Page images
PDF
EPUB

lief be soon given to the suffering patient: the jawbones become fixed in their sockets, the upper and lower teeth adhere closely and strongly to each other, so that even a pin can hardly at times ' é introduced between them; and the silent and ild looks of the afflicted patient, shew the agcay he endures, and the danger he is in. This -dreadful affection in infants, sometimes comes on without any apparent cause; but it is more frequently the concomitant of some other disorder. Many of the negro children die of it; but it seldom or never visits a white child. The other fatal disorders to which the

negro

infants are liable, are sore throats, hooping-coughs, convulsion fits, &c. The hooping-cough is an epidemic complaint among the children here, and it frequently carries off great numbers. Both white and negro children are liable to it; but the latter most. Sore throats are, however, most fatal to the white children; but liver complaints, by which these are often dangerously attacked, do not often visit the negro children; as if the systems, as well as habits, of the two races, were of an opposite nature. The negro population of Jamaica is at the

present time (1807) little less than three hundred thousand. Whether this population will be kept up, now that the wonted supply from Africa has ceased, time will shew. Certain it is, that a diminution, instead of an increase, has generally heretofore taken place, exclusively of the African supply. Perhaps the stoppage of this supply may operate to increase the care and vigilance of the negro proprietor over the health and comforts of his slaves; though indeed bis interest clearly pointed out to him such attention previous to this having taken place; as an able seasoned negro was worth to him an hundred and fifty or sixty pounds, and the price of a newly imported one was an hundred and fifteen or twenty pounds.

As a great deal has already been said on the cause or causes of this diminution of negro population in the West Indies, little need here be added on the subject. The numerous and fatal disorders to which the negro children are liable, have justly been assigned as one cause. Another which has been given is, the state of polygamy in which the negroes live. This doubtless is a very obvious cause. To enter into a dissertation why polygamy should thus: operate were superfluous; it is sufficient that experience shews, that it is inimical to population. But how is it to be remedied among the negroes in the West Indies, is the question? The negro, who does not profess himself a Christian, smiles at the idea of confining himself to one female companion, when his circumstances enable hini, and his passions and taste for variety, instigate him to have half a dozen. He would consider a restraint in this respect, so hostile to his habits and the practice

of his country, as the most arbítrary of all meusuros ; and it would require a thousand Argusés to watch and circumvent him in these illicit indulgences. Such as are baptized as Christians, are a little more scrupulous; some of these affect a form of marriage, and seem to lay aside all thoughts of other women than the one to whom they are united. But this is little better than form. Imbued as "their minds are with strong passions, and witnessing as they are likely to continue to do, the licentiousness of their more enlightened rulers, it is not likely they will relinquish the pleasures, or resist the temptations, of an unrestrained sexual intercourse.

The mortality among the grown negroes may be ascribed to various causes--to intemperance and irregularity, night exposure, violent exercise at their junkettings and plays, transition of the seasons, and, at particular seasons, disorders brought on by green roots, unripe fruits, &c. As to the labour they are made to perform on most of the estates, it is, as before said, seldom more than what they can go through with ease, and without injury to their health. The health of the negroes upon a plantation depends much upon the situation of the place. Their houses are generally built in dry, airy situations; but on the mountain estates, in spite of every precaution, they are liable to severe colds, and other complaints produced by cold, in consequence of the heavy and daily rains, which prevail in these parts to a greater degree than in the low country nearer to the coast,

The negroes are acquainted with the use of many simples for the cure of some disorders, such as yaws, ulcers, bone-ache, &c. and the care and management of negroes afflicted with these disorders is generally confided to an elderly negro woman who professes a knowledge of this branch of the medical art. The vaccine inoculation has been introduced into this island, and practised on the negroes with much success.

CHAPTER XXIV.

Origin of the Maroons. Description of the

mode in which they carried on their war with the whites. Their barbarity. Anecdote of a Maroon. Thoughts on the employment of dogs against them. Their way of life, &c.

THE Maroons are the descendants of the rebellious negroes who were in arms against the whites prior to the year 1739, at which period a peace was concluded with them. The first insurrection of the negroes of any consequence was about fifty years before this time, in the parish of Clarendon. Various parties of insurgents and runaways at length formed themselves into a body, under a desperate leader called Cudjoe, and often issued from their retreats, burning and plundering, and massacreing wherever they went, the defenceless white inhabitants. Parties were sent in pursuit of them, and engagements often took place between these and this banditti with various success, but generally in favour of the Maroons, they being more accustomed to traverse the mountainous woods, and better acquainted with the fastnesses and retreats they afforded. At length the whites were so wearied and harassed with this perpetual state of savage warfare, being

« PreviousContinue »