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WEST INDIAN AFFAIRS. “West Indian affairs, as we all know, are in a very troublous condition this good while. However, Lord John Russell is able to comfort us with one fact indisputable wbere so many are dubious: that the negroes are doing very well. The black population are doing remarkably well; our beautiful black darlings are at least happy, with little labor except to the teeth, which surely in those excellent horse jaws of theirs will not fail. The West Indies, it appears, are short of labor, as indeed is very conceivable; in those cases where the fortunate black man, by working abont half an hour a day, can supply himself, by aid of sun and soil, with as much pumpkin as will suffice, he is likely to be a little stiff to rise into hard work. The less fortunate white man of those tropical localities can not work, and his black neighbor, rich in pumpkins, is in no haste to help him."
The white man, moreover, demands, besides pumpkins, various other things, such as sugar, spices, and the like ; and, as he can not work, he can only get them by making somebody else work for him. Under these affecting circumstances, the unconscionable black man, who can work, actually will not work unless he gets wages so high that in many cases the white man can not afford to pay them; and consequently the poor white man must go without sugar and spices, and perhaps even without pumpkins, for to get these requires some labor-say, half an hour a day. Now, it seems to us that if (which we by no means admit) the white man can not work
there, the West Indies are no place for him. He is useless and worse than useless. Not so Mr. Carlyle. He lays it down that those West India Islands belong to the white man, and especially to the British species of white man.
THE OWNERSHIP OF THE WEST INDIES. “It was not black Quashee,” he says, “or those he represents, that made these West India Islands what they are, or can, by any hypothesis, be considered to have the right' of growing pumpkins there. Till the white European first saw them they were as yet uncreated-their noble elements of cinnamon, sugar, coffee, pepper, lying all asleep, waiting the white enchanter who should say to them, Awake. . . . Before the West Indies could grow a pumpkin for any negro, how much European heroism had to spend itself in obscure battle; to sink, in mortal agony, before the jungles, the putrescences, and waste savageries could become arable! Under the soil of Jamaica, before it could even produce spices or any pumpkin, tho bones of many thousand British men had to be laid ; the dust of many thousand strong old English hearts lies there; worn down swiftly in frightful travail, chaining the Devils which were manifold.”
We are far from accepting this view of the British acquisition of Jamaica ; but whether it be accepted or not, it is certain that the whites could once work there. But, passing this over, it is quite clear to Carlyle that the British Government has the power to rule Jamaica after the manner in which he thinks it should be ruled. He shall tell us how, in this matter of labor, he thinks that rule should be exercised :
RULING THE NEGROES. “The West Indian whites, so soon as this bewilderment of philanthropic and other jargon abates from them, will, I apprehend, as a preliminary, resolutely refuse to permit the black man any privilege whatever of pumpkins till he agree to work for them. Not a square inch of soil in those fruitful isles, purchased by British blood, shall any black man hold to grow pumpkins for him except on terms that are fair toward Britain. Fair toward Britain it will be, that Quashee give work for privilege to grow pumpkins. Not a pumpkin, Quashee, not a square yard of soil, till you agree to give the state so many days of service. The state wants sugar from those islands, and means to bave it. The islands are good withal for pepper, for sago, arrow-root, for coffee, perhaps for cinnamon, and precious spices. The gods wish, beside pumpkins, that spices and valuable products be grown there; thus much they have declared in so making the West Indies. Quashee, if he will not help in bringing out the spices, will get himself made a slave again (which state will be a little less ugly than his present one), and with beneficent whip, since others methods avail not, will be compelled to work."
In actual working Carlyle inclines to the opin ion that the most feasible plan would be to make the blacks serfs “bound to the soil.”
BOUND TO THE SOIL. “Already one hears of black Adscripti Glebæ; which seems a promising arrangement in such a complicacy. It appears that the Dutch blacks in Java are already a kind of Adscripts after the manner of the old European serfs, bound by royal authority to give so many days of work a year. Is this not something like a real approximation, the first step toward all manner of such ? Wherever in British territory there exists a black man, and needful work, to the just extent, is not to be got out of him, such a law, in defect of a better, should be brought to hear upon said black man."
Now, we admit and affirm that if a man who can work will not work, and so calls upon the state or the people thereof to feed and clothe and shelter him, it is right that the state or municipality should set him at work to pay for what he receives. While there are streets to be cleaned, and roads to be built, there is no necessity that there should be permanently any large number of able-bodied idle paupers or “tramps.” And further, we hold that the gravest present problem in civilized communities is how far, by what means, and to what extent, the state is bound to supply honorable labor for so much of its population as may at any time be unable to find it for themselves. But all this is a very different thing from Mr. Carlyle’s solution of the “nigger question.” As for any imaginary wrong done to the West Indian black, who, he says, lazily prefers to work half an hour a day for pumpkin rather than dig in the cane-field a dozen hours a day that his unfortunate non-working white neighbor may have abundance of sugar, coffee, and spices, Carlyle dismisses the matter with the contemptuous sniff, “I never thought the rights of negroes' worth much discussing, nor the rights of men in any form.”
But the vaticinations of the “Latter-Day Pamphlets," as to the character of the “New Era” which began in 1848, soon seemed quite unlikely to be fulfilled. What had the appearance of a universal deluge, in which the windows of heaven were opened and the fountains of the great deep broken up, proved to be only the bursting of a few dams whose liberated waters poured down some valleys, sweeping away some buildings in their course ; notably that erected by Louis Philippe-a sham structure of flimsy lath and plaster, stuccoed over and painted to resemble solid granite, and founded, too, on the sand. When the inundation subsided, Pope and Kaiser and all sorts of play-actor kings took possession of their old homes, which seemed quite as habitable as before. Fair-spoken Lamartine had to descend from his lofty stump, which was cut down, and upon its site Louis Napoleon raised the throne of the Second Empire, and things in general seemed to have “returned to their old sorry routine.” Carlyle, indeed (almost the only man in Europe who did so), always believed that this second Empire was only a sham.