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to him to expose his constitution to the climate, when his falary would barely pay for clothes, much less the doctor's exorbitant bills; nor could such a one go with alacrity through ths menial drudgeries of a book-keeper's life for three, four, or five years; ^for he who would wist) to be an overseer must serve his time; dur• ing which painful period, if he does not humbly cringe, fawn, flatter, lie and dissemble, and bear all the overseer's insults and reproaches tamely without murmering, he need never expect to succeed; and tho' the overseer be ever so vile a scoundrel, he must not find fault with him; for should a vindictive spirit, which commonly rages in youth, tempt him to complain to the proprietor or attorney, though the grievance and complaint are just, he may depend, as sure as he exists, that the whole fraternity of cowskin heroes will be against him, and ever after will point him out as a dangerous person, and it will be a vain attempt indeed for him to persevere in the planting line afterwards.
The business on a plantation is no way intricate; there are thoufands of circumstances which appearances only can teach; an overseer should be active and industrious, of a steady, sober disposition, humane and charitable, shrewd and, discerning in all his remarks and tranfactions. amongst the slaves, as to their dispositions, health, strength, food and raiment; he should not only be a quack in physic, but should have
som« some knowledge of every trade which concerns a plantation, whereby he might be capacle of conducting business without rigid severity.— Heavens! how few are fit for so weighty a charge!
Men, from their first entrance into the West Indies, are taught to practice seventies to the staves; their minds are impressed by their brother book-keepers, or others, with strange and cruel ideas of the nature of blacks, so that in time their hearts become callous to all tender feelings which soften and dignify our nature; the most insignificant Connought favage bumpkin, or silly Highland gauky, will soon learn to flog without mercy to shew his authority; but when such get elevated to the exalted sphere of overseer or cowskin hero, and get possession os a few new negroes, they become proud, insolent, and haughty ;—it is a very true adage—" Set a beggar on horseback, and he'll ride to the devil."— The first and most essential qualifications such think necessary, is to insult, offend, and injure their raw book-keepers, and to flog and torture the staves for the fake of floging.
I was on many plantations, and am well acquainted with the nature of the cowskin herd; and though I have known several worthy men among them, I am sorry to fay that the major part by far are mean, low-lived, ignorant fellows. Sneaking Caution was an overseer on a fine plantation in the parish of Clarendon,
which which had 270 slaves upon it; and though it commonly produced 300 hogsheads of sugar when superintended by a former overseer, Sneaking Caution could never make it exceed 130 hogsheads yearly; yet he was supported by the attorney, and made » considerable property in (laves. Sneaking Caution was a poor, stupid, filly, narrow-minded animal, of a timid jealous disposition; when he perceived merit in any of his book-keepers (particularly if he could find they had friends), he treacherously exerted every base means to injure them, least they should supplant him or get preferred; but when he chanced to meet an insignificant puppy like himself, they agreed well together. As Dryden fays,
His hn.ir and beard are of a diff'rent dye;
Shew all these tokens of a rogue complete,
He commonly set the negroes to work at wrong fealons; to dig cane holes in wet weather, and to plant in drought; and yet he always found excuses to palliate his bad conduct; when the plants did not thrive, or were burning, he still exclaimed against the elements for not reverting the seasons to water and refresh his plants; and when heavy rains fell in proper season, he was always displeased; the ground was so wet and heavy, that it was very laborious to dig the cane holes, or the best of the canes were lodged, or th« earth was
w allied washed away from the young plants; thus the capricious animal went on, constantly pestering the attorney with long and difagreeable letters and journals; he commonly concluded his letter with this cheering comfort: "Notwithstanding w all the calamities this ill-fated plantation has "suffered, I hope I will be able to make an hun"dred hogsheads next crop." Sneaking Caution, kept some of the best slaves for domestics, to wit, three house-maids, three sempstresses, and two stout wenches their apprentices, two washerwomen, two cooks, two '.vomen attending poultry, and two stout wenches assisting them, two shepherds, two swine-herds, two fishermen, one fowler,and one attending the warren and pidgeonsj here is a list of twenty-four slaves kept front plantation duty every day in the year, to attend a cowskin hero and his two deputies, besides two boys to attend his horses, makes the number twenty-six.- I think that six slaves are sufficient to attend two or three men, and rather too many; he always appointed the stoutest slaves for watchmen, and the flightest occupations, whilst the weak and meagre only cultivated the plantation; besides, he had not penetration sufficient to know when staves were stout and healthy, sick or weakly, poor or hungry, or whether they worked cheersully, or loitered their time, so that he frequently flogged them without faults, to shew his authority; by which cruel and unmercisul treatment, he forced many to seek shelter in the woods;
there there was commonly fourteen or sixteen run away, and sour or five of the very best staves in pursuit os them.
He gave strict orders to the watchmen to hide every slave which they might find breaking the corn or canes; i. e. to chop and murder them, and bury them secretly; and when the skeleton of a stave, who had been "done over" in this manner, (for breaking a cane, the root of which he himself probably planted,) was found, he made an entry in the plantation book thus: M Longville, "a worthless superanuated stave, died by eating '* dirt; or East, a distempered worthless run away, « died of a dropsy."
When the list of staves with their occupations and conditions was made out yearly, to be sent to their master in London, he was very particular in annexing some degrading word to their names; such as "old, infirm, lame, distempered, sickly, «c weakly, dropsical, sore legs, yaws, invalid, "run-away." So that out of two hundred and seventy, he hardly allowed fifty healthy and stout, and all to screen his bad management. He seU dom mustered more than seventy in the field, so that he put the estate to an annual expence of £200 or £300 for jobing gangs to assist to cultivate the estate.
Sneaking Caution took special care to plant plenty of Indian corn to pamper his horses, and feed his Haves which were hired on the estate j he always had excellent dinners and good accom