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His presence and indulgence produced, in these excitable people, an expression of pleasure which delighted him.
Certainly (he says) they at least play their parts with such an air of truth, and warmth, and enthusiasm, that, after the cold hearts and repulsive manners of England, the contrast is infinitely agreeable.
"Je ne vois que des yeux toujours prêts à sourire."
I find it quite impossible to resist the fascination of the conscious pleasure of pleasing; and my own heart, which I have so long been obliged to keep closed, seems to expand itself again in the sunshine of the kind looks and words which meet me at every turn, and seem to wait for mine as anxiously as if they were so many diamonds.'
The kind-hearted proprietor seems, however, to have relaxed discipline a little too suddenly; and to have unwisely imagined, that his slaves, having tasted the charms of indulgence, ought to work the harder afterwards, and be more orderly and obedient, out of gratitude to him.
Since my arrival in Jamaica, I am not conscious of having omitted any means of satisfying my negroes, and rendering them happy and secure from oppression. I have suffered no person to be punished, except the two female demons who almost bit a girl's hands off (for which they received a slight switching), and the most worthless rascal on the estate, whom for manifold offences I was compelled, for the sake of discipline, to allow to pass two days in the bilboes. I have never refused a favour that I could possibly grant. I have listened patiently to all complaints. I have increased the number of negro holidays, and have given away money and presents of all kinds incessantly. Now for my reward. On Saturday morning there were no fewer than forty-five persons (not including children) in the hospital; which makes nearly a fifth of my whole gang. Of these, the medical people assured me that not above seven had any thing whatever the matter with them; the rest were only feigning sickness out of mere idleness, and in order to sit doing nothing, while their companions were forced to perform their part of the estate-duty. And sure enough, on Sunday morning they all walked away from the hospital to amuse themselves, except about seven or eight they will, perhaps, go to the field for a couple of days; and on Wednesday we may expect to have them all back again, complaining of pains, which (not existing) it is not possible to remove. Jenny (the girl whose hands were bitten) was told by the doctoress, that having been in the hospital all the week, she ought not, for very shame, to go out on Sunday. She answered, "She wanted to go to the mountains, and go she would." "Then," said the doctoress, " you must not come back again on Monday at least." " Yes," Jenny said, " she should come back;" and back this morning Jenny came. But as her wounds were almost completely well, she had tied packthread round them so as to cut deep into the flesh, had rubbed dirt into them, and, in short, had played such tricks as nearly to produce a mortification in one of her fingers.'
Again he says, but in a tone of perfect good-humour,
The negroes certainly are perverse beings. They had been praying for a sight of their master year after year; they were in raptures at my arrival. I have suffered no one to be punished, and shown them every possible indulgence during my residence amongst them; and, one and all, they declare themselves perfectly happy and well treated. Yet, previous to my arrival, they made thirty-three hogsheads a-week; in a fortnight after my landing, their product dwindled to twenty-three; during this last week they have managed to make but thirteen. Still they are not ungrateful, they are only selfish; they love me very well, but they love themselves a great deal better; and, to do them justice, I verily believe that every negro on the estate is extremely anxious that all should do their full duty, except himself. My censure, although accompanied with the certainty of their not being punished, is by no means a matter of indifference. If I express myself to be displeased, the whole property is in an uproar; every body is finding fault with every body; nobody that does not represent the shame of neglecting my work, and the ingratitude of vexing me by their ill conduct: and then each individual-having said so much, and said it so strongly, that he is convinced of its having its full effect in making the others do their duty-thinks himself quite safe and snug in skulking away from his own.'
Experience, however, made him wiser ;-not less benevolent, but more judicious in his benevolence. The foregoing passage was written in the spring of 1816. He visited Jamaica again the following year; and, on the 14th of July, 1818, we find the following gratifying entry :
'I think that I really may now venture to hope that my plans for the management of my estate have succeeded beyond even my most sanguine expectations. I have now passed three weeks with my negroes, the doors of my house open all day long, and full liberty allowed to every person to come and speak to me without witnesses or restraint; yet not one man or woman has come to me with a single complaint. On the contrary, all my enquiries have been answered by an assurance, that during the two years of my absence my regulations were adhered to most implicitly, and that, "except for the pleasure of seeing massa," there was no more difference in treatment than if I had remained upon the estate. Many of them have come to tell me instances of kindness which they have received from one or other of their superintendents; others, to describe some severe fit of illness, in which they must have died but for the care taken of them in the hospital; some, who were weakly and low-spirited on my former visit, to show me how much they are improved in health, and tell me how they keep up heart now, because since massa come upon the property, nobody put upon them, and all go well;" and some, who had formerly complained of one trifle or other, to take back their complaints, and say, that they wanted no change, and were willing to be employed in any way that might be thought most for the good of the estate; but although I have now at least seen every
one of them, and have conversed with numbers, I have not yet been able to find one person who had so much as even an imaginary grievance to lay before me. Yet I find that it has been found necessary to punish with the lash, although only in a very few instances; but then this only took place on the commission of absolute crimes, and in cases where its necessity and justice were so universally felt, not only by others, but by the sufferers themselves, that instead of complaining, they seem only to be afraid of their offence coming to my knowledge. To prevent which, they affect to be more satisfied and happy than all the rest; and now when I see a mouth grinning from ear to ear with a more than ordinary expansion of jaw, I never fail to find, on enquiry, that its proprietor is one of those who have been punished during my absence. I then take care to give them an opportunity of making a complaint, if they should have any to make; but no, not a word comes; every thing has gone on perfectly well, and just as it ought to have done." Upon this, I drop a slight hint of the offence in question, and instantly away goes the grin, and down falls the negro to kiss my feet, confess his fault, and "beg massa forgib, and them never do so bad thing more to fret massa, and them beg massa pardon, hard, quite hard!" But not one of them has denied the justice of his punishment, or complained of undue severity on the part of his superintendents. On the other hand, although the lash has thus been in a manner utterly abolished, except in cases where a much severer punishment would have been inflicted by the police, and although they are aware of this unwillingness to chastise, my trustee acknowledges that during my absence the negroes have been quiet and tractable, and have not only laboured as well as they used to do, but have done much more work than the negroes on an adjoining property, where there are forty more negroes, and where, moreover, a considerable sum is paid for hired assistance.'
In spite of the alleged necessity of the lash, we find the following satisfactory statement of the successful substitution of another species of punishment::
During the whole three weeks of my absence, only two negroes have been complained of for committing fault. The first was a domestic quarrel between two Africans; Hazard stole Frank's calabash of sugar, which Frank had previously stolen out of my boiling-house. So Frank broke Hazard's head, which in my opinion settled the matter so properly, that I declined spoiling it by any interference of my own. other complaint was more serious. Toby, being ordered to load the cart with canes, answered, "I won't"-and Toby was as good as his word. In consequence of which, the mill stopped for want of canes, and the boiling-house stopped for want of liquor. I found on my return that for this offence Toby had received six lashes, which Toby did not mind three straws. But as his fault amounted to an act of downright rebellion, I thought that it ought not by any means to be passed over so lightly, and that Toby ought to be made to mind. I took no notice for some days; but the Easter holidays had been deferred till my return, and only began here on Friday last. On that day, as soon as the head governor had
blown the shell, and dismissed the negroes till Monday morning, he requested the pleasure of Mr Toby's company to the hospital, where he locked him up in a room by himself. All Saturday and Sunday the estate rang with laughing, dancing, singing, and huzzaing. Salt-fish was given away in the morning; the children played at ninepins for jackets and petticoats in the evening; rum and sugar was denied to no one. The gumbys thundered; the kitty-katties clattered; all was noise and festivity; and all this while, "qualis morens Philomela," sat solitary Toby, gazing at his four white walls! Toby had not minded the lashes; but the loss of his amusement, and the disgrace of his exclusion from the fête, operated on his mind so forcibly, that when on the Monday morning his door was unlocked, and the chief governor called him to his work, not a word would he deign to utter; let who would speak, there he sat motionless, silent, and sulky. However, upon my going down to him myself, his voice thought proper to return, and he began at once to complain of his seclusion, and justify his conduct. But he no sooner opened his lips than the whole hospital opened theirs to censure his folly, asking him how he could presume to justify himself when he knew that he had done wrong? and advising him to humble himself and beg my pardon; and their clamours were so loud and so general, (Mrs Sappho, his wife, being one of the loudest, who not only "gave it him on both sides of his ears," but enforced her arguments by a knock on the pate now and then,) that they fairly drove the evil spirit out of him; he confessed his fault with great penitence, engaged solemnly never to commit such another, and set off to his work full of gratitude for my granting him forgiveness. I am more and more convinced every day, that the best and easiest mode of governing negroes (and governed by some mode or other they must be) is not by the detestable lash, but by confinement, solitary or otherwise; they cannot bear it, and the memory of it seems to make a lasting impression upon their minds, while the lash makes none but upon their skins, and lasts no longer than the mark. The order at my hospital is, that no negro should be denied admittance; even if no symptoms of illness appear, he is allowed one day to rest, and take physic, if he choose it. On the second morning, if the physician declares the man to be shamming, and the plea of illness is still alleged against going to work, then the negro is locked up in a room with others similarly circumstanced, where care is taken to supply him with food, water, physic, &c., and no restraint is imposed, except that of not going out. Here he is suffered to remain unmolested as long as he pleases, and he is only allowed to leave the hospital upon his own declaration that he is well enough to go to work, when the door is opened, and he walks away unreproached and unpunished, however evident his deception may have been. Before I adopted this regulation, the number of patients used to vary from thirty to forty-five, not more than a dozen of whom perhaps had any thing the matter with them; the number at this moment is but fourteen, and all are sores, burns, or complaints the reality of which speaks for itself. Some few persevering tricksters will still submit to be locked up for a day or two; but their patience never fails to be wearied out by the fourth morning, and I have not yet met with an instance of a patient who had once been locked up with a ficti
tious illness, returning to the hospital except with a real one. In gene ́ral, they offer to take a day's rest and physic, promising to go out to work the next day, and on these occasions they have uniformly kept their word. Indeed, my hospital is now in such good order, that the 'physician told the trustee the other day, that "mine gave him less trouble than any hospital in the parish." My boilers, too, who used to make sugar the colour of mahogany, are now making excellent; and certainly, if appearances may be trusted, and things will but last, I may flatter myself with the complete success of my system of management, as far as the time elapsed is sufficient to warrant an opinion. I only wish from my soul that I were but half as certain of the good treatment and good behaviour of the negroes at Hordley.'
We are happy to think that the humane conviction, expressed more than fifteen years ago by Mr Lewis, that the best and easiest 'mode of governing negroes is not by the detestable lash,' should have so far spread, and should have produced such fruits, as to enable Mr Stanley, in the House of Commons, on the 17th of March in the present year, to make the following gratifying statement: That the Court of Policy of Demerara, composed ' in a great measure, as to one moiety at least, of colonial planters, utterly unconnected by any tie with Government, and not very sparing, in the course of the last few years, in venting their feelings of disgust at some of their measures, had unanimously passed an ordinance, without one dissentient voice, abolishing, from the 1st of March, 1834, the power of the masters to inflict corporal punishment to any extent and for any cause whatever; thus, by five months, anticipating one of the principal enactments of the British Legislature.'
Other highly agreeable communications were made in the same speech. It was stated, on the authority of two Despatches from the governor of Demerara, that the total number of punishments awarded in two districts of that colony during the month of December, 1833, amounted only to thirteen; no one of them being of a corporal nature, and varying from one to 'three weeks' imprisonment;' and, farther, that the total number of complaints laid before the Slave Protector during the same time, from 80,000 slaves against their masters, amounted also to thirteen; while all of them were of the most trivial and insig'nificant nature.' It was besides stated, on the authority of the same Despatches, that there had been an increased quantity of colonial produce during the last year, though the season had not been peculiarly favourable; which increased quantity is solely "attributable to the increased goodwill and diligence of the slaves; and this goodwill and diligence of the slaves, are the consequences of the milder treatment they now experience, and the cheering prospect they have before them.'
May we presume to ask the prompt advertiser of this volume,