Puslapio vaizdai

part of it which speaks approvingly of my conduct is very gratifying to me. I believe I have done my duty towards you; and whenever I leave this country, that belief will afford me much satisfaction. But I have two or three words to say on the subject of the prospects that are now before you, and of the necessity that exists for your improvement to enable you to take advantage of them. I would entreat of you, who are more enlightened than the majority of your brethren, to give good counsel, and by all the means in your power to render them industrious, peaceable, and patient during this term of apprenticeship, in order that their friends may have no occasion to be ashamed of them, and that those who think ill of them may have no opportunity of injuring their character, and no cause or pretext for calling for martial law, to put new restraints upon them. The new law is strong enough for their protection, (if it is well administered,) and any attempts to violate it on their part would be an act of folly, that would bring them into great trouble. I regret to see that more pains are not taken by the friends of the negroes to improve their minds. This ought not to be the case, for the success of the new measure, which is now in operation for the advantage of the negro, depends very much on his own good conduct. If he is to continue the same ignorant degraded man which slavery

[ocr errors]

made and kept him, it were better, I tell you, he did not cease to be a slave. What good is to be expected from men, however free, who still retain the vices and the defects of slaves. I need not tell you, you now have motives to be industrious, and inducements to become enlightened, which you have not had before.

Liberty means the power of doing every thing lawful, that is good and advantageous to ourselves without injury to the community. But how is the ignorant man to judge of what is good or evil for himself or others? Religious instruction is of the first importance; and where it is of a good kind, no other may be necessary for the regulation of moral conduct. But for the encouragement of industrious habits, the direction of civil duties, the knowledge and understanding of the advantages of freedom, and the lawful use of all good means to secure its rights-general instruction is likewise necessary. By general instuction, I mean such a plain and simple kind of education, as may enable the negro to read and write, and furnish his mind with employment for that leisure which he now may be inclined to spend either in excess or idleness. A man who can read and write has a great advantage over one who cannot. If he remain poor, he is more likely to be content; while without instruction, if he become rich, he has not the power of holding

[ocr errors]

up his head amongst his equals who are superior to him. I would have the negroes establish schools of mutual instruction; I would have them teach themselves, and not trust to others for their improvement. The time is come when there is no advantage in their ignorance, and no prospects of prosperity except in their conduct as rational beings capable of instruction, and, therefore, qualified for freedom. I write these things to you, for you seem to know I am the friend of your people; and as I know you are men of intelligence, indebted to your own good conduct for your freedom, I call upon you to assist your poorer countrymen in the improvement of their minds, to devote some portion of your leisure time to their instruction, and to assist in the establishment of evening-schools for their improvement, which need not interfere with the ordinary duties of the apprentices.

I do not think so badly of the intelligence of the negroes, as to imagine there is a district in which negroes might not be found who can read and write. The books that are necessary for such schools, I think, might be procured for you in England without expense, from some society favourable to the diffusion of knowledge amongst all classes, whether black or white. The teachers, it may be thought, would find their labours too fatiguing to continue without emolument.


would not, however, be so, if each were to take the weekly duty in his turn; and were the schools conducted on a plan that would be explained to you of mutual instruction, so as to make the trouble to the instructors as light as possible.

My grand object in recommending these schools, is to teach the negroes to depend on themselves for their own improvement, and not on the charity of others for those advantages which want the most powerful of all stimulants for their success—namely, self-dependence and self-exertion.

If these schools entail expense, which I have not specified, that expense I do not hesitate to tell you should be cheerfully encountered by all those of your complexion whom God has blessed with the means of assisting others in less fortunate circumstances, not only in this city, but in the island, for the honour of the negro character, which it is the desire of your friends to vindicate from the reproach of an incapacity for mental improvement.

I earnestly desire to impress on your attention, the object which the British parliament had in view, in allotting a time of probation, or apprenticeship, as it is termed, for initiating a race of slaves into a knowledge of the duties, and a proper understanding of the privileges of British subjects. That term of probation will be of advantage to the negroes, if they remain without improve

ment; and of as little benefit to their masters, if the chains of slavery have only fallen from the limbs, while the still worse chains of ignorance remain on the minds of the enfranchised people.

You have entered somewhat fully into the tenets of your religious creed. It is not for me to say, whether they are right or wrong; you think them right. God knows all things; if they are wrong, I only hope he will convince you timely of their error. I do not believe in many of them, I plainly tell you; and I could not understand them, I also assure you, if my acquaintance with your country, and some knowledge of the prevailing creeds of the people of Africa, had not given me a clue to the sources from which they have been taken.

The condemnation of the wicked, after the manner of Pharaoh's punishment, is an alteration of a Jewish legend of the Talmud, which has no place in the Torah, or any other book of the Hebrew Scriptures. The attendance of the two angels on every human being, from his coming into the world till his departure from it, is a tenet of the Koran, which I would subscribe to, for the sake of the pleasing nature of the idea, if I saw the necessity for any other guardianship than that of the Spirit of God for man's protection.

The mode of conducting the final judgment of the world is partly taken from the Koran, though the greater part of your description is merely a

« AnkstesnisTęsti »