Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/639

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WHITE SLAVES IN THE PLANTATIONS.

two neighbors. This last provision was framed to prevent servants, who had been murdered or who had died from the effects of ill-treatment, being buried quietly and the matter hushed up. The owner was bound, under a penalty of ten shillings, to provide each white servant weekly with four pounds of meat, or four pounds of fish, with such vegetables "as may be sufficient." Owners were further bound to give yearly to each man-servant three shirts, three pairs of drawers, three pairs of shoes, three pairs of stockings, and one cap, and to a woman-servant in proportion.

Such was the law governing the relations between bond-servants and their employers in the island of Jamaica, and so far from being exceptional it compares favorably with others. The object of the law was clearly the prolongation of bond-service, most offenses being punishable by additional terms of servitude; and the master consequently had an interest in their committal, and not infrequently provoked the servant to commit them. It can scarcely be believed that any one should knowingly have expatriated himself to serve under such conditions as these in a country which then bore a very unenviable reputation for unhealthiness; and it is fairly certain that those who came voluntarily must have been ignorant of the law; but a very large proportion of the bond-servants were carried off from England by force, and such kidnapped laborers are those who are referred to in the act as persons arriving without a contract or indenture. In 1682 large numbers of laborers were seized in England and shipped to Jamaica, and the fact was so notorious that an order in Council was issued regarding it. In 1685 kidnapping had become very common in Bristol, and young persons, guilty of no offense, were seized, hurried across the Atlantic, and sold for money. Even the city magistrates dabbled in this kind of traffic. At that time many offenses which are now considered very trivial were punishable with death, and it was the practice of the mayor and justices to intimidate persons brought before them, and to induce them, under fear of being hanged, to pray for transportation; the profits of the business being divided among the members of the magistrate's court. In connection with this scandalous abuse, Judge Jeffreys appears for once in a light which is quite novel to most readers of history—viz., as the champion of the liberty of the subject, and a redressor of grievances; for, chancing accidentally, when at Bristol, to discover the proceedings of the mayor, he, when sitting as judge, took the opportunity of denouncing him, and compelled him to plead for mercy at the bar.

Kidnapping was not limited to England, as we learn from the pages of Esquimeling, servant of Morgan, the notorious buccaneer, and author of the History of the Buccaneers, who had him-