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British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

more particularly the sect termed Baptists), which had the effect of producing in the minds of the slaves a belief that they could not serve both a spiritual and a temporal master; thereby occasioning them to resist the lawful authority of their temporal, under the delusion of rendering themselves more acceptable to a spiritual, master.

Your Committee further report, that the injury sustained by the late rebellion, by the slaves wilfully setting fire to buildings, by grass and cane-fields destroyed, robbery and plunder of every description, damage done to the present and succeeding crops, the loss of labour of slaves, besides those killed in suppressing such rebellion, and executed after trial as incendiaries, rebels and murderers, has been ascertained by means of Commissioners appointed under an Order of the House, and by the detailed returns made to the Committee in conformity with such Order, to amount to the following sums of money: [a total of £1,154,589. 2s. Id.] ....


39
JAMAICA: LORD GODERICH TO GOVERNOR LORD BELMORE, I March 18321

. . . The documents which your Lordship has transmitted ascribe the recent commotions, not merely to the erroneous belief amongst the slaves that some law had set them free, but to the influence of religious instruction, communicated by ignorant teachers, and received by a population unprepared by any previous education, to apprehend the real spirit of Christianity. . . .

I am not disposed to deny that the work of religious instruction may in some instances have been undertaken by men ill qualified for so arduous a task; and I am even ready, for the sake of argument, to adopt the improbable supposition, that the pure truths of Christianity may occasionally have been adulterated by instructions of a seditious nature. Assume all this to be the case, and what is the proper inference? Not assuredly that the slaves be left to their native superstitions and idolatry, but that renewed exertions should be unremittingly made to diffuse amongst them more just apprehensions of religion, and clearer views of those moral obligations, to the enforcement of which all Christian instruction should be subservient. . . .

I am aware that to persevere in the measures announced in my despatch of 10th December at the present moment, may possibly be described as pregnant with imminent danger. I still however think that His Majesty's Government could not desist from urging the

____________________
1
Parl. Papers, 1831-2 (285), vol. xlvii, pp. 43-48. The Earl of Belmore was Governor of Jamaica from 1829 until 1832 when he was succeeded by the Earl of Mulgrave whose energy, sympathy, and fair-mindedness were in marked contrast to the attitude of his predecessors.

-585-

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