The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 243 pages of information about The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Or Gustavus Vassa, The African.
example of fraud, rapine, and cruelty, and compel them to live with you in a state of war; and yet you complain that they are not honest or faithful!  You stupify them with stripes, and think it necessary to keep them in a state of ignorance; and yet you assert that they are incapable of learning; that their minds are such a barren soil or moor, that culture would be lost on them; and that they come from a climate, where nature, though prodigal of her bounties in a degree unknown to yourselves, has left man alone scant and unfinished, and incapable of enjoying the treasures she has poured out for him!—­An assertion at once impious and absurd.  Why do you use those instruments of torture?  Are they fit to be applied by one rational being to another?  And are ye not struck with shame and mortification, to see the partakers of your nature reduced so low?  But, above all, are there no dangers attending this mode of treatment?  Are you not hourly in dread of an insurrection?  Nor would it be surprising:  for when

“—­No peace is given To us enslav’d, but custody severe; And stripes and arbitrary punishment Inflicted—­What peace can we return?  But to our power, hostility and hate; Untam’d reluctance, and revenge, though slow, Yet ever plotting how the conqueror least May reap his conquest, and may least rejoice In doing what we most in suffering feel.”

But by changing your conduct, and treating your slaves as men, every cause of fear would be banished.  They would be faithful, honest, intelligent and vigorous; and peace, prosperity, and happiness, would attend you.

FOOTNOTES: 

[Footnote O:  Thus was I sacrificed to the envy and resentment of this woman for knowing that the lady whom she had succeeded in my master’s good graces designed to take me into her service; which, had I once got on shore, she would not have been able to prevent.  She felt her pride alarmed at the superiority of her rival in being attended by a black servant:  it was not less to prevent this than to be revenged on me, that she caused the captain to treat me thus cruelly.]

[Footnote P:  “The Dying Negro,” a poem originally published in 1773.  Perhaps it may not be deemed impertinent here to add, that this elegant and pathetic little poem was occasioned, as appears by the advertisement prefixed to it, by the following incident.  “A black, who, a few days before had ran away from his master, and got himself christened, with intent to marry a white woman his fellow-servant, being taken and sent on board a ship in the Thames, took an opportunity of shooting himself through the head.”]

[Footnote Q:  These pisterines are of the value of a shilling.]

[Footnote R:  Mr. Dubury, and many others, Montserrat.]

[Footnote S:  Sir Philip Gibbes, Baronet, Barbadoes.]

[Footnote T:  Benezet’s Account of Guinea, p. 16.]

CHAP.  VI.

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