7th to 12th Mar 1832

Bahia, Brazil

[Darwin’s diary over these days contains a timely reminder, if reminder is needed this month, of his opinion of slavery].
>
Since the 6th I have been for the greater part of the time in my hammock; my knee continued to swell & was exceedingly painful. To day is the first I have been able to sit up for many hours together. It has been mortifying to see the clear blue sky above my head & not be able to enjoy it. I have heard of interesting geological facts & am disabled from examining them; but instead of grumbling I must think myself lucky in having at all seen the glorious city of Bahia. We have had some festivities on board; the day before yesterday there was a grand dinner on the quarter deck.
>
Cap Paget has paid us numberless visits & is always very amusing: he has mentioned in the presence of those who would if they could have contradicted him, facts about slavery so revolting, that if I had read them in England, I should have placed them to the credulous zeal of well-meaning people: The extent to which the trade is carried on; the ferocity with which it is defended; the respectable (!) people who are concerned in it are far from being exaggerated at home. I have no doubt the actual state of by far the greater part of the slave population is far happier than one would be previously inclined to believe. Interest & any good feelings the proprietor may possess would tend to this. But it is utterly false (as Cap Paget satisfactorily proved) that any, even the very best treated, do not wish to return to their countries. “If I could but see my father & my two sisters once again, I should be happy. I never can forget them.” Such was the expression of one of these people, who are ranked by the polished savages in England as hardly their brethren, even in Gods eyes.
>
From instances I have seen of people so blindly & obstinately prejudiced, who in other points I would credit, on this one I shall never again scruple utterly to disbelieve: As far as my testimony goes, every individual who has the glory of having exerted himself on the subject of slavery, may rely on it his labours are exerted against miseries perhaps even greater than he imagines.

No comments: