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· and the samp'es of new coinage introduced here and there,
place it almost out of all parallel or competition. It is not however unamusing to have an opportunity of seeing the two opposite extremes of any thing that declines from its best to its worst, by a very long gradation; and the curious' reader may form his conjecture at the number of differences of English style, in the descending degrees of merit, that may find room between, for instance, the composition of Junius, and such as that in the following passages:
The disposition of the colonists not to comply with its dictates," (those of the Abolition Act) accompanied with the fruitless hope of clandestine importations of slaves, notwithstanding this prohibitory decree, may reduce, by a contest of contumacy against prudence, some of these colonies to a condition which will bring to pass the anticipated depopulation of whites: then indeed would the mother country feel a sound policy in having an improved coloured race at such a juncture. Colonial' fidelity under all changes, and the protection of mother countries, are reciprocal obligations; and with these advantages' the functions of society are not difficult to preserve in colonial communities. This is, however, alluding to the possibility of an event confessedly more agreeable cursorily to notice, than formally to anticipate. A crisis the drift of this essay is unexceptionably to caution against rather than accelerate ; as the occurrence of it ought in no way or shape to be indispeosable to the happiness or safety of any colonial class or colour, and is to be deprecated from an apprehension entertained, not indeed of the loss of these colonies 'by the change, but of the possibility of their connexions with the parent state, being thereby weakened in the expedient support of a national zeal, a natural allegiance and attachment so useful in colonial relations. An epoch: certainly rendered far from being improbable, by a continuance of the protracted policy of the past, instead of a new order of things which West Indian colonial affairs immediately called for..p 38.
Barbarous customs, which have disgraced polite nations capable of instructing the world by their wisdom, and fastening to the memory of their existence the need of celebrity, for the most profound truths and enlightened philosophy. p. 62.
• It would be choking reason to disbelieve the existence of the abuses of power in ancient slavery, fo 65.
Not, however, to dwell upon the principles of an institution at the beginnings of the same, let us trace the origin of slavery as far as reason and the evidence of nations assimilate with our design, and furnish our sources of conjecture.' p. 68.
• The individual unable to provide for himself, is not likely to provide for, nor indeed to be the possessor of a family, consequently his generation very soon passeth away, agreeably to evangelical denun, ciation.' p. 69.
• Having laid the origin of slavery at the threshold of society, I
must reconcile this hypothesis with the theory of facts deduced from the ingress of man into the social temple, the sole repository of human wisdom, yet, of all its other systematical efforts, the least able to elucidate the mystery of itself? p. 69.
Equally difficult it is also, for the enslaved exile to understand our language and ideas, and being destitute of a formation of mind or soul, to répose imperfect conceptions of either, or fasten the recollection of instruction, confidence beyond perpetual superintendance is unattached to their slavery.' p. 78.
• The fields of this country,' (the West Indies) are however the golden staff of its renown, to trace their rural policy, one must wade through the Augean mire of slavery, I would spare the reader and myself the unpleasing task, if I knew the way of exposing an unprofitable law, and deleterious system by keeping aloof in clean paths.' p. 80.
• Behold an expedience founded on the basis of right! an expedience unlike that of our slave-trade, established in one century, and falling to pieces in the next; but an expedience able to keep pace with perpetuity, and exist until invisible time, freighted with the annals of mortal transactions, shall have run its incomprehensible circuit ; and the mysterious fiat of human existence being revoked, mortal affairs can be no more.' p. 23.
It is irksome enough to have the task of bringing out such a quantity of rubbish to public notice; but we have heard it intimated that the presumption is always against the equity of men of our craft, when they pronounce a book to be ill written, and omit to justify the sentence of formal proof. The excessive wretchedness of the composition of this volume is the more strange and the less tolerable, as the author demands to be regarded as literary attainments. For he quotes the Latin of Horace, even that Horace who wrote in the Augustan age; and tells us how the Greek term corresponding to our word
ind::stry' is compounded, and what it therefore signifies. And such writing is the more unfortunate, as the book relates to matters of great interest, which must come again before the public; is the result of a good deal of observation and thinking; and contains, we suspect, a considerable portion of important truth.
This most confused medley of facts and miserably enounced observations, purports to have been thrown together in the West Indies; and its object is to illustrate the effects of the slave-trade on the condition of those colonies; to shew that the system of slavery itself, as main. tained even subsequently to the abolition of that traffic, is carrying them rapidly to utter ruin; and; to suggest some modifications by which the pernicious tendency of that system may be obviated, and its existence ultimately worn away.
Near the beginning of his work, the author remarks that the appearance presented by the West India Islands to an European, on his first arrival there, is that of territories in the earlier stages of cultivation, so very large a proportion of the land still lying in the state of a wilderness. To a reflective person this will be a striking and even awful aspect, when he considers that, according to the most probable calculations and conjectures, several millions of human beings have been conveyed from 'Africa to these islands,—that they are naturally a healthy and hardy race, that the climate is congenial with their constitution, that the soil amply repays cultivation,—and that under a moral and political economy, even but moderately favourable to the prosperity of human society, colonies receiving such vast accessions, and possessing all these advantages, might have grown to a multitude capable of occupying and cultivating a space on the earth of far more than twenty times the extent contained in all these islands. What a transcendently malignant influence must have been concentrated on these devoted spots, to make them the scene of so signal a reversal of the usual economy of nature! What an energy of destruction must have unremittingiy
, operated, when with so many advantages, and after receiving an inAux of human beings numerous enough to have resulted, as our author without perhaps any great extravagance asserts, in a population capable of cultivating the American wildernesses from Cape Horn up to the northern region of snow, these colonies are still labouring for existence with such difficulty as to be compelled to resign many of their cultivated lands to relapse into desert! A thoughtful man would often be affected with borror in surveying the region which this state of things demonstrates to have been the scene of systematic oppression and murder.
Our author furnishes many illustrations of that ill success, which, speaking comprehensively, may, be affirmed to have always attended the West India system.
For ill success may justly be affirmed of that practical speculation in which the capital embarked, and the labour and talent, and life consumed, do not return any thing like the same proportion of advantage as that obtained in the average result of human means and exertion in other departments. Remarking on the enormous capital absorbed 'by these islands, he says the general condition and appearance of the colonies are such as to excite, in an inquisitive observer, the utmost wonder what can have become of it; sincethere is nothing in the habitations, or the style of living, or the state of the plantations, that appears at all answerable to the vast property fron. Europe that bas been rested or consnmed, and of even the property that has a tangible existence in the colonies. He adduces what he regards as unquestionable evidence, to prove that little more than one half belongs to the ostensible holders, there being on the whole value, of fifty six millions, mortgages to the annount of twenty four millions. On the same evidence it is stated that in 1789 the average profits of the whole capital embarked in Janiaica were only four per cent. And so little is the case subsequently mended, that a prodigious number of bankruptcies and transfers of estates are taking place every year, while many éstates are literally going to ruin.
The peculiar circumstances of the times must of course be answerable for a certain share of the calamitous account; but Mr. G. charges the main mass of the evil on the slave trade and on slavery. He furnishes statements tending to shew, that the first cost of slaves, the interest on that sum, and the cost of their subsistence, amount to such an expence as will render it absolutely impossible for the planter to make his capital more than very moderately productive at the best, unless the extent of West Indian cultivation were so much contracted as to raise the price of the produce in the European market. Along with this expensiveness of the stock of slaves, is to be taken the fact, very strongly and repeatedly insisted on by our author, that there is in slavery, especially, a slavery so wretched as that in question, something so fatally repressive of all the active powers, that it is comparatively 'but a small measure of efficient labour that can by any possible severity be forced out of the reluctant and stupified subjects of the whip. Stating about two búvdred and fifty to be a common number for the slaves on a plantation, he is of opinion that these do not perform actually a greater portion of labour than perhaps a twentieth, or much less than a twentieth part of that number of men on English farms, assisted by the English auxiliary means of labour.
I fear no contradiction when I deliberately assert, after a due investigation and comparison, that the quantity of labour on a plantation of the preceding description does not cqual the labour of an ordinary English farm : and under a free industry it ought generally to employ as tew people. But the disadvantages of slavery, destitute of mind or soul to adopt agricultural machinery to accelerate or reduce its labours, consigned in consequence to the tedious process of the hand, accompanied with that laziness and disgust of labour inseparable from this political condition, mock the ordinary calculations of industry, and render a work donc by slaves to be tary scanty where the labourers have been very numerous,' p. 90.
He constantly asserts that great stupidity marks the chaTacter, generally, of the slaves; but unequivocally átiributes it to their condition,' and avows his disbelief of any native and invariable inferiority to the whites.
Sixteen years has been given as the term within which, under the ordinary treatment, a whole stock of slaves' is supposed to die that is, the stock being kept up to its original number,' as many as that original number will have d ed. Mr. G thinks fourteen years would be nearer the trath. But they must have perished at a much quicker rate, on plantations conducted in the manner in which he says many of them have been of late
For he describes many of the planters as having been constantly under so severe a pressure of difficulty to make good their engagemeurts, that an immediate bankruptcy would have been the consequence of their failing to transmit a given quantity of produce-against a particular time, or by a particular "fleet ; when this quantity could not be furnished without a conpulsion of extraordinary labour on the slaves. Planters of this prder: were among the louilest in their indignation agaiast the abolition, as it was obviously incompatible with their plan and circumstances to prolong the life and strength of iheir mature slaves by sparing them, or, to, rear the young ones under indulgent care and exemptions.
The generality; of West India proprietors, however, aço cording to our autor, were and even still, are hostile to the abolition; at the same time that the greater number of them were just as much indisposed to all measures of imernal amelioration and this notwithstanding the whole system was evidently verging fast, to ruin.
The means of avoiding this ruin are not very, satisa factorily illustrated by pur author, He proposes that more, of the proprietors of estates, shall, out of benevolence, go and reside on them, and be very humane, and set examples of virtue, instead of being satisfied to riot in luxury at home, while they commit the slaves to some mercehaly unfeeling manager." He would have much greater attention paid" to the chituren of the slaves, who ought to "receive the rudiments of education. Every "facility should be afforded to enable deserving slaves to purchase their freedoin. And he urges, that improved arrangements should be made to afforii advantageous employment to those who are free, whose condition he describes as being at present extremely un, fortunate and bumiliating. He does not, however, very boldly and explicitly say, what is doubtless coming very fast 10 be acknowledged as the plain truth, that nothing of all • Vol. VIII