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could manage it, as a sudden squall came on; but at length it was lashed to the side of the ship, and they proceeded to remove their ill-gotten prize. The first that was hauled up was a young female about the age of eighteen, who was a stranger. She wrung her hands in the anguish of despair, wept aloud on looking round, and then by a sudden spring over the side of the ship plunged herself into the sea, and perished. The next was a youth whom they knew: and he was the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. He would have followed the example which his fellow captive had just set him, but he was too strictly guarded. The last was their own mother, with her infant still in her arms, as when she rushed out of her dwelling, and made her escape. She then ran into the woods where she concealed herself till she thought all danger was over, but as she came forth one night to re-visit the scene of her native joy, now turned into the desolation of grief, she was caught by the destroyers of her country, and doomed to share the same fate with the other branches of her family. When they recognized each other, though in the strong hold of cruelty, the feelings of nature burst forth into a mutual expression of joy; but a circumstance occurred which soon plunged them into the depths of frantic agony. The infant child was considered by the captain as more likely to perish in the middle passage, than to survive the voyage; and being roused to anger by the gratification which all expressed at the escape of the first captive who was put on board, he ordered one of his men to cast it into the sea. When this deed was done, the mother plunged about on deck, as one suddenly bereft of her senses, till she swooned off into a state of utter insensibility, and was carried below.
When the ship had received her complement of slaves on board, she weighed anchor, and began what is termed the middle passage, to take them to their respective colonies. The horrors of this stage of their degradation and woe exceed all possible description, but the following statement* will give the reader some faint conception of it. A grown up person, when
Vide Dr. Rees's Cyclopedia.
stowed away for the voyage, is allowed sixteen inches in width, two feet eight inches in height, and five feet eleven inches in length. Within this small space they are obliged to lie on their backs; and if they are the least dilatory or reluctant in packing themselves, they are quickened by the application of the whip. But now their situation becomes too wretched to be described. No language has words to explain it properly. Captain Hall has often heard them cry out from below for want of air. The bad effects which resulted from this, and their confinement, were weakness and fainting; and as they always lie, whether well or ill, on the bare planks, the motion of the ship rubs the flesh from the prominent parts of the body, and leaves their bones almost bare.
The ships, having borne their enslaved captives through the middle passage, cast anchor in their destined ports, and the unhappy Africans are prepared for sale; but no change which takes place in this history of cruelty brings over their minds the light of deliverance, or the cheering prospect of returning happiness. Alas, no! Once seized by the ruffian hand of the merchant he is doomed to end his days under the iron yoke of bondage; and though he possesses the same social dispositions as those of the human family who breathe the air of freedom, yet there is no respect paid to their gratification.
There is something extremely shocking, to a humane and cultivated mind, in the idea of beholding a numerous body of our unfortunate fellow creatures in captivity and exile, exposed naked to public view, and sold like an herd of cattle. The following account of one of these sales, given by a traveller of unimpeached veracity, will convey a precise idea of the scene. "The poor Africans who were to be sold were exposed naked, in a large open building like an empty barn. Those who came with an intention to purchase, minutely inspected them; handled them; made them jump, and stamp with their feet, and throw out their arms and legs; turned them about; looked into their mouths; and, according to the usual rules of traffic with respect to cattle, examined them, and made them shew themselves in a variety of ways, to try if they were sound
and healthy. All this was distressful and humiliating; but a wound still more severe was inflicted on the feelings, by some of the purchasers selecting only such as their judgment led them to prefer, regardless of the bonds of nature and affection. The husband was taken from the wife-children separated from their parents→→→ and the lover torn from his mistress."
In one part of the building was seen a wife, clinging to her husband. Here was a sister hanging upon the neck of her mother. There stood two brothers enfolded in each others arms, mutually bewailing their threatened separation. In other parts were friends, relations, and companions, praying to be sold to the same masters; using signs to signify that they would be content with slavery might they but toil together. Silent tears, deep sighs, and heavy lamentations, bespoke the universal suffering of these poor Blacks. Never was scene more distressful. Amongst these unhappy, degraded Africans, scarcely was there an unclouded countenance.
"My mother," said Peter, "died while in the middle passage, and we saw her carried out of the hold to be cast into the sea. The rest of us reached Jamaica alive, but in a most emaciated condition. My Father and I were sold to one planter, and we were immediately taken away, but what became of my brother and sister I could never learn. My Father did not live above three months after he was set to labour, and the cruel driver often beat him till the blood ran down his back, because he would not do more work. I was glad when he died! O yes, I wished to die too; but I was spared to see happier days."
Peter was employed after the death of his father, as a domestic slave by one of the overseers, who became much attached to him, and often granted him some indulgences which very considerably mitigated the horrors of slavery. That which he prized most, was permission to go and hear the Rev. Mr. the missionary, preach, whose ministry became the means of conveying to his heart the incorruptible seed of truth which liveth and abideth for ever. He also taught him to read and write, and supplied him with books, and at length introduced him to Mr. Wilcox, who purchased his freedom. "I was stolen," he said, "from my native country, and sold
like Joseph into bondage; but the Lord was pleased to overrule all this for my salvation; but, Sir, no thanks are due to the thief who stole me, nor to the planter who bought me, when he knew that I was stolen."
"I have often heard," I remarked, "that the Negroes in the West Indies are happy, and contented with their situation; do you think this statement is correct?" "Do you think, Sir," replied Peter, "that you should be happy if a black crew were to come a shore and steal you away, and chain you up, and then take you to some part in Africa, and sell you to some hard hearted black, who might whip you, and even kill you with his knife, or work you to death by hard labour?" Why no," I replied, "I do not think that my happiness would be promoted by such a measure." "Then, Sir, why should any one suppose, that such measures make black people happy. We love our country, as much as you love yours.; we love our relations and our friends, and we love liberty; and can you imagine that we can loose all, and yet not feel the loss? O yes! we do feel it. I often wept when I thought of home, and my poor little sister, who was taken from the arms of my mother and thrown into the sea-and of my mother who died in that horrid middle passage-and of the hill I used to run up and down, when a little boy." "Then do you think," I asked, "that the Negroes in the West Indies are unhappy?" "If they were not, Sir, would they kill themselves to get away from their cruel masters ?”
But some of them have kind masters, have they not?” "Yes, Sir, some masters are much kinder than others; but no Negro can be happy, while he is a slave, unless it please God to redeem him from all iniquity, oy the precious blood of Jesus Christ." "Why not," I asked. Because he is a slave, unjustly deprived of his liberty, and doomed to perpetual bondage. This alternately depresses and irritates his spirit: and sometimes he thinks of taking away his own life, and sometimes of revenging himself on the life of his master. What has hc to make him happy? If he form an attachment to any local spot, or to any of his fellow slaves; he has no security for the continuance of these objects of his gratification. His friend may be sold to another planter, and they may never meet again: or he may be removed
to some other plantation, and may never be permitted to "But you admit," I observed, "that the gospel of Jesus Christ can make a Negro happy and contented, even while he is deprived of his liberty, and exposed to the most cruel and barbarous inflictions of punishment." "It can make him happy, Sir," said Peter with great animation, "but it does not make him approve of the cruelties which have been, and still are practised on him. He bows his neck to the yoke, but he is still of opinion, that no man has a right to force him to wear it." "Would then," I asked, "those Negroes who have embraced the gospel, throw off the yoke of servitude if they had it in their power?" "I do not believe, said Peter, "that they would use any unlawful means to regain that liberty of which they have been so unjustly deprived, as they are commanded to be obedient to them that are their masters." "But is not this injunction, to be obedient to the slave master, a proof that God approves of slavery?" "No, Sir," said Peter, he cannot approve of slavery; because it is unjust in its principle, cruel in its spirit, and destructive of personal and domestic happiness. He has commanded us to be obedient, it is true, but that's no proof that he approves of the authority which the planter exercises over us. He has commanded us, when we are struck on one cheek, to turn the other also, but does it follow that he approyes of such conduct.”
"Certainly not," I replied, " and I am happy that you can draw the line of distinction with such a steady hand, between your obligations to obey in consequence of the divine precept, and your right to condemn, in the most direct, and most positive terms, that authority which your masters exercise over you. But as it is to the interest of the planter to treat his slaves with lenity and kindness, that he may, if possible, attach them to his person and his service, I presume that the instances of cruelty of which we have sometimes heard are very few indeed." "Such instances of cruelty, as flogging slaves to death, or torturing them till they are disabled and rendered incapable of doing any more work, are not very common: but,/ Sir," Peter replied, "the slaves are treated in general as an inferior race of human beings-as the offal of society-as of no more consequence in