Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

they had not all along cherished an earnest render and not expose themselves to the desire to place their charge under the fire of their pursuer, as he was assured shadow of the British ensign. The cap- from painful experience that it was equally tured schooner proves to be the “Rozalia,” hopeless to think of escaping from her, or manned almost entirely by Spaniards, of resisting her with success. This adalthough sailing under Portuguese colors; vice, given and received less under the and there is no doubt that the property in- influence of feelings of humanity than from vested in her, and in her wretched cargo, a salutary fear of the “S's" guns, is Spanish also. Having thus ascertained was prudently acted upon; and conher character, and taken formal possession sequently the schooner was captured withof the vessel and the slaves on board, as out the firing of a single shot. On looking a prize to Her Britannic Majesty's brig over her, the prize-officer finds the "S—," the boarding-officer passes aft“ Rozalia” to be small, low, and dirty in toward the poop, when the mystery of the the extreme, with two hundred and sixty slaver's non-resistance begins to be solved. Africans of both sexes on board, all of Looking around, his eye lights upon a whom have been kidnapped, and forced countenance which, he is certain, he has away from all they hold dear, and would seen before; the expression of which is of have been consigned, within a few hours, that ludicrous, dubious character, which to the murderous rigor of Cuban slavery. makes it a matter of doubt whether its But these are not the whole number possessor is weeping or smiling. The originally shipped; for many have sunk man to whom this face belongs is leaning under their sufferings, since the schooner on the side of the vessel ; and, looking at left the African coast. The prize being him a little more earnestly, the officer secured, the Spaniards are directed to recognizes him as the supercargo of a get into the boats, and are conveyed as slave-vessel, called the “ Isabelita,” which prisoners to the brig, English blue-jackets had been captured off Hayti by the being sent in lieu of them to take charge “S - " eight months before, with her of the slaver. The surgeon of the freight of suffering humanity, and carried “S- is also directed to accompany into Sierra-Leone for adjudication by the them, that he may examine the condition Mixed Commission Court established there. of the miserable beings who are crowded His papers show, when they are examined, into the slaver's hold, and make to the that he occupies the same position on captain his report of the survey. board the “ Rozalia" that he had formerly Now it is that a scene of wretchedness filled in the “ Isabelita ;” and he smiles and horror is exposed, at which even the grimly, while tears fill his eyes, (for the experienced surgeon of the “S" flinty-hearted monsters who embark in this stands aghast! He has had to discharge murderous traffic, though callous to other a like painful duty on many former ochumane suffering, can find a tear for their casions, when the brig has crossed the path own losses,) as he reflects that he has had of the man-stealer, and rescued the prey the hard fortune of being, within nine from the grasp of oppression. The last months, twice stripped of his ill-gotten capture--the “ Camoens”—had presented property by that intermeddling British a detail of horrors, the remembrance of brig-of-war. The officer smiles too, as which is sickening to the humane heart he recognizes the serio-cornic physiognomy of Dr. T.; yet nothing in all his experience of his quondam friend of the “Isabelita,” | has enabled him to picture anything equal and receives his salutations, not remark- to the stern, dreadful reality of woe now able, certainly, for the cordiality with visible before him. Disease has made which they are rendered. A conversation havoc among the poor slaves since they ensues between the two, from which the left the coast; small-pox and dysentery, officer gathers that, on first discovering in their worst types, have been rapidly their dangerous proximity to the brig, the doing the work of death ; and the number parties commanding the schooner had of the cargo has grown less and less day strained every nerve to get away ; but the after day. Nor has the violence of these brig gained upon them rapidly; and when maladies at all abated; they are still she had approached sufficiently near to be spreading rapidly in the yet crowded hold; recognized as the “S," he, the super- and the results must have been most fatal, cargo, had at once advised them to su

had not the vessel happily fallen into British hands. Dr. T.'s attention is first on his brow, and his whole mien betokens directed to those whom he sees on deck, mingled pity and indignation that a thought mostly females-among whom disease has so dishonoring to him should be indulged committed the greatest ravages. These “ Massa, me Krooman; and Krooman he finds unchained, and several of them are neber slave!" Then approaching nearer moving about the deck ; but all are with to Dr. T., he directs his attention to a blue out the slightest covering of any kind ! mark, running from the corona to the nasal On the starboard side, under the partial bone, as the characteristic symbol of the shelter of an old sail, he discovers a large tribe with which he claims to be allied. number of poor creatures writhing and He is gratified by receiving the doctor's shrieking in agony under the influence of assurance that he and his countrymen shall the small-pox-loathsome everywhere, but be duly cared for. It is well for them acquiring aggravated intensity within the that they have been thrown into the hands tropics. They are huddled together with of the British cruiser ; their voyage would out any distinction of age or sex, appearing otherwise have ended, doubtless, as tragiat a little distance, from the effects of the cally for themselves as for the survivors disease on a black skin, (to use the sur- of the cargo they were assisting to convey geon's own words,) “a dark, putrid, cor- to the place of bondage. It is not often rugated mass.” Many are rapidly sinking; that Kroomen are found in a state of not a few appear to be on the verge of slavery ; but there is little room to doubt eternity. Little can be done to alleviate that, once in a Spanish port, they would these miseries. To send the sufferers have found " Kroomen neber slaves" to be below would only be to deprive them of only a delusion ; and, defrauded, betrayed, the purer air they breathe on deck, and and sold by their unprincipled employers, give fresh impulse to the disease that is their manly frames, and proud, indomitable destroying them ; while it would contribute spirit, would have been alike broken down to spread the contagion yet more rapidly by the lash, the bilboes, and the bloodamong those in the hold, upon many of hounds, which the Spanish slaveholder whom it has already commenced its fatal scruples not to employ in dealing with the progress. But all that the surgeon's skill untractable African whose unhappy lot it and kindness can effect, under these un- is to fall into his power. favorable circumstances, is promptly done. These Kroomen have not only acted as The larger part of the limited deck is ap- sailors, but have also taken part in the portioned to their use; provision is made laborious task of providing for the captives by spreading awnings above the deck, to in the hold; and it is observed that the screen them from the scorching sun by slaves regard them with marked deference day, and the unwholesome dews of night; and respect. Their services are and a regimen is ordered vastly different called into requisition by Dr. T., who has from that to which for some weeks they not as yet been able to direct any attention have been accustomed—the stores of the to the poor creatures still confined below. “S-"

furnishing means for carrying There are but few Englishmen left on into effect these humane and judicious board after the Spaniards have been witharrangements.

drawn; for when it is ascertained that While Dr. T. is occupied in these pro- disease prevails to such an extent in the fessional duties, one of the blacks—a strong, schooner, it is considered prudent to limit tall, athletic man, who appears to belong the prize-crew to one officer, the surgeon, to the crew rather than to the cargo- and just as many men as may suffice to advances, and places a paper in the sur- navigate the vessel. All the British sailors geon's hand. On looking it over, he finds may, therefore, be seen aloft, reefing the that it is written in English, setting forth topsails of the slaver, the “S” meanthat the bearer and several others have while, lying off at some distance until both been hired to assist in the navigation of vessels are got under easy sail. Dr. T., the “ Rozalia” from Africa to the coast of with the Kroomen pressed into his service, Cuba. “Are you not, then, a slave ?" proceeds with his survey of the schooner's inquires Dr. T. “ Slave, massa! slave?" living and dying freight. The hatchways responds the negro-drawing up his manly are opened, disclosing the miserable dens frame into an attitude of no small dignity in which the poor creatures are confined. and importance, while a dark frown lowers They are low-little more than three feet

now

in depth—and indescribably filthy. The their own tongue ; and, fresh from Africa, surgeon, standing near the opening, directs the negroes understand only the language that all the slaves found in the hold shall of their own land. But, several of the be brought on deck for his inspection; and Kroomen having picked up a little English, now the discovery is made that all the one of them engages to act as interpreter sufferers below are in irons-rendering it between the surgeon and the captives. no easy matter, even for those who are as He is desired, first of all, to inform them yet free from disease, to move their long- that they are no longer slaves; that, cramped limbs. A pair of strong iron rescued from the cruel power of the rings, connected by a bar of iron, fastens Spaniard, they now enjoy the protection the right leg of one negro to the left leg of the British flag, under which slavery of another, just above the ankles. With cannot live ; that instead of being carried exceeding pain and difficulty one couple to Cuba, there to drag out miserable after another of these unfortunates, thus existence in hopeless bondage, and wasting, linked in iron bands, emerge from the unrequited toil, they will be taken to a pestilential hold in which they have British colony, located among countrymen spent many weeks, dazzled and almost of their own, provided with means of blinded by the light of day, to which they procuring food and clothing, and guarded have been so long unaccustomed. Among by just and equal laws. It is even amusthese, also, the above-named maladies are ing to witness the manner in which the doing their fell work; and some are so Kroomen listen to the communication of enfeebled and crippled that they cannot Dr. T. Their eyes glisten with delight, move from the spot where they are found. and every muscle of their fine, intelligent Diseased and healthy, weak and strong, faces quivers with emotion, as he announces young and old, are found all fettered that the poor creatures around them are to together with indiscriminating impartiality. be set free; and, probably, their joy at the The helpless ones have to be assisted in turn which affairs have taken is hightened ascending from the hold ; and as many as by the memory of an occasional apprehencan do so, turn an eager, scrutinizing glance sion that they had embarked in an evil to the countenance of the surgeon, standing cause, and placed themselves in a perilous at the hatchway, whom they seem to regard position. The scene acquires a deepening as in some sort the arbiter of their destiny, interest when the interpreter turns round, as if they sought to find there an explana- and advances a step or two nearer the tion of the unusual occurrences of the day. fettered slaves. Of a tall, commanding All are at length brought on deck, where figure, with arm outstretched, he seems to the pure sea-breeze can reach them. expand into new dignity with the conMany a tear of commiseration flows down sciousness that he is commissioned as an the manly cheeks of the doctor as he gazes angel of mercy to proclaim glad tidings of upon the spectacle before him ; and, ac great joy to the suffering group before customed as he has been to look unmoved him. He utters, in African dialect, a word upon objects which to a non-professional which bids them listen; but scarcely is eye would be horrifying, his heart sickens this needed, for every ear is open, and as he contemplates so many helpless, every eye that is not closed by disease diseased, and dying creatures, possessing is bent upon him with intense anxiety. man's noble and immortal nature, victims Silence prevails, while, in a tongue with of the cupidity and wickedness of their which all are familiar, he makes the heartfellows. The scene awakens emotions cheering communication with which he is in the surgeon's mind, now of pity, then charged; when, as if touched by a magic of indignation, the remembrance of which wand, all tongues are simultaneously will for years send a thrill of horror through loosened. Forgetting for the moment all his soul.

physical suffering, in the rapture of unThe Africans have discovered the tear expected freedom, the poor Africans lift of sympathy glistening in the white man's up their voice with all their remaining eye, and have justly interpreted it. And, strength. Shout after shout arises from now that they are all assembled on deck, the deck of the slaver, the spontaneous many an anxious eye turns to him, to expression of heartfelt joy-joy which, but ascertain the fate that awaits them. He a few brief hours ago, it was unlikely they is not able to communicate with them in / would ever experience more. The feeling

wearers.

is sympathetic : the shouts on deck are Ten days after the capture, the “S-" heartily returned by the British tars aloft, and her prize arrived at Belize, in the Bay and reëchoed by those on board the brig; of Honduras ; provision is promptly made every voice saluting the glorious emblem for landing the slaves on a small island not of liberty floating above them—the flag, far from the settlement; suitable food and which for “a thousand years has braved clothing are provided, and additional the battle and the breeze."

medical aid is obtained. The ravages of When these tumultuous expressions of disease are arrested. Freed from the conjoy have subsided, (which must have been finement of the slaver, and able to take gall and wormwood to the disappointed sufficient exercise under the refreshing Spaniards in the brig,) hammers and chisels shades of a well-sheltered island, the are brought into requisition ; and there is rescued captives reawake to life and acheard that sound more sweet than " the tivity ; wasted and death-like forms acquire music of the spheres ”—the clink of the the vigor and elasticity which had vanished loosening fetter. To the unspeakable joy under the blighting curse: pallid faces (for and satisfaction of their minds, no less than the dark skin of the negro can become to the ease and comfort of their bruised and pallid) assuming the shining hue of health ; wasted frames, the poor slaves receive this and all bless the day when the “S—" substantial earnest of freedom : their chains crossed the “Rozalia's ” course, and the and manacles are cast aside. Yet it is a ensign of St. George waved in triumph work of time, and of difficulty too; for over the decks of the CAPTURED SLAVER. the irons are firmly riveted on the hapless But the hearts of those to whom

A HINT TO PARENTS. the task is assigned are in the work; and at length, to the gratification of all, the D temper labor of love is accomplished; every fettered limb is set at liberty; and there are of an unhappy organization. It frequentrejoicing hearts in that slave-ship, and dark ly, however, has a physical cause, and a faces radiant with hope, such as its nar- peevish child often needs dieting more row, polluted hold, and its blood-stained than correcting. Some children are more decks, have never witnessed before. prone to show temper than others, and

As to some of the poor captives, their sometimes on account of qualities which physical energies are too completely pros are valuable in themselves. For instance, trated to be recovered. Both vessels are a child of active temperament, sensitive kept under easy sail, and the weather is feeling, and eager purpose, is more likely fine ; but many days necessarily elapse to meet with constant jars and rubs than a before they can reach the nearest British dull, passive child; and if he is of an open port: the best arrangements that the limits nature, his inward irritation is immediately of the schooner admit of are made for the shown in bursts of passion. If you repress benefit of the sick; all that the stores of these ebullitions by scolding and punishthe “S can contribute is freely ment, you only increase the evil, by yielded; while the surgeon, actuated no changing passion into sulkiness. A cheerless by a feeling of true philanthropy than ful, good-tempered tone of your own, a by a sense of professional duty, is inde- sympathy with his trouble—whenever the fatigable in attention to his unhappy trouble has arisen from no ill-conduct on patients. But every day some are found his part—are the best antidotes; but it sinking in death; and before the friendly would be better still to prevent beforeharbor is gained, one tenth of the whole hand all sources of annoyance. Never number found in the pest-ship at the time fear spoiling children by making them too of her capture have been consigned to the happy. Happiness is the atmosphere in deep! How fearfully would the mortality which all good affections grow - the have been increased had she continued on wholesome warmth necessary to make the her once-destined course! Probably half heart-blood circulate healthily and freely. or two-thirds of the enslaved Africans Unhappiness is the chilling pressure which would have perished. And were the voy- produces here an inflammation, there an age protracted, even under the present excrescence; and, worst of all, the comparatively favorable auspices, the result mind's green and yellow sickness --- ill must inevitably be fatal in many other cases. I temper.

A woman's--nay, a little child's soft hand,
With gentle putting easier doth command,
And make the bristling boar to crouch and fall,
Than any boisterous wrestler of them all. ---Plutarch.

IT

[ocr errors]

GENTLENESS, AND ITS POWER.

doorway. I was now near enough to see the savage aspect of the animal, and the gathering motion of his body, as he prepared to bound forward upon me. His

wolfish growl was really fearful. At the is not needful for us to dilate on the instant when he was about to spring, a magic power of gentleness, which we light hand was laid upon his shaggy neck, have ever pronounced to be an irresistible and a low word spoken. argument when all others fail; but we "Don't be afraid. He wont hurt you,' know too well the value of such a talisman, said a voice, that to me sounded very sweet to be silent in its praises as opportunity and musical. offers. One-half at least of the world's “I now came forward, but in some misfortunes originate in their contempt for doubt as to the young girl's power over the this virtue. Take our word for it, good beast, on whose rough neck her almost childpeople ; we may always lead, and win, by ish hand still lay. The dog did not seem by kindness. Hard words, cruel speeches, any means reconciled to my approach, and opposition, and perverseness, prevail nei- growled wickedly his dissatisfaction. ther with mankind nor with animals. But “Go in, Tiger,' said the girl—not in a everything falls before the sunshine of voice of authority, yet in her gentle tones good-nature. We prove this dayly. was the consciousness that she would be

The subjoined fragment will fully illus- obeyed; and as she spoke, she lightly bore trate our meaning :

upon the animal with her hand, and he turned

away, and disappeared within the dwelling. “ I did not hear the maiden's name ; but "Who's that?' A rough voice asked in my thought I have ever since called her the question; and now a heavy-looking

Gentle Hand.' What a magic lay in man took the dog's place at the door. her touch! was wonderful.

“"Who are you? What's wanted ?' “When and where, it matters not now There was something very harsh and for. to relate ;—but once upon a time, as I was bidding in the way the man spoke. The passing through a thinly-peopled district girl now laid her hand upon his arm, and of country, night came down upon me, al- leaned with a gentle pressure against him. most unawares. Being on foot, I could 66 How far is it to G ?' I asked, not hope to gain the village, toward which not deeming it best to say, in the beginning, my steps were directed, until a late hour; that I sought a resting-place for the night. and I therefore preferred seeking shelter "• To G-!' growled the man, but and a night's lodging at the first humble not so harshly as at first. “It's a good dwelling that presented itself.

six miles from here.' "Dusky twilight was giving place to “A long distance; and I'm a stranger deeper shadows, when I found myself in and on foot,' said I. 'If you can make the vicinity of a dwelling, from the small room for me until morning, I will be very uncurtained windows of which the light thankful.' shone with a pleasant promise of good “I saw the girl's hand move quietly up cheer and comfort. The house stood within his arm, until it rested on his shoulder, an inclosure, and a short distance from the and now she leaned to him still closer. road along which I was moving with wea- " • Come in. We'll try what can be ried feet. Turning aside, and passing done for you. There was a change in through an ill-hung gate, I approached the the man's voice that made me wonder. dwelling. Slowly the gate swung on its “I entered a large room, in which blazed wooden hinges, and the rattle of its latch, a brisk fire. Before the fire sat two stout in closing it, did not disturb the air until I lads, who turned upon me their heavy had nearly reached the little porch in front eyes with no very welcome greeting. A of the house, in which a slender girl, who middle-aged woman was standing at a lahad noticed my entrance, stood awaiting ble, and two children were amusing them

selves with a kitten on the floor. “A deep, quick bark, answered, almost ""A stranger, mother,' said the man like an echo, the sound of the shutting who had given me so rude greeting at gate; and, sudden as an apparition, the the door; ‘and he wants us to let him stay form of an immense dog loomed in the all night.'

my arrival.

« AnteriorContinuar »