Imágenes de páginas

memorable of these had respect to the sponded with Mr. Buxton. Said the lat. religious teachers of the slaves. They ter, in an address to the House, -" I had been sent out by various bodies of never wrote to him a single letter, por Christians in England, commencing near- did I know that such a man existed, till ly a hundred years before these anti. I happened to take up a newspaper, and slavery efforts. The object of the mis- there read, with some astonishment, that sionary was a definite one, to christian- he was going to be hanged for correspondize the negroes. He knew well, before en- ing with me!” gaging in his work, that those who might If Englishmen and Christian ministers come under his instruction were slaves, were condemned to death on such aland because they were slaves the call legations, adduced at mock trials, it is was all the louder upon his compassion. not strange that negroes sometimes lost Yet his path of duty lay wide enough their lives on similar grounds. After a from any attempt to render the objects rising among these people, several having of his Christian efforts other than they been executed, the evidence of the guilt were in their civil relations. Such were of a certain portion was reviewed in the the instructions which the missionaries House of Commons. The witness was were accustomed to receive, on leaving asked whether he had found guns among England for a residence among the Col- the insurgents. He replied, “ No; but onists. Nor was there ever, from the he was shown a place where guns bad beginning to the ending of this stirring been ”! Had he found bayonets? “ No; chapter in the history of Slavery, reason but he was shown a basket where bayo to believe that these instructions had been nets had been”! Unfortunately, the vicdisobeyed. Their labors had in some in- tims of this species of evidence were alstances been encouraged by the planters, ready hung when the review of the trial and their influence acknowledged to be a took place. valuable aid in the management of the This last incident brings us to another negroes. But in these days of excite- feature of those times, the actual insurrecment and insubordination the missiona- tions which took place among the slaves. ries were accused of encouraging diso- Passing by the lesser excitements of bedience in the slaves. When outbreaks Barbadoes and Demerara, we come to occurred, the guilt was laid to the charge the great rising in Jamaica in 1832. A of the Christian teachers. Upon a mere servile war is generally represented as suspicion, without a shadow of evidence, displaying at every point its banners of they were seized and thrown into prison. flame, plashing its feet meanwhile in the One of the most melancholy instances of blood of women and children. But the this was that of the Rev. J. Smith, who great insurrection of 1832, which, as it was sentenced to be hanged, but died in spread, included fifty thousand negroes prison, through hardships endured, be- in its train, was in the beginning simply fore the day of execution arrived. He a refusal to work. was only one of several who suffered at Fiercely discussed by the masters, emanthe hands of the West Indians the gross- cipation began to be spoken of among the est injustice. The case of Mr. Shrewsbu- slaves. Necessarily they must know somery was at one time brought before the thing about it; but, in their distorted and Ilouse. Mr. Canning made reference to erroneous impressions, they believed that him as “a gentleman in whose conduct “the Great King of England” had set there did not appear to be the slightest them free, and the masters were wilfully ground of blame or suspicion.” He was withholding the boon. a Wesleyan missionary at Barbadoes, There was one, a negro slave, whose and, having fallen under suspicion, was dark glittering eye fascinated his felalso condemned to die. Among other lows, and whose wondrous powers of charges, he was accused of having corre- speech drew them, despite themselves, into the conspiracy. But he planned no times, asks the pertinent question, “How murders, designed no house-burnings; to is the Government prepared to act in those who, under solemn pledge of secre- case of a general insurrection among the cy, joined him, he propounded a single slaves ?” We give the closing paraidea. It was this. If we, the negroes, graphs of his speech at this crisis. who are as five to one, compared to the “I will refer the House to the sentiwhite men, refuse to work any more un- ments of Mr. Jefferson, the President of til freedom is given, we shall have it. the United States. Mr. Jefferson was There will be some resistance, and a few himself a slave -owner, and full of the of us will be killed; but that we must ex- prejudices of slave-owners; yet he left pect. This, in substance, was the ground this memorable memorial to his country: taken by Sharpe, who, as a slave, had al- 'I do, indeed, tremble for my country ways been a favorite both with his mas- when I remember that God is just, and ter and others. This was the commence- that His justice may not sleep forever. ment of the great insurrection. Its lead- A revolution is among possible events; er had not counted upon the excitable the Almighty has no attribute which would spirit of the slaves when once aroused. side with us in such a struggle.' Holding as sacred the property of bis “ This is the point which weighs most master, he believed his followers would heavily with me. The Almighty has no do the same, until the light of burning attribute that will side with us in such a barns and out-houses revealed the mis- struggle. A war with an overwhelming chief which had begun to work. Yet, in physical force, a war with a climate fatal the sanguinary struggle which followed, to the European constitution, a war in it is to be remembered that the excesses which the heart of the people of England which were committed, the wanton waste would lean toward the enemy: it is hazof life, were on the part of the white resi- arding all these terrible evils ; but all are dents, who meted out vengeance with an light and trivial, compared with the conunsparing hand, - not on the part of the viction I feel that in such a warfare it is negroes.

not possible to ask nor can we expect the One effect of this uprising of the slaves countenance of Heaven." was, in England, to deepen the impres- While events tended to bring the whole sion of the evils of the system under system of Slavery into odium, the leaders which they were held. If the mere dis- of the Abolition party were themselves cussion of Slavery were fraught with such changing their ground. They had begun terrible consequences, how could safety with the hope of mitigating the hardships ever consist with the thing itself? By of the slave's lot, -to place him upon the discussion they had but exercised their line of progression, and so ultimately to own rights as Englishmen. Of what use fit him for freedom. But they had found to them was Magna Charta, if they must themselves occupying a false position. seal their lips in silence when a public Slowly they came to the conclusion that abuse required to be corrected, a gigan- for the slave little could be accomplished tic wrong to be righted ? Must they give in the way of improvement, so long as he up the ocean and the land to the domin- remained a slave. The complete extincion of the slave-owner and slave-trader, tion of the system was now the object hushing the word of remonstrance, lest it aimed at. At a crowded Anti-Slavery should lead to war and bloodshed ? No; meeting held in May, 1830, Mr. Wilberthey would not do this. The thing itself force presided. The first resolution, movwhich had caused these commotions must ed by Mr. Buxton, was this, -- " That perish.

no proper or practicable means be left Here was a decided gain for the friends unattempted for effecting, at the earliest of the slave in Parliament. Mr. Buxton, period, the entire abolition of Slavery in alluding to the fearful aspect of the throughout the British dominions.” At a meeting held in Edinburgh similar lan- Commons. “But,” added the simple quesguage was used by Lord Jeffrey. Said tioners," whichever you do get into, you Dr. Andrew Thomson, one of the most must vote for the poor slaves.” influential of the Scottish clergy, —“We To the aid of the Emancipation leaders ought to tell the legislature, plainly and there came now a new element, a power strongly, that no man has a right to prop- so strong that it required no small share erty in man, that there are eight hun- of skill to hold it in, that it might work dred thousand individuals sighing in bond- no evil in contributing to the desired end. age, under the intolerable evils of West Since the commencement of efforts for Indian Slavery, who have as good a right the slave a considerable period had passto be free as we ourselves have, – that ed. These efforts extended, in fact, over they ought to be free, and that they must nearly half a century. During that time, be made free !”

pamphlet after pamphlet and volume after Another element at this time wrought volume had set forth the evils and abomin favor of the Abolitionists. Of the mis- inations of Slavery, forcing the subject sionaries who had suffered persecution in upon the public attention. The leaven the Colonies, numbers had returned to had worked slowly, and for a portion of England. These religious teachers, while the time in comparative silence; but the plying their vocation in the West Indies, work was done. The British people were had acted in obedience to the instruc- aroused. The great heart of the nation tions received from the societies which was beating in response to the appeals for employed them. Necessarily, while in a justice and right which were made in slave country, they had been silent upon their ears. The world can scarce furnish the subject of Slavery. But in truth they a parallel to this spectacle of moral subliked the institution as little as Mr. Bux- limity. It was the voice of a people, callton himself. Once in England, the sealing, in tones that must be heard, for jusof silence melted from their lips. Every tice and freedom, – and that not for where in public and in private they made themselves, but for a distant, a defenceknown the evils and cruelties of Slavery. less race. Some of these persons had been examin- The publication of a circular inviting ed by Parliamentary committees, and be- Anti - Slavery delegates to London, a ing acquitted of every suspicion of mis- movement made by the leaders of the statement, their testimony received this cause, in its results took the most enthuadditional sanction. The tale of wrong siastic by surprise. More than three hunwhich they revealed was not told in vain. dred appeared in answer to the call. Mr. Each returned missionary exerted an in- Buxton met them in Exeter Hall. With fluence upon the religious body which he a rampant freedom of opinion, there was represented. The aggregate of this in- little prospect of harmony of action befluence was great.

ing attained, however desirable it might If, in the latter stages of the Emancipa- be. Through the influence of Mr. Buxtion effort, the backwardness of the Ad- ton and his coadjutors, these men of conministration was an evil omen, making flicting theories were brought into such a final success a difficult achievement, this degree of harmonious action that an adwas balanced by reform in Parliament. dress was drawn up embodying their senAt the recent elections, anti-slavery sen- timents and laid before Lord Althorp, at timents in the candidate were in some that time the head of the Administration. quarters requisite to success. A story is The strong outside pressure of the nation told of a gentleman who had spent some at large upon the Government was evitime canvassing and found abundant evi- dent. The strength of the Emancipationdence of this. At an obscure village he ists in Parliament, also, had been carefully had been hailed with the question, wheth- estimated, and success could no longer be er he was trying to get into the Lords or doubted.

fourth year.

The fourteenth of May, 1833, witnessed ment. No words could have been utteran animated debate in the House. While ed, whieb, reaching the shores of Amerithe advocates of Emancipation desired ca, would have been half so emphatic as for the negro unconditional freedom, they this one act of the British nation. Among found the measure fettered by the pro- the causes which have nourished and posal of Mr. Stanley, the Colonial Sec- strengthened the anti-slavery sentiment retary, that he be placed for a number among us this has its place. Verily, of years in a state of apprenticeship. if England gave us the poison, she has Twelve years of this restricted freedom not been slow to proffer to us the antiwas, by the influence of Mr. Buxton, re- dote. duced to seven, and the sum of twenty millions of pounds sterling being granted Concerning the actual fruits of Emanto the slave-owners, the bill for the abo- cipation, it may be asked, What have they lition of Negro Slavery passed the House been? The world looked on inquiringly of Commons. With some delay it went as to how the enfranchised negroes would through the Upper House, and on the demean themselves. One fact has never 28th of August, receiving the royal as- been disputed. This momentous change sent, it became a law. The apprentice- in the social state of near a million of peoship system was but short-lived, its evil- ple took place without a single act of vioworking leading to its abolition in its ence on the part of the liberated slaves.

Neither did the measure carry violence in

its train. So far the act was successful. It has been often said, with how much But that all which the friends of Emanciof truth it is not our purpose here to in- pation hoped for has been attained, no one quire, that in this country the mention of will assert. When, however, we hear of the evils of Slavery is and must be fraught the financial ruin of the Islands, as a conwith most evil consequences.

Yet the sequence of that measure, it may be well agitation of this subject, whether for good to inquire into their condition previous to or evil, in the United States, is intimately its taking place. That the West India connected with the whole movement in Colonies were trembling on the brink of England. In the earlier stages of the ruin at the close of the last century is measures directed against the trade, a evident from their repeated petitions to hearty response was awakened here; nor the mother country to take some meascould the subsequent act of emancipa- ures to save them from utter bankruptcy. tion fail to produce an impression every- This can hardly be laid to the extinction where, and most of all among ourselves. of Slavery, for both Slavery and the SlaveUnited to the English nation by strong Trade were at that time in the height of affinities, one with them in language and successful operation. literature, yet cleaving still to the institu- Again, if the West Indian negro is not tion which England had so energetically to-day all that might be wished, or even striven to destroy, could it be otherwise all that, under the influence of freedom, than that such a movement on her part he had been expected to become, there should awaken an eager interest among may possibly be a complication of causes us ? Could such an event as the release which bas prevented his elevation. He from slavery of eight hundred thousand has been allowed instruction, indeed, to negroes in the British Colonies pass by some extent; the continued labors of those unnoticed ? To suppose this is preposter- who contended for his freedom have seous. It is not too much to say, that the cured to him the schoolmaster and the effect of British emancipation was, at the missionary. But this is not enough. Has time it took place, to give in certain por- he been taught the use of improved methtions of the United States an increased ods of agriculture, the application of madegree of life to the anti-slavery senti- chinery to the production of required re

sults? Has he been encouraged to works action has been pernicious, they would opof skill, to manufacturing arts even of the erate among ourselves less than in any ruder kind ? Has he not rather been sub- colony of Great Britain, abundantly less jected to the same policy which, before than in the West Indies. The greater the Revolution, discountenanced manufac- variety of employments with which the tures among ourselves, and has caused Maryland or Kentucky negro is familiar, the fabrics of the East Indies to be dis- his more frequent proficiency in mechanused, and the factories of Ireland to stand ical pursuits, combined with other circumstill ?

stances, render him decidedly a more eliThese questions need not be pursued. gible subject for freedom than the negro Yet, amid the conflicting voices of the evil of Jamaica. days upon which we are fallen, now and The changes which may issue in this then we hear lifted up a plea for Eman- country from the present commotions it cipation, an entreaty for the removal of were vain to predict. It may not, howthe accursed thing which has plunged the ever, be unwise, in considering, as we happiest nation upon earth into the direst have done, an achievement nobly conof calamities.

ceived and generously accomplished, to Of the causes which have affected the examine carefully into the causes which success of Emancipation in the case before may have rendered it otherwise than us, it may be remarked, that, so far as their completely successful in its results.


Flag of the heroes who left us their. glory,

Borne through their battle-fields' thunder and flame,
Blazoned in song and illumined in story,
Wave o'er us all who inherit their fame !

Up with our banner bright,

Sprinkled with starry light,
Spread its fair emblems from mountain to shore,

While through the sounding sky

Loud rings the Nation's cry, –

Light of our firmament, guide of our Nation,

Pride of her children, and honored afar,
Let the wide beams of thy full constellation
Scatter each cloud that would darken a star!

Up with our banner bright, etc.

Empire unsceptred ! what foe shall assail thee,

Bearing the standard of Liberty's van ?
Think not the God of thy fathers shall fail thee,
Striving with men for the birthright of man!

Up with our banner bright, etc.

« AnteriorContinuar »