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to him to expose his constitution to the climate, when his salary would barely pay for clothes, much less the doctor's exorbitant bills; nor could such a one go with alacrity through the menial drudgeries of a book-keeper's life for three, four, or five years; 'for he who would wish to be an overseer must serve his time; during which painful period, if he does not humbly cringe, fawn, Aatter, lie and diffemble, 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 griev. ance 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 thousands of circumstances which appearances only can teach; an overseer should be active and industrious, of a steady, fober disposition, humane and charitable, shrewd and discerning in all his remarks and transactions amongst the Naves, as to their dispositions, health, strength, food and raiment; he should not only be a quack in physic, but should have
fome 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 severities to the Naves; 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 savage bumpkin, or filly 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 of a few new negroes, they become proud, infolent, and haughty ;-it is a very true adage" Set a bege gar 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 Naves for the sake of Aloging.
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 say 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 had 270 Naves 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 hogtheads yearly; yet he was supported by the attorney, and made a considerable property in laves. Sneaking Caution was a poor, stupid, filly, narrow-minded animal, of a timid jealous disposition; when he perceived meric in any of his book-keepers (particularly if he could find they had friends), he treacherously exerted every bafe 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 says,
His hair and beard are of a diff'rent dye;
He commonly for the negroes to work at wrong sealons ; to dig cane holes in wet weather, and to plane in drought; and yet he always found excuses to palliate his bad conduct; when the plants did noc 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 seafun, 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 the earth was
away from the young plants; thus the capricious animal went on, constantly pestering the attorney with long and disagreeable letters and journals; he commonly concluded his letter with this cheering comfort: « Notwithstanding « all the calamities this ill-fated plantation has “ fuffered, I hope I will be able to make an hun“ dred hogsheads next crop.” Sneaking Caution, kept some of the best Naves for domestics, to wit, three house-maids, three fempstresses, and two Itout wenches their apprentices, two washerwomen, two cooks, two yomen attending poultry, and two stout wenches allisting them, two Mhepherds, two swine-herds, two fishermen, one fowler, and one attending the warren and pidgeons; here is a list of twenty-four Naves kept from 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 fix Naves are suficient to attend two or three men, and rather too many; he always appointed the stouteft Naves for watchmen, and the Nightest occupations, whilst the weak and meagre only cultivated the plantation ; besides, he had not penetration sufficient to know when Naves were stout and healthy, sick or weakly, poor or hungry, or whether they worked cheerfully, or loitered their time, so that he frequently fogged them without faults, to new his authority ; by which cruel and unmerciful treatment, he forced many to seek shelter in the woods;
there was commonly fourteen or fixteen run away, and four or five of the very best Naves in pursuit of them.
He gave ftrict orders to the watchmen to hide every Nave which they might find breaking the corn or canes ; i. e. to chop and murder them, and bury them fecretly; and when the skeleton of a Nave, 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: “ Longville, “ a worthless fuperanuated Nave, died by eating “ dirt; or East, a distempered worthless run away, o died of a dropsy.”
When the list of Naves with their occupations and condicions 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, " weakly, dropsical, fore legs, yaws, invalid, " run-away.” So that out of two hundred and seventy, he nardly allowed fifty healthy and stout, and all to screen his bad management. He feldom muítered more than seventy in the field, so that he
the estate to an annual expence of £200 or £300 for jobing gangs to afist to cultivate the estare,
Sneaking Caution took special care to plant plenty of Indian corn to pamper his horses, and feed his flaves which were hired on the estate; he always had excellent dinners and good accom