This text is a note to "On the permanent Impression of our Words and Actions on the Globe we inhabit," Chapter IX in Babbage's The Ninth Bridgewater Treatise 2nd ed. (London, 1838), which John van Wyhe, Ph.D., Cambridge University digitized and converted to html in 2001 and which George P. Landow proofed, reformatted, and added links in December 2008.

The following extract is from a report by Captain Hayes to the Admiralty, of a representation made to him respecting one of these vessels

in 1832. "The master having a large cargo of these human beings every particle chained together, with more humanity than his fellows, permitted some of them to come on deck, but still chained together for the benefit of the air; when they immediately commenced jumping overboard, hand in hand, and drowning in couples; and, continued the person (relating the circumstance),' without any cause whatever.' Now, these people were just brought from a situation between decks, and to which they knew they must return, where the scalding perspiration was running from one to the other, covered also with their own filth, and where it is no uncommon occurrence for women to be bringing forth children, and men dying at their side, with full in their view living and dead bodies chained together; and the living, in addition to all their other torments, labouring under the most famishing thirst (being in very few instances allowed more than a pint of water a day);—and, let it not be forgotten, that these unfortunate people had just been torn from their country, their families, their all ! Men dragged from their wives, women from their husbands and children, girls from their mothers, and boys from their fathers ; and yet in this man's eye (for heart and soul he could have had none) there was no cause whatever for jumping overboard and drowning. This, in truth, is a rough picture; but it is not highly coloured. The men are chained in pairs; and, as a proof they are intended so to remain to the end of the voyage, their fetters are not locked, but rivetted by the blacksmith, and as deaths are frequently occurring lining men

[118] of air still floating over the unpeopled earth, and it will record the cruel mandate of the tyrant. Interrogate every wave which breaks unimpeded on ten thousand desolate shores, and it will give evidence of the last gurgle of the waters which closed over the head of his are often for a length of time confined to dead bodies; the living man cannot be released till the blacksmith has performed the operation of cutting the clench of the rivet with his chisel; and I have now an officer on board the Dryad, who, on examining one of these slave vessels, found not only living men chained to dead bodies, but the latter in a putrid state. And we have now a case reported here, which, if true, is too horrible and disgusting to be described."— Parliamentary Paper, 1832, B, pp. 170, 171, as quoted in the Quarterly Review, Dec. 1835.

When the ink was scarcely dry on the paper on which the remarks in the text, suggested by a former description of the atrocities of the slave trade, was written, the following paragraph caught my attention: " slave trade.—His Majesty's ship Thalia, 31, Captain R. Wauchope, has captured on the coast of Africa, two slave vessels—one the Félicité, 611 slaves; the other, the Adalia, with 409 slaves. It appears the latter vessel had been chased by the boats of one of our cruizers, and to avoid being come up with she threw overboard upwards of 150 of the poor wretches who were on board, besides almost all her heavy stores."—Western Luminary, May 1837. [118/119]


Victorian Web Overview Victorian Science

12 December 2008