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and assistance doubly necessary and welcome, Filial gratitude is not so energetic an affection in the human race in general, as parental fondness; and among the negro race this is often strikingly exemplified.
The passions and affections of the negroes, being Jess under the controul of reason, being less tempered by philosophy, and softened and moderated by the dictates of our holy religion, are of course more violent and impetuous when they break out, than those of the civilized European. Rage, revenge, grief, jealousy, even excess of love, in the negro, have often been productive of terrible catastrophes. It may seem surprising that excess of love should produce such tragical effects among so barbarous a people, that so noble a passion should operate to such extent in their savage bosoms: but what shall we call that infatuation of the heart, which would rather behold its beloved object perish, than be possessed by another? It is then a savage and selfish love, unmingled with the tenderness of civilized minds, which seeks more for its own gratification than the happiness of its adored object. It partakes less of sentiment and sympathy, and more of desire, than the moralist would wish to allow, in what he denominates love. The affecting story related in the Spectator of the two friends and their mistress, is an example; though certainly there is more of the romantic in this affecting
tale, than one usually meets with in the loves of the negroes. This struggle between love and friendship had an air of heroism; but it was a savage nature that could urge them to immolate the object of their mutual affection at the altar of friendship, rather than relinquish her to some third rival, or abide by her decision in favour of the one or the other of themselves.
A melancholy instance of despair, originating in jealousy, in a negro, lately came under the author's own knowledge. A negro was fond to excess of one of his master's female slaves, and flattered himself with the thought that his affection was returned. At last he conceived himself slighted by her, and suspected her affections were bestowed on another negro belonging to an adjoining property. One morning he anxiously inquired whither she was going, and on being told to a spring near to where his supposed rival dwelt, to fetch water, he told her he would fetch it for her; and, on her refusal, his suspicions were confirmed. He grew desperate, and reşolved on self-destruction; but first he went and deliberately took leave of his master, and all his fellow slaves, but without intimating to them the nature of his purpose. This behaviour, and his wild looks, occasioning however a suspicion of his intention, he was watched into a wood, where he was seen fixing a rope to the branch of a tree to suspend himself by the spics immediately
rushed forward to prevent his fatal purpose, when, seeing them coming, he locked his hands behind him, and throwing himself with violence from the tree on the rocks beneath, he was dashed to death on the spot.
There are some callous wretches among the whites, who, having little sentiment or feeling themselves, make light of insulting the feelings, and sporting with the passions of the poor negroes. A shocking circumstance, which the author recollects having occurred within a few miles of his residence, shewed the danger and inhumanity of such conduct. He will, however, spare the recital, and the reader's feelings and delicacy.
Though the negro is alive to the emotions of anger and revenge, yet he has generally sufficient mastery over himself to suppress them at the moment, and await the slow operations of a malignant rancour, which broods in silence over its wrongs a manly, open, and generous courage, seldom being among the number of his virtues; he rather chuses to watch a favourable opportutunity of retaliation, than encourage the instant impulse, which might involve him in unnecessary hazard.
A humane regulation was latterly introduced into the slave trade, viz. to have no negroes brought from Africa above twenty-five years of age. Had the limited age been eighteen or twenty, the regulation would have been still more humane. For,
as we cannot deny to negroes the passions and affections of human nature, we must also suppose that they have their sufferings and regrets at the moment of separation from kind relatives and accustomed friends. The younger they are, therefore, when torn from those friends and relatives, the better; as early and short attachments are more easily effaced in the bosom of youth than maturer age. Even to the very soil there is an attachment in men long accustomed to it; besides that the heart becomes less elastic as years and experience creep on. At a negro sale, it is a common but affecting scene, to see groups of negroes with their arms entwined round each other's necks, and with pensive and anxious looks awaiting the expected moment of their separation. Perhaps they are sisters and friends-perhaps a mother and her children—perhaps a husband and wife. In vain would the purchaser endeavour to separate them-they cling closer together -they weep, they shriek piteously-would it be humane, would it be discreet to tear them asunder? Soon, perhaps, if he did, would the buyer have to regret his folly and his want of feeling. Despair would probably seize on the objects of his choice, and they would either sink into a hapless dejection of spirits, or put a period to their sorrows and their lives!-Though scenes of this kind often occur, it is yet too notorious, that the unnatural wretch of an African father,
will sometimes sell his children to the Europeans; while the children will trepan their parents, and the friend the friend of his bosom! Avarice and revenge will at times prompt them to these unnatural deeds. This is no groundless allegation of the whites against the negroes; the author has often had recitals of this sort of conduct from their own mouths. One humorous anecdote, shewing the reality of such practices, he perfectly recollects: A negro, who had been some years in the country, happened one day to see an elderly new negro, who had been just purchased from an African trader recently arrived, whom he recognized to be his father, who had some years before sold him to the Europeans. Without explanation or preface, he addressed to him a speech in his country dialect, which he thus translated to the bye-standers. "So, you old rascal, dem catch you at last-no? Buckra do good-you no care for your pickininnie (child)-but they will make you feel, work, pinch too."
But after all, it is not to be inferred, from such instances of treachery, rapacity, and unnatural violence, that there is no such thing in Africa as affection, fidelity, and the charities of life.