Imatges de pÓgina

not be entered in the parish register. The inconvenience that arose from this, compelled Dissenters, as soon as their dissent was recognized, and their mode of worship established by the Legislature, to keep a register of their own, which, being merely a register of births, interfered not with private opinions concerning baptism. And copies thereof are good evidence, for the same reason that copies of the Bank and East India Company's books are evidence, because they belong to public bodies recognized in and established by Act of Parliament.

by export or import, along the shores of their extensive dominions. Their political agent, Captain Thompson, persuaded some Arab tribes, inhabiting the borders of the Persian Gulf, to stigmatize the trade as piracy. The Marquis of Hastings, their Governor General, put a stop to this traffic in Nepaul, heretofore the great mart from whence the neighbouring countries had been supplied with Slaves. They also interposed their powerful mediation with the Imaun of Muscat for the entire abolition of the Slave Trade at Zangebar. Hitherto, men had been sold there like cattle, and they had been annually sent to India, to the Mauritius, and to Muscat, to the amount of ten thousand.

Slavery, both agricultural and domestic, is said to have prevailed in Indostan from time immemorial. The sources of bondage were numerous. Colebrook states that there are seven modes of obtaining Slaves, recognized by the laws of the Hindoos: "One made captive in battle; one maintained in consideration of service; one born of a slave in the house; one sold or given away, or inherited from ancestors; and one enslaved by way of punishment." These methods were common to all ancient nations. I shall now mention some examples illustrative of the origin of Slavery in India. Tippoo, having subdued Coorg, caused seventy thousand of the inhabitants to be driven, like cattle, to Seringapatam. He there forced them to submit to the rite of circumcision, and sent back the labourers among them to become Zemindars. In


London, June 20, 1822. the influence

K Prince of England use which a Slaves under his Zems of worship there

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However, if this reasoning should appear to any person not sufficient to prove, what I have been aiming at, that a copy of the Register at Dr. Williams's Library is evidence in our courts of law and equity, to him, I say, that an argument ab inconvenienti, should make judges in future reprobate the conduct of the judge who has refused it, and sanction a Register in which not only Dissenters, but the public at large, from the peer to the peasant, are most deeply interested. A. B.

Letter of Col. Stanhope's to the Duke of Gloucester on the State of Slavery in British India.


To his Royal Highness the DUKE of GLOUCESTER, K. G., Patron and President of the African Institution, &c. &c. &c.

who has ever taken an active part in promoting the rights and happiness of man, I venture to address my thoughts to your Royal Highness on the state of Slavery in British India.

In the following observations, I shall endeavour to shew the origin of this bondage, the condition to which it has reduced a large portion of our fellow-creatures, and the policy of abolishing such an oppression, in our eastern empire. I shall enter on this discussion with the more confidence, because the Court of Directors of the East-India Company have, in several instances, declared themselves hostile to the principle of Slavery. They prohibited the commerce in Slaves, either

are establishments of dancing girls. They are generally purchased when infants, by the old prostitutes of the Pagodas. When the children grow up, they dispose of them as they please, so that the Bazars and Seraglios are supplied from this source. In the Hindoo Code, the Sudra tribe are considered as Slaves, the property of any person who defrays their marriage expenses, which is the ordinary way of constituting hereditary slavery. Free men of low caste, when in distress or debt, often sell their progeny, or their sisters' children, who are their heirs. In short, it appears that any man may voluntarily dispose of his own liberty, and may sell, without their consent,

the liberty of his children, and his heirs, and all their issue, from generation to generation.

As to the actual state of Slavery in Indostan, the domestic prevails all over India; but the agricultural exists, I believe, chiefly, though not exclusively, on the Malabar and Coromandel coasts, and the adjacent provinces. Slavery may be divided into two classes,-domestic Slaves, belong ing to rich men, and prostitutes; and Slaves employed in agriculture. The wealthy Mussulmans employ domestic Slaves, and these are usually converted to their faith. The men serve them as menials, the women are placed in and about their Seraglios. The Mahometans in general treat their Slaves well. This may be traced to a religious feeling; for by their law, Slaves are in some cases liable to only half the punishment adjudged to other offenders." Moreover," says the Hadaya," as bondage occasions the participation of only half the blessings of life, it also occasions the suffering of only half the punishment; because an offence increases in magnitude in proportion to the magnitude of the blessings under the enjoyment of which it is committed." With respect to the number of domestic Slaves, all we know is, that they are to be met with in almost every town and village, throughout our Indian empire.

The great Slave population consists of Hindoos, who are chiefly employed in agriculture. The principal Slave districts, are Arcot, Madura, Canara, Coimbatore, Tinnivelly, Trichinopoly, Malabar, Wynaud, Tanjore and Chin gleput. No just estimate can be form ed of the extent of Slavery in these provinces. In Canara alone, there are said to be above 16,000 Slaves. The prices of Slaves vary in different provinces. A child may be estimated at a price varying from 10s. to 408.; a woman, from £2 to £6; and a man from £3 to £20. In times of great scarcity or distress, they have been purchased for a handful of rice. The purchase, sale, or gift of a man, is usually confirmed by a title-deed, and this is binding on his descendants. The owners of Slaves are required to provide them with food and clothing, to defray their wedding expenses, and to assist them, on the births of chil dren, and in' funeral charges, The

Slaves have either a portion of ground allowed for their subsistence, or about one-eighth of the produce of the land they cultivate; or they get a small allowance of food, and one-twentieth part of the gross produce of the rice; or else they have a certain quantity of food daily. A man Slave receives about seven cubits of cloth yearly; a woman, about double that quantity. In some places they receive a larger allowance. "There are three modes," observes Buchanan, "of disposing of a Slave: First, by sale. Secondly, by mortgage; the proprietor receives a loan of mo ney, generally two-thirds of the value of the Slave; also, annually, a small quantity of rice, to shew that his right in the Slave exists. He may resume the Slave on paying the money borrowed, and if he dies, the proprietor must find another. Thirdly, by letting the Slave for rent. This tenure is utterly abominable; for the person who exacts the labour, and furnishes the subsistence, is directly interested to increase the former and diminish the latter as much as possible." It is not incumbent on the Master to provide subsistence for his Slave, except when employed in his business. When the proprietor does not protect and subsist his bondsman, he may seek employment elsewhere; but he is bound to return to his master at harvest-time, and if not then wanted, he is still liable to be reclaimed at any future period. Slaves are incapable of acquiring any property of their own. "Three persons," says Menu, a wife, a son, and a slave, are declared by law to have in general no wealth exclusively their own. The wealth which they may earn is regularly acquired for the man to whom they belong." The Master possesses power over all the property of the Slave, and may use the cattle reared by him, for agricul tural purposes. He may also sell his Slave with or without his land. On the Coromandel coast, the Slaves are usually sold with the land, but the reverse is the case on the coast of Malabar. "The Hindoo law," says Colebrooke, “contemplates these two species of property, as one and the same; but in this, as in other countries, it has been usual to transfer the Slaves who were adscripti gleba, with the land itself." The Master cannot sell his Slave to one




who will carry him to a distant counintry, without his consent. A Slave cannot marry without his Master's permission; but a husband and a wife, except in Canara, cannot be sold separately. Children may be separated from their parents, and brothers from sisters. These inhuman acts checked from a fear lest the husband or parent should desert, as the trouble and expense attending their recovery would exceed their value. The Slave, on the other hand, is prevented from absconding by his strong attachment to his native soil. In former times, a Master had the power of life and death over his Slave. The exercise of such authority would not be allowed under the British Government; for the person of a Sudra is as well protected by law as that of a Raja. This principle, derived from equal laws, has operated to prevent the merchandise of Slaves, and to render them less valuable. Some of the superior subdivisions of the Sudra tribe have in modern times emancipated themselves; but in general, Slaves never obtain their freedom except when their Masters are reduced to indigence or their families become extinct.

These assertions of Dr. Buchanan have been partially contradicted in reports made by the Collectors of Revenue who preside in the Slave districts-men of worth and talent. Admitting most of the facts I have stated, they have maintained generally that the condition of Slaves differs little from that of free labourers. Miserable then must be the condition of other productive classes in our Eastern possessions.

Having alluded to the reports of certain Collectors on the subject of Slavery in British India, I am bound in justice to them and to the local Government to disclose what occasioned the inquiries from which those reports resulted. The third Judge of Circuit in Malabar reported in 1819, through the Adawlut Court, the seizure of certain Slaves, being British subjects, for the payment of arrears of revenue due from their Masters to the Madras Government. The Governor in Council, consisting of the Right Hon. Hugh Elliot, Mr. Fullarton, and Mr. Alexander, with becoming feeling and wisdom, now call upon the Board of Revenue to state," Whether the practice which actually prevails with respect to the sale of Slaves should be permitted to continue as at present, or whether it ought to be laid under such restrictions as would render it less objectionable, or to be altogether abolished, as productive of evils for which no adequate remedy can be devised." The Board of Revenue, on the receipt of this order, direct the Collectors of Revenue to report fully on the state of Slavery in their respective districts. The Collector of South Arcot observes, that "Slavery in India is free from many objections that exist against West-India Slavery. The Slave is not sent to a foreign land." No; but, like the West-Indian Slaves, many of their ancestors came from a foreign land. "The convention," he continues, "is mutual, and the Slave enjoys his purchase-money." I shall answer this assertion in the words of the Collector of Canara: "The price," says he, "of a Slave is from twelve to twenty-six rupees; of a child, four rupees. So that for four rupees the posterity of a man may be enslaved from generation to generation. The Zilla Court has

With respect to the effects of Slavery in British India, they may be justly estimated from what has been already stated. They have been described by that religious, humane, learned and impartial observer Doctor Francis Buchanan. This gentleman was employed by the Marquis of Wellesley to inspect the state of our Indian Provinces. In his book, dedicated to the East-India Company, he has given a statistical account of the Slaves in those parts which he had visited. Speaking from ocular demonstration and after patient research, he says, "When the crop is not on the ground, the Slaves are kept with the labouring cattle, in a house built at some distance from the abode of free men; for these poor creatures are considered as too impure to be permitted to approach the house of their Lord. In fact, the Slaves are very severely treated; and their diminutive stature and squalid appearance shew evidently a want of adequate nourishment. There can be no comparison between their condition and that of the Slaves in the West-India Islands, except as regards the marriage state."

fluence of an individual, the Masters were persuaded to emancipate their Slaves. Sir Alexander Johnson, after ten years' exertion, succeeded in prevailing on the Special Jurymen of various castes and persuasions to entertain the subject. They called a general meeting, and declared that all children born of their Slaves after the 12th August, 1816, should be free. These children were to be educated by their Masters, and provided for till the age of fourteen. "It is our desire," say these Dutch slave-owners, "if possible, to disencumber ourselves of that unnatural character of being proprietors of human beings." Thus Slavery, which had prevailed in Ceylon for centuries, and which was supposed to be too closely interwoven with the native institutions to admit of reform, was abolished. This noble example was followed at Malaccas, at Bencoolen, at St. Helena, and in South America. May it be speedily followed in British India, in the United States of America, and in every part of the world!

guaranteed this right by decrees both on transfer of landed property, and in sale in execution of decrees." The Collector of Trichinopoly writes thus: "In the wet districts there are 10,000 Slaves; in the dry districts about 600 Slaves. A female Slave is here never sold; while in Malabar, men, women and children, are sold indiscriminately. The Slaves are athletic and tall. The abolition of Slavery here would be attended with ruinous consequences. It may be urged that there is something degrading in a Government being concerned in selling human beings like so many cattle. It would PERHAPS be better if it could be avoided; but so long as the land continues possessed by Brahmin Merassidars, who by the laws of Caste are prevented from personally exercising the offices of agriculture, I see no means of cultivating the land or collecting the revenue without the establishment of Slaves." No! Why not, as in other parts of India, by free persons of the labouring classes? This gentleman does not seem to be aware that (to borrow the language of Adam Smith) "the experience of all ages demonstrates that the work done by Slaves is the dearest of any; their interest being to eat as much and to labour as little as possible. Thus the planting of sugar and tobacco can pay for slave cultivation, but corn cannot." This Collector further asserts, "that the human principle of self-interest is conducive, in the present instance, to soften severity." The same may be said in all instances of bondage, or other oppression, because self-interest, rightly understood, excites to render others free and happy. "I will suppose," observes this Revenue Officer in conclusion, "that by a Proclamation of Government the establishment is directed to be abolished. In this case, the consequence would be either the desertion of the Slaves, or that they would remain in statu quo!" The answer is, that neither would occur; for the emancipated Slave would not quit the soil to which he is known to be so strongly attached, and his condition would necessarily be improved. Any arbitrary Proclamation, however, on this subject, would be highly objectionable. We should follow the wise example set in Ceylon; where, by the perseverance, talent, address, and in


The Board of Revenue having deliberated on these reports of their Collectors, reply to the Government, in substance as follows: "The sale, by public auction, of THE SLAVES OF THE REVENUE DEFAULTER, took place without the knowledge of the Collector. On a petition being presented to him, he ordered the paddy-seed and Slaves to be restored. The order, the Board observe with great regret, was not obeyed, and the four Slaves were sold for thirty-two rupees. [About four pounds sterling.] The Collector states, that the sales of Slaves, both in execution of decrees for arrears of revenue, and mutual and private contracts, is as common as the sale of land; for if the soil is sold, what can be the use of retaining the Slave of it?' The Collector next proves, that, in the space of five years, no less than 186 suits were instituted in the Zilla Court of South Malabar alone, on the subject of Slaves, and in execution of decrees." The Board then enumerate the advantages of Slavery, as set forth by the Collectors, and reason on them in a proper tone. "Where," say they," in some instances, the Slaves may be considered as in more comfortable circumstances than any of the lower or poorer classes; where 'no


want or cruelty is experienced by Slaves;' where the abolition of Slaves would be attended by the most serious and ruinous consequences;' where they seem not to shew any desire to be free;' where the treatment of Slaves is the same as that of other labourers, which is in general of a mild nature;' where the Slaves are on the whole better treated by their Masters, than the common class of free-labourers;' where, finally, 'humanity on the part of the Masters is encouraged by a sense of their own interest, and a disposition to personal cruelty and ill-treatment is checked and restrained by Courts of Justice,' -it does not appear to the Board that any IMMEDIATE interference on the part of the Government is PARTICULARLY called for, or that any alteration in the existing state of Slavery should be made, except by degrees and after mature deliberation. But because no immediate measures are URGENTLY called for, it does not follow that the most useful, the most numerous classes of our subjects, should, from generation to genera tion, continue the hereditary bondsmen of their Masters-incapable of inheriting property of their own; deprived of that stimulus to industry which possession of property ever inspires. And because they are fed, clothed and reconciled to their present condition, it does not follow that the Government should confirm institutions which doom those who have thus fallen into this condition, as incapable of ever again recovering their liberty, or of rising to a level with their fellow-men. Independent of those feelings among freemen which prompt them to extend to every one under their government, the blessings which freedom confers, it appears to the Board, on the mere calculating principle of self-interest and policy, to be desirable that no one should be deprived of the means of acquiring property, or of diffusing those benefits among society which proceed from an increase of capital and wealth. The Board are decidedly of opinion, that Slaves should not be sold for arrears of revenue, and prohibitory orders to this effect will be issued. In Malabar and Canara alone, the Slaves amount to 180,000, and the Board have now under consideration, certain proposi

tions from Mr. Greeme, for their amelioration and their gradual emancipation. But whatever may be the future decision respecting those who are already Slaves, the Board think that a regulation ought to be published, to prevent the further extension of Slavery; the further purchase of free persons as Slaves, should be declared invalid and illegal, and ALL CHILDREN HEREAFTER BORN OF SLAVES SHOULD BE DECLARED FREE. The Board further submit, whether it would not be proper to annex some penalty to the purchase of female children, for the purpose of being brought up as prostitutes. It might further be provided, that Slaves shall have power to purchase their liberty, at the price for which it was forfeited; and, that Slaves attached to lands or estates that may escheat to Government, shall be liberated. Many of these provisions contravene those of the Hindoo law. A formal enactment of them in a code will therefore be necessary."

I must here inform your Royal Highness, that the document which I have so largely quoted, was drawn up by those distinguished public servants, Mr. Hodson and Mr. Ellis. It is the result of their joint experience and wisdom; and certainly nothing could be more creditable to their hearts and understandings, or better calculated to promote the eventual abolition of Slavery. We must bear in mind, however, that British subjects are still bought and sold like the beasts of the field; that girls are deprived of their liberty, and for a few shillings disposed of to become prostitutes; and that Slavery is for ever entailed on their de scendants.

Much has indeed been said on the abolition of Slavery in Indostan, but much remains to be done; "for good thoughts towards men are little better than good dreams, except they be put in act, and that cannot be without power and place."

Humbly, therefore, I implore your Royal Highness, to exert your powerful influence with the African Institution, and the Honorable Court of Di rectors of the East-India Company, to appeal to their judgment and to excite their English feeling by a plain statement of facts here recorded; then to call upon them as Christians, to save our Asiatic fellow-subjects and

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