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totally ignorant of all religion, and that ninetenths of the adults, do not know the Apostles' Creed, or even the Lord's Prayer. Not the least examination, in fact, is entered into, or any questions asked, but those (or a part of those) in the form of baptism, so well is their deficiency known; and, I believe, most of the poor beings think that it is to act upon them as a charm.
I do not altogether blame the clergy for this uncanonical manner of admitting uninstructed persons to the sacrament of baptism, as there is an island law, fining any clergyman in the sum of five pounds who refuses to baptize any Negro or other Slave that presents himself; but if a proper representation of the impropriety of such a fine were made by the whole clerical body to the House of Assembly, they might certainly defer that sacred ceremony till the adults had some imperfect knowledge, by learning the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and some of the Commandments, the very fundamentals of the Christian religion. As things are managed at present, however, it would be useless for any one rector to attempt a reformation in this matter, as the clergy do not refuse to baptize or marry the Slaves from other parishes, so that if any find a difficulty in getting the ceremony performed in their own parish church, they, on some
other Sunday attend at another, where there is no objection. I am almost ashamed to confess, that in Kingston, I myself baptized nearly 1000 in the space of six months, with little or no examination; for being only curate, I considered that my refusal to admit them in their ignorant state would considerably lessen the rector's income, there being a fee of two shillings and sixpence currency for every Slave baptized. I did at first object; but on being told by the clerk that it was so done by the rest of the clergy, and that I should very considerably lessen the fees by refusing, I gave way, and did as others.
In some of the parishes a considerable number of marriages have taken place, and particularly of late years, as some knowledge of the Christian religion has had the effect of inducing many of them to leave off their licentious courses, at least in some measure; for though, I fear, in numerous instances, those that are married are not so constant to each other as they should be, yet, in many others, I think I may safely say, the best effects have resulted; and that they live more happily and contentedly than before, especially where both parties are upon the same plantation. The same parishes where religion has made the greatest progress, there, also, the greatest number of marriages have been solemnized amongst the Slaves. In Kingston and St.
Thomas's in the East, in particular, a great number of couples have been married: in the former parish about 2000, (one-third perhaps from Port-Royal, St. David's, and other parishes,) and in the latter 1500, within these last seven or eight years. In Spanish-Town, (or St. Catherine's,) St. Andrew's, and St. David's, a good many have been married also, and a few in some other parishes; but in several others none at all. In the small town of Port-Royal, which is quite separated from the other part of the parish, during the two years and three months that I served it, I married twelve or fourteen couple, free people and Slaves; and several more were about to be married when I quitted the parish in April 1823. This is not a great number to be sure, but more than had been married there for twelve years previously to my taking the cure. Two or three of these couples had lived together in a state of concubinage for many (I believe nearly twenty) years; and married, I can confidently say, from religious motives, as did some of the others. In two instances, free men of colour married black women; and in one particular case, the man, a very decent mechanic, applied to me for advice, as he said he had lived with the woman many years, and knowing now that it was wicked to live in that way any longer, they wished to be
married; but that he had been much laughed and scoffed at, by many in the town for his good and virtuous intentions, as the woman was older than himself, and had had a child by some other man before she lived with him. Having ascertained that it was not his intention to desert her, whether they were married or not, I advised him by all means to marry, and not to mind what irreligious and wicked people said. They came to my house to have the ceremony performed; and such was the crowd of low and noisy persons around it, that I was obliged to send for a constable to keep the peace. After the ceremony was performed, the rabble followed, shouting and jeering as if the newly married pair had committed some dreadful crime. I was obliged in two or three instances to have recourse to the constable, on these occasions, when they first began to marry, so rare a thing was it in Port-Royal; but I am happy to say, that before I quitted the parish, I could throw open the doors and allow them to look on, which they did with much propriety and attention.
The morals of the Slaves generally are at a very low ebb indeed, and how can it well be otherwise? for where no sense of religion is, no education, and the mind is suffered to lie dormant; there, little more than the instinct of the brute creation can exist; this, united to their
depressed situation in the scale of being, as Slaves, (where they see a number of good things, of which they cannot lawfully partake,) makes them inclined to pilfer and steal; and to avoid punishment for these, they have recourse to falsehood. It may be truly said of the Negro Slaves, that, "As soon as they are born, they go astray and speak lies;" for, I have been credibly informed, it is the custom of many of the mothers to send their young children to steal a number of little articles from their masters, and when questioned about it or accused, they will all stiffly deny the charge.
I believe that most of the Negroes think it no sin to steal from the properties of their owners; for great numbers of them bring small quantities of coffee, sugar, and sugar-cane to the markets. I heard of a Jew, a resident in the parish of Clarendon, who shipped in one year from twenty to thirty tierces of coffee, a great part of which was bought from Negroes, and supposed to be stolen, (as he did not grow the tenth part himself,) though some of the Slaves plant a few coffee trees in their grounds. This absence of morality amongst Slaves is not peculiar to the blacks, for we know that Slaves, of all colours, and in all ages, have abounded in the same kind of vices or crimes. Nay, we are told by so great an authority as St. Paul himself, what vices abounded