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modations for ftrangers; so that he was frequently surrounded by numbers of the neighbouring cowskin gentry; he was remarkably polite and attentive in getting them sprightly bedfellows, for he had a feraglio of fine wenches at command, and was considered the most obliging, simple, good natured, pimple fellow existing.
Little Consequence, a journeyman weaver, had not been fix months a book-keeper, until, through the influence of his brother, a pedagogue, who got the parfonage of one of the best parishes in the isiand, he was preferred to the management of a fine estate in the parish of Vere; the little shuttle-driver, being elevated from the threadle to a cowskin hero, purchased horses, a kitterine, and fine clothes, and was soon honoured with the appellation of the beau planter ; in short, he was the prince and emperor of coxcombs, and was making a fortune rapidly, uncil an unlucky circumstance transpired, which blasted and ruined his reputation ever after. It appeared that Little Consequence was very industriously inclined, and had an uncommon itch for that sort of traffic called higling, which induced him to dispose of part of the sugars and rum privately, also, the plantation stock and stores, until at length these matters were detected, and poor Little Consequence was disbanded in disgrace! I am sorry to say that there are too many Sneaking-Cautions, and Liccle Consequences, in Jamaica, and all over the West Indies.
An overseer should be allowed a generous salary; nor should he be permitted to pamper horses, cattle, nor stock of any kind, to sell or barter for his own emolument; nor should he be intrusted to dispose of any of the estate's produce, least he should be tempted to act dishonestly. I knew many overseers who accumulated very rapidly large properties by retailing rum and stock for the use of the proprietors, and yet to support tolerable good characters, because their villainy was not detected.
I must not omit to mention a very wrong practice of overseers, most injurious to proprietors in general; that is, planting Indian corn, or peas, amongst the canes; it is very evident to the meaneft capacity, that the richest soil will be impoverished more or less, according to the load of vegetables it produces; for every plant extracts its peculiar nourishment from the earth; the nurse who suckles more than one babe at once will exhaust herself, nor can she do them all justice; the fimilie between vegetables and aniinals in this case is nearly the same ; for if that food on which two, or three, meagre animals barely exist was given to one, it might be sufficient to facten it; hence, if that foil on which poor canes and spindly corn grow at once, was alloired to canes or corn only, either might flourish luxuriously. It was a very hrewd and farcaítical saying of a gentleman who had been many years in England, and had left the attorneyship
of his estate to a cabbage-headed gentleman in Kingstown: On his return, finding Indian corn flourishing through the canes (for corn has a luxurious stalk, and has the advantage of canes in quick vegitation) the corn was freed from weeds and carefully moulded, and the canes neglected. Seeing his plantation in such a ruined condition, he with much composure of mind very tamely addressed the overseer, whose name was Fungee, thus : “ Mr. Fungee, I find you are very industrious; you certainly have uncommon abilities, and will make a fine crop of corn to pamper your horses, swine, and poultry! but do not you think them worthless canes rather hurtful to it? Suppose you would order the naves to set in and hoe
. What say you, Mr. Fungee?” Poor Fungee was so confounded that he was incapable to reply; conscious guilt glowed in his face, and indicated the agitations of his avaricious heart; but how miserably was this lofty cowskin hero fallen in two days afterwards, upon receiving a letter directing him to give up charge of the plantation to the bearer, and to quit it immediately.
Now, the real face was this : the cabbageheaded gentleman in Kingstown was related to Fungee, and had been always supplied with mutton, pork, and poultry, also corn in wane loads for his horses and negroes from the estate: he was affected to be deprived of those valuable snacks, and to find his reputation, like a football, kicked about.
It is very customary for overseers to mix the weak and sickly negroes in the same gang with the stout and healthy, and to make them keep up their rows alike; and when any of those mise rable, and probably half-farved wretches lag, to insist on their black deputies to cut and mangle their shrivelled skins, and torture them from morning 'till night, in like manner as if they were mules or oxen! instead of nourishing them with proper food, and dividing them into different gangs, proportioning the work to their abilities and strength. Such overseers deserve not the name of men; they are as bad as hangmen; bar. barous as hottentots, with favage souls. Overseers endeavour to persuade that it must be so, and say that the West Indies would be of no use if severity was not exerted ; and many masters of Naves entertain the same notion, and have as little pity and regard for them as for their oxen, as it is their interest to preserve the lives of both and to get as much labour as possible out of them. Even creole children, as soon as they begin to lisp, are taught to tyrannize over their domestics; thus, cuitom, the despotic ruler of reason, is dead to the voice of humanity, and smothers benevolence and charity.
The company and conversation of overseers, in general, is flat and insipid to all but themlelves, and feldom extends further than that of their vaft consequence and authority over the slaves, their uncommon abilities as planters, their amours
and gallantry with black and tawny wenches; of their insulting tyrannic behaviour to their raw book-keepers, or exposing the blemishes of their absent neighbouring acquaintances; or of corn and cane pieces; and the ways and means they severally practice to deceive the attornies or proprietors; such commonly are the topical subjects of the planting herd.
The life of an overseer is by no means a life of ease or content; though he may at times indulge himself in every vicious practice, yet, while he fits an hour extraordinary after dinner with his friends, he is uneasy in his mind least something is neglected, or he may be surprized by the attorney.
And if men, whose bread depend on plantership, enter into the connubial bond, it will injure them, because it is not pleasing to gentlemen to have families on their estates; a woman quires attendance, and may interfere with the management, so as to influence her husband in the government of the rod; besides, a lovely amiable whice partner would appear as an angel amongst naked rude blacks, and attract her husband to squander that time which should be devoted to plantation duty in a more delightful manner; so that barchelors fare best, on which account they keep black or mongrel girls, and every grovelling overseer and book-keeper is as fashionably wicked as his employer, as Davy says in the play. He