Part 16 out of 52
emancipation in our country would not be the result of a slow process.
The anti-slavery feeling of the civilized world had become too strong to
wait for a long course of "preparations" and "ameliorations." And
besides, continued he, "the arbitrary control of a master can never be a
preparation for freedom;--_sound and wholesome legal restraints are the
The Doctor also spoke of the absurdity and wickedness of the caste of
color which prevailed in the United States. It was the offspring of
slavery, and it must disappear when slavery is abolished.
CONVERSATION WITH A NEGRO.
We had a conversation one morning with a boatman, while he was rowing us
across the harbor of St. John's. He was a young negro man. Said he was a
slave until emancipation. We inquired whether he heard any thing about
emancipation before it took place. He said, yes--the slaves heard of it,
but it was talked about so long that many of them lost all _believement_
in it, got tired waiting, and bought their freedom; but he had more
patience, and got his for nothing. We inquired of him, what the negroes
did on the first of August, 1834. He said they all went to church and
chapel. "Dare was more _religious_ on dat day dan you could tire of."
Speaking of the _law_, he said it was his _friend_. If there was no law
to take his part, a man, who was stronger than he, might step up and
knock him down. But now no one dare do so; all were afraid of the
_law_,--the law would never hurt any body who behaved well; but a master
would _slash a fellow, let him do his best_.
VISIT TO NEWFIELD.
Drove out to Newfield, a Moravian station, about eight miles from St.
John's. The Rev. Mr. Morrish, the missionary at that station, has under
his charge two thousand people. Connected with the station is a day
school for children, and a night school for adults twice in each week.
We looked in upon the day school, and found one hundred and fifteen
children. The teacher and assistant were colored persons. Mr. M.
superintends. He was just dismissing the school, by singing and prayer,
and the children marched out to the music of one of their little songs.
During the afternoon, Mr. Favey, manager of a neighboring estate,
(Lavicount's,) called on us.
He spoke of the tranquillity of the late Christmas holidays. They ended
Tuesday evening, and his people were all in the field at work on
Wednesday morning--there were no stragglers. Being asked to specify the
chief advantages of the new system over slavery, he stated at once the
following things: 1st. It (free labor) is less _expensive_. 2d. It costs
a planter far less _trouble_ to manage free laborers, than it did to
manage slaves. 3d. It had _removed all danger of insurrection,
conflagration, and conspiracies_.
In the evening, Mr. Morrish's adult school for women was held. About
thirty women assembled from different estates--some walking several
miles. Most of them were just beginning to read. They had just begun to
learn something about figures, and it was no small effort to add 4 and 2
together. They were incredibly ignorant about the simplest matters. When
they first came to the school, they could not tell which was their right
arm or their right side, and they had scarcely mastered that secret,
after repeated showing. We were astonished to observe that when Mr. M.
asked them to point to their cheeks, they laid their finger upon their
chins. They were much pleased with the evolutions of a dumb clock, which
Mr. M. exhibited, but none of them could tell the time of day by it.
Such is a specimen of the intelligence of the Antigua negroes. Mr. M.
told us that they were a pretty fair sample of the country negroes
generally. It surely cannot be said that they were uncommonly well
prepared for freedom; yet with all their ignorance, and with the merest
infantile state of intellect, they prove the peaceable subjects of law.
That they have a great desire to learn, is manifest from their coming
such distances, after working in the field all day. The school which
they attend has been established since the abolition of slavery.
The next morning, we visited the day school. It was opened with singing
and prayer. The children knelt and repeated the Lord's Prayer after Mr.
M. They then formed into a line and marched around the room, singing and
keeping the step. A tiny little one, just beginning to walk,
occasionally straggled out of the line. The next child, not a little
displeased with such disorderly movements, repeatedly seized the
straggler by the frock, and pulled her into the ranks; but finally
despaired of reducing her to subordination. When the children had taken
their seats, Mr. M., at our request, asked all those who were free
before August, 1834, to rise. Only one girl arose, and she was in no way
distinguishable from a white child. The first exercise, was an
examination of a passage of scripture. The children were then questioned
on the simple rules of addition and subtraction, and their answers were
prompt and accurate.
The hour having arrived when we were to visit a neighboring estate, Mr.
M. kindly accompanied us to Lyon's, the estate upon which Dr. Nugent
resides. In respect to general intelligence, scientific acquirements,
and agricultural knowledge, no man in Antigua stands higher than Dr.
Nugent. He has long been speaker of the house of assembly, and is
favorably known in Europe as a geologist and man of science. He is
manager of the estate on which he resides, and proprietor of another.
The Doctor informed us that the crop on his estate had almost totally
failed, on account of the drought--being reduced from one hundred and
fifty hogsheads, the average crop, to _fifteen_! His provision grounds
had yielded almost nothing. The same soil which ordinarily produced ten
cart-loads of yams to the acre--the present season barely averaged _one
load to ten acres_! Yams were reduced from the dimensions of a man's
head, to the size of a radish. The _cattle were dying_ from want of
water and grass. He had himself lost _five oxen_ within the past week.
Previous to emancipation, said the Doctor, no man in the island dared to
avow anti-slavery sentiments, if he wished to maintain a respectable
standing. Planters might have their hopes and aspirations; but they
could not make them public without incurring general odium, and being
denounced as the enemies of their country.
In allusion to the motives which prompted the legislature to reject the
apprenticeship and adopt immediate emancipation, Dr. N. said, "When we
saw that abolition was _inevitable_, we began, to inquire what would be
the safest course for getting rid of slavery. _We wished to let
ourselves down in the easiest manner possible_--THEREFORE WE CHOSE
IMMEDIATE EMANCIPATION!" These were his words.
On returning to the hospitable mansion of Mr. Morrish, we had an
opportunity of witnessing a custom peculiar to the Moravians. It is
called 'speaking.' All the members of the church are required to call on
the missionary once a month, and particular days are appropriated to it.
They come singly or in small companies, and the minister converses with
Mr. M. manifested great faithfulness in this duty. He was affectionate
in manner--entered into all the minutiae of individual and family
affairs, and advised with them as a father with his children. We had an
opportunity of conversing with some of those who came. We asked one old
man what he did on the "First of August?"[A] His reply was, "Massa, we
went to church, and tank de Lord for make a we all free."
[Footnote A: By this phrase the freed people always understand the 1st
of August, 1834, when slavery was abolished.]
An aged infirm woman said to us, among other things, "Since de _free_
come de massa give me no--no, nothing to eat--gets all from my
cousins." We next conversed with two men, who were masons on an estate.
Being asked how they liked liberty, they replied, "O, it very
comfortable, Sir--very comfortable indeed." They said, "that on the day
when freedom came, they were as happy, as though they had just been
going to heaven." They said, now they had got free, they never would be
slaves again. They were asked if they would not be willing to sell
themselves to a man who would treat them well. They replied immediately
that they would be very willing to _serve_ such a man, but they would
not _sell themselves_ to the best person in the world! What fine
logicians a slave's experience had made these men! Without any effort
they struck out a distinction, which has puzzled learned men in church
and state, the difference between _serving_ a man and _being his
Being asked how they conducted themselves on the 1st of August they said
they had no frolicking, but they all went to church to "_tank God for
make a we free_." They said, they were very desirous to have their
children learn all they could while they were young. We asked them if
they did not fear that their children would become lazy if they went to
school all the time. One said, shrewdly, "Eh! nebber mind--dey _come to_
by'm by--_belly 'blige 'em_ to work."
In the evening Mr. M. held a religious meeting in the chapel; the weekly
meeting for exhortation. He stated to the people the object of our
visit, and requested one of us to say a few words. Accordingly, a short
time was occupied in stating the number of slaves in America, and in
explaining their condition, physical, moral, and spiritual; and the
congregation were urged to pray for the deliverance of the millions of
our bondmen. They manifested much sympathy, and promised repeatedly to
pray that they might be "free like we." At the close of the meeting they
pressed around us to say "howdy, massa;" and when we left the chapel,
they showered a thousand blessings upon us. Several of them, men and
women, gathered about Mr. M.'s door after we went in, and wished to talk
with us. The men were mechanics, foremen, and watchmen; the women were
nurses. During our interview, which lasted nearly an hour, these persons
When we asked them how they liked freedom, and whether it was better
than slavery, they answered with a significant _umph_ and a shrug of the
shoulders, as though they would say, "Why you ask dat question, massa?"
They said, "all the people went to chapel on the first of August, to
tank God for make such poor undeserving sinners as we free; we no nebber
expect to hab it. But it please de Lord to gib we free, and we tank him
good Lord for it."
We asked them if they thought the wages they got (a shilling per day, or
about eleven cents,) was enough for them. They said it seemed to be very
small, and it was as much as they could do to get along with it; but
they could not get any more, and they had to be "satify and conten."
As it grew late and the good people had far to walk, we shook hands with
them, and bade them good bye, telling them we hoped to meet them again
in a world where all would be free. The next morning Mr. M. accompanied
us to the residence of the Rev. Mr. Jones, the rector of St. Phillip's.
Mr. J. informed us that the planters in that part of the island were
gratified with the working of the new system. He alluded to the
prejudices of some against having the children educated, lest it should
foster indolence. But, said Mr. J., the planters have always been
opposed to improvements, until they were effected, and their good
results began to be manifest. They first insisted that the abolition of
the slave-trade would ruin the colonies--next the _abolition of slavery_
was to be the certain destruction of the islands--and now the education
of children is deprecated as fraught with disastrous consequences.
FREY'S ESTATE--MR. HATLEY.
Mr. Morrish accompanied us to a neighboring estate called Frey's, which
lies on the road from Newfield to English Harbor. Mr. Hatley, the
manager, showed an enthusiastic admiration of the new system. Most of
his testimony will be found in Chapter III. He said, that owing to the
dry weather he should not make one third of his average crop. Yet his
people had acted their part well. He had been encouraged by their
improved industry and efficiency, to bring into cultivation lands that
had never before been tilled.
It was delightful to witness the change which had been wrought in this
planter by the abolition of slavery. Although accustomed for years to
command a hundred human beings with absolute authority, he could rejoice
in the fact that his power was wrested from him, and when asked to
specify the advantages of freedom over slavery, he named emphatically
and above all others _the abolition of flogging_. Formerly, he said, it
was "_whip--whip--whip--incessantly_, but now we are relieved from this
THE AMERICAN CONSUL
We called on the American Consul, Mr. Higginbotham, at his country
residence, about four miles from St. John's. Shortly after we reached
his elevated and picturesque seat, we were joined by Mr. Cranstoun, a
planter, who had been invited to dine with us. Mr. C. is a _colored
gentleman_. The Consul received him in such a manner as plainly showed
that they were on terms of intimacy. Mr. C. is a gentleman of
intelligence and respectability, and occupies a station of trust and
honor in the island. On taking leave of us, he politely requested our
company at breakfast on a following morning, saying, he would send his
gig for us.
At the urgent request of Mr. Bourne, of Miller's, we consented to
address the people of his estate, on Sabbath evening. He sent in his gig
for us in the afternoon, and we drove out.
At the appointed hour we went to the place of meeting. The chapel was
crowded with attentive listeners. Whenever allusions were made to the
grout blessings which God had conferred upon them in delivering them
from bondage, the audience heartily responded in their rough but earnest
way to the sentiments expressed. At the conclusion of the meeting, they
gradually withdrew, bowing or courtesying as they passed us, and
dropping upon our ear their gentle "good bye, massa." During slavery
every estate had its _dungeon_ for refractory slaves. Just as we were
leaving Miller's, me asked Mr. B. what had become of these dungeons. He
instantly replied, "I'll show you one," In a few moments we stood at the
door of the old prison, a small stone building, strongly built, with two
cells. It was a dismal looking den, surrounded by stables, pig-styes,
and cattlepens. The door was off its hinges, and the entrance partly
filled up with mason work. The sheep and goats went in and out
We breakfasted one morning at the Villa estate, which lies within half a
mile of St. John's. The manager was less sanguine in his views of
emancipation than the planters generally. We were disposed to think
that, were it not for the force of public sentiment, he might declare
himself against it. His feelings are easily accounted for. The estate is
situated so near the town; that his people are assailed by a variety of
temptations to leave their work; from which those on other estates are
exempt. The manager admitted that the danger of insurrection was
removed--crime was lessened--and the moral condition of society was
A few days after, we went by invitation to a bazaar, or fair, which was
held in the court-house in St. John's. The avails were to be
appropriated to the building of a new Wesleyan chapel in the town. The
council chamber and the assembly's call were given for the purpose. The
former spacious room was crowded with people of every class and
complexion. The fair was got up by the _colored_ members of the Wesleyan
church; nevertheless, some of the first ladies and gentlemen in town
attended it, and mingled promiscuously in the throng. Wealthy
proprietors, lawyers legislators, military officers in their uniform,
merchants, etc. swelled the crowd. We recognised a number of ladies whom
we had previously met at a fashionable dinner in St. John's. Colored
ladies presided at the tables, and before them was spread a profusion of
rich fancy articles. Among a small number of books exhibited for sale
were several copies of a work entitled "COMMEMORATIVE WREATH," being a
collection of poetical pieces relating to the abolition of slavery in
the West Indies.
VISIT TO MR. CRANSTOUN'S.
On the following morning Mr. C.'s gig came for us, and we drove out to
his residence. We were met at the door by the American Consul, who
breakfasted with us. When he had taken leave, Mr. C. proposed that we
should go over his grounds. To reach the estate, which lies in a
beautiful valley far below Mr. C.'s mountainous residence, we were
obliged to go on foot by a narrow path that wound along the sides of the
precipitous hills. This estate is the property of Mr. Athill, a colored
gentleman now residing in England. Mr. A. is post-master general of
Antigua, one of the first merchants in St. John's, and was a member of
the assembly until the close of 1836, when, on account of his continued
absence, he resigned his seat. A high-born white man, the Attorney
General, now occupies the same chair which this colored member vacated.
Mr. C. was formerly attorney for several estates, is now agent for a
number of them, and also a magistrate.
He remarked, that since emancipation the nocturnal disorders and
quarrels in the negro villages, which were incessant during slavery, had
nearly ceased. The people were ready and willing to work. He had
frequently given his gang jobs, instead of paying them by the day. This
had proved a gear stimulant to industry, and the work of the estate was
performed so much quicker by this plan that it was less expensive than
daily wages. When they had jobs given them, they would sometimes go to
work by three o'clock in the morning, and work by moonlight. When the
moon was not shining, he had known them to kindle fires among the trash
or dry cane leaves to work by. They would then continue working all day
until four o clock, stopping only for breakfast, and dispensing with the
usual intermission from twelve to two.
We requested him to state briefly what were in his estimation the
advantages of the free system over slavery. He replied thus: 1st. The
diminished expense of free labor. 2d. _The absence of coercion_. 3d. The
greater facility in managing an estate. Managers had not half the
perplexity and trouble in watching, driving, &c. They could leave the
affairs of the estate in the hands of the people with safety. 4th. _The
freedom from danger_. They had now put away all fears of insurrections,
robbery, and incendiarism.
There are two reflections which the perusal of these items will probably
suggest to most minds: 1st. The coincidence in the replies of different
planters to the question--What are the advantages of freedom over
slavery? These replies are almost identically the same in every case,
though given by men who reside in different parts of the island, and
have little communication with each other. 2d. They all speak
exclusively of the advantages to the _master_, and say nothing of the
benefit accruing to the emancipated. We are at some loss to decide
whether this arose from indifference to the interests of the
emancipated, or from a conviction that the blessings of freedom to them
were self-evident and needed no specification.
While we were in the boiling-house we witnessed a scene which
illustrated one of the benefits of freedom to the slave; it came quite
opportunely, and supplied the deficiency in the manager's enumeration of
advantages. The head boiler was performing the work of 'striking off;'
i.e. of removing the liquor, after it had been sufficiently boiled, from
the copper to the coolers. The liquor had been taken out of the boiler
by the skipper, and thence was being conducted to the coolers by a long
open spout. By some means the spout became choaked, and the liquor began
to run over. Mr. C. ordered the man to let down the valve, but he became
confused, and instead of letting go the string which lifted the valve,
he pulled on it the more. The consequence was that the liquor poured
over the sides of the spout in a torrent. The manager screamed at the
top of his voice--"_let down the valve, let it down_!" But the poor man,
more and more frightened, hoisted it still higher,--and the precious
liquid--pure sugar--spread in a thick sheet over the earthen floor. The
manager at last sprang forward, thrust aside the man, and stopped the
mischief, but not until many gallons of sugar were lost. Such an
accident as this, occurring during slavery, would have cost the negro a
severe flogging. As it was, however, in the present case, although Mr.
C. 'looked daggers,' and exclaimed by the workings of his countenance,
'a kingdom for a _cat_,'[A] yet the severest thing which he could say
was, "You bungling fellow--if you can't manage better than this, I shall
put some other person in your place--that's all." '_That_'s ALL' indeed,
but it would not have been all, three years ago. The negro replied to
his chidings in a humble way, saying 'I couldn't help it, sir, I
couldn't help it' Mr. C. finally turned to us, and said in a calmer
tone, "The poor fellow got confused, and was frightened half to death."
[Footnote A: A species of whip, well know in the West Indies.]
VISIT TO GRACE BAY.
We made a visit to the Moravian settlement at Grace Bay, which is on the
opposite side of the island. We called, in passing, at Cedar Hall, a
Moravian establishment four miles from town. Mr. Newby, one of the
missionaries stationed at this place, is the oldest preacher of the
Gospel in the island. He has been in Antigua for twenty-seven years. He
is quite of the _old way of thinking_ on all subjects, especially the
divine right of kings, and the scriptural sanction of slavery.
Nevertheless, he was persuaded that emancipation had been a great
blessing to the island and to all parties concerned. When he first came
to Antigua in 1809, he was not suffered to teach the slaves. After some
time he ventured to keep an evening school _in a secret way_. Now there
is a day school of one hundred and twenty children connected with the
station. It has been formed since emancipation.
From Cedar Hail we proceeded to Grace Bay. On the way we met some negro
men at work on the road, and stopped our chaise to chat with them. They
told us that they lived on Harvey's estate, which they pointed out to
us. Before emancipation that estate had four hundred slaves on it, but a
great number had since left because of ill usage during slavery. They
would not live on the estate, because the same manager remained, and
they could not trust him.
They told us they were Moravians, and that on the first of August they
all went to the Moravian chapel at Grace Bay, 'to tank and praise de
good Savior for make a we free.' We asked them if they still liked
liberty; they said, "Yes, massa, we all quite _proud_ to be free." The
negroes use the word _proud_ to express a strong feeling of delight. One
man said, "One morning as I was walking along the road all alone, I
prayed that the Savior would make me free, for then I could be so happy.
I don't know what made me pray so, for I wasn't looking for de free; but
please massa, _in one month de free come_."
They declared that they worked a great deal better since emancipation,
because they were _paid for it_. To be sure, said they, we get very
little wages, but it is better than none. They repeated it again and
again, that men could not be made to work well by _flogging_ them, "_it
was no use to try it_."
We asked one of the men, whether he would not be willing to be a slave
again provided he was _sure_ of having a kind master. "Heigh! me massa,"
said he, "me neber slave no more. A good massa a very good ting, _but
freedom till better_." They said that it was a great blessing to them to
have their children go to school. After getting them to show us the way
to Grace Bay, we bade them good bye.
We were welcomed at Grace Bay by the missionary, and his wife, Mr. and
Mrs. Moehne.[B] The place where these missionaries reside is a beautiful
spot. Their dwelling-house and the chapel are situated on a high
promontory, almost surrounded by the sea. A range of tall hills in the
rear cuts off the view of the island, giving to the missionary station
an air of loneliness and seclusion truly impressive. In this sequestered
spot, the found Mr. and Mrs. M. living alone. They informed us that they
rarely have white visiters, but their house is the constant resort of
the negroes, who gather there after the toil of the day to 'speak' about
their souls. Mr. and Mrs. M. are wholly engrossed in their labors of
love. They find their happiness in leading their numerous flock "by the
still waters and the green pastures" of salvation. Occupied in this
delightful work, they covet not other employments, nor other company,
and desire no other earthly abode than their own little hill-embosomed,
sea-girt missionary home.
[Footnote B: Pronounced Maynuh.]
There are a thousand people belonging to the church at this station,
each of whom, the missionaries see once every month. A day school has
been lately established, and one hundred children are already in
attendance. After dinner we walked out accompanied by the missionaries
to enjoy the beautiful sunset. It is one of the few _harmless_ luxuries
of a West India climate, to go forth after the heat of the day is spent
and the sun is sinking in the sea, and enjoy the refreshing coolness of
the air. The ocean stretched before us, motionless after the turmoil of
the day, like a child which has rocked itself asleep, yet indicating by
its mighty breathings as it heaved along the beach, that it only
slumbered. As the sun went down, the full moon arose, only less
luminous, and gradually the stars began to light up their beaming fires.
The work of the day now being over, the weary laborers were seen coming
from different directions to have a 'speak' with the missionaries. Mr.
M. stated a fact illustrative of the influence of the missionaries over
the negroes. Some time ago, the laborers on a certain estate became
dissatisfied with the wages they were receiving, and refused to work
unless they were increased. The manager tried in vain to reconcile his
people to the grievance of which they complained, and then sent to Mr.
M., requesting him to visit the estate, and use his influence to
persuade the negroes, most of whom belonged to his church, to work at
the usual terms. Mr. M. sent word to the manager that it was not his
province, as minister, to interfere with the affairs of any estate; but
he would talk with the people about it individually, when they came to
'speak.' Accordingly he spoke to each one, as he came, in a kind manner,
advising him to return to his work, and live as formerly. In a short
time peace and confidence were restored, and the whole gang to a man
were in the field.
Mr. and Mrs. M. stated that notwithstanding the very low rate of wages,
which was scarcely sufficient to support life, they had never seen a
single individual who desired to return to the condition of a slave.
Even the old and infirm, who were sometimes really in a suffering state
from neglect of the planters and from inability of their relatives
adequately to provide for them, expressed the liveliest gratitude for
the great blessing which the Savior had given them. They would often say
to Mrs. M. "Why, Missus, old sinner just sinkin in de grave, but God let
me old eyes see dis blessed sun."
The missionaries affirmed that the negroes were an affectionate
people--remarkably so. Any kindness shown them by a white person, was
treasured up and never forgotten. On the other hand, the slightest
neglect or contempt from a white person, was keenly felt. They are very
fond of saying '_howdy_' to white people; but if the salutation is not
returned, or noticed kindly, they are not likely to repeat it to the
same individual. To shake hands with a white person is a gratification
which they highly prize. Mrs. M. pleasantly remarked, that after service
on Sabbath, she was usually wearied out with saying _howdy_, and
During the evening we had some conversation with two men who came to
'speak.' They spoke about the blessings of liberty, and their gratitude
to God for making them free. They spoke also, with deep feeling, of the
still greater importance of being free from _sin_. That, they said, was
better. _Heaven was the first best, and freedom was the next best_.
They gave us some account, in the course of the evening, of an aged
saint called Grandfather Jacob, who lived on a neighboring estate. He
had been a _helper_[A] in the Moravian church, until he became too
infirm to discharge the duties connected with that station. Being for
the same reason discharged from labor on the estate, he now occupied
himself in giving religious instruction to the other superannuated
people on the estate.
[Footnote A: An office somewhat similar to that of deacon]
Mrs. M. said it would constitute an era in the life of the old man, if
he could have an interview with two strangers from a distant land;
accordingly, she sent a servant to ask him to come to the mission-house
early the next morning. The old man was prompt to obey the call. He left
home, as he said, 'before the gun fire'--about five o'clock--and came
nearly three miles on foot. He was of a slender form, and had been tall,
but age and slavery had bowed him down. He shook us by the hand very
warmly, exclaiming, "God bless you, God bless you--me bery glad to see
you." He immediately commenced giving us an account of his conversion.
Said he, putting his hand on his breast, "You see old Jacob? de old
_sinner_ use to go on _drinkin', swearin', dancin', fightin'!_ No God--
no Savior--no soul! _When old England and de Merica fall out de first
time_, old Jacob was a man--a wicked sinner!--drink rum, fight--love to
fight! Carry coffin to de grabe on me head; put dead body under
ground--dance over it--den fight and knock man down--go 'way, drink rum,
den take de fiddle. And so me went on, just so, till me get sick and
going to die--thought when me die, dat be de end of me;--_den de Savior
come to me!_ Jacob love de Savior, and been followin' de good Savior
ever since." He continued his story, describing the opposition he had to
contend with, and the sacrifices he made to go to church. After working
on the estate till six o'clock at night, he and several others would
each take a large stone on his head and start for St. John's; nine miles
over the hills. They carried the stones to aid is building the Moravian
chapel at Spring Garden, St. John's. After he had finished this account,
he read to us, in a highly animated style, some of the hymns which he
taught to the old people, and then sung one of them. These exercises
caused the old man's heart to burn within him, and again he ran over his
past life, his early wickedness, and the grace that snatched him from
ruin, while the mingled tides of gratitude burst forth from heart, and
eyes, and tongue.
When we turned his attention to the temporal freedom he had received, he
instantly caught the word FREE, and exclaimed vehemently, "O yes, me
Massa--dat is anoder kind blessin from de Savior! Him make we all
_free_. Can never praise him too much for dat." We inquired whether he
was now provided for by the manager. He said he was not--never received
any thing from him--his _children_ supported him. We then asked him
whether it was not better to be a slave if he could get food and
clothing, than to be free and not have enough. He darted his quick eye
at us and said 'rader be free _still_.' He had been severely flogged
twice since his conversion, for leaving his post as watchman to bury the
dead. The minister was sick, and he was applied to, in his capacity of
_helper_, to perform funeral rites, and he left his watch to do it. He
said, his heavenly Master called him, and he _would_ go though he
expected a flogging. He must serve his Savior whatever come. "Can't put
we in dungeon _now_," said Grandfather Jacob with a triumphant look.
When told that there were slaves in America, and that they were not yet
emancipated, he exclaimed, "Ah, de Savior make we free, and he will make
dem free too. He come to Antigo first--he'll be in Merica soon."
When the time had come for him to leave, he came and pressed our hands,
and fervently gave us his patriarchal blessing. Our interview with
Grandfather Jacob can never be forgotten. Our hearts, we trust, will
long cherish his heavenly savor--well assured that if allowed a part in
the resurrection of the just, we shall behold his tall form, erect in
the vigor of immortal youth, amidst the patriarchs of past generations.
After breakfast we took leave of the kind-hearted missionaries, whose
singular devotedness and delightful spirit won greatly upon our
affections, and bent our way homeward by another route.
MR. SCOTLAND'S ESTATE.
We called at the estate of Mr. J. Scotland, Jr., barrister, and member
of the assembly. We expected to meet with the proprietor, but the
manager informed us that pressing business at court had called him to
St. John's on the preceding day. The testimony of the manager concerning
the dry weather, the consequent failure in the crop, the industry of the
laborers, and so forth, was similar to that which we had heard before.
He remarked that he had not been able to introduce job-work among his
people. It was a new thing with them, and they did not understand it. He
had lately made a proposal to give the gang four dollars per acre for
holding a certain field. They asked a little time to consider upon so
novel a proposition. He gave them half a day, and at the end of that
time asked them what their conclusion was. One, acting as spokesman for
the rest, said, "We rada hab de shilling wages." That was _certain_; the
job might yield them more, and it might fall short--quite a common sense
At the pressing request of Mr. Armstrong we spent a day with him at
Fitch's Creek. Mr. A. received us with the most cordial hospitality,
remarking that he was glad to have another opportunity to state some
things which he regarded as obstacles to the complete success of the
experiment in Antigua. One was the entire want of concert among the
planters. There was no disposition to meet and compare views respecting
different modes of agriculture, treatment of laborers, and employment of
machinery. Another evil was, allowing people to live on the estates who
took no part in the regular labor of cultivation. Some planters had
adapted the foolish policy of encouraging such persons to remain on the
estates, in order that they might have help at hand in cases of
emergency. Mr. A. strongly condemned this policy. It withheld laborers
from the estates which needed them; it was calculated to make the
regular field hands discontented, and it offered a direct encouragement
to the negroes to follow irregular modes of living. A third obstacle to
the successful operation of free labor, was the absence of the most
influential proprietors. The consequences of absenteeism were very
serious. The proprietors were of all men the most deeply interested in
the soil; and no attorneys, agents, or managers, whom they could employ,
would feel an equal interest in it, nor make the same efforts to secure
the prosperous workings of the new system.
In the year 1833, when the abolition excitement was at its height in
England, and the people were thundering at the doors of parliament for
emancipation, Mr. A. visited that country for his health. To use his own
expressive words, he "got a terrible scraping wherever he went." He said
he could not travel in a stage-coach, or go into a party, or attend a
religious meeting, without being attacked. No one the most remotely
connected with the system could have peace there. He said it was
astonishing to see what a feeling was abroad, how mightily the mind of
the whole country, peer and priest and peasant, was wrought up. The
national heart seemed on fire.
Mr. A. said, he became a religious man whilst the manager of a slave
estate, and when he became a Christian, he became an abolitionist. Yet
this man, while his conscience was accusing him--while he was longing
and praying for abolition--did not dare open his mouth in public to
urge it on! How many such men are there in our southern states--men who
are inwardly cheering on the abolitionist in his devoted work, and yet
send up no voice to encourage him, but perhaps are traducing and
We received a call at our lodgings in St. John's from the Archdeacon. He
made interesting statements respecting the improvement of the negroes in
dress, morals, education and religion, since emancipation. He had
resided in the island some years previous to the abolition of slavery,
and spoke from personal observation.
Among many other gentlemen who honored us with a call about the same
time, was the Rev. Edward Fraser, Wesleyan missionary, and a colored
gentleman. He is a native of Bermuda, and ten years ago was a _slave_.
He received a mercantile education, and was for several years the
confidential clerk of his master. He was treated with much regard and
general kindness. He said he was another Joseph--every thing which his
master had was in his hands. The account books and money were all
committed to him. He had servants under him, and did almost as he
pleased--except becoming free. Yet he must say, as respected himself,
kindly as he was treated, that slavery was a _grievous wrong, most
unjust and sinful_. The very thought--and it often came over him--that
he was a slave, brought with it a terrible sense of degradation. It came
over the soul like a frost. His sense of degradation grew more intense
in proportion as his mind became more cultivated. He said, _education
was a disagreeable companion for a slave_. But while he said this, Mr.
F. spoke very respectfully and tenderly of his master. He would not
willingly utter a word which would savor of unkindness towards him. Such
was the spirit of one whose best days had been spent under the exactions
of slavery. He was a local preacher in the Wesleyan connection while he
was a slave, and was liberated by his master, without remuneration, at
the request of the British Conference, who wished to employ him as an
itinerant. He is highly esteemed both for his natural talents and
general literary acquisitions and moral worth. The Conference have
recently called him to England to act as an agent in that country, to
procure funds for educational and religious purposes in these islands.
MEETING OF WESLEYAN MISSIONARIES.
As we were present at the annual meeting of the Wesleyan missionaries
for this district, we gained much information concerning the object of
our mission, as there were about twenty missionaries, mostly from
Dominica, Montserrat, Nevis, St. Christophers, Anguilla, and Tortola.
Not a few of them were men of superior acquirements, who had sacrificed
ease and popular applause at home, to minister to the outcast and
oppressed. They are the devoted friends of the black man. It was
soul-cheering to hear them rejoice over the abolition of slavery. It was
as though their own limbs had been of a sudden unshackled, and a high
wall had fallen from around them. Liberty had broken upon them like the
bursting forth of the sun to the watchman on his midnight tower.
During the session, the mission-house was thrown open to us, and we
frequently dined with the numerous company of missionaries, who there
ate at a common table. Mrs. F., wife of the colored clergyman mentioned
above, presided at the social board. The missionaries and their wives
associated with Mr. and Mrs. F. as unreservedly as though they wore the
most delicate European tint. The first time we took supper with them, at
one side of a large table, around which were about twenty missionaries
with their wives, sat Mrs. F., with the furniture of a tea table before
her. On the other side, with the coffee urn and its accompaniments, sat
the wife of a missionary, with a skin as lily-hued as the fairest
Caucasian. Nearly opposite to her, between two white preachers, sat a
colored missionary. Farther down, with the chairman of the district on
his right, sat another colored gentleman, a merchant and local preacher
in Antigua. Such was the uniform appearance of the table, excepting that
the numbers were occasionally swelled by the addition of several other
colored gentlemen and ladies. On another occasion, at dinner, we had an
interesting conversation, in which the whole company of missionaries
participated. The Rev. M. Banks, of St. Bartholomews, remarked, that one
of the grossest of all absurdities was that of _preparing men for
freedom_. Some, said he, pretend that immediate emancipation is unsafe,
but it was evident to him that if men _are peaceable while they are
slaves_, they might be trusted in any other condition, for they could
not possibly be placed in one more aggravating. If _slavery_ is a safe
system, _freedom_ surely will be. There can be no better evidence that a
people are prepared for liberty, _than their patient endurance of
slavery_. He expressed the greatest regret at the conduct of the
American churches, particularly that of the Methodist church. "Tell
them," said he, "on your return, that the missionaries in these islands
are cast down and grieved when they think of their brethren in America.
We feel persuaded that they are holding back the car of freedom; they
are holding up the gospel." Rev. Mr. Cheesbrough, of St. Christopher's,
said, "Tell them that much as we desire to visit the United States, we
cannot go so long as we are prohibited from speaking against slavery, or
while that _abominable prejudice_ is encouraged in the churches. _We
could not administer the sacrament to a church in which the distinction
of colors was maintained._" "Tell our brethren of the Wesleyan
connection," said Mr. B. again, "that slavery must be abolished by
_Christians_, and the church ought to take her stand at once against
it." We told him that a large number of Methodists and other Christians
had engaged already in the work, and that the number was daily
increasing. "That's right," he exclaimed, "agitate, _agitate_, AGITATE!
_You must succeed_: the Lord is with you." He dwelt particularly on the
obligations resting upon Christians in the free states. He said, "Men
must be at a distance from slavery to judge of its real character.
Persons living in the midst of it, gradually become familiarized with
its horrors and woes, so that they can view calmly, exhibitions from
which they would once have shrunk in dismay."
We had some conversation with Rev. Mr. Walton, of Montserrat. After
making a number of statements in reference to the apprenticeship there,
Mr. W. stated that there had been repeated instances of planters
_emancipating all their apprentices_. He thought there had been a case
of this kind every month for a year past. The planters were becoming
tired of the apprenticeship, and from mere considerations of interest
and comfort, were adopting free labor.
A new impulse had been given to education in Montserrat, and schools
were springing up in all parts of the island. Mr. W. thought there was
no island in which education was so extensive. Religious influences were
spreading among the people of all classes. Marriages were occurring
We had an interview with the Rev. Mr. H., an aged colored minister. He
has a high standing among his brethren, for talents, piety, and
usefulness. There are few ministers in the West Indies who have
accomplished more _for the cause of Christ_ than has Mr. H.[A]
[Footnote A: It is a fact well known in Antigua and Barbadoes, that this
colored missionary has been instrumental in the conversion of several
clergymen of the Episcopal Church in those islands, who are now
currently devoted men.]
He said he had at different periods been stationed in Antigua, Anguilla,
Tortola, and some other islands. He said that the negroes in the other
islands in which he had preached, were as intelligent as those in
Antigua, and in every respect as well prepared for freedom. He was in
Anguilla when emancipation took place. The negroes there were kept at
work on the very _day that freedom came!_ They worked as orderly as on
any other day. The Sabbath following, he preached to them on their new
state, explaining the apprenticeship to them. He said the whole
congregation were in a state of high excitement, weeping and shouting.
One man sprang to his feet, and exclaimed, 'Me never forget God and King
William.' This same man was so full that he went out of the chapel, and
burst into loud weeping.
The preaching of the missionaries, during their stay in Antigua, was
full of allusions to the abolition of slavery in the West Indies, and
especially to the entire emancipation in Antigua. Indeed, we rarely
attended a meeting in Antigua, of any kind, in which the late
emancipation was not in some way alluded to with feelings of gratitude
and exultation. In the ordinary services of the Sabbath, this subject
was almost uniformly introduced, either in the prayer or sermon.
Whenever thanksgiving was rendered to God for favors, _freedom_ was
among the number.
The meeting of the district afforded an opportunity for holding a number
of anniversary meetings. We notice them here, believing that they will
present the most accurate view that can be given of the religious and
moral condition of Antigua.
On the evening of the 1st of February, the first anniversary of the
Antigua Temperance Society was held in the Wesleyan chapel. We had been
invited to attend and take a part in the exercises. The chapel was
crowded with a congregation of all grades and complexions. Colored and
white gentlemen appeared together on the platform. We intimated to a
member of the committee, that we could not conscientiously speak without
advocating _total abstinence_, which doctrine, we concluded from the
nature of the pledge, (which only included ardent spirits,) would not be
well received. We were assured that we might use the most perfect
freedom in avowing our sentiments.
The speakers on this occasion were two planters, a Wesleyan missionary,
and ourselves. All advocated the doctrine of total abstinence. The first
speaker, a planter, concluded by saying, that it was commonly believed
that wine and malt were rendered absolutely indispensable in the West
Indies, by the exhausting nature of the climate. But facts disprove the
truth of this notion. "I am happy to say that I can now present this
large assembly with ocular demonstration of the fallacy of the popular
opinion. I need only point you to the worthy occupants of this platform.
Who are the healthiest among them? _The cold water drinkers--the
teetotallers_! We can assure you that we have not lost a pound of flesh,
by abandoning our cups. We have tried the cold water experiment
faithfully, and we can testify that since we became cold water men, _we
work better, we eat better, we sleep better, and we do every thing
better than before_." The next speaker, a planter also, dwelt on the
inconsistency of using wine and malt, and at the same time calling upon
the poor to give up ardent spirits. He said this inconsistency had been
cast in his teeth by his negroes. He never could prevail upon them to
stop drinking rum, until he threw away his wine and porter. Now he and
all his people were teetotallists. There were two other planters who had
taken the same course. He stated, as the result of a careful calculation
which he had made, that he and the two planters referred to, had been in
the habit of giving to their people not less than _one thousand gallons
of rum annually_. The whole of this was now withheld, and molasses and
sugar were given instead. The missionary who followed them was not a
whit behind in boldness and zeal, and between them, they left us little
to say in our turn on the subject of total abstinence.
On the following evening the anniversary of the Bible Society was held
in the Moravian school-room. During the day we received a note from the
Secretary of the Society, politely requesting us to be present. The
spacious school-room was filled, and the broad platform crowded with
church clergymen, Moravian ministers, and Wesleyan missionaries, colored
and white. The Secretary, a Moravian minister, read the twenty-first
annual report. It spoke emphatically of 'the joyful event of
emancipation', and in allusion to an individual in England, of whom it
spoke in terms of high commendation, it designated him, as one "who was
distinguished for his efforts in the abolition of slavery." The adoption
of the report was moved by one of the Wesleyan missionaries, who spoke
at some length. He commenced by speaking of "the peculiar emotions with
which he always arose to address an assembly of the free people of
Antigua." It had been his lot for a year past to labor in a colony[A]
where slavery still reigned, and he could not but thank God for the
happiness of setting his foot once more on the free soil of an
[Footnote A: St. Martin's]
Perhaps the most interesting meeting in the series, was the anniversary
of the Wesleyan Missionary Society of Antigua. Both parts of the day
were devoted to this anniversary. The meetings were held in the Wesleyan
chapel, which was filled above and below, with the usual commixture of
white, colored, and black. We saw, as on former occasions, several
colored gentlemen seated among the ministers. After the usual
introductory exercises of singing and prayer, the annual report was read
by the Secretary, Rev. E. Fraser, the colored minister already
mentioned. It was terse, direct, and business like. The meeting was then
addressed by a Moravian missionary. He dwelt upon the decrease of the
sectarian spirit, and hailed the coming of Christian charity and
brotherly communion. He opened his Bible, and read about the middle wall
of partition being broken down. "Yes, brother," said Mr. Horne, "and
every other wall." "The rest are but paper walls," responded the
speaker, "and when once the middle wall is removed, these will soon be
burned up by the fire of Christian love."
The next speaker was a Wesleyan missionary of Nevis. He spoke of the
various instrumentalities which were now employed for the conversion of
the world. "We welcome," said he, "the co-operation of America, and with
all our hearts do we rejoice that she is now beginning to put away from
her that vile system of oppression which has hitherto crippled her moral
energy and her religious enterprise." Then turning and addressing
himself to us, he said, "We hail you, dear brethren, as co-workers with
us. Go forward in your blessed undertaking. Be not dismayed with the
huge dimensions of that vice which you are laboring to overthrow! Be not
disheartened by the violence and menaces of your enemies! Go forward.
Proclaim to the church and to your countrymen the sinfulness of slavery,
and be assured that soon the fire of truth will melt down the massy
chains of oppression." He then urged upon the people of Antigua _their_
peculiar obligations to extend the gospel to other lands. It was the
_Bible_ that made them free, and he begged them to bear in mind that
there were millions of their countrymen _still in the chains of
slavery_. This appeal was received with great enthusiasm.
We then spoke on a resolution which had been handed us by the Secretary,
and which affirmed "that the increasing and acknowledged usefulness of
Christian missions was a subject of congratulation." We spoke of the
increase of missionary operations in our own country, and of the spirit
of self-denial which was widely spreading, particularly among young
Christians. We spoke of that accursed thing in our midst, which not only
tended greatly to kill the spirit of missions in the church, but which
directly withheld _many_ young men from foreign missionary fields. It
had made more than two millions of heathen in our country; and so long
as the cries of these _heathen at home_ entered the ears of our young
men and young women, they could not, dare not, go abroad. How could they
go to Ceylon, to Burmah, or to Hindostan, with the cry of their
_country's heathen_ ringing their ears! How could they tear themselves
away from famished millions kneeling at their feet in chains and begging
for the bread of life, and roam afar to China or the South Sea Islands!
Increasing numbers filed with a missionary spirit felt that their
obligations were at home, and they were resolved that if they could not
carry the gospel _forthwith_ to the slaves, they would labor for the
overthrow of that system which made it a crime punishable with death to
preach salvation to the poor. In conclusion, the hope was expressed that
the people of Antigua--so highly favored with freedom, education, and
religion, would never forget that in the nation whence we came, there
were _two millions and a half of heathen_, who, instead of bread,
received stones and scorpions; instead of the Bible, bolts and bars;
instead of the gospel, chains and scourgings; instead of the hope of
salvation thick darkness and despair. They were entreated to remember
that in the gloomy dungeon, from which they had lately escaped there
were deeper and more dismal cells, _yet filled_ with millions of their
countrymen. The state of feeling produced by this reference to slavery,
was such as might be anticipated in an audience, a portion of which were
once slaves, and still remembered freshly the horrors of their late
The meeting was concluded after a sitting of more than four hours. The
attendance in the evening was larger than on any former occasion. Many
were unable to get within the chapel. We were again favored with an
opportunity of urging a variety of considerations touching the general
cause, as well as those drawn from the condition of our own country, and
the special objects of our mission.
The Rev. Mr. Horne spoke very pointedly on the subject of slavery. He
began by saying that he had been _so long accustomed_ to speak
cautiously about slavery that he was even now almost afraid of his own
voice when he alluded to it. [General laughter.] But he would remember
that he was in a _free island_, and that he spoke to _freemen_, and
therefore he had nothing to fear.
He said the peace and prosperity of these colonies is a matter of great
moment in itself considered, but it was only when viewed as an example
to the rest of the slaveholding world that its real magnitude and
importance was perceived. The influence of abolition, and especially of
entire emancipation in Antigua, must be very great. The eyes of the
world were fixed upon her. The great nation of America must now soon
_toll the knell_ of slavery, and this event will be hastened by the
happy operation of freedom here.
Mr. H. proceeded to say, that during the agitation of the slavery
question at home, he had been suspected of not being a friend to
emancipation; and it would probably be remembered by some present that
his name appeared in the report of the committee of the House of
Commons, where it stood in _no enviable society_. But whatever might be
thought of his course at that time, he felt assumed that the day was not
far distant when he should be able to clear up every thing connected
with it. It was not a little gratifying to us to see that the time had
come in the West Indies, when the suspicion of having been opposed to
emancipation is a stain upon the memory from which a public man is glad
to vindicate himself.
RESOLUTION OF THE MEETING.
After a few other addresses were delivered, and just previous to the
dismission of the assembly, Rev. Mr. Cox, Chairman of the District,
arose and said, that as this was the last of the anniversary meetings,
he begged to move a resolution which he had no doubt would meet with the
hearty and unanimous approval of that large assembly. He then read the
following resolution, which we insert here as an illustration of the
universal sympathy in the objects of our mission. As the resolution is
not easily divisible, we insert the whole of it, making no ado on the
score of modesty.
"Resolved, that this meeting is deeply impressed with the importance of
the services rendered this day to the cause of missions by the
acceptable addresses of Mr. ----, from America, and begs especially to
express to him and his friend Mr. ----, the assurance of their sincere
sympathy in the object of their visit to Antigua."
Mr. C. said he would make no remarks in support of the resolution he had
just read for he did not deem them necessary. He would therefore propose
at once that the vote be taken by rising. The Chairman read the
resolution accordingly, and requested those who were in favor of
adopting it, to rise. Not an individual in the crowded congregation kept
his seat. The masters and the slaves of yesterday--all rose together--a
phalanx of freemen, to testify "their sincere sympathy" in the efforts
and objects of American abolitionists.
After the congregation had resumed their seats, the worthy Chairman
addressed us briefly in behalf of the congregation, saying, that it was
incumbent on him to convey to us the unanimous expression of sympathy on
the part of this numerous assembly in the object of our visit to the
island. We might regard it as an unfeigned assurance that we were
welcomed among them, and that the cause which we were laboring to
promote was dear to the hearts of the people of Antigua.
This was the testimonial of an assembly, many of whom, only three years
before, were themselves slaveholders. It was not given at a meeting
specially concerted and called for the purpose, but grew up unexpectedly
and spontaneously out of the feelings of the occasion, a free-will
offering, the cheerful impulsive gush of _free_ sympathies. We returned
our acknowledgments in the best manner that our excited emotions
LAYING THE CORNER STONE OF A WESLEYAN CHAPEL.
The corner stone of a new Wesleyan Chapel was laid in St. John's, during
the district meeting. The concourse of spectators was immense. At eleven
o'clock religious exercises were held in the old chapel. At the close of
the service a procession was formed, composed of Wesleyan missionaries,
Moravian ministers, clergymen of the church, members of the council and
of the assembly, planters, merchants, and other gentlemen, and the
children of the Sunday and infant schools, connected with the
As the procession moved to the new site, a hymn was sung, in which the
whole procession united. Our position in the procession, to which we
were assigned by the marshal, and much to our satisfaction, was at
either side of two colored gentlemen, with whom we walked, four abreast.
On one side of the foundation a gallery had been raised, which was
covered with an awning, and was occupied by a dense mass of white and
colored ladies. On another side the gentlemen of the procession stood.
The other sides were thronged with a promiscuous multitude of all
colors. After singing and prayer, the Hon. Nicholas Nugent, speaker of
the house of assembly, descended from the platform by a flight of stairs
into the cellar, escorted by two missionaries. The sealed phial was then
placed in his hand, and Mr. P., a Wesleyan missionary, read from a paper
the inscription written on the parchment within the phial. The closing
words of the inscription alluded to the present condition of the island,
thus: "The demand for a new and larger place of worship was pressing,
and the progress of public liberality advancing on a scale highly
creditable to this FREE, enlightened, and evangelized colony." The
Speaker then placed the phial in the cavity of the rock. When it was
properly secured, and the corner stone lowered down by pullies to its
place, he struck three blows upon it with a mallet, and then returned to
the platform. The most eager curiosity was exhibited on every side to
witness the ceremony.
At the conclusion of it, several addresses were delivered. The speakers
were, Rev. Messrs. Horne and Harvey, and D.B. Garling, Esq. Mr. Horne,
after enumerating several things which were deserving of praise, and
worthy of imitation, exclaimed, "The grand crowning glory of all--that
which places Antigua above all her sister colonies--was the magnanimous
measure of the legislature in entirely abolishing slavery." It was
estimated that there were more than two thousand persons assembled on
this occasion. The _order_ which prevailed among such a concourse was
highly creditable to the island. It was pleasing to see the perfect
intermixture of colors and conditions; not less so to observe the kindly
bearing of the high toward the low.[A] After the exercises were
finished, the numerous assembly dispersed quietly. Not an instance of
drunkenness, quarrelling, or anger, fell under our notice during
[Footnote A: During Mr. Home's address, we observed Mr. A., a planter,
send his umbrella to a negro man who stood at the corner-stone, exposed
to the sun.]
RESOLUTIONS OF THE MISSIONARIES.
Toward the close of the district meeting, we received a kind note from
the chairman, inviting us to attend the meeting, and receive in person,
a set of resolutions which had been drawn up at our request, and signed
by all the missionaries. At the hour appointed, we repaired to the
chapel. The missionaries all arose as we entered, and gave us a
brotherly salutation. We were invited to take our seats at the right
hand of the chairman. He then, in the presence of the meeting, read to
us the subjoined resolutions; we briefly expressed, in behalf of
ourselves and our cause, the high sense we had of the value of the
testimony, which the meeting had been pleased to give us. The venerable
father Horne then prayed with us, commending our cause to the blessing
of the Head of the church, and ourselves to the protection and guidance
of our heavenly Father. After which we shook hands with the brethren,
severally, receiving their warmest assurances of affectionate regard,
_"Resolutions passed at the meeting of the Wesleyan Missionaries of the
Antigua District, assembled at St. John's, Antigua, February 7th, 1837._
1. That the emancipation of the slaves of the West Indies, while it
was an act of undoubted justice to that oppressed people, has
operated most favorably in furthering the triumphs of the gospel, by
removing one prolific source of unmerited suspicion of religious
teachers, and thus opening a door to their more extensive labors and
usefulness--by furnishing a greater portion of time for the service
of the negro, and thus preventing the continuance of unavoidable
Sabbath desecrations, in labor and neglect of the means of
grace--and in its operation as a stimulus to proprietors and other
influential gentlemen, to encourage religious education, and the
wide dissemination of the Scriptures, as an incentive to industry
and good order.
2. That while the above statements are true with reference to all
the islands, even where the system of apprenticeship prevails, they
are especially applicable to Antigua, where the results of the great
measure, of entire freedom, so humanely and judiciously granted by
the legislature, cannot be contemplated without the most devout
thanks givings to Almighty God.
3. That we regard with much gratification, the great diminution
among all classes in these islands, of the most unchristian
prejudice of color the total absence of it in the government and
ordinances of the churches of God, with which we are connected, and
the prospect of its complete removal, by the abolition of slavery,
by the increased diffusion of general knowledge, and of that
religion which teaches to "honor _all_ men," and to love our
neighbor as ourselves.
4. That we cannot but contemplate with much humiliation and
distress, the existence, among professing Christians in America, of
this partial, unseemly, and unchristian system of _caste_, so
distinctly prohibited in the word of God, and so utterly
irreconcileable with Christian charity.
5. That regarding slavery as a most unjustifiable infringement of
the rational and inalienable rights of men, and in its moral
consequences, (from our own personal observation as well as other
sources,) as one of the greatest curses with which the great
Governor of the nations ever suffered this world to be blighted: we
cannot but deeply regret the connection which so intimately exists
between the various churches of Christ in the United States of
America, and this unchristian system. With much sorrow do we learn
that the _principle_ of the lawfulness of slavery has been defended
by some who are ministers of Christ, that so large a proportion of
that body in America, are exerting their influence in favor of the
continuance of so indefensible and monstrous a system--and that
these emotions of sorrow are especially occasioned with reference to
our own denomination.
6. That while we should deprecate and condemn any recourse on the
part of the slaves, to measures of rebellion, as an unjustifiable
mode of obtaining their freedom, we would most solemnly, and
affectionately, and imploringly, adjure our respected fathers and
brethren in America, to endeavor, in every legitimate way, to wipe
away this reproach from their body, and thus act in perfect
accordance with the deliberate and recorded sentiments of our
venerated founder on this subject, and in harmony with the feelings
and proceedings of their brethren in the United Kingdom, who have
had the honor to take a distinguished part in awakening such a
determined and resistless public feeling in that country, as issued
in the abolition of slavery among 800,000 of our fellow subjects.
7. That we hail with the most lively satisfaction the progress in
America of anti-slavery principles, the multiplication of
anti-slavery societies, and the diffusion of correct views on this
subject. We offer to the noble band of truly patriotic, and
enlightened, and philanthropic men, who are combating in that
country with such a fearful evil, the assurance of our most cordial
and fraternal sympathy, and our earnest prayers for their complete
success. We view with pity and sorrow the vile calumnies with which
they have been assailed. We welcome with Christian joyfulness, in
the success which has already attended their efforts, the dawn of a
cloudless day of light and glory, which shall presently shine upon
that vast continent, when the song of universal freedom shall sound
in its length and breadth.
8. That these sentiments have been increased and confirmed by the
intercourse, which some of our body Have enjoyed with our beloved
brethren, the Rev. James A. Thome, and Joseph Horace Kimball, Esq.,
the deputation to these islands, front the Anti-Slavery Society in
America. We regard this appointment, and the nomination of such men
to fulfil it, as most judicious. We trust we can appreciate the
spirit of entire devotedness to this cause, which animates our
respected brethren, and breathes throughout their whole deportment,
and rejoice in such a manifestation of the fruits of that divine
charity, which flow from the constraining love of Christ, and which
many waters cannot quench.
9. That the assurance of the affectionate sympathy of the
twenty-five brethren who compose this district meeting, and our
devout wishes for their success in the objects of their mission, are
hereby presented, in our collective and individual capacity, to our
endeared and Christian friends from America.
(Signed) JAMES COX, chairman of the district, and resident in
Jonathan Cadman, St. Martin's. James Horne, St. Kitts. Matthew
Banks, St. Bartholomew's. E. Frazer, Antigua. Charles Bates, do.
John Keightley, do. Jesse Pilcher, do. Benjamin Tregaskiss, do.
Thomas Edwards, St. Kitts. Robert Hawkins, Tortola. Thomas Pearson,
Nevis. George Craft, do. W.S. Wamouth, St. Kitts. John Hodge,
Tortola. William Satchel, Dominica. John Cullingford, Dominica. J.
Cameron, Nevis. B. Gartside, St. Kitts. John Parker, do. Hilton
Cheeseborough, do. Thomas Jeffery, do. William Rigglesworth,
Tortola. Daniel Stepney, Nevis. James Walton, Montserrat."
* * * * *
Having given a general outline of our sojourn in Antigua, we proceed to
a mere minute account of the results of our investigations. We arrange
the testimony in two general divisions, placing that which relates to
the past and present condition of the colony in one, and that which
bears directly upon the question of slavery in America in another.
There are three denominations of Christians in Antigua: the Established
Church; the Moravians, and Wesleyans. The Moravians number fifteen
thousand--almost exclusively negroes. The Wesleyans embrace three
thousand members, and about as many more attendants. Of the three
thousand members, says a Wesleyan missionary, "not fifty are whites--a
larger number are colored; but the greater part black." "The attendance
of the negro population at the churches and chapels," (of the
established order,) says the Rector of St. John's, "amounts to four
thousand six hundred and thirty-six." The whole number of blacks
receiving religious instruction from these Christian bodies, making
allowance for the proportion of white and colored included in the three
thousand Wesleyans, is about twenty-two thousand--leaving a population
of eight thousand negroes in Antigua who are unsupplied with religious
The Established Church has six parish churches, as many "chapels of
ease," and nine clergymen. The Moravians have five settlements and
thirteen missionaries. The Wesleyans have seven chapels, with as many
more small preaching places on estates, and twelve ministers; half of
whom are itinerant missionaries, and the other half, local preachers,
employed as planters, or in mercantile, and other pursuits, and
preaching only occasionally. From the limited number of chapels and
missionaries, it may be inferred that only a portion of the twenty-two
thousand can enjoy stated weekly instruction. The superintendent of the
Moravian mission stated that their chapels could not accommodate more
than _one third_ of their members.
Each of the denominations complains of the lack of men and houses. The
Wesleyans are now building a large chapel in St. John's. It will
accommodate two thousand persons. "Besides free sittings, there will be
nearly two hundred pews, every one of which is now in demand."
However much disposed the churches of different denominations might have
been during slavery to maintain a strict discipline, they found it
exceedingly difficult to do so. It seems impossible to elevate a body of
slaves, _remaining such,_ to honesty and purity. The reekings of slavery
will almost inevitably taint the institutions of religion, and degrade
the standard of piety. Accordingly the ministers of every denomination
in Antigua, feel that in the abolition of slavery their greatest enemy
has been vanquished, and they now evince a determination to assume
higher ground than they ever aspired to during the reign of slavery. The
motto of all creeds is, "_We expect great things of freemen_." A report
which we obtained from the Wesleyan brethren, states, "Our own brethren
preach almost daily." "We think the negroes are uncommonly punctual and
regular in their attendance upon divine worship, particularly on the
Sabbath." "They always show a readiness to contribute to the support of
the gospel. With the present low wages, and the entire charge of
self-maintenance, they have little to spare." Parham and Sion Hill (taken
as specimens) have societies almost entirely composed of rural
blacks--about thirteen hundred and fifty in number. These have
contributed this year above L330 sterling, or sixteen hundred and fifty
dollars, in little weekly subscriptions; besides giving to special
objects occasionally, and contributing for the support of schools.[A]
[Footnote A: The superintendent of the Wesleyan mission informed us that
the collection in the several Wesleyan chapels last year, independent of
occasional contributions to Sunday schools, Missionary objects, &c.,
amounted to L850 sterling, or more than $4000!]
In a letter dated December 2d, 1834, but four months after emancipation,
and addressed to the missionary board in England, the Rev. B. Harvey
thus speaks of the Moravian missions: "With respect to our people, I
believe; I may say that in all our places here, they attend the meetings
of the church more numerously than ever, and that many are now in
frequent attendance who _could very seldom appear amongst us during
slavery_." The same statements substantially were made to us by Mr. H.,
showing that instead of any falling off the attendance was still on
In a statement drawn up at our request by the Rector of St. John's, is
the following: "Cases of discipline are more frequent than is usual in
English congregations, but at the same time it should be observed, that
a _closer oversight_ is maintained by the ministers, and a _greater
readiness to submit themselves_ (to discipline) is manifested by the
late slaves here than by those who have always been a free people." "I
am able to speak very favorably of the attendance at church--it is
regular and crowded." "The negroes on some estates have been known to
contribute willingly to the Bible Society, since 1832. They are now
beginning to pay a penny and a half currency per week for their
The condition of Antigua, but a very few years previous to emancipation,
is represented to have been truly revolting. It has already been stated
that the Sabbath was the market day up to 1832, and this is evidence
enough that the Lord's day was utterly desecrated by the mass of the
population. Now there are few parts of our own country, equal in
population, which can vie with Antigua in the solemn and respectful
observance of the Sabbath. Christians in St. John's spoke with joy and
gratitude of the tranquillity of the Sabbath. They had long been shocked
with its open and abounding profanation--until they had well-nigh forgot
the aspect of a Christian Sabbath. At length the full-orbed blessing
beamed upon them, and they rejoiced in its brightness, and thanked God
for its holy repose.
All persons of all professions testify to the fact that _marriages_ are
rapidly increasing. In truth, there was scarcely such a thing as
marriage before the abolition of slavery. Promiscuous intercourse of the
sexes was almost universal. In a report of the Antigua Branch
Association of the Society for advancing the Christian Faith in the
British West Indies, (for 1836,) the following statements are made:
"The number of marriages in the six parishes of the island, in the year
1835, the first entire year of freedom, was 476; all of which, excepting
about 50, were between persons formerly slaves. The total number of
marriages between slaves solemnized in the Church during the nine years
ending December 31, 1832, was 157; in 1833, the last entire year of
slavery, it was 61."
Thus it appears that the whole number of marriages during _ten years_
previous to emancipation (by far the most favorable ten years that could
have been selected) was but _half_ as great as the number for a single
year following emancipation!
The Governor, in one of our earliest interviews with him, said, "the
great crime of this island, as indeed of all the West India Colonies,
has been licentiousness, but we are certainly fast improving in this
particular." An aged Christian, who has spent many years in the island,
and is now actively engaged in superintending several day schools for
the negro children, informed us that there was not _one third_ as much
concubinage as formerly. This he said was owing mainly to the greater
frequency of marriages, and the cessation of late night work on the
estates, and in the boiling houses, by which the females were constantly
exposed during slavery. Now they may all be in their houses by dark.
Formerly the mothers were the betrayers of their daughters, encouraging
them to form unhallowed connections, and even _selling_ them to
licentious white and colored men, for their own gain. Now they were
using great strictness to preserve the chastity of their daughters.
A worthy planter, who has been in the island since 1800, stated, that it
used to be a common practice for mothers to _sell their daughters_ to
the highest bidder!--generally a manager or overseer. "But now;" said he,
"the mothers _hold their daughters up for marriage_, and take pains to
let every body know that their virtue is not to be bought and sold any
longer." He also stated that those who live unmarried now are uniformly
neglected and suffer great deprivations. Faithfulness after marriage,
exists also to a greater extent than could have been expected from the
utter looseness to which they had been previously accustomed, and with
their ignorance of the nature and obligations of the marriage relation.
We were informed both by the missionaries and the planters, that every
year and month they are becoming more constant, as husband and wife,
more faithful as parents, and more dutiful as children. One planter said
that out of a number who left his employ after 1834, nearly all had
companions on other estates, and left for the purpose of being with
them. He was also of the opinion that the greater proportion of changes
of residence among the emancipated which took place at that time, were
owing to the same cause.[A] In an address before the Friendly Society in
St. John's, the Archdeacon stated that during the previous year (1835)
several individuals had been expelled from that society for domestic
unfaithfulness; but he was happy to say that he had not heard of a
single instance of expulsion for this cause during the year then ended.
Much inconvenience is felt on account of the Moravian and Wesleyan
missionaries being prohibited from performing the marriage service, even
for their own people. Efforts are now making to obtain the repeal of the
law which makes marriages performed by sectarians (as all save the
established church are called) void.
[Footnote A: What a resurrection to domestic life was that, when long
severed families flocked from the four corners of the island to meet
their kindred members! And what a glorious resurrection will that be in
our own country, when the millions of emancipated beings scattered over
the west and south, shall seek the embraces of parental and fraternal
and conjugal love.]
That form of licentiousness which appears among the higher classes in
every slaveholding country, abounded in Antigua during the reign of
slavery. It has yielded its redundant fruits in a population of four
thousand colored people; double the number of whites. The planters, with
but few exceptions, were unmarried and licentious. Nor was this vice
confined to the unmarried. Men with large families, kept one or more
mistresses without any effort at concealment. We were told of an
"Honorable" gentleman, who had his English wife and two concubines, a
colored and a black one. The governor himself stated as an apology for
the prevalence of licentiousness among the slaves, that the example was
set them constantly by their masters, and it was not to be wondered at
if they copied after their superiors. But it is now plain that
concubinage among the whites is nearly at an end. An unguarded statement
of a public man revealed the conviction which exists among his class
that concubinage must soon cease. He said that the present race of
colored people could not be received into the society of the whites,
_because of illegitimacy_; but the next generation would be fit
associates for the whites, _because they would be chiefly born
The uniform testimony respecting _intemperance_ was, that it _never had
been one of the vices of the negroes_. Several planters declared that
they had rarely seen a black person intoxicated. The report of the
Wesleyan missionaries already referred to, says, "Intemperance is most
uncommon among the rural negroes. Many have joined the Temperance
Society, and many act on tee-total principles." The only _colored_
person (either black or brown) whom we saw drunk during a residence of
nine weeks in Antigua, was a carpenter in St. John's, who as he reeled
by, stared in our faces and mumbled out his sentence of condemnation
against wine bibbers, "--Gemmen--you sees I'se a little bit drunk, but
'pon honor I only took th--th-ree bottles of wine--that's all." It was
"Christmas times," and doubtless the poor man thought he would venture
for once in the year to copy the example of the whites.
In conclusion, on the subject of morals in Antigua, we are warranted in
stating, 1st., That during the continuance of slavery, immoralities
2d. That the repeated efforts of the home Government and the local
Legislature, for several successive years previous to 1834, to
_ameliorate_ the system of slavery, seconded by the labors of clergymen
and missionaries, teachers and catechists, to improve the character of
the slaves, failed to arrest the current of vice and profligacy. What
few reformations were effected were very partial, leaving the more
enormous immoralities as shameless and defiant as ever, up to the very
day of abolition; demonstrating the utter impotence of all attempts to
purify the _streams_ while the _fountain_ is poison.
3d. That the abolition of slavery gave the death blow to open vice,
overgrown and emboldened as it had become. Immediate emancipation,
instead of lifting the flood-gates, was the only power strong enough to
shut them down! It restored the proper restraints upon vice, and
supplied the incentives to virtue. Those great controllers of moral
action, _self-respect, attachment to law, and veneration for God_, which
slavery annihilated, _freedom has resuscitated_, and now they stand
round about the emancipated with flaming swords deterring from evil, and
with cheering voices exhorting to good. It is explicitly affirmed that
the grosser forms of immorality, which in every country attend upon
slavery, have in Antigua either shrunk into concealment or
We insert here a brief account of the benevolent institutions of
Antigua. Our design in giving it, is to show the effect of freedom in
bringing into play those charities of social life, which slavery
uniformly stifles. Antigua abounds in benevolent societies, all of which
have been _materially revived_ since emancipation, and some of them have
been formed since that event.
THE BIBLE SOCIETY.
This is the oldest society in the island. It was organized in 1815. All
denominations in the island cordially unite in this cause. The principal
design of this society is to promote the Circulation of the Scriptures
among the laboring population of the island. To secure this object
numerous branch associations--amounting to nearly fifty--have been
organized throughout the island _among the negroes themselves._ The
society has been enabled not only to circulate the Scriptures among the
people of Antigua, but to send them extensively to the neighboring
The following table, drawn up at our request by the Secretary of the
Society, will show the extent of foreign operations:
Years. Colonies Supplied. Bibles. Test's.
1822 Anguilla 94 156
23 Demerara 18 18
24 Dominica 89 204
25 Montserrat 57 149
27 Nevis 79 117
32 Saba 6 12
33 St. Bart's 111 65
34 St. Eustatius 97 148
35 St. Kitts 227 487
St. Martins 48 37
36 Tortola 69 136
1837 Trinidad 25 67
Total 920 1596
From the last annual report we quote the following cheering account,
touching the events of 1834:
"The next event of importance in or annals is the magnificent grant of
the parent society, on occasion of the emancipation of the slaves, and
the perpetual banishment of slavery from the shores of Antigua, on the
first of August, 1834; by which a choice portion of the Holy Scriptures
was gratuitously circulated to about one third of the inhabitants of
this colony. Nine thousand seven hundred copies of the New Testament,
bound together with the book of Psalms, were thus placed at the disposal
of your committee."
* * * "Following hard upon this joyful event another gratifying
circumstance occurred among us. The attention of the people was roused,
and their gratitude excited towards the Bible Society, and they who had
freely received, now freely gave, and thus a considerable sum of money
was presented to the parent society in acknowledgment of its
We here add an extract from the annual report for 1826. Its sentiments
contrast strongly with the congratulations of the last report upon 'the
joyful event' of emancipation.
"Another question of considerable delicacy and importance still remains
to be discussed. Is it advisable, under all the circumstances of the
case, to circulate the Holy Scriptures, without note of comment, among
the slave population of these islands? Your Committee can feel no
hesitation in affirming that such a measure is not merely expedient, but
one of almost indispensable necessity. The Sacred Volume is in many
respects peculiarly adapted to the slave. It enjoins upon him precepts
so plain, that the most ignorant cannot fail to understand them:
'Slaves, obey in all things your masters, not with eye service, as men
pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing God.' It furnishes him
with motives the most impressive and consoling: 'Ye serve,' says the
Apostle, 'the Lord Christ.' It promises him rewards sufficient to
stimulate the most indolent to exertion: 'Whatsoever good thing any man
doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or
free.' And it holds forth to him an example so glorious, that it would
ennoble even angels to imitate it: 'Let this mind be in you which was
also in Christ Jesus, who made himself of no reputation, and took upon
him the form of a _slave_!'"
"It may here be proper to observe, that the precise import of the word,
which in general throughout the English Bible is translated _servant_,
is strictly that which has been assigned it in the foregoing quotations;
(!) and so understood, the Sacred Volume will be found to hold out to
our slaves, both by precept and example the most persuasive and the most
compelling motives to industry, obedience, and submission."
Nothing could more plainly show the corrupting influences of slavery,
upon all within its reach, than this spectacle of a noble, religious
institution, prostituted to the vile work of defending oppression, and,
in the zeal of its advocacy, blasphemously degrading the Savior into a
The receipts of the Antigua Branch Society have greatly increased since
emancipation. From receipts for the year 1836, in each of the British
islands, it appears that the contributions from Antigua and Bermuda, the
only two islands which adopted entire emancipation, are about _double_
those from any other two islands.
These associations are connected with the Wesleyan mission, and have
been in existence since 1820. Their object is to raise funds for the
parent society in England. Although it has been in existence for several
years, yet it was mostly confined to the whites and free people of
color, during slavery. The calling together assemblies of rural negroes,
and addressing them on the subject of missions, and soliciting
contributions in aid of the cause, is a new feature in the missionary
operations to which nothing but freedom could give birth.
The first temperance society in Antigua was formed at the beginning of
1836. We give an extract from the first annual report: "Temperance
societies have been formed in each town, and on many of the estates. A
large number of persons who once used spirituous liquors moderately,
have entirely relinquished the use. Some who were once intemperate have
been reclaimed, and in some instances an adoption of the principles of
the temperance society, has been followed by the pursuit and enjoyment
of vital religion. Domestic peace and quietness have superseded discord
and strife, and a very general sense of astonishment at the gross
delusion which these drinks have long produced on the human species
"The numbers on the various books of the society amount to about 1700.
One pleasing feature in their history, is the very small number of those
who have violated their pledge."
"On several estates, the usual allowance of spirits has been
discontinued, and sugar or molasses substituted."
The temperance society in Antigua may be specially regarded as a result
of emancipation. It is one of the guardian angels which hastened to the
island as soon as the demon of slavery was cast out.
The friendly societies are designed exclusively for the benefit of the
negro population. The general object is thus stated in the constitution
of one of these societies: "The object of this society is to assist in
the purchase of articles of mourning for the dead; to give relief in
cases of unlooked for distress; to help those who through age or
infirmities are incapable of helping themselves by marketing, or working
their grounds; _to encourage sobriety and industry, and to check
disorderly and immoral conduct."_
These societies obtain their funds by laying a tax of one shilling per
month on every member above eighteen years of age, and of six pence per
month on all members under that age and above twelve, which is the
minimum of membership. The aged members are required to pay no more than
the sum last mentioned.
The first society of this kind was established in St. John's by the
present rector, in 1829. Subsequently the Moravians and Wesleyans formed
similar societies among their own people. Independent of the pecuniary
assistance which these societies bestow, they encourage in a variety of
ways the good order of the community. For example, no one is allowed to
receive assistance who is "disabled by drunkenness, debauchery, or
disorderly living;" also, "if any member of the society, male or female,
is guilty of adultery or fornication, the offending member shall be
suspended for so long a time as the members shall see fit, and shall
lose all claim on the society for any benefit during the suspension, and
shall not be readmitted until clear and satisfactory evidence is given
of penitence." Furthermore, "If any member of the society shall be
expelled from the church to which he or she belongs, or shall commit any
offence punishable by a magistrate, that member forfeits his membership
in the society." Again, the society directly encourages marriage, by
"making a present of a young pig to every child born in wedlock, and
according as their funds will admit of it, giving rewards to those
married persons living faithfully, or single persons living virtuously,
who take a pride in keeping their houses neat and tidy, and their
These societies have been more than doubled, both in the number of
members and in the annual receipts, since emancipation.
Of the societies connected with the established church, the rector of
St. John's thus speaks: "At the beginning of 1834 there were eleven
societies, embracing 1602 members. At the beginning of 1835 they
numbered 4197; and in 1836 there were 4560 members," _almost quadrupled
in two years!_
The societies connected with the Moravian church, have more than
doubled, both in members and funds, since emancipation. The funds now
amount to $10,000 per year.
The Wesleyans have four Friendly societies. The largest society, which
contained six hundred and fifty members, was organized in the _month of
August_, 1834. The last year it had expended L700 currency, and had then
in its treasury L600 currency.
Now, be it remembered that the Friendly societies exist solely among the
freed negroes, _and that the moneys are raised exclusively among them._
Among whom? A people who are said to be so proverbially improvident,
that to emancipate them, would be to abandon them to beggary, nakedness,
and starvation;--a people who "cannot take care of themselves;" who
"will not work when freed from the fear of the lash;" who "would
squander the earnings of the day in debaucheries at night;" who "would
never provide for to-morrow for the wants of a family, or for the
infirmities of old age." Yea, among _negroes_ these things are done; and
that, too, where the wages are but one shilling per day--less than
sufficient, one would reasonably suppose, to provide daily food.
DAILY MEAL SOCIETY.
The main object of this society is denoted by its name. It supplies a
daily meal to those who are otherwise unprovided for. A commodious house
had just been completed in the suburbs of the town, capable of lodging a
considerable number of beneficiaries. It is designed to shelter those
who are diseased, and cannot walk to and fro for their meals. The number
now fed at this house is from eighty to a hundred. The diseased, who
live at the dispensary, are mostly those who are afflicted with the
elephantiasis, by which they are rendered entirely helpless. Medical aid
is supplied free of expense. It is worthy of remark, that there is no
_public poor-house_ in Antigua,--a proof of the industry and prosperity
of the emancipated people.
DISTRESSED FEMALES' FRIEND SOCIETY.
This is a society in St. John's: there is also a similar one, called the
Female Refuge Society, at English Harbor. Both these societies were
established and are conducted by colored ladies. They are designed to
promote two objects: the support of destitute aged females of color, and
the rescue of poor young colored females from vice. The necessity for
special efforts for the first object, arose out of the fact, that the
colored people were allowed no parochial aid whatever, though they were
required to pay their parochial taxes; hence, the support of their own
poor devolved upon themselves. The demand for vigorous action in behalf
of the young, grew out of the prevailing licentiousness of slave-holding
times. The society in St. John's has been in existence since 1815. It
has a large and commodious asylum, and an annual income, by
subscriptions, of L350, currency. This society, and the Female Refuge
Society established at English Harbor, have been instrumental in
effecting a great reform in the morals of females, and particularly in
exciting reprobation against that horrid traffic--the sale of girls by
their mothers for purposes of lust. We were told of a number of cases in
which the society in St. John's had rescued young females from impending
ruin. Many members of the society itself, look to it as the guardian of
their orphanage. Among other cases related to us, was that of a lovely
girl of fifteen, who was bartered away to a planter by her mother, a
dissolute woman. The planter was to give her a quantity of cloth to the
value of L80 currency, and two young slaves; he was also to give the
grandmother, for her interest in the girl, _one gallon of rum_! The
night was appointed, and a gig in waiting to take away the victim, when
a female friend was made acquainted with the plot, just in time to save
the girl by removing her to her own house. The mother was infuriated,
and endeavored to get her back, but the girl had occasionally attended a
Sabbath school, where she imbibed principles which forbade her to yield
even to her mother for such an unhallowed purpose. She was taken before
a magistrate, and indentured herself to a milliner for two years. The
mother made an attempt to regain her, and was assisted by some whites
with money to commence a suit for that purpose. The lady who defended
her was accordingly prosecuted, and the whole case became notorious. The
prosecutors were foiled. At the close of her apprenticeship, the young
woman was married to a highly respectable colored gentleman, now
resident in St. John's. The notoriety which was given to the above case
had a happy effect. It brought the society and its object more fully
before the public, and the contributions for its support greatly
increased. Those for whose benefit the asylum was opened, heard of it,
and came begging to be received.
This society is a signal evidence that the colored people neither lack
the ability to devise, nor the hearts to cherish, nor the zeal to
execute plans of enlarged benevolence and mercy.
The Juvenile Association, too, of which we gave some account in
describing its anniversary, originated with the colored people, and
furnishes additional evidence of the talents and charities of that class
of the community. Besides the societies already enumerated, there are
two associations connected with the Established Church, called the
"Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge," and the "Branch
Association of the Society for Advancing the Christian Faith in the
British West Indies, &c." These societies are also designed chiefly for
the benefit of the negro population.
Our inquiries under this head were directed to three principal
points--first, The extent to which education prevailed previous to
emancipation; second, The improvements introduced since; and third, The
comparative capacity of negroes for receiving instruction.
Being providentially in the island at the season of the year when all
the schools have their annual examinations, we enjoyed the most
favorable opportunities for procuring intelligence on the subject of
education. From various quarters we received invitations to attend
school examinations. We visited the schools at Parham, Willoughby Bay,
Newfield; Cedar Hall, Grace Bay, Fitch's Creek, and others: besides
visiting the parochial school, the rectory school, the Moravian and
Wesleyan schools, in St. John's. All the schools, save those in St.
John's, were almost exclusively composed of emancipated children from
VISIT TO THE PAROCHIAL SCHOOL.
At the invitation of the Governor, we accompanied him to the annual
examination of the parochial school, in St. John's, under the
superintendance of the Episcopal church. It has increased greatly, both
in scholars and efficiency, since emancipation, and contributions are
made to its support by the parents whose children receive its benefits.
We found one hundred and fifty children, of both sexes, assembled in the
society's rooms. There was every color present, from the deepest hue of
the Ethiopian, to the faintest shadowing of brown.
The boys constituting the first class, to the number of fifty, were
called up. They read with much fluency and distinctness, equalling white
boys of the same age anywhere. After reading, various questions were put
to them by the Archdeacon, which they answered with promptness and
accuracy. Words were promiscuously selected from the chapter they had
read, and every one was promptly spelled. The catechism was the next
exercise, and they manifested a thorough acquaintance with its contents.
Our attention was particularly called to the examination in arithmetic.
Many of the children solved questions readily in the compound rules, and
several of them in Practice, giving the different parts of the pound,
shilling, and penny, used in that rule, and all the whys and wherefores
of the thing, with great promptness. One lad, only ten years of age,
whose attendance had been very irregular on account of being employed in
learning a trade, performed intricate examples in Practice, with a
facility worthy the counting-house desk. We put several inquiries on
different parts of the process, in order to test their real knowledge,
to which we always received clear answers.
The girls were then examined in the same studies and exercises, except
arithmetic, and displayed the same gratifying proficiency. They also
presented specimens of needlework and strawbraiding, which the ladies,
on whose better judgment we depend, pronounced very creditable. We
noticed several girls much older than the others, who had made much less
advance in their studies, and on inquiry learned, that they had been
members of the school but a short time, having formerly been employed to
wield the heavy hoe in the cane field. The parents are very desirous to
give their children education, and make many sacrifices for that
purpose. Many who are field-laborers in the country, receiving their
shilling a day, have sent their children to reside with some relations
or friends in town, for the purpose of giving them the benefits of this
school. Several such children were pointed out to us. The increase of
female scholars during the first year of emancipation, was in this
school alone, about eighty.
For our gratification, the Governor requested that all the children
emancipated on the _first of August_, might be called up and placed on
our side of the room. Nearly one hundred children, of both sexes, who
two years ago were _slaves_, now stood up before us FREE. We noticed one
little girl among the rest, about ten years old, who bore not the least
tinge of color. Her hair was straight and light, and her face had that
mingling of vermilion and white, which Americans seem to consider, not
only the nonpareil standard of beauty, but the immaculate test of human
rights. At her side was another with the deepest hue of the native
African. There were high emotions on the countenances of those redeemed
ones, when we spoke to them of emancipation. The undying principle of
freedom living and burning in the soul of the most degraded slave, like
lamps amid the darkness of eastern sepulchres, was kindling up
brilliantly within them, young as they were, and flashing in smiles upon
their ebon faces.
The Governor made a few remarks, in which he gave some good advice, and
expressed himself highly pleased with the appearance and proficiency of
His excellency remarked to us in a tone of pleasantry, "You see,
gentlemen, these children have _souls_."
During the progress of the examination; he said to us, "You perceive
that it is our policy to give these children every chance to make _men_
of themselves. We look upon them as our _future citizens_." He had no
doubt that the rising generation would assume a position in society
above the contempt or opposition of the whites.
INFANT SCHOOLS IN THE COUNTRY.
We had the pleasure of attending one of the infant schools in the
vicinity of Parham, on the east side of the island. Having been invited
by a planter, who kindly sent his horse and carriage for our conveyance,
to call and take breakfast with him on our way, we drove out early in
While we were walking about the estate, our attention was arrested by
distant singing. As we cast our eyes up a road crossing the estate, we
discovered a party of children! They were about twenty in number, and
were marching hand in hand to the music of their infant voices. They
were children from a neighboring estate, on their way to the examination
at Parham, and were singing the hymns which they had learned at school.
All had their Testaments in their hands, and seemed right merry-hearted.
We were received at the gate of the chapel by the Wesleyan missionary
located in this distinct, a highly respectable and intelligent colored
man, who was ten years since a _slave_. He gave us a cordial welcome,
and conducted us to the chapel, where we found the children, to the
number of _four hundred_, assembled, and the examination already
commenced. There were six schools present, representing about twenty
estates, and arranged under their respective teachers. The ages of the
pupils were from three to ten or twelve. They were all, with the
exception of two or three, the children of emancipated slaves.
They came up by classes to the superintendent's desk, where they read
and were examined. They read correctly; some of them too, who had been
in school only a few mouths, in any portion of the New Testament
selected for them. By request of the superintendent, we put several
inquiries to them, which they answered in a way which showed that they
_thought_. They manifested an acquaintance with the Bible and the use of
language which was truly surprising. It was delightful to see so many
tiny beings stand around you, dressed in their tidy gowns and frocks,
with their bright morning faces, and read with the self-composure of
manhood, any passage chosen for them. They all, large and small, bore in
their hands the charter of their freedom, the book by the influence of
which they received all the privileges they were enjoying. On the cover
of each was stamped in large capitals--"PRESENTED BY THE BRITISH AND
FOREIGN BIBLE SOCIETY, IN COMMEMORATION OF THE FIRST OF AUGUST, 1834."
At the close of the examination, the rewards, consisting of books,
work-bags, &c. &c., chiefly sent by a society of females in England,
were distributed. It was impossible to repress the effervescence of the
little expectants. As a little one four years old came up for her
reward, the superintendent said to her--"Well, little Becky, what do you
want?" "Me wants a bag," said Becky, "and me wants a pin-cushion, and me
wants a little book." Becky's desires were large, but being a good girl,
she was gratified. Occasionally the girls were left to choose between a
book and a work-bag, and although the bag might be gaudy and tempting,
they invariably took the book.
The teachers were all but one blacks, and were formerly slaves. They are
very devoted and faithful, but are ill-qualified for their duties,
having obtained all the learning they possess in the Sabbath school.
They are all pious, and exert a harpy influence on the morals of
The number of scholars has very greatly increased since emancipation,
and their morals have essentially improved. Instances of falsehood and
theft, which at first were fearfully frequent and bold, have much
lessened. They begin to have a regard for _character_. Their sense of
right and wrong is enlightened, and their power of resisting temptation,
and adhering to right, manifestly increased.
On the whole, we know not where we have looked on a more delightful
scene. To stand in front of the pulpit and look around on a multitude of
negro children, gathered from the sordid huts into which slavery had
carried ignorance and misery--to see them coming up, with their teachers
of the same proscribed hue, to hear them read the Bible, answer with
readiness the questions of their superintendent, and lift up together
their songs of infant praise, and then to remember that two years ago
these four hundred children were _slaves_, and still more to remember
that in our own country, boasting its republicanism and Christian
institutions, there are thousands of just such children under the yoke
and scourge, in utter heathenism, the victims of tyrannic _law_ or of
more tyrannic public opinion--caused the heart to swell with emotions
unutterable. There were as many intelligent countenances, and as much
activity and sprightliness, as we ever saw among an equal number of
children anywhere. The correctness of their reading, the pertinence of
their replies, the general proofs of talent which they showed through
all the exercises, evinced that they are none inferior to the children
of their white oppressors.
After singing a hymn they all kneeled down, and the school closed with a
prayer and benediction. They continued singing as they retired from the
house, and long after they had parted on their different ways home,
their voices swelled on the breeze at a distance as the little parties
from the estates chanted on their way the songs of the school room.
WILLOUGHBY BAY EXAMINATION.
When we entered the school house at Willoughby Bay, which is capable of
containing a thousand persons, a low murmur, like the notes of
preparation, ran over the multitude. One school came in after we
arrived, marching in regular file, with their teacher, a negro man, at
their head, and their _standard bearer_ following; next, a sable girl
with a box of Testaments on her head. The whole number of children was
three hundred and fifty. The male division was first called out, and
marched several times around the room, singing and keeping a regular
step. After several rounds, they came to a halt, filing off and forming
into ranks four rows deep--in quarter-circle shape. The music still
continuing, the girls sallied forth, went through the same evolutions,
and finally formed in rows corresponding with those of the boys, so as
to compose with the latter a semicircle.
The schools were successively examined in spelling, reading, writing,
cyphering, &c., after the manner already detailed. In most respects they
showed equal proficiency with the children of Parham; and in reading the
Testament, their accuracy was even greater. In looking over the writing,
several "incendiary" copies caught our eyes. One was, "_Masters, give
unto your servants that which is just and equal_." Another, "_If I
neglect the cause of my servant, what shall I do when I appear before my
Master_!" A few years ago, _had children been permitted to write at
all_, one such copy as the above would have exploded the school, and
perchance sent the teacher to jail for sedition. But now, thanks to God!
the Negro children of Antigua are taught liberty from their Bibles, from
their song books, and from their _copy books_ too; they read of liberty,
they sing of it, and they write of it; they chant to liberty in their
school rooms, and they resume the strains on their homeward way, till
every rustling lime-grove, and waving cane-field, is alive with their
notes, and every hillock and dell rings with "free" echoes.
The girls, in their turn, pressed around us with the liveliest eagerness
to display their little pieces of needle-work. Some had samplers marked
with letters and devices in vari-colored silk. Others showed specimens
of stitching; while the little ones held up their rude attempts at
hemming handkerchiefs, aprons, and so on.
During the exercises we spoke to several elderly women, who were present
to witness the scene. They were laborers on the estates, but having
children in the school, they had put on their Sunday dresses, and "come
to see." We spoke to one, of the privileges which the children were
enjoying, since freedom. Her eyes filled, and she exclaimed, "Yes,
massa, we do tank de good Lord for bring de free--never can be too
tankful." She said she had seven children present, and it made her feel
happy to know that they were learning to read. Another woman said, when
she heard the children reading so finely, she wanted to "take de word's
out of da mouts and put em in her own." In the morning, when she first
entered the school house, she felt quite sick, but all the pleasant
things she saw and heard, had made her well, and she added, "I tell you,
me massa, it do my old heart good to come here." Another aged woman, who
had grand-children in the school, said, when she saw what advantages the
children enjoyed, she almost cried to think she was not a child too.
Besides these there were a number of adult men and women, whom curiosity
or parental solicitude had brought together, and they were thronging
about the windows and doors witnessing the various exercises with the
deepest interest. Among the rest was one old patriarch, who, anxious to
bear some part however humble in the exercises of the occasion, walked
to and fro among the children, with a six feet pole in his hand, to
These schools, and those examined at Parham, are under the general
supervision of Mr. Charles Thwaites, an indefatigable and long tried
friend of the negroes.
We here insert a valuable communication which we received from Mr. T. in
reply to several queries addressed to him. It will give further
information relative to the schools.
_Mr. Charles Thwaites' Replies to Queries on Education in Antigua._
1. What has been your business for some years past in Antigua?
A superintendent of schools, and catechist to the negroes.
2. How long have you been engaged in this business?
Twenty-four years. The first four years engaged gratuitously, ten years
employed by the Church Missionary Society, and since, by the Wesleyan
3. How many schools have you under your charge?
Sunday schools, (including all belonging to the Wesleyan Missionary
Society,) eight, with 1850 scholars; day schools, seventeen with 1250
scholars; night schools on twenty-six estates, 336 scholars. The total
number of scholars under instruction is about 3500.
4. Are the scholars principally the children who were emancipated in
Yes, except the children in St. John's, most of whom were free before.
5. Are the teachers negroes, colored, or white?
One white, four colored, and sixteen black.[A]
[Footnote A: This number includes only salaried teachers, and not the
6. How many of the teachers were slaves prior to the first of August,
7. What were their opportunities for learning?
The Sunday and night schools; and they have much improved themselves
since they have been in their present employment.
8. What are their qualifications for teaching, as to education,
religion, zeal, perseverance, &c.?
The white and two of the colored teachers, I presume, are well
calculated, in all respects, to carry on a school in the ablest manner.
The others are deficient in education, but are zealous, and very
9. What are the wages of these teachers?
The teachers' pay is, some four, and some three dollars per month. This
sum is far too small, and would be greater if the funds were sufficient.
10. How and by whom are the expenses of superintendent, teachers, and
The superintendent's salary, &c., is paid by the Wesleyan Missionary
Society. The expenses of teachers and schools are defrayed by charitable
societies and friends in England, particularly the Negro Education
Society, which grants 50l. sterling per annum towards this object, and
pays the rent of the Church Missionary Society's premises in Willoughby
Bay for use of the schools. About 46l. sterling per annum is also raised
from the children; each child taught writing and needle-work, pays
1-1/2d. sterling per week.
11. Is it your opinion that the negro children are as ready to receive
instruction as white children?
Yes, perfectly so.
12. Do parents manifest interest in the education of their children?