient writings, especially those most ancient writings the Holy Scriptures; nor is it necessary for the purposes of spiritual edification, to be able to do so. That learned but eccentric antiquary, Sir Thomas Browne, left to posterity an elaborate treatise "on the plants mentioned in Scripture," and another "on the fishes eaten by our Saviour with his disciples, after his resurrection." The latter could be only conjectural, nay visionary; a mere peg for a dissertation on oriental edible fishes; and we suspect that the subject of the former was not always susceptible of much better proof. We say this not to discourage the study, but only so far to moderate the hopes of the young student, that if, after all his pains, he should not be able to ascertain every plant, animal, metal, spice, and precious stone mentioned in the Old Testament, he should not, as infidels have often done, turn round and revenge his ignorance upon the record; as if the "great fish" of CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 346.
Jonah, and the Leviathan of Job, were fabulous, and Hebrew words a heap of uncertainties, and the truths of the Bible doubtful, because a naturalist in the nineteenth century cannot cull and analyse all the plants in the hortus siccus of Solomon, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that springeth out of the wall.
Mrs. Copley has adapted her labours to the taste and capacity of children, and profusely supplied coloured pictures for their amusement. We do not profess to review the tomes of juvenile libraries -indeed our copy is abstracted by a corps of nursery critics, who seem at no loss to discover its attractions; but we may felicitate our nascent race of readers that our notice will be just in time for chill and dark November, when, deprived of their out-of-door pursuits of "insect architecture," Mrs. Copley may minister at once to their recreation and instruction.
Mr. Carpenter's work is a handsome library volume, compiled with skill and industry from numerous publications extant on the subject, and adapted to the researches of modern science, with as much correctness probably as the subject will allow. The work, besides its critical disquisitions, contains abundance of popular and entertaining matter. We hardly know where to select an extract or two; but we take the following account of the Ant, because some remarks have lately appeared in our pages on the habits of that animal in reference to Proverbs xxx. 25. (See Christ. Observ. for March, p. 157.)
"The ant belongs to the fifth order of insects in the Linnean system, characterized by the ordinal name of hymenoptera, or those possessed of four membranaceous all antiquity, for their social and indusThey have been famous from trious habits, and for their spirit of subordination: they are offered as a pattern of parsimony to the profuse, and of unremitting diligence to the sluggard.' Prov
"In Prov. xxx. 25, the ant is spoken of as one of the four diminutive things upon 4 N