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قراءة كتاب The Continental Monthly, Vol. 4, No. 1, July, 1863 Devoted to Literature and National Policy

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‏اللغة: English
The Continental Monthly,  Vol. 4,  No. 1, July, 1863
Devoted to Literature and National Policy

The Continental Monthly, Vol. 4, No. 1, July, 1863 Devoted to Literature and National Policy

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 8

class="x-ebookmaker-pageno" title="[Pg 12]"/> negro labor, found the demand for tools increasing faster than they could supply it. And we were glad to find that they were becoming not merely more industrious, but more skilful in their industry. A friend, who had much to do with them, assured me that the young men greatly surpass their parents in forecast in the laying out of labor, and had got over the miserliness shown by the old people in providing means for carrying it on. He said a few years before he could not have sold a good tool, and now he could not sell a bad one. An old negro, he remarked, would groan over a sixpence extra in buying a tool; the young man would say: 'Come, let us have things in good style at the start, and our profits will soon pay for them.' Not that habits of industry are so confirmed that there are not a good many local and temporary relapses into the old careless ways. But the relapses are fitful, the advance is steady. Of course, with growing means their wants rise, and increasing wants in turn react happily upon their industry. The friend to whom I have several times referred, and who, being both a missionary and a proprietor, is placed in a pretty impartial equipoise of judgment, remarks that if some of those at home who imagine the Jamaica negro as lying lazily in the sun, eating bananas, could see the bill of fare of a good many black men, and compare it with what they were used to eat in time of slavery, they would probably be rather astonished. His estate is not large, but I remember that he has been unable for several weeks in the height of the sugar season to put up a barrel of sugar, on account of the people's buying it off in small quantities as fast as it was made. The many families that have small mills, of course, supply their own wants fully before they sell, and they commonly prefer selling the surplus among their neighbors to taking it down to the exporters. Thus it appears that the diminution in the exports of Jamaica is not wholly owing to the decrease of production. Mr. Underhill says he was assured by an overseer that the present consumption of sugar by the people of Jamaica was much greater proportionately than its use by the English, and there can be no doubt of this. It was very different in slavery. Undoubtedly there is less produced, much less, for production is diminished by the want of the ten thousand men a year that were used up to keep it at its highest point. Naturally, freemen prefer their own lives to the extra hogsheads of sugar that can be turned out by sacrificing them. It is also diminished by the steady fall in the price of sugar, which has made a difference between 1815 and 1850 of seventy-five per cent., rendering the inveterate extravagance of old management ruinous. It is diminished because slavery ruined confidence and good will between owners and laborers. It is diminished because an immense amount of labor has been diverted to the establishment of the homes, churches, and schools of a prosperous yeomanry. It is diminished because the growth of family life, though feeble and struggling, has withdrawn from the field wholly, or in part, thousands of women and children. It is diminished because higher than bodily necessities now consume time that was once rigorously denied to them. And lastly, it is diminished because the alienation caused by slavery has thrown upon themselves thousands of the emancipated bondmen, formerly accustomed to labor only as mechanical implements, to acquire skill, economy, and thrift by a long course of untutored experiments. On the other hand, much that is now produced makes no figure in the markets of the world, because it is consumed by the people themselves, no longer kept, for the profit of masters, at the lowest point at which they could maintain an animal existence. And not only do they consume so much, but they have enough left to buy from abroad whatever their increased necessities cannot find at home. It was not so in the good old times. Then the money that was made was sent to England to be spent by noble and gentle landlords there, and little good did Jamaica get of it. So little indeed was the island thought of even by the residents as a place to spend money on, so much as a place to get money in that was to be spent in England, that, as Mr. Sewell remarks, good roads have begun to be built, to any considerable extent, only since freedom. Forlorn as Kingston is, it was always forlorn; and not till slavery was abolished did they think to introduce the water which is now supplied in such abundance to the city. A rude profusion of luxury was all the planters aimed at till they could get home to the refinements of the mother country. In a word, in time of slavery, Jamaica was simply an aggregation of sugar and coffee mills, kept running by a stream of human blood. Now it is a land whose inhabitants are free to live for themselves and for God, to enjoy the gifts of His hand, and to send into the markets of the world, not a surplus which has cost one hundred hecatombs of men each year, but a surplus which has cost no life, but whose rich fruits come back to cheer and adorn thousands of lives. Commerce may have lost by the change, and there may be some jewels the less in the coronets of English nobility, but we may be permitted to believe that Christ and humanity have no reason to grieve.

It must not be thought, however, that estates are going down as rapidly now as formerly. Indeed, for a few years, I question whether more have not been resumed than abandoned. In 1855 the value of exports of the four staples, coffee, pimento, rum, and sugar, was £786,429; in 1856, £814,659; in 1857, £1,141,472. I have not the statistics of the years following. This check to the ruin of the estates is a matter of rejoicing, for the entire abandonment of the island by the whites would be a great disaster. As Mr. Underhill well observes, the ascendency of the white man is needed to temper the enmity between the browns and the blacks. The former, who constitute about one fifth of the population, although sharing the wealth and intelligence of the whites, are regarded with strong dislike by the blacks. Hayti shows how dangerous it is to leave these two elements in a society without a moderating force. I cannot share the pleasure with which some anticipate the complete Africanization of the West Indies. European intelligence, European conscience, and European firmness of will are necessary to insure to the blacks the permanence of those rich blessings which emancipation has bestowed. The black man has the industry and is daily improving in the skill necessary to secure his material well-being; but for very many years to come, it would be a most disastrous thing for him, hazarding the loss of all that he has gained, to be deprived of either the religious or the political oversight of the white race. The planters of Jamaica are not distinguished by a very rigid morality or a very severe integrity, but their withdrawal would inflict incurable harm on intelligence, order, industry, and civilization. They may be contemptuously indifferent to the moral and intellectual improvement of the blacks, but they have no longer a lively interest in opposing it. By this time they are gradually becoming convinced that the spirit of slavery cannot be maintained when its power is gone, and are growing disposed, so far as they have dealings with the blacks, to deal with them on more equal terms. Bare justice may be the most they are willing to accord, but even that is a great gain. The journals in their interest no longer lavish on the freeholding blacks the abuse with which they once teemed, even after the writer went to the island. The planters are willing to admit, like those of Westmoreland in an appeal to the Assembly in behalf of immigration, 'that they do not find fault with the difficulty of getting labor, which is a necessary result of the easy acquisition of land,' The more candid are willing to say, as I heard a gentleman of their