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CHAP. XV.

Inhabitants of the West Indies how divided. Charac

ter and Manners of each Class. Sugar, the Mode of Cultivating. Cotton. Indigo. Coffee. Cocoa. Ginger. Arnatto. Aloes. Allspice. Of the Trade on the North-West Coast.

SAVING described the islands in the West

rate such circumstances as will apply to them collectively, beginning with the population. The whole inhabitants may be divided into four great classes: 1. European whites; 2. Creole or native whites; 3. Creoles of mixed blood, and free native blacks; 4. Negroes in a state of slavery. Besides t'iese there are many emigrants from North Ame- : rica, and a considerable body of Jews. About ten years ago, it appeared that in the English islands ibe number of white people was about sixty-five thousand, and of blacks four hundred and fifty-five thousand.

The leading feature in the character of the white inhabitants is an independent spirit, and a display of conscious equality, throughout all ranks and conditions. The poorest white person seems to consider himself nearly on a level with the richest, and, emboldened by this idea, approaches bis employer with extended hand, and a freedom, which, in the countries of Europe is seldom displayed by men in the lower orders of life towards their superiors. In no part of the globe is the virtue of hospitality more generally prevalent than in the British sugar islands. The gates of the VOL. XXIV.

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planter

planter are always open to the reception of his guests. To be a stranger is of itself a sufficient introduction, and this species of hospitality is car ried so far, that there is not a good inn throughout the West Indies.

· There are peculiarities in the habits of life of the white inhabitants which cannot fail to catch the eye of an European newly arrived; one of which is the contrast between the general plenty and magnificence of their tables, and the meanness of their houses and apartments. It being common to see a. splendid sideboard of plate, and the choicest wines, with other things corresponding, in a hovel not superior to an English barn, The appearance of the negro domestics will also strike a stranger. The butler is the only attendant who is allowed the luxury of shoes and stockings: all the others are bare-footed, some, perhaps, half naked. English manners are also different in these from what we find them at home. Thus they say, hand such a thing, instead of bring or give it: an employment or office is called a birth ; a kitchen is denominated a cook room; and in speaking of the east or west, they say to the windward and leeward.

But it is to the Creoles, or natives, that we must look for the original and peculiar cast of character impressed by the climate. They are obviously of a taller race than Europeans, but not so robust. They are distinguished for a suppleness and freedom in their joints, which enable them to move with agility and gracefulness in dancing, an exercise in which they delight and excel. In one of the principal features of beauty, few ladies surpass the creoles ; they have, in general, the finest eyes of any women in the world, sometimes beaming with animation ; sometimes melting with tender

ness;

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ness; a zure index, says Mr. Edwards, to that'native goodness of heart and gentleness of disposition for which they are eminently and deservedly applauded, and to which, combined with a sequestered and domestic life, it is doubtless owing, that no women on earth make better wives, or better mothers.

The next class are the people of colour, or native blacks of a free condition. It is not easy nor in this work necessary to discriminate all the varieties of these people. In the British islands their evidence is not received in criminal cases against a white person; they are ineligible to serve in parochial vestries and general assemblies, or to hold commissions in the militia; nor can they inherit a legacy exceeding 2000 l. currency. To the negroes the people of colour are objects of envy and hatred, who abhor the idea of being slaves to the descendants of slaves. Thus circumstanced, the general character of the mulattoes is strongly marked by the peculiarity of their situation. In their deportment towards the white people they are humble, submissive, and unassuming. Their spirits seem to sink under the consciousness of their condition. They are accused, however, of prov ing bad masters, when invested with power, and their conduct towards their slaves is, in a high degree, harsh and imperious. The accusation, generally brought against the free people of colour, is the incontinency of their women.

This charge cannot be denied, but the circumstances in which they are placed will rather excite the tear of pity, than invoke the weight of punishment. Their tenderness, as nurses, toward the sick; their disinterested gratitude and attachment where kindness is shown them, and their peaceful deportment une 2 1 2

der

der a rigorous system of laws, and the influence of manners still more oppressive, afford great room to lament that a more enlightened and liberal policy is not adopted towards them.

Of the last class, or negroes condemned to perpetual exile and servitude, though born in various and widely separated countries, it is not easy to discriminate the peculiar manners and native propensities. The similar and uniform system of life to which they are all reduced, the few opportunities and little encouragement that are given them for mental improvement, are circumstances that necessarily induce a predominant and prevailing cast of character and disposition. Nevertheless, there are among several of the African nations, some striking features which cannot easily be overlooked by a person residing in any one of the sugar plantations.

It is a well-authenticated fact that the negroes, in general, in our islands, at least such of them as have been long in a state of servitude, are of a distrustful and cowardly disposition. So degrading is the nature of slavery, that fortitude of mind is lost, in proportion as freedom is restrained. To the same cause, probably, must be imputed their propensity to conceal, or violate the truth; which is so general that it has been esteemed the most prominent feature in their character. If slavery call forth any virtues, they are those of sympathy and compassion towards persons in the same condition of life, accordingly negroes are in general strongly attached to their countrymen, but above all, to such of their companions who were transported in the same ship with them from Africa. But their benevolence, with few exceptions, extends no farther. The greatest of all wretchedness

is felt by those who are doomed to be slaves of slaves. In certain handicraft employments, it is usual to place the young negroes in a sort of apprenticeship to the older ones who are competent to afford them instruction ; but the harshness with which these people enforce their authority is extreme; they exercise all the wantonness of cruelty without restraint or remorse. The same observa tion may be made concerning their conduct towards the inferior animal creation. Even the useful and social qualities of the dog secure hina no kind usage

from an African master. Such are the dire effects of slavery upon the huiman mind, and yet, dreadful is the thought, not less than seventy-four thousand Africans are anmually torn from their own country and carried by Christian masters to the West India islands, and of these nore than half are imported by the British planters !! A melancholy reflection to think, that people who enjoy more of the blessings of freedom than any nation in the old world, should be the most eager in encouraging the horrors of slavery in

the new.

SUGAR.

In treating of the West India islands it will be expected that some account should be given of the principal staple commodities, and of the modes adopted in their cultivation. The first object that naturally excites our attention is the sugar-cane, which has been pronounced one of the most vaJuable plants in creation. It is a native of the east, and was probably cultivated in India and Arabia from time immemorial; but at what time the Indians discovered the art of granulating, the juice which is obtained from the cane does not appear." 213

Notwithstanding

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