Froudacity: West Indian Fables by J. A. Froude
J. J. Thomas

Part 2 out of 3

pure and simple absurdity. What are we Negroes of the present day to
be grateful for to the US, personified by Mr. Froude and the Colonial
[116] Office exportations? We really believe, from what we know of
Englishmen, that very few indeed would regard Mr. Froude's reproach
otherwise than as a palpable adding of insult to injury. Obliged to
"us," indeed! Why, Mr. Froude, who speaks of us as dogs and horses,
suggests that the same kindliness of treatment that secures the
attachment of those noble brutes would have the same result in our
case. With the same consistency that marks his utterances throughout
his book, he tells his readers "that there is no original or
congenital difference between the capacity of the White and the Negro
races." He adds, too, significantly: "With the same chances and with
the same treatment, I believe that distinguished men would be
produced equally from both races." After this truthful testimony,
which Pelion upon Ossa of evidence has confirmed, does Mr. Froude, in
the fatuity of his skin-pride, believe that educated men, worthy of
the name, would be otherwise than resentful, if not disgusted, at
being shunted out of bread in their own native land, which their
parents' labours and taxes have made desirable, in order to afford
room to blockheads, vulgarians, [117] or worse, imported from beyond
the seas? Does Mr. Froude's scorn of the Negroes' skin extend,
inconsistently on his part, to their intelligence and feelings also?
And if so, what has the Negro to care--if let alone and not wantonly
thwarted in his aspirations? It sounds queer, not to say unnatural
and scandalous, that Englishmen should in these days of light be the
champions of injustice towards their fellow-subjects, not for any
intellectual or moral disqualification, but on the simple account of
the darker skin of those who are to be assailed and thwarted in their
life's career and aspirations. Really, are we to be grateful that
the colour difference should be made the basis and justification of
the dastardly denials of justice, social, intellectual, and moral,
which have characterized the régime of those who Mr. Froude boasts
were left to be the representatives of Britain's morality and fair
play? Are the Negroes under the French flag not intensely French?
Are the Negroes under the Spanish flag not intensely Spanish?
Wherefore are they so? It is because the French and Spanish nations,
who are neither of them inferior in origin or the [118] nobility of
the part they have each played on the historic stage, have had the
dignity and sense to understand the lowness of moral and intellectual
consciousness implied in the subordination of questions of an
imperial nature to the slaveholder's anxiety about the hue of those
who are to be benefited or not in the long run. By Spain and France
every loyal and law-abiding subject of the Mother Country has been a
citizen deemed worthy all the rights, immunities, and privileges
flowing from good and creditable citizenship. Those meriting such
distinction were taken into the bosom of the society which their
qualifications recommended them to share, and no office under the
Government has been thought too good or too elevated for men of their
stamp. No wonder, then, that Mr. Froude is silent regarding the
scores of brilliant coloured officials who adorn the civil service of
France and Spain, and whose appointment, in contrast with what has
usually been the case in British Colonies, reflects an abiding lustre
on those countries, and establishes their right to a foremost place
among nations.

Mr. Froude, in speaking of Chief Justice [119] Reeves, ventures upon
a smart truism which we can discuss for him, but of course not in the
sense in which he has meant it. "Exceptions," our author remarks,
"are supposed proverbially to prove nothing, or to prove the very
opposite of what they appear to prove. When a particular phenomenon
occurs rarely, the probabilities are strong against the recurrence of
it." Now, is it in ignorance, or through disingenuousness, that Mr.
Froude has penned this argument regarding exceptions? Surely, in the
vast area of American life, it is not possible that he could see
Frederick Douglass alone out of the cluster of prominent Black
Americans who are doing the work of their country so worthily and so
well in every official department. Anyhow, Mr. Froude's history of
the Emancipation may here be amended for him by a reminder that, in
the British Colonies, it was not Whites as masters, and Blacks as
slaves, who were affected by that momentous measure. In fact, 1838
found in the British Colonies very nearly as many Negro and Mulatto
slave-owners as there were white. Well then, these black and yellow
planters received their quota, it may be presumed, of [120] the
£20,000,000 sterling indemnity. They were part and parcel of the
proprietary body in the Colonies, and had to meet the crisis like the
rest. They were very wealthy, some of these Ethiopic accomplices of
the oppressors of their own race. Their sons and daughters were
sent, like the white planter's children, across the Atlantic for a
European education. These young folk returned to their various
native Colonies as lawyers and doctors. Many of them were also
wealthy planters. The daughters, of course, became in time the
mothers of the new generation of prominent inhabitants. Now, in
America all this was different. No "nigger," however alabaster fair,
was ever allowed the privileges of common citizenship, let alone the
right to hold property in others. If possessed by a weakness to pass
for white men, as very many of them could easily have contrived to
do, woe unto the poor impostors! They were hunted down from city to
city as few felons would be, and finally done to death--"serve them
right!" being the grim commentary regarding their fate for having
sought to usurp the ineffable privilege of whitemanship! All this,
Mr. Froude, was [121] the rule, the practice, in America, with regard
to persons of colour up to twenty-five years ago. Now, sir, what is
the phenomenon which strikes your vision in that mighty Republic to-
day, with regard to those self-same despised, discountenanced,
persecuted and harried descendants of Ham? We shall tell you of the
change that has taken place in their condition, and also some of the
reasons of that beneficent revolution.

The Proclamation of Emancipation on January 1st, 1863, was, by
President Lincoln, frankly admitted to have been a war necessity. No
abstract principle of justice or of morals was of primary
consideration in the matter. The saving of the Union at any cost,--
that is, the stern political emergency forced forth the document
which was to be the social salvation of every descendant of Ham in
the United States of America. Close upon the heels of their
emancipation, the enfranchisement of the Negroes was pushed forward
by the thorough-going American statesmen. They had no sentimentality
to defer to. The logic of events--the fact not only of the coloured
race being freedmen, but also of their having been effective [122]
comrades on the fields of battle, where the blood of eager thousands
of them had flowed on the Union side, pointed out too plainly that
men with such claims should also be partners in the resulting

Mr. Froude, being so deferential to skin prejudice, will doubtless
find it strange that such a measure as the Civil Rights Bill should
have passed a Congress of Americans. Assuredly with the feeling
against the coloured race which custom and law had engrafted into the
very nature of the vast majority, this was a tremendous call to make
on the national susceptibilities. But it has been exactly this that
has brought out into such vivid contrast the conduct of the British
statesman, loudly professing to be unprejudiced as to colour, and
fair and humane, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the
dealings of the politicians of America, who had, as a matter of fact,
sucked in aversion and contempt towards the Negro together with their
mother's milk. Of course no sane being could expect that feelings so
deeply ingrained and nourished could be rooted out by logic or by any
legislative enactment. But, indeed, it is sublimely creditable to
[123] the American Government that, whatever might be the personal
and private sentiments of its individual members as regards race,
palmam ferat qui meruit--"let him bear the palm who has deserved it"-
-has been their motto in dealing generally with the claims of their
Ethiopic fellow-citizens. Hence it is that in only twenty-five years
America can show Negro public officers as thick as blackberries,
while Mr. Froude can mention only Mr. Justice Reeves in FIFTY years
as a sample of the "exceptional" progress under British auspices of a
man of African descent! Verily, if in fifty long years British
policy can recognize only one single exception in a race between
which and the white race there is no original or congenital
difference of capacity, the inference must be that British policy has
been not only systematically, but also too successfully, hostile to
the advancement of the Ethiopians subject thereto; while the "fair
field and no favour" management of the strong-minded Americans has,
by its results, confirmed the culpability of the English policy in
its relation to "subject races."

The very suggestive section of "the English [124] in the West
Indies," from which we have already given extracts, and which bears
the title "Social Revolution," thus proceeds:--

"But it does not follow that what can be done eventually can be done
immediately, and the gulf which divides the colours is no arbitrary
prejudice, but has been opened by the centuries of training and
discipline which have given us the start in the race" (p. 125

The reference in the opening clause of the above citation, as to what
is eventually possible not being immediately feasible, is to the
elevation of Blacks to high official posts, such as those occupied by
Judge Reeves in Barbados, and by Mr. F. Douglass in the United
States. We have already disposed by anticipation of the above
contention of Mr. Froude's, by showing that in only twenty-five years
America has found hundreds of eminent Blacks to fill high posts under
her government. Our author's futile mixture of Judge Reeves'
exceptional case with that of Fred. Douglass, which he cunningly
singles out from among so many in the United States, is nothing but a
subterfuge, of the same queer and flimsy description with which the
literature of the cause now championed [125] by his eloquence has
made the world only too familiar. What can Mr. Froude conceive any
sane man should see in common between the action of British and of
American statesmanship in the matter now under discussion? If his
utterance on this point is that of a British spokesman, let him abide
by his own verdict against his own case, as embodied in the words,
"the gulf which divides the two COLOURS is no arbitrary prejudice,"
which, coupled with his contention that the elevation of the Blacks
is not immediately feasible, discloses the wideness of divergence
between British and American political opinion on this identical

Mr. Froude is pathetically eloquent on the colour question. He tells
of the wide gulf between the two colours--we suppose it is as wide as
exists between his white horse and his black horse. Seriously,
however, does not this kind of talk savour only too much of the
slave-pen and the auction-block of the rice-swamp and the cotton-
field; of the sugar-plantation and the driver's lash? In the United
States alone, among all the slave-holding Powers, was the difference
of race and colour invoked openly and boldly to justify all the
enormities that [126] were the natural accompaniments of those
"institutions" of the Past. But is Mr. Froude serious in invoking
the ostracizing of innocent, loyal, and meritorious British subjects
on account of their mere colour? Physical slavery--which was no
crime per se, Mr. Froude tells us--had at least overwhelming brute
power, and that silent, passive force which is even more potential as
an auxiliary, viz., unenlightened public opinion, whose neutrality is
too often a positive support to the empire of wrong.

But has Mr. Froude, in his present wild propaganda on behalf of
political and, therefore, of social repression, anything analogous to
those two above-specified auxiliaries to rely on? We trow not. Then
why this frantic bluster and shouting forth of indiscreet aspirations
on be half of a minority to whom accomplished facts, when not
agreeable to or manipulated by themselves, are a perpetual grievance,
generating life-long impotent protestations? Presumably there are
possibilities the thoughts of which fascinate our author and his
congeners in this, to our mind, vain campaign in the cause of social
retrogression. But, be the incentives what they may, it might not be
amiss on our [127] part to suggest to those impelled by them that the
ignoring of Negro opinion in their calculations, though not only
possible but easily practised fifty years ago, is a portentous
blunder at the present time. Verbum sapienti.

Mr. Froude must see that he has set about his Negro-repression
campaign in too blundering a fashion. He evidently expects to be
able to throw dust into the eyes of the intelligent world, juggler-
wise, through the agency of the mighty pronoun US, as representing
the entire Anglo-Saxon race, in his advocacy of the now scarcely
intelligible pretensions of a little coterie of Her Majesty's
subjects in the West Indies. These gentry are hostile, he urges, to
the presence of progressive Negroes on the soil of the tropics! Yet
are these self-same Negroes not only natives, but active improvers
and embellishers of that very soil. We cannot help concluding that
this impotent grudge has sprung out of the additional fact that these
identical Negroes constitute also a living refutation of the sinister
predictions ventured upon generally against their race, with frantic
recklessness, even within the last three decades, by affrighted
slave-holders, of whose ravings Mr. Froude's book is only a [128]
diluted echo, out of season and outrageous to the conscience of
modern civilization.

It is patent, then, that the matters which Mr. Froude has sought to
force up to the dignity of genetic rivalship, has nothing of that
importance about it. His US, between whom and the Negro subjects of
Great Britain the gulf of colour lies, comprises, as he himself owns,
an outnumbered and, as we hope to prove later on, a not over-
creditable little clique of Anglo-Saxon lineage. The real US who
have started ahead of the Negroes, "through the training and
discipline of centuries," are assuredly not anything like
"represented" by the few pretentious incapables who, instead of
conquering predominance, as they who deserve it always do, like men,
are whimpering like babies after dearly coveted but utterly
unattainable enjoyments--to be had at the expense of the interests of
the Negroes whom they, rather amusingly, affect to despise. When Mr.
Froude shall have become able to present for the world's
contemplation a question respecting which the Anglo-Saxon family, in
its grand world-wide predominance, and the African family, in its yet
feeble, albeit promising, incipience of self-adjustment, shall [129]
actually be competitors, then, and only then, will it be time to
accept the outlook as serious. But when, as in the present case, he
invokes the whole prestige of the Anglo-Saxon race in favour of the
untenable pretensions of a few blasés of that race, and that to the
social and political detriment of tens of thousands of black fellow-
subjects, it is high time that the common sense of civilization
should laugh him out of court. The US who are flourishing, or
pining, as the case may be, in the British West Indies--by favour of
the Colonial Office on the former hypothesis, or, on the second,
through the misdirection of their own faculties--do not, and, in the
very nature of things, cannot in any race take the lead of any set of
men endowed with virile attributes, the conditions of the contest
being on all sides identical.

Pass we onward to extract and comment on other passages in this very
engaging section of Mr. Froude's book. On the same page (125) he

"The African Blacks have been free enough for thousands, perhaps for
ten thousands of years, and it has been the absence of restraint
which has prevented them from becoming civilized."

[130] All this, perhaps, is quite true, and, in the absence of
positive evidence to the contrary of our author's dogmatic
assertions, we save time by allowing him all the benefit he can
derive from whatever weight they might carry.

"Generation has followed generation, and the children are as like
their fathers as the successive generations of apes."

To this we can have nothing to object; especially in view of what the
writer goes on to say, and that on his own side of the hedge--
somewhat qualified though his admission may be:--"The whites, it is
likely enough, succeeded one another with the same similarity for a
series of ages." Our speculator grows profoundly philosophic here;
and in this mood thus entertains his readers in a strain which,
though deep, we shall strive to find clear:--

"It is now supposed that human race has been on the planet for a
hundred thousand years at least; and the first traces of civilization
cannot be thrown back at furthest beyond six thousand. During all
this time mankind went on treading in the same steps, century after
century making no more advance than the birds and beasts."

[131] In all this there is nothing that can usefully be taken
exception to; for speculation and conjecture, if plausible and
attractive, are free to revel whenever written documents and the
unmistakable indications of the earth's crust are both entirely at
fault. Warming up with his theme, Mr. Froude gets somewhat ambiguous
in the very next sentence. Says he:--

"In Egypt or India or one knows not where, accident or natural
development quickened into life our moral and intellectual faculties;
and these faculties have grown into what we now experience, not in
the freedom in which the modern takes delight, but under the sharp
rule of the strong over the weak, of the wise over the unwise."

Our author, as we see, begins his above quoted deliverance quite at a
loss with regard to the agency to which the incipience, growth, and
fructification of man's faculties should be attributed. "Accident,"
"natural development," he suggests, quickened the human faculties
into the progressive achievements which they have accomplished. But
then, wherefore is this writer so forcible, so confident in his
prophecies regarding Negroes and their future temporal condition
[132] and proceedings, since it is "accident," and "accident" only,
that must determine their fulfilment? Has he so securely bound the
fickle divinity to his service as to be certain of its agency in the
realization of his forecasts? And if so, where then would be the
fortuitousness that is the very essence of occurrences that glide,
undesigned, unexpected, unforeseen, into the domain of Fact, and
become material for History? So far as we feel capable of
intelligently meditating on questions of this inscrutable nature, we
are forced to conclude that since "natural development" could be so
regular, so continuous, and withal so efficient, in the production of
the marvellous results that we daily contemplate, there must be
existent and in operation--as, for instance, in the case of the
uniformity characterizing for ages successive generations of mankind,
as above adduced by our philosopher himself--some controlling LAW,
according and subject to which no check has marred the harmonious
progression, or prevented the consummations that have crowned the
normal exercise of human energy, intellectual as well as physical.

The sharp rule of the strong over the [133] weak," is the first
clause of the Carlylean-sounding phrase which embodies the requisite
conditions for satisfactory human development. The terms expressive
of these conditions, however, while certainly suggesting and
embracing the beneficent, elevating influence and discipline of
European civilization, such as we know and appreciate it, do not by
any means exclude the domination of Mr. Legree or any other typical
man-monster, whose power over his fellow-creatures is at once a
calamity to the victims and a disgrace to the community tolerating
not only its exercise, but the very possibility of its existence.
The sharp rule of "the wise over the unwise," is the closing section
of the recommendation to ensure man's effective development. Not
even savages hesitate to defer in all their important designs to the
sought-for guidance of superior judgments. But in the case of us
West Indian Blacks, to whom Mr. Froude's doctrine here has a special
reference, is it suggested by him that the bidders for predominance
over us on the purely epidermal, the white skin, ground, are ipso
facto the monopolists of directing wisdom? It surely cannot be so;
for Mr. Froude's own chapters regarding both the [134] nomination by
Downing Street of future Colonial office-holders and the disorganized
mental and moral condition of the indigenous representatives--as he
calls them!--of his country in these climes, preclude the possibility
that the reference regarding the wise can be to them. Now since this
is so, we really cannot see why the pains should have been taken to
indite the above truism, to the truth whereof, under every normal or
legitimate circumstance, the veriest barbarian, by spontaneously
resorting to and cheerfully abiding by it, is among the first to
secure practical effect.

"Our own Anglo-Saxon race," continues our author, "has been capable
of self-government only after a thousand years of civil and spiritual
authority. European government, European instruction, continued
steadily till his natural tendencies are superseded by higher
instincts, may shorten the probation period of the negro. Individual
blacks of exceptional quality, like Frederick Douglass in America, or
the Chief Justice of Barbados, will avail themselves of opportunities
to rise, and the freest opportunity OUGHT TO BE offered them." Here
we are reminded of the dogma laid down by a certain [135] class of
ethnologists, to the effect that intellectuality, when displayed by a
person of mixed European and African blood, must always be assigned
to the European side of the parentage; and in the foregoing citation
our author speaks of two personages undoubtedly belonging to the
class embraced in the above dogma. Three specific objections may,
therefore, be urged against the statements which we have indicated in
the above quotation. First and foremost, neither Judge Reeves nor
Mr. Fred Douglass is a black man, as Mr. Froude inaccurately
represents each of them to be. The former is of mixed blood, to what
degree we are not adepts enough to determine; and the latter, if his
portrait and those who have personally seen him mislead us not, is a
decidedly fair man.

We, of course, do not for a moment imagine that either of those
eminent descendants of Ham cares a jot about the settlement of this
question, which doubtless would appear very trivial to both. But as
our author's crusade is against the Negro--by which we understand the
undiluted African descendant, the pure Negro, as he singularly
describes Chief Justice Reeves--our anxiety is to show that there
exist, both [136] in the West Indies and in the United States, scores
of genuine black men to whom neither of these two distinguished
patriots would, for one instant, hesitate to concede any claim to
equality in intellectual and social excellence. The second exception
which we take is, as we have already shown in a previous page, to the
persistent lugging in of America by Mr. Froude, doubtless to keep his
political countrymen in countenance with regard to the Negro
question. We have already pointed out the futility of this
proceeding on our author's part, and suggested how damaging it might
prove to the cause he is striving to uphold. "Blacks of exceptional
quality," like the two gentlemen he has specially mentioned, "will
avail themselves of opportunities to rise." Most certainly they
will, Mr. Froude--but, for the present, only in America, where those
opportunities are really free and open to all. There no parasitical
non-workers are to be found, eager to eat bread, but in the sweat of
other people's brows; no impecunious title-bearers; no importunate
bores, nor other similar characters whom the Government there would
regard it as their duty "to provide for"--by quartering them on the
revenues [137] of Colonial dependencies. But in the British Crown--
or rather "Anglo-West Indian"--governed Colonies, has it ever been,
can it ever be, thus ordered? Our author's description of the
exigencies that compel injustice to be done in order to requite, or
perhaps to secure, Parliamentary support, coupled with his account of
the bitter animus against the coloured race that rankles in the bosom
of his "Englishmen in the West Indies," sufficiently proves the utter
hypocrisy of his recommendation, that the freest opportunities should
be offered to Blacks of the said exceptional order. The very wording
of Mr. Froude's recommendation is disingenuous. It is one stone sped
at two birds, and which, most naturally, has missed them both.

Mr. Froude knew perfectly well that, twenty-five years before he
wrote his book, America had thrown open the way to public advancement
to the Blacks, as it had been previously free to Whites alone. His
use of "should be offered," instead of "are offered," betrays his
consciousness that, at the time he was writing, the offering of any
opportunities of the kind he suggests was a thing still to be desired
under British jurisdiction. The third objection [138] which we
shall take to Mr. Froude's bracketing of the cases of Mr. Fred
Douglass and of Judge Reeves together, is that, when closely
examined, the two cases can be distinctly seen to be not in any way
parallel. The applause which our author indirectly bids for on
behalf of British Colonial liberality in the instance of Mr. Reeves
would be the grossest mockery, if accorded in any sense other than we
shall proceed to show. Fred Douglass was born and bred a slave in
one of the Southern States of the Union, and regained his freedom by
flight from bondage, a grown man, and, of course, under the
circumstances, solitary and destitute. He reached the North at a
period when the prejudice of the Whites against men of his race was
so rampant as to constitute a positive mania.

The stern and cruelly logical doctrine, that a Negro had no rights
which white men were bound to respect, was in full blast and
practical exemplification. Yet amidst it all, and despite of it all,
this gifted fugitive conquered his way into the Temple of Knowledge,
and became eminent as an orator, a writer, and a lecturer on
political and general subjects. Hailed abroad [139] as a prodigy,
and received with acclamation into the brotherhood of intelligence,
abstract justice and moral congruity demanded that such a man should
no longer be subject to the shame and abasement of social, legal, and
political proscription. The land of his birth proved herself equal
to this imperative call of civilized Duty, regardless of customs and
the laws, written as well as unwritten, which had doomed to life-long
degradation every member of the progeny of Ham. Recognizing in the
erewhile bondman a born leader of men, America, with the unflinching
directness that has marked her course, whether in good or in evil,
responded with spontaneous loyalty to the inspiration of her highest
instincts. Shamed into compunction and remorse at the solid fame and
general sympathy secured for himself by a son of her soil, whom, in
the wantonness of pride and power, she had denied all fostering care
(not, indeed, for any conscious offending on his part, but by reason
of a natural peculiarity which she had decreed penal), America, like
a repentant mother, stooped from her august seat, and giving with
enthusiasm both hands to the outcast, she helped him to stand forward
and erect, [140] in the dignity of untrammeled manhood, making him,
at the same time, welcome to a place of honour amongst the most
gifted, the worthiest and most favoured of her children.

Chief Justice Reeves, on the other hand, did not enter the world, as
Douglass had done, heir to a lot of intellectual darkness and
legalized social and political proscription. Associated from
adolescence with S. J. Prescod, the greatest leader of popular
opinion whom Barbados has yet produced, Mr. Reeves possessed in his
nature the material to assimilate and reflect in his own principles
and conduct the salient characteristics of his distinguished Mentor.
Arrived in England to study law, he had there the privilege of the
personal acquaintance of Lord Brougham, then one of the Nestors of
the great Emancipation conflict. On returning to his native island,
which he did immediately after his call to the bar, Mr. Reeves sprung
at once into the foremost place, and retained his precedence till his
labours and aspirations were crowned by his obtaining the highest
judicial post in that Colony. For long years before becoming Chief
Justice, Mr. Reeves had conquered for himself the respect and
confidence [141] of all Barbadians--even including the ultra
exclusive "Anglo-West-Indians" of Mr. Froude--by the manful
constitutional stand which, sacrificing official place, he had
successfully made against the threatened abrogation of the Charter of
the Colony, which every class and colour of natives cherish and
revere as a most precious, almost sacred, inheritance. The
successful champion of their menaced liberties found clustering
around him the grateful hearts of all his countrymen, who, in their
hour of dread at the danger of their time-honoured constitution, had
clung in despair to him as the only leader capable of heading the
struggle and leading the people, by wise and constitutional guidance,
to the victory which they desired but could not achieve for

Sir William Robinson, who was sent out as pacificator, saw and took
in at a glance the whole significance of the condition of affairs,
especially in their relation to Mr. Reeves, and vice versâ. With the
unrivalled pre-eminence and predominant personal influence of the
latter, the Colonial Office had possessed more than ample means of
being perfectly familiar. What, then, could be more natural and
consonant with [142] sound policy than that the then acknowledged,
but officially unattached, head of the people (being an eminent
lawyer), should, on the occurrence of a vacancy in the highest
juridical post, be appointed to co-operate with the supreme head of
the Executive? Mr. Reeves was already the chief of the legal body of
the Colony; his appointment, therefore, as Chief Justice amounted to
nothing more than an official ratification of an accomplished and
unalterable fact. Of course, it was no fault of England's that the
eminent culture, political influence, and unapproached legal status
of Mr. Reeves should have coincided exactly with her political
requirements at that crisis, nor yet that she should have utilized a
coincidence which had the double advantage of securing the permanent
services, whilst realizing at the same time the life's aspiration, of
a distinguished British subject. But that Mr. Froude should be
dinning in our ears this case of benefited self-interest, gaining the
amplest reciprocity, both as to service and serviceableness, with the
disinterested spontaneity of America's elevation of Mr. Douglass, is
but another proof of the obliquity of the moral medium through [143]
which he is wont to survey mankind and their concerns.

The distinction between the two marvellous careers which we have been
discussing demands, as it is susceptible of, still sharper
accentuation. In the final success of Reeves, it is the man himself
who confronts one in the unique transcendency and victoriousness of
personal merit. On the other hand, a million times the personal
merit of Reeves combined with his own could have availed Douglass
absolutely nothing in the United States, legal and social proscript
that he was, with public opinion generally on the side of the laws
and usages against him. The very little countries of the world are
proverbial for the production of very great men. But, on the other
hand, narrowness of space favours the concentration and coherence of
the adverse forces that might impede, if they fail of utterly
thwarting, the success which may happen to be grudged by those
possessing the will and the power for its obstruction. In Barbados,
so far as we have heard, read, and seen ourselves of the social ins
and outs of that little sister-colony, the operation of the above
mentioned [144] influences has been, may still be, to a certain
extent, distinctly appreciable. Although in English jurisprudence
there is no law ordaining the proscription, on the ground of race or
colour, of any eligible candidate for social or political
advancement, yet is it notorious that the ethics and practices of the
"Anglo-West Indians"--who, our author has dared to say, represent the
higher type of Englishmen--have, throughout successive generations,
effectually and of course detrimentally operated, as though by a
positive Medo-Persian edict, in a proscriptive sense. It therefore
demanded extraordinary toughness of constitutional fibre, moral,
mental, and, let us add, physical too, to overcome the obstacles
opposed to the progress of merit, too often by persons in
intelligence below contempt, but, in prosperity and accepted
pretension, formidable indeed to fight against and overcome. We
shudder to think of the petty cabals, the underbred indignities,
direct and indirect, which the present eminent Judge had to watch
against, to brush aside, to smile at, in course of his epic strides
towards the highest local pinnacle of his profession. But [145] with
him, as Time has shown, it was all sure and safe.

Providence had endowed him with the powers and temperament that break
down, when opportunity offers, every barrier to the progress of the
gifted and strong and brave. That opportunity, in his particular
case, offered itself in the Confederation crisis. Distracted and
helpless "Anglo-West Indians" thronged to him in imploring crowds,
praying that their beloved Charter should be saved by the exertion of
his incomparable abilities. Save and except Dr. Carrington, there
was not a single member of the dominant section in Barbados whom it
would not be absurd to name even as a near second to him whom all
hailed as the Champion of their Liberties. In the contest to be
waged the victory was not, as it never once has been, reserved to the
SKIN or pedigree of the combatants. The above two matters, which in
the eyes of the ruling "Bims" had, throughout long decades of
undisturbed security, been placed before and above all possible
considerations, gravitated down to their inherent insignificance when
Intellect and Worth were destined to fight out the issue. Mr. [146]
Reeves, whose possession of the essential qualifications was
admittedly greater than that of every colleague, stood, therefore, in
unquestioned supremacy, lord of the political situation, with the
result above stated.

To what we have already pointed out regarding the absolute
impossibility of such an opportunity ever presenting itself in
America to Mr. Douglass, in a political sense, we may now add that,
whereas, in Barbados, for the intellectual equipment needed at the
crisis, Mr. Reeves stood quite alone, there could, in the bosom of
the Union, even in respect of the gifts in which Mr. Douglass was
most brilliant, be no "walking over the course" by him. It was in
the country and time of Bancroft, Irving, Whittier, Longfellow,
Holmes, Bryant, Motley, Henry Clay, Dan Webster, and others of the
laureled phalanx which has added so great and imperishable a lustre
to the literature of the English tongue.

We proceed here another step, and take up a fresh deliverance of our
author's in reference to the granting of the franchise to the black
population of these Colonies. "It is," says Mr. James Anthony
Froude, who is just as prophetic [147] as his prototypes, the slave-
owners of the last half-century, "it is as certain as anything future
can be, that if we give the negroes as a body the political
privileges which we claim for ourselves, they will use them only to
their own injury." The forepart of the above citation reads very
much as if its author wrote it on the principle of raising a ghost
for the mere purpose of laying it. What visionary, what dreamer of
impossible dreams, has ever asked for the Negroes as a body the same
political privileges which are claimed for themselves by Mr. Froude
and others of his countrymen, who are presumably capable of
exercising them? No one in the West Indies has ever done so silly a
thing as to ask for the Negroes as a body that which has not, as
everybody knows, and never will be, conceded to the people of Great
Britain as a body. The demand for Reform in the Crown Colonies--a
demand which our author deliberately misrepresents--is made neither
by nor for the Negro, Mulatto, White, Chinese, nor East Indian. It
is a petition put forward by prominent responsible colonists--the
majority of whom are Whites, and mostly Britons besides.

[148] Their prayer, in which the whole population in these Colonies
most heartily join, is simply and most reasonably that we, the said
Colonies, being an integral portion of the British Empire, and
having, in intelligence and every form of civilized progress,
outgrown the stage of political tutelage, should be accorded some
measure of emancipation therefrom. And thereby we--White, Black,
Mulatto, and all other inhabitants and tax-payers--shall be able to
protect ourselves against the self-seeking and bold indifference to
our interests which seem to be the most cherished expression of our
rulers' official existence. It may be possible (for he has attempted
it), that our new instructor in Colonial ethics and politics, under
the impulsion of skin-superiority, and also of confidence in the
probable success of experiments successfully tried fifty years
before, does really believe in the sensibleness of separating
COLOURS, and representing the wearers of them as being generally
antagonistic to one another in Her Majesty's West Indian Dominions.
How is it then, we may be permitted to ask Mr. Froude, that no
complaint of the sort formulated by him as against the Blacks has
ever been put [149] forward by the thousands of Englishmen,
Scotchmen, Irishmen, and other Europeans who are permanent
inhabitants, proprietors, and tax-payers of these Colonies? The
reason is that Anglo-West Indianism, or rather Colonialism, is the
creed of a few residents sharply divisible into two classes in the
West Indies. Labouring conjointly under race-madness, the first
believes that, as being of the Anglo-Saxon race, they have a right to
crow and dominate in whatever land they chance to find themselves,
though in their own country they or their forefathers had had to be
very dumb dogs indeed. The Colonial Office has for a long time been
responsible for the presence in superior posts of highly salaried
gentry of this category, who have delighted in showing themselves off
as the unquestionable masters of those who supply them with the pay
that gives them the livelihood and position they so ungratefully
requite. These fortunate folk, Mr. Froude avers, are likely to
leave our shores in a huff, bearing off with them the civilizing
influences which their presence so surely guarantees. Go tell to the
marines that the seed of Israel flourishing in the borders of
[150] Misraim will abandon their flourishing district of Goshen
through sensitiveness on account of the idolatry of the devotees of
Isis and Osiris!

The second and less placable class of "Englishmen in the West
Indies," whose final departure our author would have us to believe
would complete the catastrophe to progress in the British Antilles,
is very impalpable indeed. We cannot feel them. We have failed to
even see them. True, Mr. Froude scouts on their behalf the bare
notion of their condescending to meet, on anything like equality, us,
whom he and they pretend (rather anachronistically, at least) to have
been their former slaves, or servants. But where, in the name of
Heaven, where are these sortis de la cuisse de Jupiter, Mr. Froude?
If they are invisible, mourning in impenetrable seclusion over the
impossibility of having, as their fathers had before them, the luxury
of living at the Negroes' expense, shall we Negroes who are in the
sunshine of heaven, prepared to work and win our way, be anywise
troubled in our Jubilee by the drivelling ineptitude which insanely
reminds us of the miseries of those who went before us? We have thus
arrived at the cardinal, [151] essential misrepresentation, out of
scores which compose "The Bow of Ulysses," and upon which its phrases
mainly hinge. Semper eadem--"Always the same"--has been the proud
motto of the mightiest hierarchy that has controlled human action and
shaped the destinies of mankind, no less in material than in ghostly
concerns. Yet is a vast and very beneficial change, due to the
imperious spirit of the times, manifest in the Roman Church. No
longer do the stake, the sword, and the dismal horrors of the
interdict figure as instruments for assuring conformity and
submission to her dogmas. She is now content to rest her claims on
herbeneficence in the past, as attested by noble and imperishable
memorials of her solicitude for the poor and the ignorant, and in
proclaiming the gospel without those ghastly coercives to its
acceptance. Surely such a change, however unpalatable to those who
have been compelled to make it, is most welcome to the outside world
at large. "Always the same" is also, or should be, the device of the
discredited herd whose spokesman Mr. Froude is so proud to be. In
nothing has their historical. character, as shown in the published
literature of their [152] cause up to 1838, exhibited any sign of
amelioration. It cannot be affected by the spirit and the lessons of
the times. Mendacity and a sort of judicial blindness seem to be the
two most salient characteristics by which are to be distinguished
these implacable foes and would-be robbers of human rights and
liberty. But, gracious heavens! what can tempt mortals to incur this
weight of infamy? Wealth and Power? To be (very improbably) a
Croesus or (still more improbably) a Bonaparte, and to perish at the
conventional age, and of vulgar disease, like both? Turpitudes on
the part of sane men, involving the sacrifice of the priceless
attributes of humanity, can be rendered intelligible by the supreme
temporal gains above indicated, but only if exemption from the common
lot of mankind--in the shape of care, disease, and death--were
accompaniments of those prizes.

In favour of slavery, which has for so many centuries desolated the
African family and blighted its every chance of indigenous progress--
of slavery whose abolition our author so ostentatiously regrets--only
one solitary permanent result, extending in every case over [153] a
natural human life, has been paraded by him as a respectable
justification. At page 246, speaking of Negroes met by him during a
stroll which he took at Mandeville, Jamaica, he tells us:--

"The people had black faces; but even they had shaped their manners
in the old English models. The men touched their hats respectfully
(as they eminently did not in Kingston and its environs). The women
smiled and curtsied, and the children looked shy when one spoke to
them. The name of slavery is a horror to us; but there must have
been something human and kindly about it, too, when it left upon the
character the marks of courtesy and good breeding"!

Alas for Africa and the sufferings of her desolated millions, in view
of so light-hearted an assessment as this! Only think of the ages of
outrage, misery, and slaughter--of the countless hecatombs that
Mammon is hereby absolved from having directly exacted, since the
sufficing expiatory outcome of it all has been only "marks of
courtesy and good breeding"! Marks that are displayed, forsooth, by
the survivors of the ghastly experiences or by [154] their
descendants! And yet, granting the appreciable ethical value of the
hat-touching, the smirking and curtseyings of those Blacks to persons
whom they had no reason to suspect of unfriendliness, or whose white
face they may in the white man's country have greeted with a civility
perhaps only prudential, we fail to discover the necessity of the
dreadful agency we have adverted to, for securing the results on
manners which are so warmly commended. African explorers, from Mungo
Park to Livingstone and Stanley, have all borne sufficient testimony
to the world regarding the natural friendliness of the Negro in his
ancestral home, when not under the influence of suspicion, anger, or

It behoves us to repeat (for our detractor is a persistent repeater)
that the cardinal dodge by which Mr. Froude and his few adherents
expect to succeed in obtaining the reversal of the progress of the
coloured population is by misrepresenting the elements, and their
real attitude towards one another, of the sections composing the
British West Indian communities. Everybody knows full well that
Englishmen, Scotchmen, and Irishmen (who are not officials), as [155]
well as Germans, Spaniards, Italians, Portuguese, and other
nationalities, work in unbroken harmony and, more or less, prosper in
these Islands. These are no cherishers of any vain hankering after a
state of things in which men felt not the infamy of living not only
on the unpaid labour, but at the expense of the sufferings, the
blood, and even the life of their fellow-men. These men, honourable
by instinct and of independent spirit, depend on their own resources
for self-advancement in the world--on their capital either of money
in their pockets or of serviceable brains in their heads, energy in
their limbs, and on these alone, either singly or more or less in
combination. These reputable specimens of manhood have created homes
dear to them in these favoured climes; and they, at any rate, being
on the very best terms with all sections of the community in which
their lot is cast, have a common cause as fellow-sufferers under the
régime of Mr. Froude's official "birds of passage." The agitation in
Trinidad tells its own tale. There is not a single black man--though
there should have been many--among the leaders of the movement for
Reform. Nevertheless the honourable [156] and truthful author of
"The English in the West Indies," in order to invent a plausible
pretext for his sinister labours of love on behalf of the poor pro-
slavery survivals, and despite his knowledge that sturdy Britons are
at the head of the agitation, coolly tells the world that it is a
struggle to secure "negro domination."

The further allegation of our author respecting the black man is
curious and, of course, dismally prophetic. As the reader may
perhaps recollect, it is to the effect that granting political power
to the Negroes as a body, equal in scope "to that claimed by Us"
(i.e., Mr. Froude and his friends), would certainly result in the use
of these powers by the Negroes to their own injury. And wherefore?
If Mr. Froude professes to believe--what is a fact--that there is "no
original or congenital difference of capacity" between the white and
the African races, where is the consistency of his urging a
contention which implies inferiority in natural shrewdness, as
regards their own affairs, on the part of black men? Does this
blower of the two extremes of temperature in the same breath pretend
that the average British voter is better informed, can see more
clearly what is for his own advantage, [157] is better able to
assess the relative merits of persons to be entrusted with the
spending of his taxes, and the general management of his interests?
If Mr. Froude means all this, he is at issue not only with his own
specific declaration to the contrary, but with facts of overwhelming
weight and number showing precisely the reverse. We have personally
had frequent opportunities of coming into contact, both in and out of
England, with natives of Great Britain, not of the agricultural order
alone, but very often of the artisan class, whose ignorance of the
commonest matters was as dense as it was discreditable to the land of
their birth and breeding. Are these people included (on account of
having his favourite sine quâ non of a fair skin) in the US of this
apostle of skin-worship, in the indefeasible right to political power
which is denied to Blacks by reason, or rather non-reason, of their

The fact is, that, judging by his own sentiments and those of his
Anglo-West Indian friends, Mr. Froude calculated on producing an
impression in favour of their discreditable views by purposely
keeping out of sight the numerous European and other sufferers under
the yoke [158] which he sneers at seeing described by its proper
appellation of "a degrading tyranny." The prescriptive unfavourable
forecast of our author respecting political power in the hands of the
Blacks may, in our opinion, be hailed as a warrant for its bestowal
by those in whose power that bestowal may be. As a pro-slavery
prophecy, equally dismal and equally confident with the hundreds that
preceded it, this new vaticination may safely be left to be
practically dealt with by the Race, victimized and maligned, whose
real genius and character are purposely belied by those who expect to
be gainers by the process. Invested with political power, the
Negroes, Mr. Froude goes on to assure his readers, "will slide back
into their old condition, and the chance will be gone of lifting them
to the level to which we have no right to say they are incapable of
rising." How touchingly sympathetic! How transcendently liberal and
righteous! But, to speak the truth, is not this solicitude of our
cynical defamer on our behalf, after all, a useless waste of emotion
on his part? Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.+ The tears of the
crocodile are most copious in close view of the banquet on his prey.
This [159] reiterated twaddle of Mr. Froude, in futile and
unseasonable echo of the congenial predictions of his predecessors in
the same line, might be left to receive not only the answer of his
own book to the selfsame talk of the slavers fifty years ago, but
also that of the accumulated refutations which America has furnished
for the last twenty-five years as to the retrograde tendency so
falsely imputed. But, taking it as a serious contention, we find
that it involves a suggestion that the according of electoral votes
to citizens of a certain complexion would, per se and ipso facto,
produce a revulsion and collapse of the entire prevailing
organization and order of a civilized community.

What talismanic virtue this prophet of evil attributes to a vote in
the hand of a Negro out of Barbados, where for years the black man's
vote has been operating, harmlessly enough, Heaven knows, we cannot
imagine. At all events, as sliding back on the part of a community
is a matter which would require some appreciable time, however brief,
let us hope that the authorities charged "to see that the state
receive no detriment" would be vigilant enough and in time to arrest
the evil and vindicate [160] the efficiency of the civilized methods
of self-preservation.

Our author concludes by another reference to Chief Justice Reeves:
"Let British authority die away, and the average black nature, such
as it now is, be left free to assert itself, there will be no more
negroes like him in Barbadoes or anywhere." How the dying away of
British authority in a British Colony is to come to pass, Mr. Froude
does not condescend here explicitly to state. But we are left free
to infer from the whole drift of "The English in the West Indies"
that it will come through the exodus en masse said to be threatened
by his "Anglo-West Indians." Mr. Froude sympathetically justifies
the disgust and exasperation of these reputable folk at the presence
and progress of the race for whose freedom and ultimate elevation
Britain was so lavish of the wealth of her noblest intellects,
besides paying the prodigious money-ransom of TWENTY MILLION pounds
sterling. With regard to our author's talk about "the average black
nature, such as it now exists, being left free to assert itself," and
the dire consequences therefrom to result, we can only feel pity at
the desperate straits to [161] which, in his search for a pretext for
gratuitous slander, a man of our author's capacity has been so
ignominiously reduced. All we can say to him with reference to this
portion of his violent suppositions is that "the average black
nature, such as it now exists," should NOT, in a civilized community,
be left free to assert itself, any more than the average white, the
average brown, the average red, or indeed any average colour of human
nature whatsoever. As self-defence is the first law of nature, it
has followed that every condition of organized society, however
simple or primitive, is furnished with some recognized means of self-
protection against the free assertion of itself by the average nature
of any of its members.

Of course, if things should ever turn out according to Mr. Froude's
desperate hypothesis, it may also happen that there will be no more
Negroes like Mr. justice Reeves in Barbados. But the addition of the
words "or anywhere" to the above statement is just another of those
suppressions of the truth which, absolutely futile though they are,
constitute the only means by which the policy he writes to promote
can possibly be made to [162] appear even tolerable. The assertion
of our author, therefore, standing as it actually does, embracing the
whole world, is nothing less than an audacious absurdity, for there
stand the United States, the French and Spanish islands--not to speak
of the Central and South American Republics, Mexico, and Brazil--all
thronged with black, mixed blood, and even half-breed high officials,
staring him and the whole world in the face.

The above noted suppression of the truth to the detriment of the
obnoxious population recalls a passage wherein the suggestion of what
is not the truth has been resorted to for the same purpose. At page
123 we read: "The disproportion of the two races--always dangerously
large--has increased with ever-gathering velocity since the
emancipation. It is now beyond control on the old lines." The use
of the expletive "dangerously," as suggestive of the truculence of
the people to whom it refers, is critically allowable in view of the
main intention of the author. But what shall we say of the
suggestion contained in the very next sentence, which we have
italicized? We are required by it to understand that in slavery-time
the [163] planters had some organized method, rendered impracticable
by the Emancipation, of checking, for their own personal safety, the
growth of the coloured population. If we, in deference to the
superior mental capacity of our author, admit that self-interest was
no irresistible motive for promoting the growth of the human
"property" on which their prosperity depended, we are yet at liberty
to ask what was the nature of the "old lines" followed for
controlling the increase under discussion. Was it suffocation of the
babes by means of sulphur fumes, the use of beetle-paste, or exposure
on the banks of the Caribbean rivers? In the later case History
evidently lost a chance of self-repetition in the person of some
leader like Moses, the Hebra-Egyptian Spartacus, arising to avenge
and deliver his people.

We now shall note how he proceeds to descant on slavery itself:--
"Slavery," says he, "was a survival from a social order which had
passed away, and slavery could not be continued. IT DOES NOT FOLLOW
THAT per se IT WAS A CRIME. The negroes who were sold to the dealers
in the factories were most of them either slaves already to worse
masters or were servi, servants [164] in the old meaning of the
word, or else criminals, servati or reserved from death. They would
otherwise have been killed, and since the slave trade has been
abolished, are again killed in the too celebrated customs. . . ."

Slavery, as Mr. Froude and the rest of us are bound to discuss it at
present, is by no means susceptible of the gloss which he has
endeavoured, in the above extract, to put on it. The British nation,
in 1834, had to confront and deal with the only species of slavery
which was then within the cognizance of public morals and practical
politics. Doubtless our author, learned and erudite as he is, would
like to transport us to those patriarchal ages when, under theocratic
decrees, the chosen people were authorized to purchase (not to
kidnap) slaves, and keep them as an everlasting inheritance in their
posterity. The slaves so purchased, we know, became members of the
families to which their lot was attached, and were hedged in from
cruel usage by distinct and salutary regulations. This is the only
species of slavery which--with the addition of the old Germanic self-
enslavements and the generally prevailing ancient custom of pledging
one's personal services [165] in liquidation of indebtedness--can be
covered by the singular verdict of noncriminality which our author
has pronounced. He, of course, knows much better than we do what the
condition of slaves was in Greece as well as in Rome. He knows, too,
that the "wild and guilty phantasy that man could hold property in
man," lost nothing of its guilt or its wildness with the lapse of
time and the changes of circumstances which overtook and affected
those reciprocal relations. Every possibility of deterioration,
every circumstance wherein man's fallen nature could revel in its
worst inspirations, reached culmination at the period when the
interference of the world, decreed by Providence, was rendered
imperative by the sufferings of the bondsmen. It is this crisis of
the history of human enslavement that Mr. Froude must talk about, if
he wishes to talk to any purpose on the subject at all. His scoffs
at British "virtuous benevolence," and his imputation of ingratitude
to the Negro in respect of that self-same benevolence, do not refer
to any theocratic, self-contracted, abstract, or idyllic condition of
servitude. They pin his meaning down [166] to that particular phase
when slavery had become not only "the sum," but the very
quintessence, "of all human villainies."

At its then phase, slavery had culminated into being a menace,
portentous and far encroaching, to not only the moral life but the
very civilization of the higher types of the human family, so
debasing and blighting were its effects on those who came into even
tolerating contact with its details. The indescribable atrocities
practised on the slaves, the deplorable sapping of even respectable
principles in owners of both sexes--all these stood forth in their
ineffable hideousness before the uncorrupted gaze of the moral
heroes, sons of Britain and America, and also of other countries,
who, buckling on the armour of civilization and right, fought for the
vindication of them both, through every stern vicissitude, and won
the first grand, ever-memorable victory of 1838, whereof we so
recently celebrated the welcome Jubilee! Oh! it was a combat of
archangels against the legions that Mammon had banded together and
incited to the conflict. But though it was Sharp, Clarkson,
Wilberforce, and the rest [167] of that illustrious host of cultured,
lofty-souled, just, merciful, and beneficent men, who were thus the
saviours, as well as the servants, of society, yet have we seen it
possible for an Englishman of to-day to mouth against their memory
the ineptitudes of their long-vanquished foes, and to flout the
consecrated dead in their graves, as the Boeotian did the living
Pericles in the market-place of Athens!

Why waste words and time on this defamer of his own countrymen, who,
on account of the material gain and the questionable martial glory of
the conquest, eulogizes Warren Hastings, the viceregal plunderer of
India, whilst, in the same breath, he denounces Edmund Burke for
upholding the immutable principles of right and justice! These
principles once, and indubitably now, so precious in their fullest
integrity to the normal British conscience, must henceforth, say Mr.
Froude and his fellow-colonialists, be scored off the moral code of
Britain, since they "do not pay" in tangible pelf, in self-
aggrandisement, or in dazzling prestige.

The statement that many negroes who were sold to the dealers in the
factories were "slaves [168] already to worse masters" is, in the
face of facts which could not possibly have been unknown to him, a
piece of very daring assertion. But this should excite no wonder,
considering that precise and scrupulous accuracy would be fatal to
the discreditable cause to which he so shamelessly proclaims his
adhesion. As being familiar since early childhood with members of
almost every tribe of Africans (mainly from or arriving by way of the
West Coast) who were brought to our West Indies, we are in a position
to contradict the above assertion of Mr. Froude's, its unfaltering
confidence notwithstanding. We have had the Madingoes, Foulahs,
Houssas, Calvers, Gallahs, Karamenties, Yorubas, Aradas, Cangas,
Kroos, Timnehs, Veis, Eboes, Mokoes, Bibis, and Congoes, as the most
numerous and important of the tribal contribution of Africa to the
population of these Colonies. Now, from what we have intimately
learned of these people (excepting the Congoes, who always appeared
to us an inferior tribe to all the others), we unhesitatingly deny
that even three in ten of the whole number were ever slaves in their
own country, in the sense of having been born under any organized
[169] system of servitude. The authentic records relating to the
enslavement of Africans, as a regular systematized traffic, do not
date further back than five centuries ago. It is true that a great
portion of ancient literature and many monuments bear distinct
evidence, all the more impressive because frequently only casual,
that, from the earliest ages, the Africans had shared, in common with
other less civilized peoples, the doom of having to furnish the
menial and servile contingents of the more favoured sections of the
human family. Now, dating from, say, five hundred years ago, which
was long indeed after the disappearance of the old leading empires of
the world, we have (save and except in the case of Arab incursionists
into the Eastern and Northern coasts) no reliable authority for
saying, or even for supposing, that the tribes of the African
interior suffered from the molestations of professional man-hunters.

It was the organization of the West Coast slave traffic towards the
close of the sixteenth century, and the extermination of the
Caribbean aborigines by Spain, soon after Columbus had discovered the
Western Continent, which [170] gave cohesion, system, impetus, and
aggressiveness to the trade in African flesh and blood. Then the
factory dealers did not wait at their seaboard mart, as our author
would have us suppose, for the human merchandize to be brought down
to them. The auri sacra fames, the accursed craving for gain, was
too imperious for that. From the Atlantic border to as far inland as
their emissaries could penetrate, their bribes, in every species of
exchangeable commodities, were scattered among the rapacious chiefs
on the river banks; while these latter, incited as well by native
ferocity as by lust of gain, rushed forth to "make war" on their
neighbours, and to kidnap, for sale to the white purchaser, every
man, woman, and child they could capture amidst the nocturnal flames,
confusion, tumult, and terror resulting from their unexpected
irruption. That the poor people thus captured and sold into foreign
on age were under worse masters than those under whom they, on being
actually bought and becoming slaves, were doomed to experience all
the atrocities that have thrilled with horror the conscience of the
civilized Christian world, is a statement of worse than [171]
childish absurdity. Every one, except Mr. Froude and his fellow-
apologists for slavery, knows that the cruelty of savage potentates
is summary, uncalculating, and, therefore, merciful in its
ebullitions. A head whisked off, brains dashed out, or some other
short form of savage dispatch, is the preferential method of
destruction. With our author's better masters, there was the long,
dreary vicissitude, beginning from the horrors of the capture, and
ending perhaps years upon years after, in some bush or under the lash
of the driver. The intermediate stages of the starvation life of
hunger, chains, and hideous exposure at the barancoon, the stowing
away like herrings on board the noisome ship, the suffocation, the
deck-sores wrought into the body by the attrition of the bonier parts
of the system against the unyielding wood--all these, says Mr.
Froude, were more tolerable than the swift doing away with life under
an African master! Under such, at all events, the care and comfort
suitable to age were strictly provided for, and cheered the advanced
years of the faithful bondsman.

After a good deal of talk, having the same logical value, our author,
in his enthusiasm for [172] slavery, delivers himself thus: "For
myself, I would rather be the slave of a Shakespeare or a Burghley,
than the slave of a majority in the House of Commons, or the slave of
my own folly." Of the four above specified alternatives of
enslavement, it is to be regretted that temperament, or what is more
likely, perhaps, self-interest, has driven him to accept the fourth,
or the latter of the two deprecated yokes, his book being an
irrefutable testimony to the fact. For, most assuredly, it has not
been at the prompting of wisdom that a learned man of unquestionably
brilliant talents and some measure of accorded fame could have
prostituted those talents and tarnished that fame by condescending to
be the literary spokesman of the set for whose miserable benefit he
recommends the statesmen of his country to perjure and compromise
themselves, regardless of inevitable consequences, which the value of
the sectional satisfaction to be thereby given would but very poorly
compensate. Possibly a House of Commons majority, whom this
dermatophilist evidently rates far lower than his "Anglo-West
Indians," might, if he were their Slave, have protected their own
self- [173] respect by restraining him from vicariously scandalizing
them by his effusions.

After this curious boast about his preferences as a hypothetic
bondsman, Mr. Froude proceeds gravely to inform his readers that
"there may be authority yet not slavery; a soldier is not a slave, a
wife is not a slave. . ." and he continues, with a view of utilizing
these platitudes against the obnoxious Negro, by telling us that
persons sustaining the above specified and similar relations "may not
live by their own wills, or emancipate themselves at their own
pleasure from positions in which nature has placed them, or into
which they have themselves voluntarily entered. The negroes of the
West Indies are children, and not yet disobedient children. . . . If
you enforce self-government upon them when they are not asking for
it, you may . . . wilfully drive them back into the condition of
their ancestors, from which the slave-trade was the beginning of
their emancipation."! The words which we have signalized by italics
in the above extract could have been conceived only by a bigot--such
an atrocious sentiment being possible only as the product of mind or
morals [174] wrenched hopelessly out of normal action. All the
remainder of this hashing up of pointless commonplaces has for its
double object a suggestio falsi against us Negroes as a body, and a
diverting of attention, as we have proved before, from the numerous
British claimants of Reform, whose personality Mr. Froude and his
friends would keep out of view, provided their crafty policy has the
result of effectually repressing the hitherto irrepressible, and, as
such, to the "Anglo-West Indian," truly detestable Negro.


158. +Translation: "I fear the Greeks even when they bear gifts."


[175] In heedless formulation of his reasons, if such they should be
termed, for urging tooth and nail the non-according of reform to the
Crown-governed Colonies, our author puts forth this dogmatic
deliverance (p. 123):--

"A West Indian self-governing dominion is possible only with a full
Negro vote. If the whites are to combine, so will the blacks. It
will be a rule by the blacks and for the blacks."

That a constitution for any of our diversely populated Colonies which
may be fit for it is possible only with "a full Negro vote" (to the
extent within the competence of such voting), goes without saying, as
must be the case with every section of the Queen's subjects eligible
for the franchise. The duly qualified Spaniard, [176] Coolie,
Portuguese, or man of any other non-British race, will each thus have
a vote, the same as every Englishman or any other Briton. Why, then,
should the vote of the Negro be so especially a bugbear? It is
because the Negro is the game which our political sportsman is in
full chase of, and determined to hunt down at any cost. Granted,
however, for the sake of argument, that black voters should
preponderate at any election, what then? We are gravely told by this
latter-day Balaam that "If the whites are to combine, so will the
blacks," but he does not say for what purpose.

His sentence, therefore, may be legitimately constructed in full for
him in the only sense which is applicable to the mutual relations
actually existing between those two directly specified sections of
British subjects who he would fain have the world believe live in a
state of active hostility:--"If the whites are to combine for the
Promotion of the general welfare, as many of the foremost of them
have done before and are doing now, so will the blacks also combine
in the support of such whites, and as staunch auxiliaries equally
interested in the furtherance of the same ameliorative [177]
objects." Except in the sense embodied in the foregoing sentence, we
cannot, in these days, conceive with what intent persons of one
section should so specially combine as to compel combination on the
part of persons of any other. The further statement that a
confederation having a full black voting-power would be a government
"by the blacks and for the blacks," is the logical converse of the
now obsolete doctrine of Mr. Froude's inspirers--"a government by
whites should be only for whites." But this formula, however
strenuously insisted on by those who gave it shape, could never,
since even before three decades from the first introduction of
African slaves, be thoroughly put in practice, so completely had
circumstances beyond man's devising or control compelled the altering
of men's minds and methods with regard to the new interests which had
irresistibly forced themselves into importance as vital items in
political arrangements. Nowadays, therefore, that Mr. Froude should
desire to create a state of feeling which had, and could have had, no
existence with regard to the common interests of the inhabitants for
upwards of two full centuries, is [178] evidently an excess of
confidence which can only be truly described as amazing. But, after
all, what does our author mean by the words "a government by the
blacks?" Are we to understand him as suggesting that voting by black
electors would be synonymous with electing black representatives? If
so, he has clearly to learn much more than he has shown that he
lacks, in order to understand and appreciate the vital influences at
work in West Indian affairs. Undoubtedly, being the spokesman of few
who (secretly) avow themselves to be particularly hostile to
Ethiopians, he has done no more than reproduce their sentiments.
For, conscious, as these hankerers after the old "institutions" are,
of being utterly ineligible for the furthering of modern progressive
ideas, they revenge themselves for their supersession on everybody
and everything, save and except their own arrogant stolidity. White
individuals who have part and lot in the various Colonies, with their
hearts and feelings swayed by affections natural to their birth and
earliest associations; and Whites who have come to think the land of
their adoption as dear to themselves as the land of their birth,
entertain no such dread of [179] their fellow-citizens of any other
section, whom they estimate according to intelligence and probity,
and not according to any accident of exterior physique. Every
intelligent black is as shrewd regarding his own interests as our
author himself would be regarding his in the following hypothetical
case: Some fine day, being a youth and a bachelor, he gets wedded,
sets up an establishment, and becomes the owner of a clipper yacht.
For his own service in the above circumstances we give him the credit
to believe that, on the persons specified below applying among others
to him for employment, as chamber-maid and house-servant, and also as
hands for the vessel, he would, in preference to any ordinarily
recommended white applicants, at once engage the two black servant-
girls at President Churchill's in Dominica, the droghermen there as
able seamen, and as cabin-boy the lad amongst them whose precocious
marine skill he has so warmly and justly extolled. It is not because
all these persons are black, but because of the soul-consciousness of
the selector, that they each (were they even blue) had a title to
preferential consideration, his experience and sense of fitness being
[180] their most effectual supporters. Similarly, the Negro voter
would elect representatives whom he knew he could trust for
competency in the management of his affairs, and not persons whose
sole recommendation to him would be the possession of the same kind
of skin. Nor, from what we know of matters in the West Indies, do we
believe that any white man of the class we have eulogized would
hesitate to give his warmest suffrage to any black candidate who he
knew would be a fitting representative of his interests. We could
give examples from almost every West Indian island of white and
coloured men who would be indiscriminately chosen as their candidate
by either section. But the enumeration is needless, as the fact of
the existence of such men is too notorious to require proof.

Mr. Froude states plainly enough (p. 123) that, whereas a whole
thousand years were needed to train and discipline the Anglo-Saxon
race, yet "European government, European instruction, continued
steadily till his natural tendencies are superseded by a higher
instinct, may shorten the probation period of the negro." Let it be
supposed that this period of probation [181] for the Negro should
extend, under such exceptionally favourable circumstances, to any
period less than that which is alleged to have been needed by the
Anglo-Saxon to attain his political manhood--what then are the
prospects held out by Mr. Froude to us and our posterity on our
mastering the training and discipline which he specially recommends
for Blacks? Our author, in view, doubtless, of the rapidity of our
onward progress, and indeed our actual advancement in every respect,
thus answers (pp. 123-4):--"Let a generation or two pass by and carry
away with them the old traditions, and an English governor-general
will be found presiding over a black council, delivering the speeches
made for him by a black prime minister; and how long could this
endure? No English gentleman would consent to occupy so absurd a

And again, more emphatically, on the same point (p. 285):--"No
Englishman, not even a bankrupt peer, would consent to occupy such
position; the blacks themselves would despise him if he did; and if
the governor is to be one of their own race and colour, how long
would such a connection endure?"

[182] It is plainly to be seen from the above two extracts that the
political ethics of our author, being based on race and colour
exclusively, would admit of no conceivable chance of real elevation
to any descendant of Africa, who, being Ethiopian, could not possibly
change his skin. The "old traditions" which Mr. Froude supposes to
be carried away by his hypothetical (white) generations who have
"passed by," we readily infer from his language, rendered impossible
such incarnations of political absurdity as those he depicts. But
what should be thought of the sense, if not indeed the sanity, of a
grave political teacher who prescribes "European government" and
"European education" as the specifics to qualify the Negro for
political emancipation, and who, when these qualifications are
conspicuously mastered by the Negro who has undergone the training,
refuses him the prize, because he is a Negro? We see further that,
in spite of being fit for election to council, and even to be prime
ministers competent to indite governors' messages, the pigment under
our epidermis dooms us to eventual disappointment and a life-long
condition of contempt. Even so is it [183] desired by Mr. Froude and
his clients, and not without a spice of piquancy is their opinion
that for a white ruler to preside and rule over and accept the best
assistance of coloured men, qualified as above stated, would be a
self-degradation too unspeakable for toleration by any Englishman--
"even a bankrupt peer." Unfortunately for Mr. Froude, we can point
him to page 56 of this his very book, where, speaking of Grenada and
deprecating the notion of its official abandonment, our author

"Otherwise they [Negroes] were quiet fellows, and if the politicians
would only let them alone, they would be perfectly contented, and
might eventually, if wisely managed, come to some good. . . . Black
the island was, and black it would remain. The conditions were never
likely to arise which would bring back a European population; but a
governor who was a sensible man, who would reside and use his natural
influence, could manage it with perfect ease."

Here, then, we see that the governor of an entirely black population
may be a sensible man, and yet hold the post. Our author, indeed,
gives the Blacks over whom this sensible governor would hold rule as
being in number [184] just 40,000 souls; and we are therefore bound
to accept the implied suggestion that the dishonour of holding
supremacy over persons of the odious colour begins just as their
number begins to count onward from 40,000! There is quite enough in
the above verbal vagaries of our philosopher to provoke a volume of
comment. But we must pass on to further clauses of this precious
paragraph. Mr. Froude's talent for eating his own words never had a
more striking illustration than here, in his denial of the utility of
native experience as the safest guide a governor could have in the
administration of Colonial affairs. At page 91 he says:--"Among the
public servants of Great Britain there are persons always to be found
fit and willing for posts of honour and difficulty, if a sincere
effort be made to find them."

A post of honour and difficulty, we and all other persons in the
British dominions had all along understood was regarded as such in
the case of functionaries called upon to contend with adverse forces
in the accomplishment of great ends conceived by their superiors.
But we find that, according to Mr. Froude, all the credit that has
hitherto redounded to those [185] who had succeeded in such tasks has
been in reality nothing more than a gilding over of disgrace,
whenever the exertions of such officials had been put forth amongst
persons not wearing a European epidermis. The extension of British
influence and dominion over regions inhabited by races not white is
therefore, on the part of those who promote it, a perverse opening of
arenas for the humiliation and disgrace of British gentlemen, nay,
even of those titled members of the "black sheep" family--bankrupt
peers! As we have seen, however, ample contradiction and refutation
have been considerately furnished by the same objector in this same
volume, as in his praises of the governor just quoted.

The cavil of Mr. Froude about English gentlemen reading messages
penned by black prime ministers applies with double force to English
barristers (who are gentlemen by statute) receiving the law from the
lips of black Judges.

For all that, however, an emergency arose so pressing as to compel
even the colonialism of Barbados to practically and completely refute
this doctrine, by praying for, and submitting with gratitude to, the
supreme headship of a [186] man of the race which our author so
finically depreciates. In addition it may be observed that for a
governor to even consult his prime minister in the matter of
preparing his messages might conceivably be optional, whilst it is
obligatory on all barristers, whether English or otherwise, to defer
to the judge's interpretation of the law in every case--appeal
afterwards being the only remedy. As to the dictum that "the two
races are not equal and will not blend," it is open to the fatal
objection that, having himself proved, with sympathizing pathos, how
the West Indies are now well-nigh denuded of their Anglo-Saxon
inhabitants, Mr. Froude would have us also understand that the
miserable remnant who still complainingly inhabit those islands must,
by doing violence to the understanding, be taken as the whole of the
world-pervading Anglo-Saxon family. The Negroes of the West Indies
number a good deal more than two million souls. Does this suggester
of extravagances mean that the prejudices and vain conceit of the few
dozens whom he champions should be made to override and overbear, in
political arrangements, the serious and solid interests of so many
[187] hundreds of thousands? That "the two races are not equal" is a
statement which no sane man would dispute, but acquiescence in its
truth involves also a distinct understanding that the word race, as
applied in the present case by our author, is a simple accommodation
of terms--a fashion of speech having a very restricted meaning in
this serious discussion.

The Anglo-Saxon race pervades Great Britain, its cradle, and the
Greater Britain extending almost all over the face of the earth,
which is the arena of its activities and marvellous achievements. To
tell us, therefore, as Mr. Froude does, that the handful of
malcontents whose unrespectable grievance he holds up to public
sympathy represents the Anglo-Saxon race, is a grotesque façon de
parler. Taking our author's "Anglo-West Indians" and the people of
Ethiopian descent respectively, it would not be too much to assert,
nor in anywise difficult to prove by facts and figures, that for
every competent individual of the former section in active civilized
employments, the coloured section can put forward at least twenty
thoroughly competent rivals. Yet are these latter the people whom
the classic Mr. [188] Froude wishes to be immolated, root and branch,
in all their highest and dearest interests, in order to secure the
maintenance of "old traditions" which, he tells us, guaranteed for
the dominant cuticle the sacrifice of the happiness of down-trodden
thousands! Referring to his hypothetical confederation with its
black officeholders, our author scornfully asks:---

"And how long would this endure?"

The answer must be that, granting the existence of such a state of
things, its duration would be not more nor less than under white
functionaries. For according to himself (p. 124): "There is no
original or congenital difference of capacity between" the white and
black races, and "with the same chances and the same treatment, . . .
distinguished men would be produced equally from both races."

If, therefore, the black ministers whose hue he so much despises do
possess the training and influence rendering them eligible and
securing their election to the situations we are considering, it must
follow that their tenure of office would be of equal duration with
that of individuals of the white race under the same conditions. Not
content with making himself [189] the mouthpiece of English
gentlemen in this matter, our author, with characteristic hardihood,
obtrudes himself into the same post on behalf of Negroes; saying
that, in the event of even a bankrupt peer accepting the situation of
governor-general over them, "The blacks themselves would despise

Mr. Froude may pertinently be asked here the source whence he derived
his certainty on this point, inasmuch as it is absolutely at variance
with all that is sensible and natural; for surely it is both foolish
and monstrous to suppose that educated men would infer the
degradation of any one from the fact of such a one consenting to
govern and co-operate with themselves for their own welfare. He
further asks on the same subject:--

"And if the governor is to be one of their own race and colour, how
long could such a connection endure?"

Our answer must be the same as with regard to the duration of the
black council and black prime minister carrying out the government
under the same conditions. It must be regretted that no indication
in his book, so far as it professes to deal with facts and with [190]
persons not within the circle of his clients, would justify a belief
that its wanton misstatements have filtrated through a mind entitled
to declare, with the authority of self-consciousness, what a
gentleman would or would not do under given circumstances.

In reiteration of his favourite doctrine of the antagonism between
the black and white races, our author continues on the same page to

"No one, I presume, would advise that the whites of the island should
govern. The relations between the two populations are too
embittered, and equality once established by law, the exclusive
privilege of colour over colour cannot be restored. While slavery
continued, the whites ruled effectively and economically; the blacks
are now as they."

As far as could possibly be endeavoured, every proof has been crowded
into this book in refutation of this favourite allegation of Mr.
Froude's. It is only an idle waste of time to be thus harping on his
colour topic. No one can deserve to govern simply because he is
white, and no one is bound to be subject simply because he is black.
The whole of West [191] Indian history, even after the advent of the
attorney-class, proves this, in spite of the efforts to secure
exclusive white domination at a time when crude political power might
have secured it.

"The relations between the two populations are too embittered," says
Mr. Froude. No doubt his talk on this point would be true, had any
such skin-dominancy as he contemplates been officially established;
but as at present most officials are appointed (locally at least)
according to their merit, and not to their epidermis, nothing is
known of the embittered relations so constantly dinned into our ears.
Whatever bitterness exists is in the minds of those gentry who would
like to be dominant on the cheap condition of showing a simple bodily
accident erected by themselves into an evidence and proof of

"The exclusive privilege of colour over colour cannot be restored."
Never in the history of the British West Indies--must we again state-
-was there any law or usage establishing superiority in privileges
for any section of the community on account of colour. This
statement of fact is also and again an answer to, and refutation of,
the succeeding allegation [192] that, "While slavery continued, the
whites ruled effectively and economically." It will be yet more
clearly shown in a later part of this essay that during slavery, in
fact for upwards of two centuries after its introduction, the West
Indies were ruled by slave-owners, who happened to be of all colours,
the means of purchasing slaves and having a plantation being the one
exclusive consideration in the case. It is, therefore, contrary to
fact to represent the Whites exclusively as ruling, and the Blacks
indiscriminately as subject.

He goes on to say, "There are two classes in the community; their
interests are opposite as they are now understood." As regards the
above, Mr. Froude's attention may be called to the fact that
classification in no department of science has ever been based on
colour, but on relative affinity in certain salient qualities. To
use his own figure, no horse or dog is more or less a horse or dog
because it happens to be white or black. No teacher marshals his
pupils into classes according to any outward physical distinction,
but according to intellectual approximation. In like manner there
has been wealth for hundreds of men of Ethiopic origin, [193] and
poverty for hundreds of men of Caucasian origin, and the reverse in
both cases. We have, therefore, had hundreds of black as well as
white men who, under providential dispensation, belonged to the
class, rich men; while, on the other hand, we have had hundreds of
white men who, under providential dispensation, belonged to the
class, poor men. Similarly, in the composition of a free mixed
community, we have hundreds of both races belonging to the class,
competent and eligible; and hundreds of both races belonging to the
class, incompetent and ineligible: to both of which classes all
possible colours might belong. It is from the first mentioned that
are selected those who are to bear the rule, to which the latter
class is, in the very nature of things, bound to be subject. There
is no government by reason merely of skins. The diversity of
individual intelligence and circumstances is large enough to embrace
the possibility of even children being, in emergencies, the most
competent influencers of opinion and action.

But let us analyse this matter for just a while more. The fatal
objection to all Mr. Froude's advocacy of colour-domination is that
[194] it is futile from being morally unreasonable. In view of the
natural and absolute impossibility of reviving the same external
conditions under which the inordinate deference and submission to
white persons were both logically and inevitably engendered and
maintained, his efforts to talk people into a frame of mind
favourable to his views on this subject are but a melancholy waste of
well-turned sentences. Man's estimate of his fellow-man has not and
never can have any other standard, save and except what is the
outcome of actual circumstances influencing his sentiment. In the
primitive ages, when the fruits of the earth formed the absorbing
object of attention and interest, the men most distinguished for
successful culture of the soil enjoyed, as a consequence, a larger
share than others of popular admiration and esteem. Similarly, among
nomadic tribes, the hunters whose courage coped victoriously with the
wild and ferocious denizens of the forest became the idols of those
who witnessed and were preserved by such sylvan exploits. When men
came at length to venture in ships over the trackless deep in pursuit
of commerce and its gains, the mariner grew important in [195] public
estimation. The pursuit of commerce and its gains led naturally to
the possession of wealth. This, from the quasi-omnipotence with
which it invests men--enabling them not only to command the best
energies, but also, in many cases, to subvert the very principles of
their fellows--has, in the vast majority of cases, an overpowering
sway on human opinion: a sway that will endure till the Millennium
shall have secured for the righteous alone the sovereignty of the
world. Likewise, as cities were founded and constitutions
established, those who were foremost as defenders of the national
interests, on the field of bodily conflict or in the intellectual
arena, became in the eyes of their contemporaries worthiest of
appreciation--and so on of other circumstances through which
particular personal distinctions created claims to preference.

In the special case of the Negroes kidnapped out of Africa into
foreign bondage, the crowning item in their assessment of their alien
enslavers was the utter superiority, over their most redoubtable "big
men," which those enslavers displayed. They actually subjugated and
put in chains, like the commonest peasants, native [196] potentates
at whose very names even the warriorhood of their tribes had been
wont to blench. But far surpassing even this in awful effect was the
doom meted out to the bush-handlers, the medicine-men, the rain-
compellers, erewhile so inscrutably potent for working out the bliss
or the bale of friend or enemy. "Lo, from no mountain-top, from no
ceiba-hollow in the forest recesses, has issued any interposing sign,
any avenging portent, to vindicate the Spirit of Darkness so foully
outraged in the hitherto inviolate person of his chosen minister!
Verily, even the powers of the midnight are impotent against these
invaders from beyond the mighty salt-water! Here, huddled together
in confused, hopeless misery and ruin, lie, fettered and prostrate,
even priest as well as potentate, undistinguishable victims of crude,
unblenching violence, with its climax of nefarious sacrilege. We,
common mortals, therefore, can hope for no deliverance from, or even
succour in, the woful plight thus dismally contrived for us all by
the fair-skinned race who have now become our masters." Such was
naturally the train of thought that ran through those forlorn bosoms.
The formidable death-dealing guns [197] of the invaders, the ships
which had brought them to the African shores, and much besides in
startling contrast to their own condition of utter helplessness, the
Africans at once interpreted to themselves as the manifestation and
inherent attributes of beings of a higher order than man. Their
skin, too, the difference whereof from their own had been accentuated
by many calamitous incidents, was hit upon as the reason of so
crushing an ascendency.

White skin therefore became, in those disconsolate eyes, the symbol
of fearful irresistible power: which impression was not at all
weakened afterwards by the ineffable atrocities of the "middle-
passage." Backed ultimately by their absolute and irresponsible
masterhood at home over the deported Blacks, the European abductors
could easily render permanent in the minds of their captives the
abject terror struck into them by the enormities of which they had
been the victims. Now, the impressions we touched upon before
bringing forward the case of the Negro slaves were mainly produced by
pleasurable circumstances. But of a contrary nature and much more
deeply graven are those sentiments which are the outcome of hopeless
terror [198] and pain. For whilst impressions of the former
character glide into the consciousness through accesses no less
normal than agreeable, the infusion of fear by means of bodily
suffering is a process too violent to be forgotten by minds tortured
and strained to unnatural tension thereby. Such tension, oft-
recurrent and scarcely endurable, leaves behind it recollections
which are in themselves a source of sadness. But time, favoured by a
succession of pleasurable experiences, is a sovereign anodyne to
remembrances of this poignant class. No wonder, then, from our
foregoing detail of facts, that whiteness of skin was both redoubted
and tremblingly crouched to by Negroes on whom Europeans had wrought
such unspeakable calamities. Time, however, and the action of
circumstances, especially in countries subject to Catholic dominion,
soon began to modify the conditions under which this sentiment of
terror had been maintained, and, with those conditions, the very
sentiment itself. For it was not long in the life of many of the
expatriated Africans before numbers of their own race obtained
freedom, and, eventually, wealth sufficient for purchasing black
slaves on their [199] own account. In other respects, too (outwardly
at least), the prosperous career of such individual Blacks could not
fail to induce a revulsion of thought, whereby the attribution of
unapproachable powers exclusively to the Whites became a matter
earnestly reconsidered by the Africans. Centuries of such
reconsideration have produced the natural result in the West Indies.
With the daily competition in intelligence, refinement, and social
and moral distinction, which time and events have brought about
between individuals of the two races, nothing, surely, has resulted,
nor has even been indicated, to re-infuse the ancient colour-dread
into minds which had formerly been forced to entertain it; and still
less to engender it in bosoms to which such a feeling cannot, in the
very nature of things, be an inborn emotion. Now, can Mr. Froude
show us by what process he would be able to infuse in the soul of an
entire population a sentiment which is both unnatural and beyond

The foregoing remarks roughly apply to preeminence given to outward
distinction, and the conditions under which mainly it impresses and
is accepted by men not yet arrived at the [200] essentially
intellectual stage. In the spiritual domain the conditions have ever
been quite different. A belief in the supernatural being inborn in
man, the professors of knowledge and powers beyond natural attainment
were by common consent accorded a distinct and superior
consideration, deemed proper to the sacredness of their progression.
Hence the supremacy of the priestly caste in every age and country of
the world. Potentate as well as peasant have bowed in reverence
before it, as representing and declaring with authority the counsels
of that Being whom all, priest, potentate and peasant alike,
acknowledge and adore, each according to the measure of his inward


[201] The laziness, the incurable idleness, of the Negro, was, both
immediately before their emancipation in 1838, and for long years
after that event, the cuckoo-cry of their white detractors. It was
laziness, pure and simple, which hindered the Negro from exhausting
himself under a tropical sun, toiling at starvation wages to ensure
for his quondam master the means of being an idler himself, with the
additional luxury of rolling in easily come-by wealth. Within the
last twenty years, however, the history of the Black Man, both in the
West Indies and, better still, in the United States of America, has
been a succession of achievements which have converted the charge of
laziness into a baseless and absurd calumny. The repetition of the
charge referred to is, in these [202] waning days of the nineteenth
century, a discredited anachronism, which, however, has no deterring
features for Mr. Froude. As the running down of the Negro was his
cue, he went in boldly for the game, with what result we shall
presently see. At page 239, our author, speaking of the Negro
garden-farms in Jamaica, says:--

"The male proprietors were lounging about smoking. Their wives, as
it was market-day, were tramping into Kingston with their baskets on
their heads. We met them literally in thousands, all merry and
light-hearted, their little ones with little baskets trudging at
their side. Of the lords of the creation we saw, perhaps, one to
each hundred of the women, and he would be riding on mule or donkey,
pipe in mouth and carrying nothing. He would be generally sulky too,
while the ladies, young and old, had a civil word for us, and
curtsied under their loads. Decidedly if there is to be a black
constitution I will give my vote to the women."

To the above direct imputation of indolence, heartlessness, and
moroseness, Mr. Froude appends the following remarks on other moral
characteristics of certain sable peasants at [203] Mandeville,
Jamaica, given on the authority of a police official, who, our author
says, described them as--

"Good-humoured, but not universally honest. They stole cattle, and
would not give evidence against each other. If brought into Court,
they held a pebble in their mouth, being under the impression that
when they were so provided, perjury did not count. Their education
was only skin-deep, and the schools which the Government provided had
not touched their characters at all."

But how could the education so provided be otherwise than futile when
the administration of its details is entirely in the hands of persons
unsympathizing with and utterly despising the Negro? But of this
more anon and elsewhere. We resume Mr. Froude's evidence respecting
the black peasantry. Our author proceeds to admit, on the same
subject, that his informant's duties (as a police official) "brought
him in contact with the unfavourable specimens." He adds:--

"I received a far pleasanter impression from a Moravian minister. . . .
I was particularly glad to see this gentleman, for of the Moravians
[204] every one had spoken well to me. He was not the least
enthusiastic about his poor black sheep, but he said that if they
were not better than the average English labourer, he did not think
them worse. They were called idle; they would work well enough if
they had fair wages and if the wages were paid regularly; but what
could be expected when women servants had but three shillings a week
and found themselves, when the men had but a shilling a day and the
pay was kept in arrear in order that if they came late to work, or if
they came irregularly, it may be kept back or cut down to what the
employer choose to give? Under such conditions ANY man of ANY colour
would prefer to work for himself if he had a garden, or would be idle
if he had none."

Take, again, the following extract regarding the heroism of the
emigrants to the Canal :--

"I walked forward" (on the steamer bound to Jamaica), "after we had
done talking. We had five hundred of the poor creatures on their way
to the Darien pandemonium. The vessel was rolling with a heavy beam
sea. I found the whole mass of them reduced to the condition of the
pigs who used to occupy the fore decks on the Cork and Bristol
packets. They were [205] lying in a confused heap together,
helpless, miserable, without consciousness, apparently, save a sense
in each that he was wretched. Unfortunate brothers-in-law! following
the laws of political economy, and carrying their labour to the
dearest market, where, before a year was out, half of them were to
die. They had souls, too, some of them, and honest and kindly

It surely is refreshing to read the revelation of his first learning
of the possession of a soul by a fellow-human being, thus artlessly
described by one who is said to be an ex-parson. But piquancy is Mr.
Froude's strong point, whatever else he may be found wanting in.

Still, apart from Mr. Froude's direct testimony to the fact that from
year to year, during a long series of years, there has been a
continuous, scarcely ever interrupted emigration of Negroes to the
Spanish mainland, in search of work for a sufficing livelihood for
themselves and their families--and that in the teeth of physical
danger, pestilence, and death--there would be enough indirect
exoneration of the Black Man from that indictment in the wail of Mr.
Froude and his friends regarding the alarming absorption of the lands
of Grenada [206] and Trinidad by sable proprietors. Land cannot be
bought without money, nor can money be possessed except through
labour, and the fact that so many tens of thousand Blacks are now the
happy owners of the soil whereon, in the days so bitterly regretted
by our author, their forefathers' tears, nay, very hearts' blood, had
been caused to flow, ought to silence for ever an accusation, which,
were it even true, would be futile, and, being false, is worse than
disgraceful, coming from the lips of the Eumolpids who would fain
impose a not-to-be-questioned yoke on us poor helots of Ethiopia. It
is said that lying is the vice of slaves; but the ethics of West
Indian would-be mastership assert, on its behalf, that they alone
should enjoy the privilege of resorting to misrepresentation to give
colour, if not solidity, to their pretensions.


[207] Mr. Froude's passing on from matters secular to matters
spiritual and sacred was a transition to be expected in the course of
the grave and complicated discussion which he had volunteered to
initiate. It was, therefore, not without curiosity that his views in
the direction above indicated were sought for and earnestly
scrutinized by us. But worse than in his treatment of purely mundane
subjects, his attitude here is marked by a nonchalant levity which
excites our wonder that even he should have touched upon the
spiritual side of his thesis at all. The idea of the dove sent forth
from the ark fluttering over the heaving swells of the deluge, in
vain endeavour to secure a rest for the soles of its feet, represents
not inaptly the unfortunate predicament of his spirit with regard to
a solid [208] faith on which to repose amid the surges of doubt by
which it is so evidently beset. Yet although this is his obvious
plight with regard to a satisfying belief, he nevertheless
undertakes, with characteristic confidence, to suggest a creed for
the moralization of West Indian Negroes. His language is :--

"A religion, at any rate, which will keep the West Indian blacks from
falling back into devil-worship is still to seek. In spite of the
priests, child-murder and cannibalism have re-appeared in Hayti, but
without them things might have been much worse than they are, and the
preservation of white authority and influence in any form at all may
be better than none."

We discern in the foregoing citation the exercise of a charity that
is unquestionably born of fetish-worship, which, whether it be obeah
generally, or restricted to a mere human skin, can be so powerful an
agent in the formation and retention of beliefs. Hence we see that
our philosopher relies here, in the domain of morals and spiritual
ethics, on a white skin as implicitly as he does on its sovereign
potency in secular politics. The curiousness of the matter lies
mainly in its application to natives [209] of Hayti, of all people in
the world. As a matter of fact we have had our author declaring as
follows, in climax to his oft-repeated predictions about West Indian
Negroes degenerating into the condition of their fellow-Negroes in
the "Black Republic" (p. 285) :--

"Were it worth while, one might draw a picture of an English
governor, with a black parliament and a black ministry, recommending,
by advice of his constitutional ministers, some measure like the
Haytian Land Law."

Now, as the West Indies degenerating into so many white-folk-
detesting Haytis, under our prophet's dreaded supremacy of the
Blacks, is the burden of his book; and as the Land Law in question
distinctly forbids the owning by any white person of even one inch of
the soil of the Republic, it might, but for the above explanation,
have seemed unaccountable, in view of the implacable distrust, not to
say hatred, which this stern prohibition so clearly discloses, that
our author should, nevertheless, rely on the efficacy of white
authority and influence over Haytians.

In continuation of his religious suggestions, he goes on to descant
upon slavery in the [210] fashion which we have elsewhere noticed,
but it may still be proper to add a word or two here regarding this
particular disquisition of his. This we are happy in being able to
do under the guidance of an anterior and more reliable exponent of
ecclesiastical as well as secular obedience on the part of all free
and enlightened men in the present epoch of the world's history:--

"Dogma and Descent, potential twin
Which erst could rein submissive millions in,
Are now spent forces on the eddying surge
Of Thought enfranchised. Agencies emerge
Unhampered by the incubus of dread
Which cramped men's hearts and clogged their onward tread.
Dynasty, Prescription! spectral in these days
When Science points to Thought its surest ways,
And men who scorn obedience when not free
Demand the logic of Authority!
The day of manhood to the world is here,
And ancient homage waxes faint and drear.
. . . . . .
Vision of rapture! See Salvation's plan
'Tis serving God through ceaseless toil for man!"

The lines above quoted are by a West Indian Negro, and explain in
very concise form the attitude of the educated African mind [211]
with reference to the matters they deal with. Mr. Froude is free to
perceive that no special religion patched up from obsolete creeds
could be acceptable to those with whose sentiments the thoughts of
the writer just quoted are in true racial unison. It is preposterous
to expect that the same superstition regarding skin ascendency, which
is now so markedly played out in our Colonies in temporal matters,
could have any weight whatsoever in matters so momentous as morals
and religion. But granting even the possibility of any code of
worldly ethics or of religion being acceptable on the dermal score so
strenuously insisted on by him, it is to be feared that, through
sheer respect for the fitness of things, the intelligent Negro in
search of guidance in faith and morals would fail to recognize in our
author a guide, philosopher, and friend, to be followed without the
most painful misgivings. The Catholic and the Dissenting Churches
which have done so much for the temporal and spiritual advancement of
the Negro, in spite of hindrance and active persecution wherever
these were possible, are, so far as is visible, maintaining their
hold on the adhesion of those who belong to them.

[212] And it cannot be pretended that, among enlightened Africans as
compared with other enlightened people, there have been more grievous
failings off from the scriptural standard of deportment. Possible it
certainly is that considerations akin to, or even identical with,
those relied upon by Mr. Froude might, on the first reception of
Christianity in their exile, have operated effectually upon the minds
of the children of Africa. At that time the evangelizers whose
converts they so readily became possessed the recommendation of
belonging to the dominant caste. Therefore, with the humility proper
to their forlorn condition, the poor bondsmen requited with intense
gratitude such beneficent interest on their behalf, as a
condescension to which people in their hapless situation could have
had no right. But for many long years, the distinction whether of
temporal or of spiritual superiority has ceased to be the monopoly of
any particular class. The master and employer has for far more than
a century and a half been often represented in the West Indies by
some born African or his descendant; and so also has the teacher and
preacher. It is not too much to say that [213] the behaviour of the
liberated slaves throughout the British Antilles, as well as the
deportment of the manumitted four million slaves of the Southern
United States later on, bore glorious testimony to the humanizing
effects which the religion of charity, clutched at and grasped in
fragments, and understood with childlike incompleteness, had produced
within those suffering bosoms.

Nothing has occurred to call for a remodelling of the ordinary moral
and spiritual machinery for the special behoof of Negroes. Religion,
as understood by the best of men, is purely a matter of feeling and
action between man and man--the doing unto others as we would they
should do unto us; and any creed or any doctrine which directly or
indirectly subverts or even weakens this basis is in itself a danger
to the highest welfare of mankind. The simple conventional faith in
God, in Jesus, and in a future state, however modified nowadays, has
still a vitality which can restrain and ennoble its votaries,
provided it be inculcated and received in a befitting spirit. Our
critic, in the plenitude of his familiarity with such matters,
confidently asks :--

[214] "Who is now made wretched by the fear of hell?"

Possibly the belief in the material hell, the decadence of which he
here triumphantly assumes to be so general, may have considerably
diminished; but experience has shown that, with the advance of
refinement, there is a concurrent growth in the intensity of moral
sensibility, whereby the waning terrors of a future material hell are
more than replaced by the agonies of a conscience self-convicted of
wilful violation of the right. The same simple faith has, in its
practical results, been rich in the records of the humble whom it has
exalted; of the poor to whom it has been better than wealth; of the
rich whose stewardship of worldly prosperity it has sanctified; of
the timid whom it has rendered bold; and of the valiant whom it has
raised to a divine heroism--in fine, of miracles of transformation
that have impelled to higher and nobler tendencies and uses the
powers and gifts inherited or acquired by man in his natural state.
They who possess this faith, and cherish it as a priceless
possession, may calmly oppose to the philosophic reasoning against
the existence of [215] a Deity and the rationalness of entreating Him
in prayer, the simple and sufficient declaration, "I believe."
Normal-minded men, sensible of the limitations of human faculties,
never aspire to be wise beyond what is revealed. Whatever might
exist beyond the grave is, so far as man and man in their mutual
relations are concerned, not a subject that discussion can affect or
speculation unravel. To believers it cannot matter whether the
Sermon on the Mount embodies or does not embody the quality of ethics
that the esoteric votaries of Mr. Froude's "new creed" do accept or
even can tolerate. Under the old creed man's sense of duty kindled
in sympathy towards his brother, urging him to achieve by self-
sacrifice every possibility of beneficence; hence the old creed
insured an inward joy as well as "the peace which passeth all
understanding." There can be no room for desiring left, when
receptiveness of blessings overflows; and it is the worthiest
direction of human energy to secure for others that fulness of
fruition. Is not Duty the first, the highest item of moral
consciousness; and is not promoting, according to our best ability,
the welfare of our fellow creatures, the first and [216] most urgent
call of human duty? Can the urgency of such responsibility ever
cease but with the capacity, on our own or on our brother's part, to
do or be done by respectively? Contemptuously ignoring his share of
this solemn responsibility--solemn, whether regarded from a religious
or a purely secular point of view--to observe at least the negative
obligation never to wantonly do or even devise any harm to his
fellows, or indeed any sentient creature, our new apostle affords, in
his light-hearted reversal of the prescriptive methods of civilized
ethics, a woful foretaste of the moral results of the "new, not as
yet crystallized" belief, whose trusted instruments of spiritual
investigation are the telescope and mental analysis, in order to
satisfy the carpings of those who so impress the world with their
superhuman strong-mindedness.

The following is a profound reflection presenting, doubtless, quite a
new revelation to an unsophisticated world, which had so long
submitted in reverential tameness to the self-evident impossibility
of exploring the Infinite:--

"The tendency of popular thought is against [217] the supernatural in
any shape. Far into space as the telescope can search, deep as
analysis can penetrate into mind and consciousness or the forces
which govern natural things, popular thought finds only uniformity
and connection of cause and effect; no sign anywhere of a personal
will which is influenced by prayer or moral motives."

How much to be pitied are the gifted esoterics who, in such a quest,
vainly point their telescopes into the star-thronged firmament, and
plunge their reasoning powers into the abyss of consciousness and
such-like mysteries! The commonplace intellect of the author of
"Night Thoughts" was, if we may so speak, awed into an adoring
rapture which forced from him the exclamation (may believers hail it
as a dogma!)--

"An undevout astronomer is mad!"

Most probably it was in weak submission to some such sentiment as
this that Isaac Newton nowhere in his writings suggests even the
ghost of a doubt of there being a Great Architect of the Universe as
the outcome of his telescopic explorations into the illimitable

[218] It is quite possible, too, that he was, "on insufficient
grounds," perhaps, perfectly satisfied, as a host of other
intellectual mediocrities like himself have been, and even up to now
rather provokingly continue to be, with the very "uniformity and
connection of cause and effect" as visible evidence of there being
not only "a personal will," but a creative and controlling Power as
well. In this connection comes to mind a certain old Book which,
whatever damage Semitic Scholarship and Modern Criticism may succeed
in inflicting on its contents, will always retain for the spiritual
guidance of the world enough and to spare of divine suggestions.
With the prescience which has been the heritage of the inspired in
all ages, one of the writers in that Book, whom we shall now quote,
foresaw, no doubt, the deplorable industry of Mr. Froude and his
protégé "popular thought," whose mouth-piece he has so
characteristically constituted himself, and asks in a tone wherein
solemn warning blends with inquiry: "Canst thou by searching find out
God; canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection!" The rational
among the most loftily endowed of mankind have grasped [219] the
sublime significance of this query, acquiescing reverently in its
scarcely veiled intimation of man's impotence in presence of the task
to which it refers.

But though Mr. Froude's spiritual plight be such as we have just
allowed him to state it, with regard to an object of faith and a
motive of worship, yet let us hear him, in his anxiety to furbish up
a special Negro creed, setting forth the motive for being in a hurry
to anticipate the "crystallization" of his new belief :--

"The new creed, however, not having crystallized as yet into a shape
which can be openly professed, and as without any creed at all the
flesh and the devil might become too powerful, we maintain the old
names, as we maintain the monarchy."

The allusion to the monarchy seems not a very obvious one, as it
parallels the definitive rejection of a spiritual creed with the
theoretical change of ancient notions regarding a concrete fact. At
any rate we have it that his special religion, when concocted and
disseminated, will have the effect of preventing the flesh and the
devil from having too much power over Negroes. The objection to the
[220] devil's sway seems to us to come with queer grace from one who
owes his celebrity chiefly to the production of works teeming with
that peculiar usage of language of which the Enemy of Souls is
credited with the special fatherhood.

No, sir, in the name of the Being regarding whose existence you and
your alleged "popular thought" are so painfully in doubt, we protest
against your right, or that of any other created worm, to formulate
for the special behoof of Negroes any sort of artificial creed
unbelieved in by yourself, having the function and effect of
detective "shadowings" of their souls. Away with your criminal
suggestion of toleration of the hideous orgies of heathenism in Hayti
for the benefit of our future morals in the West Indies, when the
political supremacy which you predict and dread and deprecate shall
have become an accomplished fact. Were any special standard of
spiritual excellence required, our race has, in Josiah Henson and
Sojourner Truth, sufficing models for our men and our women
respectively. Their ideal of Christian life, which we take to be the
true one, is not to be judged of with direct reference to the Deity
whom we cannot [221] see, interrogate, or comprehend, but to its
practical bearing in and on man, whom we can see and have cognizance
of, not only with our physical senses, but by the intimations of the
divinity which abides within us.* We can see, feel, and appreciate
the virtue of a fellow-mortal who consecrates himself to the Divine
idea through untiring exertion for the bettering of the condition of
the world around him, whose agony he makes it his duty, only to
satisfy his burning desire, to mitigate. The fact in its ghastly
reality lies before us that the majority of mankind labour and are
being crushed under the tremendous trinity of Ignorance, Vice, and

It is mainly in the succouring of those who thus suffer that the
vitality of the old creed is manifested in the person of its


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