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of an English evening, and several groups of parents and children were gathered round their humble but cheerful meal, in the neatly sanded kitchen, the door of which stood open to admit the sweet breath of the evening breeze.
My way conducted me from this scene of animated existence to one of the deepest solitude. I struck across a field or two, which at once led me into one of the most unfrequented paths of the forest. The sun was yet brightly shining in the west, but his rays did not pierce the thick gloom of the elms and beeches into which I had penetrated. The place was singularly wild, and seemed scarcely to belong to the quiet scenery of our inland counties. A rapid stream, which in winter must become a torrent, had formed a deep ravine, with high and precipitous banks; the fern grew about in the wildest profusion; the old roots of the trees which hung over the bourn, as the people of the forest still call it, were bared to the wind and frost; but they grasped the earth resolutely and firmly, offering no inappropriate image of a strong mind struggling with adversity. As I walked on, endeavouring to follow the course of the stream, the scene became still more solitary. I could gain no eminence to look round upon the surrounding country; I could not hear either the tinkling of the sheep-bell, the low of cattle, or the bark of the watch-dog; even the herds of deer had forsaken this spot of unbroken solitude.
The course of the bourn led me on through the same wild and tangled scenery for more than a mile. I at length arrived at a spot where my attention was powerfully excited by traces of human industry, which had something extraordinary in their appearance. On a large beech-tree was rudely carved the letters T. C., and beneath the figures 1787. My attention was drawn to the contradiction which the freshness of the carving presented to the remoteness of the
date. Near the tree the grass and fern sprung up with a rank luxuriance: no cattle ever seemed to pasture in this secluded spot. Where the grass grew
highest there was a remarkable appearance, which could not have been the effect of accident. For about eight feet in length and two in width, the grass had been carefully cut away; indeed, the small surface was as closely trimmed as a newly-mown meadow, while the long grass grew around it, as if the scythe had never violated its useless luxuriance. I was forcibly struck by these appearances, and I determined to return to the village for the purpose of seeking an explanation.
I inquired at several cottages without obtaining any satisfactory solution. There were few who knew the spot to which my questions referred. I at last addressed myself to one whose garb bespoke the occupation of a woodman. He was old, and had evidently borne much fatigue and hardship. He said that he could explain all that I wanted to know, for that he every year cut afresh the bark of the beechtree, and removed the high grass with his sickle as fast as it grew. to commemorate an awful event that happened on that spot. His narrative had many pauses and breaks; but it was in substance as follows:
"It was in the year 1787, that a fellow-woodman met his death in that lonely place. It was on a fine summer evening, as it may be now, that a dozen of us were sitting down beneath that beech tree to refresh ourselves after our day's labour. We had been felling some trees close at hand, and a hard day's work we had of it. The bailiff ordered us some beer; and as we were returning home, we met the boy coming with it, and we sat ourselves down in that high grass to enjoy it. We were tired and hot, and we drank freely. We got to talk about our own great doings, and one boasted how much money he could earn, and another bragged how much beer he could drink. There was a quarrelsome
The Fatal Effects of Temper.
chap amongst us, his name was Joe D——, and he bullied and hectored poor Tom C in a strange way. Tom bore it all patiently for some time; for he was a quiet, harmless fellow, and he perhaps bethought him that a quarrel would not do any good to his wife and children. At last Joe, who was filling out the mugs of beer, instead of handing Tom his allowance, threw it in his face. The poor fellow could not bear this-for, though goodnatured, he did not want spirit. He resented the insult. The other grew more saucy and savage, and at last he hit Tom a blow in the face. I am ashamed of myself, and of all the set, when I recollect how, for the love of mischief, we encouraged the quarrel, and got up to make a ring for two fellow-creatures to strive against each other like brute beasts. To it they went; in five minutes poor Tom received a blow in the stomach, and he never spoke afterwards. He fell down where the grass is cut away; and he breathed his last under the beech tree where the letters are carved. We carried him in our arms to the cottage; -oh, that was a scene for his poor wife, which I never, never shall forget! Joe fled the country; I saw him many years after, but he slunk along like a ghost; and I would much rather have died in my youth, like my poor fellow-woodman, than have borne about the fire which that man must have had in his heart. I do what I can to preserve the remembrance of poor Tom, as you see, for I am the last left of all who saw his frightful death. I have told my boys never to let the grass grow there when I am gone. May be the sight of that lonely token of him may lead some to ask about it, as you have done; and the
knowledge of the fatal effect of sudden quarrels may teach our children to live in peace with all about them.”
The Fatal Effects of Temper.
[From the Atlas of April 29, 1832.] A YOUTH named Musket, and another individual, whose name we understood to be Deal, were regaling themselves about three weeks since at the Hog in the Pound public-house, in Oxford-street, when some angry discussion took place, and Musket, who was at the time engaged in eating his supper, threatened that if the other touched him, he would stab him with a clasp knife which he held in his hand, and with which he was cutting his bread. His opponent, little contemplating how soon the execution would follow the menace, immediately struck or pushed him, when Musket made a blow at him with the knife, and unfortunately inflicted a severe wound in his companion's body. The bleeding man was conveyed to St. George's hospital; and, on the prisoner, Musket, being placed at the bar, a surgeon's certificate was produced, from which it appeared that the wounded individual was considered in imminent danger. The prisoner was accordingly remanded. He left the bar attended by the commiseration of all present. His countenance was a complete index of the remorse which preyed upon his very existence. On turning into the air he became giddy, and, having whirled round with weakness and agitation, fell into the arms of a police constable who was near him. He was conveyed to the infirmary, and there, after the most protracted suffering in body and mind, expired on Monday last. We are happy to add that the wounded man is slowly recovering.
1. Four Essays on Colonial Slavery, by John Jeremie, Esq 8vo. pp. 123. Hatchard and Son.
2. The West India Question, by C. Stuart. 8vo. pp. 44. Simpkin and Marshall.
THE history of man presents a melancholy picture of human nature : we see justice, mercy, and truth trampled upon in the pursuit of some sublunary, some imaginary good, because, in short, temporal wealth, distinctions, and honours are more coveted than durable riches and righteousness,-the praise of man than the favour of God. Hence it is, that war, slavery, and every species of oppression, find so many advocates, aye, advocates in Great Britain, in a country which stands preeminent among the nations for her moral and intellectual light; but, alas! if the torch of truth were to cast its piercing rays on the heathenish abominations, the injustice and cruelties which she sanctions in her dependencies, it would, like the touch of Ithuriel's spear, of celestial temper, expose features so hideous that we should recoil back from them in dismay. When the parliament takes into consideration the renewal of the charter of the East India Company, however that question may be settled, they are imperatively called upon, as Christian legislators, to withdraw the public countenance and support which have hitherto, to our indelible disgrace, been given to Hindoo idolatry, with its horrid customs, licentiousness, and system of slavery. And measures should be immediately adopted, consistently with the freedom of the natives, for its ultimate abolition. Those parts of the system which are repugnant to humanity, decency, and good morals, should be put down without a moment's delay.
So much for our dependencies in
the East. The works at the head of this article call our attention to the antichristian abomination of slavery, as it exists in our West India colonies. We do not suppose that there is any advocate of our colonial system of slavery, who would now be bold enough to justify slavery in the abstract as countenanced by Christianity. Mr. Barclay, himself, with all his prejudices in favour of our colonial system full blown upon him, condemns the origin of the system as a sin; only he would fain fix the crime upon the British nation and not on the colonists. Admit the crime; and we will not deny that Great Britain is implicated in the guilt: not, however, as having originated slavery in our colonies, (that was done by the Spaniards and Portuguese before they came into our possession), but by her subsequent recognition and retention of the system. But if Great Britain has incurred guilt, for not breaking the chains of oppression under which above 800,000 of her subjects groan, it is in vain for the colonists to wash their hands, as guiltless, of the blood of their brethren, when they strain every nerve and exert all their energies and influence to rivet for ever the fetters of their slaves. This deep stain of guilt cannot be washed out by Mr. Barclay's plea, that the present proprietors of West India property are not answerable for a system of slavery which they did not originate, but which has descended down to them with their estates: neither will this plea, in any sense, apply to such proprietors who have purchased their estates, or to whom the estates have fallen, in consequence of their having advanced money on them. Such proprietors are as deeply implicated in the guilt that attaches to the system, as if they had originated it. Neither
is it true, that the colonists, as Mr. Barclay insinuates, are persecuted, either for their own sin, or for that of the nation. They are not the objects of attack, but the system with which they are unfortunately connected; a system which threatens, and, if persevered in, will be, their ruin. Forced slave labour is so repugnant to every moral principle of the Gospel, that a divine dereliction seems to attend it: for example, if we look to the embarrassed condition of the West India planters who declare themselves to be on the verge of ruin; or if we compare the slave with the free states of America, they lead us to the same conclusion, that the curse of heaven blasts the produce of slave labour.
Mr. Barclay, and other West Indian advocates, represent the kind treatment of the slaves by their masters, their comforts, improvement in knowledge and religion, in such glowing colours, that we might suppose the golden age was revived among them, and they were the happiest of mortals, and consequently, that the interference of the Anti-Slavery Society, and of the British government, was mischievous, by filling the minds of the slaves with imaginary grievances which they do not feel, and hence sowing the seeds of discontent and insubordination. We have before fully exposed the fallacy of Mr. Barclay's statements; and the total failure of his attempt to rebut Mr. Stephen's irrefragable proofs that our colonial slave system comprises within itself every repulsive feature that can attach to a state of slavery.* We have only to examine the latest authentic accounts of the present working of the slave system, to sweep away the ideal Paradise in which the West Indians have placed their slaves, and to expose, in all its deformities, the most atrocious system of slave government that ever existed. Our present
See the Herald of Peace, vol. vii. pp. 124, 256, 315, 384, and 446, and p. 52 of the present volume.
article will be directed to this examination, and to the remedies that can be applied to it, with justice to all the parties interested.
Mr. Stephen, in his masterly work on "The Slavery of the West India Colonies," has drawn a comparison between the English law of villeinage, and the West India law of slavery; the subject to which the comparison was intended to be applied was "the legal protection of the slave from cruel treatment by the master."
Unable to produce satisfactory laws of their own, [the West India planters,] on a subject which so strongly called for legislation, they referred to the laws of this country; and boldly maintained that the protection given by our laws to British subjects, or at least, that which they afforded to English slaves, while such characters existed in this island, belonged to the enslaved negroes. They ventured distinctly to assert, that the English law of villeinage, was that which regulated the authority of the master, and the legal protection of the slave; or at least, that the law of the islands, in these points, resembled that ancient institution.
How extravagant this representation was, will be best seen in the course of the following details. At present it may suffice partially to expose it, by compar ing the two systems in one or two of their
The English lord could not delegate to any one his power of arbitrary correction; the West India planter may, and universally does delegate it, to managers, overseers, and every subordinate agent, as well as to lessees, and all other persons claiming title under him. The charge of a negro's person, or the superintendance of his labours, always implies the right of whipping him at discretion.
Murder and mayhem were punishable by the English law as severely when the villein of the offender, as when a free man was the sufferer; but in some of our colonies, at the time when these answers were given, [1788,] the offence of murder itthe murderer only to a small pecuniary self, if perpetrated on a slave, subjected fine; and as to mayhem, or mutilation, the late meliorating laws even have, for the most part, treated such enormities, however deliberate and wanton, as mere
misdemeanours; though they are, in the same islands, felonies, if the sufferer be a free subject; and have limited within narrow bounds, the fines or terms of imprisonment which the courts may, in such cases, inflict.
What is far more important, when the villein had civil rights, whether against strangers of a free condition, or the lord himself, he also had legal remedies. He might maintain all manner of actions, as fully as a free person, against every man but his lord, even against a man who beat him by the lord's order; and in some cases against the lord himself. He was also a competent prosecutor in criminal cases, and might in some cases appeal his lord. But the negro slave can maintain no action whatever against any man; and can in no case be received as a witness, except on criminal prosecutions against persons of his own condition; and the Assemblies themselves admit that this incapacity generally frustrates the effect of laws made for the protection of siaves against the master, or other free persons, by whom they may be injured and oppressed.
Important though these distinctions between negro slavery and villeinage be felt to be, and amply sufficient to refute the strange pretence of an identity or similitude between them in the points that were in question, the state of the negro will be hereafter shewn to be, in many points not less essential, deplorably below that of the English villein; though the latter was probably the most unfortunate of European bondmen during the dark ages of feudal despotism.-Stephen, vol. i. p. 17-20.
The ameliorating laws in our colonies may appear to put some restraint upon arbitrary correction of the slave, by the master and his subordinate agents, but if we look at their administration, they will be found "totally destitute of an executive principle." Appearances, indeed, are scarcely preserved in the laws which emanate from the colonies, as may be seen by a reference to the last slave code of Jamaica, which bears the date of February 19, 1831, and which has been justly designated "a most barbarous enactment, far more worthy of Tunis or Algiers, than of a community calling itself British." But we appeal to
facts: the following case occurred in Jamaica only last year; it comes before us in the authentic shape of an official despatch from Lord Goderich to Lord Belmore, the Governor of Jamaica, and directly applies to the subject, in illustration of which Mr. Stephen drew a comparison between the English law of villeinage and the West Indian or colonial slave laws, from cruel treatment by the master." "the legal protection of the slave
Two female domestic slaves, mother and daughter, having some altercation with their mistress, Mrs. Jackson, wife of the principal magistrate of the district, in which they used language which their mistress thought insolent, the latter, with her own hands, took "a supple jack" and flogged the younger slave with it till the instrument broke. The flogging was then renewed with a whip. On this, the mother broke out in violent remonstrances, when Mrs. Jackson, making use of very improper language, threatened to punish her. Upon her renewed remonstrances, her mistress had her laid down and flogged by the driver. The mother was placed in the stocks, and kept there two or three weeks, night and day. At the end of that time she was carried to the other stocks, in a place called the hot-house, where she was also kept for about two or three weeks, the daughter being placed in those stocks from which her mother had been removed. After this, these unfortunate women, though bred as domestic slaves, were employed in the field; and when not in the field, were confined in the stocks, including even the Sundays. The daughter said she was beaten with a strap by Mr.Jackson himself, and also flogged with a new cat by his orders. This treatment continued for nearly six months, from the middle of January to the 3d of June, 1831, when their release was occasioned by the interference of another magistrate, (Dr. Palmer,) to whom a complaint on behalf of these two slaves had been preferred. Dr. Palmer wrote to Mr. Jackson to apprise him of the measures he intended to take, with a view to the protection of his two female slaves. On receiving this letter, Mr. Jackson applied to his brother, Mr. Campbell Jackson, who was also a magistrate, to undertake the investigation of the complaint, who accordingly summoned the two slaves before 3 D