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Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation by Frances Anne Kemble

Part 4 out of 5

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such matters; and as I was by no means sorry to find that he considered
his relation to Mr. K---- a disgrace to his mother, which is an advance in
moral perception not often met with here, I said no more upon the subject.

_Tuesday, March 3._--This morning, old House Molly, coming from Mr.
G----'s upon some errand to me, I asked her if Renty's statement was true;
she confirmed the whole story, and, moreover, added that this connection
took place after Betty was married to head-man Frank. Now, he, you know,
E----, is the chief man at the Rice Island, second in authority to Mr.
O----, and indeed, for a considerable part of the year, absolute master
and guardian during the night, of all the people and property at the rice
plantation, for, after the early spring, the white overseer himself is
obliged to betake himself to the mainland to sleep, out of the influence
of the deadly malaria of the rice swamp, and Frank remains sole sovereign
of the island, from sunset to sunrise, in short, during the whole period
of his absence. Mr. ---- bestowed the highest commendations upon his
fidelity and intelligence, and, during the visit Mr. R---- K---- paid us
at the island, he was emphatic in his praise of both Frank and his wife,
the latter having, as he declared, by way of climax to his eulogies, quite
the principles of a white woman. Perhaps she imbibed them from his
excellent influence over her. Frank is a serious, sad, sober-looking, very
intelligent man; I should think he would not relish having his wife
borrowed from him even by the white gentleman, who admired her principles
so much; and it is quite clear from poor Renty's speech about his mother,
that by some of these people (and if by any, then very certainly by
Frank), the disgrace of such an injury is felt and appreciated much after
the fashion of white men.

This old woman Molly is a wonderfully intelligent, active, energetic
creature, though considerably over seventy years old; she was talking to
me about her former master, Major ----, and what she was pleased to call
the _revelation_ war (i.e. revolution war), during which that gentleman,
having embraced the side of the rebellious colonies in their struggle
against England, was by no means on a bed of roses. He bore King George's
commission, and was a major in the British army, but having married a
great Carolina heiress, and become proprietor of these plantations, sided
with the country of his adoption, and not that of his birth, in the war
between them, and was a special object of animosity on that account to the
English officers who attacked the sea-board of Georgia, and sent troops on
shore and up the Altamaha, to fetch off the negroes, or incite them to
rise against their owners. 'De British,' said Molly 'make old massa run
about bery much in de great revelation war.' He ran effectually, however,
and contrived to save both his life and property from the invader.

Molly's account was full of interest, in spite of the grotesque lingo in
which it was delivered, and which once or twice nearly sent me into
convulsions of laughing, whereupon she apologized with great gravity for
her mispronunciation, modestly suggesting that _white words_ were
impossible to the organs of speech of black folks. It is curious how
universally any theory, no matter how absurd, is accepted by these people,
for anything in which the contemptuous supremacy of the dominant race is
admitted, and their acquiescence in the theory of their own incorrigible
baseness is so complete, that this, more than any other circumstance in
their condition, makes me doubtful of their rising from it.

In order to set poor dear old Molly's notions straight with regard to the
negro incapacity for speaking plain the noble white words, I called
S---- to me and set her talking; and having pointed out to Molly how very
imperfect her mode of pronouncing many words was, convinced the worthy old
negress that want of training, and not any absolute original impotence,
was the reason why she disfigured the _white words_, for which she had
such a profound respect. In this matter, as in every other, the slaves pay
back to their masters the evil of their own dealings with usury, though
unintentionally. No culture, however slight, simple, or elementary, is
permitted to these poor creatures, and the utterance of many of them is
more like what Prospero describes Caliban's to have been, than the speech
of men and women in a Christian and civilised land: the children of their
owners, brought up among them, acquire their negro mode of
talking;--slavish speech surely it is--and it is distinctly perceptible in
the utterances of all southerners, particularly of the women, whose
avocations, taking them less from home, are less favourable to their
throwing off this ignoble trick of pronunciation, than the more varied
occupation, and the more extended and promiscuous business relations of
men. The Yankee twang of the regular down Easter is not more easily
detected by any ear, nice in enunciation and accent, than the thick negro
speech of the southerners: neither is lovely or melodious; but though the
Puritan snuffle is the harsher of the two, the slave _slobber_ of the
language is the more ignoble, in spite of the softer voices of the pretty
southern women who utter it.

I rode out to-day upon Miss Kate again, with Jack for my esquire. I made
various vain attempts to ride through the woods, following the cattle
tracks; they turned round and round into each other, or led out into the
sandy pine barren, the eternal frame in which all nature is set here, the
inevitable limit to the prospect, turn landward which way you will. The
wood paths which I followed between evergreen thickets, though little
satisfactory in their ultimate result, were really more beautiful than the
most perfect arrangement of artificial planting that I ever saw in an
English park; and I thought if I could transplant the region which I was
riding through bodily into the midst of some great nobleman's possessions
on the other side of the water, how beautiful an accession it would be
thought to them. I was particularly struck with the elegant growth of a
profuse wild shrub I passed several times to-day, the leaves of which were
pale green underneath, and a deep red, varnished brown above.

I must give you an idea of the sort of service one is liable to obtain
from one's most intelligent and civilised servants hereabouts, and the
consequent comfort and luxury of one's daily existence. Yesterday,
Aleck, the youth who fulfils the duties of what you call a waiter, and
we in England a footman, gave me a salad for dinner, mixed with so large
a portion of the soil in which it had grown, that I requested him to-day
to be kind enough to wash the lettuce before he brought it to table.
M---- later in the day told me that he had applied to her very urgently
for soap and a brush 'as missis wished de lettuce scrubbed,' a fate from
which my second salad was saved by her refusal of these desired
articles, and further instructions upon the subject.

* * * * *

Dearest E----. I have been long promising poor old House Molly to visit
her in her own cabin, and so the day before yesterday I walked round the
settlement to her dwelling; and a most wretched hovel I found it. She has
often told me of the special directions left by her old master for the
comfort and well-being of her old age; and certainly his charge has been
but little heeded by his heirs, for the poor faithful old slave is most
miserably off in her infirm years. She made no complaint, however, but
seemed overjoyed at my coming to see her. She took me to the hut of her
brother, Old Jacob, where the same wretched absence of every decency and
every comfort prevailed; but neither of them seemed to think the condition
that appeared so wretched to me one of peculiar hardship--though Molly's
former residence in her master's house might reasonably have made her
discontented with the lot of absolute privation to which she was now
turned over--but, for the moment, my visit seemed to compensate for all
sublunary sorrows, and she and poor old Jacob kept up a duet of rejoicing
at my advent, and that I had brought 'de little missis among um people
afore they die.'

Leaving them, I went on to the house of Jacob's daughter Hannah, with whom
Psyche, the heroine of the Rice Island story, and wife of his son Joe,
lives. I found their cabin as tidy and comfortable as it could be made,
and their children, as usual, neat and clean; they are capital women, both
of them, with an innate love of cleanliness and order most uncommon among
these people. On my way home, I overtook two of my daily suppliants, who
were going to the house in search of me, and meat, flannel, rice, and
sugar, as the case might be; they were both old and infirm-looking women,
and one of them, called Scylla, was extremely lame, which she accounted
for by an accident she had met with while carrying a heavy weight of rice
on her head; she had fallen on a sharp stake, or snag, as she called it,
and had never recovered the injury she had received. She complained also
of falling of the womb. Her companion (who was not Charybdis however, but
Phoebe) was a cheery soul who complained of nothing, but begged for
flannel. I asked her about her family and children; she had no children
left, nothing but grandchildren; she had had nine children, and seven of
them died quite young; the only two who grew up left her to join the
British when they invaded Georgia in the last war, and their children,
whom they left behind, were all her family now.

In the afternoon, I made my first visit to the hospital of the estate, and
found it, as indeed I find everything else here, in a far worse state even
than the wretched establishments on the Rice Island, dignified by that
name; so miserable a place for the purpose to which it was dedicated I
could not have imagined on a property belonging to Christian owners. The
floor (which was not boarded, but merely the damp hard earth itself,) was
strewn with wretched women, who, but for their moans of pain and uneasy
restless motions, might very well have each been taken for a mere heap of
filthy rags; the chimney refusing passage to the smoke from the pine wood
fire, it puffed out in clouds through the room, where it circled and hung,
only gradually oozing away through the windows, which were so far well
adapted to the purpose that there was not a single whole pane of glass in
them. My eyes, unaccustomed to the turbid atmosphere, smarted and watered,
and refused to distinguish at first the different dismal forms, from which
cries and wails assailed me in every corner of the place. By degrees I was
able to endure for a few minutes what they were condemned to live their
hours and days of suffering and sickness through; and, having given what
comfort kind words and promises of help in more substantial forms could
convey, I went on to what seemed a yet more wretched abode of
wretchedness. This was a room where there was no fire because there was no
chimney, and where the holes made for windows had no panes or glasses in
them. The shutters being closed, the place was so dark that, on first
entering it, I was afraid to stir lest I should fall over some of the
deplorable creatures extended upon the floor. As soon as they perceived
me, one cry of 'Oh missis!' rang through the darkness; and it really
seemed to me as if I was never to exhaust the pity and amazement and
disgust which this receptacle of suffering humanity was to excite in me.
The poor dingy supplicating sleepers upraised themselves as I cautiously
advanced among them; those who could not rear their bodies from the earth
held up piteous beseeching hands, and as I passed from one to the other, I
felt more than one imploring clasp laid upon my dress to solicit my
attention to some new form of misery. One poor woman, called Tressa, who
was unable to speak above a whisper from utter weakness and exhaustion,
told me she had had nine children, was suffering from incessant flooding,
and felt 'as if her back would split open.' There she lay, a mass of
filthy tatters, without so much as a blanket under or over her, on the
bare earth in this chilly darkness. I promised them help and comfort, beds
and blankets, and light and fire--that is, I promised to ask Mr. ---- for
all this for them; and, in the very act of doing so, I remembered with a
sudden pang of anguish, that I was to urge no more petitions for his
slaves to their master. I groped my way out, and emerging on the piazza,
all the choking tears and sobs I had controlled broke forth, and I leaned
there crying over the lot of these unfortunates, till I heard a feeble
voice of 'Missis, you no cry; missis, what for you cry?' and looking up,
saw that I had not yet done with this intolerable infliction. A poor
crippled old man, lying in the corner of the piazza, unable even to crawl
towards me, had uttered this word of consolation, and by his side
(apparently too idiotic, as he was too impotent, to move,) sat a young
woman, the expression of whose face was the most suffering and at the same
time the most horribly repulsive I ever saw. I found she was, as I
supposed, half-witted; and on coming nearer to enquire into her ailments
and what I could do for her, found her suffering from that horrible
disease--I believe some form of scrofula--to which the negroes are
subject, which attacks and eats away the joints of their hands and
fingers--a more hideous and loathsome object I never beheld; her name was
Patty, and she was grand-daughter to the old crippled creature by whose
side she was squatting.

I wandered home, stumbling with crying as I went, and feeling so utterly
miserable that I really hardly saw where I was going, for I as nearly as
possible fell over a great heap of oyster shells left in the middle of the
path. This is a horrid nuisance, which results from an indulgence which
the people here have and value highly; the waters round the island are
prolific in shell fish, oysters, and the most magnificent prawns I ever
saw. The former are a considerable article of the people's diet, and the
shells are allowed to accumulate, as they are used in the composition of
which their huts are built, and which is a sort of combination of mud and
broken oyster shells, which forms an agglomeration of a kind very solid
and durable for such building purposes. But instead of being all carried
to some specified place out of the way, these great heaps of oyster shells
are allowed to be piled up anywhere and everywhere, forming the most
unsightly obstructions in every direction. Of course, the cultivation of
order for the sake of its own seemliness and beauty is not likely to be an
element of slave existence; and as masters have been scarce on this
plantation for many years now, a mere unsightliness is not a matter likely
to trouble anybody much; but after my imminent overthrow by one of these
disorderly heaps of refuse, I think I may make bold to request that the
paths along which I am likely to take my daily walks may be kept free from

On my arrival at home--at the house--I cannot call any place here my
home!--I found Renty waiting to exhibit to me an extremely neatly made
leather pouch, which he has made by my order, of fitting size and
dimensions, to receive Jack's hatchet and saw. Jack and I have set up a
sort of Sir Walter and Tom Purdie companionship of clearing and cutting
paths through the woods nearest to the house; thinning the overhanging
branches, clearing the small evergreen thickets which here and there close
over and across the grassy track. To me this occupation was especially
delightful until quite lately, since the weather began to be rather warmer
and the snakes to slide about. Jack has contrived to inoculate me with
some portion of his terror of them; but I have still a daily hankering
after the lovely green wood walks; perhaps when once I have seen a live
rattlesnake my enthusiasm for them will be modified to the degree that his

* * * * *

Dear E----. This letter has remained unfinished, and my journal
interrupted for more than a week. Mr. ---- has been quite unwell, and I
have been travelling to and fro daily between Hampton and the Rice Island
in the long boat to visit him; for the last three days I have remained at
the latter place, and only returned here this morning early. My daily
voyages up and down the river have introduced me to a great variety of new
musical performances of our boatmen, who invariably, when the rowing is
not too hard, moving up or down with the tide, accompany the stroke of
their oars with the sound of their voices. I told you formerly that I
thought I could trace distinctly some popular national melody with which
I was familiar in almost all their songs; but I have been quite at a loss
to discover any such foundation for many that I have heard lately, and
which have appeared to me extraordinarily wild and unaccountable. The way
in which the chorus strikes in with the burthen, between each phrase of
the melody chanted by a single voice, is very curious and effective,
especially with the rhythm of the rowlocks for accompaniment. The high
voices all in unison, and the admirable time and true accent with which
their responses are made, always make me wish that some great musical
composer could hear these semi-savage performances. With a very little
skilful adaptation and instrumentation, I think one or two barbaric chants
and choruses might be evoked from them that would make the fortune of an

The only exception that I have met with, yet among our boat voices to the
high tenor which they seem all to possess is in the person of an
individual named Isaac, a basso profondo of the deepest dye, who
nevertheless never attempts to produce with his different register any
different effects in the chorus by venturing a second, but sings like the
rest in unison, perfect unison, of both time and tune. By-the-by, this
individual _does_ speak, and therefore I presume he is not an ape,
ourang-outang, chimpanzee, or gorilla; but I could not, I confess, have
conceived it possible that the presence of articulate sounds, and the
absence of an articulate tail, should make, externally at least, so
completely the only appreciable difference between a man and a monkey, as
they appear to do in this individual 'black brother.' Such stupendous long
thin hands, and long flat feet, I did never see off a large quadruped of
the ape species. But, as I said before, Isaac _speaks_, and I am much
comforted thereby.

You cannot think (to return to the songs of my boatmen) how strange some
of their words are: in one, they repeatedly chanted the 'sentiment' that
'God made man, and man makes'--what do you think?--'money!' Is not that a
peculiar poetical proposition? Another ditty to which they frequently
treat me they call Caesar's song; it is an extremely spirited war-song,
beginning 'The trumpets blow, the bugles sound--Oh, stand your ground!' It
has puzzled me not a little to determine in my own mind whether this title
of Caesar's song has any reference to the great Julius, and if so what may
be the negro notion of him, and whence and how derived. One of their songs
displeased me not a little, for it embodied the opinion that 'twenty-six
black girls not make mulatto yellow girl;' and as I told them I did not
like it, they have omitted it since. This desperate tendency to despise
and undervalue their own race and colour, which is one of the very worst
results of their abject condition, is intolerable to me.

While rowing up and down the broad waters of the Altamaha to the music of
these curious chants, I have been reading Mr. Moore's speech about the
abolition of slavery in the district of Columbia; and I confess I think
his the only defensible position yet taken, and the only consistent
argument yet used in any of the speeches I have hitherto seen upon the

I have now settled down at Hampton again; Mr. ---- is quite recovered, and
is coming down here in a day or two for change of air; it is getting too
late for him to stay on the rice plantation even in the day, I think. You
cannot imagine anything so exquisite as the perfect curtains of yellow
jasmine with which this whole island is draped; and as the boat comes
sweeping down towards the point, the fragrance from the thickets hung with
their golden garlands greets one before one can distinguish them; it is
really enchanting.

I have now to tell you of my hallowing last Sunday by gathering a
congregation of the people into my big sitting-room, and reading prayers
to them. I had been wishing very much to do this for some time past, and
obtained Mr. ----'s leave while I was with him at the Rice Island, and it
was a great pleasure to me. Some of the people are allowed to go up to
Darien once a month to church; but, with that exception, they have no
religious service on Sunday whatever for them. There is a church on the
Island of St. Simon, but they are forbidden to frequent it, as it leads
them off their own through neighbouring plantations, and gives
opportunities for meetings between the negroes of the different estates,
and very likely was made the occasion of abuses and objectionable
practices of various kinds; at any rate, Mr. K---- forbade the Hampton
slaves resorting to the St. Simon's church; and so, for three Sundays in
the month they are utterly without Christian worship or teaching, or any
religious observance of God's day whatever.

I was very anxious that it should not be thought that I _ordered_ any of
the people to come to prayers, as I particularly desired to see if they
themselves felt the want of any Sabbath service, and would of their own
accord join in any such ceremony; I therefore merely told the house
servants that if they would come to the sitting-room at eleven o'clock, I
would read prayers to them, and that they might tell any of their friends
or any of the people that I should be very glad to see them if they liked
to come. Accordingly, most of those who live at the Point, i.e. in the
immediate neighbourhood of the house, came, and it was encouraging to see
the very decided efforts at cleanliness and decorum of attire which they
had all made. I was very much affected and impressed myself by what I was
doing, and I suppose must have communicated some of my own feeling to
those who heard me. It is an extremely solemn thing to me to read the
Scriptures aloud to any one, and there was something in my relation to the
poor people by whom I was surrounded that touched me so deeply while thus
attempting to share with them the best of my possessions, that I found it
difficult to command my voice, and had to stop several times in order to
do so. When I had done, they all with one accord uttered the simple words,
'We thank you, missis,' and instead of overwhelming me as usual with
petitions and complaints, they rose silently and quietly, in a manner that
would have become the most orderly of Christian congregations accustomed
to all the impressive decorum of civilised church privileges. Poor people!
They are said to have what a very irreligious young English clergyman once
informed me I had--a '_turn_ for religion.' They seem to me to have a
'turn' for instinctive good manners too; and certainly their mode of
withdrawing from my room after our prayers bespoke either a strong feeling
of their own or a keen appreciation of mine.

I have resumed my explorations in the woods with renewed enthusiasm, for
during my week's absence they have become more lovely and enticing than
ever: unluckily, however, Jack seems to think that fresh rattlesnakes have
budded together with the tender spring foliage, and I see that I shall
either have to give up my wood walks and rides, or go without a guide.
Lovely blossoms are springing up everywhere, weeds, of course, wild
things, impertinently so called. Nothing is cultivated here but cotton;
but in some of the cotton fields, beautiful creatures are peeping into
blossom, which I suppose will all be duly hoed off the surface of the
soil in proper season: meantime I rejoice in them, and in the splendid
magnificent thistles, which would be in flower-gardens in other parts of
the world, and in the wonderful, strange, beautiful butterflies that seem
to me almost as big as birds, that go zig-zagging in the sun. I saw
yesterday a lovely monster, who thought proper, for my greater
delectation, to alight on a thistle I was admiring, and as the flower was
purple, and he was all black velvet, fringed with gold, I was exceedingly
pleased with his good inspiration.

This morning I drove up to the settlement at St. Annie's, having various
bundles of benefaction to carry in the only equipage my estate here
affords,--an exceedingly small, rough, and uncomfortable cart, called the
sick house waggon, inasmuch as it is used to convey to the hospital such
of the poor people as are too ill to walk there. Its tender mercies must
be terrible indeed for the sick, for I who am sound could very hardly
abide them; however, I suppose Montreal's pace is moderated for them:
to-day he went rollicking along with us behind him, shaking his fine head
and mane, as if he thought the more we were jolted the better we should
like it. We found, on trying to go on to Cartwright's Point, that the
state of the tide would not admit of our getting thither, and so had to
return, leaving it unvisited. It seems to me strange that where the labour
of so many hands might be commanded, piers, and wharves, and causeways,
are not thrown out (wooden ones, of course, I mean), wherever the common
traffic to or from different parts of the plantation is thus impeded by
the daily rise and fall of the river; the trouble and expense would be
nothing, and the gain in convenience very considerable. However, perhaps
the nature of the tides, and of the banks and shores themselves, may not
be propitious for such constructions, and I rather incline upon reflection
to think this may be so, because to go from Hampton to our neighbour Mr.
C----'s plantation, it is necessary to consult the tide in order to land
conveniently. Driving home to-day by Jones' Creek, we saw an immovable row
of white cranes, all standing with imperturbable gravity upon one leg. I
thought of Boccaccio's cook, and had a mind to say, Ha! at them to try if
they had two. I have been over to Mr. C----, and was very much pleased
with my visit, but will tell you of it in my next.

* * * * *

Dear E----. I promised to tell you of my visit to my neighbour Mr. C----,
which pleased and interested me very much. He is an old Glasgow man, who
has been settled here many years. It is curious how many of the people
round this neighbourhood have Scotch names; it seems strange to find them
thus gathered in the vicinity of a new Darien; but those in our immediate
neighbourhood seem to have found it a far less fatal region than their
countrymen did its namesake of the Isthmus. Mr. C----'s house is a roomy,
comfortable, handsomely laid out mansion, to which he received me with
very cordial kindness, and where I spent part of a very pleasant morning,
talking with him, hearing all he could tell me of the former history of
Mr. ----'s plantation. His description of its former master, old
Major ----, and of his agent and overseer Mr. K----, and of that
gentleman's worthy son and successor the late overseer, interested me very
much; of the two latter functionaries his account was terrible, and much
what I had supposed any impartial account of them would be; because, let
the propensity to lying of the poor wretched slaves be what it will, they
could not invent, with a common consent, the things that they one and all
tell me with reference to the manner in which they have been treated by
the man who has just left the estate, and his father, who for the last
nineteen years have been sole sovereigns of their bodies and souls. The
crops have satisfied the demands of the owners, who, living in
Philadelphia, have been perfectly contented to receive a large income
from their estate without apparently caring how it was earned. The
stories that the poor people tell me of the cruel tyranny under which
they have lived are not complaints, for they are of things past and gone,
and very often, horridly as they shock and affect me, they themselves
seem hardly more than half conscious of the misery their condition
exhibits to me, and they speak of things which I shudder to hear of,
almost as if they had been matters of course with them.

Old Mr. C---- spoke with extreme kindness of his own people, and had
evidently bestowed much humane and benevolent pains upon endeavours to
better their condition. I asked him if he did not think the soil and
climate of this part of Georgia admirably suited to the cultivation of the
mulberry and the rearing of the silk-worm; for it has appeared to me that
hereafter, silk may be made one of the most profitable products of this
whole region: he said that that had long been his opinion, and he had at
one time had it much at heart to try the experiment, and had proposed to
Major ---- to join him in it, on a scale large enough to test it
satisfactorily; but he said Mr. K---- opposed the scheme so persistently
that of course it was impossible to carry it out, as his agency and
cooperation were indispensable; and that in like manner he had suggested
sowing turnip crops, and planting peach trees for the benefit and use of
the people on the Hampton estate, experiments which he had tried with
excellent success on his own; but all these plans for the amelioration and
progress of the people's physical condition had been obstructed and
finally put entirely aside by old Mr. K---- and his son, who, as Mr. C----
said, appeared to give satisfaction to their employers, so it was not his
business to find fault with them; he said, however, that the whole
condition and treatment of the slaves had changed from the time of
Major ----'s death, and that he thought it providential for the poor
people that Mr. K---- should have left the estate, and the young
gentleman, the present owner, come down to look after the people.

He showed me his garden, from whence come the beautiful vegetables he had
more than once supplied me with; in the midst of it was a very fine and
flourishing date palm tree, which he said bore its fruit as prosperously
here as it would in Asia. After the garden, we visited a charming
nicely-kept poultry yard, and I returned home much delighted with my visit
and the kind good humour of my host.

In the afternoon, I sat as usual at the receipt of custom, hearing of
aches and pains, till I ached myself sympathetically from head to foot.

Yesterday morning, dear E----, I went on horseback to St. Annie's,
exploring on my way some beautiful woods, and in the afternoon I returned
thither in a wood waggon with Jack to drive and a mule to draw me,
Montreal being quite beyond his management; and then and there, the
hatchet and saw being in company, I compelled my slave Jack, all the
rattlesnakes in creation to the contrary notwithstanding, to cut and clear
a way for my chariot through the charming copse.

My letter has been lying unfinished for the last three days. I have been
extraordinarily busy, having emancipated myself from the trammels of Jack
and all his terror, and as I fear no serpents on horseback, have been
daily riding through new patches of woodland without any guide, taking my
chance of what I might come to in the shape of impediments. Last Tuesday,
I rode through a whole wood, of burned and charred trees, cypresses and
oaks, that looked as if they had been each of them blasted by a special
thunderbolt, and whole thickets of young trees and shrubs perfectly black
and brittle from the effect of fire, I suppose the result of some
carelessness of the slaves. As this charcoal woodland extended for some
distance, I turned out of it, and round the main road through the
plantation, as I could not ride through the blackened boughs and branches
without getting begrimed. It had a strange wild desolate effect, not
without a certain gloomy picturesqueness.

In the afternoon, I made Israel drive me through Jack's new-made path to
break it down and open it still more, and Montreal's powerful trampling
did good service to that effect, though he did not seem to relish the
narrow wood road with its grass path by any means as much as the open way
of what may be called the high road. After this operation, I went on to
visit the people at the Busson Hill settlement. I here found, among other
noteworthy individuals, a female named Judy, whose two children belong to
an individual called (not Punch) but Joe, who has another wife, called
Mary, at the Rice Island. In one of the huts I went to leave some flannel
and rice and sugar for a poor old creature called Nancy, to whom I had
promised such indulgences: she is exceedingly infirm and miserable,
suffering from sore limbs and an ulcerated leg so cruelly that she can
hardly find rest in any position from the constant pain she endures, and
is quite unable to lie on her hard bed at night. As I bent over her
to-day, trying to prop her into some posture where she might find some
ease, she took hold of my hand, and with the tears streaming over her
face, said, 'I have worked every day through dew and damp, and sand and
heat, and done good work; but oh, missis, me old and broken now, no tongue
can tell how much I suffer.' In spite of their curious thick utterance and
comical jargon, these people sometimes use wonderfully striking and
pathetic forms of speech. In the next cabin, which consisted of an
enclosure, called by courtesy a room, certainly not ten feet square, and
owned by a woman called Dice--that is, not owned, of course, but inhabited
by her--three grown up human beings and eight children stow themselves by
day and night, which may be called close packing, I think. I presume that
they must take turns to be inside and outside the house, but they did not
make any complaint about it, though I should think the aspect of my
countenance, as I surveyed their abode and heard their numbers, might have
given them a hint to that effect; but I really do find these poor
creatures patient of so much misery, that it inclines me the more to heed
as well as hear their petitions and complaints, when they bring them to

After my return home, I had my usual evening reception, and, among other
pleasant incidents of plantation life, heard the following agreeable
anecdote from a woman named Sophy, who came to beg for some rice. In
asking her about her husband and children, she said she had never had any
husband, that she had had two children by a white man of the name of
Walker, who was employed at the mill on the rice island; she was in the
hospital after the birth of the second child she bore this man, and at the
same time two women, Judy and Sylla, of whose children Mr. K---- was the
father, were recovering from their confinements. It was not a month since
any of them had been delivered, when Mrs. K---- came to the hospital, had
them all three severely flogged, a process which _she_ personally
superintended, and then sent them to Five Pound--the swamp Botany Bay of
the plantation, of which I have told you--with further orders to the
drivers to flog them every day for a week. Now, E----, if I make you sick
with these disgusting stories, I cannot help it--they are the life itself
here; hitherto I have thought these details intolerable enough, but this
apparition of a female fiend in the middle of this hell I confess adds an
element of cruelty which seems to me to surpass all the rest. Jealousy is
not an uncommon quality in the feminine temperament; and just conceive the
fate of these unfortunate women between the passions of their masters and
mistresses, each alike armed with power to oppress and torture them. Sophy
went on to say that Isaac was her son by driver Morris, who had forced
her while she was in her miserable exile at Five Pound. Almost beyond my
patience with this string of detestable details, I exclaimed--foolishly
enough, heaven knows--'Ah, but don't you know, did nobody ever tell or
teach any of you, that it is a sin to live with men who are not your
husbands?' Alas, E----, what could the poor creature answer but what she
did, seizing me at the same time vehemently by the wrist: 'Oh yes, missis,
we know--we know all about dat well enough; but we do anything to get our
poor flesh some rest from de whip; when he made me follow him into de
bush, what use me tell him no? he have strength to make me.' I have
written down the woman's words; I wish I could write down the voice and
look of abject misery with which they were spoken. Now, you will observe
that the story was not told to me as a complaint; it was a thing long past
and over, of which she only spoke in the natural course of accounting for
her children to me. I make no comment; what need, or can I add, to such
stories? But how is such a state of things to endure?--and again, how is
it to end? While I was pondering, as it seemed to me, at the very bottom
of the Slough of Despond, on this miserable creature's story, another
woman came in (Tema), carrying in her arms a child the image of the
mulatto Bran; she came to beg for flannel. I asked her who was her
husband. She said she was not married. Her child is the child of
bricklayer Temple, who has a wife at the rice island. By this time, what
do you think of the moralities, as well as the amenities, of slave life?
These are the conditions which can only be known to one who lives among
them; flagrant acts of cruelty may be rare, but this ineffable state of
utter degradation, this really _beastly_ existence, is the normal
condition of these men and women, and of that no one seems to take heed,
nor have I ever heard it described so as to form any adequate conception
of it, till I found myself plunged into it;--where and how is one to begin
the cleansing of this horrid pestilential immondezzio of an existence?

It is Wednesday, the 20th of March; we cannot stay here much longer; I
wonder if I shall come back again! and whether, when I do, I shall find
the trace of one idea of a better life left in these poor people's minds
by my sojourn among them.

One of my industries this morning has been cutting out another dress for
one of our women, who had heard of my tailoring prowess at the rice
island. The material, as usual, was a miserable cotton, many-coloured like
the scarf of Iris. While shaping it for my client, I ventured to suggest
the idea of the possibility of a change of the nethermost as well as the
uppermost garment. This, I imagine, is a conception that has never dawned
upon the female slave mind on this plantation. They receive twice a year a
certain supply of clothing, and wear them (as I have heard some nasty fine
ladies do their stays, for fear they should get out of shape), without
washing, till they receive the next suit. Under these circumstances I
think it is unphilosophical, to say the least of it, to speak of the
negroes as a race whose unfragrance is heaven-ordained, and the result of
special organisation.

I must tell you that I have been delighted, surprised, and the very least
perplexed, by the sudden petition on the part of our young waiter, Aleck,
that I will teach him to read. He is a very intelligent lad of about
sixteen, and preferred his request with an urgent humility that was very
touching. I told him I would think about it. I mean to do it. I will do
it,--and yet, it is simply breaking the laws of the government under which
I am living. Unrighteous laws are made to be broken,--_perhaps_,--but
then, you see, I am a woman, and Mr. ---- stands between me and the
penalty. If I were a man, I would do that and many a thing besides, and
doubtless should be shot some fine day from behind a tree by some good
neighbour, who would do the community a service by quietly getting rid of
a mischievous incendiary; and I promise you in such a case no questions
would be asked, and my lessons would come to a speedy and silent end; but
teaching slaves to read is a fineable offence, and I am _feme couverte_,
and my fines must be paid by my legal owner, and the first offence of the
sort is heavily fined, and the second more heavily fined, and for the
third, one is sent to prison. What a pity it is I can't begin with
Aleck's third lesson, because going to prison can't be done by proxy, and
that penalty would light upon the right shoulders! I certainly intend to
teach Aleck to read. I certainly won't tell Mr. ---- anything about it.
I'll leave him to find it out, as slaves, and servants and children, and
all oppressed, and ignorant, and uneducated and unprincipled people do;
then, if he forbids me I can stop--perhaps before then the lad may have
learnt his letters. I begin to perceive one most admirable circumstance in
this slavery: you are absolute on your own plantation. No slaves'
testimony avails against you, and no white testimony exists but such as
you choose to admit. Some owners have a fancy for maiming their slaves,
some brand them, some pull out their teeth, some shoot them a little here
and there (all details gathered from advertisements of runaway slaves in
southern papers); now they do all this on their plantations, where nobody
comes to see, and I'll teach Aleck to read, for nobody is here to see, at
least nobody whose seeing I mind; and I'll teach every other creature that
wants to learn. I haven't much more than a week to remain in this blessed
purgatory, in that last week perhaps I may teach the boy enough to go on
alone when I am gone.

_Thursday, 21st._--I took a long ride to-day all through some new woods
and fields, and finally came upon a large space sown with corn for the
people. Here I was accosted by such a shape as I never beheld in the worst
of my dreams; it looked at first, as it came screaming towards me, like a
live specimen of the arms of the Isle of Man, which, as you may or may not
know, are three legs joined together, and kicking in different directions.
This uncouth device is not an invention of the Manxmen, for it is found on
some very ancient coins,--Greek, I believe; but at any rate it is now the
device of our subject Island of Man, and, like that set in motion, and
nothing else, was the object that approached me, only it had a head where
the three legs were joined, and a voice came out of the head to this
effect, 'Oh missis, you hab to take me out of dis here bird field, me no
able to run after birds, and ebery night me lick because me no run after
dem.' When this apparition reached me and stood as still as it could, I
perceived it consisted of a boy who said his name was 'Jack de bird
driver.' I suppose some vague idea of the fitness of things had induced
them to send this living scarecrow into the cornfield, and if he had been
set up in the midst of it, nobody, I am sure, would have imagined he was
anything else; but it seems he was expected to run after the feathered
fowl who alighted on the grain field, and I do not wonder that he did not
fulfil this expectation. His feet, legs, and knees were all maimed and
distorted, his legs were nowhere thicker than my wrist, his feet were a
yard apart from each other, and his knees swollen and knocking together.
What a creature to ran after birds! He implored me to give him some meat,
and have him sent back to Little St. Simon's Island, from which he came,
and where he said his poor limbs were stronger and better.

Riding home, I passed some sassafras trees, which are putting forth
deliciously fragrant tassels of small leaves and blossoms, and other
exquisite flowering shrubs, which are new to me, and enchant me perhaps
all the more for their strangeness. Before reaching the house, I was
stopped by one of our multitudinous Jennies, with a request for some meat,
and that I would help her with some clothes for Ben and Daphne, of whom
she had the sole charge; these are two extremely pretty and
interesting-looking mulatto children, whose resemblance to Mr. K---- had
induced me to ask Mr. ----, when first I saw them, if he did not think
they must be his children? He said they were certainly like him, but Mr.
K---- did not acknowledge the relationship. I asked Jenny who their mother
was. 'Minda.' 'Who their father?' 'Mr. K----.' 'What! old Mr. K----?' 'No,
Mr. R. K----.' 'Who told you so?' 'Minda, who ought to know.' 'Mr. K----
denies it.' 'That's because he never has looked upon them, nor done a
thing for them.' 'Well, but he acknowledged Renty as his son, why should
he deny these?' 'Because old master was here then, when Renty was born,
and he made Betty tell all about it, and Mr. K---- had to own it; but
nobody knows anything about this, and so he denies it'--with which
information I rode home. I always give you an exact report of any
conversation I may have with any of the people, and you see from this that
the people on the plantation themselves are much of my worthy neighbour
Mr. C----'s mind, that the death of Major ---- was a great misfortune for
the slaves on his estate.

I went to the hospital this afternoon, to see if the condition of the poor
people was at all improved since I had been last there; but nothing had
been done. I suppose Mr. G---- is waiting for Mr. ---- to come down in
order to speak to him about it. I found some miserable new cases of women
disabled by hard work. One poor thing, called Priscilla, had come out of
the fields to-day scarcely able to crawl; she has been losing blood for a
whole fortnight without intermission, and, until to-day, was labouring in
the fields. Leah, another new face since I visited the hospital last, is
lying quite helpless from exhaustion; she is advanced in her pregnancy,
and doing task work in the fields at the same time. What piteous
existences to be sure! I do wonder, as I walk among them, well fed, well
clothed, young, strong, idle, doing nothing but ride and drive about all
day, a woman, a creature like themselves, who have borne children too,
what sort of feeling they have towards me. I wonder it is not one of
murderous hate--that they should lie here almost dying with unrepaid
labour for me. I stand and look at them, and these thoughts work in my
mind and heart, till I feel as if I must tell them how dreadful and how
monstrous it seems to me myself, and how bitterly ashamed and grieved I
feel for it all.

To-day I rode in the morning round poor Cripple Jack's bird field again,
through the sweet spicy-smelling pine land, and home by my new road cut
through Jones's wood, of which I am as proud as if I had made instead of
found it--the grass, flowering shrubs, and all. In the afternoon, I drove
in the wood wagon back to Jones's, and visited Busson Hill on the way,
with performances of certain promises of flannel, quarters of dollars, &c.
&c. At Jones's, the women to-day had all done their work at a quarter past
three, and had swept their huts out very scrupulously for my reception.
Their dwellings are shockingly dilapidated and over-crammed--poor
creatures!--and it seems hard that, while exhorting them to spend labour
in cleaning and making them tidy, I cannot promise them that they shall be
repaired and made habitable for them.

In driving home through my new wood cut, Jack gave me a terrible account
of a flogging that a negro called Glasgow had received yesterday. He
seemed awfully impressed with it; so I suppose it must have been an
unusually severe punishment; but he either would not or could not tell me
what the man had done. On my return to the house, I found Mr. ---- had
come down from the rice plantation, whereat I was much delighted on all
accounts. I am sure it is getting much too late for him to remain in that
pestilential swampy atmosphere; besides I want him to see my improvements
in the new wood paths, and I want him to come and hear all these poor
people's complaints and petitions himself. They have been flocking in to
see him ever since it was known he had arrived. I met coming on that
errand Dandy, the husband of the woman for whom I cut out the gown the
other day; and asking him how it had answered, he gave a piteous account
of its tearing all to pieces the first time she put it on; it had appeared
to me perfectly rotten and good for nothing, and, upon questioning him as
to where he bought it and what he paid for it, I had to hear a sad account
of hardship and injustice. I have told you that the people collect moss
from the trees and sell it to the shopkeepers in Darien for the purpose of
stuffing furniture; they also raise poultry, and are allowed to dispose of
the eggs in the same way. It seems that poor Dandy had taken the miserable
material Edie's gown was made of as payment for a quantity of moss and
eggs furnished by him at various times to one of the Darien storekeepers,
who refused him payment in any other shape, and the poor fellow had no
redress; and this, he tells me, is a frequent experience with all the
slaves both here and at the rice island. Of course, the rascally
shopkeepers can cheat these poor wretches to any extent they please with
perfect impunity.

Mr. ---- told me of a visit Renty paid him, which was not a little curious
in some of its particulars. You know none of the slaves are allowed the
use of fire arms; but Renty put up a petition to be allowed Mr. K----'s
gun, which it seems that gentleman left behind him. Mr. ---- refused this
petition, saying at the same time to the lad that he knew very well that
none of the people were allowed guns. Renty expostulated on the score of
his _white blood_, and finding his master uninfluenced by that
consideration, departed with some severe reflections on Mr. K----, his
father, for not having left him his gun as a keepsake, in token of
(paternal) affection, when he left the plantation.

It is quite late, and I am very tired, though I have not done much more
than usual to-day, but the weather is beginning to be oppressive to me,
who hate heat; but I find the people, and especially the sick in the
hospital, speak of it as cold. I will tell you hereafter of a most comical
account Mr. ---- has given me of the prolonged and still protracted
pseudo-pregnancy of a woman called Markie, who for many more months than
are generally required for the process of continuing the human species,
pretended to be what the Germans pathetically and poetically call 'in good
hope,' and continued to reap increased rations as the reward of her
expectation, till she finally had to disappoint the estate and receive a

He told me too, what interested me very much, of a conspiracy among Mr.
C----'s slaves some years ago. I cannot tell you about it now; I will some
other time. It is wonderful to me that such attempts are not being made
the whole time among these people to regain their liberty; probably
because many are made ineffectually, and never known beyond the limits of
the plantation where they take place.

* * * * *

Dear E----. We have been having something like northern March
weather--blinding sun, blinding wind, and blinding dust, through all
which, the day before yesterday, Mr. ---- and I rode together round most
of the fields, and over the greater part of the plantation. It was a
detestable process, the more so that he rode Montreal and I Miss Kate, and
we had no small difficulty in managing them both. In the afternoon we had
an equally detestable drive through the new wood paths to St. Annie's, and
having accomplished all my errands among the people there, we crossed over
certain sounds, and seas, and separating waters, to pay a neighbourly
visit to the wife of one of our adjacent planters.

How impossible it would be for you to conceive, even if I could describe,
the careless desolation which pervaded the whole place; the shaggy unkempt
grounds we passed through to approach the house; the ruinous, rackrent,
tumble-down house itself, the untidy, slatternly all but beggarly
appearance of the mistress of the mansion herself. The smallest Yankee
farmer has a tidier estate, a tidier house, and a tidier wife than this
member of the proud southern chivalry, who, however, inasmuch as he has
slaves, is undoubtedly a much greater personage in his own estimation than
those capital fellows W---- and B----, who walk in glory and in joy behind
their ploughs upon your mountain sides. The Brunswick canal project was
descanted upon, and pronounced, without a shadow of dissent, a scheme the
impracticability of which all but convicted its projectors of insanity.
Certainly, if, as I hear the monied men of Boston have gone largely into
this speculation, their habitual sagacity must have been seriously at
fault; for here on the spot nobody mentions the project but as a subject
of utter derision.

While the men discussed about this matter, Mrs. B---- favoured me with the
congratulations I have heard so many times on the subject of my having a
white nursery maid for my children. Of course, she went into the old
subject of the utter incompetency of negro women to discharge such an
office faithfully; but in spite of her multiplied examples of their utter
inefficiency, I believe the discussion ended by simply our both agreeing
that ignorant negro girls of twelve years old are not as capable or
trustworthy as well-trained white women of thirty.

Returning home our route was changed, and Quash the boatman took us all
the way round by water to Hampton. I should have told you that our exit
was as wild as our entrance to this estate and was made through a broken
wooden fence, which we had to climb partly over and partly under, with
some risk and some obloquy, in spite of our dexterity, as I tore my dress,
and very nearly fell flat on my face in the process. Our row home was
perfectly enchanting; for though the morning's wind and (I suppose) the
state of the tide had roughened the waters of the great river, and our
passage was not as smooth as it might have been, the wind had died away,
the evening air was deliciously still, and mild, and soft. A young slip of
a moon glimmered just above the horizon, and 'the stars climbed up the
sapphire steps of heaven,' while we made our way over the rolling,
rushing, foaming waves, and saw to right and left the marsh fires burning
in the swampy meadows, adding another coloured light in the landscape to
the amber-tinted lower sky and the violet arch above, and giving wild
picturesqueness to the whole scene by throwing long flickering rays of
flame upon the distant waters.

_Sunday, the 14th._--I read service again to-day to the people. You cannot
conceive anything more impressive than the silent devotion of their whole
demeanour while it lasted, nor more touching than the profound thanks with
which they rewarded me when it was over, and they took their leave; and
to-day they again left me with the utmost decorum of deportment, and
without pressing a single petition or complaint, such as they ordinarily
thrust upon me on all other occasions, which seems to me an instinctive
feeling of religious respect for the day and the business they have come
upon, which does them infinite credit.

In the afternoon I took a long walk with the chicks in the woods; long at
least for the little legs of S---- and M----, who carried baby. We came
home by the shore, and I stopped to look at a jutting point, just below
which a small sort of bay would have afforded the most capital position
for a bathing house. If we stayed here late in the season, such a
refreshment would become almost a necessary of life, and anywhere along
the bank just where I stopped to examine it to-day, an establishment for
that purpose might be prosperously founded.

I am amused, but by no means pleased, at an entirely new mode of
pronouncing which S---- has adopted. Apparently the negro jargon has
commended itself as euphonious to her infantile ears, and she is now
treating me to the most ludicrous and accurate imitations of it every time
she opens her mouth. Of course I shall not allow this, comical as it is,
to become a habit. This is the way the southern ladies acquire the thick
and inelegant pronunciation which distinguishes their utterances from the
northern snuffle; and I have no desire that S---- should adorn her mother
tongue with either peculiarity. It is a curious and sad enough thing to
observe, as I have frequent opportunities of doing, the unbounded
insolence and tyranny (of manner, of course it can go no farther), of the
slaves towards each other. 'Hi! you boy!' and 'Hi! you girl!' shouted in
an imperious scream, is the civillest mode of apostrophising those at a
distance from them; more frequently it is 'You niggar, you hear? hi! you
niggar!' And I assure you no contemptuous white intonation ever equalled
the _prepotenza_ of the despotic insolence of this address of these poor
wretches to each other.

I have left my letter lying for a couple of days, dear E----. I have been
busy and tired; my walking and riding is becoming rather more laborious to
me, for, though nobody here appears to do so, I am beginning to feel the
relaxing influence of the spring.

The day before yesterday I took a disagreeable ride, all through swampy
fields and charred blackened thickets, to discover nothing either
picturesque or beautiful; the woods in one part of the plantation have
been on fire for three days, and a whole tract of exquisite evergreens has
been burnt down to the ground. In the afternoon I drove in the wood wagon
to visit the people at St. Annie's. There had been rain these last two
nights, and their wretched hovels do not keep out the weather; they are
really miserable abodes for human beings. I think pigs who were at all
particular might object to some of them. There is a woman at this
settlement called Sophy, the wife of a driver, Morris, who is so pretty
that I often wonder if it is only by contrast that I admire her so much,
or if her gentle, sweet, refined face, in spite of its dusky colour, would
not approve itself anywhere to any one with an eye for beauty. Her manner
and voice too are peculiarly soft and gentle; but, indeed, the voices of
all these poor people, men as well as women, are much pleasanter and more
melodious than the voices of white people in general. Most of the wretched
hovels had been swept and tidied out in expectation of my visit, and many
were the consequent petitions for rations of meat, flannel, osnaburgs,
etc. Promising all which, in due proportion to the cleanliness of each
separate dwelling, I came away. On my way home I called for a moment at
Jones' settlement to leave money and presents promised to the people
there, for similar improvement in the condition of their huts. I had not
time to stay and distribute my benefactions myself; and so appointed a
particularly bright intelligent looking woman, called Jenny, pay-mistress
in my stead; and her deputed authority was received with the utmost
cheerfulness by them all.

I have been having a long talk with Mr. ---- about Ben and Daphne, those
two young mulatto children of Mr. K----'s, whom I mentioned to you lately.
Poor pretty children! they have refined and sensitive faces as well as
straight regular features; and the expression of the girl's countenance,
as well as the sound of her voice, and the sad humility of her deportment,
are indescribably touching. Mr. B---- expressed the strongest interest in
and pity for them, _because of their colour_: it seems unjust almost to
the rest of their fellow unfortunates that this should be so, and yet it
is almost impossible to resist the impression of the unfitness of these
two forlorn young creatures, for the life of coarse labour and dreadful
degradation to which they are destined. In any of the southern cities the
girl would be pretty sure to be reserved for a worse fate; but even here,
death seems to me a thousand times preferable to the life that is before

In the afternoon I rode with Mr. ---- to look at the fire in the woods. We
did not approach it, but stood where the great volumes of smoke could be
seen rising steadily above the pines, as they have now continued to do for
upwards of a week; the destruction of the pine timber must be something
enormous. We then went to visit Dr. and Mrs. G----, and wound up these
exercises of civilized life by a call on dear old Mr. C----, whose nursery
and kitchen garden are a real refreshment to my spirits. How completely
the national character of the worthy canny old Scot is stamped on the care
and thrift visible in his whole property, the judicious successful culture
of which has improved and adorned his dwelling in this remote corner of
the earth! The comparison, or rather contrast, between himself and his
quondam neighbour Major ----, is curious enough to contemplate. The Scotch
tendency of the one to turn everything to good account, the Irish
propensity of the other to leave everything to ruin, to disorder, and
neglect; the careful economy and prudent management of the mercantile
man, the reckless profusion, and careless extravagance of the soldier. The
one made a splendid fortune and spent it in Philadelphia, where he built
one of the finest houses that existed there, in the old-fashioned days,
when fine old family mansions were still to be seen breaking the
monotonous uniformity of the Quaker city. The other has resided here on
his estate ameliorating the condition of his slaves and his property, a
benefactor to the people and the soil alike--a useful and a good
existence, an obscure and tranquil one.

Last Wednesday we drove to Hamilton--by far the finest estate on St.
Simon's Island. The gentleman to whom it belongs lives, I believe,
habitually in Paris; but Captain F---- resides on it, and, I suppose, is
the real overseer of the plantation. All the way along the road (we
traversed nearly the whole length of the island) we found great tracts of
wood, all burnt or burning; the destruction had spread in every direction,
and against the sky we saw the slow rising of the smoky clouds that showed
the pine forest to be on fire still. What an immense quantity of property
such a fire must destroy! The negro huts on several of the plantations
that we passed through were the most miserable human habitations I ever
beheld. The wretched hovels at St. Annie's, on the Hampton estate, that
had seemed to me the _ne plus ultra_ of misery, were really palaces to
some of the dirty, desolate, dilapidated dog kennels which we passed
to-day, and out of which the negroes poured like black ants at our
approach, and stood to gaze at us as we drove by.

The planters' residences we passed were only three. It makes one ponder
seriously when one thinks of the mere handful of white people on this
island. In the midst of this large population of slaves, how absolutely
helpless they would be if the blacks were to become restive! They could be
destroyed to a man before human help could reach them from the main, or
the tidings even of what was going on be carried across the surrounding
waters. As we approached the southern end of the island, we began to
discover the line of the white sea sands beyond the bushes and
fields,--and presently, above the sparkling, dazzling line of snowy
white,--for the sands were as white as our English chalk
cliffs,--stretched the deep blue sea line of the great Atlantic Ocean.

We found that there had been a most terrible fire in the Hamilton
woods--more extensive than that on our own plantation. It seems as if the
whole island had been burning at different points for more than a week.
What a cruel pity and shame it does seem to have these beautiful masses of
wood so destroyed! I suppose it is impossible to prevent it. The 'field
hands' make fires to cook their mid-day food wherever they happen to be
working; and sometimes through their careless neglect, but sometimes too
undoubtedly on purpose, the woods are set fire to by these means. One
benefit they consider that they derive from the process is the destruction
of the dreaded rattlesnakes that infest the woodland all over the island;
but really the funeral pyre of these hateful reptiles is too costly at
this price.

Hamilton struck me very much,--I mean the whole appearance of the place;
the situation of the house, the noble water prospect it commanded, the
magnificent old oaks near it, a luxuriant vine trellis, and a splendid
hedge of Yucca gloriosa, were all objects of great delight to me. The
latter was most curious to me, who had never seen any but single specimens
of the plant, and not many of these. I think our green house at the north
boasts but two; but here they were growing close together, and in such a
manner as to form a compact and impenetrable hedge, their spiky leaves
striking out on all sides like _chevaux de frise_, and the tall slender
stems that bear those delicate ivory-coloured bells of blossoms, springing
up against the sky in a regular row. I wish I could see that hedge in
blossom. It must be wonderfully strange and lovely, and must look by
moonlight like a whole range of fairy Chinese pagodas carved in ivory.

At dinner we had some delicious green peas, so much in advance of you are
we down here with the seasons. Don't you think one might accept the
rattlesnakes, or perhaps indeed the slavery, for the sake of the green
peas? 'Tis a world of compensations--a life of compromises, you know; and
one should learn to set one thing against another if one means to thrive
and fare well, i.e. eat green peas on the twenty-eighth of March.

After dinner I walked up and down before the house for a long while with
Mrs. F----, and had a most interesting conversation with her about the
negroes and all the details of their condition. She is a kind-hearted,
intelligent woman; but though she seemed to me to acquiesce, as a matter
of inevitable necessity, in the social system in the midst of which she
was born and lives, she did not appear to me, by several things she
said, to be by any means in love with it. She gave me a very sad
character of Mr. K----, confirming by her general description of him the
impression produced by all the details I have received from our own
people. As for any care for the moral or religious training of the
slaves, that, she said, was a matter that never troubled his thoughts;
indeed, his only notion upon the subject of religion, she said, was,
that it was something _not bad_ for white women and children.

We drove home by moonlight; and as we came towards the woods in the middle
of the island, the fire-flies glittered out from the dusky thickets as if
some magical golden veil was every now and then shaken out into the
darkness. The air was enchantingly mild and soft, and the whole way
through the silvery night delightful.

My dear friend, I have at length made acquaintance with a live
rattlesnake. Old Scylla had the pleasure of discovering it while hunting
for some wood to burn. Israel captured it, and brought it to the house for
my edification. I thought it an evil-looking beast, and could not help
feeling rather nervous while contemplating it, though the poor thing had a
noose round its neck and could by no manner of means have extricated
itself. The flat head, and vivid vicious eye, and darting tongue, were
none of them lovely to behold; but the sort of threatening whirr produced
by its rattle, together with the deepening and fading of the marks on its
skin, either with its respiration or the emotions of fear and anger it was
enduring, were peculiarly dreadful and fascinating. It was quite a young
one, having only two or three rattles in its tail. These, as you probably
know, increase in number by one annually; so that you can always tell the
age of the amiable serpent you are examining--if it will let you count the
number of joints of its rattle. Captain F---- gave me the rattle of one
which had as many as twelve joints. He said it had belonged to a very
large snake which had crawled from under a fallen tree trunk on which his
children were playing. After exhibiting his interesting captive, Israel
killed, stuffed, and presented it to me for preservation as a trophy, and
made me extremely happy by informing me that there was a nest of them
where this one was found. I think with terror of S---- running about with
her little socks not reaching half-way up her legs, and her little frocks
not reaching half-way down them. However, we shall probably not make
acquaintance with many more of these natives of Georgia, as we are to
return as soon as possible now to the north. We shall soon be free again.

This morning I rode to the burnt district, and attempted to go through it
at St. Clair's, but unsuccessfully: it was impossible to penetrate through
the charred and blackened thickets. In the afternoon I walked round the
point, and visited the houses of the people who are our nearest
neighbours. I found poor Edie in sad tribulation at the prospect of
resuming her field labour. It is really shameful treatment of a woman just
after child labour. She was confined exactly three weeks ago to-day, and
she tells me she is ordered out to field work on Monday. She seems to
dread the approaching hardships of her task-labour extremely. Her baby was
born dead, she thinks in consequence of a fall she had while carrying a
heavy weight of water. She is suffering great pain in one of her legs and
sides, and seems to me in a condition utterly unfit for any work, much
less hoeing in the fields; but I dare not interfere to prevent this
cruelty. She says she has already had to go out to work three weeks after
her confinement with each of her other children, and does not complain of
it as anything special in her case. She says that is now the invariable
rule of the whole plantation, though it used not to be so formerly.

I have let my letter lie since I wrote the above, dear E----; but as mine
is a story without beginning, middle, or end, it matters extremely little
where I leave it off or where I take it up; and if you have not, between
my wood rides and sick slaves, come to Falstaff's conclusion that I have
'damnable iteration,' you are patient of sameness. But the days are like
each other; and the rides and the people, and, alas! their conditions, do
not vary.

To-day, however, my visit to the infirmary was marked by an event which
has not occurred before--the death of one of the poor slaves while I was
there. I found on entering the first ward,--to use a most inapplicable
term for the dark, filthy, forlorn room I have so christened,--an old
negro called Friday lying on the ground. I asked what ailed him, and was
told he was dying. I approached him, and perceived, from the glazed eyes
and the feeble rattling breath, that he was at the point of expiring.
His tattered shirt and trousers barely covered his poor body; his
appearance was that of utter exhaustion from age and feebleness; he had
nothing under him but a mere handful of straw that did not cover the
earth he was stretched on; and under his head, by way of pillow for his
dying agony, two or three rough sticks just raising his skull a few
inches from the ground. The flies were all gathering around his mouth,
and not a creature was near him. There he lay,--the worn-out slave,
whose life had been spent in unrequited labour for me and mine,--without
one physical alleviation, one Christian solace, one human sympathy, to
cheer him in his extremity,--panting out the last breath of his wretched
existence, like some forsaken, over-worked, wearied-out beast of
burthen, rotting where it falls! I bent over the poor awful human
creature in the supreme hour of his mortality; and while my eyes,
blinded with tears of unavailing pity and horror, were fixed upon him,
there was a sudden quivering of the eyelids and falling of the jaw,--and
he was free. I stood up, and remained long lost in the imagination of
the change that creature had undergone, and in the tremendous
overwhelming consciousness of the deliverance God had granted the soul
whose cast-off vesture of decay lay at my feet. How I rejoiced for
him--and how, as I turned to the wretches who were calling to me from
the inner room, whence they could see me as I stood contemplating the
piteous object, I wished they all were gone away with him, the
delivered, the freed by death from bitter bitter bondage. In the next
room, I found a miserable, decrepid, old negress, called Charity, lying
sick, and I should think near too to die; but she did not think her work
was over, much as she looked unfit for further work on earth; but with
feeble voice and beseeching hands implored me to have her work lightened
when she was sent back to it from the hospital. She is one of the oldest
slaves on the plantation, and has to walk to her field labour, and back
again at night, a distance of nearly four miles. There were an unusual
number of sick women in the room to-day; among them quite a young girl,
daughter of Boatman Quash's, with a sick baby, who has a father, though
she has no husband. Poor thing! she looks like a mere child herself. I
returned home so very sad and heart-sick that I could not rouse myself
to the effort of going up to St. Annie's with the presents I had
promised the people there. I sent M---- up in the wood wagon with them,
and remained in the house with my thoughts, which were none of the

* * * * *

Dearest E----. On Friday, I rode to where the rattlesnake was found, and
where I was informed by the negroes there was a _nest_ of them--a pleasing
domestic picture of home and infancy that word suggests, not altogether
appropriate to rattlesnakes, I think. On horseback I felt bold to
accomplish this adventure, which I certainly should not have attempted on
foot; however, I could discover no sign of either snake or nest--(perhaps
it is of the nature of a mare's nest, and undiscoverable); but, having
done my duty by myself in endeavouring to find it, I rode off and coasted
the estate by the side of the marsh, till I came to the causeway. There I
found a new cleared field, and stopped to admire the beautiful appearance
of the stumps of the trees scattered all about it, and wreathed and
garlanded with the most profuse and fantastic growth of various
plants--wild roses being among the most abundant. What a lovely aspect one
side of nature presents here, and how hideous is the other!

In the afternoon, I drove to pay a visit to old Mrs. A----, the lady
proprietress whose estate immediately adjoins ours. On my way thither, I
passed a woman called Margaret walking rapidly and powerfully along the
road. She was returning home from the field, having done her task at three
o'clock; and told me, with a merry beaming black face, that she was going
'to clean up de house, to please de missis.' On driving through my
neighbour's grounds, I was disgusted more than I can express with the
miserable negro huts of her people; they were not fit to shelter
cattle--they were not fit to shelter anything, for they were literally in
holes, and, as we used to say of our stockings at school, too bad to darn.
To be sure, I will say, in excuse for their old mistress, her own
habitation was but a very few degrees less ruinous and disgusting. What
would one of your Yankee farmers say to such abodes? When I think of the
white houses, the green blinds, and the flower plots, of the villages in
New England, and look at these dwellings of lazy filth and inert
degradation, it does seem amazing to think that physical and moral
conditions so widely opposite should be found among people occupying a
similar place in the social scale of the same country. The Northern
farmer, however, thinks it no shame to work, the Southern planter does;
and there begins and ends the difference. Industry, man's crown of honour
elsewhere, is here his badge of utter degradation; and so comes all by
which I am here surrounded--pride, profligacy, idleness, cruelty,
cowardice, ignorance, squalor, dirt, and ineffable abasement.

When I returned home, I found that Mrs. F---- had sent me some magnificent
prawns. I think of having them served singly, and divided as one does a
lobster--their size really suggests no less respect.

_Saturday, 31st._--I rode all through the burnt district and the bush to
Mrs. W----'s field, in making my way out of which I was very nearly
swamped, and, but for the valuable assistance of a certain sable Scipio
who came up and extricated me, I might be floundering hopelessly there
still. He got me out of my Slough of Despond, and put me in the way to a
charming wood ride which runs between Mrs. W----'s and Colonel H----'s
grounds. While going along this delightful boundary of these two
neighbouring estates, my mind not unnaturally dwelt upon the terms of
deadly feud in which the two families owning them are living with each
other. A horrible quarrel has occurred quite lately upon the subject of
the ownership of this very ground I was skirting, between Dr. H---- and
young Mr. W----; they have challenged each other, and what I am going to
tell you is a good sample of the sort of spirit which grows up among
slaveholders. So read it, for it is curious to people who have not lived
habitually among savages. The terms of the challenge that has passed
between them have appeared like a sort of advertisement in the local
paper, and are to the effect that they are to fight at a certain distance
with certain weapons--firearms, of course; that there is to be on the
person of each a white paper, or mark, immediately over the region of the
heart, as a point for direct aim; and whoever kills the other is to have
the privilege of _cutting off his head, and sticking it up on a pole on
the piece of land which was the origin of the debate_; so that, some fine
day, I might have come hither as I did to-day and found myself riding
under the shadow of the gory locks of Dr. H---- or Mr. W----, my peaceful
and pleasant neighbours.

I came home through our own pine woods, which are actually a wilderness
of black desolation. The scorched and charred tree trunks are still
smoking and smouldering; the ground is a sort of charcoal pavement, and
the fire is still burning on all sides, for the smoke was rapidly rising
in several directions on each hand of the path I pursued. Across this
dismal scene of strange destruction, bright blue and red birds, like
living jewels, darted in the brilliant sunshine. I wonder if the fire
has killed and scared away many of these beautiful creatures. In the
afternoon I took Jack with me to clear some more of the wood paths; but
the weather is what I call hot, and what the people here think warm, and
the air was literally thick with little black points of insects, which
they call sand flies, and which settle upon one's head and face
literally like a black net; you hardly see them or feel them at the
time, but the irritation occasioned by them is intolerable, and I had to
relinquish my work and fly before this winged plague as fast as I could
from my new acquaintance the rattlesnakes. Jack informed me, in the
course of our expedition, that the woods on the island were sometimes
burnt away in order to leave the ground in grass for fodder for the
cattle, and that the very beautiful ones he and I had been clearing
paths through were not unlikely to be so doomed, which strikes me as a
horrible idea.

In the evening, poor Edie came up to the house to see me, with an old
negress called Sackey, who has been one of the chief nurses on the island
for many years. I suppose she has made some application to Mr. G---- for a
respite for Edie, on finding how terribly unfit she is for work; or
perhaps Mr. ----, to whom I represented her case, may have ordered her
reprieve; but she came with much gratitude to me (who have, as far as I
know, had nothing to do with it), to tell me that she is not able to be
sent into the field for another week. Old Sackey fully confirmed Edie's
account of the terrible hardships the women underwent in being thus driven
to labour before they had recovered from child-bearing. She said that old
Major ---- allowed the women at the rice island five weeks, and those here
four weeks, to recover from a confinement, and then never permitted them
for some time after they resumed their work to labour in the fields before
sunrise or after sunset; but Mr. K---- had altered that arrangement,
allowing the women at the rice island only four weeks, and those here only
three weeks, for their recovery; 'and then, missis,' continued the old
woman, 'out into the field again, through dew and dry, as if nothing had
happened; that is why, missis, so many of the women have falling of the
womb, and weakness in the back; and if he had continued on the estate, he
would have utterly destroyed all the breeding women.' Sometimes, after
sending them back into the field, at the expiration of their three weeks,
they would work for a day or two, she said, and then fall down in the
field with exhaustion, and be brought to the hospital almost at the point
of death.

Yesterday, Sunday, I had my last service at home with these poor people;
nearly thirty of them came, all clean, neat, and decent, in their dress
and appearance. S---- had begged very hard to join the congregation, and
upon the most solemn promise of remaining still she was admitted; but in
spite of the perfect honour with which she kept her promise, her presence
disturbed my thoughts not a little, and added much to the poignancy of the
feeling with which I saw her father's poor slaves gathered round me. The
child's exquisite complexion, large grey eyes, and solemn and at the same
time eager countenance, was such a wonderful piece of contrast to their
sable faces, so many of them so uncouth in their outlines and proportions,
and yet all of them so pathetic, and some so sublime in their expression
of patient suffering and religious fervour; their eyes never wandered from
me and my child, who sat close by my knee, their little mistress, their
future providence, my poor baby! Dear E----, bless God that you have never
reared a child with such an awful expectation: and at the end of the
prayers, the tears were streaming over their faces, and one chorus of
blessings rose round me and the child--farewell blessings, and prayers
that we would return; and thanks so fervent in their incoherency, it was
more than I could bear, and I begged them to go away and leave me to
recover myself. And then I remained with S----, and for quite a long while
even her restless spirit was still in wondering amazement at my bitter
crying. I am to go next Sunday to the church on the island, where there is
to be service; and so this is my last Sunday with the people.

When I had recovered from the emotion of this scene, I walked out with
S---- a little way, but meeting M---- and the baby, she turned home with
them, and I pursued my walk alone up the road, and home by the shore. They
are threatening to burn down all my woods to make grass land for the
cattle, and I have terrified them by telling them that I will never come
back if they destroy the woods. I went and paid a visit to Mrs. G----;
poor little, well-meaning, helpless woman! what can she do for these poor
people, where I who am supposed to own them can do nothing? and yet how
much may be done, is done, by the brain and heart of one human being in
contact with another! We are answerable for incalculable opportunities of
good and evil in our daily intercourse with every soul with whom we have
to deal; every meeting, every parting, every chance greeting, and every
appointed encounter, are occasions open to us for which we are to account.
To our children, our servants, our friends, our acquaintances,--to each
and all every day, and all day long, we are distributing that which is
best or worst in existence,--influence: with every word, with every look,
with every gesture, something is given or withheld of great importance it
may be to the receiver, of inestimable importance to the giver.

Certainly the laws and enacted statutes on which this detestable system is
built up are potent enough; the social prejudice that buttresses it is
almost more potent still; and yet a few hearts and brains well bent to do
the work, would bring within this almost impenetrable dungeon of
ignorance, misery, and degradation, in which so many millions of human
souls lie buried, that freedom of God which would presently conquer for
them their earthly liberty. With some such thoughts I commended the
slaves on the plantation to the little overseer's wife; I did not tell my
thoughts to her, they would have scared the poor little woman half out of
her senses. To begin with, her bread, her husband's occupation, has its
root in slavery; it would be difficult for her to think as I do of it. I
am afraid her care, even of the bodily habits and sicknesses of the people
left in Mrs. G----'s charge, will not be worth much, for nobody treats
others better than they do themselves; and she is certainly doing her best
to injure herself and her own poor baby, who is two and a-half years old,
and whom she is still suckling.

This is, I think, the worst case of this extraordinary delusion so
prevalent among your women that I have ever met with yet; but they all
nurse their children much longer than is good for either baby or mother.
The summer heat, particularly when a young baby is cutting teeth, is, I
know, considered by young American mothers an exceedingly critical time,
and therefore I always hear of babies being nursed till after the second
summer; so that a child born in January would be suckled till it was
eighteen or nineteen months old, in order that it might not be weaned till
its second summer was over. I am sure that nothing can be worse than this
system, and I attribute much of the wretched ill health of young American
mothers to over nursing; and of course a process that destroys their
health and vigour completely must affect most unfavourably the child they
are suckling. It is a grievous mistake. I remember my charming friend
F---- D---- telling me that she had nursed her first child till her second
was born--a miraculous statement, which I can only believe because she
told it me herself. Whenever anything seems absolutely impossible, the
word of a true person is the only proof of it worth anything.

* * * * *

Dear E----. I have been riding into the swamp behind the new house; I had
a mind to survey the ground all round it before going away, to see what
capabilities it afforded for the founding of a garden, but I confess it
looked very unpromising. Trying to return by another way, I came to a
morass, which, after contemplating, and making my horse try for a few
paces, I thought it expedient not to attempt. A woman called Charlotte,
who was working in the field, seeing my dilemma and the inglorious retreat
I was about to make, shouted to me at the top of her voice, 'You no turn
back, missis! if you want to go through, send, missis, send! you hab slave
enough, nigger enough, let 'em come, let 'em fetch planks, and make de
bridge; what you say dey must do,--send, missis, send, missis!' It seemed
to me, from the lady's imperative tone in my behalf, that if she had been
in my place, she would presently have had a corduroy road through the
swamp of prostrate 'niggers,' as she called her family in Ham, and ridden
over the same dry-hoofed; and to be sure, if I pleased, so might I, for,
as she very truly said, 'what you say, missis, they must do.' Instead of
summoning her sooty tribe, however, I backed my horse out of the swamp,
and betook myself to another pretty woodpath, which only wants widening to
be quite charming. At the end of this, however, I found swamp the second,
and out of this having been helped by a grinning facetious personage, most
appropriately named Pun, I returned home in dudgeon, in spite of what dear
Miss M---- calls the 'moral suitability' of finding a foul bog at the end
of every charming wood path or forest ride in this region.

In the afternoon, I drove to Busson Hill, to visit the people there. I
found that both the men and women had done their work at half-past three.
Saw Jema with her child, that ridiculous image of Driver Bran, in her
arms, in spite of whose whitey brown skin she still maintains that its
father is a man as black as herself--and she (to use a most extraordinary
comparison I heard of a negro girl making with regard to her mother) is as
black as 'de hinges of hell.' Query: Did she really mean hinges--or
angels? The angels of hell is a polite and pretty paraphrase for devils,
certainly. In complimenting a woman, called Joan, upon the tidy condition
of her house, she answered, with that cruel humility that is so bad an
element in their character, 'Missis no 'spect to find coloured folks'
house clean as white folks.' The mode in which they have learned to accept
the idea of their own degradation and unalterable inferiority, is the most
serious impediment that I see in the way of their progress, since
assuredly, 'self-love is not so vile a sin as self-neglecting.' In the
same way yesterday, Abraham the cook, in speaking of his brother's theft
at the rice island, said 'it was a shame even for a coloured man to do
such things.' I labour hard, whenever any such observation is made, to
explain to them that the question is one of moral and mental culture,--not
the colour of an integument,--and assure them, much to my own comfort,
whatever it may be to theirs, that white people are as dirty and as
dishonest as coloured folks, when they have suffered the same lack of
decent training. If I could but find one of these women, on whose mind the
idea had dawned that she was neither more nor less than my equal, I think
I should embrace her in an ecstacy of hopefulness.

In the evening, while I was inditing my journal for your edification, Jema
made her appearance with her Bran-brown baby, having walked all the way
down from Busson Hill to claim a little sugar I had promised her. She had
made her child perfectly clean, and it looked quite pretty. When I asked
her what I should give her the sugar in, she snatched her filthy
handkerchief off her head; but I declined this sugar basin, and gave it
to her in some paper. Hannah came on the same errand.

After all, dear E----, we shall not leave Georgia so soon as I expected;
we cannot get off for at least another week. You know, our movements are
apt to be both tardy and uncertain. I am getting sick in spirit of my stay
here; but I think the spring heat is beginning to affect me miserably, and
I long for a cooler atmosphere. Here, on St. Simon's, the climate is
perfectly healthy, and our neighbours, many of them, never stir from their
plantations within reach of the purifying sea influence. But a land that
grows magnolias is not fit for me--I was going to say magnolias and
rattlesnakes; but I remember K----'s adventure with her friend the
rattlesnake of Monument Mountain, and the wild wood-covered hill half-way
between Lenox and Stockbridge, which your Berkshire farmers have
christened Rattlesnake Mountain. These agreeable serpents seem, like the
lovely little humming birds which are found in your northernmost as well
as southernmost States, to have an accommodating disposition with regard
to climate.

Not only is the vicinity of the sea an element of salubrity here; but the
great masses of pine wood growing in every direction indicate lightness of
soil and purity of air. Wherever these fragrant, dry, aromatic fir forests
extend, there can be no inherent malaria, I should think, in either
atmosphere or soil. The beauty and profusion of the weeds and wild
flowers in the fields now is something, too, enchanting. I wish I could
spread one of these enamelled tracts on the side of one of your
snow-covered hills now--for I daresay they are snow-covered yet.

I must give you an account of Aleck's first reading lesson, which took
place at the same time that I gave S---- hers this morning. It was the
first time he had had leisure to come, and it went off most successfully.
He seems to me by no means stupid. I am very sorry he did not ask me to do
this before; however, if he can master his alphabet before I go, he may,
if chance favour him with the occasional sight of a book, help himself on
by degrees. Perhaps he will have the good inspiration to apply to Cooper
London for assistance; I am much mistaken if that worthy does not contrive
that Heaven shall help Aleck, as it formerly did him--in the matter of

I rode with Jack afterwards, showing him where I wish paths to be cut
and brushwood removed. I passed the new house, and again circumvented it
meditatingly to discover its available points of possible future
comeliness, but remained as convinced as ever that there are absolutely
none. Within the last two days, a perfect border of the dark blue
Virginicum has burst into blossom on each side of the road, fringing it
with purple as far as one can look along it; it is lovely. I must tell
you of something which has delighted me greatly. I told Jack yesterday,
that if any of the boys liked, when they had done their tasks, to come
and clear the paths that I want widened and trimmed, I would pay them a
certain small sum per hour for their labour; and behold, three boys have
come, having done their tasks early in the afternoon, to apply for
_work_ and _wages_: so much for a suggestion not barely twenty-four
hours old, and so much for a prospect of compensation!

In the evenings I attempted to walk out when the air was cool, but had to
run precipitately back into the house to escape from the clouds of
sand-flies that had settled on my neck and arms. The weather has suddenly
become intensely hot; at least, that is what it appears to me. After I had
come in I had a visit from Venus and her daughter, a young girl of ten
years old, for whom she begged a larger allowance of food as, she said,
what she received for her was totally inadequate to the girl's proper
nourishment. I was amazed, upon enquiry, to find that three quarts of
grits a week--that is not a pint a day--was considered a sufficient supply
for children of her age. The mother said her child was half-famished on
it, and it seemed to me terribly little.

My little workmen have brought me in from the woods three darling little
rabbits which they have contrived to catch. They seemed to me slightly
different from our English bunnies; and Captain F----, who called to-day,
gave me a long account of how they differed from the same animal in the
northern States. I did not like to mortify my small workmen by refusing
their present; but the poor little things must be left to run wild again,
for we have no conveniences for pets here, besides we are just weighing
anchor ourselves. I hope these poor little fluffy things will not meet any
rattlesnakes on their way back to the woods.

I had a visit for flannel from one of our Dianas to-day,--who had done her
task in the middle of the day, yet came to receive her flannel,--the most
horribly dirty human creature I ever beheld, unless indeed her child, whom
she brought with her, may have been half a degree dirtier.

The other day, Psyche (you remember the pretty under nurse, the poor thing
whose story I wrote you from the rice plantation) asked me if her mother
and brothers might be allowed to come and see her when we are gone away. I
asked her some questions about them, and she told me that one of her
brothers, who belonged to Mr. K----, was hired by that gentleman to a Mr.
G---- of Darien, and that, upon the latter desiring to purchase him, Mr.
K---- had sold the man without apprising him or any one member of his
family that he had done so--a humane proceeding that makes one's blood
boil when one hears of it. He had owned the man ever since he was a boy.
Psyche urged me very much to obtain an order permitting her to see her
mother and brothers. I will try and obtain it for her, but there seems
generally a great objection to the visits of slaves from neighbouring
plantations, and, I have no doubt, not without sufficient reason. The more
I see of this frightful and perilous social system, the more I feel that
those who live in the midst of it must make their whole existence one
constant precaution against danger of some sort or other.

I have given Aleck a second reading lesson with S----, who takes an
extreme interest in his newly acquired alphabetical lore. He is a very
quick and attentive scholar, and I should think a very short time would
suffice to teach him to read; but, alas! I have not even that short time.
When I had done with my class, I rode off with Jack, who has become quite
an expert horseman, and rejoices in being lifted out of the immediate
region of snakes by the length of his horse's legs. I cantered through the
new wood paths, and took a good sloping gallop through the pine land to
St. Annie's. The fire is actually still burning in the woods. I came home
quite tired with the heat, though my ride was not a long one.

Just as I had taken off my habit and was preparing to start off with
M----and the chicks for Jones's, in the wood wagon, old Dorcas, one of
the most decrepid, rheumatic, and miserable old negresses from the
further end of the plantation, called in to beg for some sugar. She had
walked the whole way from her own settlement, and seemed absolutely
exhausted then, and yet she had to walk all the way back. It was not
otherwise than slightly meritorious in me, my dear E----, to take her up
in the wagon and endure her abominable dirt and foulness in the closest
proximity, rather than let her drag her poor old limbs all that way
back; but I was glad when we gained her abode and lost her company. I am
mightily reminded occasionally in these parts of Trinculo's soliloquy
over Caliban. The people at Jones's had done their work at half-past
three. Most of the houses were tidy and clean, so were many of the
babies. On visiting the cabin of an exceedingly decent woman called
Peggy, I found her, to my surprise, possessed of a fine large bible. She
told me her husband, Carpenter John, can read, and that she means to
make him teach her. The fame of Aleck's literature has evidently reached
Jones's, and they are not afraid to tell me that they can read or wish
to learn to do so. This poor woman's health is miserable; I never saw a
more weakly sickly looking creature. She says she has been broken down
ever since the birth of her last child. I asked her how soon after her
confinement she went out into the field to work again. She answered very
quietly, but with a deep sigh: 'Three weeks, missis; de usual time.' As
I was going away, a man named Martin came up, and with great vehemence
besought me to give him a prayer-book. In the evening, he came down to
fetch it, and to show me that he can read. I was very much pleased to
see that they had taken my hint about nailing wooden slats across the
windows of their poor huts, to prevent the constant ingress of the
poultry. This in itself will produce an immense difference in the
cleanliness and comfort of their wretched abodes. In one of the huts I
found a broken looking-glass; it was the only piece of furniture of the
sort that I had yet seen among them. The woman who owned it was, I am
sorry to say, peculiarly untidy and dirty, and so were her children: so
that I felt rather inclined to scoff at the piece of civilized vanity,
which I should otherwise have greeted as a promising sign.

I drove home, late in the afternoon, through the sweet-smelling woods,
that are beginning to hum with the voice of thousands of insects. My troop
of volunteer workmen is increased to five; five lads working for my wages
after they have done their task work; and this evening, to my no small
amazement, Driver Bran came down to join them for an hour, after working
all day at Five Pound, which certainly shows zeal and energy.

Dear E----, I have been riding through the woods all the morning with
Jack, giving him directions about the clearings, which I have some faint
hope may be allowed to continue after my departure. I went on an exploring
expedition round some distant fields, and then home through the St.
Annie's woods. They have almost stripped the trees and thickets along the
swamp road since I first came here. I wonder what it is for: not fuel
surely, nor to make grass land of, or otherwise cultivate the swamp. I do
deplore these pitiless clearings; and as to this once pretty road, it
looks 'forlorn,' as a worthy Pennsylvania farmer's wife once said to me of
a pretty hill-side from which her husband had ruthlessly felled a
beautiful grove of trees.

I had another snake encounter in my ride this morning. Just as I had
walked my horse through the swamp, and while contemplating ruefully its
naked aspect, a huge black snake wriggled rapidly across the path, and I
pulled my reins tight and opened my mouth wide with horror. These
hideous-looking creatures are, I believe, not poisonous, but they grow to
a monstrous size, and have tremendous _constrictive_ power. I have heard
stories that sound like the nightmare, of their fighting desperately with
those deadly creatures, rattlesnakes. I cannot conceive, if the black
snakes are not poisonous, what chance they have against such antagonists,
let their squeezing powers be what they will. How horrid it did look,
_slithering_ over the road! Perhaps the swamp has been cleared on account
of its harbouring these dreadful worms.

I rode home very fast, in spite of the exquisite fragrance of the wild
cherry blossoms, the carpets and curtains of wild flowers, among which a
sort of glorified dandelion glowed conspicuously; dandelions such as I
should think grew in the garden of Eden, if there were any at all there. I
passed the finest magnolia that I have yet seen; it was magnificent, and
I suppose had been spared for its beauty, for it grew in the very middle
of a cotton field; it was as large as a fine forest tree, and its huge
glittering leaves shone like plates of metal in the sun; what a spectacle
that tree must be in blossom, and I should think its perfume must be smelt
from one end of the plantation to the other. What a glorious creature!
Which do you think ought to weigh most in the scale, the delight of such a
vegetable, or the disgust of the black animal I had just met a few minutes
before? Would you take the one with the other? Neither would I.

I have spent the whole afternoon at home; my 'gang' is busily at work
again. Sawney, one of them, came to join it nearly at sun-down, not having
got through his day's task before. In watching and listening to these
lads, I was constantly struck with the insolent tyranny of their demeanour
towards each other. This is almost a universal characteristic of the
manner of the negroes among themselves. They are diabolically cruel to
animals too, and they seem to me as a rule hardly to know the difference
between truth and falsehood. These detestable qualities, which I
constantly hear attributed to them as innate and inherent in their race,
appear to me the direct result of their condition. The individual
exceptions among them are, I think, quite as many as would be found under
similar circumstances, among the same number of white people.

In considering the whole condition of the people on this plantation, it
appears to me that the principal hardships fall to the lot of the women;
that is, the principal physical hardships. The very young members of the
community are of course idle and neglected; the very very old, idle and
neglected too; the middle-aged men do not appear to me over-worked, and
lead a mere animal existence, in itself not peculiarly cruel or
distressing, but involving a constant element of fear and uncertainty, and
the trifling evils of unrequited labour, ignorance the most profound, (to
which they are condemned by law); and the unutterable injustice which
precludes them from all the merits and all the benefits of voluntary
exertion, and the progress that results from it. If they are absolutely
unconscious of these evils, then they are not very ill-off brutes, always
barring the chance of being given or sold away from their mates or their
young--processes which even brutes do not always relish. I am very much
struck with the vein of melancholy, which assumes almost a poetical tone
in some of the things they say. Did I tell you of that poor old decrepid
creature Dorcas, who came to beg some sugar of me the other day? saying as
she took up my watch from the table and looked at it, 'Ah? I need not look
at this, I have almost done with time!' Was not that striking from such a
poor old ignorant crone?

* * * * *

Dear E----. This is the fourth day that I have had a 'gang' of lads
working in the woods for me after their task hours, for pay; you cannot
think how zealous and energetic they are; I daresay the novelty of the
process pleases them almost as much as the money they earn. I must say
they quite deserve their small wages.

Last night I received a present from Mrs. F---- of a drum fish, which
animal I had never beheld before, and which seemed to me first cousin to
the great Leviathan. It is to be eaten, and is certainly the biggest fish
food I ever saw; however, everything is in proportion, and the prawns that
came with it are upon a similarly extensive scale; this magnificent
piscatorial bounty was accompanied by a profusion of Hamilton green peas,
really a munificent supply.

I went out early after breakfast with Jack hunting for new paths; we rode
all along the road by Jones's Creek, and most beautiful it was. We skirted
the plantation burial ground, and a dismal place it looked; the cattle
trampling over it in every direction--except where Mr. K---- had had an
enclosure put up round the graves of two white men who had worked on the
estate. They were strangers, and of course utterly indifferent to the
people here; but by virtue of their white skins, their resting-place was
protected from the hoofs of the cattle, while the parents and children,
wives, husbands, brothers and sisters, of the poor slaves, sleeping
beside them, might see the graves of those they loved trampled upon and
browsed over, desecrated and defiled, from morning till night. There is
something intolerably cruel in this disdainful denial of a common humanity
pursuing these wretches even when they are hid beneath the earth.

The day was exquisitely beautiful, and I explored a new wood path, and
found it all strewed with a lovely wild flower not much unlike a primrose.
I spent the afternoon at home. I dread going out twice a-day now, on
account of the heat and the sand flies. While I was sitting by the window,
Abraham, our cook, went by with some most revolting looking 'raw material'
(part I think of the interior of the monstrous drum fish of which I have
told you). I asked him with considerable disgust what he was going to do
with it, he replied, 'Oh! we coloured people eat it, missis;' said I, 'Why
do you say we coloured people?' 'Because, missis, white people won't touch
what we too glad of.' 'That,' said I, 'is because you are poor, and do not
often have meat to eat, not because you are coloured, Abraham; rich white
folks will not touch what poor white folks are too glad of; it has nothing
in the world to do with colour, and if there were white people here worse
off than you (amazing and inconceivable suggestion, I fear), they would be
glad to eat what you perhaps would not touch.' Profound pause of
meditation on the part of Abraham, wound up by a considerate 'Well,
missis, I suppose so.' After which he departed with the horrid looking

To-day--Saturday--I took another ride of discovery round the fields by
Jones's. I think I shall soon be able to survey this estate, I have ridden
so carefully over it in every direction; but my rides are drawing to a
close and even were I to remain here this must be the case unless I got up
and rode under the stars in the cool of the night. This afternoon I was
obliged to drive up to St. Annie's: I had promised the people several
times that I would do so. I went after dinner and as late as I could, and
found very considerable improvement in the whole condition of the place;
the houses had all been swept, and some of them actually scoured. The
children were all quite tolerably clean; they had put slats across all
their windows, and little chicken gates to the doors to keep out the
poultry. There was a poor woman lying in one of the cabins in a wretched
condition. She begged for a bandage, but I do not see of what great use
that can be to her, as long as she has to hoe in the fields so many hours
a day, which I cannot prevent.

Returning home, Israel undertook to pilot me across the cotton fields into
the pine land; and a more excruciating process than being dragged over
that very uneven surface in that wood wagon without springs I did never
endure, mitigated and soothed though it was by the literally fascinating
account my charioteer gave me of the rattlesnakes with which the place we
drove through becomes infested as the heat increases. I cannot say that
his description of them, though more demonstrative as far as regarded his
own horror of them, was really worse than that which Mr. G---- was giving
me of them yesterday. He said they were very numerous, and were found in
every direction all over the plantation, but that they did not become
really vicious until quite late in the summer; until then, it appears that
they generally endeavour to make off if one meets them, but during the
intense heats of the latter part of July and August they never think of
escaping, but at any sight or sound which they may consider inimical, they
instantly coil themselves for a spring. The most intolerable proceeding on
their part, however, that he described, was their getting up into the
trees, and either coiling themselves in or depending from the branches.
There is something too revolting in the idea of serpents looking down upon
one from the shade of the trees to which one may betake oneself for
shelter in the dreadful heat of the southern midsummer; decidedly I do not
think the dog-days would be pleasant here. The mocassin snake, which is
nearly as deadly as the rattlesnake, abounds all over the island.

In the evening, I had a visit from Mr. C---- and Mr. B----, who officiates
to-morrow at our small island church. The conversation I had with these
gentlemen was sad enough. They seem good and kind and amiable men, and I
have no doubt are conscientious in their capacity of slaveholders; but to
one who has lived outside this dreadful atmosphere, the whole tone of
their discourse has a morally muffled sound, which one must hear to be
able to conceive. Mr. B---- told me that the people on this plantation not
going to church was the result of a positive order from Mr. K----, who had
peremptorily forbidden their doing so, and of course to have infringed
that order would have been to incur severe corporal chastisement. Bishop
B----, it seems, had advised that there should be periodical preaching on
the plantations, which, said Mr. B----, would have obviated any necessity
for the people of different estates congregating at any given point at
stated times, which might perhaps be objectionable, and at the same time
would meet the reproach which was now beginning to be directed towards the
southern planters as a class, of neglecting the eternal interest of their
dependents. But Mr. K---- had equally objected to this. He seems to have
held religious teaching a mighty dangerous thing--and how right he was! I
have met with conventional cowardice of various shades and shapes in
various societies that I have lived in; but anything like the pervading
timidity of tone which I find here on all subjects, but above all on that
of the condition of the slaves, I have never dreamed of. Truly slavery
begets slavery, and the perpetual state of suspicion and apprehension of
the slaveholders is a very handsome offset, to say the least of it,
against the fetters and the lash of the slaves. Poor people, one and all,
but especially poor oppressors of the oppressed! The attitude of these men
is really pitiable; they profess (perhaps some of them strive to do so
indeed) to consult the best interests of their slaves, and yet shrink back
terrified from the approach of the slightest intellectual or moral
improvement which might modify their degraded and miserable existence. I
do pity these deplorable servants of two masters more than any human
beings I have ever seen--more than their own slaves a thousand times!

To-day is Sunday, and I have been to the little church on the island. It
is the second time since I came down to the south that I have been to a
place of worship. A curious little incident prefaced my going thither this
morning. I had desired Israel to get my horse ready and himself to
accompany me, as I meant to ride to church; and you cannot imagine
anything droller than his horror and dismay when he at length comprehended
that my purpose was to attend divine service in my riding habit. I asked
him what was the trouble, for though I saw something was creating a
dreadful convulsion in his mind, I had no idea what it was till he told
me, adding, that he had never seen such a thing on St. Simon's in his
life--as who should say, such a thing was never seen in Hyde Park or the
Tuileries before. You may imagine my amusement, but presently I was
destined to shock something much more serious than poor Israel's sense of
_les convenances et bienseances_, and it was not without something of an
effort that I made up my mind to do so. I was standing at the open window
speaking to him about the horses, and telling him to get ready to ride
with me, when George, another of the men, went by with a shade or visor to
his cap exactly the shape of the one I left behind at the north, and for
want of which I have been suffering severely from the intense heat and
glare of the sun for the last week. I asked him to hand me his cap,
saying, 'I want to take the pattern of that shade.' Israel exclaimed, 'Oh
missis, not to-day; let him leave the cap with you to-morrow, but don't
cut pattern on de Sabbath day!' It seemed to me a much more serious matter
to offend this scruple than the prejudice with regard to praying in a
riding habit; still it had to be done. 'Do you think it wrong, Israel,'
said I, 'to work on Sunday?' 'Yes, missis, parson tell we so.' 'Then,
Israel, be sure you never do it. Did your parson never tell you that your
conscience was for yourself and not for your neighbours, Israel?' 'Oh yes,
missis, he tell we that too.' 'Then mind that too, Israel.' The shade was
cut out and stitched upon my cap, and protected my eyes from the fierce
glare of the sun and sand as I rode to church.

On our way, we came to a field where the young corn was coming up. The
children were in the field--little living scarecrows--watching it, of
course, as on a weekday, to keep off the birds. I made Israel observe
this, who replied, 'Oh missis, if de people's corn left one whole day not
watched, not one blade of it remain to-morrow; it must be watched,
missis.' 'What, on the Sabbath day, Israel?' 'Yes, missis, or else we lose
it all.' I was not sorry to avail myself of this illustration of the
nature of works of necessity, and proceeded to enlighten Israel with
regard to what I conceive to be the genuine observance of the Sabbath.

You cannot imagine anything wilder or more beautiful than the situation of
the little rustic temple in the woods where I went to worship to-day, with
the magnificent live oaks standing round it and its picturesque burial
ground. The disgracefully neglected state of the latter, its broken and
ruinous enclosure, and its shaggy weed-grown graves, tell a strange story
of the residents of this island, who are content to leave the
resting-place of their dead in so shocking a condition. In the tiny little
chamber of a church, the grand old litany of the Episcopal Church of
England was not a little shorn of its ceremonial stateliness; clerk there
was none, nor choir, nor organ, and the clergyman did duty for all, giving
out the hymn and then singing it himself, followed as best might be by the
uncertain voices of his very small congregation, the smallest I think I
ever saw gathered in a Christian place of worship, even counting a few of
the negroes who had ventured to place themselves standing at the back of
the church--an infringement on their part upon the privileges of their
betters--as Mr. B---- generally preaches a second sermon to them after the
_white_ service, to which as a rule they are not admitted.

On leaving the church, I could not but smile at the quaint and original
costumes with which Israel had so much dreaded a comparison for my
irreproachable London riding habit. However, the strangeness of it was
what inspired him with terror; but, at that rate, I am afraid a Paris gown
and bonnet might have been in equal danger of shocking his prejudices.
There was quite as little affinity with the one as the other in the
curious specimens of the 'art of dressing' that gradually distributed
themselves among the two or three indescribable machines (to use the
appropriate Scotch title) drawn up under the beautiful oak trees, on which
they departed in various directions to the several plantations on the

I mounted my horse, and resumed my ride and my conversation with Israel.
He told me that Mr. K----'s great objection to the people going to church
was their meeting with the slaves from the other plantations; and one
reason, he added, that he did not wish them to do that was, that they
trafficked and bartered away the cooper's wares, tubs, piggins, &c., made
on the estate. I think, however, from everything I hear of that gentleman,
that the mere fact of the Hampton people coming in contact with the slaves
of other plantations would be a thing he would have deprecated. As a
severe disciplinarian, he was probably right.

In the course of our talk, a reference I made to the Bible, and Israel's
answer that he could not read, made me ask him why his father had never
taught any of his sons to read; old Jacob, I know, can read. What followed
I shall never forget. He began by giving all sorts of childish unmeaning
excuses and reasons for never having tried to learn--became confused and
quite incoherent,--and then, suddenly stopping, and pulling up his horse,
said, with a look and manner that went to my very heart; 'Missis, what for
me learn to read? me have no prospect!' I rode on without venturing to
speak to him again for a little while. When I had recovered from that
remark of his, I explained to him that, though indeed 'without prospect'
in some respects, yet reading might avail him much to better his
condition, moral, mental, and physical. He listened very attentively, and
was silent for a minute; after which he said:--'All you say very true,
missis, and me sorry now me let de time pass; but you know what de white
man dat goberns de estate him seem to like and favour, dat de people find
out bery soon and do it; now, Massa K----, him neber favour our reading,
him not like it; likely as not he lick you if he find you reading, or if
you wish to teach your children, him always say, "Pooh, teach 'em to
read--teach 'em to work." According to dat, we neber paid much attention
to it, but now it will be different; it was different in former times. De
old folks of my father and mother's time could read more than we can, and
I expect de people will dare to give some thought to it again now.'
There's a precious sample of what one man's influence may do in his own
sphere, dear E----! This man Israel is a remarkably fine fellow in every
way, with a frank, open, and most intelligent countenance, which rises
before me with its look of quiet sadness whenever I think of those words
(and they haunt me), 'I have no prospect.'

On my arrival at home, I found that a number of the people, not knowing I
had gone to church, had come up to the house, hoping that I would read
prayers to them, and had not gone back to their homes, but waited to see
me. I could not bear to disappoint them, for many of them had come from
the farthest settlements on the estate; and so, though my hot ride had
tired me a good deal, and my talk with Israel troubled me profoundly, I
took off my habit, and had them all in, and read the afternoon service to
them. When it was over, two of the women--Venus and Trussa--asked if they
might be permitted to go to the nursery and see the children. Their
account of the former condition of the estate was a corroboration of
Israel's. They said that the older slaves on the plantation had been far
better off than the younger ones of the present day; that Major ---- was
considerate and humane to his people; and that the women were especially
carefully treated. But they said Mr. K---- had ruined all the young women
with working them too soon after their confinements; and as for the elder
ones, he would kick them, curse them, turn their clothes over their heads,
flog them unmercifully himself, and abuse them shamefully, no matter what
condition they were in. They both ended with fervent thanks to God that he
had left the estate, and rejoicing that we had come, and, above all, that
we 'had made young missis for them.' Venus went down on her knees,
exclaiming, 'Oh, missis, I glad now; and when I am dead, I glad in my
grave that you come to us and bring us little missis.'

* * * * *

Dear E----. I still go on exploring, or rather surveying, the estate, the
aspect of which is changing every day with the unfolding of the leaves and
the wonderful profusion of wild flowers. The cleared ground all round the
new building is one sheet of blooming blue of various tints; it is
perfectly exquisite. But in the midst of my delight at these new blossoms,
I am most sorrowfully bidding adieu to that paragon of parasites, the
yellow jasmine; I think I must have gathered the very last blossoms of it
to-day. Nothing can be more lovely, nothing so exquisitely fragrant. I was
surprised to recognise by their foliage, to-day, some fine mulberry
trees, by Jones's Creek; perhaps they are the remains of the silk-worm
experiment that Mr. C---- persuaded Major ---- to try so ineffectually.
While I was looking at some wild plum and cherry trees that were already
swarming with blight in the shape of multitudinous caterpillars' nests, an
ingenuous darkie, by name Cudgie, asked me if I could explain to him why
the trees blossomed out so fair, and then all 'went off into a kind of
dying.' Having directed his vision and attention to the horrid white
glistening webs, all lined with their brood of black devourers, I left him
to draw his own conclusions.

The afternoon was rainy, in spite of which I drove to Busson Hill, and had
a talk with Bran about the vile caterpillar blights on the wild plum
trees, and asked him if it would not be possible to get some sweet grafts
from Mr. C---- for some of the wild fruit trees, of which there are such
quantities. Perhaps, however, they are not worth grafting. Bran promised
me that the people should not be allowed to encumber the paths and the
front of their houses with unsightly and untidy heaps of oyster shells. He
promised all sorts of things. I wonder how soon after I am gone they will
all return into the condition of brutal filth and disorder in which I
found them.

The men and women had done their work here by half-past three. The chief
labour in the cotton fields, however, is both earlier and later in the
season. At present they have little to do but let the crop grow. In the
evening I had a visit from the son of a very remarkable man, who had been
one of the chief drivers on the estate in Major ----'s time, and his son
brought me a silver cup which Major ---- had given his father as a
testimonial of approbation, with an inscription on it recording his
fidelity and trustworthiness at the time of the invasion of the coast of
Georgia by the English troops. Was not that a curious reward for a slave
who was supposed not to be able to read his own praises? And yet, from the
honourable pride with which his son regarded this relic, I am sure the
master did well so to reward his servant, though it seemed hard that the
son of such a man should be a slave. Maurice himself came with his
father's precious silver cup in his hand, to beg for a small pittance of
sugar, and for a prayer-book, and also to know if the privilege of a milch
cow for the support of his family, which was among the favours Major ----
allowed his father, might not be continued to him. He told me he had ten
children 'working for massa,' and I promised to mention his petition to
Mr. ----.

On Sunday last, I rode round the woods near St. Annie's and met with a
monstrous snake, which Jack called a chicken snake; but whether because it
particularly affected poultry as its diet, or for what other reason, he
could not tell me. Nearer home, I encountered another gliding creature,
that stopped a moment just in front of my horse's feet, as if it was too
much afraid of being trampled upon to get out of the way; it was the only
snake animal I ever saw that I did not think hideous. It was of a
perfectly pure apple green colour, with a delicate line of black like a
collar round its throat; it really was an exquisite worm, and Jack said it
was harmless. I did not, however, think it expedient to bring it home in
my bosom, though if ever I have a pet snake, it shall be such an one.

In the afternoon, I drove to Jones's with several supplies of flannel for
the rheumatic women and old men. We have ridden over to Hamilton again, to
pay another visit to the F----s, and on our way passed an enormous
rattlesnake, hanging dead on the bough of a tree. Dead as it was, it
turned me perfectly sick with horror, and I wished very much to come back
to the north immediately, where these are not the sort of blackberries
that grow on every bush. The evening air now, after the heat of the day,
is exquisitely mild, and the nights dry and wholesome, the whole
atmosphere indescribably fragrant with the perfume of flowers; and as I
stood, before going to bed last night, watching the slow revolving light
on Sapelo Island, that warns the ships from the dangerous bar at the
river's mouth, and heard the measured pulse of the great Atlantic waters
on the beach, I thought no more of rattlesnakes--no more, for one short
while, of slavery. How still, and sweet, and solemn, it was!

We have been paying more friendly and neighbourly visits, or rather
returning them; and the recipients of these civilised courtesies on our
last calling expedition were the family one member of which was a party
concerned in that barbarous challenge I wrote you word about. Hitherto
that very brutal and bloodthirsty cartel appears to have had no result.
You must not on that account imagine that it will have none. At the north,
were it possible for a duel intended to be conducted on such savage terms
to be matter of notoriety, the very horror of the thing would create a
feeling of grotesqueness, and the antagonists in such a proposed encounter
would simply incur an immense amount of ridicule and obloquy. But here
nobody is astonished and nobody ashamed of such preliminaries to a mortal
combat between two gentlemen, who propose firing at marks over each
other's hearts, and cutting off each other's heads; and though this
agreeable party of pleasure has not come off yet, there seems to be no
reason why it should not at the first convenient season. Reflecting upon
all which, I rode not without trepidation through Colonel H----'s grounds,
and up to his house. Mr. W----'s head was not stuck upon a pole anywhere
within sight, however, and as soon as I became pretty sure of this, I
began to look about me, and saw instead a trellis tapestried with the most
beautiful roses I ever beheld, another of these exquisite southern
flowers--the Cherokee rose. The blossom is very large, composed of four
or five pure white petals, as white and as large as those of the finest
Camellia with a bright golden eye for a focus; the buds and leaves are
long and elegantly slender, like those of some tea roses, and the green of
the foliage is dark and at the same time vivid and lustrous; it grew in
masses so as to form almost a hedge, all starred with these wonderful
white blossoms, which, unfortunately, have no perfume.

We rode home through the pine land to Jones's, looked at the new house
which is coming on hideously, saw two beautiful kinds of trumpet
honeysuckle already lighting up the woods in every direction with gleams
of scarlet, and when we reached home found a splendid donation of
vegetables, flowers, and mutton from our kind neighbour Mrs. F----, who is
a perfect Lady Bountiful to us. This same mutton, however--my heart bleeds
to say it--disappeared the day after it was sent to us. Abraham the cook
declares that he locked the door of the safe upon it, which I think may be
true, but I also think he unlocked it again. I am sorry; but, after all,
it is very natural these people should steal a little of our meat from us
occasionally, who steal almost all their bread from them habitually.

I rode yesterday to St. Annie's with Mr. ----. We found a whole tract of
marsh had been set on fire by the facetious negro called Pun, who had
helped me out of it some time ago. As he was set to work in it, perhaps it
was with a view of making it less damp; at any rate, it was crackling,
blazing, and smoking cheerily, and I should think would be insupportable
for the snakes. While stopping to look at the conflagration, Mr. ---- was
accosted by a three parts naked and one part tattered little she
slave--black as ebony, where her skin was discoverable through its perfect
incrustation of dirt--with a thick mat of frizzly wool upon her skull,
which made the sole request she preferred to him irresistibly
ludicrous:--'Massa, massa, you please to buy me a comb to tick in my
head?' Mr. ---- promised her this necessary of life, and I promised myself
to give her the luxury of one whole garment. Mrs. ---- has sent me the
best possible consolation for the lost mutton, some lovely flowers, and
these will not be stolen.

* * * * *

_Saturday, the 13th._--Dear E----, I rode to-day through all my woodpaths
for the last time with Jack, and I think I should have felt quite
melancholy at taking leave of them and him, but for the apparition of a

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