Page images
PDF
EPUB

XI.

SIERRA LE

ONA.

yery.

CHA P. Directors, who therefore hope that they will readily acqui

esce in the decisions of the Court. But few servants have escaped their unreasonable suspicion; yet great allowance will be made for this unpleasant feature in their character, if their past. sufferings be considered, and the injustice they

formerly received, and are habituated to expect, from whites. Their faults 417. In estimating, indeed, the whole character of the N. owing to lla

Scotians, their past condition ought not to be overlooked. It should be remembered, that all of them were once slaves; that, like others in the same state, they were probably little restrained in many branches of morals, not regularly married, destitute of parental and scholastic tuition; and, in short, that no one thought it his duty, to instruct them in religion or morality. Their faculties were then degraded, their opportunities of knowledge sınall, and they had little inducement to cultivate their intellects. Doubtless they strongly felt their hardships; but they probably knew little of the true nature of civil rights; and, we may suppose, often counfounded the unavoidable evils of life, and punishments needful in society, with the ills imposed by arbitrary power; for accurate discrimination can signify little to men involved in hopeless capivity. To the want of such discrimination, and not to any moral or intellectual defect, much of their unreasonableness, and some of the absurdest of their claims, are obviously to be traced. And, considering how often the advocates for servitude have, on their part, confounded slavery, and all it's enormities, with the necessary evils of life, and the restraints of civil society, it need not excite surprise, if emancipated Naves, acting also under the bias of self-interest, should seem to labour under a similar dulness and inaccuracy of understanding.

448. There is some reason to suppose that their servitude prudente man was harsher, than that of North America generally is; for cipation.

they

This no argu

XI.

ONA.

they were a portion of those slaves who, in the last war, ran C H A P. away

from their masters and took refuge in the King's army, su a conduct to which, it would seem, the worst treated would SIERRA LEbe the most disposed. If this presumption of ill treatment (confirmed as it is, by the sufferings which a few of them recite) should be thought too derogatory from the supposed humanity of American masters, it seems then fair to conclude, on the other hand, that they were the least sensible of mild treatment, the least attached to their masters, and the most prone to discontent. On either supposition, the N. Scotians may be said to furnish a less favourable specimen of emancipated slaves, than may generally be hoped for. It is hardly necessary to remark, how very unfavourable their steps towards freedom will appear, if compared with those of Naves prudently emancipated; to whom liberty, having been promised, to prepare them for it, might be granted, after a certain period, as the reward of merit; or might be conferred gradually, as local circumstances might recommend; privilege after privilege being added, as their diligence advanced, and as their property and interest, in maintaining social order, should increase.

449. But to return: the Nova Scotian blacks, having been Paft circumborn in North America, of African parents or ancestors (a Scotias. few imported Africans excepted, who, as they say, were kidnapped in their infancy) having passed most of their lives in slavery, probably worse than ordinary, and having then emancipated themselves, in the way mentioned, they fulfilled, as loyalists, the proclamations of the British generals. Their instruction appears to have been chiefly, or entirely, acquired since their emancipation; for a few put themselves to school, to attain religious knowledge, or to improve their condition; and these are now the preachers and school-ma

sters

ftances of N,

[ocr errors]

SIERRA LE

ONA.

at the

C HA P. sers of the colony. After various scenes, in following the

fortunes of the British army, often exposing themselves in battle, as the wounds of several testify, and always getting credit for courage, though not so uniformly for some other virtues; being considerably thinned by death and dispersion a portion of them being supposed to have fallen into the hands of the Americans) the rest were brought to N. Scotia,

peace, to receive, in common with the white loyalists, the provisions and lands, promised in the proclamations. They state that they obtained rations of provisions, but not to the extent they expected ; that the white loyalists having engrossed all the valuable lands, they got, in general, only small town-lots of little use; and that they were not admitted to the usual privileges of British subjects, nor, particularly, to trial by jury. These injuries, and the rigour of the climate of N. Scotia, induced them, as has been stated ($ 374.) to send a delegate of their own body, to seek redress from the British Government.

450. When Mr. Clarkson appeared in N. Scotia, as the Company's Company's agent, and stated, in several public meetings of proposals. the free blacks, the proposals of the Company, and the offer

of a free passage to S. Leona, made by Government, they expressed at once the most lively joy, that they were about to be emancipated from a situation which they almost consi. dered as a second servitude. Their eagerness to migrate appears to have rendered Mr. Clarkson so much the more careful in guarding them against unreasonable expectations. No allowance even of provisions, after their arrival, was pro. mised; and the necessity of subsisting on their lots of land, was urged on them universally. But these declarations repressed not their ardour: they sold hastily, and for trifling prices, such of their little effects as could not easily be

transported;

Their recep

tion of the

CH A P.

XI.

SIERRA L£.

ONA.

transported; a few who had property assisted others to pay
their debts; and several, who were heads of families, under-
took to support the younger and more unprotected females,
to whom no passage was granted, except on this condition.
They waited at Halifax for the ships, several weeks in tents,
where, being exposed to much severe weather, they con
tracted fickness. In Jan. 1793, they failed, after adopting
every measure suggested for preserving order in the voyage,
having thus far shewn gratitude and obedience to Mr.
Clarkson and to the Company. And, when their subsequent
conduct is considered in connection with their past circum-
stances, though some expectations, excited by a few first
appearances, may have been disappointed, their character
may be said to turn out as favourably, on the whole, as could
be reasonably expected. Indeed a few of those emancipated
flaves have afforded a most favourable specimen of the
African character, on whose dispositions Christianity hath
had a most benign influence, and who have been, on all oc-
casions humble and contented, the zealous friends of order

and of peace.

1

1

[ocr errors]

451. Let it, therefore, be carefully remembered, that They ought
every thing said against the character of the N. Scotians, must rafhly cena
be understood with various exceptions and limitations ; and fured.
that, the turbulence of some, and the unreasonableness and
jealousy of many of them, are more or less to be looked for,
in any body of men, who have been so unfavourably circum-
ftanced. Their faults are not incident to them as blacks,
but as men. And who will say, that, if he had struggled
through a like succession of vexations, hardships and disap-
pointments, his character would not have been marked by
the same prejudices and untoward dispositions, which be-
long to some of the present colonists of S. Leona* ?
* See in the Append. Notes, &c. respecting S. Leona and Bulama, Note X.

L

.

452. The

CH A P.

XI.

SIERRA LE

ONA.

vernment and

452. The governor and council, as has been stated, are endeavouring, as soon as possible, to settle them on their own, lands; by cultivating which, there is reason to think that, like the former colonists, now living at Granville town, they

may subsist comfortably. "And if, by the blessing of ProviProvision for dence, their families, substance and general prosperity should -tenance, go, increase, it can hardly be doubted, that they will estimate instruction.

more justly their obligations to the Company.-But it is important to observe that, both with a view to their own happiness, and the Company's great object of civilizing Africa, they should not be left without instructors from hence, nor without a government of Europeans*. -Their children, who are about 300, all go to school, and are said to learn quite as fast as European children; though, till lately, they had not very proper masters. The Directors propose to fpare no pains nor expense, to maintain this important part of their establishment on the best footing, and to this object, they will direct the peculiar attention of the government. For to this rising generation of well educated blacks, they chiefly look for the gradual improvement of the colony. To them also, it seems not presumptuous to hope, that the more distant and even interior parts of Africa, may one day owe Christianity, knowledge and civilization.

Slave-trade -it's hindrance to ci

453. The progress, obstructions, and prospects of civiliza

tion among the natives, are matters so very interesting, that vilization of the Directors need not apologize for entering into them free

ly and particularly. And here the Slave-trade comes directly under consideration. But, waving all argument on

natives.

* For a time only, 1 presume. (See § 443) C. B. W

« PreviousContinue »