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it? None! And, Sir, you will permit me to ask, on what foundation does a West Indian planter rest his claim to the possession of his slave, but that of fraud? He bought him, it is true; but he knew, when he paid the purchase-money, that the poor unprotected Negro was stolen from his country-from his home-from his friends-from all the endearments of social life. Can a claim which is founded on fraud be an equitable one? No! Justice, that pure justice which requires us to do to others as we wish others to do to us, requires that the stolen Negro be given up to his rightful owner. who is that? Himself.
But suppose this poor slave, who has been stolen from his own country, and transported to the West Indies, where he is deprived of his liberty, and made to labour under the lash of the torturous whip, has a chance of regaining his freedom by running away, has he not a moral right to do it? You will admit, I have no doubt, that he might have escaped, if he could, from the man who seized him in his own country; and might have escaped, if he could, in passing from the place where he was first taken to the ship which was to convey him to the land of bondage. He then possessed the right of escape, even after he became a slave; and does he not still possess that right? Unquestionably. But if he dare to exercise it in the West Indies;-if he dare turn his back on slavery, and set his face towards the land of freedom, and be taken, he is—what?—I can hardly give utterance to the horrifying fact he is either hung, or unmercifully flogged. That is, you purchase men, whom you know to be stolen; and if they make an effort to regain their freedom, you either take away their life, or inflict, if possible, a greater torture. Is this treating them justly? Suppose a crew from an Algerine vessel were to put on shore on the coast of Essex, and seize an Englishman, and then transport him to their own country, and sell him into slavery. Suppose, after enduring the most severe punishments, he should have a prospect of making his escape. He does it; but before he gets beyond the reach of his cruel master, he is caught conducted back to his former place of ignominy and suffering, and then executed as a common felon, or whipped till his flesh is
cut from his bones; should we in this kingdom call this an act of justice?"
Mr. Foster. "Certainly it would not comport with our notions of justice; but it is necessary to enact such severe laws in the West Indies, in order to keep the slaves on the estates belonging to their owners."
But, Sir, did not you say that the condition of the slaves is superior, in many respects, to that of most of the European peasantry? But is it necessary to pass such a law to compel our peasantry to work for the masters who employ them? Does not the existence of such laws prove that the slaves abhor their condition? and that, when a chance offers, they will rather run the risk of enduring the greatest sufferings, than continue in it. But why? if they do not regard the loss of their liberty, as we should regard the loss of ours, as an evil too great to be borne?"
Mr. Foster. But, Sir, if they lose their liberty, they receive food, and raiment, and lodging, and kind treatment, both in the time of health, and in sickness, as a compensation; which, if they were not stirred up to discontent by the agents of the Abolitionists, they would deem an adequate recompense."
'But, Sir, did not this spirit of discontent exist before the friends of humanity in this kingdom began to exert their influence to effect the abolition of slavery? Then how can the discontent of the slaves be fairly attributed to their benevolent exertions in their favour? But you say they are treated kindly, both in health and in sickness. Let us look at the treatment which they receive, and then we shall see how far it is entitled to such an epithet of commendation. When the gangs turn out in the morning, and go to the field of labour, they always work under the terror of the whip, which is a very weighty and powerful instrument of punishment. The driver has it always in his hand, and drives the Negroes, men and women, without distinction, as he would drive horses or cattle in a team. If any of them come too late, or flag at their work, they are liable to be flogged; and if they commit any fault which the driver does not think proper to overlook, he has the power of pros trating them on the ground, (women as well as men,) causing them to be held firmly down by other Negroes,
who grasp the hands and legs of their prostrate companion, who is compelled to receive, on his bare body, as many lashes as the crime is supposed to have merited. An eye-witness states, that he once saw a few old female Negroes come too late, and as they knew they were to be whipped, they threw themselves on the ground as soon as they came up to the driver, who inflicted the punishment! Is this, Sir, treating human beings kindly? More serious punishments are inflicted only by the authority of the overseer; and the mode of this infliction is usually the same as has been already described. Whether the offender be male or female, precisely the same course is pursued. The back is made bare, and the offender is placed on the ground, the hands and feet being firmly held, and extended by other slaves, when the driver, with his long and heavy whip, inflicts, under the eye of the overseer, the number of lashes which he may order; each lash, when the skin is tender, and not rendered callous by repeated punishments, making an incision in the flesh, and thirty or forty such lashes will leave it in a dreadfully lacerated and bleeding state.
"These punishments are inflicted by the overseer whenever he thinks them to have been deserved. has no written rules to guide his conduct, nor are the occasions at all defined on which he may exercise the power of punishment. Its exercise is regulated wholly and solely by his own discretion. An act of neglect or of disobedience, or even a look or a word supposed to imply insolence, no less than desertion, or theft, or contumacy, may be thus punished; and they may be thus punished, without trial, and without appeal, at the mere pleasure and command of the overseer. Now, Sir, is not such a system as cruel as it is impolitic? and can we say that those poor unfortunate Negroes, who are compelled to live under it, are treated with kindness ?”
Mr. Foster. "I admit, Sir, that there is too large a share of discretionary power intrusted both to the driver and the overseer; but, Sir, in the present state of things this cannot be avoided. They must be invested with authority, or they would not be obeyed; but if they
should exceed the bounds of their authority, and mal. treat a slave, he may go and lodge his complaint against them to the attorney of the estate, or to a magistrate, and no doubt he would obtain redress."
Yes, Sir, he may go and lodge his complaint against his overseer, but what redress can he obtain? Mr. Cooper states, that a woman, for disobeying the orders of an overseer, was put into the stocks, and conceiving that she was punished wrongfully, she went and complained to the attorney of the estate. He, instead of affording her any redress, ordered her to be thrown down on the ground in the customary manner, and thirty-nine lashes were inflicted on her naked body; after which she was raised up, and immediately thrown down again, and received thirty-nine lashes more.
"The following instance of cruelty towards two females, will make an appeal to the feelings of the country which will not be easily resisted. Two wo
men, who were pregnant, desired to quit the field during the heavy rains, on account of their pregnancy. The overseer would not permit them. They went to complain of this refusal to a magistrate, but were stopped in the way by a neighbouring overseer, and by him thrown into the stocks until he sent them back to their own overseer, who put them again into the stocks on their own estate, and had them flogged. Of this proceeding they complained to the attorney. The attorney was of opinion that the overseer had acted with undue severity, but he considered the women to have been highly to blame for attempting to complain to the magistrate; whereas, he said, they ought, in the first instance, to have complained to him."
Mr. Foster. "There are, I have no doubt, many circumstances which may induce the attornies to take part with the overseer against the Negroes, and dismiss their complaints without affording that redress which they ought to receive; but still the courts of law are open to them, and there justice is administered with an impartial hand."
"The impartial administration of justice," I observed, "is one of the greatest blessings which any people can enjoy. It is a protection for the poor and dependent, against the oppressions of the rich and the powerful.
But, Sir, this blessing is not enjoyed by the Negroes in the West Indies. Oh no! They are exposed, in the field, to the torturous lash of cruelty; if they go and complain to the attorney, who ought to interpose on their behalf, they are sent back to their master without redress; and if they should run to the courts of law, and endeavour, by their tears, and moans, and lacerated paris, to move the pity of the bench, alas! they will soon find, that no pity sighs, that no compassion weeps for a poor Negro, and that justice, instead of avenging his wrongs, gives them the sanction of her authority. In an official letter, from Lieut. Col. Arthur to the Right Hon. Earl Bathurst, bearing date Oct. 7, 1820, we have the result of a trial which was instituted against an inhabitant for excessive cruelty towards a poor slave. The trial to which I allude,' says Col. Arthur, was instituted against a free woman of colon named Duncannette Campbell, under a bench warrant, for punishing her slave, named Kitty, in an illegal, cruel, and severe manner, by chaining her, and repeatedly whipping her; and for confining her, for a considerable time, in the said chains, in the loft of her house.
"As the sufferings of this poor slave deeply excited my commiseration, I made it a point to attend the court: the female slave appeared covered with wounds and stripes. The medical gentleman, who had examined her by order of the magistrates as soon as she was taken into custody, deposed: "I examined the slave Kitty, and observed the scores of several wounds, which appeared to have been recently inflicted with a whip, or cow-skin; they were chiefly upon the shoulders, but there was also a considerable number on the left arm, the neck, and face; those on the face had produced considerable swelling, and other symptoms of inflammation; one of the stripes had divided the ala of the left ear, another had wounded the left eye-ball; both eyes were much swelled and inflamed, and her whole countenance was so much disfigured that it was some time before I could recognize her."
"The police officer deposed: "On proceeding to the dwelling of Miss Duncannette Campbell, I found the slave Kitty at the foot of a bed, with a pair of hand