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To place the matter in a fair point of view, our author gives us, we doubt not, a very faithful account how negroes are treated in the West-Indies. When we contrast with this the state of the labouring poor in our own island, we muft admit with him the hard fate of the latter. But though the negro is better fed, and better attended in fickness, there are certain wants peculiar to climate and temperament, in the satisfying of which he is considerably abridged. Between the tropics labour is every where painful to the human race, and most other animals. The native inhabitants of these islands lived on the spontaneous productions of the earth, and passed a life of indolence, and the few enjoyments it brings with it. The succession of daily labour, at stated hours, in such a climate, and to men accustomed to a quick succession of events, may be the most painful of punishments. But when our author relates the state of the female slave during pregnancy, and the manner in which the husband and wife live together, he very candidly acknowledges the backwardness of the planters' to purchase females, We learn farther that of flaves brought over, not so much as a third part are females, and among them many are past childbearing. Mr. Francklyn surely will not contend that the state of an uninformed negro in the torrid zone can be happy under these restraints.
The assertion that the negroes ate neglected in their religious concerns, is next warmly confuted; and the want of increased population is referred not to severity of treatment, but to a paucity of females, their consequent promiscuous intercourses, and a habit of suckling their children for two years. :
The assertion of the Dean of Middleham, that the merchant is answerable for all the blood spilt in the wars among the negroes in Africa, is we think got rid of, rather than answered. It is not for us to determine what would be the fate of captives, did not the English purchase them; but we cannot eafily believe, where the principal source of wealth is the human race, that an uncultivated people will not make war for the purpose of making slaves, as the Europeans do, to extend their commerce. As justice is superior to all other considerations, we shall take no notice of our author's prudential cautions to GreatBritain, if she wishes to preserve her islands. But his claim of retribution in behalf of himself and fellow-islanders is so fair that we shall conclude by transcribing it:
• If the slaves at present in the islands are set free, their ruin will be immediatę. If the save-trade is abolished, their produce will in a few years be annihilated. The planter knows too well the impoflibility of inducing white men to attempt supporting the labours of the field in this part of the world, to consent to the experiment
, I 2
being tried at his expence. If the petitioners or the public are wifling to run the risk, the planters will not, I dare say, make any objections to it, but cede their property to be conducted according to any new mode which shall be adopted, on being paid a reasonable price for their property. Should such proposal be approved of, it may not be improper to state what will probably be the amount of the planters claims on the public: It is generally believed that the number of negroes, and
other slaves, in the several British sugar islands, are about 450,000, which, at sol. fierling per head, amounts to
- 22,500,oo The land they cultivate, with the buildings thereon, is moderately estimated at double the value of the
- 45,000,000 The land in wood, which in some of the islands govern
ment has sold for considerable sums of money, and which is particularly valuable for supplying timber for repairs of sugar-works, mills, houses, &c. and which the present possesfors have paid large sums for; houses in the towns, in the several islands, cattle, horses, mules, carts, &c. &c. will not be furely confidered as estimated highly at
Total 70,000,000 - The whole then will amount to the sum of about seventy millions sterling. It may be difficult for the public to find means, at this juncture, to raise fo large a sum of money, especially as the abolition of the West India commerce, if the new plan of cultivation should fail, will occasion a very considerable diminution of the national revenues. But the wealth of this world is unworthy the regard of such pious men as our petitioners; ' fiat juftitia, ruat cælum;' lays the Dean of Middleham.''
There is certainly justice in this requisition; for if the Britila legislature conceives itself empowered to restrain the commerce, and annihilate the wealth of her colonies, they have a right to expect an indemnity in proportion to their losses, and the fee curity with which they first hazarded their capitals and lives.
Art. XIII. An Inquiry into the Origin, Progress, and present
State of Slavery; with a Plan for ihe gradual, reasonable, and focure Emancipation of Slaves. By a Neinber of the Society of Universal Goodwill in London and Norwich. 8vo. is. Murray. London, 1789.
ONE peculiar circumstance feems to mark all réformations,
whether in politics, morals, or religion. In proportion as the inhabitants of any country are by climate, custom, or other circumstances, more or less generally addicted to the old prac
tice, into the Origin, &c of Slavery. tice, is the spirit of reformation greater or less. Perhaps to climate and custom, rather than any original purity of manners, we should afcribe the almost universal abhorrence in which some very degrading vices are held in this and other northern countries. To the security in which those who have never been in a similar situation feel themselves, we may often trace the general obloquy in which the wealthy Afiatic adventurers are involved, and the inconsiderable number who are engaged in the slave-trade, compared to the community at large, may be at least among the causes of the general outcry in favour of our fable brethren. It must, however, be confeiled that few are fair judges in their own causes; and this spirit of criminating others is often useful, by inducing the accused parties to remind their accusers of similar inconsistencies in their own conduct. Most cordially were it to be wished that not only the state of the negro save may be meliorated by favourable institutions, but that their advocates would be convinced how much remains to be done at home; how much the state of society among the labouring poor might be improved by the example of their betters, a proper encouragement to laudable industry, by a patronage which might teach' them the true blessings of life, and that temperance, diligence, and economy, are in all stations equally necessary, and the only means of true happiness.
The present little performance is written, as its title professes, with a view of tracing the origin, progress, and present state, of slavery, and of proposing a gradual abolition of this traffic. The firft part of the work we shall pass over, because, admitting that the negroes are the children of Canaan, against whom a curse was pronounced by the Almighty, that slavery is coëval with society, and the general consequence of conqueft, the author is himself ready to admit that it is not the business of men to make themselves the executioners of divine vengeance, and that as knowledge and morality increase, all the institutions of a barbarous age should cease.
On the very interesting and important subject of a safe eman cipation of the flaves, we are much pleased with the observations and plans proposed, and sincerely recommend the perusal of the performance to all such as are engaged in this benevolent undertaking, both in and out of parliament. An immediate emancipation our author dreads, as an evil not only to the planters, but to the blacks themselves; nor does he seem to require an instant abolition of the trade. Fo: such as are already in a state of slavery, he proposes the establishment of a police for their benefit, that a prospect should be open to them of some period to their servitude, according to their degree of industry, honesty, and fidelity; that they should all be taught so
much of the English language as to enable them to converse with one another, with the whites, and to teach the fresh imported llaves enough to render their situation more tolerable by the advantage of mutual intercourse. In order to improve still farther this last advantage, he advises that such slaves as have fulfilled the period of their servitude, should be transported, if they wished it, to their own country, that the prejudice entertained by the Africans against the merchants may be removed ; that a degree of improvement and civilisation may be begun in Africa, and even something like the cultivation of a soil very fit to produce fugars and other West-India commodities. These proposals are at least worthy the attention of the legislature, and those disinterested individuals who have so generously undertaken the cause of the negroes. There is only one part of our author's plan we cannot immediately coincide with-to further the improvement of the negroes, without injury to their masters, he proposes a Sunday's School. It is well known that the space from Saturday noon to Monday has hitherto been invariably left to the disposal of the flave; part is usually employed in cultivating a small spot of earth, part in carrying his commodities to market, and the remainder in thofe recreations which in Africa probably made the whole of his employment. Surely this space is not too much for all these purposes; and the dull business of learning a language, how useful foever it might be in the end, would, we apprehend, be an unwelcome exchange.
Art. XIV. Sylva Critica : five in AuElores sacros profanosque
Commentarius Philologus : concinnavit Gilbertus Wakefield, X. B. et Cell. Jeļu apud Cantab. nuper Socius. 8vo. 45. boards. Merril, Cambridge; Deighton, London. 1789.
THAT the writings of the ancients have suffered much from
the inaccuracy of copyists, there needs no other proof than the numerous variations which occur in different manuscripts of one and the same work. To examine such passages in'them as appear to be suspicious, to collate the various readings attentively with each other, and thence endeavour to ascertain what was probably the original expression; these objects have given rise to the arduous office of commentators, who, during some ages subsequent to the the revival of learning, and the invention of the art of printing, overspread almost all Europe with their annotations. A great portion of knowledge, and indefatigable industry, are accomplishments which we cannot refuse those scholiafts in general to have possessed; but, if we except some men of distinguished abilities, they were far from being equally
endowed with other collateral and essential requisites of criticism. Void of elegance of taste, and acuteness of discernment, they seldom entered into the spirit, or comprehended the beauties, of the authors on whom they commented; and they often miftook, for the sense of the author, the conceits of their own imagination. Many, on this account, are the passages in ancient writers, concerning which a judicious reader will dissent from, or hesitate at least to adopt, the opinion of the scholiaft. Of this class of independent critics appears to have been the author now before us. He seems to have devoted his attention chiefly to the examination of the scriptures; but partly for the better ascertaining the sense of those sacred oracles, by occasionally collating them with parallel passages in other writings, and partly likewise for the fake of variety, he has interspersed his com mentaries on the Old and New Testament with remarks on the ancient poets. His observations, in general, are judicious, and place him in a very favourable light, both as a classical scholar of extensive erudition, and a man of an elegant and correct taste. We shall select a few examples of the emendations which he suggests.
Whatever may be the propriety of substituting laso for laslo, in the second line following, we think the change is a real improvement in the last line of the quotation:
• Purpureus veluti cùm flos fuccisus aratro
Demisere caput, pluviâ cùm fortè gravantur. Varietas lectionis eft in hoc loco-laolaxo_lapso : quarum nulla quidem videtur contemnenda, et temerè repudianda ; nullam autem genuinam judico. Dedit scilicèt limatisfimus poeta, et Græcarum elegantiarum fervantiffimus,
LÆsove papavera collo. Pari venuftate nofter vii. 808.
Illa vel intatæ fegetis per fumma volaret
Gramina, nec teneras curfu LÆSISSET ariftas. Et eadem restitutio mihi prorsùs neceffaria videtur ad Æn. yi. 310. ne bis idem dicendi ignominiâ notetur Maro:
Quam multa in filvis qutumni frigore primo
LÆSA cadunt folia.' We should likewise be inclined to adopt Mr. Wakefield's alteration of obtundem, with a point of interrogation, after aures, for obturem, in the following paffage of Horace :