Puslapio vaizdai

do correct you, are we not privileged to do so? If a man smite his servant or his maid with a rod, and he die under his hand, he shall surely be punished; notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished, for he is his money."-But whose effigy, Sir, is on that money? might ask the negro.-Is it not the king's?-In whose likeness is he made?-In whose likeness are all men made?-In God's own likeness made he them: then, Sir, (if an idea of Milton's might be clothed in the language of a negro,) give unto the Creator of all men the honour that belongs to him, and give to that humanity in which his image is reflected the rights that belong to it.

Insolent assumption! would reply the theologian; all men indeed possessed of such ennobling attributes! Is it among the miserable wretches of your country, whom La Bruyere has described as hardly human, that we are to look for beings who deserve the name of men? "We find,” says this philosopher, "under the torrid zone certain wild animals, both male and female, scattered through the country, black and sun-scorched, and bent to the earth which they dig up with invincible perseverance. They have something like an articulate voice; and when they stand on their feet, they exhibit a human face, and, in fact, these creatures are men;" but miserably degraded and irreme

diably debased, adds the commentator; and, therefore, he continues, "we deal in your species because it is profitable for us and advantageous to you; and no one can deny that our property in you is sacred. Was not Hagar a bond-servant? Was not Canaan decreed to be a servant of servants unto his brethren ?

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Ay, Sir," replies the African scholar, "but was it not after Noah' awoke from his wine,' that he pronounced the curse of slavery, the first that ever issued from man's lips."

Heedless of the interruption, the white gentleman proceeds, "Was not Joseph regularly bought and sold? did he not become the property of the Midianite merchant, for he was his money? "How much money, Sir," asks the negro, 66 might the man be?”

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"Twenty pieces of silver in this instance, replies the divine; "but the price fixed by the Mosaic law was thirty shekels, or about three pounds fifteen shillings of our money!'

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"Then, Sir," answers the African savage, the same law which sanctions slavery has specified the price of the slave, here are the three pounds fifteen shillings, the thirty shekels which you say was the legal price of liberty-take it to my master, I will no longer be a slave. In the book you gave me, we are told by St. Paul to



prefer liberty to slavery: Ye are bought with a price: be not therefore the servants of men.'

A smile of pity, with a slight expression of contempt, might ripple over the broad Atlantic of the countenance of the divine: "Do you not know, Sir," he would say, "that the value of slaves has augmented largely since the times I speak of?" "I do, Sir!" replies the negro; "but till you show me in your book where the price of the slave is enhanced, since the time it was fixed at the thirty shekels, I must either insist on procuring my liberty for that sum, or deny your right to rest your system on the authority of that law which gives no sanction to those who are living under it to deviate from its prescribed usages, by increasing the temptation to steal men, and augmenting the difficulty ten times over of redeeming them."

But the white gentleman would deny that the slave had the power of demanding his ransom: he would tell him that the Hebrew might sell his own daughter into slavery, provided it was not in a foreign land. "But does the civil law of your country," would ask the negro, "recognise his present right to dispose thus of his own flesh and blood?" I will spare the blushes of the gentleman he interrogates, and will take upon myself to answer from my own experience. The law, even as it now stands, does permit the father to hold his own

son in bondage, and the son to demand the wages of slavery from his own mother, and to claim the services of his own sister as his bond-woman. These horrors are not merely possible contingencies that may be heard of occasionally; they are actual occurrences, two of which came before me within the last three months. A Jew of this town, a man of litigious character, had a young Mulatto man taken up for refusing to pay wages: it turned out that these wages were demanded from his own son, his child by one of his negro slaves. I referred the disgusting claim to the higher authorities, for I confess I was unwilling to believe that the rights of slavery were compatible with those of paternity, or could be maintained over the same individual. I was informed, however, that the apprentice claiming exemptions from servitude on the ground of his being the illegitimate son of his master, could not be absolved from his apprenticeship on any such allegation. The law was on the side of this modern Shylock, and, in spite of all attempts to move or to shame him into a renunciation of his claim, he would have justice and his bond-and I was "a second Daniel" in his estimation when I most reluctantly fixed for that obdurate father the wages of a son's slavery, but in amount the lowest sum I had ever ordered.

A free black came before me to claim the ser

vices of a runaway slave and her four children, who had been absent from him many months. I had them taken up. The woman proved to be the claimant's own sister. He denied not the relationship; but, on the contrary, in support of his claim, said, that her mother and his had been his slave also, and had died in servitude to him. I could hardly believe my own ears. Captain Dillon, who sat with me, was equally astonished. I made the man repeat the words over again, and took them down. His mother and sister had been

bequeathed to him. up to the time of his

They were his property, and mother's death she belonged to his household. There was, unfortunately, no doubt as to the legality of his claim. I examined the public registry, but the slaves were duly registered. I looked at the conveyance: there was no informality or defect in the title. I told the woman she would have to prepare to go back to her brother--that he was her legal master, and she and her children, with the exception of the youngest, who was under six years of age, must return to his service; but that I would take two days before I gave a final decision, in order that all the coloured population of Kingston might be afforded the most public opportunity that could be given them, of witnessing an event of so much importance to her brother as the recovery of the services of the daughter of his own mother. The

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