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and imposition; they contract low, profligate habits, and imbibe vulgar ideas and manners, while their hearts, thus isolated from all that is wont to inspire them with nobler feelings and generous resolutions, become callous and seared with apathy
The following sketch may convey an idea of what a book-keeper had to suffer about fifteen or twenty years ago, upon many properties, in crop time. He had to sit up every other night in the boiling-house, in order to prevent the negroes from pilfering the produce; and by day his attention to this and other duties must be unreniitting ; when his night of repose came, some unavoidable delay or accident, in certain departments of the work, forbade his retiring to it; and, to aggravate his sufferings, the overseer had received orders from the humane attorney to cause a book-keeper to accompany the wains to the wharf, whenever rum was to be sent to it, under the pretence of guarding it from the pilferage of the negro cartmen; this duty was to be performed at all events, whether it interfered with his night of rest or not; and this it must unavoidably do, as the wains left the estate at one or two o'clock in the morning, when the journey was eight or ten miles ; and, after all, when his night of spell returned, if the poor man yielded for a moment to the imperious calls of nature, if he sunk into a short and involuntary slumber,
if he lost the sense of his cares and his hardships in this transient oblivious balm, his liberal and considerate overseer thought it an unpardonable crime! Strange, that this man's experience of perhaps the same hardships, should not have softened his heart, and awakened him to a sense of his injustice. There were, however, many exceptions to this picture; and at the present time the situation of the poor book-keeper is much ameliorated, like that of the plantation slave, his fellow-labourer; for certainly the happiness of some of these poor people was as little to be envied as the condition of the latter : the negro, indeed, during crop, is suffered to enjoy, undisturbed, a regular and sufficient portion of rest. The treatment of both doubtless depends on the character of the overseer under whom they live: with a gentleman and man of humanity, their situation is comparatively easy, and comfortable ; with the nian who has little of that character to boast of, and has no other ambition but to make great crops, they must enjoy comforts by stealth or necessity. To a few extraordinary casks of sugar, such an one will have little scruple to sacrifice a portion of the happiness of his fellowcreatures; lie wishes to establish his fame as a great planter to this every other consideration, either of justice or humanity, is to be made subservient. It is to be hoped there are now few such characters in the island.
It is much to be wished, that some plan could be devised to supersede the necessity of spellkeeping by the book-keepers. There can be no hesitation in saying, that this practice, as it is generally conducted, is one of the opprobria of Jamaïca, and other islands where it prevails. It is inimical to the health of á numerous and valuable class of people in the island (though so much kept in the back ground); it is a principal discouragement to their entering into and persevering in their line of life; and how, it may be asked, can it be expected, that men deprived of their natural and necessary rest, should be capable of performing their duty by day with spirit and alacrity? If a decent and comfortable apartment, &c. were to be provided on the spot, the bookkeeper, it is to be presumed, could do the necessary duties, and at the same time enjoy a portion of repose, under certain arrangements. Some estates adopt this humane regulation.
The salary of the book-keeper was formerly only from thirty or forty, to sixty or seventy pounds currency per annum; so that many of them could barely furnish themselves with wearing apparel on this paltry sum; and if they had the misfortune to get a severe fit of illness, the doctor (a very money-making profession in this country) generously came forward with a bill of forty or fifty pounds for medicine and attendance on them! In lieu of the risk of paying this enor
mous sum for a fit of sickness, many of the estate's surgeons now compound with the bookkeeper for five pounds per annum, sick or well ! At present the book-keepers' salaries are from fifty to eighty pounds per annum; and the head book-keepers on the larger estates have sometimes an hundred pounds. As the amount of one deficiency (that is, one white person short of the proportion to negroes and stock required by law) is now fifty pounds, no salary under that amount can be given to a white man doing duty in the militia. The salary of an overseer is from an hundred and forty to three hundred pounds per annum.
Medical men.--Tradesmen on estates.---Jobbers,
-Surveyors. Merchants. — Shopkeepers.
BESIDES the overseer and book-keeper, there is on the estates sometimes a surgeon (for three, four, or more properties adjoining) and tradesmen of different descriptions; as a carpenter, a mason, and, on the large properties, a cooper and blacksmith.
The surgeon is either employed by a proprietor of two, three, or more estates, to attend the hospitals (or hot-houses, as they are here called) of those properties alone; in which case, he usually resides on one of them; or he practises for a number of properties belonging to different people, besides the smaller settlements in the vicinity of his practice. He has ten shillings annually per head for every negro on those properties; so that if his practice should be extensive (and some surgeons have ten or fifteen estates, &c. under their care, comprising a negro population of from two to three thousand) his income, including his white practice, must be very considerable. This practice is usually attended by the surgeon, with the aid of only one