Also, I think the contribution of search engines in simplifying the research process can't be under estimated. It gives me, and everybody else, the ability to conduct research instantly on our own terms. It's a tremendous leap from what I had to do 10 years ago to find anything out, from knowing who my interview subjects are to where I can get the best BLT in Hollywood, and still, I think the web is in it's infancy. The great hubs of information we've constructed, and the tools to traverse them, like Google, Wikipedia, and Facebook, are only going to get deeper and more resonant as we learn how to communicate over them more effectively. When our collective sources of knowledge improve, we will be better for it and our lives will be more meaningful. Just think about what we can do when these tools are applied to the world's of medicine, science, and art. I can't wait to see what a world full of instant knowledge and open inquiry will bring.
Last year, on the request of my publisher, I started a blog to comment on weird and bizarre examples of supernatural thinking from around the world. From the outset I thought that blogging was a self-indulgent activity but I agreed to give it a whirl to help promote my book. In spite of my initial reluctance I very soon became addicted to feedback. It was not enough to post blogs for some unseen audience. I needed the validation from visitors that my efforts and opinions were appreciated. Within weeks, I had become a numbers junkie looking for more and more hits.
"That these black men, whose featuresbear a nearer similitude to the Europeansthan the negroes of Guinea, are handy,intelligent, and sensible of honour; Intheir own country they apply themselvesto many little handicrafts with great industry; they are passionately fond of dancing and music; their instrument is akind of bow, to which a calibash is fixed;from which they draw a soft kind of harmony,accompanied with songs of their Page 63own composition. Love is always the subject.The girls dance to the song oftheir lovers; the spectators beat time.--These poor people in their own country areextremely hospitable: when a blackin Madagascar is on his journey, he goesinto the first house that suits his exigency,and tho' unknown, the family share theirprovisions with him. He is neither askedwhence he comes or whither he goes:it is the custom of the country. With sucharts and such manners these black peopleare brought to the island Mauritius to labourfor the whites. They are set on shorequite naked, except a rag that covers their loins; the men are ranged on one sideand the women on the other, with theirlittle children, who cling about their motherthro' fear. The planter examines thewhole, and purchases such as suits him.Brothers, sisters, friends, lovers, are separated;they take leave of each otherwith tears, and depart for the plantation.These blacks are naturally of a joyoustemper; but after some years of slaverythey grow melancholy.--The treatmentthey receive from their masters is rigorous;at day break, three cracks of the whipare the signal that calls them towork: each slave appears in the plantationwith their mattock; here they work almost Page 64naked in the heat of the sun. Forthe least neglect they are bound hand andfeet on a ladder; their commander armedwith a postillions whip stands overthem, and gives them on their nakedposteriors fifty, an hundred, or twohundred lashes. Every lash brings off the skin. The poor wretch covered withblood, is let loose, and dragged back tohis work. Some of these miserable creatures on being thus chastised, are not able to sit down for a month after. Thewomen are punished in the same manner.There is a law made by the French kingin their favour, called the black code:this law ordains that at each punishmentthey shall receive no more than thirty lashes;that they shall not be obliged to work on sundays; that they shall have their provision weekly, and theirshirts yearly: but this law is not observed.Sometimes when they grow old, they areturned adrift to get their living as theycan. One day I saw one of them whowas nothing but skin and bone cuttingflesh from a dead horse to eat. It appearedto be one skeleton devouring another.--They have occasionally the consolation of religion proposed to them, and arefrom time to time baptised. They aretold that they are made brethren of the Page 65whites, and shall go to heaven; but theyhardly know how to believe the Europeansshould conduct them to heaven, whilstthey are, they say, the cause of all theirsufferings on earth.--They frequentlyrefuse us, say they, necessary meat andcloaths, and beat us cruelly without reason:of this I have seen many instances.A slave, almost white, threw herself oneday at my feet; her mistress made herrise early and watch late: if she chancedto sleep, she rubbed her mouth with ordure:and if she did not lick her lips, shecommanded her to be whipt; she beggedof me to solicit her pardon, which she obtained.Sometimes the masters of thesewretches grant such request, and withintwo days double their punishment, reckoningin tale of lashes what they had professedlyforgiven. A counsellor of whomsome blacks had complained to the governor,assured me, that tho' they wereexempted from punishment that day, the nexthe would have them slead from head to foot.--In short, when those wretched creatures can no longer support their condition,they sink into despair. Some ofthem put a period to their lives by poisonor a halter: others throw themselves intosome petty boat, without sails, withoutcompass, without provision: in this manner Page 66they hazard a passage of two hundred leagues to return to the island of Madagascar,from whence they were brought.I have known them land there, be retakenand returned to their masters. Ingeneral they take refuge in the woodswhere they are hunted by detachmentsof soldiers, negroes, and dogs. Plantersthere are who make on such occasionsa party of pleasure. They are attackedwith the spear, like wild beasts.When they cannot be reached this waythey are shot. Their heads are cut offand carried in triumph to town on the end of a pole. This is what I have seen almostweekly--I have seen them hangedand broke alive, they went to their punishmentwith pleasure and supported it without complaint. I have seen a woman throw herself voluntarily fromthe ladder. They cry that in anotherworld they shall find a happier life, andthat the father of mankind is not so unjustas man--I have daily beheld men and women whiptin the manner beforedescribed for having broken a pot, or forgot to shut a gate, their bloody limbs afterwards rubbed with vinegar and saltto heal them.--I have seen themin the excess of their anguish unable to cry any longer.--I have seen them Page 67bite the cannon on which they werebound.--I sicken at the recital of thesehorrors.--My eyes ach with feeling them--My ears with hearing them.Here I see poor negro women bending o'ertheir spades, their naked children bound upontheir backs: Miserable creaturesthat tremble as they pass before me.--Sometimes I hear the sound of their drum,but more frequently the sound of whips cracking in the air like the report ofa pistol; and the heart rendingcries of mercy, master mercy.--If theunfortunate creatures would complainthat the laws in their favour are not observedto whom can they complain; their judges are often their greatest tyrants(witness the counsellor before mentioned)It is alleged that without this severity,it is impossible to manage the slaves, youmust have punishments and pains, ironcollars with braces, whips, blocks tobind them by the foot, and chains to go round their necks. They must inshort be treated like beasts, that thewhites may live like men. Can we wonderat reasoning like this? "Where there is injustice in the principle, theremust be inhumanity in the consequence. 2b1af7f3a8