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as the reward of so much ingenuity. The motive (as he tells us in his advertisement) which suggested the publication, was a desire to rouse the attention of the planters to a recollection of their own true interests; and to point out defects in the prevailing modes of management, together with the suitable remedy for such defects.' Accordingly, the whole volume seems intended to be preparatory to, and illustrative of his favourite code; a code in which we can discover no new regulations; which for that reason we are inclined to approve; but which must be utterly impracticable, if the character of the overseers and other subaltern agents in the island, who must be employed in carrying it into effect, be truly delineated by the author. In general, we do not completely sympathize with this writer in his contempt of the morals and understandings of his fellow colonists, or in his high respect and consideration for the superior talents of Mr. Mathison: but still, as he is a recent traveller in a country which is now placed in a novel and interesting situation; as he is familiar with many of the subjects which he treats ; as he furnishes us with some new information, and supplies us with facts which enable us to detect the fallacy of his reasoning, we are by no means disposed to consider his publication as utterly worthless. We object to him, not as being dull or ignorant, but as making, on alınost all occasions, a most perverse use of his knowledge.
We content ourselves with quoting one instance of this unhappy propensity. It is difficult (he says) to conceive that any rational objection can be made to the use of the plough in the cultivation of level lands, or even lands of an ordinary degree of declivity in any country.' (p. 67.)-To this remark we have nothing to oppose. It is certainly a very curious fact, that the simplest and most efficient instrument of European agriculture has been, after repeated trials, very generally thrown aside in the West Indies; that it is now very seldom used excepting on strong clay lands; and that many practical planters consider its use, on any other soils, as usually injurious. But Mr. Mathison immediately proceeds to state some objections which he professes to have heard, and which he successively combats at great length, and with a profusion of learning, proving, to our complete satisfaction, that the plough cannot possibly destroy the grain of the soil, and that the heat of a tropical sun does not evaporate salts, or decompose the food (whatever that may be) of plants; in confirmation of which he cites an ingenious experimentalist, who discovered that the drainings of a dunghill, being subjected to the temperature of 212°, yielded a vapour which, when condensed, was not distinguishable in colour or tusle from common rain water'-And from these premises Mr. Mathison infers that agriculture is at a very low ebb in Jamaica. Now it appears to us K 4
that this long and laboured dissertation on the effects of a tropical sun, and on the taste of vapour from a dunghill, has nothing to do with the proposition from which he set out. The opinion which he means to establish is, that in all countries, where the land is moderately level, the use of the plough is unobjectionable. His business therefore was to prove, not that the heat of the sun, but that the violence of tropical showers could not be prejudicial to fields lying on a moderately inclined plane, the whole surface of which, being opened by the plough, should be exposed to their influence; that the parts of the soil which, either from being completely pulverized, or from their nature, are most diffusible in water, would not be washed away; or that, if carried off, they would not leave the remainder of the soil in a state of diminished fertility. It was incumbent on him to shew that the land would not be rendered foul, or that the augmented number and luxuriance of the weeds would not necessitate a greater ultimate expenditure of labour. Had he proceeded thus far, he would probably have found that, in practical questions, the conclusions of general experience are best combated by a long series of well-conducted experiments; he would per haps have abstained from a very tedious theoretical discussion ; and, if ultimately convinced of the imperfect state of colonial agriculture, might possibly have withheld, during the present alarming abundance of all sorts of colonial produce, the publication of his discovery.
Mr. Mathison has stated (p. 57) a fact which he very justly designates as' curious,' viz. that according to the latest returns made to the assembly in Jamaica, no less than 87,470 acres of land had, within the preceding twelve months, been forfeited or abandoned by individuals, to escape the payment of land-tax, which is no more than three pence per acre. It is, surely, not a little extraordinary that our author, though aware of the importance of this fact, should dismiss it without farther comment, and that he should have recorded it as mere matter of information, instead of availing himself of the assistance which it might have afforded him in support of that abolition-law of which he so often declares himself the strenuous advocate.
In the first place, it is universally admitted, that a country is never so likely to increase its population as when the value of land is at a minimum, as compared with the value of labour; because growing numbers of men must require augmented means of sub*sistence: and secondly, it is evident that, in countries where the most numerous class is in a state of slavery, the high value of every individual slave is his only complete security for receiving, from his master, that fostering attention which is necessary to guard hiin against the effects of his own idleness and improvidence. Since
therefore an annual supply of negroes from Africa could not but tend to diminish the price of them, and the cessation of supply to increase it, the necessary inference is that the abolition, if effectual, must be productive of two most beneficial effects :-that it must promote an increase of the native black population ; and that it must insure, to that population, every possible mitigation of their slavery. The only doubt was whether, after the abolition of the tolerated trade, the continuing demand might not force a continued supply by means of an illicit importation : and it is because this doubt is removed by the fact which is communicated by our author, that we consider it as setting at rest, and for ever, a long and vexatious controversy.
Indeed, if the two great purposes which the abolition of the slavetrade was intended to accomplish had been, from the beginning, carefully distinguished, we are inclined to think that no controversy would have been excited ; because the principles on which the measure was founded appear to be, when separately considered, incontrovertible. It was by confounding and mixing them that much irritation was needlessly produced. - If it be true that in Russia, in Poland, and even in Africa itself, the numbers of mankind are not found to suffer a progressive diminution, but that the reproduction has a constant tendency to outrun the means of subsistence; and if it bę, on the other hand, equa'ly true that, in all the great cities in Europe, there has always been an excess of mortality, which has been annually compensated by an influx of inhabitants from the adjoining districts; it seems to follow, as an inevitable consequence, that slavery in its most hideous forms has not yet been found to oppose an effectual check to the natural progress of population; but that such a check has been found in some of the circumstances attending great assemblages of men, in all climates, and under all possible varieties of government. The West Indian islands, du- . ring the toleration of the slave-trade, were dependent on Africa, for the supply of their black, as they were, and still are on Europe, for that of their white inhabitants; the mortality of both was proportionate, and appears to have proceeded from similar causes. Perhaps, therefore, it was neither quite candid nor quite reasonable to set aside these obvious analogies, and to seek for the explanation of a very common phenomenon in the imputed atrocities of the universal body of colonists, who were thus roused into a long and violent, though fortunately unavailing opposition to a measure highly advantageous to their real interests. That crimes, which it is impossible to palliate, have been perpetrated in the West Indies ; that justice and humanity required the adoption of some general corrective which might prevent the recurrence of such crimes; and that the best corrective for the purpose was found in the abolition of a
traffic originating in cruelty, and productive of vice or misery in every stage of its progress, are truths which we do not mean to contest, but of which we consider the establishment as perfectly foreign to an inquiry into the causes of the decline of population in our West Indian colonies.
The real causes which universally promote, or retard the natural increase of mankind, have been so fully investigated by Mr. Malthus, that the probable effects of the great and almost total change which has taken place in those colonies may perhaps be fairly estimated, by a simple application of his principles to the state of society in any given island: and as the subject is not uninteresting, we trust that our readers will forgive us if we attempt to throw some light upon it by means of the materials afforded by the work before us.
We are told, that 'according to the latest survey of Robinson, there are 2,724,262 acres of land in this island; of which, according to the same authority, 809,450 acres are in a state of cultivation. With respect to the allotment of this land our author is silent; but it was supposed by Mr. Edwards, (vol. i. p. 194,) that about three fifths were occupied by sugar estates, and the remainder by breeding farms, coffee plantations, &c. The calculations of the same author further seem to suppose, that about two thirds of the whole negro population of the island were employed in the cultivation of the cane; and if we assume this proportion as pretty nearly accurate, it will appear that such a distribution of the land and labour cannot but prove injurious to the progress of population.
In the first place, every sugar estate seems to require about twice as many labourers as a plantation of similar extent under any other cultivation, because it is at once a farm and a manufactory. It is true, that the annual toil of planting the canes, is usually confined to one-third of the cane field, which also seldom occupies more than a third of the whole estate, the remainder being principally in wood, or in pasture, provisions, &c.; but the obviously necessary occupations of weeding, of collecting and carrying manure, of repairing fences, of attending the cattle, &c. must either be incessant, or, if suspended during the numerous avocations of the crop, must subsequently demand increased exertions, so that a large stock of labourers is indispensible. Now, as it must be supposed that the most productive soil will be allotted to the canes, it is probable that the gardens of the negroes will be either more circumscribed, or less fertile, or scattered at a more inconvenient distance from their habitations, than they would be on a breeding farm, or on any other establishment which should require a smaller number of hands in proportion to its extent.
Secondly, Secondly, it is, if not universally, at least generally true, that the occupations of a manufacturer are less favourable to health than those of the labourer in agriculture, and we are by no means convinced, that the manufacture of sugar forms an exception to the rule.
* For the purpose of taking off a crop, (says Mr. Mathison, p. 35,) all the negroes of a plantation are divided into spells or watches. Crop time lasts, with the exception of Sunday, night and day, during four, five, and sometimes six months of the year. Where numbers admit of it, the negroes are divided into three spells, each negro working one night in three, with the advantage of occasional relief: where the numbers are insufficient, they are divided into two spells, each negro working one night, with the advantage of occasional relief. The more numerous each class is, the longer or more frequent is the relief afforded; and vice verså. Accordingly, the common practice is to press all descriptions of negroes into the service, whether elderly or weakly or otherwise, for the purpose of dividing as much as possible the fatigues of the crop. Young active people go through these duties with cheerfulness and without injury, and even seem to enjoy a renovation of health and strength during this season of the year; but the elderly and weakly shrink from such fatigues; and, it must be confessed, do suffer most cruelly during a long protracted crop, under the pressure of the heavy duties. I do most firmly believe that a more destructive system could not well be devised.'
This opinion is, indeed, completely at variance with that which is expressed by Mr. Edwards in his history of Jamaica, who seems to think that every disadvantage is compensated by the benefits which the negroes derive from a free access to sugar : but our author's inference, though perhaps too strongly worded, appears to be fairly warranted by his premises. We admit that the renovation of health and strength,' amongst the able negroes, may be not only apparent but real. The high order of the cattle, and even of the inules which, by feeding on the scummings of the sugar, are enabled to endure an alinost incredible degree of fatigue, sufficiently proves the nutritious qualities of the food. But, though the temporary abundance enjoyed by the labourers, may probably repair, and more than repair the mere waste of strength occasioned by extraordinary exertion, it is very difficult to believe, that a manufacture, which is continued night and day during several months, is not injurious to the labourers whom it employs. Though no diminution should take place in the number of hours allotted to sleep, the hot and smoky air of a negro cottage cannot, we conceive, be exchanged with perfect impunity for the chill and dewy atmosphere in which a part of the labourers must perform their nightly tasks; nor can even a temporary exposure to such an atmosphere, be indifferent to those who have been long immersed in the warm vapours of the