Page images

two rows, one above the other, on each side of the ship, close to each other, like books upon a shelf. I have known them so close that the shelf would not easily contain one more.

And I have known a white man sent down among the men, to lay them in these rows to the greatest advantage, so that as little space as possible might be lost. Let it be observed, that the poor creatures thus cramped for want of room, are like. wise in irons, for the most part both hands and feet, and two together, which makes it difficult for them to turn or move, to attempt either to rise or lie down, without hurting themselves or each other. Nor is the motion of the ship, especially her heeling, or stoop on one side, when under sail, to be omitted; for this as they lie athwart, or across the ship, adds to the uncomfortableness of their lodging, especially to those who lie on the leeward, or leaning side of the vessel.

Dire is the tossing, deep the groans.

[ocr errors]

The heat and the smell of these rooms, when the weather will not admit of the slaves being brought upon deck, and of having their rooms cleaned every day, would be almost insupportable to a person not accustomed to them. If the slaves and their rooms can be constantly aired, and they are not detained too long on board, perhaps there are not many who die. But the contrary is often their lot. They are kept down by the weather to breathe a hot and corrupted air, sometimes for a week; this added to the galling of irons, and the despondency which seizes their spirits when thus confined, soon becomes fatal. And every morning, perhaps, more instances than one are found, of the living and the dead, like the captives of Mezentius, fastened together.

Epidemical fevers and fluxes, which fill the ship with noisome and noxious effluvia, often break out, infect the seamen likewise, and the oppressors and the oppressed fall by the same stroke. I believe nearly one half of the slaves on board have sometimes died; and that the loss of a third part in these cir- cumstances is not unusual. The ship in which I was mate left

brought together in one place, some who are nearly related may recognize each other. If, upon such a meeting, pleasure should be felt, it can be but momentary. The sale disperses them wide to different parts of the island, or to different islands. Husbands and wives, parents and children, brothers & sisters, must suddenly part again, probably to meet no more.

After a careful perusal of what I have written, weighing every paragraph distinctly, I can find nothing to retract. As it is not easy to write altogether with coolness upon this business, and especially not easy to me, who have been so deeply engaged in it; I have been jealous, lest the warmth of imagination might have insensibly seduced me, to aggravate and overcharge some of the horrid features which I have attempted to delineate of the African trade. But, upon a strict review, I am satisfied.

I have apprized the reader that I write from memory, after an interval of more than thirty years. But at the same time I believe many things which I saw, heard, and felt, upon the coast of Africa, are so deeply engraved on my memory, that I can hardly forget or greatly mistake them, while I am capable of remembering anything. I am certainly not guilty of wilful misrepresentation. And, upon the whole, I dare appeal to the Great Searcher of hearts, in whose presence I write, and before whom I and my readers must all shortly appear, that, (with the restrictions and exceptions I have made) I have advanced nothing but what, to the best of my judgement and conscience is true."

Thus I have endeavored to point out some of the evils that have afflicted our fallen race, in all ages and in all places; and I think every impartial reader will at once see that the misrule of the few over the many has been the cause of all the sufferings and afflictions that have made the earth a field of blood. Their oppressions have kept the mass of mankind in ignorance and poverty; their selfish avarice has ground the faces of the poor, and has driven them to commit crimes innumera

ble, that they otherwise never would have thought of. Their ambition, not only to rule some districts of country, but the world, has been the cause of all the invasions, carnage and death, that have deluged the earth with blood, and which have made the most fruitful fields to become deserts, and turned fertile provinces into a wilderness. And their wickedness, extravagance, and folly, has contaminated and corrupted the manners and morals of every people and nation in the world— have been the ruin and downfall of all the ancient republics, and of all nations-have corrupted the worship of God in all ages, and in all places, setting up idolatry and false worship, & in making the pure and holy religion of the bible, an engine of state, for their unholy and wicked purposes. And in persecuting to death, all the holy prophets and apostles and ministers of the gospel, with the most unrelenting and fiendlike cruelty. And in crucifying the Lord of Life and Glory, and sheding the blood of his saints. Their invading and plundering their fellow man has been the cause of all the standing armies-all the fortifications, and ships of war-the waste of human life-the cause that has devoured the substance, the living, and the hard earnings of the working class of men. Not only do they monopolize all the immense treasures produced by the labor, the diligence, and toil of the working part of the community, to waste in extravagance, sin, and folly; but they engross all the landed property in most places.

-The man of wealth and pride

Takes up a space. that many poor supplied,
Space for his lake- his park's extended bounds,
Space for his horses, equipage, and hounds;
The robe that wraps his limbs in silken sloth,
Hath robb'd the neighb'ring fields of half their growth,
His seat where solitary sports are seen,
Indignant spurns the cottage from the green,
Around the world each needful product flies,
For all the luxuries the world supplies;

While thus the land adorn'd for pleasure, all
In barren splendor, feebly waits the fall.


We have ourselves, more than once, by the goodness & mercy of God, escaped the fearful vortex of aristocracy, foreign and domestic, that has often threatened to engulph us and our posterity in all the miseries of slavery. After our fathers fled from the oppressions and persecutions beyond the seas, & braved the dangers of the trackless ocean, and surmounted the difficulties and hardships of a howling and savage wilderness. And having escaped the fangs of British aristocracy in two sanguinary and perilous wars, the same spirit, ever vigilant, ever watchful for its prey, has hunted our steps in all our journeyings. And when our fathers nobly fought and bled in the ensanguined field, & broke the fetters, and shook off the shackles of foreign aristocracy, let it never be forgotten that domestic aristo racy is an inmate in all our public councils, and in all the circles of life. Let us remember well that in the reign of terror under the administration of John Adams, when there was a majority of Aristocrats in Congress, they passed some laws the most abhorrent and tyrannic, among which were the alien and sedition laws, the law establishing a standing army of 25,000 men, the officers of which were all appointed, and a greater scene of favoritism never disgraced any nation in the world, there were more than a hundred thousand applicants for office. The country was overrun with recruiting officers, many of the men were enlisted; some of them were actually drawn up, armed and equipped at an election, to tell at the point of the bayonet, who were entitled to vote. And all this mighty arrangement was made under the ostensible pretence of the fear of an invasion from France, when they themselves knew perfectly well there was no more danger of it, than an invasion from the moon. But the real object was to create orders of nobility, and set a golden wig on the head of John Adams.— And as these would-be-great-men felt tired of the noise and

bustle of elections, and feeling rather indignant at being dependent on the people for offices, concluded it was better policy and more expedient, to have a hereditary house of lords, and as soon as possible, adopt all the political machinery of the British system, which John Adams pronounced "the most stupendous fabric of human wisdom!! In a short time we should have had all the moral rottenness and political putresence of that stupendous fabric of human depravity, wickedness and wretchedness on our side of the Atlantic. Thomas Paine said, John Adams' head was as full of kings, queens and knaves as a pack of cards, but when Jefferson was elected, President John missed deal.

Any one attending closely to the conduct of the aristocrats of the present day, both in and out of place, will at once conclude that we can never be thankful enough to that good Providence of God which raised up and qualified for that great work the sages, soldiers and patriots that achieved our liberties, framed and adopted our excellent federal constitution; for if it was to be done yet, we never could have one. Then let us cleave to that sacred charter of our liberties, the sheetanchor under Providence of our political safety. Observe the consequences which naturally result from a bad constitution and unequal laws, as is most strikingly exemplified in Virginia at this moment, the oldest state in the Union, but where there are large districts uninhabited, her sons in thousands migrating to a happier home, from the unnatural treatment of a cruel and unfeeling step-mother, and where the annual collection of a poll-tax reminds us (as in Turkey) of the great clemency of our rulers, who have the power to strike off our heads, and only require a small sum yearly for liberty to wear them.

But the best picture of aristocracy is from the pen of inspiration in the V. Chapter of the general epistle of the Apostle James:

« PreviousContinue »