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was discovered, the design conjectured, and the witch would have been torn to pieces, had not a high-spirited lady in the neighbourhood gathered some of her people, and, by main force, taken the unfortunate creature out of the hands of the populace."
The last execution in Scotland for witchcraft was in 1722. “ The victim,” Sir W. Scott says, ,
an insane old woman belonging to the parish of Loth, who had so little idea of her situation as to rejoice at the sight of the fire which was destined to consume her. She had a daughter lame of both hands and feet,-a circumstance attributed to the witch's having been used to transform her into a pony, and to get her shod by the devil.”
Hundreds of poor negroes, I am convinced, have been executed in Jamaica for witchcraft equally weak in intellect. The Africans, like all other people who profess the Mahometan faith, have an opinion that insanity and supernatural inspiration are frequently combined, and, consequently, knaves and lunatics (partially insane) are commonly the persons who play the parts of santons and sorcerers. The Africans carried most of their superstitions to our colonies, and, amongst others, their reverence for those, either whose physical or mental peculiarities distinguished them from the multitude,—and such were the persons who, in advanced age, usually took on themselves the obeah character. It is evident to any medical man who reads these trials, that in the great majority of cases the trumpery ingredients used in the practice of obeah were incapable of producing mischief except on the imagination of the person intended to be obeahed.
The miserable sorcery, however, in too many instances, proved fatal to its victims as well as to its practisers. Ignorance was essential to slavery ;. and no pains were spared, which human ingenuity. could devise, to keep the negro from enlightenment, which is the door to liberty. But one might have expected a little more allowance for the crimes which sprung out of that necessary state of ignorance, than one finds exhibited in the criminal records of this colony some thirty years ago. Of late years, I freely admit, that the crimi
I nal code has undergone great changes for the better; and that few evidences of its former sanguinary character are to be found, or any of those instances of mutilation and dismemberment which formerly disgraced its records : nay, moreI am inclined to think, from all I have witnessed, that in the criminal courts, the same crimes with which negroes stood charged in this colony, would
be visited in England with far greater rigour. I have not seen an instance in the superior courts in which negroes have not had a fair and impartial trial; and in that court over which the chief-justice presides, so far as depends on Sir Joshua Rowe, the attorney-general, and the gentlemen of the bar, in the trials that take place, if there is any bias, I believe it is in favour of the negroes. But where the negro is the complainant, and the white man the defendant, I have seen the firmness and the ability of the chief-justice, the zealous exertions of the attorney-general, and the able advocacy of such men at the bar as Panton and Walkis, of no avail, and right and justice completely set aside, when the question of the power of those of a privileged complexion came before a jury of the same favoured class of the community.
Before the inferior tribunals under the old law, in all matters between negro and negro, justice, I freely admit, was fairly administered ; but wherever injustice or undue severity was complained of by the negro, I must say, in almost every instance that came to my knowledge, in which a white person of any standing in society was the defendant, the disposition of the court was highly unfavourable to the complainantutterly opposed to impartial justice.
I might adduce particular instances in support of my assertions, but I have limited myself to the statement of general inferences from facts within my own experience.
I am, my dear Sir,
R. R. M.
ORIGIN OF SL A VERY.
MONSIEUR JULIEN, OF PARIS.
Kingston, Sept. 12, 1834. My dear Sir, I am desirous of complying with your request respecting the information you wish for on the subject of slavery, and I am the more anxious to do so, as you intimated in your letter, that the information you seek for, you hope to make subservient to the cause of humanity in your own colonies. I am very sorry to tell you that humanity is still very grossly outraged in them. The more I have inquired of your countrymen here, into the condition of the slaves in your colonies, the more reason I have to believe that your countrymen are not more fit to be trusted with the exercise of unlimited power over their fellow then, than those of any other European nation. In saying this I do not depend on hear-say evidence only, but on inferences from my own