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THE EDINBURGH REVIEW ON SOUTHERN SLAVERY.
The Edinburgh Review well knows that the white laborers of England receive more blows than are inflicted on Southern slaves. In the Navy, the Army, and the Merchant service of England, there is more of cruelty, more physical discomfort, than on all the farms of the South. This Review, for twenty years, has been a grand repository of the ignorance, the crimes, and sufferings of the workers in mines and factories, of the agricultural laborers, of the apprentices, and, in fine, of the whole laboring class of England. We might appeal to its pages almost passim to establish these facts. Half the time of Parliament is consumed in vain efforts to alleviate the condition of the cruelly-treated, and starving poor; and much of this Review is taken up in chronicling the humane, but fruitless action of Parliament. No man in the South, we are sure, ever bred slaves for sale. They are always sold reluctantly, and generally from necessity, or as a punishment for misconduct. The South-West has been settled in great part by farmers from the older slave States, removing to them with their negroes. The breaking up of families of whites and of
blacks keeps equal pace. But we have no law of impressment in the South to sever the family ties of either blacks or whites. Nor bave we any slavery half so cruel as that to which the impressed English seaman is subjected. The soldiers torn from their wives and children, to suffer and to perish in every clime and on every sea, excite not the sympathies of the Reviewer; they are all reserved for imaginary cases of distress, occasioned by the breaking up of families of Southern negroes. The socalled slave trade of the South is no evil, because the instances of the improper severing of family ties are rare.
Will some Yankee or Englishman, ere the charge is repeated that slaves are bred to be sold like horses, when they are old enough for market, point out a single instance in the present, or the past, of a Southerner's pursuing such a business? Yankees and Englishmen kill their wives annually, yet it has not occurred to Englishmen at all, and not to the Yankee till very lately, to abolish the marriage relation. When Englishmen correct the thousand real and pressing evils in their society, it will be time enough to call on us to do away with the imaginary abuses of slavery. These remarks have been elicited from us by an article on Southern slavery, in the April number of the Edinburgh Review, which is equally distinguished for the falsity of its charges and the ill nature of its comments. As a full justification for the indefinite
continuance of negro slavery, we give below an extract from an able article from the same Review, in its January number, 1846, entitled “Legislation for the working classes.” In showing the many evils arising from emancipating the whites, the Reviewer demonstrates, though not intending it, the absurdity of emancipating negroes. If Irishmen, who are as intellectual a race of men as any in all Europe, have lost infinitely in physical comfort, and gained nothing in morals or in mind by liberty, what will it avail negroes? Let Hayti and Jamaica answer. But Frenchmen, Scotchmen and Englishmen, we mean the masses, the proletariat, have lost as much by emancipation as Irishmen. History and statistics, the jails, the gallows, and the poor-house tell the same sad tale everywhere. We would be willing, if necessary, to rest the complete justification of negro slavery on this single extract:
[From the Edinburgh Review, 1846.] The moral and domestic feelings of the slave are sacrificed, and bis intellect is stunted; but in respect of his physical condition he may be a gainer. “It is necessary,” says Aristotle, in his celebrated justification of slavery, “that those who cannot exist separately should live together. He who is capable of foreseeing by his intellect, is naturally a master; he who is able to execute with his body what another contrives, is naturally a slave: wherefore the interest of the master and slave is one." There is a certain degree of force in this argument, if it is limited to the economical relations of the two parties. It is the interest of the master to maintain his slave in good working order. In general, therefore, he is comparatively well fed, clothed and lodged; his physical wants are provided for; his food descends into his mouth like the manna in the wilderness; he is clothed like the lilies of the field; he has no thought or care for the morrow. Although complaints were made of insufficient food and overwork, the arguments against negro slavery in our West India colonies were founded, mainly, on the necessity of constant punishment-on the driving system, as it was called and the cruelty of the inflictions. The Report of the French Commission, framed · by the Duc de Broglie, which recommended the gradual abolition of slavery, likewise bears testimony to the excellent physical condition of the slaves in the French colonies. It is on account of the advantages which may belong to dependence upon a wealthy lord, as compared with a needy independence, that the slate in Menander exclaims, that “it is better to obtain a good master, than to live meanly and wretchedly as a freeman." So the Rhetorician Libanus, who lived in the fourth century, in a declamation entitled a Vituperation of Poverty, after having enumerated the privations and sufferings which fall to the lot of the poor freeman, proceeds thus :“None of these evils belong to slavery. The slave sleeps at his ease, being fed by the cares of his master, and supplied with all the other things needful for his body. But the poor freeman is constantly awake, seeking the means of subsistence, and subjected to the severe dominion of want which compels him to hunger.” The wellinformed author of Haji Baba describes the astonishment of the vizier of the Shah of Persia, on hearing from the British ambassador that there is no slavery in England, and that the king is using his influence to put it down in other States. “ Indeed!” said the vizier,
you surely cannot be so cruel! What would become of the poor slaves if they were free? Nothing can be happier than the lot of ours; but if they were abandoned to their fate, they would starve and die. They are our children, and form a part of our family."
A similar feeling is described by Mr. Kohl as existing among the serfs in the Baltic provinces of Russia, with *respect to their recent emancipation. The serf is now no longer abscriptus glebæ; but it is not difficult for his lord to find the means of detaining him on the estate if he wishes so to do. Mr. Kobl continue thus :
“ Though the right which the peasant has thus obtained is so frequently useless to him, the counter right of his master, of banishing him from his native place, is very often turned against him. Formerly, a poble could not, by any means, get rid of his serfs; and, whenever they were in want, he was forced to support and maintain them. At present, the moment a peasant becomes useless and burdensome, it is easy to dismiss him; on account of which the serfs, in some parts of the provinces, would not accept of the emancipation offered, and bitterly lamented the freedom, as it was called, which was forced upon them. The serf often mournfully complains that he has lost a father and kept a master, and his lord now often refuses the little requests of his peasants, saying, “You know you are not my
children now.'' A similar state of