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places of labour, there to toil, and to suffer, and at last to lie down and die, thankful that their life of suffering here is ended, but ignorant of another and better life beyond the grave.
Now I do not mean to say that there are no exceptions to all this;-no kind masters, and no, comparatively, happy slaves. Yes; among those white men, those West India planters, there are some tender hearts;—some who would gladly have no slaves at all; who hate this dreadful trade and merchandize of their fellow men, and who only take part in it from long habit and custom, and because they do not well know how to prevent it, or to stop it altogether. And they will be kind to their poor slaves. They will consider them as their children, or their servants, not as mere property to be bought and sold at pleasure. They will give them the food and the clothing they need; and be careful not to overwork them; they will never allow them to be punished,— barbarously and unjustly punished,-as many of those hard-hearted and thoughtless masters will do. And above all, they will remember, that negroes have souls as well as white men; and they will provide means of Christian instruction for them.-In such cases, even slavery itself may be made a blessing;
and the poor negro, though in bondage, may yet enjoy liberty of a higher kind, for
Grace makes the slave a freeman;
and that grace is freely given to all who seek it, be they Africans or Europeans, white men or black. It may be said of the Christian
His freedom is the same in every state,
No nook so narrow but he spreads them there
I have been talking to you about the state of slaves under kind masters. We must remember, however, that these individual cases. do not prevent the evils of the system,-the Slave Trade itself. That goes on notwithstanding. Ship after ship comes to the African coast, and cargo after cargo is carried away, and multitudes of poor slaves are sold, and bought, and suffer, and perish, and die; and many a heartless white man grows rich by the very blood of his oppressed fellowcreatures. So it was, and such were the scenes witnessed, as I said, some sixty years ago on
the coast of Africa, and in the West Indies.But we have stayed long enough gazing on these sad scenes. Let us now turn from them,
and go back to England, and ask what is thought of such matters there. Do the people of Britain know what has been done? Are they aware of all the cruelties practised by their fellow country-men in these distant Colonies abroad? Yes, they do know, they are aware; and yet, strange to say, no effort has been made to suppress the system, and so it has gone on, even to the close of the eighteenth century!
You may well wonder, and ask, How could this be?-Many of the people in England perhaps did not think of the evils of slavery at all. Free and happy themselves, they bestowed no reflection upon their poor fellowcreatures who were not free, and not happy. They did not see their sufferings; and if now and then they heard about them, it was easy to turn their thoughts to something else, less painful to dwell upon. Ah, how much evil often goes on unchecked, just because people are thoughtless; because they do not consider the sufferings of their fellow creatures.-And then others probably did not, or would not, believe the truth of the reports of the cruelties practised upon the poor slaves. It is often possible to disbelieve what we do not wish to find
true; and so, many might have persuaded themselves that these dreadful stories were exaggerated; that they were misrepresented, or too highly coloured; or that such things occurred only occasionally, and were by no means general or frequent they did not take the trouble to find out whether it was so or not; and thus they passed the matter by altogether.-See how much suffering continues to exist just for want of proper investigation.—And there were other people more heartless still. Some would even say that such cruelties were necessary, and actually attempt to justify them on that account. There must be slaves, they supposed, to work in the plantations of the West Indies; and then black men were so obstinate and perverse; they had not the acute feelings which white men have; they could not be managed like them; and therefore they must be treated like animals, not as reasoning and human beings. And so, what with the thoughtlessness, and apathy, and selfishness of people at home, and the love of gain in those abroad, slavery went on, as I said, year after year, with all its horrors, and all its barbarities.
But the time was approaching when, in the good providence of God, this dreadful evil was to be abolished; and Britain was to have the happiness of not only being free herself, but of making others free also. It often happens,
as we have seen, that good is brought out of evil. So it was now. About the time of which we have been speaking, some heartless Englishmen, not content with exercising their power of oppression abroad, had even ventured to exercise it at home; and they contended that they had a right to do so, and to treat their slaves as they pleased, even in the free country of Britain. Now it so happened, that the case of one of these poor oppressed negroes, suffering from the cruelty of his master in England, attracted the notice of an excellent and benevolent man in London, whose name will be always loved and revered for his noble exertions on behalf of the poor slaves, Mr. Granville Sharp. I shall have to tell you of others also who laboured in the same good cause; but he has the honour of being the first,—the pioneer in this enterprize of christian benevolence.
Mr. Sharp was very different from those persons of whom I was speaking just now. When a case of distress came before him, he did not put it aside; it was thoroughly investigated by him, and then he did all in his power to relieve it. I need not, I cannot tell you all he did; but I will tell you of some of the results of his exertions.
Through his persevering efforts, it was ascertained to be the law of the land, that as soon as ever a slave sets foot upon British ground