78 NOVA SCOTIA HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
settlements of Nova Scotia, had assumed a fast-and-loose character. During the war of the Revolution Loyalist slave-owners had been unable to exercise over their slaves the previous strict control ; and after their arrival in the remaining British colonies, where opportunities for employment were uncertain and the cost of maintenance great, not a few necessitous proprietors were glad, especially when the issue of the food rations was about to cease, to let their slaves forage as best they could for them-selves and their families. The consequence of this cessation of government supplies was a sad one, not only to the cast-off slaves, but to many of the free blacks as well, especially at Burchtown and Shelburne, where several Negroes, after having parted with what little they had, died on the streets from hunger.1 Liberty was not, however, purchased by this responsibility of the bondman for personal and family maintenance. His human owner had only relaxed, and not abandoned, his hold upon his convenient property. " There are many instances", wrote Clarkson in Halifax, December, 1791, when he had one day been calling on several persons to " give up some children whose parents were about leaving with him" for Sierra Leone—" many instances, after seven years have elapsed, that the master has retaken his slaves because they were useful, and sold and disposed of them as he thought proper". Among men so unprincipled and base as these Clarkson found some of his strongest opponents.
Other persons also grieved the spirit of the perplexed philanthropist. On one occasion he called upon a Mrs. H., at the dockyard. to intercede for the freedom of a Negro girl, whose family, after the burning of their house at Preston, had indentured her to this woman for five years, three of which she had served. Believing that the girl, all whose relatives were to go to Sierra Leone, would at
t Memoirs of Boston IGng, " Arminian Magazine", 1798, p. 209.