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may think, and fay, "My overfeers and drivers will inftruct me-they will direct me, and I will be the cowfkin hero;" in this cafe he will find himself miferably mistaken; for they will fecretly laugh at him, and impofe upon him to his face; when a man is diffident of his abilities, he will act timerously; and when a subordinate perfon knows the ignorance of him who should direct and give inftructions to carry on bufinefs like clock-work, he will take advantages; and knowing his own abilities and value, thinks himfelf entitled to reft and refreshment; and very juftly he is, to as much or more than the ignorant man who is obligated to him for inftruction, and fupported in a more elevated ftation; and thereby the bufinefs is of courfe neglected, and the proprietor in England, through the ignorance of his attorney, or his good nature to fupport one of his poor friends, is materially injured. He that would wish to be a planter, fhould attend the field from morning until night, obferve the nature of different foils, line the ground, keep a journal for his own inftruction, pay ftrict attention to the cattle and mules, learn to drefs them when maimed, to cure them when fick, and to pamper and keep them in good order; he fhould obferve the difpofitions of the flaves, their abilities and ftrength; and in crop time ftand at the coppers, and pack whole hours daily and nightly, and take his monthly spell in the diftill-houfe; but the generality of managers think they have got a proper
knowledge of all thefe, without ever handling a line, ladle, or skimmer. Though I see many a fine house built, I might juft as well attempt, with a few negroe mafons or carpenters, to build an elegant structure, ornamented and decorated in a mechanical manner; or, though I learned the theory of navigation, I might just as well attempt, without any practice at sea, with a few ignorant feamen, to conduct a fhip through the deep and pathlefs ocean to any port in any dif tant clime.
The greatest care and attention of the manager and overfeers during crop are requifite; for the whole produce of the year, which coft fuch vaft labour and expence, go through hands in three or four months; and good or bad management then may affect the proprietor very much.
When I was one of the humble fraternity of book-keepers, or, as they are called in the Windward Islands, overfeers, or negroe-drivers, during crop I never got more than three or four hours fleep out of the twenty-four: when it was my weekly turn to go to bed nightly at eight or nine o'clock, P. M. I was roufed with the dreadful alarm of "fpell's called maffa," at high twelve, and obliged to fit up until eight or nine o'clock next night; or if it was my weekly turn to fit up until twelve at night, I was roufed at five in the morning.
A refpite very fhort to fleep or to wake,
And to play with a yellow, or a black snake *.
Taking off crop is a very laborious piece of business, and yet it is very amazing how cheerfully the negroes begin and go through with it; how, instead of getting weak and meagre, like the cattle and mules, they like rats fatten upon the canes, and flops of liquor, and fyrrup, they get about the works.
The diftill-houfe is commonly annexed to the boiling-house, or very contiguous to it, wherein the cisterns, or vats, for fermenting the skimmings and molaffes are placed. At the beginning of crop great care fhould be taken to have them all fcoured well with lime and hot water, to have trash burnt in them, and fcalded and washed quite clean. As foon as the vat which receives the fkimmings from the boiling-houfe (which are conveyed by a gutter) is full, they are put into a large cooler to cool, from thence let run into the cifterns, or vats; the drofs which remains in the cooler fhould be given to the hogs, and the cooler washed each time. If fkimmings remain ten or twelve hours unfet, they will turn ropy and fpoil, after which, if they are fet, they will prevent the other fweets from yielding a due proportion of rum, and will fet the diftill-house foul, by yielding bad lees; for lees is a principal part of the mixture; and there is a material difference *A name of girls of colour,
in that of good ftrong fermented liquor, and that of bad; five gallons of fkimmings is fuppofed to be equal to one gallon of molaffes; I always found that fourteen gallons of fweets in every hundred gallons of the mixture yielded the best proportion of rum, though fome diftillers use more, and fome lefs.
At the beginning of crop, probably there may not be good lees remaining fince the laft year, in which cafe there must be a greater quantity of skimmings than ufual fet; if there are no molaffes, feventy per cent. of fkimmings, and thirty per cent. of water will anfwer; but if there are molaffes, fifty per cent. of fkimmings, four per cent. molaffes, and forty-fix per cent. of water will answer very well; the mixture always fhould be no more than luke warm when fet; either of those mixtures would ferment, and be fit to distill in feven or eight days.
As foon as the firft charge is run off, the lees are let run into a ciftern for that purpose, from which they are pumped with a copper pump into a large cooler; when they cool and fettle they are then mixed with the fweets, and ferve as yeft or balm in haftening a fermentation. Eight per cent. of molaffes, thirty per cent. of fkimmings, thirty per cent. of lees, and thirtytwo per cent. of water, will, if fet pure and cool as I have mentioned, ferment in a few hours, and be ready to diftill in three or four days, and will yield a good proportion of rum; too much
care cannot be taken to have the fkimmings and lees pure and cool when fet; the liquor fhould be skimmed three or four times daily, and the vats or cifterns, every time when emptied, fhould be washed well; if the mixture when fet is too hot, it will ferment ftrongly for about twentyfour hours, and fall flat fuddenly, and will not yield a due proportion of rum. An accident may happen with the most careful diftiller through hurry, or neglect of negroes; but when a mif- . take or error is once committed, a perfon fhould be cautious to avoid a repetition of the like again; therefore obferve, that when a charge of liquor has been fet too hot, or when ropy fkimmings have been fet, or when any charge does not yield a proper quantity of low wines, to throw the lees of such charges away, and to get the lee ciftern wafhed well; for the lees of any bad charge, as I have already mentioned, will, though fet ever fo pure and cool, fpoil any other mixture they are put to; this I have learned from experience. I have always found that cifterns funk in the floor, rammed well round with tough clay, about five feet fquare, and five feet deep, answer better than vats; they fhould be fixed in rows with covers to them, built fome diftance afunder, fo that a man may walk between them, and fee that they are fcoured and wafhed properly each time, and at one view fee how they all ferment; and it ill be an amufement to him, when they are in a feeming boiling fermentation, to take a skimmer