Puslapio vaizdai

sation, that property should be confiscated, our constitution overturned, our laws-laws established by the royal assent-violently abrogated, and our people subjected to the military and hateful government of a conquered country.

“One path only was left open to us to avoid these mischiefs, and, perhaps, a desolating civil war, and we subscribed to the letter of the terms of the British Parliament.

“But had we anticipated that the miserable reward of our submission would be, in the chief part, withheld from us, to enrich the foreign settlements conquered from the enemy, we would have rejected with indignation the unworthy compromise, and incurred all the evils which the authority and anger of the mother country might have inflicted, protesting against her tyranny before the world, and reserving our rights to be vindicated and resumed at some happier moment.” These expressions of the sentiments of the Members of the Assembly are important: I do not willingly advert to them; I adduce them solely because they serve to show the spirit in which the new order of things was encountered ; and it affords a prospect of the opposition which the new law will have to encounter, and, if not resisted with a high hand, to succumb to. The apprenticeship system has not served the purpose it was intended for : it is not in the nature of things to expect a fair trial for it in Jamaica. For many weeks past, the

, labours of the House of Assembly have been directed to a single object,—to the making out of a

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strong case against the apprentices,—to the establishment of the fact that they will not work either for wages or without them.

It is perfectly needless to enter into any inquiry as to the mode adopted of arriving at this conclusion ;-it is perfectly unnecessary to inquire whether the property of Jamaica is represented in that House,—whether its privileges are paramount to those of the Imperial Parliament.* But it may not be altogether idle or irrelevant to demand of that colonial legislature, by what right it assumes to itself a power which the British House of Commons does not pretend to, - of examining witnesses on oath, and of committing a minister of the Gospel to the felon's jail, for refusing to be sworn by it. If the House of Assembly have made out their case, and the negroes cannot be got, under the existing law, to work

* The House of Assembly consists of forty-five members, each parish sending two members; and the towns of Kingston, Port Royal, and Spanish Town ove member additional each. The representative is required, by law, to possess £300 per annum, or personal estate to the amount of £3000. But it has not been found convenient to consider the qualification too curiously. A ten-pound freehold is the qualification of an elector; and the whole body of the electors, with the exception of the coloured classes in the large towns, being planters, or the agents of planters, it is evident what complexion is represented in the House of Assembly. In regard to property, as well as population, the representation is most unequal.

either for money or without it, it is a folly for the planters to continue the present system of apprenticeship any longer. Revert to slavery they cannot: but if the negroes have been maligned, and do their duty wherever they are well treated, and afford their own time to their employers wherever they have been adequately remunerated for it, then is it time to do justice to them, and to give them all the encouragement which is due to their good conduct-complete emancipation, and not the name of freedom only.

I am, my dear Sir,
Yours very truly,

R. R. M.




To Mons. Julien.

Kingston, November 14, 1834. My dear Sir, The apprenticeship system might have answered the object it was meant to accomplish, had it met with a fair trial. The difficulties, however, it had to encounter in this island, where I had an opportunity of observing its progress, did not allow of its obtaining that trial.

These difficulties may be referred to six heads.

1st-Non-residence of the great majority of large proprietors on their estates.

2nd—Inability of the majority of resident proprietors to pay wages to negroes for over-time.

3rd—Separate interests of the attorneys who manage the estates of the absentees, from those of the owners.

* The substance of this letter was laid before the late colonial minister.

4th-Importunity of merchants at home (to whom two-thirds of the estates are mortgaged) for large returns, while the means of obtaining them with the diminished time of labour must necessarily diminish cultivation.

5th-Jealousy of the local magistrates, whose jurisdiction is superseded by that of the special magistrates.

6th–Irritation of the overseers, whose power over the slaves has been taken away by the new law.

These I consider the chief sources of the difficulties now in the


of a desirable settlement of the question of slavery, and of the opposition which the apprenticeship system is now encountering at the hands of the white population.

The dislike to the apprenticeship, on the part of the negroes, may be referred to three heads.

1st-Incapacity, or at least unwillingness, to comprehend prospective advantages.

2nd-Reluctance to labour without wages.

3rd-Disposition, in some instances, to withhold their own time, and that of their children under six years of age, as a retaliation for past grievances, real or imaginary; or the recent deprivation of their old allowances.

To these causes the indolence that is supposed

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