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Tales of My Landlord,
Zany, a buffoon,
ART. I.-1. A Portraiture of Domestic Slavery in the United States:
with Reflections on the Practicability of restoring the moral Rights of the Slave, without impairing the legal Privileges of the Possessor; and a Project of a colonial Assylum for free Persons of Colour: including Memoirs on the interior Traffic of Slaves, and on Kidnapping: Illustrated with Engravings. By Jesse TORREY,
Jun. Physician, &c. Philadelphia. 1817, 8vo. pp. 94. 2. A brief View of the actual Condition and Treatment of the Negro
Slaves, in the British Colonies; in a Letter to a Member of the Imperial Parliament. By Captain HENDERSON, late 2d Battalion 44th Regiment, and Assistant-Quarter-Master-General.
London. 1816. 8vo. pp. 56, 'FH
IERI potest (says an obscure proser, whom, we suspect, Dr.
Torrey and Captain Henderson have never come across), ut recte quis sentiat, et id, quod sentit, polite eloqui non possit
. Sed mandare quemquam litteris cogitationes suas, qui eas nec dis‘ponere, nec illustrare possit, nec delectatione aliqua allicere lec
torem, hominis est intemperanter abutentis et otio, et litteris. Itaque suos libros ipsi legunt cum suis, nec quisquam attingit, 'praeter eos, qui eandem licentiam scribendi sibi permitti volunt. All this might have been true, when Cicero wrote; but, at present, a very sad class of people have to touch' such books----besides those who read them through sympathetic companionship in misery. The Reviewers must toil through them, whether they be rightly arranged, or happily illustrated, or afford him pleasure of any sort: and it is not the least cause of our proverbial fastidiousness, that we are condemned to the perusal of books, which contain nothing but a repetition and see-saw of stale cogitations, and which have no other effect, than to rock all one's faculties to sleep. This is the sort of book which has been compiled by Dr. Jesse Torrey; a very well-intentioned personage, who, most assuredly, has the good of all mankind at heart—but who, we must be permitted to think, has no more right to publish books, than we have to administer catharticks. The cause of humanity is not
to be served, by scraping together a few singular instances of abuse, in our system of negro-slavery; nor by stringing, one with another, a parcel of quotations, in prose, or numerous verse,' from books which we have thummed from our youth up. Legislators must now be shown, that abuse is general, before they can be excited to reformation; and the time is gone by, when men could be much effected by Sterne's calling slavery "a bitter draught,'-or by Cowper's asserting, that he had rather wear the chains himself than fasten them on slaves,'-or by Dr. Torrey's singing,
« Columbia! Columbia! to glory arise,
Cease to adore rude Guinea's laws.'-P. 39-40. Captain Henderson carries on these things in a very different style. He is one of those raw hands at composition, who have an idea, that good writing is a deep and mysterious art; and he is, moreover, so very much afraid, that the language of an Ex-Assistant-Quarter-Master-General might possibly smell of gun-powder, that he is fain to seek all manner of unused and circumlocutory phraseology. Any body can say, for instance, that, in the West Indies, the negroes ordinarily go to work at daylight, and leave off at two or three in the afternoon; but it requires a person of no common powers and research to tell us, that, on some occasions, perhaps not a few, amongst the more industrious slaves in our Colonies, it may have been observed, that the hour of two or three at noon (we have been accustomed to think, that the hour of two or three was somewhat after noon) has been the point of time at which their labours for the day have terminated. It will be understood that daylight is the ordinary commencement of them. To such lowly writers as we are, also, there appears to be no great mystery in expressing one's dissent to a proposition; whereas an author like Captain Henderson can never stop short of enunciating, with due solemnity, that, with regard to this or that position, he holds no hesitation in at once offering a negative.' Scale and share are two great words with our Captain; and he contrives to get them in somewhere in almost every paragraph-whether they be appropriate or not. He says, for example, that the West Indian planters pay as much attention to the bringing up of their negroes, as the English manufacturers do to that of their apprentices; though,' continueth he, “I hold (hold, by the way, is another of his favourite words) I hold both as being entirely without excuse, for so thorough a share of inclifference towards a matter of such deep importance.' Again— As connected with the above (says he) it may not be altogether apart from my subject, should I say something, in a concise way, before I conclude, of the master; a rank, from the intimate connexion I have held with
many of our settlements abroad that has occasionally called for a share of my regard. This is the way, in which the Captain marshals his sentences. Every thing is involved, or evolved, with the greatest solemnity; and paragraph after paragraph wheels into his pages, with all imaginable pomp and circumstance. Nor is this the only effect of the discipline in the 2d battalion 44th regiment.' Every thing must be precise and explanatory; and if, for instance, he has occasion to use the word hospital, he adds the definition, or sick-house,' lest, peradventure, his readers should have to consult a dictionary. These, and a variety of other pleasant things, which we cannot spare room to detail, have amused us in the perusal of the Brief View. The Captain thinks, nevertheless, that his pamphlet is no small achievement; and he is very evidently afraid, that some of his ungracious' pages-though there is nothing but the most impurturbable good humour throughout the performanceshould, by some misconstruction, be displeasing to his friends; ' rather than give offence to whom, (says he), I would cheerfully expunge this or any higher effect of my pen:'--for, as an edifying piece of bibliography, we learn, in divers places, that this pamphlet is, by no means, the only effect which Captain Henderson's pen has produced.
In short, we have chosen to place these two title-pages at the head of this article,--not because either of the publications open any new views, or disclose many new facts, on the subject to which they relate --but because they are the latest American and Eng. lish treatises, which pretend to develop the system of negro-slavery, as it exists in the respective dominions of the only two Powers, who are taking measures for its progressive amelioration and final abolishment. There is no end to the number of pamphlets, which the discussion has called forth, in Great Britain; where, owing chiefly to a corporation of active philanthropists, the question has, more constantly than anywhere else, been kept before the eyes of the public. For more than twenty years, it has alternately employed the tongues and the pens of her ablest speakers and writers; and, on no subject, perhaps, has eloquence and logic together displayed their powers to more advantage, or with greater success. We have the presumption to think, nevertheless, that neither these speakers, nor these writers, have gone rightly to work in the discussion; and we shall attempt to show, before we get through this article, that, unless they strike into a different course, from that which they have heretofore pursued, they will not be able, consistently with the established laws of the land, to go one step farther, in the great work of abolishing negro-slavery. It has all along been taken for granted, on both sides of the question, that negroes can be lawfully held in bondage; and that, in truth, they are as much the property of their masters, as horses, oxen, or any other beasts of burthen. Declaimers abundantly inform us, to be sure, that Africans are human beings, and must, therefore, be intitled to the rights of man; but such vague sort of reasoning seldom
produces the requisite conviction,--and is, indeed, most effectually counteracted, by the constant recurrence of expressions, which involve an admission of the contrary. We have never seen it plainly denied, that a planter has any right, either in reason, or in law, to the beings, whom he calls his slaves; or, that, in other words, he can legally claim a property of any kind, either in their persons, or in their services. This, however, we undertake to deny, and shall undertake to disprove. Nay more-we will undertake to show, that the promulgation of such a doctrine need not be attended with the slightest danger to any of the parties, whose interest it seems so immediately to jeopardize.
There is no imaginable absurdity, connected with this subject, which has not, first or last, been resorted to, by those who advocate the slavery of negroes. Even the ironical and ludicrous arguments, by which Baron Montesquieu said he would vindicate the system,--such as, that these creatures (B. xv. c. 5.) are all over black, and with such a flat nose, that they can scarcely be pitied,' and that it is hardly to be believed that God, who is a wise Being, should place a soul, especially a good soul, in such a black ugly body'--have, with little mutation, been seriously and earnestly alleged, in favour of the practice, by some of his late countrymen. We cannot be expected to go through with a refutation of such abominable nonsense as this. There are certain other plausible considerations, however, which have been constantly repeated, from the time of Justinian; and which, though, in our opinion, completely refuted by the President Montesquieu, are still brought forward by the anti-abolitionists, and passed by, in silence, by their opposers. This latter circumstance has surprised us the more, because the reasoning of the President, by be. ing translated into Judge Blackstone's Commentaries, (B. I. c. 14.), was furnished to the hand of every Englishman, who pretends to have the least knowledge of his boasted Constitution. And this circumstance, too, must be our apology for introducing, here, a passage from the most elementary and the most common of all works upon law. We prefer the judge's translation, both because it is more concise than the original, and because, by being adopted in his vigenti annorum lucubrationes, it has become a portion of the English law. The three origins of slavery, assigned by Jus
tinian, (says he), are all of them built upon false foundations. "As, first, slavery is held to arise jure gentium, from a state of captivity in war; whence slaves are called mancipia, quasi manu ' capti. The conqueror, say the civilians, had a right to the life of his captive; and, having spared that, has a right to deal with him as he pleases. But it is an untrue position, when taken
generally, that by the law of nature or nations, a man may kill . his enemy: he has only a right to kill him, in particular cases; in cases of absolute necessity,* for self-defence; and it is plain this
** All nations (a few Cannibals excepted, a striking fact adduced by Montesnieu' concur in detesting the murdering of prisoners in cold blood.' B. xv. c. 2.