British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

to the interests of the colonies; it becomes in this case the interest of the West India planters to prevent the increase of cultivation and the breaking up of new lands. The existing stock of negro labourers being sufficient for a cultivation found already too extensive, it naturally occurred that by due attention to management and morals the present number of slaves might be kept up without further importation. And as it is known that on several estates the negro population increases, it is believed that by due management that increase may be made general. His Majesty therefore feels a just confidence that when the first moments of apprehension and alarm shall have subsided, the subject will be considered in its true light, and as the planters must see that a more extensive cultivation will merely tend still more to clog the market and reduce the price of commodities, they will be reconciled to a measure which excites them to a generous attention to their labourers as the surest means to maintain and increase their number. . . .

[He recommends an increase in food production.]

. . . I am also to direct Your Grace to recommend the utmost attention to the increase of marriages among the slaves and to the rearing of the children. . . .

[He calls for an inquiry into tetanus, the cause of so much infant mortality, and expresses the opinion that it may be due to working pregnant or nursing mothers too long.]

. . . It might also be attended with good effect if a premium were held out to the planter who at the expiration of 5 years from the present time should have the greatest number of children alive which shall have been born within the period in proportion to the number of his slaves. . . .


14
MAURITIUS: GOVERNOR ROBERT FARQUHAR TO LORD LIVERPOOL, 15 February 18111

Port Louis, Isle of France.

. . . The subject of slavery is of itself so important, and, as it relates to these colonies now held under a capitulation, is so peculiarly interesting, that I feel it my duty to make it a particular topic of observation.

____________________
1
Parl. Papers, 1812-13 (50), vol. xiii, pp. 241-2. That Farquhar was later elected a Vice-President of the African Institution perhaps explained the unwonted severity with which Buxton attacked him in 1826-8 for culpable negligence in permitting the continuation of the slave trade. It seems likely that Farquhar did not know in February 1811 the contents of the Abolition Act (though Liverpool replied in haste in May to correct him). What is clear is that there was in Mauritius at that period and even later a fairly general determination to disregard it as inconvenient.

-546-

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