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roofs over them, as also the strings of our hainmocks, for which reason we avoid them better in hammocks than in beds.
“Sometimes, when we try conclusions upon them, we take the carpet off the table, and shake it, so that all the ants drop off, and rub down the legs and feet of those tables, (which stood not in water ;) and having done so, we lay on the carpet again, and set upon it a sallet dish, or trencher, with sugar in it, which some of them in the room will presently smell, and make towards it as fast as they can ; which is a long journey, for he must begin at the foot of the table, and come as high as the inside of the carpet, and so go down to the bottom and up of the outside of the carpet, before he gets on the table, and then to the sugar, which he smells to ; and, having found it, returns again the same way, without taking any for his pains, and informs all his friends of this booty; who come in thousands and ten thousands, and, in an instant, fetch it all away : and, when they are thickest upon the table, clap a large book (or any thing fit for that purpose) upon them, so hard as to kill all that are under it, and when you have done so, take away the book, and leave them to themselves but a quarter of an hour, and, when you come again, you shall find all those bodies carried away. Other trials we make of their ingenuity, as this. Take a pewter dish, and fill it half full of water, into which put a little gallypot filled with sugar, and the ants will presently find it, and come upon the table ; but when they perceive it environed with water, they try about the brims of the dish, where the gallypot is nearest, and there the most venturous amongst them commits himself to the water, though he be conscious how ill a swimmer he is, and is drowned in the adventure : the next is not warned by his example, but ventures too, and is alike drowned, and many more, so that there is a small foundation of their bodies to venture on; and then they come faster than ever, and so make a bridge of their own bodies, for their friends to pass on; neglecting their lives for the good of the public; for, before they make an end, they will make way for the rest, and become masters of the prize. I had a little white sugar, which I desired to keep from them, and was devising which way to do it, and I knocked a nail in the beam of the room, and fastened it to a brown thread ; at the lower end of which thread, I tied a large shell of a fish, which, being hollow, I put the sugar in, and locked the door, thinking it safe ; but when I returned, I found three quarters of my sugar gone, and the ants in abundance, ascending and descending, like the angels on Jacob's ladder, as I have seen it painted, so that I found no place safe from these more than busy creatures.”
Did Mrs. Fry, or any other modish philanthropist, ever exhibit virtue like this ! Drown yourself, to make a bridge for another man to go to dinner!
“ Judges hang, that jurymen may dine.” that is to say, hang the culprits; but who ever heard of either Chief or Puisne hanging himself, instead of the prisoner, that the panel might take their meal. Learn wisdom, if you will, from babes and sucklings, but learn virtue from these magnanimous pismires ! O, Mr. Fowell Buxton, forget awhile philanthropising for the children of Ham, and think of these noble ants when thou again deniest free brewing and cheap lambs’wool to the thirsty sons of Japhet!
The other inhabitants of Barbadoes were the negroes and the planters.
“ When they are brought to us, the planters buy them out of the ship, where they find them stark naked, and therefore cannot be deceived in any outward infirmity. They choose them as they do horses in a market; the strongest, youthfullest, and most beautiful, yield the greatest prices. Thirty pound sterling is a price for the best man negro; and twenty-five, twenty-six, or twenty-seven pound for a woman; the children are at easier rates. And we buy them so, as the sexes may be equal; for, if they have more men than women, the men, who are unmarried, will come to their masters, and complain that they cannot live without wives, and desire him they may have wives. And he tells them, that the next ship that comes, he will buy them wives, which satisfies them for the present; and so they expect the good time: which the master performing with them, the bravest fellow is to choose first, and so in order, as they are in place; and every one of them knows his better, and gives him the precedence, as cows do one another, in passing through a narrow gate; for the most of them are as near beasts as may be, setting their souls aside. Religion they know none; yet most of them acknowledge a God, as appears by their motions and gestures : for, if one of them do another wrong, and he cannot avenge himself, he looks up to heaven for vengeance, and holds up both his hands, as if the power must come from thence, that must do him right. Chaste they are, as any people under the sun; for, when the men and women are together naked, they never cast their eyes towards the parts that ought to be covered; and those amongst us, that have breeches and petticoats, I never saw so much as a kiss, or embrace, or a wanton glance with their eyes between them. Jealous they are of their wives, and hold it for a great injury and scorn, if another man make the least courtship to his wife. And if any of their wives have two children at a birth, they conclude her false to his bed, and so no more ado but hang her. We had an excellent negro in the plantation, whose name was Macow, and was our chief musician; a very valiant man, and was keeper of our plantine-grove. This negro's wife was brought to bed of two children, and her husband, as their manner is, had provided a cord to hang her. But the overseer, finding what he was about to do, informed the master of it, who sent for Macow, to dissuade him from this cruel act, of murdering his wife, and used all persuasions that possibly he could, to let him see, that such double births are in nature, and that divers precedents were to be found amongst us of the like; so that we rather praised our wives for their fertility, than blamed them for their falseness. But this prevailed little with him, upon whom custom had taken so deep an impression; but resolved, the next thing he did, should be to hang her. Which when the master perceived, and that the ignorance of the man
should take away the life of the woman, who was innocent of the crime her husband condemned her for, told him plainly, that if he hanged her, he himself should be hanged by her upon the same bough; and therefore wished him to consider what he did. This threatening wrought more with him than all the reasons of philosophy that could be given him; and so let her alone; but he never cared for her afterward, but chose another which he liked better. For planters there deny not a slave, that is a brave fellow, and one that has extraordinary qualities, two or three wives; and above that number they seldom go; but no woman is allowed above one husband.”
In France, a man is laughed at if he, in any way, aid the publication of his wife's frailty.." Le Marqui de B****, à une bosse au front! hi, hi, hi !!!" And in England, twelve true men soothe " noble rage” with bank notes, which he pockets, and, if brave, shoots the Lothario afterwards. But in no white country have we ever heard of any harsh proceeding against the lady; or, at least, no process of divorce so summary as that in use in Doctors-Commons' cases amongst the negroes. Macow seems to have sought the suspension of his Desdemona, on about as much evidence as Othello stifled his. The Caribbees dashed their wives' brains out, on the least suspicion of their infidelity ; upon which the good Père Labat says, with curious simplicity, “ Cela est un peu sauvage à la vérité, mais c'est un frein bien propre pour retenir les femmes dans leur devoir.”
“At the time the wife is to be brought to bed, her husband removes his board, (which is his bed) to another room, (for many several divisions they have, in their little houses, and none above six foot square) and leaves his wife to God, and her good fortune, in the room, and upon the board alone, and calls a neighbour to come to her, who gives little help to her delivery; but when the child is born, (which she calls her Pickaninny,) she helps to make a little fire near her feet, and that serves instead of possets, broths, and candles. In a fortnight, this woman is at work with her Pickaninny at her back, as merry a soul as any is there; if the overseer be discreet, she is suffered to rest herself a little more than ordinary; but, if not, she is compelled to do as others do. Times they have of suckling their children in the fields, and refreshing themselves; and good reason, for they carry burthens on their backs; and yet work too."
The commencement of the following passage is both lively and touching :
“Some women, whose Pickaninnies are three years old, will, as they work at weeding, which is a stooping work, suffer the he Pickaninny to sit a-stride upon their backs, like St. George a-horseback; and there spur his mother with his heels, and sings and crows on her back, clapping his hands, as if he meant to fly; which the mother is so
pleased with, as she continues her painful stooping posture longer than she would do, rather than discompose her jovial Pickaninny of his pleasure, so glad she is to see him merry. The work which the women do is most of it weeding, a stooping and painful work ; at noon and night they are called home by the ring of a bell, where they have two hours time for their repast at noon; and, at night, they rest from six, till six o'clock the next morning.
“On Sunday, they rest, and have the whole day at their pleasure; and the most of them use it as a day of rest and pleasure; but some of them, who will make benefit of that day's liberty, go where the mangrove trees grow, and gather the bark, of which they make ropes, which they truck away for other commodities, as shirts and drawers.”
“ In the afternoons of Sundays, they have their musick, which is of kettle drums, and those of several sizes; upon the smallest the best musician plays, and the others come in as chorusses : the drum, all men know, has but one tone ; and therefore a variety of tunes have little to do in this musick ; and yet so strangely they vary their time, as 'tis a pleasure to the most curious ears, and it was to me one of the strangest noises that ever I heard made of one tone; and if they had the variety of tune, which gives the great scope in musick, as they have of time, they would do wonders in that art. And if I had not fallen sick before my coming away, at least seven months in one sickness, I had given them some hints of tunes, which, being understood, would have served as a great addition to their harmony; for time without tune, is not an eighth part of the science of musick..
"I found Macow very apt for it himself; and, one day, coming into the house, (which none of the negroes used to do, unless an officer, as he was,) he found me playing on a Theorbo, and singing to it, which he hearkened very attentively to ; and when I had done, he took the Theorbo in his hand, and struck one string, stopping by degrees upon every fret, and finding the notes to vary, till it came to the body of the instrument; and that the nearer the body of the instrument he stopt, the smaller or higher the sound was, which he found was by the shortening of the string, considered with himself, how, he might make some trial of this experiment upon such an instrument as he could come by; having no hope ever to have any instrument of this kind to practise on. In a day or two after, walking in the plantine grove,) to refresh me in that cool shade, and to delight myself with the sight of those plants, which are so beautiful, as though they left a fresh impression in me when I parted with them, yet, upon a review, something is discerned in their beauty more than I remembered at parting, which caused me to make often repair thither, I found this negro (whose office it was to attend there, being the keeper of that grove,) sitting on the ground, and before him a piece of large timber, upon which he had laid cross six billets, and having a handsaw and hatchet by him, would cut the billets by little and little, till he had brought them to the tunes he would fit them to; for the shorter they were the higher the notes, which he tried by knocking upon the ends of them with a stick, which he had in his hand. When I found him at it, I took the stick out of his hand, and tried the sound, finding the
billets to have six distinct notes, one above another, which put me in a wonder how he, of himself, should, without teaching, do so much. I then shewed him the difference between flats and sharps, which he presently apprehended, as between Fa and Mi: and he would have cut two more billets to those tunes, but I had then no time to see it done, and so left him to his own enquiries. I say thus much to let you see, that some of these people are capable of learning arts. ,
" Another, of another kind of speculation I found; but more ingenious than he: and this man, with three or four more, were to take me into the woods, to cut church ways, for I was employed sometimes upon public works; and those men were excellent axe men : and because there were many gullies in the way, which were impassable, and by that means I was compell’d to make traverses up and down in the wood; and was by that in danger to miss of the point to which I was to make my passage to the church, and therefore was fain to take a compass with me, which was a circumferenter, to make my traverses the more exact, and, indeed, without which it could not be done, setting up the circumferenter, and observing the needle, this negro Sambo comes to me, and seeing the needle wag, desired to know the reason of its stirring, and whether it was alive: I told him, no; but it stood upon a point, and for a while it would stir, but by and by stand still, which he observed and found it to be true.
“The next question was, why it stood one way, and would not remove to any other point? I told him that it would stand no way but North and South, and, upon that, shewed him the four cardinal points of the compass, East, West, North, South, which he presently learnt by heart, and promised me never to forget it. His last question was, why it would stand North ? I gave this reason : because of the huge rock's of loadstone that were in the North parts of the world, which had a quality to draw iron to it; and this needle being of iron, and touched with a loadstone, it would always stand that way.
“ This point of philosophy was a little too hard for him, and so he stood in a strange muse; which to put him out of, I bade him reach his axe, and put it near to the compass, and remove it about; and, as he did so, the needle turned with it, which put him in the greatest admiration that ever I saw a man, and so quite gave over his questions, and desired me, that he might be made a Christian; for he thought, to be a Christian, was to be endued with all those knowledges he wanted.
"I promised to do my best endeavour; and, when I came home, spoke to the master of the plantation, and told him, that poor Sambo desired much to be a Christian. But his answer was, that the people of that Island were governed by the laws of England, and, by those laws, we could not make a Christian a slave. I told him, my request was far different from that, for I desired him to make a slave a Christian. His answer was, that it was true, there was a great difference in that: but, being once a Christian, he could no more account him a slave, and so lose the hold they had of them as slaves, by making them Christians ; and by that means should open such a gap, as all the planters in the Island would curse him. So I was struck mute, and poor Sambo kept out of the Church; as ingenious, as honest, and as good a natured poor soul as ever wore black or eat green.