Page:A Picturesque Tour of the Island of Jamaica.djvu/11

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INTRODUCTION.




The Title of “Picturesque Tour” has been appropriated to any work intended to convey a general idea of the surfaces and external appearances of a country, without undertaking to develope its moral and political institutions. The Tour which is here submitted to the attention of the Public, was professedly and exclusively picturesque, and it is hoped that the conditions of the Prospectus will be found to have been fulfilled in the execution of the work. But a residence of nearly two years in the island of Jamaica must be pleaded as the Author’s apology for offering, also, a few remarks on the moral condition of some parts of its inhabitants; first, the Negroes. As slaves these are, undoubtedly, subject to be sold; but large purchases of Negroes, unless with the estate on which they are settled, and which would be useless without them, are not often made. Except what are called jobbing gangs, which sometimes, though rarely, may amount to from twenty to twenty-five in number, the only transfers which take place are of domestic or tradesman negroes, and no man would venture to buy a slave that had not previously agreed to live with him. If he did, the slave would inevitably run away; for while the purchaser requires a good character with the negro, the latter is equally alive to obtaining a knowledge of the habits and disposition of his future master. One or two facts will illustrate the nature and manner of these transfers. While the author was on the Montpelier estates, the resident carpenter, Mr. Thomas, had ten negroes, of whom, as he intended to leave Jamaica, he was desirous of disposing. He desired them to find themselves a master, proposing only to negociate the sale with a person with whom they could place themselves to their satisfaction. After some time they came to him with information that they were willing to serve Dr. Pierce, of Belle Vue, who was desirous of engaging them, and with him Mr. Thomas afterwards concluded the bargain. The negroes had previously arranged with Dr. Pierce, their provision grounds, clothing, days of rest, and all the particulars of their allowances. And this is not confined to sales by private contract: the author was present at a public sale