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of this flagrant nature should exist at all, is an abuse which demands instant attention.
The way in which the colonial government proceeds with the liberated negroes is interesting in this country; and we shall, therefore, give Mr. Leonard's account, in an extract at some length.
“ As soon as an illicit trader in slaves is taken possession of by one of our ships of war, which is generally done after a long chase, all her crew, with the exception of the captain, and one or two others, are removed on board the capturing vessel, from which they are usually landed on the nearest part of the coast, and two midshipmen, or other junior officers, and from five to twenty men, according to the size of the vessel, are sent on board to navigate her to Sierra Leone, where all slave vessels captured on the coast of Africa, by our cruisers, are immediately carried for adjudication by the Courts of Mixed Commission resident there. These courts, under the provi. sions of the treaties between Great Britain and Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, and Brazil, ought to consist of a commissary judge, a commissioner of arbitration ; and a registrar from each of the high contracting parties. On the part of Great Britain, the governor is the present acting judge ; Mr. Smith, (a gentleman who has held various situations on the coast for a long period,) commissioner of arbitration, and Mr. Lewis, registrar; but at present the Brazilian commissary judge, Mr. Joseph de Paiva, is the only foreign commissioner at Sierra Leone. From the decision of these courts there is no appeal. Their duties are extensive, and the contingent expenses proportionably large; the whole of which are in the first instance paid by the British Government, but one half is afterwards repaid by the several foreign governments concerned. It appears by the report from the select committee on the settlement of Sierra Leone, 13th July, 1830, ordered to be printed by the House of Commons, that the expense of these courts in salaries and contingencies, to our own officers alone, in the year 1829, amounted to L.6097, 9s. 11d. The unhappy inmates of the holds of slave vessels brought to Sierra Leone, are landed and lodged in the Liberated African Yard, as soon as it is ascertained beyond a doubt that the vessel has been legally captured, which is sometimes not done for several days; and the slaves continue cooped up in their filthy and wretched abode, until all the tedious paltry ceremonies of the law are punctiliously attended to ; but if any epidemic prevails among them, which very frequently happens, they are landed, on the representation of the surgeon to the courts, immediately on the vessel's arrival, and lodged in the lazaretto, near Kissey. Here they remain until recovery, and until arrangements are made for lo. cating them.
After adjudication, a portion of ground, generally in the vicinage of one of the numerous villages in the colony, having been marked out by the government surveyor, or other person appointed by the governor, sufficiently large for the purpose of erecting huts, and maintaining the newly manumitted slaves, they are taken to the spot by the superintendent or an assistant, and employed in clearing it, and in cutting wood for building, and grass for thatching their future residences; and while so employed, they are lodged in a depot in the village, or in the houses of the inhabitants, if they choose to receive them.
“ As the latter usually find relatives or countrymen among the new comers, they are generally willing to afford them both shelter and assistance. Sometimes they are dispersed among the different villages, instead of being located in one spot. During the first six months after their arrival in the colony, they are fed and clothed by government, each receiving for this purpose twopence per diem, which is found quite adequate to their wants; and after having completed the erection of their huts, which it takes but a short time to accomplish, they are employed at any public works that may be going forward ; being permitted, during part of the six months, to cultivate the piece of ground allotted to them; the assistant superintendent of liberated Africans, before leaving them entirely to their own guidance, supplying them, from an extensive depot or store kept for that purpose, situated in close proximity to the slave yard, with articles of dress and cooking utensils, together with a quantity of esculent seeds and plants, such as Indian corn, and cassada, to rear for their future support. They are all much gratified on receiving these necessaries, considering themselves enriched.
“ The articles at present supplied to each male emancipated slave, on his location, cost about L.1, 108., which, together with six months' allowance of twopence a-day, make the whole of the mere personal expense of each male adult to his Majesty's government amount to about 1.3. The daily allowance is, of course, extended in the cases of persons who, from age or infirmity, are incapable of supporting themselves. Females receive twopence a-day for three months only, and as many of the children as possible above a certain age, on condemnation of the vessel, are apprenticed out, as has been already stated, to persons of respectable appearance in the colony. With the exception of those negroes recently arrived, who, froin the excessive crowding, and the bad quality and scantiness of the food and water, are al. most always filthy, emaciated, and covered with disease, the manumitted slaves appear in general to be clean in their persons, sleek and well fed, and very well satisfied with their condition. After a short stay in the colony, the industrious are occasionally permitted to cultivate patches of waste land in the country, besides their own allotted piece of ground, with the understanding that their occupation of the former shall be temporary. By selling the produce of this they are enabled to obtain many of the comforts, and a few of the luxuries enjoyed by their European neighbours. Some idea may be formed of the actual condition of these people from a short description of Murray Town, a vil. lage two or three miles west of Freetown, erected in April 1829, and peopled with three hundred and twenty-six Africans just imported, placed here under the management of a discharged black soldier of the Royal African Corps. It comprises four wide streets—the huts ranged on each side, and separated from each other by pieces of cultivated ground. Each hut is formed in the following manner :Poles about ten or twelve feet long are stuck deep in the ground, about a foot and a half apart, in the form of a square of twelve or fourteen feet, leaving vacant spaces for one or two windows, and two doors of common size; one in front, and the other behind. Round these poles, to the height of six feet, dried twigs are wattled so as perfectly to resemble a coarse basket. The outside of this is plastered over with red clay, and the roof made quadrilateral, peaked, and thatched with long rye grass. The floor is the bare ground, unpaved and unboarded, and in most of them a clay wall is run up so as to form two apartments, and thus the house is finished. The situation of the windows is, in many of them, neither supplied with glass or shut. ters: the weather is so hot they want neither. I have always made it a practice to enter these humble dwellings and converse with the inhabitants, who are very thank. ful for any attention shewn to them by a white person. They seem to like very much to be taken notice of and spoken to. “ How do you do to-day, Ma'ame?" is always answered with a “ Tankee, Dazde,” accompanied with a half curtsey and many smiles of satisfaction. I observed, during these visits, that the furniture of the houses in this town in general consisted of a cane or bamboo sofa or bed-place, with cane mate or round clumps of wo to sit on in room of chairs; a few plates, bowls, calabashes, wooden spoons, and several cast-iron pots and kettles. In some of the houses there were even small mirrors to be seen, and several articles of finery in dress hung up.
In most of them there was a bin of cocoas, besides numerous heads of Indian corn, strung together and hung up to dry; baskets of cassada, which several of the inhabitants were cleaning and pounding into tapioca, and calavances, all ready for market. The huts have no chimney, and the burning log for the purpose of cooking is placed in the middle of the floor, and the smoke allowed to find its escape where it may. In the vicinity of this little village the ground is thoroughly cleared and well cultivated. Let it not be forgotten that these people have been established barely two years. Those who have been longer in the colony are in proportion better provided with necessaries and comforts.
A great many of the liberated Africans are employed as labourers in the wood trade of the river, receiving five dollars a month as wages. Many more have been taught to employ themselves as artisans, and several are engaged daily as labourers in Freetown, and in the different villages of the Peninsula. From all that I have ob. served, there appears to be no lack of industry among those who have been some time in the colony, and little can be expected for a considerable period from men just escaped to light and liberty, from the dreadful privations of a slave hold. They are acute and active in bargaining, and they do not appear to be by any means deficient in intelligence. It is unfair to take, as a criterion of the natural abilities of the liberated African, the apparent stupidity of those who have been imported at an advanced age.
We all know how difficult it is, even among ourselves, to learn or im. prove after a certain period of life, and to get rid of bad habits which have grown
How much more difficult must it be to do this, and also to acquire new notions and habits at an advanced period of life, where no ray of light had ever shone upon the mind, where the habits were savage, and where the only ideas which the individual possessed did not extend farther than his casual wants and necessities!
“ It is among the children of these people brought up in the colony, that their mental capacity is to be judged of; and the children in the Government schools at Freetown, as well as in those of the villages, appeared to me to be equal in intelli
gence and acquirements to European children of the same age. The liberated Afri. cans have not certainly made that progre:s in civilization which might have been expected, when we consider the trouble that has been taken, and the money that has been lavished for this purpose by the mother country; but this is not attributable to any defect of natural ability among them, but to a variety of contingent circumstances, among which not the least obvious is the continued importation of their countrymen into the colony, whose barbarous habits they have, in some measure, been weaned from ; but to which, from early association, they will naturally be prone to recur, on observing them practised by the new comers, for whom, as countrymen, they must feel a strong attachment; and with whom, speaking the same language, and having recently left their own paternal land and much regretted homes, they must feel the strongest inclination to associate. Another cause of their tardy improvement may have been the frequent change, by death or otherwise, of governors and superintendants, and the adoption of different methods of management, or perhaps mismanagement, consequent upon these changes. Persons unacquainted with the interests of any settlement, and who have no local experience of the country and its inhabitants, must be evidently unfit to direct and command there. The practice of sending such persons from England for this purpose has not certainly tended to promote the interests of the colony, or the amelioration of its factitious inhabitants. The want of capital and encouragement to cultivate articles of tropical produce, such as coffee, cotton, &c., which would find a market out of the colony, probably also tends to throw a damp on their industry. For of what use would it be to rear more cocoas, yams, and cassava than they can make use of themselves and dispose of in the colony, when, as these are articles which cannot be exported, they must rot on their hands. Besides these causes of the tardy progress of civilization, it does really seem to me that the superintendence of the manumitted slaves is not sufficiently close and strict. A most zealous and attentive supervision of those recently imported must be of the first consequence, so as to humanize and reclaim them from their barbarous habits,–10 prevent them from relapsing into their primitive state of brutishness—to obviate their being kidnapped from the colony ; in fact, to exercise a salutary degree of restraint over them—to instruct them, and to assist, overlook, and protect them in all their actions, and in their operations of labour and industry. I know that all this is said to be already effected, that there are superintendents, managers, and schoolmasters in every village for the above pur. poses; but it appears to me that they are somewhat too remiss in their duty, and somewhat too heedless and insensible of the humane object for which they are appointed ; else no individual could be kidnapped without the occurrence being speedily known,—no individual, however wild and irreclaimable, could return to his primi. tive savage habits, and establish himself in “ the bush,” without considerable exertion being made to bring him back. That many have thus been suffered to resume their original barbarism is evident, were there no other proof of the fact, than the numerous nocturnal glimmering fires in the woods, as well as the scattered sheds, or wigwams, to be seen in various directions among the underwood and jungle throughout the peninsula, large enough to coutain only two or three persons sitting upright. No one would willingly apply any personal censure in this case, because the duties of every individual connected with the liberated African department must be, if properly performed, equally arduous, laborious, and unpleasant. But, then, every one con. nected with it is well paid ; and surely a little more paternal control than has been hitherto exercised, besides the common routine of duty, for the sake of humanity, is a great desideratum.
“ Two things are worthy of remark among these poor Africans : Great external re. spect is paid to the Sabbath. The blacks on that day are clean and neatly dressed, the religious meetings are well attended, and the busy clamour of the week is hushed into a solemn stillness, more impressive even than the calm serenity which pervades every thing on that hallowed day in our own free and happy land. No doubt the missionaries deserve the credit of this. The other fact is, that although spirits are remarkably cheap in the colony, I have never seen, in all my excursions among them, a single liberated African in a state of intoxication. I wish I could say as much for their civilized brethren."
There are many individuals who imagine, we cannot tell upon what grounds, that since the abolition of the trade by a solemn act of the British Legislature, that not only is the condition of the slaves in our West India islands much ameliorated, but our acts for suppressing the trade, and our treaties with Spain, Portugal, and France, if they have not entirely done away with slave dealing, have softened its attendant miseries. Such persons we invite to a perusal of this volume ; but we may select one or two instances. In the spring of 1831, the Black Joke, a tender belonging to the Dryad, fell in with the Marinerito, a large Spanish slave-brig, carrying five twenty pounders, with a crew of seventy-two men, and a cargo of four hundred and ninety-six slavesa fortune to the whole crew, could it have been safely conveyed to the islands. After a gallant action, which is described by Mr. Leonard with great animation, the Spaniard was captured. Among her wounded crew were found several Englishmen. We think more of her cargo. Those who have often shuddered at the horrors of the middle passage, have small cause of congratulation, save that the scenes of diabolical cruelty are transferred to the ships of our Christian allies :
“ Immediately after the vessel was secured, the living were found sitting on the heads and bodies of the dead and the dying below. Witnessing their distress, the captors poured a large quantity of water into a tub for them to drink out of; but, being unused to such generosity, they merely imagined that their usual scanty daily allowance of half a pint per man was about to be served out; and when given to understand that they might take as much of it, and as often as they felt inclined, they seemed astonished, and rushed in a body, with headlong eagerness, to dip their parched and feverish tongues into the refreshing liquid. Their heads became wedged in the tub, and were with
some difficulty got out—not until several were nearly suffocated in its contents. The drops that fell on the deck were lapped and sucked up with a most frightful eagerness. Jugs were also obtained, and the water handed round to them; and in their precipitation and anxiety to obtain relief from the burning thirst which gnawed their vitals, they madly bit the vessels with their teeth, and champed them into atoms. Then, to see the look of gratification the breathless unwillingness to part with the vessel, from which, by their glistening eyes, they seemed to have drawn such exquisite enjoyment! Only half satisfied, they clung to it, though empty, as if it were more dear to them, and had afforded them more of earthly bliss, than all the nearest and dearest ties of kindred and affection. It was a picture of such utter misery from a natural want, more distressing than any one can conceive, who has not witnessed the horrors attendant on the slave trade on the coast of Africa, or who has not felt, for many hours, the cravings of a burning thirst under a tropical sun. On their way ashore to this island from the prizetheir thirst still unquenched—they lapped the salt water from the boat's side. The sea to them was new, until they tasted all its bitterness; they, no doubt, looked upon it as one of their own expansive fresh water streams, in which they were wont to bathe, or drink with unrestrained freedom and enjoyment. Before they were landed, many of the Africans already liberated at this settlement went on board to see them, and found among them several of their friends and relations The meeting, as may be supposed, was, for the moment, one of pleasure, but soon changed into pain and grief. Can there be in Britain the happy and the free-an individual with a heart in his bosom, who will, after this, advocate slavery? A single fact like this overthrows all the plausible sophistry which such an individual may make use of to obtain partisans, besides those who, like himself, are interested in its support. Such converts to the creed of the right of property in human flesh are much misled. They have only shewn to them the bright side of the picture_the comparatively happy (yet truly wretched !) condition of the slaves in our West India colonies. They know nothing of the withering horrors daily taking place on the coast of this desolated and unhappy land, from which between sixty and eighty thousand of its poor unoffending children are forcibly abstracted annually-cruelly torn from home, friends, and kindred_from all that can alone make a life of wretchedness tolerable. The Spanish crew, with the exception of a few sent up in the prize to Sierra Leone, were kept prisoners for some time at Fernando Po, but were afterwards sent in the Atholl to the island of Anobona, where they were landed and turned adrift."
Some months later Mr. Leonard mentions another exploit of the Black Joke, which we may notice here. The reasoning he raises upon this event is perfectly conclusive.
“ The Black Joke, while cruising in the Bight of Benin, fell in with and captured, on the 20th of July, the Spanish schooner, Potosi, of ninety-eight tons, twenty-six
men, and one hundred and ninety-one slaves on board, bound from Lagos to Havanna ; and, on the 10th September, the two tenders, in company, chased into the river Bonny, and captured the Spanish brigs, Rapido and Regulo,--the former of one hundred and seventy-five tons, eight large guns, fifty-six men, and two hundred and four slaves ; the latter, one hundred and forty-seven tons, (both Spanish admeasure. ment,) five large guns, fifty men, and two slaves : both bound to Cuba. Connected with the capture of these vessels, a circumstance of the most horrid and revolting nature occurred, the relation of which will afford an additional instance of the cruelty and apathy of those who carry on the slave trade,—of the imperfection of the laws enacted for its suppression, as well as of the additional inhumanity entailed upon it by ourselves, as a consequence of the very imperfection of these laws. Both vessels were discovered at the entrance of the Bonny, having just sailed from thence ; and, when chased by the tenders, put back, made all sail up the river, and ran on shore. During the chase, they were seen from our vessels to throw their slaves overboard, by twos, shackled together by the ancles, and left in this manner to sink or swim, as they best could! Men, women, and young children, were seen, in great numbers, struggling in the water, by every one on board of the two tenders; and, dreadful to relate, upwards of a hundred and fifty of these wretched creatures perished in this way, without there being a hand to help them; for they had all disappeared before the tenders reached the spot, excepting two, who were fortunately saved by our boats from the element with which they were struggling. Several managed, with diffi. culty, as may be supposed, to swim on shore, and many were thrown into large canoes, and in that manner landed, and escaped death ; but the multitude of dead bodies cast upon the beach, during the suceeding fortnight, painfully demonstrated that the account given to us, by the natives on the banks of the Bonny, of the extent of the maz. sacre, had been far from exaggerated. The individuals whose lives had been saved by the boats, were two fine intelligent young men, rivetted together by the ancles in the manner described. Both of them when recovered, pointed to the Rapido as the vessel from which they were thrown into the water. On boarding this vessel, no slave was found; but her remorseless crew having been seen from both tenders busily engaged in their work of destruction, and as the two poor blacks, who endeavoured to express gratitude for their rescue by every means in their power, asserted, with horror and alarm depicted in every feature, that this was the vessel from which they were thrown, she was taken possession of. On board the Regulo only two hundred and four slaves were found remaining, of about four hundred and fifty. All of those on board of her were branded with the letter T on the right shoulder. Had the commander of the Black Joke, (which had been cruizing off the river Bonny for a long period,) who knew that those vessels were lying there, ready to take slaves on board, been permitted to use every means in his power to suppress the slave trade, he could and would have gone np the river with his vessel, and destroyed them with the greatest ease; and thereby prevented the merciless cruelty which subsequently took place. But no ! He dared no:; because he was liable in heavy penalties, had he even detained a Spaniard, without having slaves actually on board. These inhuman scoundrels are fully aware of this; and it was this very legal impediment to the capture of Spanish vessels which induced them to throw their miserable captives into the river; so that, no slave being found when boarded by the tenders, they and their vessels might be suffered to escape. But they could not effect their nefarious design completely, for our tenders were close at their heels, and they were detected in their crime, and consequently detained As, however, there were no slaves actually found on board of the Rapido, and as the members of the Court of Mixed Commission at Sierra Leone usually adhere to the letter, instead of the spirit, of the law, and the treaties having for their object the suppression of the slave trade-although the fact of her having slaves, bona fide, on board, and having thrown them out in the mur. derous manner described, was witnessed by some hundreds of persons—it is question. ed by many here, on a consideration of the circumstances attending the trial of cases somewhat similar, whether this court, from whose verdict there is no appeal, will condemn her or not. It is quite certain, whether this may be the case or not, that there will be no punishment inflicteil upon the perpetrators of so great a crime. Thus, as I have already said, the half measures we are obliged to adopt for the suppression of this merciless traffic, adds incalculably to its inhumanity. Here we see that, in a futile attempt to save their vessels from capture, these remorseless speculators in blood sacrificed more than a hundred and fifty lives. Had we let them alone, the dreadful event would not have taken place.”
One more instance we give of the atrocities inseparable from the trade in slaves. NO. XIIVOL. II.