Page:A Picturesque Tour of the Island of Jamaica.djvu/15

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easily be imagined that the system which time has sanctioned, and which, with all its inconvenience, has hitherto admitted of no change, has its foundation in circumstances too strong to be easily controlled. We have only to judge of the case by comparing it with our European habits, and every feeling of justice and propriety will soon be enlisted in the cause of our transatlantic countrymen. Let us not draw a too frightful picture of our system: but we must for a moment dwell on the number of human beings living by the prostitution of charms, which might have been their passport to honest and honourable society, sacrificing their health to the brutality of their more degraded fellow-creatures, and filling the public theatres and streets with the exhibition of lewdness, misery, and shame. And does the horror of the system end here? do the sufferings of so many wretched beings close the catalogue of ills? Would to God it did! But we have seduction in all its forms; we have the dreadful crime of child murder, made more horrible by the punishment which follows its detection. The poor wretch, whose maternal feelings would have prompted her to a far different course, sees in the birth of her infant, only want and beggary, her character blasted, and her means of providing for her child made more than doubtful by its birth—she has recourse to the alternative from which humanity shrinks appalled—if successful in the concealment of her crime, her better feelings are gone for ever; if detected, she pays by the forfeit of her life, a crime on which she was precipitated by the system. Let the experience of every family speak for the other numerous evils of our system, in the loss of health or fortunes, which every one has suffered in some one of its members. Let us now turn to Jamaica, where we shall find none of these horrors; where the eye is not shocked by the sad spectacle of female debasement, nor the soul harrowed by the dismal sound of preparation for the punishment of a crime, equally pitied and condemned. Is then the air of Jamaica so favourable to virtue, or does the warmth of the sun refine the manners? No, the system only is different. On his arrival, a young man looks in vain for the indulgence of his English habits; he finds no opportunity of indiscriminate gratification; and he is soon taught, that the only means of securing to himself the comfort of female attention, is by forming a connexion nearly as binding as matrimony, and to which almost all would incline, could they find a female of education who would, at the same time, share his present humble state, and be equal to his fortunes when the prospects he indulges in of affluence and independence are realized. Could