תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

than the majority of the labouring population of the United Kingdom ; they are never half starved, and debilitated by fatigue and want; they have no care for the morrow.” The constant fears of the planters, and the horrible execution of the Negroes for the slightest tumult, proves that the above question and assertion are void of foundation or truth. Your correspondent is so friendly to slavery abroad, that he cannot be a friend to liberty at home; but if he were a slave himself, it would probably change his mind on that subject; I think, in a year or two, there would be little singing or dancing in his mind, and if he had no care, he might, at least, have fears for to-morrow. He seems to consider the condition of our plodding ploughmen and sickly artists as worse than that of the slaves, and complains," that hundreds delve below the surface of the earth, shut out from the light of Heaven. I do not know the condition of ploughmen in England, but I know something of the state of that class in Scotland, and I am certain that few in this country would be pleased with the comparison, or listen with patience to any proposal for a change of condition with the slaves. I know, several prosperous farmers, renting lands at more than £100. a year, who were formerly ploughmen; I suspect few slaves rise to such respectability. Our artists and miners cannot be forced to their employments, por kept at them against their mind; they follow them for wages, and may leave them when they see better. This is a privilege denied to the Negroes. Such complaiąts as these are a disgrace to Englishmen; if true, they want prudence and spirit, which I hope is not the case with those who consider slavery ginary case of distress,” and who are entitled to very little sympathy themselves.

He says, “ The fact is self-evident, that there is tenfold more crime, with consequent executions and imprisonments, in this boasted land of liberty, than in our colonies, taking an equal number of slaves and self-styled freemen. What, then, (he asks) is liberty the cause of vice or mismanagement ? Either, then, the slaves are better managed, or liberty is productive of crime, imprisonment, and death." Your friend is more ready with assertions than with proofs. If he will give a close comparison of the crimes, and executions in the West Indies and in Britain for a num. ber of years, he will probably find it little to the honour of the planters. If crimes are less frequent there than in Britain, executions are much more, so; slaves are kept in such bondage there, that they have little time or opportunity either to commit crime or perform duties. Would he wish to see the people of Britain reduced to the same state, and to have them managed by their rulers like cattle? In times of prosperity, I believe they would spurn such direction and controul; it would, then, be disgraceful to them if they desire it in the time of adversity, When

an ima.

people require their rulers to provide and manage for then, they resign their freedom.

After telling Mr. Cropper, that he knows that several persons are confined in the cells of Newgate, merely for matters of opinion publicly expressed: he asks, and when will you ever convene a meeting for the promotion of freedom in this respect? The confinement of these men should be openly censured by all; but it is needless to expect that - Mr. Cropper or any other sincere Christian will ever convene a meeting to petition on such a subject. In proportion as men are devout they will endeavour to suppress all arguments that offend their devotion, even by force. It would be well if unbelievers-would do their duty in that respect themselves. Has your Liverpool friend, or any other person there, ever convened a meeting, or sent a petition to Parliament in behalf either of these men or the cause for which they are suffering? I know by experience, that reformers and sceptics generally are very careless about such petitions, that they will sign one when it is prepared and brought to them, but most of them would rather spend a shilling in the public-house than give a penny as a part of the expence of it.

Your feeling friend ascribes the disaffection, revolt, and consequent carnage among the Negroes at Demerara last year to the hopes excited by the hasty interference, and presumptuous attempts of the abolitionists to assist the slaves in getting emancipation or freedom; thus rendering them miserable, restless, and desperate. This is a gross misrepresentation of the intention of the abolitionists. They wished to better the condition of the slaves, but not to set them free, which should be their aim, but your friend might observe, that the same charge is equally applicable to the advocates of reform and liberty every where. The Turkish government, or the Pacha of Egypt, might reproach the friends of the Greeks, as the cause of sedition and carnage with more truth than that with which he can-upbraid the abolitionists. The carnage that took place among the Neyroes at Demerara, and the ghastly heads exhibited on the walls and posts of that town; reflect indelible disgrace on the white inhabitants of that Colony, and when contrasted with the very few whites who where killed, it goes far to prove that the Europeans are much more ferocious than these woolly-headed savages.

Your worthy friend considers, that if the Negroes had thrown off the yoke of their masters, the soil would be neglected, labour reduced, and crops would fail, which he thinks would be an appalling picture indeed! This is truly mercantile philanthropy. In my opinion, if sugar cannot be produced by labour for wages, it ought not to be raised-at all; neither in the East nor West Indies. Produce of every kind, in all countries, ought only to be raised by free labour: and the consumer ought to pay a price

sufficient to remunerate the cultivator; or else want it; but your"

, friend seems more anxious to procure good sugar than he is to lessen human misery. That some of the natives of Hindostan are in a state of slavery is no reason why the condition of the slaves in the West Indies should not be ameliorated; they ought all to be emancipated both in the East and West Indies ; but the state of the slaves in the West Indies being much the worst, and more within reach ; it seems best to begin with them first. As to the merits of the British government of India it is far from being good, but it is certainly better than any of the native tyrannies of which we have got any account; yet as it is unnatural to them, and pernicious to us, I should be glad to hear of its overthrow, and a better native government established in its stead. Its fall by destroying influence would likely promote the cause of freedom in Britain.

Your friend's eulogium on the valour of the Burmese, in defending their native plains against “our inroads upon their religion, country, and laws,” might pass for a piece of bitter irony, as it is all contrary to facts. The Burmese are more ferocious than the African Negroes, and in the war they seem to have shewn no valour. They have behaved quite dastardly; but just in such a way as might be expected, or wished, in defence of a tyrannical government, barbarous laws, and a detestable superstition.

In comparing the condition of the slaves in Bermuda with the people of Britain, he says, how few in this country enjoy the healthful blessing of a garden? And by a question he implies, that every recreation and pastime of a public and healthful nature is put down in Britain, and that the labourers, our most useful class of people, are reduced to the solitary injurious enjoyment of ardent liquors at the tavern. This whole statement is void of truth. In most of our villages and country towns the people either have, or may have, a small garden; in large old towns, on account of the crowded state of the buildings, this cannot be obtained ; but the authorities are not to be blamed for that. I know not of any recreation or pastime of a public nature that is put down. They are rather encouraged: and so far are the public authorities from encouraging the labouring classes to drink at the tavern, that they endeavour to prevent the pernicious practice as much as they can. If the labourers drink in the tavern they are to blame themselves, not the authorities.

His acconnt of the condition of East Indian slaves is nearly as accurate as the rest of his assertions--but if really true, he ought to call another meeting on their behalf, and lay his information before it; and endeavour to get up another petition for these slaves in the East, rather than strive to obstruct a partial good done to them in the West.

Your friend seems very apprehensive that the measures of the abolitionists will injure“ the interests of the lawfu: proprietors of

West Indian estates,” he seems more anxious to secure the unjust power of the planters than the protection of the slaves ; the recovery of their freedom is out of his view ; but he ought to recollect that slaves being originally carried away by force, they are not more lawful property in the West Indies than Englishmen would be in Algiers, or Morocco, consequently, it is our duty to release them as soon as possible.

He says, “ were you, Sir, to found a petition to the House of Commons, beseeching the interference of government between the invading and barbarous Turk, and the suffering, yielding, Greek, disinterested pure philanthropy would be demonstrated beyond a doubt: there we behold men, women, and children, exposed to all the horrors of famine and the sword, defending their proper. ties and lives to the last gasp, but no helping hand is stretched out to their assistance, no voice raised to stop the indiscriminate massacre of the noblest and most beautiful of the human species.' This declamatory passage is wholly inaccurate. Every friend to freedom and humanity should certainly give, his assistance to the Greeks: but the Negroes in the West Indies are kept in a state of much severer bondage than ever the Greeks were in under the Turks, aud were it not for their present perilous condition it would display impartial philanthropy to begin with the Ne, groes first. The Greeks have defended their lives and property very poorly certainly not to the last gasp, but as well as could have been expected, considering their former condition. There has been many a helping hand stretched out to their assistance, and there would have been more, if they had behaved better, Many a voice bas been raised in their favour, but not so many as there should have been, which is the greater shame to Christians. I hope your friend has contributed something to their as, sistance.

They are certainly a people who deserve a better fate than they have met; but they are not the noblest and most beautiful of the human species--they are not superior to Englishmen, and their ancestors who have been so much praised were as cruel slave. masters as ever exercised authority. The Spartans were the most unfeeling and tyrannical masters that ever disgraced the name of men : rather more so than West Indian or American planters, who are bad enough. The distress in the manufactur. ing districts referred to by your friend is much to be deplored, it is the duty both of government and individuals to assist in lessening it; and when better days arrive, I hope the operatives will remember the present, and learn by this severe lesson, to lay up something to guard against want, which will assist them in recovering their freedom.

Yours truly,

ROBT. AFFLECK.

TO THE EDITOR OF « THE REPUBLICAN."

Sir, I was very much delighted at reading your critical examination of William Allen's Address to the Students at Guy's Hospital : insomuch, that I am induced to solicit you to make a similar exainination of Mason Good's “ Book of Nature," wherein you may find very unjust censures on Atheists. You may observe, that he has asserted, that it was the object of those illustrious philosophers who shone with such lustre at the commencement of the French Revolution ; to degrade the human race by endeavouring to prove that true happiness is to be found no where but in a life of ignorance, such a life as that of a savage. Now it is well known among unprejudiced beings, that all those philosophers, with the exception of Rousseau, have affirmed that happiness is incompatible with ignorancs and inseparable from virtue. Notwithstanding, this author has strenuously endeavoured to support bis calumny, and has actually devoted a few pages to refute the accusation. This work abounds in inconsistency, and flimsy reasoning. Observe, Sir, the following—" It is something more than matter, observes one class of philosophers; for matter itself is essentially unintelligent, and is utterly incapable of thought. But this is to speak with more confidence than we are warranted, and unbecomingly to limit the power of the Creator. It has already appeared, that we know nothing of the essential properties of matter. If it be capable of gravitation; of elective attractions ; of life; of instinct ; of sensation, there does not appear to be any absurdity in supposing it may be capable of thougbt.”—Vol. iii. page 22.

In vol. i., page 38, he says, “if matter is capable of assuming any kind, it must have been equally capable of assuming every kind, and, of course, of exhibiting intelligent effects without an intelligent cause, which would be utter nonsense.” Is not this inconsistency ? Though M. Good supposes, that matter is capable of thought, he still maintains that the soul is immortal !, He has even written in this work a chapter or two with the view of proving that it is immortal! In the dark ages of antiquity, when men, through their ignorance, could not conceive that matter may be so modified as to produce thought, we are not surprised that they should maintain the dogma of the immortality of the soul; but in an enlightened age, when men are forced, by the conviction of their senses, to admit, that matter thinks, we are surpriscd, that they should still retain this absurd dogma, which Mason Good has cherished.

This work, Sir, is replete with such absurdities. Shall I have

« הקודםהמשך »