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the West India islands; add to this, that they are universally allowed to be a brave, generous people, and so attached to their fellow subjects of Great-Britain and Ireland, that their houses, and their tables are constantly open to, and their horses, servants, and carriages, at the call of, such gentlemen, as business or curiosity lead to visit the colonies, even although they thould have but the flightest introduction to them, or no other knowledge of them than, perhaps, their bearing his Majesty's commission; and I am bapry now, that I am on the point of leaving these islands, to have so good an opportunity of bearing this testimony to their worth
I have heard it observed that, heretofore, the flaves in the colonies were treated with more severity than at present. There were then fewer natives, and the unhealthiness of the climate deterred more people, who could live in Europe, from visiting the islands, thanı venture at present, when the country, from cultivation, is become much less fatal. The scarcity, therefore, of white inhabitants, formerly, in a manner, obliged the planters to accept the fatal present which the humanity of the Mother Country presented to them, of the outcasts of their gaols, or of the disipated, drunken and yicious youth, whose parents sent them over to the islands to save them from immediate disgrace or destruction. The humane and compassionate dispositions of the planters, often combined with the want of worthier subjects, to lead them to confide their negroes to such unprincipled and unfeeling miscreants, as many of them proved, and their behaviour has at different times brought unmerited censure on the proprietors, who have, perhaps, been entirely ignorant of the ill
treatment their slaves have received, and the confequent injury their fortunes and properties have fustained, from the men to whom they have given the bread they were not thought worthy to eat in tlie land of their nativity.
But wirat cair induce the Dean to affert that the white people are unwilling to admit their flaves to the privileges of Chriftianity? Why does he appeal to the veterable Society for propagating the Gospel for their teftimony, in proof of that affertion? I am confident that fociety, of which I liave had the lionour to be a member, cannot support him upon this occafionThey liave a right to direct how their estates shall be conducted, and, it is not to be doubted, they have taken fuck fteps to convert their slaves as they judged most efficacious. If their endeavours for that purpose have hitherto been ineffectual, is there not reason to fear, it must be imputed, not fo much to the unwillingness of the masters of the flaves, as to the want of diligence and zcal, in those who are appointed their instructors. The society's estates have, I know, for foine years past, been particularly under the direction of a Ieft' India gentleman, who has, in a moft noble and difinterested manner, given his attention to their improvement; who lias engaged, at all events, to pay them a certain rent; and every profit he could make of them besides, I know, he intended for them, and dare. fay he has given to them. Those who know that gentleman, will not doubt bis zeal as a Christian, or his huinanity as a man. Was lie limself resident in the itfand, probably, his endeavours miglit be more fuccessful than, perhaps, they have been, in promoting the conversion of the negroes of those estates. That
the proprietors of flaves are willing to have thema instructed, and that the people themselves are capable of instruction, is clear from what has liappened within these few years at Antigua, where, from the diligence and apoftolic zeal and perseverance of the clergymen of the Moravian church, many thousands of negroes are found amongst their humble auditors, well instructed and baptized, and many hundred communicants are constant attendants at the Lord's Table. So far are the inhabitants from being displeased at their conversion, that, I am well informed, 20 to 30 per cent. more is given for a Chriftian, than an unconverted flave, equally valuable in other respects. Application has been made, to my certain knowledge, ito the brethren from some of the other islands to send them clergymen to inftruct their negroes; and I know more than one gentleman who has offered to be at the expence of building such pastor a commodious house, and attaching a parcel of land to it, for his accommodation. These gentlemen are now enlarging the circle of their labours; they are settled in Barbadoes, St. Cruz, this, and other islands, and their success is not to be doubted. But can it be wondered at, wheir people are ordained priests and sent to the West Indies, whose characters were before, not only despicable, but, some of them, infamous, which we know has been the case; people should not have been defirous of such persons attempting the conversion of their negroes, even if they should request it, which is not probable.
I would not be underftood to throw a censure upon any particular person, and, therefore, I forbear pointing out those instances which are however well known
amongft us ; but I beg leave to add, that there is not at present so much reason for complaint as heretofore; many of the clerical gentlemen, now in the West Indies, being men of worth and character. Still, however, it is to be feared there are some who have sought to be put into the priest's office, merely that they may eat a morsel of bread.
I have already affigned some of the causes to which the annual diminution of the negroes, in the colonies, may be attributed, viz, the smaller comparative number of females iinported than males, the promiscuous amours of the females (not as it is imagined, by some people, from a libidinous disposition, as they fell their favours at a high rate, both to their negro and white paramours) and to the mothers suckling their children tonger than necessary, scarce any of them being to be prevailed on to wean their children before they are two or three years old; another reafon is the unhealthiness attending the establithment of new settlements.-The curse of God, that "man fhall cat his bread by the sweat of his brow," is particularly manifefted upon fuch occasions ; disease and forrow are his companions, until the ground is fully cultivated. But I cannot allow the negroes in Barbadoes are leffened in the proportion the Dean alleges---He says, that the white inhabitants are diminished one half fince my Lord Clarendon's time; that may, for ought I know, be true, and partly owing to their migrations ; but, that thé blacks are stationary, I more than doubt. Great numbers of negroes have, heretofore, deserted from Barbadoes to St. Vincents, many were carried to Guadaloupe, Martinique, and to the Havanna, when the conquest of those islands was achieved, the war before laft. For many years toge
ther, owing to the bad crops in that island, great numbers have been sold, or sent off to the Dutch settlements upon the Continent, which owe many of their white inhabitants also to Barbadoes, who have always carried off with them as many of their llaves as they could; others have been sent to the islands of St. Vincent, Grenada, and Tobago, as well as to the French islands of St. Lucia, Martinique, and Guadaloupe, and, until within these three or four years, that Barbadoes has been again blessed with seasonable weather, and the inhabitants enriched by abundant crops, both of sugar and cotton, very few of the negroes, imported into that island, were purchased by the inhabitants for their own use, but have been bought either by the merchants there, or strangers, and sent off to the neighbouring English, as well as foreign islands. I do not, therefore, believe there has been any thing like the diminution of the number of slaves supposed by the Dean; on the contrary, I am inclined to believe, in moft old settled estates, both in that and the other islands, where a due proportion of females has been purchased, that, generally, there has not been any diminution, but rather an increase ; least of all will I allow, that such extraordinary diminution, if it has happened, has been occafioned by bad treatment: on the contrary, I have thewn, from the Dean's own account, that they are much beta ter treated at Barbadoes than the whites.
I have already acknowledged, that sometimes they are not so well used by their overseers as could be wished; when such misbehaviour in an overseer is discovered, he is turned away, and, probably, will not foon find another employ; but it is much to be wished, that the proprietors, particularly the more wealthy of them, K