THE following sketches of Slave Life and Labour in the Confederate States of America, from the pen of a Northern Man, which recently appeared in Fraser's Magazine, are so unlike the familiar fictions of the Abolitionists, that the friends of the South, and of the Truth, deem it expedient to re-publish them in pamphlet form.
Negroes and Slavery in The United States.
FREEDOM AND SLAVERY. — These words, almost synonymous with good and evil, happiness and misery, are far from being absolute in their signification. They but represent the more or less of freedom to obey, or to violate, the laws of nature by everything that lives. Who or what is absolutely free, either in the heavens above, or in the earth beneath? The sun, the moon, and the stars; the planets in their orbits, and the comets in their flights, obey the great laws which keep them in their course — the nicely balanced centripetal and centrifugal forces, — while every animate and inanimate thing in nature is chained to its sphere, fixed in its destiny, and bound by Fate to an eternity of limitations — to the perpetual slavery of its own existence. The moon is not at liberty to change places with the sun; the asteroids with stars; nor fishes that were made to swim in the sea, with animals
6created to run on the land, or birds to fly in the air. Fern-leaves cannot become rose-bushes; thorn trees cannot produce grapes; the ass cannot be converted into the horse, nor the negro into a white man. There is no such thing as transubstantiation in nature; and there is no such thing as equality in man. All men are created unequal, and no man is born free — the primary proposition of the American "Declaration of Independence" to the contrary notwithstanding. In infancy and age he is alike the slave of weakness; and in all his career, more or less the slave of sickness, poverty, passion, and sin. Confined to beds of pain; shut up in prison cells; circumscribed by social laws; oppressed by physical necessities, and the victim of his own transgressions, what man is free to do what he would, or what he could, if liberated from the thousand restraints that hamper him at every step from the cradle to the grave? Many conditions are requisite to the enjoyment of even comparative freedom. Health, wealth, knowledge, and position, are each and all essential means to this chief end of life — this summum bonum of human ambition; and the difference between the king and the beggar consists more in the kind than in the degree of liberty enjoyed by each; — the one cannot drive in a state-coach; the other cannot luxuriate in the Bohemian freedom of the street. Let us admit that liberty is happiness; and that human life, in the unit and in the aggregate, is one continued struggle to "enlarge the area of freedom;" to get rid of hereditary clogs and impediments; to exchange work for wishes; feet for wings; and bodies for souls. Who, then, we repeat, is truly free? Ignorance is slavery; sickness is slavery; love is slavery; debt is slavery; and sin a slavery worst of all. Bunyan's Pilgrim — a true type of humanity through all his career of progress — what a struggling, suffering slave is he!
Of physical and moral slavery, from which no mortal is or ever can be entirely exempt, we do not propose to treat; but of that other form of restriction and servitude called political slavery, which, although least onerous, seems in all ages of the world to
7have made up the great sum of human complaints. And wherefore? Because the bondage is imposed by man upon his fellow man — by the many upon the few — by the strong upon the weak. The history of the human race is little else than one long record of this eternal strife; and as human slavery has always existed, who shall say that it will ever be utterly abolished! Grant slavery to be an evil, and of what magnitude you will: which is worse, slavery or war? If human governments are necessary to ensure human happiness and social order, there must be men to rule as well as subjects to be ruled; servants to obey, as well as masters to command.
In England and America, no white man, be he the son of a king, is politically "free" until he is twenty-one years of age; and in the latter country, or in the Southern portion of it, the black man, by the laws of the State, is never politically free, but remains a minor all his life. To look into the real condition of these four millions of enslaved Africans in America is the object we now propose; and if we find, upon careful examination, the condition of the slave not quite so bad as it has been represented by Abolition fictions, we trust no offence will be taken thereat.
Slavery in the abstract — the right of man to property in man — is something at which humanity revolts; and the more enlightened and free a nation becomes, the greater is the popular repugnance to slavery. One who has enjoyed the blessings of liberty naturally enough commiserates the condition of the slave, who nevertheless is often happier — that is, he has fewer wants unsatisfied — than the philanthropist who is weeping over him. The rich man, counting his golden treasures, pities or despises the poor man who has none; and yet the latter, blessed with good health, good appetite, and "a conscience void of offence," may quite possibly be in the more enviable condition of the two. Even the beggar Lazarus, with none but dogs to nurse him, is less to be pitied than "the rich man Dives," in all the purple and
8plenitude of his riches. Such are the illusions of life, and the deception of "outward appearances."
Whether slavery in the abstract is good or evil, is a question to which there can be but one answer; but whether slavery is right or wrong, is a question to which we should say — that depends upon circumstances. Imprisonment is an evil; and yet it may be right, because of its necessity. Liberty is indeed a blessing — the first, and last, and greatest of blessings — but there are individuals, and tribes, and even races of men, whose liberty must be restricted, in order to promote "the greatest good of the greatest number." The most advanced nations of the earth deem it wise, prudent, and right to deprive men of the liberty to make contracts or even to receive the reward of their own labour until they have attained nearly half of the average years of human life; and yet how many English and American boys at the age of ten are better qualified for freedom, and more competent to take care of themselves, than the average of African negroes at their fullest maturity! And then, too, consider the constrained, not to say servile, condition which the conjugal relation, the bondage of matrimony, imposes upon the better half of humanity — the domestic and political slavery to which the wives of all Christendom are subjected by laws which they have no hand, either in framing or in executing. By the statute laws of slavery-hating England, a man may beat his wife, so that it be not immoderately. If he has forced her to loathe his companionship, she is forbidden to leave him; and if she fly, the law will force her back into his arms. Her person, her fortune, are her husband's property in the harshest sense of the word.
In the Southern, or Confederate, States of America, including the Border States, we find, in round numbers, about 4,000,000 of slaves, a multiplication of the seed originally stolen in Africa by the kidnappers of Old England and of New England; and transported chiefly by the ships of London, Liverpool, and Bristol; and of Boston, Salem, Newport, and New York. Of the aboriginal
9condition of these savages and cannibals all the world is well aware; and, judging from all accounts, two hundred years have not improved the race in the land of their nativity. What time has done for these children of darkness in America, and what they have done in "the land of bondage" for the benefit of mankind, we propose to show by facts gathered from personal observation.
In order to understand the real condition of the slave, it is better to visit him at his every-day work on the plantation, than to look after him in the pages of popular fiction. As the highly coloured hero of a "sensation romance," the negro may be more interesting to the "general reader" than when represented as the contented labourer in the Cotton or the Cane field; but we take it for granted that every honest reader wants facts, and nothing but facts, on the question of Slavery, having been too long fed on the east wind of falsehood. Are, then, these 4,000,000 of slaves more happy or less happy than the same number of free toilers for daily bread, either in America or any other portion of the civilized world? Are they, in their present condition, more happy or less happy than their own race in Africa, or more or less happy than they would be if the "Emancipation Act" should set them free to-day, or nest year, or next century, conferring upon them the blessing of political and personal freedom, while at the same time dooming them to the necessity of taking care of themselves? To answer these questions we must consider what are the conditions indispensable to human happiness, and especially to negro happiness, never losing sight of the fact that the negro is not a white man, that his wants are not as our wants, and that white minds do not exist in black bodies; in plain English, black is not white, and all the fallacies and false logic of theorists cannot make it so. One man eats to live, and another lives to eat; and the organic constitution or natures of these human antipodes are almost as unlike as animals of different species. The white Anglo-Saxon man of England, and the coal-black
10man of Abyssinia have fewer points of resemblance than the Arabian courser and the Spanish donkey. The African race at this present age of the world is not the master but the servant of the great household of man. Cycles of ages hence it may possibly become the white man's turn to serve, while the black man sits at the head of the table. But his journey through "the land of bondage" must be long, and the time of his deliverance is not yet. We have heard zealous negrophilists assert that Adam was a black man, that Moses was a black man, and that Christ was a black man! In giving a general denial to these absurd assertions of the Abolitionists, it is not for us to predict what may or may not be the condition of the various races of Man at the time of the next great Cataclysm, when the sea and the dry land shall again exchange places, and when from the selected seed of another Ark humanity shall begin its career anew! In the mean time we have to deal with men and things as we find them in this nineteenth century of the Christian era, and most especially, for the moment, with this great and troublesome fact before us — the existence of 4,000,000 of African slaves in the disunited and distracted States of America.
We respectfully invite the reader to dismiss his prejudices, and accompany us, with his eyes open, his ears open, and his mind "open to conviction," on a brief tour through Slaverydom, pausing here and there on our journey to visit the negro in his "quarters."
The great staples of the Southern States are cotton, sugar, tobacco, and rice; and in the production of these important articles of commerce the great body of the slaves are employed — men, women, and children. The climate essential to the growth of these products is mild in winter and hot in summer, so that clothing, except for decency sake, is scarcely necessary for the comfort of the slaves. The fruits of the earth are abundant and spontaneous; that is, a lazy "vegetarian," like the hero of the "Castle of Indolence," might fold his hands all the year round
11and feast upon the "natural food" bursting from the ground or bending from the tree. The culture of the crops is the pleasantest and healthiest sort of labour; and at certain seasons of the year, even upon the best systemized plantation, there is little or nothing for the negroes to do, while at others all hands are busied and sometimes hurried. It is a well-known fact, however, that the busier the season the merrier the slave. It is then that he carols loudest in the field, and thrums his banjo liveliest in his cabin.
A Rice Plantation.
Passing through the tobacco regions of Virginia — not having any particular taste for the cultivation of "the weed" — let us make our first visit to a rice plantation in South Carolina, situated about twenty-five miles from the city of Charleston. The estate is owned by our old friend, General G—, ex-United States' Minister to Mexico, and is worked by about two hundred "field-hands." The good old gentleman takes us by rail from the city to the station in the midst of the pines, where a couple of coloured boys are waiting with a patriarchal-looking carriage to receive us. It is a calm, clear, golden evening in the month of April, and the drive of some three miles through the primeval park to the General's mansion is delightful. The inexhaustible odour of the warm forest — a sea of perfume, spiced with the fragrance of an infinity of wild flowers, refreshed and exhilarated at least two of "our gentle senses;" while the mockingbird, "sweetest of singers," poured from his little throat floods of delicious music.
It is planting week on the rice plantation; and before sunrise the level lowlands bordering the river swarm with labourers. The morning is warm and cloudless, and all nature seems to exult and expand in the spring-tide fulness of life and joy. The slaves singing at their work, look as "merry as the morn."
We accompany our venerable host, the patriarchal master, to the busy field, where he is greeted with looks, and words, and gestures not only respectful, but affectionate; and with something of the natural and honest pride which a loyal peasant of England feels on being visited in his cottage by the squire's lady. We are struck with the fine physical condition, of the negroes, with their laughing faces and merry voices, as we see them engaged in their light labour, thinly but modestly clothed; while here and there a handsome and graceful figure startles us with the beauty of a bronze Venus or an ebony Apollo. On pointing out a fine young woman as the belle of the plantation, whose every motion and attitude was an inspiration for a sculptor, the master remarked that "she was formerly the best dancer on the estate; but that she had recently joined the Church, and given up dancing."
The labour of the rice plantation is light, and generally done by "tasks;" that is, each one has his day's work allotted to him; and, upon the estate we are now visiting, the more industrious hands finish their task by twelve or one o'clock in the day; or, if they continue to work through the day, their week's work is done by the middle of the week. The rest of the time is their own, which is usually devoted to the cultivation of a small garden attached to each cabin; and the pigs, poultry, and vegetables which they raise are exclusively their own property, not by law, but by universal consent. These they sometimes sell to their masters, sometimes to their neighbours, or they take them to the nearest market town, and exchange them for "luxuries." The proceeds of these sales are seldom hoarded for the purpose of buying their own "freedom," but are generally spent in fine clothes, showy trinkets, gay bandannas, banjos, &c., &c. But they usually save enough of these independent earnings to enable them to make small presents on birthdays and fÄte days to the various members of their master's household; and, on the occasion of a marriage of a young master or young mistress, the
13whole plantation rejoices in a "high holiday," when there is no end of little gifts and good wishes. All these amenities and remembrances are reciprocated at new years and at the wedding feasts of the slaves. There are exceptional instances in all the Southern States of slaves becoming rich by a careful saving and profitable investment of their extra earnings, but who, instead of using their capital to purchase their liberty, have voluntarily lent the money to their owners to save them from bankruptcy. The slave who is well treated, as a general rule, will do anything to serve his master, and will even sometimes die to save him! The events of the last two years are illustrated by thousands of instances of the self-sacrificing devotion of the slave to his master; while many who have been kidnapped by Federal soldiers have watched their opportunity to escape back into slavery as fugitives from freedom! They have, in some cases, murdered their "liberators," swam rivers, and wandered for weeks through swamps and marshes, in order to return to the "old plantation," and to live and die contented with "the old folks at home."
After the rice-field we visit the Chapel, the Hospital, and the Nursery, "institutions" to be found on every well-regulated plantation. It being week-day, the Chapel, of course, is empty, and the Hospital nearly so, not more than a dozen being on the sick-list, and these decrepit from age, or "confined" by natural causes. But the Nursery is swarming with "Piccaninnies," from the infant of a day upwards; and almost every child has another child, a little smaller than itself, in its arms. These little black and bronze statuettes, most of them "as naked as they were born," on the approach of the master bob their little "woolly heads," and commence singing like a flock of blackbirds. It is difficult to make out the words of the ditty beyond the everlasting refrain which keeps recurring like an old-fashioned "fugue," assuring us that they are all happy, and
14The negro is naturally musical, that is, in the same sense that frogs and birds are musical; but he never invents melodies or writes poetry. All the "Coloured Songs" and "Negro Melodies" of the "Minstrels" are written for him, and "adapted" to his situation by white folks, just as "nursery rhymes" are made for, not by, children in the nursery. He is physically happy, and therefore sings and dances; but, like the mockingbird, he has no tune of his own beyond the natural cries of joy or pain. He seldom speaks correct English, but a sort of childish patois. The following words of "Dandy Jim," the popular song of the Carolina "darkies," illustrate both the peculiar dialect and the feeling of "state pride" which the negro shares in common with his master. This song is quite as classic as "Jim along Josey," which President Lincoln is said to have called for amid the groans of the dying on the bloody field of Antietam: —
Dat Souf Carolina am de State
Whar hansum niggars am boun to shine,
Like Dandy Jim ob Caroline.
For my ole massa tole me so;
I'se de best-looking niggar in de county, O,
I look in de glass and I found it so
Just as my ole massa tole me, O."
But "Dandy Jim" goes to the lively tune of a rattling jig, with hand and heel, and banjo accompaniment; while most of the negro music, like all the sounds in nature, is pitched on the minor key. Their "Dearest Mays" and "Lucy Neals," so much bewailed in the "Land of Dixie," and besung all over the world, remind one of the wild and lonely music of the Arabs; the sad lament of the desert; the dreary echoes of desolation; the mournful and monotonous complaint of an infinite want, sighing from the heart of an eternal sorrow.
But we must quit this pleasant plantation, and our amiable and excellent host, with the single remark, that under the administration of so humane a master the institution of slavery
15does not appear to be the unmixed evil, much less the "abhorrent crime," that it is represented. In consequence of the necessity of flooding the rice fields several times during the process of the crop, by artificial means, the malaria arising from stagnant water renders the cultivation of rice fatal to white men; while the negro is able to resist the atmospheric poison, as he resists the burning rays of the vertical sun, being provided with a skull and a skin expressly adapted to the malign influences of the tropics.
A Cotton Plantation.
Let us now glance at a cotton plantation in the State of Mississippi, where the more important staple is cultivated on a larger scale, and where the "peculiar institution" may be seen flourishing in all the glory, or disgrace, connected with the system of slave labour. Not far from the city of Vicksburg, on the banks of the mighty river, that "hard nut" which the Federal gunboats have found it so difficult to "crack," we find an estate measured by square miles rather than by broad acres, and "stocked" with a thousand negroes. The master, who is yet a young man, has inherited both his lands and his slaves; and, at the breaking out of the war, his income from his crops, over and above all expenses, amounted to more than a hundred thousand dollars a year, while the natural increase of stock, and the growing value of the land, add another hundred thousand dollars annually to his fortune. We find the princely planter living in a large and elegant mansion, luxuriously furnished with all the means, appliances, and appointments of a wealthy English nobleman. His territorial dominion, almost as large as a German "principality," extends beyond his vision, and is quite a little kingdom. As the sun rises and sets on his estate, the master may exclaim, —
The negro huts or cabins, all neatly whitewashed, form a village of peasantry surrounding the palace of their king; and, with the great world entirely shut out from view, life on a Mississippi plantation is something very different from life in town, or even country life anywhere else. Neighbours are remote; but horses and carriages are plenty; while the hospitality of the planter is unbounded and his guests unlimited. His family is seldom without visitors; and there are always extra covers at table for any chance guests that may happen to drop in. The household servants are neatly clad, and exceedingly attentive. There is nothing they will not do for you, and do it better than any other servants we have ever found in any quarter of the world. In shaving, bathing, brushing, and dressing his master, the negro man servant is without a rival; and the ladies, who are more fastidious about their habits and their hair, assure us there is no "dressing-maid" in Europe equal to the coloured maid of the South, who has been educated from infancy in all the duties and mysteries of the feminine toilette. But let us hasten to the fields, and take a look at a sea of cotton in all its glory. Not, however, in the glory of its rosy efflorescence — a rich and rare sight — but in the richer and riper beauty of the bursting bolls, when the great staple that clothes the world — and feeds it too — is first revealed to the rejoicing eye of the planter, in the bright sunshine of an autumn morning. The curious culture of the crop here culminates; the fine filament is perfected; the delicate secret is unfolded, and the whole field is lighted up with a smile of invitation to the fingers of the master. It is "picking season" on the cotton plantation; and a more picturesque "field of vision" can nowhere be seen than is here spread out before us. Countless "darkies," of both sexes, and of all sizes and ages, are scattered as far as the eye can see, their black heads bobbing up and down as they stoop to gather from the open bolls the white, flossy, downy treasure, and cram it into the long pouch hanging at their sides. Here we first behold and "handle" the magic fibre which
17supplies the wardrobe of the world, keeps the wheels of human industry in motion, and marks the progress of civilization as it circles over the globe. Without a shirt, man remains a savage; and while linen, silk, and wool are luxuries, cotton is the prime necessity of social life.
Cuffee in his Cabin.
But we must not let our thread of cotton lead us into collateral speculations. Much might here be said of the wonderful inventions connected with the manufacture of spinning jennies, power-looms, cotton gins, and steam presses; but a more important question is before us — the negro, under the "accursed institution of slavery," employed in the production of the great staple which keeps the mills of Manchester in motion, and the poor labourers of Lancashire from starvation. And what do we behold? Half-famished slaves driven to their tasks by whips? On the contrary, we see them going cheerfully to the field, not with sullen brows, but with laughing faces; not like the miner to his hole, nor the operative to his mill, with sad steps and emaciated forms, scarcely earning enough from day to day to keep soul and body together; and when sickness comes, or work ceases, to be registered as "paupers" and supported by charity. The property of the master is the savings bank of the slave; and he has the right to draw on it for a living when no longer able to work. After seeing the slaves engaged in all their various employments, in nearly all of the Southern States, the truth compels us to declare that we have never seen a blow struck upon the body of a slave, nor witnessed a single instance of physical suffering caused by cruelty of treatment on the part of the master. On the cotton, as well as on the rice plantation, we find the negro well fed, sufficiently clad, lightly tasked, and generally looking comfortable and contented. If this assertion is
18contrary to the "generally received opinion," all we can say is, that the generally received opinion is an erroneous one; and that it has been produced by writers who have drawn on their imagination for their facts, and whose logic is as false as their fictions. Uncle Tom's Cabin bears no resemblance to the real "cabins" to be found on any Southern plantation; while the villain of that romance could not live a single day in any town or village of the South.
Before leaving the cotton plantation, perhaps the reader would like to look a little more closely into the domestic life and social condition of the slave — to take a peep into "Cuffee's" cabin, and to see how he and his "Dinah" pass their time in the hours of idleness and of rest. And here, we may remark that "Cuffee" and "Dinah" are general, rather than specific, names for the negroes; and that the slaves always assume the surnames of their owners. For instance, Brown's negroes are all Browns, and Jackson's are all Jacksons; but in "Christian names" the slave is at liberty to choose for himself; and he generally adopts the most pompous and ambitious to be found in history. There is no limit to the Caesars, Pompeys, Scipios, Ciceros, Hannibals, and George Washington among the boys; nor to the Lucretias, Lucindas, Cleopatras, Maria Antoinettes, Josephines, and Victorias among the girls; but there are no Harriet Beecher Stowes, nor Harriet Martineaus; and probably no "Abe Lincolns" or "Bill Sewards;" while, doubtless, a hundred thousand negrokins during the past two years have been baptized in the names of Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, Bob Lee, and Beauregard. The negro is not only proud to support a "great name;" but still more proud to be owned by a rich master. "Poor white trash" is his special detestation; and the slaves of different owners seldom meet without a warm dispute upon this point, about which they sometimes quarrel like the servants of the Montagues and Capulets. In order to carry their points, they will put the most extravagant estimates upon themselves,
19and the most preposterous prices upon every item of property belonging to their masters, sometimes insisting that an old family clock is "worf a tousand dollar."
We will now pay an evening visit to the "negro quarters," and drop in for a moment on Mr. Andrew Jackson Marshall and Mrs. Lucretia Victoria Marshall, who are rejoicing in the first blissful quarter of their honeymoon. We find them sitting cosily, without "company," in their comfortable cabin, with a little work-table between them, the bride busily stitching at one of those small doll-like garments, which seem to afford the greatest possible pleasure to young brides of all complexions addicted to needlework; while the happy husband grins and gazes in idle admiration at his new-made wife and the object of her delicate industry. They rise and salute the master with the most cordial and respectful deference — "proud ob de honour ob de visit." The cabin is new, and newly furnished by the wedded pair, whose united savings have enabled them to purchase for themselves comfortable chairs, a nice bed, and all the little utensils essential to domestic comfort and economy. We see nothing here of the squalid destitution of an Irish "shanty;" encounter no smell of pig or whisky; nothing of the rags, wretchedness, disease, and famine to be found in the huts and holes and caves of the beggars, paupers, and sometimes even of the poor labourers of Ireland and even England. The slaves are never stinted in food, but are served with abundant "rations" of meat and vegetables every day, "hog and hominy" being the standard dish of the slave as well as of the master, with hot coffee in the morning, and all the various kinds of fruits in their season. In fine weather they generally take their meals in the open air; and breakfast and dinner, in the busiest time of the year, is usually sent to them in the field. In the summer season they are allowed an hour for breakfast, and from two to three hours for dinner. The women enjoy so high a degree of health from, regular exercise, temperate living, and from their unrestrained mode of dress, that the
20functions of maternity lose much of their pains and perils. A month is allowed the mother for her "confinement;" but one often sees them with an infant in their arms less than a week old, singing and dancing about the plantation, none the weaker, but all the merrier for the precious burthen they have borne.
To return to Mr. and Mrs. Marshall, and how they got married. They are both young and rather comely; and Andrew Jackson had been making "sweet eyes" to Lucretia Victoria for a year or more — in fact, there had long been on "understanding" between the lovers amounting to an "engagement." When Lucretia was teased about Andrew, she would shake her shiny shoulders, "give a side glance and look down," and no doubt would have blushed like a poppy if she could. With the paradise of matrimony in view, they saved their little earnings, finally amounting to several hundred dollars; and when the fulness of time and love had come, they asked the master's permission to marry. The ceremony is very primitive and simple, and generally performed by a "Coloured Preacher," or by a pious or "praying negro" of the Methodist or Baptist "persuasion." Sometimes the wedding takes place in the Church, sometimes in the cabin, and not unfrequently in the master's mansion. The nuptials of Andrew and Lucretia, who are favourites on the plantation, were celebrated one fine morning on the beautiful lawn, shaded with trees, in front of the mansion, in presence of the whole congregation of slaves, all decked out in ribbons and wreaths, and feasting and dancing was the order of the day — the day in the feeling of those two happy souls, for which all other days were made. The whole plantation has a holiday, and the festive fun rages "fast and furious" from daybreak till "bedtime." "We have seen the Terpsichorean Pythons and Pythonesses of Paris, "inspired" to madness by Strauss's band playing the intoxicating music of "Dixie" — a melody, by the way, which no first-class hand-organ in Europe can now get on without — but we have never witnessed anything that equalled
21in heartiness and abandon the agony of a "Plantation Breakdown." And all this extravagance and excess of motion is not stimulated by liquor, but by an exuberance of physical health — and may we not add, of happiness — which puts such "life and mettle in their heels."
Of the religious element of the negro, we will only say that, when "converted," he devotes himself to "de worship ob de Lord" with equal earnestness and enthusiasm. His superstitions are as great as his ignorance is profound; but not more so than those entertained by the honest class of Irish Romanists, whose credulity is fostered by the priests for the benefit of the Church. Periodical "revivals" sweep over the plantations like an epidemic, when the merry tinkling of the banjo gives place to a more sombre and sonorous species of music. And then one may hear rising from evening "camp meetings" groans of penitence, cries for mercy, and shouts of joy, mingled with hymns of praise, "beating the heavenward flame" of devotion to the orthodox tune of "Old Hundred" in words as ludicrous as these: —
He know de niggar by de smell;
And when de niggar chilun cry,
De Lord be give em possum pie."
A Sugar Plantation.
Let us now see how the negro fares on a sugar estate in Louisiana. And here we find the climate hotter, and the labour heavier than upon either of the plantations we have visited. And yet these tough "woolly heads" can work or sleep uncovered at noon-day, where the white man's skin would blister, or his brain would be paralyzed by a sun-stroke. On a sugar plantation there is seldom "slack work" during any part of the year. The ploughing, planting, hoeing, cutting, and grinding seasons tread upon the heels of each other, and keep all hands
22busy all the year round, and sometimes even the work "by gangs" is continued through the night. And yet the labour is lightened and enlivened by songs "adapted to the occasion," which make the night noisy, if not melodious; while the fires of the sugar-boilers light up the whole neighbourhood; and the atmosphere is redolent of the sweet odour of the steaming juice flowing in saccharine streams from the mills. The packing, rolling, and lifting of the large boxes and casks of sugar and molasses is heavy work; but the herculean strength of the "big buck nigger" is equal to the task. We do not find, even upon the sugar estate, that the slave is either overworked or underfed. He has plenty of meat and vegetables to eat; and while the juice is in the cane he is seldom seen without a stick in his mouth. Now and then he has a glass of whisky to drink; but water, pure and simple, is his usual beverage. His occupation being in the open air, his habits regular, and his food wholesome, the average health of the slave is about as good as that of the horse. Intemperance and the common vices of city life, the manifold diseases of the white man, are quite unknown to him. With a palate unimpaired by artificial food, and with that blessed capacity for rest which follows and compensates toil, the negro eats with a relish which the spoiled appetite of the white man can scarcely appreciate, and sleeps with a profundity of repose which only well-fed animals can enjoy.
A Slave Sale in New Orleans.
We will now leave the "old plantation" and the bucolic phase of slavery, and take a last look at the negro under the modifications and among the surroundings of city life. Let us pay him a visit in the metropolis of New Orleans, where he is chiefly employed in "handling" the crops in marketable form, which we have seen him cultivating on the plantations. The "Crescent City," before it was blighted by war and blasted
23by Butler — twin curses never to be forgotten — was the great depôt and market for the products of the Southern States; and its long levees were piled with bales of cotton, hogsheads of molasses, boxes of sugar, casks of tobacco, &c., &c., all poured into the lap of commerce by fifty thousand miles of navigable rivers. White labour, mostly Irish, here competes with the labour of the slave, as white men can live on the shady side of the streets, and do their work in the cool of the day. City work being less simple than agricultural work, requiring some brains as well as muscle, we find more white labourers than slaves in the streets and on the wharves of New Orleans; and Irish "waiters" have crowded out the coloured boys from the grand "St. Charles Hotel."
It was a pleasant Sabbath morning in New Orleans, when a gentleman called and proposed to dispossess us of our Northern prejudices by a visit to the principal slave-market of the city. Having a strong natural repugnance to horrible sights, it was with some reluctance that we consented to witness the painful scene. Abolition tracts, novels, newspapers, and picture books, had so impressed us with the "horrors of the Southern slave-pens," that the idea of seeing all this living misery produced that sensation of heart-sickness — a sort of moral mal de mer, which one might feel on "assisting" at an execution. We expected to see a pitiful mass of miserable humanity huddled together in wretchedness and rags, cowering under the overseer's lash; weeping wives about to be separated from their husbands, children to be torn from their parents; and all the natural instincts and sentiments of humanity, and even of animality, outraged, lacerated and trampled in the dust. But such was not the "entertainment" to which we were invited. Instead of this ideal picture of intolerable wrong and unutterable suffering, what did we behold? A large and comfortable hall, with long rows of seats on either side filled with some two hundred coloured "boys" and "girls," all neatly dressed in their "Sunday's best," under the care of a very polite "agent" who had them for sale, and who set forth their
24various qualities and recommendations in a manner particularly flattering to negro vanity. As we walked down the side of the hall occupied by the "boys" — the oldest of them are also called "boys" — they rose one after another and begged us to buy them in the most importunate manner, and in words like these: — "Please, massa, buy me; I'ze sound; I'ze neber sick; I'ze fusst rate coachman; I'ze worf tousand dollar; dat 'ar nigger he not worf five hundred." In language similar to this they pressed us hard to buy them; extolling themselves in the most superlative terms — their health, their youth, their ingenuity, their amiability and sometimes adding the ne plus ultra to their qualifications by saying — "And I'ze berry 'ligious, and lub my Massa Jesus." They seemed to be even more anxious to get a high price for their owners than the agent who had them in hand. But this is a matter of personal pride, as a slave values himself at the price he brings in the market; and a two thousand dollar nigger holds his head twice as high as one who brings but half as much.
In passing before the long row of girls, all looking so smart in their holiday "finery," we were still more urgently besieged to buy; and in some cases the seductive coquetry of the women to dispose of themselves was sadly ludicrous; while to one of our party, the fascination of a "good bargain" proved irresistible to Captain — bought a "dressing maid" for his wife on the spot — an attractive-looking "girl" of twenty, who pleaded to become his slave in looks and tones that could not be refused — "Ah, massa, do buy me! I like your looks. I'ze good to sew, to cook, to dress missus' hair, and to mind the babies." All this and much more of the same sort of persuasive eloquence, assailed us at every step, until it was almost as difficult to get away without making a purchase as it is to get out of a "lady's charity fair" with a shilling left in the pocket. Even a well-known English gentleman who happened to be one of the party — a poet, a philanthropist, and at that time an Abolitionist — was strongly tempted to buy a fine "boy," who greatly pleased his fancy.
Is it wrong, then, to own slaves? This is a question, to be settled by the conscience of each individual. One man thinks it wrong to drink wine, another thinks it wicked to dance, another to play at cards; another to see a horse-race or a cock-fight; another deems it a sin to own a brewery, to take a drive on Sunday, to go to the theatre, or to settle disputes by going to war. "As a man thinketh, so is he;" and it is useless to quarrel with opinions. There are probably few Abolitionists, even of the pure Exeter Hall type, who, had they been born in the State of Louisiana, and inherited a rich plantation, well stocked with slaves, would to-day be found lauding Lincoln for his edict annihilating all such property, unless owned by his political friends, or by persons professing loyalty to the Federal Government!
But the cruel separation of the families of the poor slaves, the ruthless rupture of the domestic ties, the violation of sentiments which even animals feel for their mates and for their offspring — these are the "accursed enormities," the "outrageous atrocities," upon which the Abolitionists are perpetually harping. No doubt wrongs and hardships of this description are sometimes inflicted; but they are extremely rare, and for the simple reason that it is for the interest of the owner to make his slaves contented and happy. A discontented slave slights his work, wastes property, spreads disaffection, and is not worth his keeping. We have known runaway slaves to return voluntarily when their masters punish them by refusing to receive them. Husbands and wives, parents and children, are seldom separated when there exists any strong feeling of attachment between them. In some instances, as among white folks, the conjugal tie is anything but a bond of happiness; on the contrary, the yoke of matrimony is rather a burden than a blessing. In such cases it is a godsend to the mismatched parties to be "put asunder;" and masters are sometimes implored by these unhappy "partners in wedlock" to be sold apart and sent off to different and distant plantations.
Such are some of the prominent facts, features, and phases of the much-abused system of negro slavery in the Southern States of America. As to the rights and wrongs of the institution which has been imposed upon the Southern people by the negro-traders of Old England and of New England, whose wealthy sons are now reposing on their fathers' gains, there are honest differences of opinion, and we shall not presume to "enter judgment in the case." The world is full of wrongs, and let the Nation that is without sin cast the first stone at the American Confederacy. Admit that slavery is wrong, and that it should be immediately abolished — so is war; but how is the evil to be got rid of? What is to be done with these 4,000,000 of slaves incapable of self-government, incapable even of taking care of themselves? This question not only bothers philanthropists, but baffles statesmen. The proposition of gradual Emancipation — to make all the slaves free in the year 1900 — is more easily made than carried into execution. The Government at Washington proposes to buy the slaves of the loyal States, and take those of the rebel States, and present them all with their "liberty" in the course of the next thirty-eight years. In making this proposal the Lincoln Government concedes the right of property in slaves; but the mathematicians and financiers of the Cabinet have not stated the probable number to be bought, nor the aggregate cost of the operation — nor, most troublesome problem of all, what they will do with them when free. Eight or ten millions of negroes at "liberty" to work, or steal, or starve, will be an unmanageable element to deal with. Even now several of the Northern States are legislating free negroes out of their territory. What will they do when the fountains of the great deep are broken up, and the black deluge, no longer stayed by the barriers of local laws, threatens to inundate the North with the devastating flood of free negroism? The Abolition tufthunters who now pet and lionize, and get up meetings to exhibit a runaway coachman, will have more than their hands full of these fugitive heroes ere long.
Lincoln Emancipation Proclamation.
A word in regard to President Lincoln's "Emancipation Proclamation," issued on the 1st January, of the present year, and destined to go into operation on that unhappy day. No manifesto ever issued has been more bitterly denounced than this; and it will continue to elicit the execrations of the entire people of the South, and the great Conservative majority of the North, until the name of its author, and the name of the political party he represents, are sunk into oblivion. It is not only unconstitutional, and therefore a legal nullity, — it is worse — a positive wrong and outrage upon the superior race whose property it destroys, and whose lives it exposes, and even outlaws. It proclaims a servile war, inflames the brutal passions of the slave, and threatens to convert the "sunny South," so late the land of peace, prosperity, and happiness, into another St. Domingo! It incites the slave to escape from his master, and justifies him in the use of any means necessary to gain his personal freedom. This implies throat-cutting, and all the savage cruelties and brutal barbarities which the fierce passions of the degraded African are capable of perpetrating. And yet the Abolition sympathizers of Manchester, Birmingham, and Sheffield, who have made princely fortunes out of the products of slave labour, and whose "operatives" are now starving in consequence of this Abolition war, are holding meetings to exhibit a runaway negro, and to pass resolutions complimentary to Abraham Lincoln for his permission to the slave to rise and kill his master! The head reels, and the heart sickens at the crimes and horrors to be perpetrated under the sanction of this infamous and atrocious Proclamation. Let the curtain fall upon the last act of the black and bloody drama!
SINCE the publication of the above article in Fraser, an Englishman, writing to the London Times from the city of Richmond, Virginia, on the 23rd of March last, gives the following graphic picture of the effect of the Emancipation Proclamation: —
In the category of property, in spite of Mr. Lincoln's Proclamation, no man can deny that the negro is still emphatically included. At the slave-market in Richmond not a day passes but negroes and negresses are eagerly bought at prices varying from 2000 to 2500 dols.; and if an English eye could ever learn to look with indifference upon so sad a sight, many a smile might he provoked to see the proud satisfaction with which a negro, who in ordinary times would have fetched 1300 dols., and who has little conception of the meaning of such recondite terms as depreciation of the currency, finds himself knocked down at an advance upon that figure of 1000 dols. "I told you," said a female slave recently, imperial in the dimensions of her crinoline, and pointing proudly to her gold earrings, "that it worn't for nothing that I wore them things;" her meaning being that the large price of 2300 dols. which she had just fetched was attributable to her bijouterie. Under these circumstances, is there any other man in England but Mr. Baptist Noel who believes that captured Africans are likely by Confederate soldiers to be taken to an open field and shot in cold blood? Is it conceivable that (as I have read in some other extract from the English press) negroes taken from the Federals should by the Confederates be lashed to trees, cowhided, and left there to perish of starvation? Is it likely that Mr. Baptist Noel's other story, about negroes hiding arms and being shot at Charleston, should contain a grain of truth? Assume that it were possible that in such a community as Charleston negroes should have sufficient independence of character to breathe otherwise than through their master's nostrils, is there so other way of punishing them, if insubordinate, than by instant death? There are proprietors of coal mines in Virginia and North Carolina offering at this moment, by public advertisement, fabulous prices for the hire of refractory or
disaffected negroes. And what safer and more remunerative disposition of such ticklish property as Mr. Noel's imaginary recusants could possibly be found? It should be remarked that stories such as these, which bring down the roof of Exeter Hall, are wisely seasoned for the palate of the English public, but are seldom ventilated upon this better informed continent. The Southerner, cavalier though he may be, has lived too long in affinity with the Yankee to be wholly insensible to the fascinations of the almighty dollar. It is possible that some of the miserable sufferers who are perishing with cold and hunger at Craney Island, and Cairo, and Washington, may be soothed into uncomplaining silence by stories like these, and checked in their aspirations for a return to the tropical savannahs of Dixie by that dread of physical pain which the African shares with the native of Hindostan and Persia. But even among the fugitive slaves at the North there is such a general consciousness of the aversion in which they are held by the white man, such suffering from the Arctic cold of northern winters, that it is universally believed ninety per cent. of the pure unadulterated Africans in the North and Canada would transfer themselves again to the sunny South, if free transportation and liberty to avail themselves of it were extended to them, to-morrow. There is something saddening, I might almost say appalling, in the thought that in the British Parliament, and upon every public platform in England, a speaker has only to express gratification that, as one result of this afflicting war, 100,000 negroes have burst their bonds, in order to ensure from his audience rapturous applause. If it were intimated in this country that the 900 violent deaths which annually occur in the collieries of England were at one jump increased to 90,000, and if this intimation were here received with satisfaction and applause, there would be some analogy between the two cases. It is in vain for me to seek, by the use of any language at my command, to convey to these English enthusiasts a true description of the condition of those ransomed Africans, for whom, in English eyes, the possession of freedom is meat, drink, clothing, shelter, life, and happiness. It is to be hoped that, from some impartial spectator of their condition, writing from the North, the truth, neither extenuated nor set down in malice, may reach the eye of England. Meanwhile, from hundreds of similar reports, many of them far more nervous and graphic in language, I cull the following description, emanating from a gentleman of high character and position, who has contributed it to the columns of the Richmond Examiner: —
"The destitution and suffering of the contrabands at Washington exceed belief. They are huddled together in "Swampoodle," a low and marshy situation off the city, and are in the most abject and squalid poverty. They are kept apart by themselves, and no one takes the least interest in them — a characteristic commentary on the hypocrisy of the Harriet Beecher school. There is the greatest destitution among them; many of them are half naked, and the poor creatures are being swept off by disease and sickness, dying at the rate of twenty or thirty a day. Their condition is truly pitiable; hundreds of them pine to come back to their old masters. If an opportunity were offered, gladly would they return to servitude in a body — so thoroughly disgusted are they with the taste of Northern freedom. No one will give them
work; all they do is to bask in the sun or loiter along the streets — their clothes in tatters, their persons more ragged than any corn-field negro in Virginia. Their forlorn and destitute condition is in striking contrast with their blithe and happy faces when here in their comfortable cabins, and their sorrow-stricken countenances strike pity to the stoutest heart not warped by the prejudice and madness of abolition.
"And it is into such a galÄre as this that England pants to see, not 100,000, but 4,000,000 helpless, dependent beings forced to enter. If to the above description I were to add the narratives which have reached me of scenes at Craney Island and Cairo — far too revolting to be printed anywhere, unless as a supplement to Dante's Inferno — some conception of the emancipated negro, as found at present in the Northern States, might be conveyed to England. But if it is imagined in England that the loudest of Exeter Hall utterances — that the universal diatribes of Europe against African slavery, will induce six million intelligent and, upon the whole, humane Caucasians to turn four million canaries out of their cages, and set them adrift in such woods as Washington and Craney Island, then it is high time that England should be undeceived. What has England recently done to abate this sum of all villanies — Negro slavery? The answer is Lord Macaulay's: ‘She has brayed.’ What has she done to encourage it? For years and years she has imported not less than Å50,000,000 worth of slave-grown raw material. How will our record read when it is set down that, having introduced upon this continent the African slave, and having largely profited by him, we registered undying hatred against slavery when this continent had passed from our possession, but illustrated that hatred by subsidizing the slave-owner at the rate of Å50,000,000 a year?
"It is a solemn thing to cry aloud for abolition, and spare not; for — disguise it as you may — the abolition of slavery means the extermination of the black race on the continent of North America. I pass from the contemplation of such a possibility as the deportation of the blacks to Africa, or elsewhere, by reason of its manifest impossibility. Between 1820 and 1856 the American Colonization Society sent to Liberia 9502 persons; in the same period the increase in the slave population of the Old Union was 1,999,527 souls. In the words of Professor Cairnes, "the deportation of slaves would require a new Moses and new miracles." To emancipate the Negroes without deportation has always, to the most fanatical abolitionist, appeared such extravagance of cruelty, that never — until it pleased President Lincoln to put forth his recent proclamation as a war necessity — was such an atrocity contemplated. The results of such a proclamation, could effect be universally given to it, may be studied at Cairo and Craney Island. That such results should enlist the sympathies of England — that they should be demanded in tempestuous accents by great concourses of people, proves little else than that the English people, justly detesting the abstraction of slavery, know nothing of the disposition, temperament, or circumstances of the African slave as seen on the continent of North America. For years, and decades of years, a solution of the difficulties of this mighty question has been sought by the whole civilized world. Has any approximation to a solution been hitherto found? Will any solution
arise from the stormy addresses of Exeter Hall orators? It is worse than childishness to strive to beat down by clamour what we are unable to abate by reason, judgment, or philosophy."
P.S. — The total slave population of all the American States and Territories was 697,897 in 1790, 893,041 in 1800, 1,191,364 in 1810, 1,538,038 in 1820, 2,009,043 in 1830, 2,487,455 in 1840, 3,204,313 in 1850, and 3,953,587 in 1860. Legislation in America has not lessened slavery to any extent. The increase in the several decades from 1790 to 1860 has been very regular; viz., in round numbers, — 28, 28, 34, 29, 30, 24, 28, and 24 per cent.
The following food statistics of the Slave States are gathered from the census tables of 1860. These figures give the annual products before the war. Since then, while there has been a great falling off in the cotton and tobacco crops, there has been a large increase in the more essential articles of meat and corn.
|Barley and Buckwheat||"||1,666,516|
|Irish and Sweet Potatoes, Peas, Beans.||bushels||63,229,982|
|Honey in Wax||"||15,382,905|
|Value of Orchard products & Vegetables||$8,103,216|
|Value of Animals slaughtered||$106,362,075|