[From] "Practical Effects of Emancipation"
The ablest British journals and many of their most distinguished writers
now admit that the prosperity of their colonies has not been increased by
the substitution of free for slave labor, and Blackwood admits the incompetency
of people in England to give a correct opinion on the subject, and that it
ought to be left to the wisdom and discretion of the local legislatures. He
styles Mrs. Stowe a zealot, and thinks her ardor intemperate and censurable,
and says that she misrepresents the tone and sentiments of society in Great
Britain, and that her statement of facts, even in relation to that country,
is not always the most correct; and proceeds to say that emancipation would
be a decidedly unpopular proposal, even in those
islands, if it be true, as Mrs. Stowe represents, that the ladies in the free States are compelled to perform the duties of chambermaids, and sometimes do the washing and ironing, besides the cooking, and that free service can be procured on no better terms than those which Mrs. Stowe describes as existing in America. And he puts the question to the ladies of that country, from the Duchess of Sutherland downwards, whether, if they had been born slave owners, they would at once have relinquished their control over those whom they could treat kindly, and whose affections they could secure, to pass to a system which would have sent them down from the drawing-room to slave themselves in the pantry or the kitchen.—(September, 1854.) And the North British (November, 1854) acknowledges that even Lord Metcalf, with all his good sense and popularity, "could not take the sting of local disaster out of the measure which the spirit of universal philanthropy had forced upon the island of Jamaica." And Mr. Doubleday, in his late "mundane Moral Government," also acknowledges that, "By her own premature and crude attempts, England, it is to be feared, has ruined her own colonies without conferring the slightest benefit on the negro race;" and he says the progress of society is not to be advanced by mistaking metaphysical phantasies and philanthropic dreams for true philosophy and statesmanship. "We all know," says Dr. Quincey, (Logic of Political Economy,) "at present, if we did not know at the time, that no legislative experiment was ever conducted with so much sentimental folly and mischievous disregard of reversionary interests as the sudden emancipation of our West India slaves—that is, the sudden admission of men, of those who, intellectually and in self restraint, were below the condition of children. Our own levity in granting was dramatically mimicked by their levity in using. They were as ready to abuse ungratefully as we to concede absurdly. At present, we are suffering the penalties of our folly." And, as a specimen of British philanthropy, Foster, in his Essays, admits expressly that the slave trade itself would have remained as immovable as the continent of Africa, if the legislature of Great Britain had not been forced into a conviction that, on the whole, it was not advantageous in point of pecuniary interest.—(Essay on the Romantic.)
From the commencement of her power over her colonies, England has shown
nothing but selfishness in her views, and an utter disregard of their interests,
save so far as they served her purposes. Complaints of the colonists, says
Bryan Edwards, (a member of the British Parliament and long a resident
of the West India islands,) have always been disregarded, because supposed to be opposed to the interests at home. . . .
Any one familiar with the history of Commissioner Santhonase, Abbé Gregorè, and Toussaint l'Ouverture, knows that the insurrection of St. Domingo is not to be attributed to the negroes, but to the instigation of French devils and mad republicans sent among them; and the Ogé drama was got up then, as that of Uncle Tom now, to excite and heighten the prejudice of classes and sections, and to set all France against her colonies, and the north now against her southern colonies; but poor Ogé, a man of life, fell, finally, the tool and victim of his own friends, while Uncle Tom, a mere creature of imagination, enjoys a sort of apotheosis. The instigators and authors, however, in both instances made money by the general calamity. It was then that Madame De Stael says: "L'esprit de partie commande la liberté avec la fureur du despotisme"—and then . . . .
The treatment of the negroes in the British West Indies, says Edwards, even before what has lately been done by the colonial assemblies to ameliorate their condition, was not systemically bad, is to me convincing from the fact, which all who are acquainted with the negroes on plantations must admit, that the creole race (those born in the islands) with some few exceptions, exceed the African in intellect, strength and comeliness, in a very remarkable manner. If a better horse is produced from an inferior breed, it is fair to conclude that the colt has had a better groom, and a better pasture, than the common on which the dam usually fed. The great object to be desired at present, as it appears to us, is to purify the moral sense of the negro. Those who know the negro in the southern States, even those whose knowledge is exclusively drawn from the pages of Mrs. Stowe, if they have read the accounts of the manners and customs of the negroes in Jamaica, or of the West Indies generally, certainly must see that their moral character is vastly superior to those of the British colonies. Edwards proceeds to tell us . . .