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The Religious Life of the Negro Slave, [Second Paper].

A LEADING trait in the American negro, reared under the influences of Southern slavery, is, that he is intensely religious. All the superstitious tendencies of his native constitution seem compressed into this channel. All his highest hopes and aspirations are ministered unto through those teachings which, no matter how imperfect in the sight of others, have opened a new life to him. The future, as the Gospel has revealed it, is the great quickener of his mental faculties in their imaginings, desires, fears, and hopes. He is shut out from all knowledge beyond the simple scenes of daily life, and of that invisible world apparent only to his vivid though often erroneous conceptions. But such as this future world is to him, he knows no higher aspiration than the desire to enter upon its enjoyments and experience its fruitions. All that he has learned upon this subject from the preaching around him, appeals most powerfully to his emotional nature. He fears the punishment threatened as no one with less timidity and with less self-abasement can fear it. He exults in the actual deliverance from his fears as those less confiding and less hopeful can never exult. Even his dreams, to others but the wildest vagaries, to him are fraught with special deliverances and unfailing promises. There is nothing in the present life that interests or charms or allures him: it is full of tribulations, toils, deprivations. In the life to come he expects rest, satisfaction, reward. To him the future is thus greatly exalted above-the present.

To fully appreciate the slave, and the character of the institutions under which his peculiarities are developed, one must live in the country. In the agricultural districts, and upon the plantations where are large communities of negroes surrounded by other similar communities, and wholly removed from any disturbing influences, the social and religious characters of the slaves are developed freely and without restraint. Here only will you find the full exhibition of the peculiar virtues and vices of their characters as modified by the influences of religion. Here, too, the religious element becomes the prevailing influence; and the slave's social importance and authority among his fellow-servants depend almost wholly upon his ecclesiastical position, and are exercised mainly through the channel of his church relationships.

Perhaps in no part of the world is the society of different districts of country so purely homogeneous as at the South. The effects of the "peculiar institution" are almost omnipotent, and its overpowering influences shape and mould all departments of life. This fact is of great advantage to those who wish to study the developments of religious life among the negroes; for the history of one community is, in its general features, the history of all. The village of which I was for several years a resident was a court-house town in South Carolina. It was the centre of a large and very wealthy cotton-growing region, and was, moreover, a centre for religious gatherings for the slaves residing for miles around upon the plantations. The church with which the slaves were connected was, in its organization and customs, the counterpart of hundreds of others which I have known in each of the cotton-growing States, and its description will stand for the great majority of similar organizations in the South.

This church was the church of the neighborhood. It numbered about three hundred members, two hundred of whom were slaves. These together constituted but one church under one pastor; though the more immediate supervision of the colored people was confided to colored deacons. The stated order of public services was as follows: On Saturday night there was preaching to the blacks; Sunday morning preaching to the whites, the negroes occupying but the gallery: Sunday afternoon the colored meeting was held, and the whole meeting-house — pews, carpets, cushioned seats, gilt Bibles — all were appropriated by the slaves. In this respect few communities at the North provide so handsomely for the colored people. In the country, at the South, such custom is usual but not invariable.

The Saturday night service was very largely attended, and was rather a favorite season with the more spiritual part of the members. Several circumstances combined to favor a large attendance from the plantations. Saturday night, from before sunset, was, by immemorial custom, the negro's holiday. It was also the time of making their weekly purchases of luxuries from the village stores — generally a few pounds of sugar, a little flour, and a supply of tobacco. It was also the time for carrying their own exchangeable productions to market; and long before sunset they would begin to enliven the various roads, presenting, with their motley array of burdens, a most picturesque appearance. Here was one with half a dozen chickens in a basket — "jess big enough to fry, massa." Another had eggs carefully tied in a colored cotton handkerchief, which had during the week done service as a face-wiper. Another had brooms, made from old field-sedge, and very serviceable upon floors without carpets. Some had berries, some apples, peaches, and whatever other fruits might be in season. Shuck horse-collars and doormats were very abundant — most excellent artiticles they were too, and well worth their "quarter." If a mechanic, the boy would often have split-bottomed chairs, pine tables, and even pails and tubs, displaying no mean skill in their workmanship. If a prudent and reliable servant, and the overseer or the master had permitted, the horse, or, oftener, mule — which had been the week's companion in plowing the field — bore his keeper and fellow-workman — hardly master — by the side of the pedestrians. Never were there more cheerful, gossiping, harmless


groups of peasants. Every one, black or white, greeted them kindly upon meeting, and exchanged salutations — "passing the health of the family." They were too humble and too valuable to be looked upon with contempt, too lowly to arouse toward themselves feelings of pride from "the superior race;" and as there was on their part no assumption, so on the part of their masters there was no appearance of condescension. "How d'ye, John? How's all?" came from the master most cordially. And, "Jess tol'rable, thank God;" and, "How's all to home, master?" were responded with an appearance of perfect self-respect and honest interest. Among themselves the chat was of domestic events — the drought in the field, the grass in "de crap," the gossip of "de white family." And not unfrequently, after the first blush of conversation had passed, of the work of grace in the heart, the comforts of religion, the wearisomeness of the world, and their hopes, so often expressed in "Tank de Lord, we'm almos home."

The hour for the Saturday evening service was always announced by the church bell; but as far as concerned any practical accomplishment of good by the process of bell-ringing the exercise might have been spared the worthy sexton. Who ever saw a negro hurry himself to be in season for any thing, unless somebody was constantly shouting for him? And it at last came to be generally understood that the time when the services should commence was to be determined by the assembling of the congregation, and not by the ringing of the bell.

Indeed, if you wish to call in your colored congregation from the outside gossip and the charm of social greeting, you must have something more attractive than a ball — you must start the singing. "It is time to sing the people in, Wesley," was the usual preliminary announcement. The favorite hymn for this purpose was, "When I can read my title clear." It always brought in the worshipers like magic.

The devotional part of the exercise was introduced by the announcement, "Any brother who wishes will lead in prayer," and there was always a response. If the preaching was by a stupid "white brother," and the night was warm and oppressive, no matter how great his shoutings — he might make the rafters ring, but he couldn't shake the sleepers; or no matter how dull and heavy the preacher, his heaviness couldn't equal that of the slumbers of many of his auditors. Occasionally you might hear from some persevering brother who was struggling to keep awake a faint "Amen! bress de Lord!" but more frequently you would bear the peculiar, almost continuous snore, which is best delineated by their own expressive metaphor of "sawin ob de gourd."

Such effects, however, were manifested but upon the ordinary occasions of the Saturday night preaching, when the labors of the day had been wearisome, and the exercises were protracted in their dullness. But let the congregation be surprised by the unexpected visit of some colored preacher, or let the exercises consist wholly of prayer, exhortation, and singing, and the fervor, vivacity, and life of the meeting would continue for the hour without diminishing.

But the great occasions, and those which excited the greatest interest, and called forth the largest audiences among the negroes, were the funeral sermons.

These were very peculiar occasions, and not the less so that they were of such frequent occurrence. And as great and peculiar occasions call forth great men who alone are fitted to be their adequate exponents, it was not to be wondered at that such emergencies should develop peculiar talents, and discover peculiar adaptabilities in some of the colored preachers around us, many of whom gloried in a peculiar "gift" as their specialty. We had such colored preachers, who, in their assumed importance, seemed to consider themselves affirmative responses to the desponding interrogation of the Apostle: "And who is sufficient for these things?" But we had also one who was too far above such, in the solid worth of his character, in his affectionate manliness of feeling, and in his deep-toned, sagacious piety, ever to be classed among his fellows. He was, par excellence, the preacher of "funerals." And for twenty years he had visited the different neighborhoods of the surrounding country, frequently riding all night in going and returning, that he might exercise his vocation for the benefit and delight of his people.

This man was a genuine negro. He was also, by the gifts of nature and the grace of God, one of the best men that I have ever met. He was known as "Uncle Phil," and among his own people was an object of universal affection and almost worship.

Indeed, Uncle Phil was a great character. To reproduce him in such meagre sketches as these is hardly possible; but even an imperfect outline may enable those who have never seen such slaves to form some faint conception of their idiosyncrasies.

Phil was a South Carolina slave of the purest pedigree. No one could ever have suspected that a tinge of alien blood contaminated the purity of his descent. Every thing about him was suggestive of the plantation. There was no affectation of dress; no foreign importation of town fineries; no beaver, no cravat, no gloves, no cane. His hat was a plantation hat — a coarse felt broad-brim. His shoes were plantation shoes, and adapted to a foot which, including the heel, was fourteen inches in length. His broad shirt-collar, of unbleached homespun, was thrown back from his manly throat in a style which would cause Byron-worshipers to despair in view of their sickly imitations. His wristbands were but smaller editions of his collar, and were rolled upward with an air which


denoted the impatience of a free spirit whose habits of field labor scorned a covering to his bare and brawny wrists. His Sunday frock-coat, of black broadcloth, which had once adorned the shoulders of some substantial "massa," was the only professional garment about him. But what negro preacher ever did resist the fascination of a black broadcloth second-hand? So respectable a vanity amidst so many virtues was surely pardonable.

Phil had an imposing physique, with head, neck, and chest magnificently developed. No athlete could desire any thing finer or of more massive proportions, especially in the upper regions. There was a singular lustiness about him, which was something more than mere brawn and muscle — a fullness and juiciness of development which were suggestive of vigorous manhood and exuberant vitality. There was nothing repulsive about him; none of those indefinable, repelling characteristics which so many negroes possess, and which is best expressed by the epithet Nigger. There was nothing of this; but, on the contrary, a wholesome, genial, winning presence, and an air of such manly self-respect and genuine humility that you felt attracted rather than repelled by his society.

Uncle Phil was a sort of head servant or manager upon his master's plantation, and had special liberties and indulgences. He never in vain wished for a horse or a mule to ride to his distant "appointments." He was never made to fail in these appointments from pressure of business at home. He had some opportunities for reading, though he was not an intellectual negro; and "reading was," he used to say," harder work dan plowin, massa." Yet at night, after his day's work was finished, by the fire-light of pitch-pine he had studied out many texts from the Bible — though he trusted for his knowledge more to what he "heard read;" and he retained the sounds of the words rather than an accurate idea of their meaning.

But the occasions which had developed his peculiar "gift," and given him his great popularity among the negroes, were the funerals. Phil was a preacher of funerals. They were his specialty; and for twenty years he had rarely preached upon any other occasion.

And here, lest any one should winder how the deaths could occur with such regularity that the funeral sermon would always come on Sunday, it will be well to understand that there was no immediate chronological connection between the death and the funeral; and no necessary allusion in the sermon to the life, death, or virtues of the departed. The ceremony seemed not so much commemorative as sacrificial. It was performed as a duty which the survivors among the relatives and associates owed to the memory of their deceased friend. I had heard Phil exercise his "gift" several times, always wondering whose "funeral" he was preaching, and why he never alluded to the departed brother or sister, who had "done gone home to glory," when my mind was unexpectedly enlightened by the old nurse in my family, who had taken upon herself the duty of inviting me to another "funeral," to be preached by Uncle Phil that evening.

I had been delayed during dinner, and was making "out my allowance" after the family had adjourned, when old Sarah, standing behind my chair, very respectfully exercised an old servant's, prerogative of diverting the solitary meal by leading the conversation thus:

"Gwine to preachin, massa?"

"What preaching?"

"Uncle Phil, massa; preaches Sis Sally Green's funeral."

"In the church?"

"No, massa, people nebber all get in de church. Dey been done comin dis long time,"

"Where will be preach?"

"By the well, massa; under the big oak-tree."

"When did Sally die?"

"Lor, massa, she done dead dis two year."

"Where did she live?"

"Way down on de ridge by Mars Watson's."

"Why didn't they have the funeral before?"

"Well, massa, you see dey waits for Phil; and Phil jess got round."

This explained the whole theory of "funerals." During the sermon, which contained nothing peculiarly appropriate to a funeral, and which would have answered for any other occasion as well as for "Sis Sally Green's," nothing special occurred. And at the close, Phil announced that next Sunday week "he would preach Sis Winnie Hughes funeral, at Mr, Kelsey's," in an adjoining neighorhood.

Phil's special characteristic as a preacher was his nervous energy and great earnestness. He had his pathetic touches, and his sublime flights, which were reserved for special effects; but they formed, in regard to his general style, the exceptional features. To attempt the reproduction of one of his sermons would be useless. All attempts to give an adequate, truthful representation of the sermon of a genuine Southern negro must prove miserable failures. Those usually printed are no more like the sermons themselves than they are like the average sermons of white preachers. At best, they are mere burlesques of what are often very earnest performances.

At these "funeral preachings" the audience was generally drawn together, and then soothed into a quiet devotional mood; first by the noise and then by the subduing influences of the singing. The first hymns were voluntaries, generally descriptive, often boisterous, as if to attract attention and "call up the crowd." Then would follow, as if instinctively, more devotional hymns, usually sang in a minor key, and sometimes inexpressibly plaintive. When the attention of all had become thus concentrated Phil would commence, with much solemnity and dignity, the more formal service. The hymn was announced and read, and afterward repeated by being "lined-out" in couplets; though


the number of hymn-books produced, and the conspicuous manner in which they were held — not unfrequently wrong side up — seemed to imply that the lining-out was more a matter of custom than necessity. For singers using hymn-books too the words were sometimes very remarkable; and the significance of the poetry sung was what might be expected from those who were singing alternate lines of each verse.

After the prayer — the style of which, in the negro preachers, differs immaterially from the prayers of uneducated preachers among ourselves — came another hymn, the text, and the sermon. Phil's sermons, in their general want of outline, and in their jumble of thoughts and use of remarkable adjectives, were like the sermons of all other negro preachers in the country. Exposition was not attempted. Description, exhortation, appeal formed the warp and woof. The whole being expressive of his own, and therefore of all negro experiences, trials, comforts, and assurances. Intellectually the sermons were mere trash; so are the sermons of nearly all negro preachers. But the peculiar pathos of tone and expression, the fervid earnestness of utterance, the manly tenderness and assurance were peculiar to the speaker. In the absence of a critical audience these count as great virtues; and as their exhibition made the hearers "feel good," through a strange and inexplicable sympathy, they were satisfied without any analysis of the causes or health fulness of their emotions.

"How did you like Phil?" would be sometimes asked by some curious neighbor. "Well, I liked him," would be the answer. "Did you learn any thing?" "No." "Did he make you cry?" "Almost."

"What did he say?" "Can't tell you." "What did you cry for?" "Couldn't help it."

And there is the whole explanation. Upon every principle of critical analysis, upon every doctrine of the legitimate effect of language to an educated white man, what Phil said was wholly ridiculous. Eat to hear him with his broad, genial, honest face, his eyes full of mildness and suppressed tearfulness, his deep chest tones wonderfully sweet in their modulations, his expression of his own feelings, desires, and hopes in the midst of his trials upon "dis terminated erf." And then his shrinking in view of "de grim summonger of def." His visions of "de pearly gates ob shinin gold." His triumphal "alabaster robes." His gazing on "dat bressed Lamb dat died for Phil." Analytically it was all ridiculous; but to see Phil and hear him preach was to rouse and stir all the tenderest depths of your nature.

I once presented Phil with a volume of "skeletons of sermons," thinking that he might derive from their use some assistance in the more orderly arranging of his own thoughts. He was taken "quite aback" at the idea that sermons had such things as skeletons; and looked vague and incredulous at the idea of his ever using one. He took the book, however, very thankfully, and responded to all my explanations of its contents with, "De good Lord! master, jess to tink ob dat." The idea of a book full of "skeletons" didn't strike him as at all in his line, though he was a "funeral" preacher. He, however, said something about "readin it wid Mary nights;" and wrapping it carefully in an immense red cotton handkerchief tenderly "toted" it home.

I can not dismiss Phil, however, without giving an illustration of the false idea of the pathetic which even negroes entertain. Perhaps I ought to say sense of the pathetic, for they manifestly have no ideas in connection with the subject. Their fancies are caught by the merest word-jinglings, though destitute of all meaning. Even Phil, who was accustomed to witness the deepest emotions in his auditors, and who thought nothing of accomplishing without effort effects which most orators would give their right hands to be able to achieve, never prided himself upon the results of his natural, spontaneous eloquence as he did upon the brilliancy of his quotations, and the admiration which they extorted from his demonstrative auditors.

His favorite pyrotechnic, and one which he almost always introduced when I was present, and doubtless for my especial delectation, was on this wise: "Oh my dyin hearers, you don't know de feelin's of Jesus — you nebber will know the feelin's of de precious Jesus — when he was in the garden, where he sweat de big drops ob blood — when dey took him up afore de Pontius Pilate, and put de thorny crown upon dat blessed brow — and when he hung upon de cross, and when he cry, Elias! Elias!! ELEMI!!! BETHANI!!!!" This was the climax. To translate it Phil never condescended. He would not mar by any less classical language the effectiveness of a most profound impression.

Phil always received as his acknowledged due the spontaneous offerings of the auditors, made at the "collection" which closed the services. By some process of insight or of experience, Phil and the deacons had learned that the colored brethren had a soft spot in their otherwise impervious craniums, and that its legitimate manifestation was vanity. They adroitly took occasion to "work" this spot, and make it yield a more generous contribution to the perquisites of the "respected preacher." And so the collection was "taken up," or rather laid down, under these imposing circumstances:

Before dismissing the congregation "wid benediction in de long metre," the preacher would descend from the pulpit, and stand by the side of the table which is usually placed before it. A lively hymn would then be "raised," and continued while those who were liberally disposed came forward, one by one, and laid their silver upon the table. As a financial expedient, judging from the comparative results whenever the usual method of "passin de hat" was resorted to, this move of receiving contributions was a great success. To do Phil justice, however, he never seemed mercenary, and never


himself manifested any solicitude about the silver. Whatever it was, it was a free-will offering which was given joyfully, accompanied often by a convulsive grasp of the preacher's hand, and the fervently uttered prayer — half sob, half ejaculation — "Brudder Phil, de Lord bress you!"

Few educated pastors have ever been able to satisfy themselves whether or not the best of their negro church-members possess any definite, reasonable ideas of the soul or of God, as spiritual existences. Still less have they been able to arrive at any initelligent convictions as to the slaves conceptions of what ideas were conveyed by such abstract terms as holiness, sanctification, virtue, purity, etc. Whatever involved any material or palpably objective element the slaves could clearly understand; and such ideas as obedience, repentance, reward, all were conceived by their intelligences with a certain degree of accuracy. But to speak of growing in grace, of the purification of the soul, of the divine life, and the rewards of an exalted faith, always seemed like preaching mysticism and transcendentalism to little children.

To satisfy our minds concerning the truth of such conclusions we must resort to the "experiences" of the negroes. These experiences are their own descriptions of their emotions when under the influence of religious truths and spiritual operations. Sometimes these experiences are revealed in conversation, and form the subject of social gossip. But their more formal and imposing narration is reserved for what are termed "Experience Meetings," and which are usually held as preparatory to the negro's "joining the church" upon a public profession of religion.

In attending such meetings in different neighborhoods, from Louisiana to Virginia, I have always found the same prominent features delineated. So invariable has been the recurrence of ideas, phrases, and descriptions that one is puzzled in accounting for the uniformity. Have the slaves learned from each other certain formulas, which are perpetuated like traditions among rude and half-civilized nations? Or is there truly but one impressional mould, every where homogeneous and characteristic of the race, in which all their religious experiences are shaped? However this may be, the fact that these "experiences" are the same is unquestionable. I have heard hundreds, I suppose I might say thousands, in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia, on the sea-board and in the mountains, and I have heard always and every where the same story. It is easy to say that these negroes learn it from each other, and that it has been carried from Virginia by the southern and westward tides of emigration. Or one may say that the same influences, acting upon the same natures, must essentially produce the same results; and as the human heart is the same, and the Divine Spirit the same, there must be in the nature of things a general uniformity.

These results produced by "conversion," according to the universal experience of the negro slave, are as follows, and I give the language as I have heard it in substance from many hundreds at their meetings.

The usual accompaniments of the narration — the singing and other devotional exercises — having been concluded, the pastor says,

"We will now hear from these brethren and sisters what God has done for their souls. Will you begin, Johnson?"

Johnson rises and proceeds as follows:

"De odder night I was sittin by de fire, an I gin thinkin. Arter a while I gin a feelin bad. I's done bin to de prayer meetin, an I sort a gin feelin bad dere; an I was thinkin about it when I went home, an den I gins to feel wusser. Well, all dat night I feels drefful. Seem like dere was a big load a pressin me down. I feel so bad I tort I should die. All dat night I wish for de mornin; an when de mornin comes I got no better; an I got wusser all de day. Well, Sah, I couldn't bear dat load. I says to myself, Wat mus I do? I try ebery ting, an de load still dere. Den I says I shall die for sure. Dese sins kill me. Dey press me till I dead. Well, I goes round all dat day. Brudder Sam see me. John see me. All de folks say, Wat's de matter? An I couldn't tell, I feel so pressed. Den Uncle Fete, he come see me; tell me I mus pray. Den I goes out into de field; I pray dere. Den I goes to de yard; I prays dere. Den I stops in de fence corner; an I pray dere. An de more I pray de wuss I feel. Dat night de blessin come. Fust I see leetle light come shinin down de corner ob de room. Den it git bigger an bigger. Den somethin take me right up, an hold me ober de great big pit. An I look down an I see do smoke an de fire. An He shake me ober dat pit, an I jess gwine to fall in, when de Lord Jesus come right down in de room, an he take me up, an he leave me so happy! I feel so happy I love ebery body."

"You think you are converted?"

"Yes, master, bress de Lord! I's so lovin'! I loves ebery body — all de trees, an de chicken, an de peoples; I loves ebery ting an ebery body."

"Why do you wish to join the church?"

"De Bible tell us to join de church."

"Why do you wish to be baptized?"

"De Lord Jesus was baptized."

This forms the experience of the best and most intelligent among them. The peculiar imagery of the light, the fire, and the loving feelings are almost invariable. If you question the "candidate," hoping to draw him out by elucidation, or at least variation, very little result is produced beyond the repetition of the same incidents. The story seems to have been learned for the occasion.

The rules of the church require, upon such occasions, that the "candidate," in addition to his "experience," shall produce from his master a written permission to join the church, and also stating that, as far as known, the servant's


character is good and consistent. The negro deacons also testify to their favorable opinion of the candidate, when, by a vote, he is admitted to membership.

These experiences when analyzed readily resolve themselves into the different gradations of feeling expressed by the words awakening, conviction, pardon, and thus every intelligent pastor must necessarily understand them. But then as they are really given how little do they contain but sensuous impressions! The great load and pressure, corresponding to the state known in scientific theology as awakening, is always located by a significant gesture as being felt in the region of the diaphragm. The second stage, that of conviction, is expressed by the pit and flame, and the imminent danger of helpless destruction. The pardon and deliverance by Christ, under the form of a palpable, bodily rescue, succeeded by a state of ineffable physical delight.

Who can tell the true relation which all these "experiences" sustain to the work of spiritual regeneration? Let us not heartlessly condemn where we can not intelligently answer. That the negro is made better by even such a change no one can doubt. That his religion is to him a source of unceasing comfort and support none can deny. Nor can any one say that He who is alike the creator of man's nature and the author of the Gospel has not so adapted the truth to the necessities of the creature, that the one shall meet every possible want of the other, even of the least intellectual and most sensuous of his creatures.

But if such uncertainty pertains to the more sober and consistent experiences, how much more perplexing to the Christian philosopher are those which may be termed the visionary and imaginary experiences. These, while the same in substance as that already given, are in their clothing and coloring more fanciful, more florid, and more highly sensuous. They are the experiences of the impressible natures among them — of men, and oftener of women and children, who in a free, cultivated condition would become poets and orators among their people. There are such fine natures among the negroes, though in a crude and undeveloped state; persons who have vivid imaginations and fervid temperaments, and in-whom the religious element takes shape and coloring from these prevailing traits of character. And yet even here it is to be remarked, that that which is thus gilded and intensified is also greatly materialized. There is still the supremacy of the sensuous over the spiritual, and the entire subordination of the one to the other — as if all fervor, power, and imagery were with them but a deeper or wider development of the same sensuous element. In illustration of this I will mention the case of Julius. The manner in which he was brought to my notice is also instructive.

One evening I was waited upon by Harper, one of our colored deacons. He came to inform me that there had been "a great power" felt daring the two weeks just past, and that as the result some twenty or thirty were ready for the experience meeting. This awakening had occurred on a neighboring plantation, and had been entirely developed through the instrumentality and under the management of the colored deacons. What Harper seemed especially anxious to communicate was to prepare my mind for the wonderful experiences of two boys, brothers, and sons of a good old sister who belonged to the colored aristocracy. As to what constituted the peculiarity of Julius's experience Harper did not like to be communicative, only asserting that I would bo astonished when I should hear it from Julius himself. During the next day I was visited by others of the colored church, who also spoke of Julius, of his remarkable experience, of his angelic looks, and of what seemed to be a kind of rapt utterance, carrying them almost beyond this present evil world.

Of course I was somewhat expectant when the Saturday evening came, and in arranging for the narrations, acting according to an old maxim, I thought I would reserve the best for the last. So after the others had finished I called up Julius, fully expecting that he would electrify both myself and the colored assembly. And so he did.

The boy had a very bright, impressible-looking face, with large gazelle eyes, and an expression denoting great liveliness and emotional susceptibility. He commenced his experience after the accustomed manner, and it contained all the usual figures, the same pressure, same light, same relief. In all of which he was evidently under restraint, and was acting a part which had been taught him. Suddenly, however, having completed the formal routine experience, his whole face brightened, his eyes assumed a suffused expression, and, breaking from the beaten path, he commenced:

"An den I went to hebben."

"What!" said I.

"An den I went to hebben."

"Stop, Julius. You mean you had a dream, and thought you went to heaven."

"No, Sah: an' den I went to hebben, and dere I see de Lord Jesus, a sittin' behind de door an' a reading his Bible."

Julius's experience never got beyond that heavenly scene, though he had plenty more to relate. And yet the rapt, earnest look, the expanded iris, the irrepressible vehemence of the rhapsodist, all showed a most unmistakable sincerity. Had lie continued a few moments longer a third part of the audience would have been in transports, and many of them in convulsions.

The same propensity is perceptible in their personification, or rather materialization, of abstract ideas, expressive of cither moral attainments or moral states. It is exceedingly difficult to say how far the negro's ideas of holiness and happiness bear any relation to what we understand by the states or conditions which to us are expressed by these, terms. A ludicrous incident, illustrating the ideas of happiness which


some of them entertain, occurred at one of these experience meetings. It will be readily seen that that peculiar happiness attendant upon holiness, and the exercise of the benevolent affections, could hardly have been embraced in the description.

There were present some twenty or more candidates, who had professed conversion at a recent revival meeting. Among them was a woman of a bright and lively temperament, and who in her experience, after exhausting the usual commonplace description, dwelt quite glowingly upon the happy feelings which had resulted from the change. So very vivid seemed her enjoyment that the pastor, wishing to test the depth of her knowledge, took some pains to elicit a more minute definition. Thus:

"Well, Susan, what do you mean by feeling so happy?"

"Oh, Sah, I so lovin. I loves ebery ting an ebery body. I loves de bird in de yard, an de close-line, an de gate-poss, an ebery ting. I so happy."

"But, Susan, we want to know how you feel when you feel happy. Describe your feelings."

"Oh, Sah, I so happy; I can't tell, Sah, how happy." (Pause.) "I feel, Sah, jess like I had a fiddle in my belly."

But in seeking to form an intelligent opinion of the truthfulness of the negro's conceptions of religious things no less serious difficulty is experienced from their vague and indefinite use of language when attempting to describe their ideas. No doubt their ideas upon many subjects are to themselves clearly denned, and could be clearly expressed to others had they any true conception of the form and meaning of words. But, with their super-sensuous temperaments, and entire ignorance of written language, it is not strange that they should be captivated with words containing certain sounds, and then, upon occasions which seem to them appropriate, repeat the words which have impressed them pleasingly, without the most remote conception of their meaning.

Here is an incident very illustrative of this propensity: A gentleman, under appointment as missionary to Japan, had been visiting us, and when leaving was accompanied by Joe, whose business it was to attend the wharf attached to the premises, and carry whatever baggage was to be transported to or from the house. After seeing the gentleman fairly off, and while returning to the house, Joe, who had heard part of the conversation between us, and who had some ideas as to what it referred, delivered himself as follows:

"I s'pose, Sir, we nebber see dat gentleman no more. S'pose he gwine among dem heatheners.

"Yes, Joe, he is going among them heatheners."

Joe, having been thus successful in his preliminary investigations, after pondering the subject for some minutes, formally announced his conclusions:

"Massa, what kind of people is dem heatheners? Specs dey got no moralizn' conversations, no 'ligious juredictions among 'em."

An opinion to the truth of which the master assenting, Joe was henceforth perfectly satisfied.

We think it must appear very palpably evident that the attempt to infer the character of ideas and conceptions concerning religious truths from language used so very independently is the pursuit of a very peculiar kind of knowledge under very peculiar difficulties. We may perhaps reach, through a happy faculty of conjecturing what is meant, some faint idea of the negro's meaning; but we can never judge of their own conceptions of the meaning of what they utter, especially concerning spiritual operations and truths.

Here is a specimen of what occurred at a prayer-meeting on a plantation. This "colored brother" always made himself very conspicuous in devotional meetings, and always edified the assembled congregation by prayer after the following manner:

"O Lord, hab mercy on Mars Posey's Ben, what don't know his God from a side of soleleather. An, Ben, if you don't get de pentance and seek de consummation, you gone fore you knows it. An, O Lord, dere more sich sinners here now. An, sinners, ef you nebber pray to Jesus, de debbel hab you for sure. Oh, sinners, pent gin dem circumstances. Make de ponderashun fore de summonger catch you. O Massa Lord Jesus, help dese poor sinners!"

This brother always prayed as if the Deity was bodily present among the sinners. Hence he addressed each alternately, continuing thus until the close of his prayer, and ending with the following characteristic:

"Much obleeged for your kind 'tention. Amen!"