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P R E F A CE.
HE author of the following pages having learned,
from magazines, newspapers, and reviews, fent from England to this island, some of the many calum- . nies, industriously propagated, against the proprietors of negro slaves in the West Indies; and the attempts made to persuade men of humanity and religion, to exert their endeavours to procure a law to abolish slavery and the Nave trade, as offensive to both; thought it might be useful to lay before the public the real situation and treatment of slaves in the sagar.colonies; an undertaking which a long and intimate knowledge of, and residence, at different times, in most of the islands, from Barbadoes to Jamaica, particularly qualifies him for.
The account he has given, he is satisfied, will be acknowledged by every person, acquainted with the West Indies, to be a lefs favourable representation of the negroes' situation than the fact would justify; but as he speaks only of general treatment, he has avoided mentioning the attention which particular people shew their
Naves. It is now not uncommon, on lugar estates, in several of the islands, to have a kind of marquees, or tents pitched, or in their stead, thatched sheds ereded, in different places, on the land for the negroes, in case of hafty and violent showers, to retire to, and also to employ two or three boys, with mules, to bring grass, to prevent the gang having any thing to do after they leave the field; which is considered injurious to their healths, as they are often detained, in wet weather, till the whole gang are collected together, to be called over.
He has confined himself also to the situation of the flaves in the islands. It never was supposed they were treated with more tenderness on the continent; but it was because he treated of the negroes in the islands; that he has not urged in proof of their satisfaction in their present station, the very small comparative numbers which could be induced to quit their masters in Virginia and the Carolinas, when freedom, and every other temptation was held out to them, which could be thought of, for the purpose of enticing them to run
It was the author's original intention to have done no more than point out the extreme improbability, not to say absurdity, of the accounts given of the planters cruelty to their slaves; but observing that not only individuals had united theinselves upon this occafion,
but that the two Universities, and other respectable public societies, had addressed the House of Commons to abolish the slave trade, as inconsistent with the Chris. tian religion; he could not help respecting such authorities; and having doubts how far he might venture to say any thing in favour of a commerce so generally condemned, he thought it incumbent on him first to search the scriptures, to learn whether slavery was inconsistent with the revealed will of the Deity. The refult of his enquiry was perfectly satisfactory to himself; and he thought it but right to point out some few of the many passages to be found in the sacred volumes, which juftify that commerce. Since the following obfervations went to the press, the author has the great fatisfaction to find, that he might have pursued his original plan without any injury to the cause he has endeavoured to support, as he has seen a pamphlet by the Reverend Mr. Harris, of Liverpool, who has so clearly proved, from the scriptures, that slavery is neither contrary to the law nor the gospel, that it is scarcely possi. ble for the most conscientious believer, who reads that tract, to doubt in future, whether the man servant and the maid servant is not as much a man's property as s his ox or his ass, or any thing that is his."
To a British subject, the word slavery conveys an idea in some measure different from what it raises in the. mind sof most other people in Europe. But it is to be b
x ) doubted, if the idea entertained by my countrymen can be eafily explaiņed by many of them. Every submission to the will of another, every degree of servitude, every restraint upon a man's personal liberty, is, in some sort, a species of slavery. If this observation is just, which is the nation in Europe, where, in some instances, personal liberty is restrained by feverer laws than in England ?
If by liberty is understood, people being governed by laws to which they have given their affent by themselves, or their representatives, without entering into an enquiry, whether the bulk of the people in England have, or have not that privilege, it may surely be truly said, the inhabitants of these colonies do not poffefs it to any great extent; and if their property is to be taken from them, or much lessened in value, which it certainly will be, if the present attempt should succeed, either in the whole, or in part, they will themselves become slaves, in the stead of those who are
now called fo.
About the time of Lord Mansfield's determination in the case of Mr. Stuart's negro, the imaginations of the populace of London were as much heated by the cry of liberty, as they were a few yeașs ago by the name of the Protestant religion, and as those of the people in Great Britain seem in general to be now with the ideas