His Observations Of Life and Manners in the Free and Slave States.
BY J. BENWELL.
Personal narrative and adventure has, of late years, become so
interesting a subject in the mind of the British public, that the author
feels he is not called upon to apologize for the production of the
It was his almost unremitting practice, during the four years he resided
on the North American continent, to keep a record of what he considered
of interest around him; not with a view to publishing the matter thus
collected, for this was far from his thoughts at the time, but through a
long contracted habit of dotting down transpiring events, for the
future amusement, combined, perhaps, with instruction, of himself and
friends. It therefore became necessary, to fit it for publication, to
collate the accumulated memoranda, and select such portions only as
might be supposed to prove interesting to the general reader. In doing
this he has been careful to preserve the phraseology as much as
possible, with a view to give, as far as he could, something like a
literal transcript of the sentiments that gave rise to the original
minutes, and avoid undue addition or interpolation.
It was the wish and intention of the writer, before leaving England, to
extend his travels by visiting some of the islands in the Caribbean Sea,
a course which he regrets not having been able to follow, from
unforeseen circumstances, which are partially related in the following
pages. He laments this the more, as it would have added considerably to
the interest of the work, and enabled him to enlarge upon that fertile
subject, the relative position at the time of the negro race in those
islands, and the demoralized condition of their fellow-countrymen, under
the iniquitous system of slavery, as authorized by statute law, in the
southern states of America. As it was, he was enabled to travel through
the most populous parts of the states of New York and Ohio, proceeding,
_via_ Cincinnati, to the Missouri country; after a brief stay at St.
Louis, taking the direct southern route down the Missouri and
Mississippi rivers, to New Orleans in Louisiana, passing Natchez on the
way. The whole tour comprising upwards of three thousand miles.
From New Orleans he crossed an arm of the Gulf of Mexico to the
Floridas, and after remaining in that territory for a considerable time,
and taking part under a sense of duty in a campaign (more to scatter
than annihilate), against the Seminole and Cherokee tribes of Indians,
who, in conjunction with numberless fugitive slaves, from the districts
a hundred miles round, were devastating the settlements, and
indiscriminately butchering the inhabitants, he returned to Tallahassee,
taking stage at that town to Macon in the state of Georgia, and from
thence by the Greensborough Railway to Charleston in South Carolina,
sailing after rather a prolonged stay, from that port to England.
Some of the incidents related in the following pages will be found to
bear upon, and tend forcibly to corroborate, the miseries so patiently
endured by the African race, in a vaunted land of freedom and
enlightenment, whose inhabitants assert, with ridiculous tenacity, that
their government and laws are based upon the principle, "That all men in
the sight of God are equal," and the wrongs of whose victims have of
late been so touchingly and truthfully illustrated by that eminent
philanthropist, Mrs. Stowe, to the eternal shame of the upholders of the
system, and the fearful incubus of guilt and culpability that will
render for ever infamous, if the policy is persisted in, the nationality
Well may the benevolent Doctor Percival in his day have said, when
writing on the iniquitous system of slave holding and traffic, that
"Life and liberty with the powers of enjoyment dependent on them are the
common and inalienable gifts of bounteous heaven. To seize them by force
is rapine; to exchange for them the wares of Manchester or Birminghan is
improbity, for it is to barter without reciprocal gain, to give the
stones of the brook for the gold of Ophir."
THE ENGLISHMAN IN AMERICA.
"Adieu, adieu! my native shore
Fades o'er the waters blue,
The night-winds sigh, the breakers roar,
And shrieks the wild sea-mew.
Yon sun that sets upon the sea
We follow in his flight;
Farewell awhile to him and thee,
My native Land - Good night!" - BYRON.
Late in the fall of the year 18 - , I embarked on board the ship _Cosmo_,
bound from the port of Bristol to that of New York. The season was
unpropitious, the lingering effects of the autumnal equinox rendering it
more than probable that the passage would be tempestuous. The result
soon proved the correctness of this surmise, for soon after the vessel
departed from Kingroad, and before she got clear of the English coast,
we experienced boisterous weather, which was followed by a succession
of gales, that rendered our situation perilous. But a partial
destruction of the rigging, the loss of some sheep on the deck of the
vessel, and a slight indication of leakage, which was soon remedied by
the carpenter of the ship and his assistants, were happily the only
detrimental consequences arising from the weather.
Our progress on the whole was satisfactory, although, when we arrived
between 48 and 52 degrees north latitude, we narrowly escaped coming in
contact with an enormous iceberg, two of which were descried at daybreak
by the "look-out," floundering majestically a little on the ship's
larboard quarter, not far distant, the alarm being raised by an uproar
on deck that filled my mind with dire apprehension, the lee bulwarks of
the vessel were in five minutes thronged with half-naked passengers, who
had been roused unexpectedly from their slumbers, staring in terror at
the frigid masses which we momentarily feared would overwhelm the ship.
The helm being put up, we were soon out of the threatened danger of a
collision, which would have consigned us to a grave in the wide wide
waters, without the remotest chance of escape.
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