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Henry Smeathman, the FlycatcherNatural History, Slavery, and Empire in the Late Eighteenth Century$
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Deirdre Coleman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781786940537

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781786940537.001.0001

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(p.160) Chapter Six Doldrums
Henry Smeathman, the Flycatcher

Deirdre Coleman

Liverpool University Press

Smeathman returns to the Bananas where, instead of collecting, he cultivates a large provision garden for the slave ships. His chief staples were Palma Christi, pepper, and Guinea rice but rice cultivation was James Cleveland’s preserve. Cleveland also objected to Smeathman’s attempts to intensify the women’s methods of growing and harvesting the rice. In the end Cleveland’s cattle destroy Smeathman’s garden. Broken in health, and dreading the oncoming wet season, Smeathman joins a fully slaved and leaky ship bound for the West Indies. As a passenger unconnected to the trade, Smeathman’s experience of the middle passage offers new perspectives and insights.

Keywords:   Provision garden, Guinea rice, Argument with Cleveland, Farewell to Africa, Middle passage, Economy of nature

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