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Mussulman tradition. Yet what does it signify, I would ask you, how the trial is conducted ? But of how much importance is it, that we should be entitled, by our conduct in this world, to the mercy of the great Judge of all in the next!
Now the forgetfulness of the duties of religion, while we devote our attention to the most trivial of its doctrines—the minutiæ of which a doubtful tradition may have handed down, or a better authority may have noticed briefly and obscurely—is
— a species of folly which is called superstition; and it has done more harm to the world than the unbelief of all the nations which have ever been denounced or exterminated, by your prophet or any other. Superstition is not the folly of one religion only : most creeds have a tincture of it; but they are invariably the weakest of the followers of any sect, and generally the most worthless individuals, who make a virtue of superstition, and a bug-bear of religion.
You tell me you see plainly that “every nation has a book” to direct it towards the Almighty, and that every nation condemns the other's book. Your nation however, I am glad to hear, is an exception, and that the “ Mandingoes condemn no books, though they agree not with their readers ;' and you have very properly and charitably added, that no leaf of any book tells the reader of it to do ill. Every book that is good, I agree with you, tells the reader that the vanity of the world is of no avail—that it is as you have well said, but “ two or three days' high living,” and there is an end of life, and we leave it as we came into it-poor and naked, despoiled of every thing.
It may be collected from your letter, that you profess the faith of Islam-a religion which was founded twelve centuries ago, on the ruins of paganism in Arabia ; and inasmuch as it promulgated the unity of God for its leading doctrine, I believe it effected good, and I have known a great many good men belonging to it. I have only these faults to find with it, that it was intended but for one people, and that people a very small portion of the human race; that it inculcated intolerance, (that is to say) the persecution of those who could not bring themselves to believe in it; that it sanc
; tioned injustice, one of the worst forms of which is slavery; that it debased men’s notions of a future state, by making Paradise a place of sensual pleasures, and Hell a receptacle for all who resisted the power of your prophet, or disbelieved the doctrines he advanced. But the followers of a sect are not, I trust, accountable for the fanaticism of its founder, nor even the unreasonableness of the doctrines he has prescribed for their belief; you will, therefore, be charitable enough to consider me perfectly sincere, when I assure you, that after observing the religions that are practised in
very many countries, I might say in all parts of the world, I still prefer my own to any I have
In opposition to yours, I consider that mine was intended, by its founder, to apply to the whole human race; that the purity of its character is superior to that of Islamism ; that it inculcates forbearance to its enemies, and not extermination; that oppression of every kind is hateful to its law; that slavery has no authority for its injustice, and that the rewards it promises have no character of sensuality which is at variance with the spiritual idea of the Supreme Being.
For these reasons, which one better versed in religious matters might greatly multiply, I sincerely wish you entertained the same conviction of its excellence that I do. I do not expect that any arguments of mine can realize that wish. My only hope is, that persuasion may eventually accomplish for my religion what the sword, twelve centuries ago, did partially for yours.
. Yours, my good friends,
R. R. M.
PRICE OF LIBERTY.
To J. HAMILTON, Esq.
Kingston, October 25, 1834. My dear Sir, The eighth clause of the amended Abolition Act enabled the apprentice to redeem himself from servitude, upon payment to his master of the appraised value of his services. This clause, had it been so worded as to have prevented the misconstruction of its intent, would have been the most valuable clause in the whole Act. As it stands, the power of procuring a reasonable award is so limited, that I have latterly been obliged to dissuade almost every applicant from applying for a valuation. The corporation have proved stronger than the British Parliament. When a negro applies to the special justice to purchase his liberty, the latter calls upon the master to appoint a local magistrate, to proceed to a valuation. When the two magistrates meet, they name a third, who
must also be a local magistrate ; and, according to the age, sex, health, and occupation of the negro, they ought to decide. There is one thing obvious at the first glance : there are two local magistrates, and one special justice; and it is evident the interests of the owner have been most looked to in this arrangement. The matter respecting the mode of conducting the valuation is so vaguely expressed in the Act, that the amount to be adjudicated is left entirely to the discretion of the magistrates, without reference to any scale of valuation; and this unfortunate defect has been the occasion of an immense deal of misunderstanding between the special and local magistrates. In some instances the estimate has been as high as £170, a sum which no negro certainly has sold for, for many a year in Jamaica ; in others, it has been as low as £20 for an adult, and from £10 to £15 for children. Recollect this is in currency, about onethird less in sterling. In Kingston, there have been more applications from negroes to purchase their liberty, than, I believe, in all the rest of the island, with the exception of Spanish Town. In all, eighty apprentices have obtained their freedom before me, either by valuation or mutual agreement; and the average valuation has been £25. In one instance, a tradesman was valued at £80 ; in the others, it varied from £16 to £35. I have been now almost a year in the island; I have at