صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

koneft men) who made no remittances at all, though some of them had it in their power to make large ones. The greedy vultures! avaricious fycophants! dishonestly revelled in excess and debauchery, until the properties they were intrusted with were totally fquandered, or fo involved, that they were not worth retrieving. When a man is appointed executor, he gets two or three of his own friends to appraise the estate, (previously embezzling every article he poffibly can with fecrecy) and takes it at the valuation, and makes no remittance until he is compelled by Jaw, by thofe heirs who may be far away, and may not hear of their friend's death for several years; or he brings it to fale, after having taken the chiefeft and choiceft of the effects at the valuation, and purchases it, and then makes no remittance at all for four or five years, fo that the crops, or intereft of the money, pays for the eftate; I do affure you, that many mighty men in councils and affemblies, all over the West Indies, have acquired all their greatness by fuch ignoble fchemes.

"Such mighty heroes that were pigmies born, "Tempt not my envy, but provoke my fcorn."

An attorney to an eftate, or plantation, has a weighty charge; if he was to act fair and honeft, he fhould vifit the plantation frequently, pry into every hole and corner of it, and furprize the manager when he leaft expected his coming, to fee


how he paffed the time, and cultivated the eftate; whether it was loitered in riotous diffipation, with the neighbouring managers, or spent induftriously attentive to his duty; nor should he be deceived by clean intervals, pleafant walks, or artificial work of any kind; he should walk across and through the cane pieces all over the plantation, and fee that they were properly weeded, moulded, hoed and thrashed; for managers are knowing, and artful, and when they supinely pass away time, they commonly prepare for the attorney's coming by trashing the canes feven or eight yards deep along the intervals, and making other deceptions and preparations. An attorney should fee that the work went regularly on in rotation; that the ground was holed in proper time and feason, and the canes planted accordingly; he should be a parent to the whole eftate, flaves, cattle, mules, and other stock; he should visit the boiling-house frequently; ftand at the tack whole hours, at times, to fee how the boilers went on, and when they went wrong direct them and fet them right; he should not fupport managers without merit, to serve his friends, or relations, but prefer the induftrious book-keepers or overfeers in his own employment, whofe merits and long painful fervitude deserved it; in fhort, any man who prefumes to be an attorney, fhould have gone through all the painful toils and drudgeries of an overfeer, for three or four years, and be an experienced planter,

planter, to be capable of doing justice; formerly there were a few honeft impartial attornies in Jamaica, fuch as Sheckle, Beckford, Winde, &c. though originally indented fervants, who could not boast of families or connections, who acted with ftrict integrity, and kept the cowskin herd of managers under them attentive early and late to their duty.

A man by lending a fmall fum of money to a planter in diftrefs, may get the attorneyship of his plantation, and a mortgage thereon by way of fecurity; and it often happens in the end, that the mortgagee poffeffes himself of the whole eftate, whilst the mortgager reflects with horror on his extravagance and folly.

It would be vaftly better for a planter, when diftreffed to answer any preffing demands which may be against him, to fell his eftate at once, or a part of it, than to put it to nurfe (as I may term mortgaging); for it will be woefully foftered indeed, and he will repent, and curfe his fate, when he will have only the name of an eftate, without the profits; for though he be prefent, and every day fees his property going to deftruction, through the neglect of the manager, or through that of the manager and attorney together, he cannot prefume to interfere with the management; nor can he by other means redress this grievance until the mortgage, with intereft, and all cofts, are difcharged. When a mortgagee wishes to get an eftate into his own poffeffion, he


difchages the old manager, and appoints fome indolent lazy fellow (one of his own friends no doubt) in his stead; he gives a large falary, and the estate is neglected; and when it is at a low ebb, the major part of the cane pieces converted into wilds of cattle pastures, a number of the flaves, through hunger and severity, forced to run wild through the mountains and woods, and the late profperous and delightful plantation quite ruined, agreeable to his wifhes; he fwells up an enormous fum of debts, gets out an execution, brings the plantation, flaves, &c. to fale, and purchases them himself, or compounds with the unfortunate proprietor for a few joes, and gets it by this, or fome other base stratagem, into his poffeffion. He then clandeftinely invites all the run-aways to return, and that they fhall be forgiven by their new mafter; by which fervile ftratagem he gets an addition of fo many flaves to his property.

An attorney in Jamaica charges five per cent. commiffion on the net proceeds of the shipments from every plantation which he has the care of; and this, though very high, is but a small part of an attorney's emoluments. He is invested with full power to act as he pleases; nor do the managers correfpond with the proprietors in Europe to check the attorney's proceedings; for the attornies appoint both managers and overfeers, and discharge them at pleasure.

[blocks in formation]

An attorney commonly fupplies himself and friends with horfes, cattle, fheep, poultry, sugar, rum, coffee, corn, &c. &c. from the plantations, and accounts for them as his confcience directs.

An attorney borrows the cattle, mules, and negroes occafionally to work on his own eftate, and returns them at leifure. Some attornies write for larger quantities of ftores than is neceffary, and convert the overplus to their own use; others keep ftores, and take every opportunity of fupplying the eftates in their care with every article at an hundred per cent. advance. As attornies have the fhipments of all the produce, they are courted by the merchants and mafters of veffels to freight their fhips and give them quick difpatch; they get valuable prefents. The following is the nature of a letter from a needy attorney to the proprietor in London.

Dear Sir,

Spanish-Town, 20th June 1781.

I was favoured with yours of the 6th of April, and offerse the contents. The prefent ferves to cover bill of lading for fixty hogfheads of Mufcovado fugar from your Clarendon-hall eftate, per the Eliza, Captain Donally; alfo, bill of lading for fifteen hogfheads from my own eftate, which you will difpofe of, and credit me for the net proceeds. I thought to have shipped forty hogfheads, but the heavy rains have broke up


[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »