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asked what facts support us, in holding out such encouraging expectations even as to them, we reply, that negroes, living in the vicinity of markets, under circumstances favourable to the acquisition of property, are found to give proof of industry, and to accumulate, as we have already mentioned, much more than the advocates of abolition are aware of. The women, who are ever ready to seek pretexts for avoiding to work for their masters, are not slow in labouring on their own grounds; or in traversing many miles to carry their produce to market. We happen, besides, to know, that at present it would be an easy matter for the planters, in the vicinity-of Kingston, in Jamaica, to engage free blacks from the town as labourers on their estates. All this seems to show that the spirit of industry is not extinct ;• that it is only dormant, and would, in all probability, be roused, when the season should arrive for altering the system, by placing our negroes in the situation of the labouring poor in Europe; a situation in which, in case of idleness, they would feel the call of hunger, or the insufficiency of clothing or lodging; in which, in short, the degree of comfort they enjoyed would depend on the degree of their exertion.
There prevails a radical error on the part of the negro, and, in some measure, on the part of his master, in regard to a state of freedom. Both consider it as a release from labour; the negro flattering himself that he will be able, by some means on which he has never reflected, to indulge his indolence, and the planter apprehending that when compulsion shall be withdrawn, there will remain no adequate motive for exertion. If left to themselves, the negroes, we admit, would sink into habits of apathy, and a state as backward as that of the native Africans; but any change to be effected in our sugar colonies will, doubtless, take place gradually, and under the protecting influence of enlightened institutions. First, it will be a natural consequence of the pains now taken to favour early marriage and lighten labour, that the number of their children will increase; that where they have atipre-. sent two children to educate, they will soon have four. Parental affection is, it is well known, powerful among negroes, and will become a stimulant to exertion, as soon as they shall know that their master, having ceased to hold them as his property, is no longer bound to provide for them or their families. But in such a climate, it may be said, little clothing will suffice, and provisions are very easily raised :—true, but with the opportunities now afforded for instruction, and with the prospect of better wages to those who shall be carefully trained, we do not despair of negro parents being actuated by the ambition of parents in all civilized' countries, and making a sacrifice for the education of their children. They will be aware that if taught to read and write, or to follow a mechanical employment, their wages will be double those of the common labourer. Even at present the influence of these motives has begun to be felt, for we have heard of teachers from Kingston being engaged by negroes on neighbouring estates to repair to their cottages, and instruct their children.
If we look. around the civilized world, we shall find, in the history of society, several striking confirmations of our argument. A century and a half ago, our countrymen north of the Tweed had no particular pretensions to a character of steadiness or perseverance. In those days Scotland contained many thousand vagrants who had no settled home, and sought a precarious subsistence in mendicity or plunder. The causes were to be sought, not in a disposition to idleness, but in the general poverty of the country, the narrowness of the field of occupation, the neglect of the education of the lower classes. Reform was produced by measures not unlike those which are now beginning to operate in the West Indies,—the establishment of parish schools, the increase of employment for mechanics, and, above all, the influence of a clergy who consider it their duty to watch vigilantly over their flocks. Proceeding to our less fortunate sister island, we shall find even there that, under all the disadvantages of a superstitious creed, and of deficient education, the Irish are not slow to labour whenever work is supplied to them, and wages are regularly paid. Again, those of our countrymen who have crossed the Channel and resided some years among the French, have had occasion to observe a state of society, less marked indeed by contrast than that of Ireland or Scotland, but replete with instruction to an attentive observer. The French do not hold a leading rank in navigation or commerce, and hardly in manufacture. The deficiency of water-communication, the expense of land-carriage, and the consequent difficulty in the transport of heavy commodities, added to a cause of a very different nature, the loss of time attendant on the frequent holidays of the catholic church, are all adverse to those departments of industry, and render their progress in them far slower than that of Holland in the seventeenth century, or that of England in the present age. It would be wrong, however, to infer that there is any constitutional indolence in the individual, or that Frenchmen do not work steadily and effectually, when placed under encouraging circumstances. Observe the laborious habits of their peasantry, and the regular industry of their manufacturers in towns such as Lyons, Rouen, Lille, where the wages are such as to form a motive to exertion;—observe also the activity of the women in employments of which many persons are inclined to think that women are hardly capable. v; .
These are a portion of the facts supplied by a reference to history and to the manners of neighbouring nations. They offer, on the whole, considerable encouragement in regard to the improvement of the negro character, an object which, in the opinion of all prudent persons, should be attempted only step by step, taking for our guidance the evidence of facts, whether we look to those changes in the state of productive industry which render enfranchisement advisable, or to the beneficial influence of religious instruction.
We now arrive at what was long the weak side of the question, as regards the West India planters; the religious instruction of the negroes, which has hitherto made very little progress> or, to speak plainly, has been wholly overlooked until of late years. What have been the causes of this unfortunate neglect 1 Partly the division of those countries into parishes, equal in size, in many cases, to English counties, and the consequent scarcity of religious instruction, but partly also the prevalence of a state of servitude; a state which makes the master look for little beyond mere bodily exertion on the part of his negroes, while in the latter it tends to damp, we might almost say extinguish, the ambition so natural to parents, of qualifying their children to rise in the world. Many planters have a dread of the effect of education on negroes, regarding it as calculated to sow the seeds of discontent and insubordination. It may thus require the evidence of continued example, perhaps, in some degree, the urgency of the colonial authorities, to render general the instruction of negro children. Among some individuals, happily, different views have already begun to prevail: we recollect to have seen, several years ago, a proposition on the part of a Jamaica planter, that youths educated in this country on the Madras plan, should be induced to repair to Jamaica on a salary from the island government, for the purpose of instructing a number of the more intelligent negro boys and girls, who would thus be enabled to communicate in their turn the elements of education to children on the plantations. Since the date of this proposition, (1816) schools on the plan in question have been established in different parishes; and though confined at present to children of colour, the objections to imparting a knowledge of reading and writing to the families of plantation negroes will, doubtless, be removed in due season; as soon, we believe, as the parents shall show themselves adequately impressed with a sense of religion.
In regard to the latter point, the diffusion of religion, a very satisfactory progress has of late been made on the part of the - coloured people, and, in some degree, of the negroes. The zeal of the sectarian missionaries is well known; but we cannot omit
to to tiotice the exertions of another class of missionaries, less numerous, but not less zealous nor less successful, but who appear almost to have escaped the notice of the public: we mean the missionaries of the Established Church, sent out by the Society for the Conversion, Religious Instruction, and Education of the Negro Slaves in our Colonies, of which the Bishop of London is the president. . \.<;
• It is impossible not to regret the limited scale to which the exertions of this society have necessarily been confined. The judgment and caution with which its missionaries have been selected, as is evinced by their exemplary conduct, makes it mat* ter of regret that the patronage of the church in the colonies has not been placed in similar hands, or at least. subjected to a similar scrutiny. But in order to afford the means of religious instruction to the negroes generally throughout our West India colonies, the numbers of the clergy must be considerably increased. It would be proper also that they should be subjected to the controul of one or more bishops, and other superior members of the church, resident in the colonies. It has not escaped us that the execution of such a-plan, which is little less than the remodelling as well as the augmentation of the whole church establishment of all the colonies, is a work by no means free from difficulties. But as the government have called upon the colonies to put down the scandal of their Sunday markets, so soon as the means can be afforded to the negroes of devoting the time now spent in traffic or riot to religious duties, we cannot doubt that not a moment will have been lost in forming such a plan, and that it will be submitted to parliament in the next session.
We cannot refrain from expressing our anxiety for the accomplishment of this measure, because we consider it to be the only safe foundation for the system of improvement which the government (on the occasion of Mr. Buxton's motion) undertook to introduce into the colonies;—because we consider the improvement of the moral and religious character of the negroes to be the first and most essential step in preparing them to receive the benefits held out in prospect by the resolutions passed at the conclusion of that debate, in a manner which shall be ' consistent with the public tranquillity, with a due regard for private property, and with the happiness of the negroes themselves.' ...
Much of the information which we at present address to our readers, proceeds from members of the established church, acting as curates or missionaries in the different parishes of Jamaica. In one of these, situated in the east part of the island, no less than seventeen communion-tables were last Easter filled by people of colour and blacks. 'Many negroes,' says a clergyman i . writing -writing from the central part of Jamaica in January last,' have during the last year been joined in marriage, and many induced .to attend regularly at public worship.' 'Our congregations,' adds the same clergyman, in a letter live mouths later, ' continue as numerous as hitherto, and their attention as remarkable.'
This dissemination of the Christian faith and Christian institutions cannot fail to have the best effects in preparing the male sex for the duties of a husband and parent. As to females, it has not escaped the attentive observers of negro habits, that, even in the midst of ignorance and bad example, many of the women evince a solicitude to adhere to a single attachment. Those who are aware of the power of this feeling on the softer sex, and how much it is interwoven with their comfort in the lowest as in the highest stations, may anticipate the most gratifying results from their being protected in it by religious institutions. 'In the last five years,' writes a planter from the northwest part of the island,' no less than fifty marriages have taken place on an estate in my neighbourhood, in consequence of the attention and exhortation of the curate of the parish, and the consequence is a great reform in the morals of the negroes on that property.' If in one sense religious instruction produce such effects, it will, we trust, be equally useful in another;—in giving a final blow to the influence of the obeah men and women, the propagators of superstitious terror, which, however ridiculous it may appear to Europeans, is often destructive of the health and life of the unfortunate African.
Our disquisition has extended to a considerable length, and it is now time to bring it to a close. One part of our object has been to simplify the discussion; to bring opposite arguments to a specific point, and to divest the subject of the obscurity attendant on vague and inappropriate epithets. We have, we trust, shown that the present condition of the negroes is very different from that which the term of ' slave' conveys to an English ear, and that the change which remains to be made in their situation is far less serious than is implied by the word 'emancipation.' The present system we should designate as a ' payment of labour by maintenance,' while to the desired change we should give the name of' payment by wages.'—We have done our best to conduct our researches with strict impartiality, and if the larger share of our animadversions is pointed at the abolitionists, it is only because they have been more active in the field, and have, as we conceive, communicated, in several respects, erroneous ideas to the public. Their better plan would have been to distrust all ex parte evidence; to labour to supply the deficiency of correct information in regard to the West Indies; and to afford
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