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Extracts From Gurney's Winter In The West Indies

Extracts From Gurney's Winter In The West Indies image
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"I mounted one of the Governor's horses, and enjoyed a solitary ride in the country. Although it was the seyenth dayofthe week, usually applied by the emancipated laborers totheir private purposes, I observed many ofthem diligently at work on the cane ground, cutting the canes for the mili. Their aspect was that of physical vigor and cheerful contentment ; and all my queations, as I passed ulong, were answered Batisfactorily. On my way I ventured to cali at one of the estates, and found it was the home of Robert Claxton, the Solicitor General of the Colony, a man of great intelligence and respectabtlity. He was kind enough to impart a rariety of useful, and in general, cheering information. One fact mentioned by him spoke volumes. Speaking of a small property in the island belonging to himself, he said, "Six years ago, (that is shortly beforcthe act of emancipation) it was worth only L2,000 with the claves upon it; now, without a single slave it is worth three times the moncy ; I would notsell it for L6,000.?' This remarkable nse in the value of property is by no means confined to particular eslates; I was assured that, as corapared with those times of depression and alarm which preceded the act of emancipation, it is at once general and very considerable. I asked the President, Crook, and some other persons, whether there was a single individual on the island who wished for the restoration of slavery ? Answer - "Certainly not one." (p. $4.) "They will do an infinity of work," said one of my informants, 'for w-ages." He next visitèd Antigua, and subsequently Jamaica. "In the parish (or coünty) of St. Mary, rent and wages have been arranged quite' independently of each other, and labor has been suífered to fínd its market without obstruction. The consequence is, "tere have been no differences, and the people are workingwell. The quantity of work obtainod from a freeman there, is far be yond the old task of the slave. In the laborious operation of hoeing, the emancipated laborers perform doublé the work of a slave in a day. In road-making the day's task under slavery was to breuk four barrels ot stene - now by task work,jawcakhand wijl fill eighf barrels, al strong one frorn ten to twelve." (p. S9.) The following relates to Antigua: "Extensivo inquiry has led us to the convictton that on most of the properties of Antigua, and in general throughout the West Indies, one-third only of the slaves were operative. What with childhood, age, infirmity, sickness, sharn sickness, and other causes, full two-thirds of the negro population might be regarded as dead weight. The pecuniary saving, on many of the estafes in Antigua, by the change of slave to free labor, is at least 80 per cent. (p. 45 and 40.) Again. what a deltghtful picture this ex tract exhtoits of thestato ofthings in Antigua! How we could desire to see something similar springing up in this land! - Surely Ireland may yet learn a lesson frora the West Indies. "A female proprietor, who had become embarrasseü1, was advised to sell ofT part of her property in small Iots. The experiment answered her warmest expectations. The laborers in the neïghborhood bought up all the little freeholds with extreme eagerness, made their payments faithfully, and lost no time in settleing on the spots which they had purchased. They soon framed their houses, and brought their gardens into useful cullivation with yams, bananas, plantains, pineapples, and other fruitsand vegitables, including plots of sugar-cane. In this way Augusta and Libera sprungup as if by magie. I visited several of the cottages, in corapany with the rector of the parish, and was surprised by the excellence of the buildings, as well as the neat furniture and cleanly little articles of daily use which we found within. It was a scène ofcontentment and happiness, and I may certainly add, of industry - for these little freeholders occupied only their leasure hours in workiog on their own grounds. - They were also earning wages as laborors on neighboring estates, or working at English Harbor as mechanics. (p. 49.) We turn again to Jamaca. "Doyousee that excellent stone wall round the field below us?" said the young physician to me as we stood at A. B's front door, 6urieying the delightful scenery. - 'That wall could scarcely have been built at all under slavery, or the aprenticeship; the necessary labor could not have been hired at less than L5 currency, or about $13 per chain - under freedom itcost only from $3,50 to $4 per chain, not one third of the amount. Still more remarkable is the fact, that the wholo of i was built under the stimulus of job work by an invalid negro, who, during sluvery,had been given up to total inaction.' This vas the substance of our conversaiion. - The information was afterwards fully confirrr.ed by the proprietor. Such wa9 the fresh blood infused into the veins of this decrepid person by the genial hand of freedom, that he had been redeemed from absolute uselessness - had executed a noble work - bad greatly improved his master'a property - and findly, had realized for himself a handsome sumofmoney. - This single fact is admirably and undeniably illustrative of the principies of the case and for that purposc is as good as a thousand."(p. 119)


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