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Nothing will, at any time, restrain them from pursuing their amours, or their amusements : Dancing they are passionately fond of; and they will travel several miles, after their daily labour is over, to a dance; and after dancing the greatest part of the night, they will return to their owners plantations, and be in the field at the usual hour of labour. They regard neither rains nor bad roads, which are common at that time of the year. Every person who knows the nature of the West India climate, the violent exercise of negro dancing, and the repose which nature requires after fatigue, will cease to wonder that such nocturnal excursions, in bad weather, should occafion a stoppage of perspiration, and bring on 'dyfenteries and other fatal disorders. Would it not be more reasonable and candid to impute those maladies to such irregularities, rather than to the negroes “never tafting milk and fresh meat,” even if they really were entirely deprived of those enjoyments ? But, I boldly affirm, the fact is otherwise.
It is inconceivable to me that any gentleman should have refided in Barbadoes, though but for a very short time, and be ignorant of what is so extremely notorious,-Tbat, in none of the other colonies have the negroes nearly the same abundance of poultry, such numbers of goats, kids, and hogs, as those in Barbadoes ; nor do they, any where, make such expensive feasts, particularly at funerals, and at the ceremony of throwing water, as they call it, on the graves of their friends and relations. At some of these entertainments,
Every Officer of the Navy and Army, who were in the West Indies during the last war, know, that the Fleet and Army were supplied with poultry, sheep, &c. from that island, at most reasonable rates.
there are more turkeys, capons, Guinea fowls, &c. than would suffice at a parish feast ; nor are hams, tongues, and fish of different kinds, wanting to increase the good cheer; plenty of rum at least, and not unfrequently wine and porter, abound at these meetings.
Although I am willing to allow the Dean of Middleham may have forgotten the manner in which negroes affemble themselves together in Barbadoes, and the frequency of their entertainments, and has not therefore in this instance willingly or knowingly exaggerated facts, or given falje information, yet, I cannot be so indulgent to him, in commenting upon the remaining part of the paragraph of this letter, where he describes, the diet of the negroes. The marks of exaggeration are so strong, and so evident, that it is impossible they should 'escape the observation of any person whose imagination is not heated and prepossessed by the accounts which have been circulated of the inhuman and savage treatment the negroes receive in the Weft Indies.
" Their food,” the Dean says, " consists of maize, vegetables, and either a little rancid salt-fifh, or, rarely, a small portion of falt beef, or falt pork, from Ireland, that is of the worst quality the market affords.” Can any person read this account and not remark that it is exaggerated in a malevolent degree? To say nothing of the low price of flying fish at Barbadoes (which are often caught in such abundance, as not only to be within the compass of the abilities of the negroes to purchase, but even the poor white people can afford to eat them,) supposing they had nothing to eat with their vegetables, but salt filh; why must that falt fish be
rancid? It is notorious that many vessels go yearly from Barbadoes to Newfoundland for fish. As soon as they get their lading they return; and, as soon as they do return, they unload and sell their cargoes.
It cannot be presumed the ships stay at Newfoundland until the fish grow, rancid, before they purchase their
cargoes, even if they catch none of it themselves; neither will any person readily believe, that the merchant will keep his fish to grow rancid, before he fells it to the planter; or that the planter, when he has bought it, will keep it until it is spoiled before he gives it to his negroes. It is equally contrary to fact, to say the Irish provisions given to the negroes, are of the worst quality the market affords. I must beg leave to afk the Dean of Middleham, whether he means the Irish, or the Barbadoes market? If the former, there is not a merchant in London or Cork, but will contradict him. The worst Irish beef is never shipped to the British sugar islands. If the Barbadoes market is alluded to, perhaps, the poorer people, who are obliged to purchase it in the island, buy the cheapest kind there is for sale, on account of their inability to pay for better, yet even that, which is the lowest priced beef for fale, is what is called common cargo beef, which is not by several degrees the most inferior.
But it is well known that the beef ordered by the planters, and thipped from Ireland by their correfpondents, is of the niott superior quality, and is from that circumstance denominated and branded on the head of the casks, mess beef, by way of pre-eminence. There is much less difference in pork than in beef, and the foriner is more commonly given to the negroes
than the latter. The quality of cargo pork, and mess park, the only different descriptions of that article of commerce, is the fame ; in the former, the whole carcass is packed in the barrel; in the latter, the heads, necks and thanks, are omitted.
The Dean goes on to speak of their drink, " which is commonly water from ponds, occasionally with a little rum in it." Js not the same unfortunate biass towards abusing the planter manifested in this, as in the former description ? can any reason be assigned, or will any body credit, that the planter should forbid his negro to quench his thirft with well, spring, or rain water, when he can get it, and oblige poor Tom to drink “ the green mantle of the standing pool?” I think I may venture to say that no one will believe the negroes commonly drink pond water, but where better is not to be had, which may be the cafe in some fituations, and at fome times of the year, in Barbadoes and Antigua ; but in Granada, St. Vincents, Dominica, Montserrat, Nevis, St. Kitts, and the greatest part of Jamaica, the negroes could scarcely find pond water, if they were to seek for it.
The Dean, however, allows that, whatever be the water the negroes drink, they occasionally have a little rum in it. I hope I may be at liberty to expound this assertion of the Dean, in such a manner, as will render it confiftent with truth, and not do him so much difcredit, as if it was construed more confiftently with the other parts of his declamation. I will therefore suppose the Dean means, that they have as much rum given them in their water, as they have any occafion for; and really that is generally the fact.
() The Dean's żeal for the flaves, or rather his enmity to the planters, is manifest in that part of his accusation, which shews that they merit praise, where ho bestows his censure ;-he says, “ in the rainy season, the negroes are not always withdrawn from their labour to shelter.” The very terms of the accusation Thew they generally are-If the charge was more pointed, I should only have to urge, that as the preservation of the health of his negroes, is the most essential object of the planter's care, who has any regard for his own interest, there cannot be a reasonable apprehension that he will not attend to it.
I shall leave it to the Dean himself, to settle his account with the planters of his native island, for the character he gives of them as “guilty of extravagancies in England, and riotous living in their own country, of having passions upon which there is no check in law, in favour of the negroes, for whose murder, if the property is invested in the murderer, they are not accountable to the magistrate, and who being confirmed in habit, inflexible in obftinacy, and rooted in prejudice, are unwilling to try the effc&t of a lenient and novel fyftem.”-I must, however, beg leave to affert, from my knowledge of many of the inhabitants, in almost all the West India islands, Barbadoes not excepted, that a lenient system is not a novel one, and that, amongst the same number of gentlemen in England, or any other part of the British dominions, there will not be found a greater number of men of better education, of more enlarged ideas, of more charitable, humane, difpofitions, or, in short, more diligent, Tober, valuable and industrious citizens, or deserving better of their country, than do the planters inhabiting