IT may, possibly, be true about worms, that they turn when trodden on. We know that spitted on fish-hooks, they will wriggle; but beyond doubt, bad men, when thwarted, will seek revenge.
This general remark does not apply to all slave-pedlars; because some born to the business are as conscientious in their merchandise as dealers in mahogany logs, or black walnut furniture. To these a negro is born to be bought and sold; and hence it would be opposition to a divine ordinance to regard blacks except as material, or stock, for trade and speculation.
Accidental evils are inseparable from this, as any
other lawful traffic. The bleating calf must be
abstracted from the cow's very dug—else we must
forego early veal. And mutton could never be
roasted if flocks of sheep were never thinned out.
But it is plain these creatures were made for man's
use; and shall we rashly conclude negros are not in some way fitted by Providence to benefit man! The accidental evils to these creatures are not owing to us: indeed, their sufferings, it is to be presumed, are more in appearance than reality.
Slight griefs are the noisiest. Griefs and sorrows deeply seated rarely use words—never cries. But it is well known the black creatures, when separated, scream out, and cry, and roar, even, till it is almost ludicrous to hear. Shall, then, such outcries, like the bellowings of other animals, known to have a kind of muscular, and convulsive, and instinctive grief, be placed on a level with the decorous tears and heaving hearts of men—uncolored!
True, marvellous stories are told of speechless grief, and even anguish depicted in the looks of black creatures; but who is ignorant that horses and oxen never cry out or complain when unmercifully lashed although they look as if they did not like it? Yet, after all, suppose the black creatures approximate man's feelings and looks this way: it is clearly one of those mysterious and near approaches other inferior animals make to men in reason, but which never constitute them reasonable creatures.
Let any man, even if he have no extraordinary
powers of mind, carefully study under a modern
ethnologist, and the scholar must soon be convinced
on the os sublime principle, that man differs from
black creatures radically. See the black's downcast, eye, when he is approached by a man with a cow-skin! Look at the heel—will any call that projection human? Why, the creature lives on corn! and stands bare-headed under a meridian sun in dog-days! And what sort of English does the creature talk? Plain enough; the Thing is only in the transition state, any how: the caudal incumbrance has barely vanished; and the creature is neither Brute nor Man. He is simply—a Nigger! And he must be treated like a Nigger!
Such are, beyond doubt, a few of the running reasons passing ever through a gentleman slave-merchant's mind, enabling him religiously and conscientiously to deal in the black-stock. And better reasons could he get? What better if he ransacked all the books of travels through Africa, written by savans? Hasty and narrow-minded folks say the slave-dealer is blinded by the love of gold. What blinds philosophers! No! no! let us be careful about judging lest we be ourselves judged!
Perhaps our disappointed dealers may have deemed Mr. Leamington an illiberal cynic; for, not long after, appeared in the "Black-Right Democrat," an extreme South paper, the following:
"RELIGION AND REBELLION.
"Wake! free democrats! wake! The devil has turned preacher, and converted the islands into half-and-half! This mongrel saint-land has a quadroon church, and a mule for a parson; and the holy ones speculate in saints and monopolize trade! Gentlemen traders, you'll find there no more bargains: the palmy days are over. Cattle are high there. Let a Tibbets cut their saintly throats; their chief saint looked as if he wished to cut white men's. Traders, wake up! Down with monopoly! Drive out the white niggers; we'll manage the black.
This choice morceau, (so happily imitated by the "White-Black Nationalist," the organ in the North, of ultra democrats, in the virtuous indignation and fitting epithets poured upon men of the same views as Mr. Leamington,) produced different effects in different places South.
The gentlemen dealers and pedlers, for instance,
gave our two a dinner with toasts; during which,
after the rounds of decanters and other spirit-holders,
speeches of intense patriotism burst out, full of
fire and fume; and abounding with daggers, and
dirks, and bowie-blades, and similar sharp and
pointed figures. And these air-guns and gas-pops
were aimed at the whole North above Mason and Dixon's as far as Iceland; but at the Yankee North most pointedly; and in general at the most horribly be-cursed traitors and hypocritical black-coats, canting fools, whining bible-readers trying with their d— and G— d— foolery to turn apes and niggers into men!
The whole of this grandiloquence, however, is repaid with compound vengeance and interest when the extra-patriots and philanthropist in the opposite zone flare up and swear, in their way, at the whole South and every white person there as engaged in a God-defying, diabolical, soul-destroying, body-lacerating attempt to turn men into apes. The happy effect of which antagonism is to keep the waters of strife always at boiling point, and to preserve a keen edge on the temper by the hard friction. Beyond this waste of steam and wearing of tempers all great meetings usually end in great processions, great speeches, great resolutions, great dinners, great expenses, and great gas!
At Evergreen and other adjacent places, some were amused at the antics of the honorable company of traders; as people are generally at the North, with the buffoonery of the no-government folks; most of whom do the farces there, for the love of the fun; saving the agents, bill-stickers, and others, who contrive, for the profit, to keep the poker at a red heat.
Individuals on the islands uttered characteristic sentences and exclamations. The parson, for instance, when he read the article in the paper sent him by Col. Hilson, said to his wife—
"Oh! what an escape for Frank! What horrible profanity! I dare not read any more."
At the Club House on Sand Plains, Mr. Wetherel, bursting into a laugh, cried out in his best style—
"Who bids for this Democrat? Nothing bid! Going, for nothing—once—twice—"
"One kick!" by Col. Hilson.
"Only one kick! by Col. Hilson! Only one! Worth a dozen, and cheap at that—going, at only one—"
"Bring the writer, and I'll give two dozen," said the Colonel.
"Two dozen cow-hides!" cried Mr. Wardloe.
"Well laid on a live-oak post!" added Dr. Harrison.
This being the first Club House, allusion to the memorable night of the patrol, brought down the house in thunder; on which Gen. Brooksea, holding his wine-glass, arose and gave—
"THE MAN WITH A HEART."
This emptied all cups, and started Mr. Wardloe to his feet; but instead of a sentiment he delivered a speech:—
"GENTLEMEN:—I crave indulgence when I say this
is among the happiest moments of my life. I know I have often smiled where a frown was proper, and melted where justice demanded rigor. But after all, in this I only represent this part of the South.
"Gentlemen, I know your hearts ever incline to any plan or scheme bidding fair to meliorate, if not remove, the evils of our political state. And yet I am proud to say, that except in one point, and that imaginary more than real, here, in our island homes, the African is happier by far than ever he was in his own land, and happier than he can be in the Union as a nominal citizen.
"Hence, when I read the bitter and unjust taunts against us by those lying Northern speechifiers—(heart began to wax warm against head)—my indignation becomes uncontrollable! Good heavens! to apply such Billingsgate to the generous and noble men, such as are now around me—is too much to bear. Aye! gentlemen, had I such sneaking poltroons tied to the post—I tell you, gentlemen, post would be unscathed, that time—but I give—
"HEARTS SOUTH AND NORTH."
Out came three times three, with sundry pounding on the table, rattling the empty glasses—but we must leave the club.
Let the good hope from one fact—that the attempts
to sunder seem to unite. It was so among our Islanders.
While matters are essentially sound at core
there will be an adhesion of parts in that; and we may by mutual kind and honest advice and forbearance heal this, rectify that, and discard something else. And then we bear that loquacious tribe—the mere speech-makers. Everybody must have a vocation; and it would be a pity the body politic afforded no arena for oratory and elocution.
Every village and hamlet, therefore, has its little Theatrum, where young beards may do their first speeches, and the budding combs do their youthful crowings. And these always find their early themes in the bad roads, the dirty streets, the negligence of dog-catchers, the sad condition of the poor, or, the theme of themes, in the aristocratic swellings of some unfortunate fellow that has worked like a horse all his life, and got, at long last, a larger house or a finer coat than his neighbors. What! if ruts are not filled, if streets remain unpaved, if the beggar still buys rum with his charity sixpence, if the aristocrat takes his oysters and ices—the grand good is gained. The youthful orators have had their—practice.
Thus our common country smilingly and rather
approvingly bears with the large boys, whose sole
vocation is indignation oratory. Times come when
oratory and eloquence of the very first water are
needed; as, for instance, what should we have done
had the Fugitive Slave Law come upon an unprepared,
unpracticed set of speakers. But, as it was,
what Demosthenian, Ciceronian, Hastingtonian, Patrickhenrian doings on that platform! What severe flashes of heat and chain lightning darted out! What astounding peal after peal of earth shaking thunder, a second and a half after! Above, the great eagle hovered—his eye fired with the orator's hot indignation! And when the speaker burst into full gust, the mighty bird with a remarkable muscular action of his claws, let fly all his barbed arrows at once!
Our souls shuddered! Farewell, South! good-bye, North! Disunion now and forever!—two or more, hereafter, instead of E Pluribus Unum! Our songs of triumph will be hushed! none will sing "Hail, Columbia," more, nor whistle "Yankee Doodle!" Mighty speech!—it has shivered into fragments the blood-cemented column of our fathers, and scattered into mere spangles the stars of our banner!
But—still there we stood! And the South stood! And the North stood! And the Union Column stood! And the brass bands were blowing "Hail, Columbia!" and the news-boys were whistling "Yankee Doodle!"—and, we had had the sweating all for nothing!
Yes—but the Orator had—Practice in his Profession—and Praise from his Party!
However, let us not forget Mr. Leamington. He
soon recovered the shock given him by the Black-Right Democrat; yet another was at hand that aided to shatter that clay tabernacle into a speedier dissolution. For, some weeks after this, he received a letter from his native village in the North. He knew the writing well; and as usual he kissed the superscription before he broke the seal. Yet, as he kissed the writing, disquietude was in his look; for, while that writing was, indeed, his mother's, it was not as usual—but was irregular, and tremulously done.
Why this? The letter will show.
"Hopeful, December 25, 182—.
"EDWARD, MY DEAREST:— May the Lord sustain you!—and He will. But we have both been long prepared for this:—Dr. Jordan thinks there is no hope of my life beyond next summer! Edward! can we not meet once—the last? And your dear wife—my much beloved—my only daughter, since Sophia preceded me home!—will she not come again? Ah! Edward! if I might go to my rest—in your arms and hers!
"And oh! if I could kiss and bless the dear little ones—my grand-children—never yet seen! Come all—and if the Lord will—come lay me with the beloved ones!—near your best of fathers!—and the other three!
"Alas! this is too sad writing! The doctor thinks if you came early in the summer—but my poor palsied hand writes worse than ever! Oh! Edward! Edward! And shall we all pass away so soon? But keep up, for her dear sake: she will need a comforter then! Yet—joy!—oh, joy! she also knows the Shepherd that leads by the still waters, and will sustain—
"Farewell!—yet surely we shall meet this last once—
Reader! is the earth a place to build lasting hope on? Every letter moves some heart with fear! The postman's knock ever startles the middle-aged. It rings in the dreary caverns of the soul, haunted with shadowy forms of the past. It says—look away to the Future!
Our friend thus reflected as he sat in his chair, his head resting on one hand, and the mother's letter in the other—the letter wet with his tears.
"Oh! my mother," said he to himself, "sudden,
indeed! if not unexpected wholly. Yes—God
willing—we will come. We will lay you in that
spot—and—yes!—I shall soon pass away! Oh! my
Mary—my babes!—could I only live for you!
Fondly—purely—have I loved her:—perhaps, not so
selfishly as the lost one! She, perhaps, repented!——Somerville!—villain!—Nay, nay—I had thought all that passed! Oh! poor wretch, how will he die? Eternity!—Eternity!—how dreadful! Somerville, repent! oh, repent! I do forgive you all now—even as I hope I am forgiven!"
Here Mr. L. rose, and fell upon his knees; and he prayed not with words, but with throes of the soul! When he arose he washed his face; and with something of the usual composure on his countenance, he rang a bell, which was soon answered by Carrie.
"Carrie, my good girl," said he, "tell your mistress I should be glad to see her."
"Yes, master," said the girl with a curtsy, while she remained looking inquiringly and affectionately.
"What is it, Carrie?"
"Ain't kind master well?"
"Thank you, Carrie—but I wish to see Mrs. Leamington."
The negress waited not an instant now, but going into the lady's presence, she began:
"Oh! missus! I fear poor master ain't very well! He look so sorry—he make me cry!"
The next moment Mrs. L was in the library.
"Why, Edward, dear—is anything wrong?"
"Mary, my love, our dear mother has written; it was her letter, Frank brought—alas! her health is much worse! Indeed Dr. Jordan has fears ——."
"Edward! let us go and see her!"
"Oh! dear wife! truly you are her 'dear daughter,' as she names you in this very letter. Indeed, she has requested that we come and see her—yes, Mary, this last time."
"Oh! we will go, and immediately."
"That happily, Mary, is not necessary; it will do if we can be at Hopeful very early in the summer."
"Would she not, Edward, rejoice to see her little grand-children?"
"That, indeed, is also her request—but—"
"But what, Edward?"
"We must take attendants."
"That is not necessary. I will take care of our children myself."
"Never! I know your fears about Carrie and Frank; but they will not easily leave us."
"Not easily; and yet they might. Dear husband, I fear everything of late; and such disaster would so affect your spirits, and would so retard the attempts our southern friends here are beginning to make towards emancipation schemes. I confess I do fear exposing even these two to the sort of temptation there awaiting them."
"Yes, such a thing would grieve me, Mary; yet, they will, I hope, bear the trial."
"No common tempter, husband, will ever influence
Frank and Carrie. But the very excellence of
these will subject them to arguments not usually set before common negroes, and arguments harder for the generous and noble to answer, than any others."
"I know this," interrupted Mr. L. "But still I cannot, I will not, allow you to go in any other way than a southern lady, come what may. You must go as the niece of Mr. Wardloe; and no loss or grief to myself shall weigh against this determination."
"Always yourself, Edward! I would willingly, for your sake, go unattended and be my 'own help,' but I yield obedience, as a dutiful wife, and will go, therefore, as a southern lady goes when accompanied by her children." "How shall I be received, though? We have never yet taken north any slaves."
"My mother, dearest wife, will receive you as a daughter; the truly religious, as a woman and a Christian; persons of good breeding and good sense, as a lady; but if any choose to forget their own Christianity or politeness, I shall fall back, like an insulted southern, upon 'our reserved state right,' and retire 'from the union;' yet we have little to apprehend."
"Well, my patriotic Edward, I go as you wish; for united we stand, divided we fall."
The spring was now well advanced; but yet nearly
six weeks later than this, our friends had heretofore
set out for the north. Now, if possible, they determined to start in two weeks; and immediately preparations were commenced. The children, greatly delighted, were curious to see a part of the world where only white people lived; Julia wondering if Frank and Carrie would turn white; and if so, how they would be made black on coming home; while George wished to know if they would take a boat along to travel over and upon the rivers.
Mr. Wardloe was in very low spirits, because the children would be absent. He did nothing but wonder what he should do till they returned. He more than once insisted Mr. L. should prevail on his mother to come and live in the South, saying, "It would never do to let such a woman die merely for want of a good climate;" and then seizing his niece in his arms, he would, half-smiling and half-tearful, bid her observe—"how Edward himself had improved!"
On one occasion the niece answered—"Oh! dear uncle! my mind is filled with forebodings—but does Edward really look better?"
"Oh! he is only agitated; he can't be seriously worse, you know! If his mother was only here, he would be well at once."
"Perhaps so, uncle; and yet I sometimes imagine Edward himself does not expect to live long."
"Poh! poh! niece," interrupted Mr. W., "Ed-
ward must be better than he was, you know. Then Frank will take such care of him—why, Frank watches him to death."
"Ah if, maybe, Frank after all should not come back with us!"
"Oh! he will!—that is, if the accursed fanatics let him alone. Indeed, I think they'll fail with him anyhow."
"That is my hope, uncle. And yet I do not so much mind Frank's being coaxed away, as the ill-effect on dear Edward. If Frank should desert us, Edward will never seek for him."
"No! never! Leamington is not the man to hunt up runaways, that's certain. Indeed, if one of Yankee Grim's poor devils ran off—I don't know that I might not screen him myself."
Here the conversation had ended. It was not
much wonder that Mrs. Leamington had her ears
about Frank, knowing, probably, as she did, things
such as the author knows. We, for instance, have
been in a pious minister's study,
where we were introduced to brother
Black, a gentleman of color just delivered for safe-keeping
over the Sabbath, and next day to be forwarded to other
pious and devoted
clergymen on the line towards Boston, or Springfield,
or Canada. And all these holy overseers of other
men's flocks would doubtless have told me with the
same intense satisfaction as did this reverend senti-
nel, how brother Black had run away not because he was badly treated, but from his preference for liberty: and that he had stolen a horse from the master, having done work enough to entitle him to a horse at least! and maybe a cow to boot!
We have been in company with other two equally excellent ministers; who supposing us "one of them," related with glee how they had aided the escape of a mulatto valet, his master having been dexterously trapped into a company of northern gentlemen and ladies; that opportunity might be afforded of doing him that singular favor. It was a new edition altogether of Paul and Onesimus!
And we have known a still more exemplary minister of ——, who decoyed away a simple house servant, till her mistress had left, and then—what? Why, afterwards he let said simpleton take charge of herself—to become maybe a beggar!—possibly a—something worse.
Arrangements were at length all completed; and nothing remained except the final adieus. And these, owing to the circumstances already narrated, were sad. Frank and Carrie were, perhaps, least sad; specially Carrie, who with the consent of all parties was, on the return, to become Mrs. Carrie Freeman. Frank would have been equally joyous, only the parting with his mother brought a cloud over his sunshine.
All, in due time, were in the boats; of which there were several, Mr. Wardloe and other gentlemen having resolved to escort our friends to the city, and see them safely embarked. Two persons, however, lingered on the beach—the mother and her son. This was their first parting!—who could say, if it would be the last?
The arm of Frank sustained Sarah, and she let fall her head upon his bosom! She was striving to be calm—the irregular heaving of her bosom showed the tumult of sorrow within! At length in broken and half-choked words she found utterance for the deep thoughts—
"Frank! Frank! Tibbets no good man—but he talk like an angel! No hear him talk, Frank! You leave Massa Leamington, and your poor mudder's heart break for sartin! Me no want to live no longer!"
"Mother! mother! I will die with dear Master Leamington—but I will never forsake him!"
"Den I live till time come; but Frank, your mudder say for last word—