Page:A Picturesque Tour of the Island of Jamaica.djvu/16

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his young feelings so fix he would be happy; but as a substitute he takes what offers, and attaches himself to one female, whom he rarely afterwards deserts. Notoriously good mothers, he soon sees himself surrounded by a family on which his best feelings may be placed; and whenever the moment shall arrive which shall see him so far master of his fortunes as to allow him to form a more honourable connexion, his partner sees no duplicity in his conduct, nor considers it a desertion of principle, expecting only a proper provision for herself and family. Nor are the numbers who submit to this course of life considerable, when compared with the population. Since the provisions of the legislature have removed every restriction from the unlimited possession of property by the free-coloured inhabitants, marriage is almost universal among them, and the natural consequence presents itself in a coloured population, growing in affluence and respectability.

It is for the philanthropist and the statesman to determine between the two evils which are here compared (and evils they are fully admitted to be, although the experience of the most remote antiquity would seem to prove that they are inseparable from a state of society); between regulated concubinage and promiscuous and unlimited indulgence; between an engagement which secures independence to the mother and protection to the child, and a connexion attended with infamy and abandonment to its degraded victim, and involving the unhappy offspring in all the bitter consequences of it’s mother’s guilt; between, in short, an institution favourable to the multiplication of the species and the sobriety of the individual, and a system which dries up the sources of population, that “induces habits of ungovernable lewdness, contracts the understanding, and depraves the heart.” But if a frame of mind, manly, sober, and undissipated—if domestic habits and affections—if the prevention of female misery and a growing population, be advantages, they are the attendants of this calumniated system; a system which impresses on vice—or more properly irregularity—a character of amiability and decency, which makes illicit gratification subservient to the purposes of public expediency and domestic happiness: a system, be it remembered, which originates in circumstances of local privation, and which, in favourable contrast with the licentious European, presents the better disciplined inhabitant of a warmer hemisphere, continent, faithful and domestic—a voluntary husband, and a useful citizen.