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favoured, especially upon large estates belonging to wealthy and humane proprietors, and keep more small stock, besides having larger grounds, in which the Drivers, at times, oblige some of the other Negroes to labour for them. By these means they are enabled to sell more than their fellow-slaves, and do, here and there, lay up a little money: but if any one should be weak enough to imagine that this is generally, or frequently the case, as some who have written on the question would make believe, they would be wofully mistaken; these instances are rare and
Against the quantity of food, however, generally speaking, much cannot be objected; though the Negroes on coffee mountains are not often so abundantly supplied as those on sugar estates, except in the new parish of Manchester, and a part of St. Elizabeth's; but the time allowed them for raising their provisions is not by any means sufficient. All the field Slaves are allowed by the law of the island, every other Saturday out of crop-time, and some extra days after crop, to make up the number of twenty-six days in the year, when they are to labour in their grounds to raise provisions for their subsistence. Crop-time means the time that the mill is at work for grinding canes to make sugar, and this generally lasts from Christmas to June or July;
so that the Slaves get only from fourteen to sixteen days in the year, besides a few extra days after crop, in which to work their grounds, and on many estates and plantations, they get no extra days at all, so that these few days being wholly insufficient, the Sundays are intruded on, and the Sabbath, therefore, is with most a day of labour instead of a day of rest.
This is certainly a hardship, and shews that the object of the planters is to obtain the greatest quantity of labour possible, though, I imagine, and am quite certain, that their object is in most instances defeated; for the Negroes are shrewd enough to observe it, and it is a common observation with them, "Noting, please Massa, but work, work, work ;" and under this impression they generally take care not to put forth all their strength in their daily labour, but take it leisurely, and even indolently; and I have no hesitation in saying, that if they were allowed every Saturday to themselves, the business of the plantations would go on quite as well, and the produce be just as great.
This constant work, work, work, is also a principal cause of one of the greatest hardships in West Indian Slavery, I mean the constant use of the whip; for seeing that work is their only portion, they are, as I before observed, inclined to be indolent, and a driver is continu
by the neck; in this manner they go out to work on the roads, or in the streets, with a workhouse driver after them, who lashes them pretty sharply to urge them on. I have been told, that in a certain parish they were marched in this heart-rending state to church, though I never saw it myself. Would it not be more desirable, that the rector or curate should devote an extra hour to these in gaol, for religious instruction, than to harrow up the feelings of those who have any humanity left, by exhibiting such degrading and unpleasant sights in the House of God; for, as St. Paul says, "We are all his offspring, and our Creator is no respecter of persons."
It may be said, and frequently is by the colonists and their friends, that if the present system were altered, and the drivers deprived of their whips, very little work would be done, as the Negroes are so very idle that they would not labour unless through fear of punishment. I conceive this to be a very erroneous idea; and particularly if they were allowed more time to cultivate their own grounds, and encouraged to attend the places of religious worship, they would then see that the whites took an interest in their comforts, and temporal and eternal welfare; gratitude would then impel the nerves and sinews of Afric's sons to do what the whip now
scarcely obliges them to perform; they are not devoid of sense and feeling, and I can say, from experience, that gratitude glows as fervently in the black men's bosoms as it does in those of the fair-skinned sons of Europe.
I am well aware it has been also asserted, that nothing but coercion can induce a Negro to labour, more than barely to raise enough for his subsistence; this is extremely erroneous; witness the great number of free Blacks in the towns of Jamaica; in Kingston they are most of them good mechanics, and work as regularly and as hard as white men in this country; they also conduct themselves as well, can read and write many of them, and are more respectably clad than white men of the same class in England. In Port-Royal, just the same; they are industrious and intelligent, and several of them (to their credit be it said) have more, much more religion than the low white men there, who affect to despise them.
Another of the evils of Slavery is, that the Slaves are so degraded and depressed in the eye of the law, as not to be considered persons, but mere animals or chattels; so that they can be sold, not only at the will and pleasure of their masters or owners, to any other person, at any part of the island, but can be seized and sold for debt, by a writ of execution, and exposed for sale at
a public auction to the best bidder. Many a bitter cry is heard when the Marshal's deputies (dogs as they are emphatically called) are sent to hunt down and seize the victim or victims, and drive or drag them away to the workhouse, or gaol, till the day of sale arrives, which is to deprive them of their little homes, the gardens they have cultivated, the acquaintances they have made, and all the little comforts which make even Slavery, in some measure, tolerable: this hardship is much increased when Slaves are married, or have families, as the woman may be separated from her husband, or parents from their children; for here the tenderest ties of nature are broken in an instant, and the wife's, or mother's, or children's cries would not be in the least attended to, nor heeded, any more than the moans of so many animals. It may be said, that people nearly in a savage state have not those fine feelings of nature which persons in a higher state of civilization possess, and more particularly, as most of the blacks live in a state of promiscuous intercourse, the parental and filial affections must be comparatively weak, and not very lasting. I can affirm, that the affections between the mothers and even spurious offspring are very powerful as well as permanent, as I have known in many instances; and with respect to black children, nothing is so