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once, or so wounded and maimed as to die of hunger and pain when left by the brutal captors.
"An extract from a pamphlet by an eyewitness of the horrors which he describes, will give some idea of the awful sufferings inflicted on our fellow-men by the slavedealers in East Africa in the present day. Monsieur Menon, of the Island of Reunion, who was formerly engaged in promoting what he calls the African Emigration to the French Colonies, describes the following , scene on the River Lindie, on the Eastern Coast:
"'An Arab chief told us he had, in the forest at some leagues' distance, a depot of 800 men, whom he would bring to us the next day. I asked the chief to conduct us to his depot, and at first he stubbornly refused. But when I promised him a rifle musket, which he eagerly desired to get, he consented, and led us thither. After three hours' march we arrived, but could see nothing. "Where are they lodged?" we asked, and he pointed to a palisade of bamboo open to the sky, where they were exposed, at the worst season of the year, to a fiery sun, alternating with torrents of rain, and sometimes of hail, without any roof to cover them.
"'A man of tall stature, with his spear in his hand, and a poignard in his belt, pulled up three posts, which served for a gate to this enclosure, and we entered. There they were, naked as on the day of their birth, some of them with a long fork attached to their neck; that is, a heavy branch of a tree, (une grossihre branche ifarbre) of fork-like shape, so arranged that it was impossible for them to step forward, the heavy handle of the fork, which they could not lift, effectually preventing them from advancing, because of the pressure on the throat; others were chained together in parcels (paquets) of twenty. The word which I underline is a trivial one, but it exactly expresses the idea. The keeper of this den utters a hoarse cry (pousse un rugissemenf): it is the order for the merchandize to stand up. But many of them do not obey. What is the matter? Our interpreter, who has gone among the groups, will tell us: listen to him, "The chains are too short—the dead and the dying prevent the living from rising. The dead can say nothing; but what do the dying say? they say that they are dying— of hunger."
"' But let us leave the consideration of this trader's picture as a whole, and let us look to some of the details. Who is this creature who holds tightly in her arms a shapeless object covered with filthy leaves? On looking close you see that it is a woman,
lying in the mud, and holding to her driedup breast the child of which she has just been delivered. And those little girls who totter as they strive to rise, and who seem to ask for pity, on what are they leaning? On a dead body. And this man, who is working with his hands a piece of mud which he is continually placing on his eye, what is the matter with him? Our guide tells us, " He is a troublesome fellow, who set a bad example by throwing himself at my feet this morning, and saying with a loud voice, "1 am dying of hunger," and I gave him a blow which burst his eye: he is henceforth good for nothing ;" and he added, with a sinister look, " He won't be hungry long."
'' To the question addressed to the Arab chief, why he dealt thus with the men, his reply was—' I do as my father did before me."'
The Bishop gives a long extract from Dr. Livingstone's last work; then goes on to say:
"Such are the abominations of this accursed traffic. And in answer to the question which will naturally be asked— To what extent does it prevail ?—I will quote the statement of a naval officer now on the coast, whose testimony will, I doubt not, be abundantly confirmed by that of many others now in England, who have of late years been engaged in the same service:
"'The second day after leaving Zanzibar we took a dhow with 150 slaves, almost all children, or boys under fourteen; and as they had only just started they were in good health, all but a few, who are significantly called lanterns by the sailors, because, I suppose, you can almost see through them. As we caught the smallpox, we made our way to Aden at once, calling at one or two places on the way, and landed them all except three, who died on the way. We are now at anchor under Guardafui, which all dhows bound for Manilla must pass, and we hope to pick up several more.
"' Oct. 6—To-morrow we start for Aden, having had a most successful cruise—taken seven dhows, and have now on board 393 liberated slaves, making 550 since we left Zanzibar. It is rather exciting work. As a sample I will tell you what happened the other morning, which was the best fun we have had. We just turned round Guardafui at dawn, with a dhow in tow, when we sighted another; so anchoring our one, away we were after the other, who hauled close in to the shore, which, luckily for us, is there very high, and when we got near,
be ran ashore under a steep cliif 1300 feet high, and bundled all bis slaves out on the beacb. But as we were close, we sent a few 8-inch shot over him, which frightened them all, and I went ashore with two boats' crews and chased them, and surrounded all the slaves, to the number of 117, and got them off, the Arabs being in too great fright to do any thing but run. I do not think they kept more than three out of the cargo. The Somalia here act the part of jackals; as soon as they see a dhow coming, or hear our guns, they rush down, and as soon as we allow them to approach, which we do after we have got all we want, in they rush, and in five minutes nothing worth a farthing is left of the dhow.
"'But while we are thinking of the Slave-trade suppression, I must tell you what great nonsense it is, and how little good our exertions are to any but ourselves, except in so far as these young blacks may fall into the hands of good English masters; and to explain this will require us to look at the source of the trade. I daresay Livingstone tells a good deal about it, but I have not read his book. The slaves, however, are captured, I believe, in the neighbourhood of Nyassa Lake, and Arabs go in small bodies into the country, and allying themselves with one tribe, stir them up to make a raid on a weaker one; when all too old or young are killed, and the residue taken to the sea-coast for sale. Keelwa, about 150 miles south of Zanzibar, is the great mart where thousands are exposed for sale, but of course they are shipped from smaller ports. It is estimated, though I do not know with what certainty, that 20,000 pass through Zanzibar yearly on their way to African ports further north, and largely to Arabia. Now Slavery is quite right in the eyes of Mohammedans. We have no antislave treaties with Turkey, and I think the
fact of our having them with any Mohammedan tribes of Arabs must be attributed to the fear on their part of the consequences of refusal. As, however, we have them, it seems to me that our present course is a most unworthy one, being only a half measure. As the chief ports of shipment for slaves are in the dominions of the Sultan of Zanzibar, and as be allows by treaty with us the so-called domestic trade between his own ports, we are debarred from blockading those ports, which, if done effectually, would make running slaves a far more difficult business; but as the treaty only allow us to do so during three months of the year, we can at other times only look out at places beyond his dominions.
"'The only thing that could be of real advantage both to the country and people of Africa, would be to stop the first taking slaves from their villages, and this will never be done in our present way of proceeding. If we seized Zanzibar and blockaded the coast effectually, we might stop it, though of course at great expense to England.'
"The remedy, my Lord, for such a state of things, appears to me to be twofold. First, that the efforts of Christian charity should be directed to the employment of means on the Eastern Coast, similar to those which have been adopted with so much success at Sierra Leone on the Western Coast, for repairing as far as possible the wrong done to the thousands who are now hopelessly separated from their native land. Secondly, I would respectfully urge the adoption of measures for bringing to the notice of Her Majesty's Government the state of Eastern Africa, as regards the Slave-trade.
"I have the honour, &c.,
"vincent W. Maubitius.
"London, April 1867."
ON THE LABOUR LAWS IN THE FRENCH COLONIES.
BT MONS. VICTOR SCHCELCHER.
Our esteemed friend and zealous co-adjutor, M. Victor Schcelcher, was not, as is well known, in a position to attend the Conference in Paris; but on a pressing application from the Secretary of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society for information on the condition of the emancipated class in the French colonies—to furnish which no one is more competent—M. Schcelcher very kindly consented to write a paper upon this question. He did this, however, upon the express condition—for special reasons not necessary to mention in this place—that although it might be published, it should not appear as forming any part of the proceedings of the Conference, but be altogether independent of and separated from them. Hence the place which Mons. Schoelcher's valuable paper occupies. W[e think it will be generally admitted that the cause would have lost much by the non-publication of M. Schoelcher's notes.
My Deah Friend—You ask me for information on the condition of the freed people in the French colonies. I readily comply with your request. i .
The best way to ascertain what is the position of these people, is to examine the legislation applied to them daily. Laws are irrefutable facts. They admit of no denial. He who quotes them cannot be accused of error, voluntary or involuntary. Wherefore, I believe I cannot more completely serve your purpose than by exposing this legislation.
Section I. The same thing has occurred in our colonies as happened in those of England, and as it is to-day being reproduced in the United States—the freedmen have been denied the full enjoyment of the liberty tardily restored to them. From the first, in the island of Reunion—nevertheless the most liberal of our trans-marine departments—the Government, violating all its duties, constrained the freedmen to enter into yearly contracts to labour as husbandmen, artizans or domestics, under a penalty of being proceeded against as vagabonds. This measure—which throws us back into the full period of Slavery, a law of the 18th July 1845 rendering it obligatory upon every emancipated slave to show, during five years, that he had an engagement to work—was nothing less than a violation of the decrees of the provisional government; yet this law found in the metropolis a few supporters amongst those persons who styled themselves the "friends o¥ order." It was, therefore, not surprising, that it pleased the former slave-owners, and that they found its tendency to be in an eminent degree civilizing. Thus it was in trampling the law
under foot that the negroes were, it was pretended,to be taught civilization. It was said, "It is indispensable to combat their natural laziness." Why, they were condemned to forced labour, and then were accused of being naturally lazy. It is the first homage rendered to the eternal sacredness of justice, that they who violate it, seek to excuse themselves in their own eyes. The Abolitionists denounced this civilizing measure in the National Assembly, on the 3rd of May 1850, when they had still a chance of being listened to, and the Minister of Marine and the Colonies declared that he condemned it, and had given instructions for its suspension. But as soon as the Government had no further occasion to conciliate, it returned to these forced contracts, and the law' was extended to all the colonies.
A decree of the 13th February, signed L. Napoleon Bonaparte, re-establishing by Article II. the workman's livret,* says:
* Day-book is perhaps the nearest approximation to the term livret; something unknown in England. In France every artisan is compelled by law to hare a book in which his name, birthplace and place of residence are entered; his trade, the name of his employer, and, in fact, every particular relating to bis condition. It also includes the reason of his discharge from any employer, and is held to be the testimonial of his own character. It must be produced when demanded, and is intended to shew that the individual to whom it belongs has ostensible means of existence. The immediate object of the regulation which imposes this obligation upon the artizan, is to prevent vagabondage, but it is obvious that it may be made to serve as an instrument of the most grievous oppression. The livret of the freedmen was of this kind. [ed.]
"Art. 16. Vagabonds are people who, having no means of subsistence, nor exercising any calling or trade, or profession, do not, by producing an engagement for at least one year, or by their livret prove that they are habitually occupied."
That is to say, to speak candidly, every man, having only his two arms, who cannot prove that he has employment for one year at least, is to be reputed a vagabond. How many people, nevertheless, work hard who have neither a trade nor a profession! Who is to be the judge of my own, of any man's means of subsistence. If by working twenty-four hours per week I can earn sufficient to enable me just to live, whether I be right or wrong as regards myself, what right has any one to condemn me to work one hour more? What right has society to ask me to render an account of my means of existence, so long as I am not legitimately suspected of touching the property of others? The best proof of my possessing the means of living is, that I live.
But let us not dwell any longer upon this decree; let us rather follow it out in its development, and application on the spot. We will take first the " Order respectingthe regulation of labour,"* dated the 2nd Dec. 1857, published in Guadaloupe, by M. Touchard, the Governor, countersigned by M. Husson, Director of the Interior, and which resumes the various antecedent "orders " on the same subject.
"Art. 47. . Every able-bodied person, male or female, aged ten years and upwards, is held to be compelled to work habitually, under penalty of being considered as a vagabond, unless he have means of subsistence, and be in the possession of personal or lauded property. He who does not habitually exercise an independent profession, or a trade, must produce an engagement, good for a year at least, showing that he labours habitually for another, as an artisan, a husbandman or a servant."
So, any person who does not habitually exercise an independent profession or a trade—and by Art. 48, the mayor decides the fact—is compelled to take service with others, or to be imprisoned for from three to six months, and at the expiration of that term, to be placed under the surveillance of the police for five years at least, for ten at most, in conformity with the law relating to vagabondage.
It is obvious, at first sight, that this kind of contract places the salary of the labourer wholly at the mercy af the employer. To wit: the labourer or artisan asks of Mr. A.
three francs a day for his services. Mr. A. refuses. Messrs.B.CD.are applied to,and in turn refuse. But whilst he is in this manner seeking to procure what he regards as an equitable remuneration for his labour, the police-agent comes up and demands the production of his contract-book. "I have been unable to make any arrangements with a proprietor," he says. "That is nothing to me," replies the agent. "You have no contract to work; you are a vagabond. Come away to prison."
Well, but suppose him engaged, under any circumstances, at a price! According to the traditions of Slavery, the planter lodges and finds him. As a rule, with a view not to be compelled to furnish him with fresh victuals, besides salt-fish and Indiancorn bread—the bread of the country—a bit of land, called a garden, is given to him; a concession which necessitates the reservation of one day besides Sunday, for its cultivation. (art. 64!) But what is the lodging 1 The old slave cabin! A hut, the whole furniture and conveniences of which are limited to a camp-bed in a corner, frequently reduced to two planks thrown across two empty boxes, or barrels. The labourer must find the rest. Three large stones, placed triangularly in another corner, serve him generally as a fire-place, at which he cooks his food. Can he, however, in this disgusting hole, the rent of which he pays dearly for, receive freely his relatives, his friends? No! Article 71 says, that " Whosoever shall have intruded upon a property, or into a workshop, contrary to the wish of the proprietor, shall pay a penalty of from 5fr. to lOOfr." Now the cabin being always on the estate, it results from this Article that the indentured labourer must renounce seeing, even in his own dwelling, his nearest relations, if these do not choose previously to solicit the consent of the owner. Should the father, mother, brother, insist upon seeing their relation, in the teeth of a prohibition, they will do so at a cost of from 5 to 100 francs fine; and if, in the course of the contention for a natural right, not forfeited by any infringement of the law, they should resent the affront by an insulting expression, the same Article condemns them to from five to fifteen days' imprisonment.
With respect to the clay's work which the labourer repurchases every week, to enable him to cultivate his garden, the entire possession of it is also denied to him. Does he —reserving to himself to cultivate it on Sunday—desire to'let it, so as to make more by it, he cannot do so without permission. He may be offered 5fr.: his employer offers him only one. He is bound to give the preference to the latter.
* Arrete sur le regime du. travail.
"Art. 64. The day not employed in the
cultivation of the garden returns to the benefit of the employer, for the price of the day's labour, and cannot be hired to a third party without the consent of said employer."
In point of fact, once engaged, the labourer must abdicate his own free-will; he no longer belongs to himself. In our colonies—the largest of which, Guadaloupe, has not, including its dependencies, a superficial area exceeding 140,000 hectares*— the following is another part of the law.
"Art. 39. Every person, aged sixteen and upwards, male or female, must have a passport for the interior. The livret, (art. 42.) and the contract-book, are equivalent to a passport. The bearer of either of these i may not circulate beyond his commune and those within their limits, by virtue of j the tore*, or of the contract-book, on the days or parts of days which do not belong to him, except upon condition of a visa before he leaves, indicating a fixed destination, which is valid for such destination alone. This visa shall be given by the employer; or to labourers, by the mayor, or by the commissary of police."
Antecedent to 1848, no slave could go out without a pass from his master, indicating whither the bearer was going, and it was of no value save for such destination. Art. 42 of the edict of the 2nd December 1857, is therefore a shameful return to the regime of Slavery. Let us state that this regulation was abrogated under the government of M. Lormel, by an order of the 18th June 1864. Thus it outraged public decency only during a period of seven years.
Every clause of the contract we are criticizing is to the disadvantage of the labourer. If he require a day's holiday, he must lose not only that day's wages—which is equitable enough—but, according to Art. 74, must submit to be mulcted of "a second days' wages, as compensation to the master." If he arrive too late in the field, if he quit it too soon, he is compelled in like manner to pay double the wages-value of the time; but on the other hand, and by way of "compensation," or, as it is set forth, "damages and interest," where he has worked hard for nine hours and a half, he must tend the cattle, cut and carry the herbage, further or nearer, as it may be, for their feed; must in crop-time or sugarmaking season, for an entire month, more or less, do extra work; ail this is obligatory upon him; but as for compensation, for "damages and interest," not a word. Here is the proof:
"Art. 67. In conformity with established usage, the day's work on farms or estates commences in the field, at day-break, and ends there at sun-down; except in urgent cases—as during crop-time, or the reason of sugar-making—it is divided, allowing two hours and a half for rest: in the other cases, meals shall be taken on the spot Nightwork is to be left to the mutual arrangement of the parties interested."
"art. 68. With the exception of gardening, the attention and labour which cattle require, are not considered as supplementary work, and are obligatory even on Sundays and feast-days. In the event of a refusal to work, under the restrictions of the present Article, the penalty shall be a tine of from five to twenty francs."
Suppose the labourer attacked by a malady which necessitates his going into hospital, he must defray the cost of such care as he may there receive.
"art. 86. Every employer must pay at the rate of one half of the wages, or, at the lowest, eight francs a month, to defray the amount due by the labourer under contract or indenture to him, for hospital or medical charges, which amount may be claimed back of him in the event of his entering into an engagement or contract; the said sum to be debited to him in his livret, or contract book."
In our colonies neither the hospitals nor the schools are open gratuitously to the indigent negro. Perhans the unfortunate labourer, compelled to find a master, may find one who cannot employ him every day. He is, in such a case, obliged to engage himself to another, for the days the first will not employ him.
"art. 57. The engagement for one year at least, which dispenses with the livret, is understood to mean an undertaking on the part of the labourer to give up every day to the employer, with the reserve specified in Article 64,* and to devote his whole day to the cultivation of land farmed by him.
"art. 58. When the engagement shall not be made in accordance with the terms hereinbefore specified, or when the indentured labourer shall not be in a position to give up every day to his employer, the certificate of engagement shall be withheld, by a decision of the mayor, stating reasons of refusal, subject always to a reference to the Direction of the Interior. There shall be given to the artisan or labourer a livret, upon proof that he has been regularly employed for the whole
* The reserve of one day for garden-work for himself.—[Er..]