Harriet Tubman Seminar Department of History York University February 28, 2000 The World of Books and the Real World: An Eighteenth-Century Jamaican Perspective Philip D. Morgan



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Harriet Tubman Seminar

Department of History

York University

February 28, 2000


The World of Books and the Real World:

An Eighteenth-Century Jamaican Perspective


Philip D. Morgan

[Not to be cited or quoted without the author's permission]

On July 10, 1750 Thomas Thistlewood, a recent immigrant to Jamaica, was in his modest wattle and daub house learning of life in the tropics. It was night and his room was dark, but he could see himself clearly in a mirror by the light of a single fire-fly, or "shine-eye" as he would later learn the slaves called it, which he held in his hand. The insect's glow cast "a considerable shadow upon the wall." By this means he was able to read the notes to Alexander Pope's Essay on Man. These were William Warburton's rather heavy-handed commentaries appended to the bottom of each page of Pope's poem, in small print, and contained in Thistlewood's unbound, London, 1745 edition, which he had bought five years earlier for 1 shilling and sixpence. Six days after reading Pope, the education of the novice overseer took a less benign turn. In a dramatic spectacle, Thistlewood's employer had the estate driver, a mulatto slave, "bound to an Orange Tree" and lashed near three hundred times. Three weeks after witnessing this savage beating, Thistlewood exploited his new-found power to engage in his first sexual act with a slave woman. At night, in his house, Thistlewood took to his bed a Central African woman (a "Congo"), herself a recent immigrant, who had the dubious distinction of being the first, but by no means the last, female slave that Thistlewood would sexually exploit.1

Juxtaposing these three events and broader themes--reading books, punishing slaves, and sexually exploiting black women--will, I contend, illuminate the dynamics of Jamaican slave society. The conjunction is haunting: the high-minded reading of Pope's poem, which, according to Voltaire, was "the most beautiful, the most useful, and the most sublime didactic poem ever written in any language," with its metaphysical speculations on the attributes of divine nature and its careful assessment of man's compound nature, together with Warburton's explanatory glosses and references all intended to "vindicate the ways of God"; then the descent into barbarity and savagery, with the spectacle of brutal whippings, hundreds of lashes, rapes, and bodily exploitation. The commingling may seem incongruous, trying to join two distinct and separate genres of history: the history of the book and the history of slavery. But if the intent is to understand how people gained information and how they behaved, how they fit together different strands of their lives, then the linkage is worth attempting.2


Underlying the aim of connecting these seemingly disparate worlds is a more subterranean argument. The theme of this paper is one of boundaries that are distinct and yet fluid, fixed yet permeable. Just as people got their information from much more than books, so slavery involved much more than naked oppression. It would be facile to deny the authority of print but print culture embraced high and low, learned and popular, classics and chapbooks, handwritten and letterpress products. Similarly, it would be absurd to underestimate the authority of masters but the world of slavery encompassed dominance and subversion, control and contest, hierarchy and appropriation. The history of the book and of slavery, then, have something in common: they are about power and hegemony but also about exchange and negotiation.3
The setting is southwestern Jamaica, one of the most dynamic sugar-growing regions not just in the island, but in the whole Caribbean. Westmoreland Parish where Thistlewood lived for thirty-five years was a premier sugar-producing region. For sixteen years--from 1751 to 1767--he worked as an overseer on a sugar plantation; for the next nineteen years, to his death in 1786, he was a small-time proprietor (penkeeper in local parlance) and slaveowner, servicing the great sugar estates. For over half his life, then, Thistlewood inhabited, and participated either directly or indirectly in, some of the most lethal killing fields of the eighteenth-century Atlantic world. He also lived just a few miles, an easy horseride away, from Savanna-la-Mar, the main port in the southwestern part of the island. Boasting a fort, a courthouse, a church, a few shops, and warehouses, Sav-la-Mar, as it was popularly known, was a sleepy place of some sixty houses when Thistlewood first arrived, growing to about 100 houses by his death. Little more than an overgrown village, nevertheless it was the region's lifeline to shipping, to the outside world, to the metropolis, and to print culture. This small provincial corner of a tropical island is a useful perch from which to probe the relationship of gentility and savagery, civilization and barbarity at the heart of the eighteenth-century Atlantic world.4
A twenty-nine-year-old younger son of a Lincolnshire farmer, Thistlewood arrived in Jamaica with more possessions and more education than most immigrants. Accompanying him were three sea chests and a box containing a large library for a man in his lowly position. He transported 171 books, magazines and maps to Jamaica. His was not a grand library: only two volumes were folios; cheap, small-sized, unbound books dominated his collection. Thistlewood's tastes were eclectic: poetry topped the list, followed by religion, geography, the classics, astronomy, and almanacs. The dominant feature of his library was its utilitarian character: there were books on fishing, playing cards, navigation, agriculture, medicine, surveying, various handbooks, and self-help books. There were no novels, although works of travel, history, and natural history were thinly represented. Louis Wright's characterization of colonial readers as "purposeful," reading to meet specific needs, is borne out in Thistlewood's library. As with Pope's Essay, many of his books supplied Thistlwood with guides to the conduct of a moral life.5
Thistlewood regularly added to his collection during his years in Jamaica. Occasionally, he bought items printed on the island, products of Jamaica's three presses. Six percent of his purchases made at local booksellers were Jamaican imprints. Every year, he bought a local almanac. He also purchased locally printed acts. A locally produced pamphlet literature--on making sugar, or the state of the militia, or disputes among local gentlement--also circulated among Thistlewood and his friends.6
More often than buying locally, Thistlewood ordered books from London through an overseas merchant. The volume by weight of books sent to the West Indies in the eighteenth century surpassed that sent to New England. A robust island market in books existed. The hegemony of the metropolis was real in eighteenth-century Jamaica. Books published in London formed 90 percent of Thistlewood's purchases.7
For a time, Thistlewood went into the bookselling business. In 1751 a merchant advised him that annual supplies of books sold well on the island, noting that L50 worth of books "were soon all gone." The merchant recommended "Chiefly history, poetry, &c. all books of entertainment." Seven years later, Thistlewood began acting on this advice, importing about ten to twenty books a year, including histories, poetry, and magazines, novels, as well as more utilitarian books--on agricultural husbandry, cookery, the extermination of rats--which he sometimes sold but increasingly simply lent to friends and acquaintances. The "steady sellers" in the Jamaican market were fairly predictable: Lord Chesterfield's Letters, Smollet's Roderick Random, Fielding's Joseph Andrews, Richardson's Sir Charles Grandison, and the like.8
But Thistlewood always bought books more for his own interest than for resale. As a result, by 1777, when he listed his books in meticulous detail, his library had more than doubled. In that year he possessed just over 400 titles and over 800 volumes. He continued to purchase about twenty titles a year for the rest of his life, so by the time of his death his library totalled just under 600 titles and about 1100 volumes. In fact, however, successive hurricanes in the 1780s badly damaged many of his books; accordingly, his estate appraisers valued only 267 titles and 524 volumes (5 percent of his personal property) among his possessions at death. Religious books and even guides to a moral life were much less prominent in his library than when he arrived on the island. To be sure, he still owned Bibles, a Common Prayer Book, and he had bought the occasional volume of sermons and so on, thereby putting the lie to Edward Ward's remark in his Trip to Jamaica that the islanders had "so great a Veneration for Religion, that Bibles and Common Prayer Books are as good a commodity amongst them as Muffs and Warming-Pans," but devotional literature had now been outstripped particularly by travel literature, poetry, plays, histories, and belles-lettres (in that order). More utilitarian items were also noticeable, particularly in the fields of science, agriculture, medicine, and law. Thistlewood seems to have followed local ways.9
Year by year, it is possible to track not only Thistlewood's purchases but the circulation of his and others' books, for he regularly noted borrowings and loans. Thistlewood generally borrowed about ten books a year--sometimes more--from a stable circle of acquaintances. In the 1750s Thistlewood generally lent out about five or six books a year but by the early 1760s this number had risen to over twenty, as his friendships deepened and his book business widened. An informal circulating library was therefore in existence in southwestern Jamaica, even if there was no such tangible institution. Some books went from hand to hand; some to the same borrower more than once even during the same year; most readers, if dates of borrowing and lending indicate time spent reading, read their books in a matter of weeks, sometimes days. >From this constant traffic in print we get some sense of the staples of Jamaican readership: Plutarch's Lives was extremely popular, as were works by Voltaire, and Huartes; Smollett's novels, Rochester's poems, and various handbooks and manuals, whether medical or agricultural, were always in demand.10
The circumstances of reading are only occasionally mentioned in Thistlewood's diary, but the fruits of his reading are ubiquitous. Reading seems to have been a solitary affair, conducted almost anywhere and at any time--weekdays as well as weekends. He once overheard slaves plotting against him while "I was in the back piaza reading." "Reading for a while" in his millhouse led to chiggers in his feet. Visits to neighbors often led to reading in their books, but not apparently in a social setting; there is no evidence, for example, of reading aloud. Thistlewood perused as well as read, skimmed as well as studied. Reading suffused almost everything he did. When camels were imported into Jamaica, Thistlewood recounted their usefulness in Arabia and labelled them dromedaries, contrary to the opinions of others, based on his reading. He identified a plant in a sugar plantation's canepiece from Philip Miller's The Gardiner's Dictionary, which he had just purchased. Quotations from books dot his diary, as do recommendations to and from friends that this or that book should be read; books had practical repercussions as when Thistlewood lent his employer his recently-purchased copy of Jethro Tull's Horse-hoeing Husbandry and then two months later noted that the slaves were digging and planting in part at least according to Tull's methods; books were constantly searched for medical cures. Even telescopes, about which Thistlewood read avidly, provide occasional insight into Jamaican reading. Thus, one Wednesday morning, at 7:30 a.m., scanning through his telescope, Thistlewood noticed a neighbor reading; on another occasion, he decided to test a new telescope by but what better method than proving that at 200 feet he could read plainly his copy of the Morning Chronicle. Reading had a significant impact on Thistlewood's and his friends' lives.11
The best evidence of Thistlewood's reading are his commonplace books. Totalling 1,700 pages, these ten books make it possible to track what interested him as he read. There are some intriguing patterns: London periodicals and increasingly local newspapers provided many of the entries; natural history and science were of great interest; dictionaries and encyclopedias were avidly read; novels regularly excerpted. The references to slavery are not numerous, but are instructive. There are a few predictable proslavery extracts, speculating where Africans got their black skins and arguments vindicating the enslavement of Africans, but far more space is given to antislavery opinion. Thistlewood quoted David Hume about the "little humanity" shown slaves in the Americas and his description of slaveowners as "petty tyrants." He penned a lengthy account of the cruelties visited on Berbice slaves. He read closely various antislavery Enlightenment thinkers. He omitted some of the most pointed remarks from John Millar's Observations concerning the distinctions of ranks in Society such as a slave works merely through "terror" or the reference to the "shocking barbarity to which the negroes in our colonies are so commonly exposed"; but he faithfully extracted a long section arguing that the labor of slaves was more expensive than freemen, and noted a proposal that "small wages should be given the negroes as an encouragement to industry." He quoted the 1775 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica about those who under "the pretext of the necessities of commerce" consign "their innocent and unfortunate fellow Creatures to eternal servitude." He even transcribed an apocalyptic passage from Mercier's Memoirs of the Year Two Thousand Five Hundred, which featured a monument of "a noble and commanding" black man labelled "To the avenger of the new world" and an image of American soil drinking avidly the blood of all the tyrants who had engaged in slavery. Thistlewood indexed the entry, "Prediction." Books were apparently meant to alarm as well as reassure, question as well as soothe.12
A print culture in Jamaica rested on handwritten as well as on printed material. One of the most interesting scribal products was a series of nine queries posted at the Savanna-la-Mar courthouse, one Christmas Day, which Thistlewood copied into the back of one of his commonplace books. The queries were a radical attack on the "gentlemen of property" of the island for their willingness to have others "whose Labour is their only Support" protect them. Poor whites, the anonymous scribe pointed out, had to defend property at their own expence, even buying their guns and ammunition, and had to perform militia service without pay. Thistlewood, who certainly disliked many local gentlemen, may have sympathised with these anonymous sentiments. Scribal products were commonplace in Thistlewood's world: he read a private paper concerning local political affairs, an essay on the best distilling methods, a series of papers about the rupture with Spain. Once a friend shared his unpublished poems; at other times Thistlewood copied extensive extracts in his diary from various manuscript treatises on planting. He read governmental records that in some cases were handwritten; he went to great lengths to secure a manumission document for his mulatto son, John; he wrote passes to protect his slaves when they went abroad on his business. Finding clothes in the road beside his house, he sent them and an advertisement to the local postmaster. He even wrote letters for slaves and on one occasion a will so that one slave could publicly dispose his goods and have his funeral arrangements widely known.13
Thistlewood himself was a fount of scribal activity. The amount of time he spent writing must have been prodigious. Apart from the full page or so of his daily diary, there were his commonplace books, game books, laboring books, weather reports, letters and notes. His weather reports circulated; local naturalist Dr. Anthony Robinson had a copy of one year's report, and Edward Long, the historian, had others. Hardly a day went by when Thistlewood was not sending letters and notes to doctors, his employer, merchants, fellow overseers, neighboring planters, and the like. He wrote about 6,000 letters and notes, and received almost as many, during his Jamaica sojourn. At one point he began tracking the number of letters he burned each year. By the end of 1785, the year before his death, he reckoned he had burned 2,852, which was about half of the letters he had received. Most of this scribal production was undoubtedly perfunctory: essentially business notes, accompaniments to products sent or products requested. Only rarely was the post office involved; slaves conveyed these missives along with the goods they transported. None of this local output has survived; only a few of Thistlewood's more formal letters are extant. Occasionally, we catch glimpses of Thistlewood writing. When he was at home recovering from a sore spot in his eye, he nevertheless reported that he was "transcribing out of Martin's Grammar." On another occasion, he mentioned taking extensive notes from the works of Thomas Chubb. One day he constructed a blind for his parlor window to keep out the sun--so that he could write more readily. In 1767, when he was 46, he mentioned that he could no longer read or write well without spectacles, even during the daytime.14
As much as Thistlewood was immersed in a culture of print and scribal products, he gained information from a variety of other sources. The people with whom he was in closest contact were, of course, slaves. They introduced him to the vegetables and fruits of the island; they cooked him the local foods; they provided him with medical cures; they told him the names of animals; they regaled him with animal tales. Dogs were a bond between master and slaves: Thistlewood was rather taken with the African-style names that slaves gave their dogs: as in "what time you bin send me" and "Man See Me" for women's dogs; "one woman not enough," "Gainst Me," and "Good Woman's Scarce," for men's dogs. The slaves did more to educate Thistlewood in the ways of creole culture than any other group.15
If the slaves exposed Thistlewood to an "oral" culture, dependent on the traditions of a non-literate society, he also encountered a range of free people whose culture may be termed "verbal," the word of mouth tradition of a partially literate society. Local overseers, merchants and planters were vital contacts, passing along much agricultural lore and local gossip; ship captains were remarkably constant visitors, always telling Thistlewood of possible business ventures, exotic experiences, and market conditions; but doctors were the most frequent visitors, and a constant wellspring of medical recipes. Countrymen were another infrequent but notable set of visitors; a person seems only to have announced that they were from Lincolnshire and Thistlewood's hospitality knew no bounds, as he sought for homeland information. As one example of the word of mouth tradition of a literate society, picture a Tuesday in August, when William Beckford, the Balliol educated historian of France and friend of Joseph Banks and Joshua Reynolds, visited Thistlewood's pen. Beckford arrived at 10 a.m., dined with Thistlewood, and stayed till evening, all the while "very affable & free." But the one comment of Beckford's that stuck with the diarist was his observation that the views from Thistlewood's house "exceed any in Cook's Voyages." Thistlewood would have known just what was meant for he had recently purchased two sets of Cook's Voyages, and only a few days after Beckford's visit he visited another planter to view his set of plates of Cook's last voyage, which he described as "excellent impressions," better than others he had seen. Books helped create an extending community of readers absorbing the same material.16
Other groups of visitors were maroons and soldiers, generally welcome sights as they helped catch runaways and put down slave insurgencies. Yet both could sometimes prove difficult, either colluding with or abusing slaves. Thistlewood's attitude toward maroons changed noticeably after Cudjoe's band--a group Thistlewood knew well--were implicated in a slave insurrection in 1765. In March 1767 he borrowed an account of the proceedings for the suspension of the former collector of Jamaica, which was drawn from a printed Report of the Committee of the House of Assembly of Jamaica. He excerpted a two-page section that claimed Cudgo's maroons had secretly conspired with "Coromantee" slaves to attack three key targets in St. Mary's parish in November 1765. Maroons were henceforth much less welcome at Thistlewood's abode. Morover, as much as maroons introduced Thistlewood to an otherwise exotic world, the world of books was never far away. Thus when Thistlewood met his first maroon chief whom he described as barefoot, barelegged, sporting a feathered hat, sword by his side, gun upon his shoulder, he was reminded of "the picture of Robinson Crusoe," a book he had read when nine years of age.17
An armed black maroon was just one emblem of the violence that lay at the heart of Jamaican society as the island developed a regime of chattel slavery with few parallels in scale, scope, and savagery. Island masters and overseers, a governor once remarked, had been schooled in "the diplomacy of the lash," not in the arts of persuasion. Thistlewood learned his lessons early. Twelve days after arriving in Jamaica he saw how his future employer dealt with fugitive slaves, by whipping them severely and then rubbing pepper, salt, and lime juice into their wounds. A few days later, he witnessed the return of a dead runaway slave and the desecration of the body: a decapitation, head stuck upon a pole, and torso burned. Thistlewood's introduction to the personal control of slaves began with that dramatic public humiliation of the slave driver, a flogging of 300 lashes, easily the most severe whipping of a slave Thistlewood ever witnessed. A few months later he saw a slave hanging from a tree, his hand cut off for threatening a white man with a knife, the body to be left unburied. One old planter told Thistlewood that he had killed one of his slave girls by, in his words, "stopping her A[nus] with a corn-stick." Thistlewood took these lessons to heart. His unvarnished mastery is documented in chilling detail in his diary: the regular floggings, the sadistic, degrading punishments, the onerous work, the starvation, the high mortality rates, the sexual exploitation. Physical punishment, the fact of it and the threat of it, incidental cruelties, despotic whimsy, and callous brutishness ooze through the diary like a running sore. The raw nerves of slavery are fully exposed.18
To visualize scores and hundreds of lashes, to imagine the hiss of the whip, to hear the cries of pain, to picture the flaying of flesh, to grapple with sadistic crimes is so abhorrent that it is almost impossible to think how everyday relations between master and slave, white and black could ever survive such appalling acts. Surely such punishments were declarations of war, a drawing of battle-lines, catalysts for unceasing guerilla actions? But violence was part of the fabric of eighteenth-century life. In the army, floggings were often three times, sometimes, five times, as great as the 300 lashes administered to the mulatto driver. In early Australia about 1 in 4 convicts received a flogging each year, about the same rate as on Thistlewood's sugar plantation. In eighteenth-century England, one authority writes, "the starving poor were run down by the yeomanry, herded into jails, strung up on gibbets, transported to the colonies. No one cared. This was a part of life like the seasons . . .The wheel turned, some were crushed, some favoured. Life was cheap enough. Boys were urged to fight. Dogs baited bulls and bears. Cocks slaughtered each other for trivial wagers . . .The same violence, the same cruelty, the same wild aggressive spirit infused all ranks of society." If this was true of bucolic England, what of tropical Jamaica? There, especially, whippings were routine, predictable, normal, in Winthrop Jordan's words, "as real as rain that would happen again because it had happened before." The island was saturated with violence. Savagery was a fixture, a regular presence, manifest in a thousand different ways. Its very normality, sheer banality, everyday triviality fail to mitigate the evil, but they do place it in context.19
Cruelty existed in abundance, but was not constant. Cycles of violence, patterns of pain, peaks and troughs of suffering can be discerned. In his first few years at the sugar plantation, Thistlewood was under his employer's close supervision. Punishments occurred on average about once every three weeks in his first few years at the sugar estate. The average is somewhat misleading: for about half the year a month might go by without a whipping, or at most one. Punishments were generally whippings, the number of lashes rarely specified; when they were, floggings of 40, 70, and 100 lashes were typical. Occasionally, a slave was shackled, sometimes a returned runaway was gagged instead of, or as well as, whipped. Other random violence no doubt occurred as when Thistlewood matter-of-factly noted that he had broken his English oak stick over a slave.20
In the mid-to-late 1750s, a new owner, less supervision, unclear lines of authority, large numbers of newly purchased slaves, and a rise in starvation levels because of poor provision harvests prompted more frequent punishments. Whippings now rose to once a week. Thistlewood's punishments also became more sadistic: first picklings, the application of pothooks and neck chains, and brandings; then truly depraved acts such as having one slave defecate into another's mouth with a gagging to follow, having a slave urinate in another's eyes and mouth, or rubbing salt pickle, lime juice, and pepper into wounds. At the very time Thistlewood was committing these bestial acts, he was transcribing into a commonplace book some instructions written in 1754 by a prominent Jamaican planter on how to treat slaves. Thistlewood's employer lent him the manuscript and from March 20 to April 23 1756 he laboriously copied it in 64 densely packed pages. The instructions emphasized that "humanity and tenderness" should be shown slaves, that their unhappy situation merited compassion and benevolence. Slaves, the author commanded, must be treated in a reasonable manner. Steady and temperate government, justice and humanity were the goals. Correction may sometimes be necessary, it was conceded, but the purpose of punishment was always to set an example. One wonders if Thistlewood saw any contradiction between these sentiments and his own behavior.21
If so, it took some time to materialize, for it was not until the 1760s that the cycle of punishments began to change. And explanations other than the effects of his reading were probably at work (although, he did purchase at the end of the decade Beccaria's Essay on Crimes and Punishments). By then, Thistlewood was more in control of the slaves and perhaps more importantly himself, he kept a slave woman as his acknowledged common-law wife, and he had the active cooperation of some key slaves. As a result, his punishments became a little less frequent, and the bestial acts stopped. Whippings now averaged about once every two weeks; shackles, collars, and chains were the additional punishments.
The round of violence assumed new dimensions when Thistlewood moved to his own estate. Although punishments continued to be irregular, some months going by with no or one or two whippings, the overall average rose as Thistlewood cracked down on work not meeting his standards. Floggings in the late 1760s and early 1770s averaged once every nine days. Thistlewood seems to have been asserting his authority, making it clear to his own slaves that he meant to be master. But gradually the punishments declined in frequency, as he aged and as he reached accommodations with his slaves. In the late 1770s Thistlewood began giving his slaves Saturdays, or Saturday afternoons, off. Occasional glimpses of different managerial styles surface: in 1783 his slaves, as he put it, "refuse to pay for a rooster they had killed", so he made them work on Saturday morning, still leaving them their afternoon free; occasionally an infraction drew a reprimand rather than a whipping; he uncharacteristically forgave slaves caught fishing without permission on his land. In the 1780s, whippings averaged once a month; sometimes, three months would go by without a flogging.22
Violence not only moved in cycles, but was targeted and directed. On the sugar plantation Thistlewood ordered about 400 whippings. Thirty slaves, a sixth of all those who worked on the estate over this sixteen-year period, received just over half of all these punishments. Most of the other slaves who were punished received no more than one whipping, and about half the slaves escaped punishment altogether. In the 1780s on his own estate, just two of thirty-three slaves received the majority of the punishments. Punishments were also gender based. Thistlewood punished men more often than women. In any year he punished from one-third to one-half of the men and from one-sixth to one-third of the women. Furthermore, he generally punished men more heavily than women--women tended to receive about 50 lashes, men 100. Thistlewood punished most frequently for work infractions and for theft. Unauthorized absences, as long as they were short-term, might merit no punishment.23
A measure of laxity is perhaps best demonstrated by Thistlewood's ability to walk unharmed among large groups of slaves, who often had machetes, and occasionally guns, in their hands. The watchmen--of whom there were about seven on the sugar estate and two on his own--had guns to protect the cultivated lands from predators, both human and animal. Other slaves also had them. A fieldhand was playing with a gun, which he had borrowed from another slave, when it unexpectedly went off in his hands; Thistlewood showed no alarm, did not rush to confiscate the weapon, and simply noted that "it was a great mercy that no harm was done." Prue, a female field worker, had a gun, as did Phibbah, the house-keeper. Allowing slaves guns, letting them travel off the plantation and have visitors, rarely riding patrol--all speak to a measure of white complacency.24
But every now and again, Thistlewood was gripped by fear. In his first year on the sugar estate, he had several tussles and fights with slaves, as they tested his mettle. Matters came to a head in December of the second year. On the 21st Thistlewood noted that the field hands were "very impudent" when at work. The following day the slave driver announced before all the slaves that Thistlewood "should not eat much more meat here!" Two days after Christmas, Thistlewood was in a life and death struggle to capture a runaway; the slave, vowing to kill Thistlewood, repeatedly tried to chop him with his machete. The last spasm of anxiety occurred in early 1753, first when he suffered a violent vomiting and purging which led him to suspect poison, and later when he discovered that Jenny, his lover of the time, had hidden a machete under the bed when she thought Thistlewood was asleep. Ostensibly, this weapon was her protection "to frighten away the night," as she put it, but he was, as he noted, "afraid of other intent." From that point, apparently, Thistlewood had proved himself, and the tussles, struggles, outright fights, and occasional suspicions diminished.25
Fear of rebellion, both actual and real, also came and went. At the end of Thistlewood's first year on the island, one planter told him that a slave revolt was imminent, because slaves had never been "allowed such liberties or prosecuted so little before." Apart from occasional news of murders of individual whites, however, Thistlewood's peace of mind was not greatly disturbed for almost a decade. But, in 1760 a major slave rebellion erupted on the island and for a whole year Thistlewood often feared for his life. Rumors flew. At one point he noted that 1,000 white people had reportedly left the island. He saw slaves gibbeted alive and burned over "slow fires." For all his remaining years at the sugar estate, Thistlewood would never quite rest easy again. In 1763 he heard of a rising of slaves on a neighboring plantation. The following year, slaves were said to be hiding in a swamp ready to fall upon Savanna-la-Mar, he saw a slave woman hanged for cutting out a sailor's tongue, and he heard of a local family--husband, wife, children--as well as family doctor all murdered by slaves. In 1765 four separate incidents of actual or suspected local slave rebellions came to his attention. The following year, a soldier "in a great fright" arrived at Egypt, after just escaping from slaves who had threatened to murder him; and in October and November urgent reports of a major slave rebellion in Westmoreland reached him. Only in his last year on the sugar estate did fear of rebellion seem to subside.26

If violence was integral to the seamy savagery of Jamaican slavery, so was sexual exploitation. White men extended their dominion over black women to the bed, as one way--perhaps the best way--to demonstrate their mastery. The sex act served as ritualistic reinforcement of the daily pattern of social dominance. Perhaps this explains why Thistlewood sometimes had sex publicly, noting the presence on occasion of individual slaves or in a few cases of many slaves. Thistlewood himself sometimes saw and often heard of assaults by whites on slave women--a gang rape by four guests of his employer, a vicious sexual attack by a sailor on one of the sugar estate slaves, even the burning of a recalcitrant slave women by two rejected white suitors. Thistlewood took advantage of his power to exploit women sexually on a massive scale. On the sugar plantation, he engaged in about 2,200 sexual acts with 140 slave women. In an average year, then, Thistlewood had sex about 140 times with about 9 women. Throughout his thirties and forties, he had sex at least twice, usually three times, a week. Even in his sixties, Thistlewood had sex on average every 4 days with between 6 and 12 women a year.27


Thistlewood exemplifies the white overseer and planter as sexual predator, as the following patterns indicate. First, Thistlewood's sexual exploitation widened and deepened over time as he made sexual advances on a growing number of women: thus in his first full year at the sugar plantation, 1752, he had sex 54 times with 11 females; the following year he had twice as many sexual encounters with twice as many women. Second, Thistlewood largely targeted African women, perhaps because they were more vulnerable, perhaps had formed fewer attachments among the slave men, and perhaps seemed more exotic to him. Third, he singled out girls. In his first few years, in particular, he exploited girls first, and then turned later to the women. Fourth, casual exploitation is suggested by the time (usually afternoons on the sugar estate, mornings on his own estate, with Wednesdays always the most popular) and place (often a field or structure associated with the working environment) of many of his sexual encounters. This was opportunistic predation, exploiting women when and where they worked. Fifth, compulsive experimentation is suggested by his coupling just once with two-thirds of all his many partners. Finally, Thistlewood often had sex with runaway slave women he captured; they were truly defenceless.28
Sexual exploitation, like violence, was no singularly Jamaican feature, but was rather part of eighteenth-century life. Indeed, Thistlewood had enjoyed a full sex life in England with prostitutes, servants, even the wife of a friend, and with a woman to whom he proposed marriage. The male as sexual predator was a commonplace of the age. Thistlewood arrived in Jamaica with three pornographic pictures from France; his reading was quite often bawdy; and his commonplace books contain some raunchy tales and off-color Rabelesian jokes. Nevertheless, Jamaica allowed a greater sexual license, whetted appetites, and stimulated his sexual curiosity. Early on a white man told him an anecdote about a black girl who had both a white and a black lover and who conceived mulatto and black twins. He noted salacious news: that one white man had cut off the lips of his mulatto sweetheart in jealousy because she had delivered too black a child, that another had committed sodomy with his slave waiting boy, and perhaps most disturbing that a Mrs Cocker had "made free" with a Negro fellow, "Strange, if true, but scarce to be doubted," he penned. He learned much sexual lore from slaves--of shaving private parts, of aphrodisiacs, of substances to enlarge penises, of the effects of tickling a girl's ear with a feather. The slave Roger reported that six slave men "lay with Aurelia last night"; Thistlewood later heard that Will, a Beckford slave, had children by thirteen different women; Sancho found Morris sleeping with his wife; another slave husband found his wife "at work upon London's bed," with London.29
Just as slaves could occasionally turn the tables on whites by offering them violence, so slave women were not entirely defenceless in their encounters with sexual adventurers like Thistlewood. For example, most of Thistlewood's sexual activity took place not at the workplace or outside but in his house. Presumably, he let it be known that he would welcome a visit from a particular slave. Slave women sometimes rejected Thistlewood's and other whites' sexual advances. Slave women could also turn to their advantage the need of most whites, even Thistlewood, for emotional attachment as well as sexual release. One of Thistlewood's subordinates, a bookkeeper was so infatuated with his slave mistress that he hysterically abused her owners when they punished her. According to Thistlewood, this slave woman led her besotted lover a merry dance, pretending illnesses to get out of work, while the bookkeeper "humoured" and indulged her. Coobah, a high status slave, had a frank view of sex, marking on a fellow slave's "smock bosom" the initials of three men who were then respectively her husband, her "sweetheart," (both slaves) and the one "she is supposed to love the best" (a white man). She ornamented the smock with three figures, representing clouds--indicating her dreams--and then appended the following ditty:

Here's meat for money

If you're fit, I'm ready

But take care you don't flash in the pan.30


Most of Thistlewood's sexual encounters occurred with just a few women--about one in ten of all his sexual partners. These regular partners often extracted favors for sex. In some years some women made enough cash to buy a plentiful supply of food or some luxuries. Once on his own estate, he began regularly paying for sex--between 1s 6d and 2s 6d an encounter. Moreover, Thistlewood always had one woman to whom he was more closely attached than to any other. From late 1753 onward, this woman was Phibbah, a creole housekeeper. She made significant material gains through her association with Thistlewood. She owned pigs, poultry, and horses; she entered into an agreement with a nearby slave driver who in return for furnishing a stallion for her mare was to have every third foal. She even owned another slave whom she sometimes hired out for wages. And she regularly lent large sums of money to Thistlewood. Their son--John--was freed at age two, and she too would finally gain her freedom after Thistlewood's death. Interracial sex was not only exploitation, it could occasionally involve exchange--however assymetrical.31

Thistlewood's relationship with Phibbah cannot be adequately summarized as racial oppression on his part and the extraction of material favors on hers. It was both of these but much more. Consider Phibbah's actions when pregnant. During her confinement, she brought a slave woman for Thistlewood to "keep as a sweetheart." When he inevitably strayed to another woman, Phibbah had her property removed from his house, rejected his gifts, came into his house and remonstrated with him, obviously aggrieved at the insult she had received. She had affairs with other men, most particularly with her owner and Thistlewood's employer, no doubt a further calculated rebuke to her philandering mate whose jealousy was aroused but who could do little about it. She was able to travel without leave. She spoke up for other slaves. Phibbah's major test came three years after their relationship began, when Thistlewood decided, after arguments with his employer, to take a new job on a nearby estate. As he put it, she "grieved very much," at his impending departure, and he conceded that he could not sleep at the prospect of leaving her. She embarked on a campaign to win him back. She visited him frequently, showered him with gifts, revealed that she was "sick" with longing for him, which elicited one of his few expressions of real emotion when he expressed pity and sympathy for her because she lived in "Miserable Slavery." He ackowledged that he was "mighty lonesome" when she was not there, and eventually he agreed to return. Phibbah had won a victory.32

What has this juxtaposition of patterns of book culture, punishment, and sexual exploitation the potential to teach us? At first glance, it merely illustrates the mixture of civility and savagery, refinement and violence that was such a feature of the world that was emerging in eighteenth-century British America. Brutality and despotism somehow reached an accommodation with gentility and learning. Man of letters, violence, and lust, Thistlewood was the very epitome of man as the sublime Pope assays him: a compound of "self-love" and "reason" in pursuit of common ends. What might have Thistlewood have derived from specific works, such as Pope's Essay on Man? Was he comforted by the poet's advice to eschew vain inquiry into God's inscrutable design? No more than "the proud steed" or "the dull ox"

... shall man's pride and dullness comprehend

[God's] actions', passions', being's use and end;

Why doing, suff'ring, check'd, impell'd; and why

This hour a slave, the next a deity.

Such lines could have inoculated the newcomer against shocks to conscience. "WHATEVER IS IS RIGHT," Pope declared. Perhaps assured, Thistlewood plunged into the moral maelstrom of Caribbean slavery. Along the way, he dropped an early preference for didactic works and embraced reading for pleasure. In his experience was enacted Pope's central theme: "Two principles in human nature reign/Self-love to urge, and reason to restrain." The dictates of reason probably prompted him to record antislavery arguments in his commonplace books.33


For Thistlewood, print culture was both separate from the world of slavery, and yet inextricably intertwined. Books were his refuge, his retreat; he never shared them with his slaves, not even Phibbah (though he taught her to fish, for example, a subject on which he read books and presumably passed on information) although he did bombard his mulatto son, who was then free, with children's literature. Straddling the racial dividing line, his son could be showered with books. To Thistlewood, print was a prerogative of freedom, a badge of distinction and superiority in a world of racial slavery. At times, a cognitive dissonance between what he was reading and what he was doing also seems at work (reminiscent of concentration guards listening to Bach). But the worlds also could never be kept wholly separate. The intrusions and interminglings range from the trivial--flogging a slave returning from town for "letting people open and read" his precious newspaper or having sex in his new library, surrounded by his books, as he twice did with Bess toward the end of his life--to the interplay between reading, whether about plantership, agriculture, medical cures, and behavior, whether as slaveowner, taskmaster, amateur physician.34
Furthermore, the power of the pen was clearly intertwined with the power of the whip. Reading and writing were crucial tools for Thistlewood's advance in his Jamaican small world. His skill with the pen facilitated the conduct of everyday business, and it made him invaluable to employers, neighbors, even slaves. Borrowing and lending, as Benjamin Franklin well knew, forged friendships. The technologies of violence and literacy served a common goal: imposing the mastery of whites and the subordination of blacks. By means of the pen, Thistlewood defined the status of persons and controlled their every movement. From his hand issued deeds of purchase and sale, manumissions and passes to leave his grounds. By means of the whip, he enforced those edicts; words on paper were etched into scars upon skin. Bawdy novels and pornographic pictures were equally purposeful in stimulating erotic urges. Through mastery of the written and printed word, Thistlewood at once increased and indulged his prowess. In labor and leisure alike, texts were an instrument of power.
The intermingling also extends to how best to view the history of the book and of slavery: as subjects with boundaries that are rigid and yet fluid, of forces that are powerful and yet subject to negotiation, and of spaces that accommodate high and low, white and black. Consequently, I have touched on the complicated relationship of print and handwritten production, of print and oral cultures, on the vast coercive power at white disposal and the practical limitations of living in an overwhelmingly black society, and on interracial sex as both exploitation and exchange. In these ways, the various surface impressions of eighteenth-century Jamaican life--that it was only a cultural wasteland, that it was a veritable desert of book culture, that it was characterized only by white dominance and black subservience, that it was a monstrous distortion of a human society--should have at least been complicated.

NOTES
1. Thomas Thistlewood diary, July 10, 16, August 5, 1750, in possession of Lord and Lady Monson, Lincoln County Record Office, (my thanks for permission to quote); Thistlewood's purchase of Pope's essay is mentioned in his List of Books, Maps, Songs, 1720-1745, 31/82, 18; Maynard Mack, Alexander Pope: A Life (New Haven, 1985), 741-745; David Foxon, Pope and the Early Eighteenth-Century Book Trade ed. James McLaverty (Oxford, 1991), 144-152. For a partial account of Thistlewood's first year on a livestock farm, see my "Slaves and Livestock in Eighteenth-Century Jamaica: Vineyard Pen, 1750-1751," William and Mary Quarterly, LII (1995), 47-76.
2. Mack, (r)MDUL¯Alexander Pope(r)MDNM¯, 541.
3. David D. Hall, Cultures of Print: Essays in the History of the Book (Amherst, Mass., 1996); Philip D. Morgan, "Rethinking Early American Slavery," in Carla Pestana and Sharon Salinger, eds., Inequality in Early America (Amberst, Mass., forthcoming).
4. Edward Long, History of Jamaica 3 vols. (London, 1774); Douglass and Aikman's Almanack and Register for the Island of Jamaica: calculated for the year of our Lord 1784(Kingston, 1784), 66.
5. Memorandum Book, 31/85, Feb. 1, 1750 "had on board ye Flying Flamborough when I left England"; the list of books comprised 2 folios, 2 quartos, 48 duodecimos, 43 octavos, 19 so-called "smaller size," 32 unbound or "stitch't in blue," and the rest not sized; Louis B. Wright, "The Purposeful Reading of Our Colonial Ancestors," English Literary History, IV (1937), 85-111. I will eventually provide a table identifying Thistlewood's evolving library by genre categories.
6. 63 of Thistlewood's purchases were printed in Jamaica; most were almanacs costing between 3s to 4s each, which he bought every year; or local acts, a subscription costing him L2 15s annually late in his life. For laws received, see diary, Mar. 18, Apr. 15, 1784, Jan. 1, Feb. 10, Mar. 22, 1785, Apr. 18, Sept. 25, 1786; for some pamphlets, see Mar. 10, 1783 and Feb. 1, 1784. Some of Thistlewood's purchases and borrowings of local items expand our knowledge of what was published locally: for a good summary of what is known, see Roderick Cave, "Printing in Eighteenth-Century Jamaica," The Library, 5th Ser., XXXIII (1978), 187-206 and Cave, Printing and the Booktrade in the West Indies (London, 1987).
7. James Raven, "The Export of Books to Colonial North America," Publishing History, 42 (1997), 21-49; James Raven, "The Importation of Books" in David Hall and Hugh Amory, eds., History of the Book in Colonial America?; my analysis of Thistlewood's purchasing depends on diary entries and the various listings, the most important and comprehensive of which is Memorandum Book 31/81 (112 pages long).
8. Diary, July 5, 1751 (merchant); again, I will eventually provide a table demonstrating Thistlewood's bookselling activities by genre.
9. Edward Ward, A Collection of the Writings of Mr. Edward Ward . . . (London, 1717), II, 167. The 1777 listing is particularly interesting because 506 volumes are arranged by double stacking on five shelves, so that one can envisage how Thistlewood organized these books, grouping poetry, for example on the 2nd shelf, front row: Memorandum Book 31/81. Inventory of Thomas Thistlewood, Inventories 71/206, Jamaican Archives, Spanish Town. I have yet to locate a copy of Hazel Bennett's "A History of Libraries in Jamaica, 1697-1987" (Ph.D. diss., Loughborough University, 1987), which may be helpful on other Jamaican libraries.
10. Table forthcoming. On circulation, I have found helpful: Jan Fergus, "Eighteenth-Century Readers in Provincial England: The Customers of Samuel Clay's Circulating Library and Bookshop in Warwick, 1770-1772," Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 78 (1984), 155-213 and Robert A. Gross, "Much Instruction from Little Reading: Books and Libraries in Thoreau's Concord," Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, 97 (1987), 129-???.
11. Diary, Dec. 27, 1752 (reading); Mar. 5, 1758 (chiggers); Aug. 8, 1751 and July 20, 1753 (camels); Aug. 29, 1759 and Dec. 31, 1758 (Gardiner's Dictionary); quotations: July 25, 1751 (Pythagoras), Oct. 8, 1759 (Voltaire), July 31, 1755 (local history); Sept. 5, 1751 (recommendations); Aug. 4, 1755 (discourse), Apr. 26, 1755 and Oct. 17, 1757 (other discussions); Aug. 19, Oct. 10, 19, 1758 (Tull); Sept. 21, 1759 (Chambers Cyclopedia for medical cures, many more examples); Mar. 4, 1767 and Feb. 6, 1783 (telescope). On reading more generally, see See also Robert A. Gross, "Reading Culture, Reading Books," Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, 106, pt. 1 (1996), 59-78; James Raven, Helen Small, and Naomi Tadmor, eds., The Practice and Representation of Reading in England (Cambridge, 1996), espec. essays by Fergus and Brewer; Robert DeMaria Jr., Samuel Johnson and the Life of Reading (Baltimore, 1997). I will also explore how Thistlewood cared for his books and how he listed them, attending to format, size, plates, publisher, and edition (information on all these items almost always reported)
12. The slavery references are: Commonplace Books, 31/73, 274, 298-299, 31/74, 58, 63, 157, 231, 260. The commonplaces I have been able to arrange in the following date order: 31/77 (1740s?), 31/79 (c.1755), 31/80 (1755), 31/86 (1756), 31/87 (1757), 31/78 (c.1757), 31/73 (c.1761-1770), 31/74 (1770-c.1776), 31/75 (1777-c.1784), 31/76 (1785-1786). I think it is possible at least a couple are missing--early and late 1750s. The diary is explicit about commonplace books: July 14, and Sept. 1, 1751. On commonplaces more generally, see Joan Marie Lechner, Renaissance Concepts of the Commonplaces (New York, 1962); Douglas L. Wilson, ed., Jefferson's Literary Commonplace Book (Princeton, 1989; Kenneth A. Lockridge, On the Sources of Patriarchal Rage: The Commonplace Books of William Byrd and Thomas Jefferson and the Gendering of Power in the Eighteenth Century (New York, 1992); Ann Moss, Printed Commonplace Books and the Structuring of Renaissance Thought (Oxford, 1996); and Catherine La Courreye Blecki and Karin A. Wulf, eds., Milcah Martha Moore's Book: The Commonplace Book of an Eighteenth-Century American (University Park, PA, 1997).
13. Commonplace Book 31/87, 57-56 at back and Jan. 22,1757; diary, Aug. 22, 1755 (private paper); Dec. 26, 1758 (distilling); Mar. 21, 1763 (rupture with Spain); Mar. 8, 1767 (suspension); July 26, 1765 (Robinson's poems); Dec. 31, 1763 (42 pages of a copy of a manuscript treatise on planting by John Edwards); May 25, 1762, Apr. 12, Sept. 2, 1763, and Apr. 28, 1766 (manumission); Sept. 29, 1763 (advertisement); Nov. 17, 1751 (letter for slaves); June 17, 1755 (slave pass); Mar. 21, 1758 (slave will). On this subject, see Harold Love, Scribal Production in Seventeenth-Century England (Oxford, 1993)
14. Diary entries, Dec. 31, 1785 (letters burned); Oct. 23, 1755 (Martin's Grammar); Nov 6, 1755 (Chubb); Oct 23, 1763 (blind); July 14, 1767 (spectacles). I have not had space here to talk about the evidence of newspaper and magazine reading, which is extensive; Thistlewood's local newspaper subscriptions can also be tracked in some detail.
15. Diary, Apr. 9, 1752 (dogs); Mar. 28-Apr.1, 1755 (diet drink)
16. Much of this is too numerous to document here, but see diary entries, Dec. 15, 1751, July 25, 29, Oct. 31, Nov. 6, Dec. 9, 1753 (shipmates); for a sampling of the many references to countrymen, see Apr. 2, Nov. 17, 1752, Oct 28-29, 1753, July 25, 1754, Sept 7, 1755, Feb. 26, 1756, Jan. 25, Sept. 11, Nov. 8, 1757, Aug. 1, 6, Nov. 22, 1758, June 2, 1759, Jan. 1, 1760, May 1, 1761, Feb. 25, 1764, Jan. 14, 29, Apr. 2, 1765, Dec. 14, 1785, May 4, 30, 1786; significantly, Thistlewood named his first slave Lincoln; Aug. 22, 1786 (Beckford), and Aug. 30, 1786 (Cook prints).
17. Diary, Mar. 8, 1767 (borrowing of report); Commonplace Book, 31/73, 156-157 (extract); Jan. 6, 1750 (Robinson Crusoe); Commonplace Book, 31/82, p.2 (notes the novel in 1730).
18. Diary, May 15, 1750 (fugitives); May 18, 1750 (dead fugitive); July 16, 1750 (300 lashes); Oct. 1, 1750 (hanging); Mar. 19, 1752 (corn-stick). For an account of punishments at Vineyard, see Morgan, "Slaves and Livestock in Eighteenth-Century Jamaica," WMQ, LII (1995), 47-76. And always, the stories of violence abounded: for example, he heard that a runaway had beaten a neighboring woman to death, Sept. 14, 1756; that an overseer had poured rum and camphor up the nose of a slave woman and killed her, Dec. 12, 1763; that a "Negro wench" had cut out a sailor's tongue, May 5, 1764, for which she was hanged; that a doctor's wife "flogged a negro wench to death and buried her in the buttery" and reportedly killed three slave women in all, Aug. 13, 1770.
19. Fred Anderson, A People's Army: Massachusetts Soldiers and Society in the Seven Years' War (Chapel Hill, 1984), 138-139; J. B. Hirst, ; J. H. Plumb, Men and Centuries (Boston, 1963), 9-10; Winthrop D. Jordan, Tumult and Silence.
20. Diary entries, Oct. 9, 1751 (head); Feb. 26, 1752 (stick). Tables will eventually be forthcoming on patterns of punishment.
21. Commonplace Book, 31/86, 1-64.
22. Diary entries, Jan. 4, 1783 (rooster); Jan. 6, 1784 (reprimand); Aug. 8, 1784 (runaways); Feb. 17, 1786 (forgives), and see also Apr. 26, 1786.
23. Table forthcoming.
24. Diary entries, Apr 28, 1752 (gun); June 1, 1752 (Prue and Phibbah); for a few of many other references to guns, see June 4, 1752, Apr. 18, 1756.
25. Diary, Feb. 26, 27, 1752 (struggles); Dec. 4, 21, 27, 1752 (series of struggles); Mar. 26, 1753 (Jenny).
26. Diary, July 17, 1751 (liberties); May-Dec. 1760, Jan., Mar. 1761 (rebellion); Aug. 16, 1760 (exodus); Apr. 12, 1763 (rising); Apr. 19, 1764 (attack); May 5, 1764 (sailor); Nov. 20, 1764 (rising); Apr. 15, June 21, July 9, Nov. 21, 1765 (reported rebellions); July 4, 1766 (soldier); Oct. 5-10, 1766 (rebellion); Nov. 1, 1765.
27. Diary, Mar. 12, 1755 (gang rape); (sailor); Feb. 20, 1753 (burning). See also Jan. 8, 1751, May 2-5, 1756, Feb. 19, 1758 (reports of attempted rapes and rapes by others). For beatings, see Nov. 21-22, 1775, July 31, 1778, Oct 8, 1781, Aug. 25, 1782. Table forthcoming.
28. On sex with captured fugitives, Feb. 1, Sept. 16, 1753. Table forthcoming. There are other interesting patterns: by month (fall, not spring and early summer, as in England, were the high peaks of sexual activity); the increasing propensity for sexual activity to be "stans" [standing], often "backward"; the number of times sex occurred with heavily pregnant women: for example a sexual encounter with Phoebe occurred Dec. 29, 1783, and she gave birth two days later; and the correlation of sex and health (particularly the cycles of venereal disease).
29. Lawrence Stone, The Family, Sex, and Marriagein England, 1500-1800 (New York, 1977), 572-599; diary, Apr. 27, 1750 (mistress); June 26, 1750 (twins); Dec. 31, 1765 (Maj. Clarke); Mar. 3, 1764 and Feb. 1, 1785 (sodomy); June 11, 1758 (Mrs. Cocker); July 17, 1750, Feb 26, May, 10, 1751 (sexual lore); Oct. 22, 1757 (Aurelia); Oct. 30, 1766 (Will); Mar. 16, 1752 (Sancho); Apr. 2, 1757 (London). See also July 17, 1751, Mar. 19, 1752, July 10, 1753 for other salacious talk.
30. Diary, Feb. 13, 23, 26, Oct. 15, 1755, Feb. 24, 26, Mar. 15, Sept. 25, 1756 (bookkeeper); Oct. 1, 1768 (Coobah, who was Phibbah's daughter, must have been in her early 20s when she composed her poem; she was a house slave, and apparently literate; she had just returned from a year in England)
31. For payments, see diary, Sept. 28, 1751, Sept. 24, Oct. 8, 22, 1752, and once Thistlewood became an independent proprietor, he almost always paid for sex, expenditures running usually at 2 bitts (1s 3d), sometimes 4 bitts (2s 6d) (except sex with Phibbah, who shared his bed, and with whom most sexual encounters were at night); in 1760 Egypt Susannah and Mazarine made 17-18 bitts apiece; ; on Phibbah's possessions, see Feb. 29, Sept. 3, Sept. 5, 1756, May 27, 1758, Apr. 5, 1760, Mar. 22, July 24, 1765, Sept. 27, Nov. 16, 1767, May 17, 1772; John was born on Apr. 29, 1760, manumitted in 1762 (Manumissions 1B/11/6/7/119), and died on Sept. 7, 1780.
32. Diary, July 28, Aug. 21-26, 1755 (sweetheart); Feb. 25, 1753, Apr. 17, July 25, Oct. 4, Nov. 19, 1754, Feb. 2, 7, July 6, Aug. 26, 1755, Aug. 13, 17, 31, 1759 (tiffs); May 4, 10, 1752, Oct 3, Nov. 15, Dec. 22, 1754, July 28, Aug 5, 1755 (her affairs); July 7, 1754 (Billingsgate); June-Dec. 1757 (new job). Thistlewood freed Phibbah post-mortem (she became free in 1792) and had land bought for her, see will, Nov. 25, 1786, proved Jan. 31, 1787, Island Record Office, and Manumissions 1B/11/6/7/170, Jamaican Archives. For more on Thistlewood and Phibbah, see Douglas Hall, In Miserable Slavery: Thistlewood in Jamaica, 1750-86 (London, 1989), and "Above all others: Phibbah," Jamaica Journal, 22/1 (1989), 57-64.
33. An Essay on Man in Four Epistles in Pat Rogers, ed., Alexander Pope (Oxford, 1993), 274, 280.
34. Diary, Apr. 22, 1758 (fishing); Oct. 21, 1783 (newspaper); June 4, Dec. 10, 1785 (Bess).

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