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Causes to which may be attributed the too ge
neral dissoluteness of manners in Jamaica.-Thoughts on religion, and religious habits.Pride of wealth, &c.
THE debauched and profligate lives which so large a proportion of the white inhabitants of Jamaica lead is owing to many causes.
It has already been observed, that all those in the planting line (indeed all those living in the interior, of whatever description), seldom or never attend any religious institution ;, nor do they either read pious books themselves, nor enjoin their children to do so. "Sunday here is a day like any other, except for the form sake; and religious piety and devotion are terms which may be said to be blotted from the Jamaica vocabulary. It would be superfluous to enter into an argument to prove that religion is, and ought to be, the foundation of all moral and decorous conduct. This has been so fully felt, and often put to the test in all ages, and so universally acknowledged by all civilized nations, that little else, even setting aside the divine authority of religion, is necessary to establish its truth. If, therefore, religion and religious instruction were more in repute than hey are in
this island; if its inhabitants, instead of sneering at, and turning all that regards them into ridicule, were even to pay them the homage of exterior respect, there is no doubt but this would in time contribute to effect a reformation in the morals and manners of the people, particularly of the rising generation, whose young minds are not yet polluted by the too prevailing contagion of vice. The ministers of religion in this region have it not in their power, from the causes already assigned, to extend their pastoral care and instruction to the whole of the inhabitants. IE were, however, to be wished, that all of them would not only give pious and apostolic advice to those more immediately under their care, but set an apostolic example, by the regularity of their lives and the disinterestedness of their labours, to these their flocks. It is true they are a pers verse, hardened, and truant set of sheep; but that is the very reason why the watchful shepherd should double his diligence and his endeavours to bring back into the fold the refractory and vicious, by wholesome precept and good example.
A small improvement in morals and manners has certainly taken place, in some respects, in this island, even within the author's own knowledge ; as in the article of hard drinking, treatment of negroes, &c. but still much remains yet to be done. From the very nature of the country, and the general state of society
here, a thorough reformation cannot take place. While the sabbath day continues to be the same as any other, and not devoted to religious duty and exercise, much respect for this pillar of society, and of the moral duties; cannot be expected. And yet this, and other evils, cannot well be redressed without a fundamental alteration in some essential matters. Sunday is the day on which the negro collects and brings to market (in the towns) his provisions, and other articles which he wishes to dispose of; and on this day, chiefly, is the inhabitant of the town supplied with his weekly quantum of such necessaries. The negro, on the other hand, 'wishes to supply himself and family with various necessasaries, which he can only procure in the towns. On this account, Sunday is a day on which traffic of this kind goes on to a greater extent than on all the other days of the week together. The stores, or shops, are all open; and the centre of the town, where the markets are held, is a scene of the utmost tumult and bustle, thousands of negroes being assembled to dispose of their merchandize, and various descriptions of buyers necessarily 'augmenting the crowd. The magistrates of some of the parishes ordered, for decency sake, that the stores should be shut up during divine service; but this was little better than a farce, for though the door of a shop was shut; in order to comply with the form of the
thing, it was still understood by the customer, that he might enter at any time for the purposes of traffic.
Intemperance in drinking will, perhaps, not entirely cease, particularly among those in the planting line, while a facility of acquiring the means continues to be a temptation to the thoughtless, the giddy, and the dissolute. And that promiscuous sexual intercourse, which reigns so openly, so universally, and unblushingly here, and is so disgraceful to a civilized and Christian society, must ever continue, while matrimony discouraged to the degree that it is, while a taste only for low vulgar pleasures prevails among all classes, and while the men of power and wealth, instead of discountenancing this depravity, so frequently hold out the most striking examples of it. But let innocent, elegant, and rational pleasures be a little more encouraged here ; let a polite taste for literature be diffused, at least among the independent; let the means of education be more fully and liberally established ; let the great and leading men (married as well as single) exhibit, in their moral conduct, correct examples of virtue, propriety, decency; let them foster and encourage this disposition in their dependants, by their countenance, favour, and assistance; and, above all, let the duties and ordinances of religion be more fully understood, and better respected, and the good consequences would
soon appear." Virtue and reason would then, in some measure,' re-assume their rights; self-love would be enlisted on the side of duty; men would be impelled, i by still stronger motives than those of ishamė, to avoid the open and gross) violation of the social duties; one passion would be engaged to counteract another;" the voice of interest would check and intimidate the licentious sallies of passion;, instead of that indecent .dis. regard of religious and nioral duty; instead of that general debasément of illicit sexual interes course, so much complained of by the wise and thinking part of the West Indians themselves; instead of that universal laxity of manners, which will ultimately prove the ruin of the country; men would at least strive to be virtuous and de cent; they would at least endeavour to avoid the semblance of a licentious and dissolute people. ).
The females of this country (the white females are of course meant) may truly be said to be the most decorous, amiable, and virtuous of all the inhabitants of the West Indies; and if they are not so attentive to religious duties as they should be, it is because their fathers, husbands, and brothers are 980 littlesolicitous about setting before them an example of this pious regardos
The pride of wealth, not of virtue, as before observed, is in this country the great desideratum. It is thisí which exalts and ennobles, covers all de fertssl excuses all, faults, and procures: a general