Part 11 out of 12
a vague horror fell on him; while Cassy, with a keen, sneering
glitter in her eyes, stood looking at him, counting the strokes.
"Twelve o'clock; well _now_ we'll see," said she, turning,
and opening the door into the passage-way, and standing as if
"Hark! What's that?" said she, raising her finger.
"It's only the wind," said Legree. "Don't you hear how
cursedly it blows?"
"Simon, come here," said Cassy, in a whisper, laying her hand
on his, and leading him to the foot of the stairs: "do you
know what _that_ is? Hark!"
A wild shriek came pealing down the stairway. It came from
the garret. Legree's knees knocked together; his face grew white
"Hadn't you better get your pistols?" said Cassy, with a sneer
that froze Legree's blood. "It's time this thing was looked
into, you know. I'd like to have you go up now; _they're at it_."
"I won't go!" said Legree, with an oath.
"Why not? There an't any such thing as ghosts, you know!
Come!" and Cassy flitted up the winding stairway, laughing, and
looking back after him. "Come on."
"I believe you _are_ the devil!" said Legree. "Come back
you hag,--come back, Cass! You shan't go!"
But Cassy laughed wildly, and fled on. He heard her open the
entry doors that led to the garret. A wild gust of wind swept
down, extinguishing the candle he held in his hand, and with it
the fearful, unearthly screams; they seemed to be shrieked in his
Legree fled frantically into the parlor, whither, in a few
moments, he was followed by Cassy, pale, calm, cold as an avenging
spirit, and with that same fearful light in her eye.
"I hope you are satisfied," said she.
"Blast you, Cass!" said Legree.
"What for?" said Cassy. "I only went up and shut the doors.
_What's the matter with that garret_, Simon, do you suppose?"
"None of your business!" said Legree.
"O, it an't? Well," said Cassy, "at any rate, I'm glad _I_ don't
sleep under it."
Anticipating the rising of the wind, that very evening, Cassy
had been up and opened the garret window. Of course, the
moment the doors were opened, the wind had drafted down, and
extinguished the light.
This may serve as a specimen of the game that Cassy played
with Legree, until he would sooner have put his head into a lion's
mouth than to have explored that garret. Meanwhile, in the night,
when everybody else was asleep, Cassy slowly and carefully accumulated
there a stock of provisions sufficient to afford subsistence for
some time; she transferred, article by article, a greater part of
her own and Emmeline's wardrobe. All things being arranged, they
only waited a fitting opportunity to put their plan in execution.
By cajoling Legree, and taking advantage of a good-natured
interval, Cassy had got him to take her with him to the neighboring
town, which was situated directly on the Red river. With a memory
sharpened to almost preternatural clearness, she remarked every
turn in the road, and formed a mental estimate of the time to be
occupied in traversing it.
At the time when all was matured for action, our readers may,
perhaps, like to look behind the scenes, and see the final
It was now near evening, Legree had been absent, on a ride
to a neighboring farm. For many days Cassy had been unusually
gracious and accommodating in her humors; and Legree and she had
been, apparently, on the best of terms. At present, we may behold
her and Emmeline in the room of the latter, busy in sorting and
arranging two small bundles.
"There, these will be large enough," said Cassy. Now put on
your bonnet, and let's start; it's just about the right time."
"Why, they can see us yet," said Emmeline.
"I mean they shall," said Cassy, coolly. "Don't you know that
they must have their chase after us, at any rate? The way of
the thing is to be just this:--We will steal out of the back door,
and run down by the quarters. Sambo or Quimbo will be sure
to see us. They will give chase, and we will get into the swamp;
then, they can't follow us any further till they go up and give
the alarm, and turn out the dogs, and so on; and, while they are
blundering round, and tumbling over each other, as they always do,
you and I will slip along to the creek, that runs back of the house,
and wade along in it, till we get opposite the back door. That will
put the dogs all at fault; for scent won't lie in the water.
Every one will run out of the house to look after us, and then
we'll whip in at the back door, and up into the garret, where I've
got a nice bed made up in one of the great boxes. We must stay in
that garret a good while, for, I tell you, he will raise heaven
and earth after us. He'll muster some of those old overseers on
the other plantations, and have a great hunt; and they'll go over
every inch of ground in that swamp. He makes it his boast that
nobody ever got away from him. So let him hunt at his leisure."
"Cassy, how well you have planned it!" said Emmeline. "Who ever
would have thought of it, but you?"
There was neither pleasure nor exultation in Cassy's
eyes,--only a despairing firmness.
"Come," she said, reaching her hand to Emmeline.
The two fugitives glided noiselessly from the house, and
flitted, through the gathering shadows of evening, along by
the quarters. The crescent moon, set like a silver signet in the
western sky, delayed a little the approach of night. As Cassy
expected, when quite near the verge of the swamps that encircled
the plantation, they heard a voice calling to them to stop. It was
not Sambo, however, but Legree, who was pursuing them with
violent execrations. At the sound, the feebler spirit of Emmeline
gave way; and, laying hold of Cassy's arm, she said, "O, Cassy,
I'm going to faint!"
"If you do, I'll kill you!" said Cassy, drawing a small,
glittering stiletto, and flashing it before the eyes of the girl.
The diversion accomplished the purpose. Emmeline did not
faint, and succeeded in plunging, with Cassy, into a part of the
labyrinth of swamp, so deep and dark that it was perfectly hopeless
for Legree to think of following them, without assistance.
"Well," said he, chuckling brutally; "at any rate, they've got
themselves into a trap now--the baggage! They're safe enough.
They shall sweat for it!"
"Hulloa, there! Sambo! Quimbo! All hands!" called Legree,
coming to the quarters, when the men and women were just returning
from work. "There's two runaways in the swamps. I'll give five
dollars to any nigger as catches 'em. Turn out the dogs! Turn out
Tiger, and Fury, and the rest!"
The sensation produced by this news was immediate. Many of the
men sprang forward, officiously, to offer their services, either
from the hope of the reward, or from that cringing subserviency
which is one of the most baleful effects of slavery. Some ran one
way, and some another. Some were for getting flambeaux of pine-knots.
Some were uncoupling the dogs, whose hoarse, savage bay added not
a little to the animation of the scene.
"Mas'r, shall we shoot 'em, if can't cotch 'em?" said Sambo,
to whom his master brought out a rifle.
"You may fire on Cass, if you like; it's time she was gone to
the devil, where she belongs; but the gal, not," said Legree.
"And now, boys, be spry and smart. Five dollars for him that gets
'em; and a glass of spirits to every one of you, anyhow."
The whole band, with the glare of blazing torches, and whoop,
and shout, and savage yell, of man and beast, proceeded down
to the swamp, followed, at some distance, by every servant in
the house. The establishment was, of a consequence, wholly deserted,
when Cassy and Emmeline glided into it the back way. The whooping and
shouts of their pursuers were still filling the air; and, looking
from the sitting-room windows, Cassy and Emmeline could see the
troop, with their flambeaux, just dispersing themselves along the
edge of the swamp.
"See there!" said Emmeline, pointing to Cassy; "the hunt is begun!
Look how those lights dance about! Hark! the dogs! Don't you hear?
If we were only _there_, our chances wouldn't be worth a picayune.
O, for pity's sake, do let's hide ourselves. Quick!"
"There's no occasion for hurry," said Cassy, coolly; "they are
all out after the hunt,--that's the amusement of the evening!
We'll go up stairs, by and by. Meanwhile," said she, deliberately
taking a key from the pocket of a coat that Legree had thrown down
in his hurry, "meanwhile I shall take something to pay our passage.
She unlocked the desk, took from it a roll of bills, which
she counted over rapidly.
"O, don't let's do that!" said Emmeline.
"Don't!" said Cassy; "why not? Would you have us starve in
the swamps, or have that that will pay our way to the free states.
Money will do anything, girl." And, as she spoke, she put the money
in her bosom.
"It would be stealing," said Emmeline, in a distressed whisper.
"Stealing!" said Cassy, with a scornful laugh. "They who
steal body and soul needn't talk to us. Every one of these bills
is stolen,--stolen from poor, starving, sweating creatures, who
must go to the devil at last, for his profit. Let _him_ talk
about stealing! But come, we may as well go up garret; I've got a
stock of candles there, and some books to pass away the time.
You may be pretty sure they won't come _there_ to inquire after us.
If they do, I'll play ghost for them."
When Emmeline reached the garret, she found an immense box,
in which some heavy pieces of furniture had once been brought,
turned on its side, so that the opening faced the wall, or
rather the eaves. Cassy lit a small lamp, and creeping round
under the eaves, they established themselves in it. It was
spread with a couple of small mattresses and some pillows; a
box near by was plentifully stored with candles, provisions, and
all the clothing necessary to their journey, which Cassy had arranged
into bundles of an astonishingly small compass.
"There," said Cassy, as she fixed the lamp into a small hook,
which she had driven into the side of the box for that purpose;
"this is to be our home for the present. How do you like it?"
"Are you sure they won't come and search the garret?"
"I'd like to see Simon Legree doing that," said Cassy.
"No, indeed; he will be too glad to keep away. As to the servants,
they would any of them stand and be shot, sooner than show their
Somewhat reassured, Emmeline settled herself back on her pillow.
"What did you mean, Cassy, by saying you would kill me?"
she said, simply.
"I meant to stop your fainting," said Cassy, "and I did do it.
And now I tell you, Emmeline, you must make up your mind _not_
to faint, let what will come; there's no sort of need of it.
If I had not stopped you, that wretch might have had his hands
on you now."
The two remained some time in silence. Cassy busied herself
with a French book; Emmeline, overcome with the exhaustion, fell
into a doze, and slept some time. She was awakened by loud shouts
and outcries, the tramp of horses' feet, and the baying of dogs.
She started up, with a faint shriek.
"Only the hunt coming back," said Cassy, coolly; "never fear.
Look out of this knot-hole. Don't you see 'em all down there?
Simon has to give up, for this night. Look, how muddy his horse
is, flouncing about in the swamp; the dogs, too, look rather
crestfallen. Ah, my good sir, you'll have to try the race again
and again,--the game isn't there."
"O, don't speak a word!" said Emmeline; "what if they should
"If they do hear anything, it will make them very particular
to keep away," said Cassy. "No danger; we may make any noise we
please, and it will only add to the effect."
At length the stillness of midnight settled down over the house.
Legree, cursing his ill luck, and vowing dire vengeance on
the morrow, went to bed.
"Deem not the just by Heaven forgot!
Though life its common gifts deny,--
Though, with a crushed and bleeding heart,
And spurned of man, he goes to die!
For God hath marked each sorrowing day,
And numbered every bitter tear,
And heaven's long years of bliss shall pay
For all his children suffer here."
 This poem does not appear in the collected works of William
Cullen Bryant, nor in the collected poems of his brother, John
Howard Bryant. It was probably copied from a newspaper or magazine.
The longest way must have its close,--the gloomiest night will
wear on to a morning. An eternal, inexorable lapse of moments
is ever hurrying the day of the evil to an eternal night, and the
night of the just to an eternal day. We have walked with our humble
friend thus far in the valley of slavery; first through flowery
fields of ease and indulgence, then through heart-breaking separations
from all that man holds dear. Again, we have waited with him in
a sunny island, where generous hands concealed his chains with
flowers; and, lastly, we have followed him when the last ray of
earthly hope went out in night, and seen how, in the blackness of
earthly darkness, the firmament of the unseen has blazed with stars
of new and significant lustre.
The morning-star now stands over the tops of the mountains,
and gales and breezes, not of earth, show that the gates of day
The escape of Cassy and Emmeline irritated the before surly
temper of Legree to the last degree; and his fury, as was to be
expected, fell upon the defenceless head of Tom. When he hurriedly
announced the tidings among his hands, there was a sudden light in
Tom's eye, a sudden upraising of his hands, that did not escape him.
He saw that he did not join the muster of the pursuers. He thought
of forcing him to do it; but, having had, of old, experience of
his inflexibility when commanded to take part in any deed of
inhumanity, he would not, in his hurry, stop to enter into any
conflict with him.
Tom, therefore, remained behind, with a few who had learned
of him to pray, and offered up prayers for the escape of
When Legree returned, baffled and disappointed, all the
long-working hatred of his soul towards his slave began to gather
in a deadly and desperate form. Had not this man braved him,--steadily,
powerfully, resistlessly,--ever since he bought him? Was there not
a spirit in him which, silent as it was, burned on him like the
fires of perdition?
"I _hate_ him!" said Legree, that night, as he sat up in his bed;
"I _hate_ him! And isn't he MINE? Can't I do what I like
with him? Who's to hinder, I wonder?" And Legree clenched his fist,
and shook it, as if he had something in his hands that he could
rend in pieces.
But, then, Tom was a faithful, valuable servant; and,
although Legree hated him the more for that, yet the consideration
was still somewhat of a restraint to him.
The next morning, he determined to say nothing, as yet; to
assemble a party, from some neighboring plantations, with
dogs and guns; to surround the swamp, and go about the
hunt systematically. If it succeeded, well and good; if not,
he would summon Tom before him, and--his teeth clenched and his
blood boiled--_then_ he would break the fellow down, or--there
was a dire inward whisper, to which his soul assented.
Ye say that the _interest_ of the master is a sufficient
safeguard for the slave. In the fury of man's mad will, he will
wittingly, and with open eye, sell his own soul to the devil to
gain his ends; and will he be more careful of his neighbor's body?
"Well," said Cassy, the next day, from the garret, as she
reconnoitred through the knot-hole, "the hunt's going to begin
Three or four mounted horsemen were curvetting about, on the
space in front of the house; and one or two leashes of strange
dogs were struggling with the negroes who held them, baying and
barking at each other.
The men are, two of them, overseers of plantations in the
vicinity; and others were some of Legree's associates at the
tavern-bar of a neighboring city, who had come for the interest of
the sport. A more hard-favored set, perhaps, could not be imagined.
Legree was serving brandy, profusely, round among them, as also
among the negroes, who had been detailed from the various plantations
for this service; for it was an object to make every service of
this kind, among the negroes, as much of a holiday as possible.
Cassy placed her ear at the knot-hole; and, as the morning air
blew directly towards the house, she could overhear a good deal
of the conversation. A grave sneer overcast the dark, severe
gravity of her face, as she listened, and heard them divide out
the ground, discuss the rival merits of the dogs, give orders about
firing, and the treatment of each, in case of capture.
Cassy drew back; and, clasping her hands, looked upward,
and said, "O, great Almighty God! we are _all_ sinners; but
what have _we_ done, more than all the rest of the world, that
we should be treated so?"
There was a terrible earnestness in her face and voice, as
"If it wasn't for _you_, child," she said, looking at Emmeline,
"I'd _go_ out to them; and I'd thank any one of them that _would_
shoot me down; for what use will freedom be to me? Can it
give me back my children, or make me what I used to be?"
Emmeline, in her child-like simplicity, was half afraid of the
dark moods of Cassy. She looked perplexed, but made no answer.
She only took her hand, with a gentle, caressing movement.
"Don't!" said Cassy, trying to draw it away; "you'll get
me to loving you; and I never mean to love anything, again!"
"Poor Cassy!" said Emmeline, "don't feel so! If the Lord
gives us liberty, perhaps he'll give you back your daughter; at
any rate, I'll be like a daughter to you. I know I'll never see
my poor old mother again! I shall love you, Cassy, whether you love
me or not!"
The gentle, child-like spirit conquered. Cassy sat down by her,
put her arm round her neck, stroked her soft, brown hair; and
Emmeline then wondered at the beauty of her magnificent eyes, now
soft with tears.
"O, Em!" said Cassy, "I've hungered for my children, and
thirsted for them, and my eyes fail with longing for them!
Here! here!" she said, striking her breast, "it's all desolate,
all empty! If God would give me back my children, then I could pray."
"You must trust him, Cassy," said Emmeline; "he is our Father!"
"His wrath is upon us," said Cassy; "he has turned away in anger."
"No, Cassy! He will be good to us! Let us hope in Him,"
said Emmeline,--"I always have had hope."
The hunt was long, animated, and thorough, but unsuccessful;
and, with grave, ironic exultation, Cassy looked down on Legree,
as, weary and dispirited, he alighted from his horse.
"Now, Quimbo," said Legree, as he stretched himself down in the
sitting-room, "you jest go and walk that Tom up here, right away!
The old cuss is at the bottom of this yer whole matter; and I'll
have it out of his old black hide, or I'll know the reason why!"
Sambo and Quimbo, both, though hating each other, were joined
in one mind by a no less cordial hatred of Tom. Legree had
told them, at first, that he had bought him for a general overseer,
in his absence; and this had begun an ill will, on their part,
which had increased, in their debased and servile natures, as
they saw him becoming obnoxious to their master's displeasure.
Quimbo, therefore, departed, with a will, to execute his orders.
Tom heard the message with a forewarning heart; for he knew
all the plan of the fugitives' escape, and the place of their
present concealment;--he knew the deadly character of the man he
had to deal with, and his despotic power. But he felt strong in
God to meet death, rather than betray the helpless.
He sat his basket down by the row, and, looking up, said,
"Into thy hands I commend my spirit! Thou hast redeemed me, oh Lord
God of truth!" and then quietly yielded himself to the rough, brutal
grasp with which Quimbo seized him.
"Ay, ay!" said the giant, as he dragged him along; ye'll cotch
it, now! I'll boun' Mas'r's back 's up _high!_ No sneaking
out, now! Tell ye, ye'll get it, and no mistake! See how ye'll
look, now, helpin' Mas'r's niggers to run away! See what ye'll get!"
The savage words none of them reached that ear!--a higher
voice there was saying, "Fear not them that kill the body, and,
after that, have no more that they can do." Nerve and bone of that
poor man's body vibrated to those words, as if touched by the finger
of God; and he felt the strength of a thousand souls in one. As he
passed along, the trees. and bushes, the huts of his servitude,
the whole scene of his degradation, seemed to whirl by him as the
landscape by the rushing ear. His soul throbbed,--his home was
in sight,--and the hour of release seemed at hand.
"Well, Tom!" said Legree, walking up, and seizing him grimly
by the collar of his coat, and speaking through his teeth, in a
paroxysm of determined rage, "do you know I've made up my mind to
"It's very likely, Mas'r," said Tom, calmly.
"I _have_," said Legree, with a grim, terrible calmness,
"_done--just--that--thing_, Tom, unless you'll tell me what you
know about these yer gals!"
Tom stood silent.
"D'ye hear?" said Legree, stamping, with a roar like that
of an incensed lion. "Speak!"
"_I han't got nothing to tell, Mas'r_," said Tom, with a
slow, firm, deliberate utterance.
"Do you dare to tell me, ye old black Christian, ye don't
_know_?" said Legree.
Tom was silent.
"Speak!" thundered Legree, striking him furiously. Do you
"I know, Mas'r; but I can't tell anything. _I can die!_"
Legree drew in a long breath; and, suppressing his rage, took
Tom by the arm, and, approaching his face almost to his, said,
in a terrible voice, "Hark 'e, Tom!--ye think, 'cause I've let you
off before, I don't mean what I say; but, this time, _I've made up
my mind_, and counted the cost. You've always stood it out again'
me: now, _I'll conquer ye, or kill ye!_--one or t' other. I'll count
every drop of blood there is in you, and take 'em, one by one,
till ye give up!"
Tom looked up to his master, and answered, "Mas'r, if you was
sick, or in trouble, or dying, and I could save ye, I'd _give_
ye my heart's blood; and, if taking every drop of blood in this
poor old body would save your precious soul, I'd give 'em freely,
as the Lord gave his for me. O, Mas'r! don't bring this great sin
on your soul! It will hurt you more than 't will me! Do the worst
you can, my troubles'll be over soon; but, if ye don't repent,
yours won't _never_ end!"
Like a strange snatch of heavenly music, heard in the lull
of a tempest, this burst of feeling made a moment's blank pause.
Legree stood aghast, and looked at Tom; and there was such a silence,
that the tick of the old clock could be heard, measuring, with
silent touch, the last moments of mercy and probation to that
It was but a moment. There was one hesitating pause,--one
irresolute, relenting thrill,--and the spirit of evil came back,
with seven-fold vehemence; and Legree, foaming with rage, smote
his victim to the ground.
Scenes of blood and cruelty are shocking to our ear and heart.
What man has nerve to do, man has not nerve to hear. What
brother-man and brother-Christian must suffer, cannot be told us,
even in our secret chamber, it so harrows the soul! And yet, oh my
country! these things are done under the shadow of thy laws!
O, Christ! thy church sees them, almost in silence!
But, of old, there was One whose suffering changed an
instrument of torture, degradation and shame, into a symbol of
glory, honor, and immortal life; and, where His spirit is, neither
degrading stripes, nor blood, nor insults, can make the Christian's
last struggle less than glorious.
Was he alone, that long night, whose brave, loving spirit was
bearing up, in that old shed, against buffeting and brutal stripes?
Nay! There stood by him ONE,--seen by him alone,--"like
unto the Son of God."
The tempter stood by him, too,--blinded by furious, despotic
will,--every moment pressing him to shun that agony by the betrayal
of the innocent. But the brave, true heart was firm on the Eternal
Rock. Like his Master, he knew that, if he saved others, himself
he could not save; nor could utmost extremity wring from him words,
save of prayers and holy trust.
"He's most gone, Mas'r," said Sambo, touched, in spite of
himself, by the patience of his victim.
"Pay away, till he gives up! Give it to him!--give it to
him!" shouted Legree. I'll take every drop of blood he has, unless
Tom opened his eyes, and looked upon his master. "Ye poor
miserable critter!" he said, "there ain't no more ye can do!
I forgive ye, with all my soul!" and he fainted entirely away.
"I b'lieve, my soul, he's done for, finally," said Legree,
stepping forward, to look at him. "Yes, he is! Well, his mouth's
shut up, at last,--that's one comfort!"
Yes, Legree; but who shall shut up that voice in thy soul?
that soul, past repentance, past prayer, past hope, in whom the
fire that never shall be quenched is already burning!
Yet Tom was not quite gone. His wondrous words and pious
prayers had struck upon the hearts of the imbruted blacks, who had
been the instruments of cruelty upon him; and, the instant Legree
withdrew, they took him down, and, in their ignorance, sought to
call him back to life,--as if _that_ were any favor to him.
"Sartin, we 's been doin' a drefful wicked thing!" said
Sambo; "hopes Mas'r'll have to 'count for it, and not we."
They washed his wounds,--they provided a rude bed, of some
refuse cotton, for him to lie down on; and one of them, stealing
up to the house, begged a drink of brandy of Legree, pretending
that he was tired, and wanted it for himself. He brought it back,
and poured it down Tom's throat.
"O, Tom!" said Quimbo, "we's been awful wicked to ye!"
"I forgive ye, with all my heart!" said Tom, faintly.
"O, Tom! do tell us who is _Jesus_, anyhow?" said Sambo;--"Jesus,
that's been a standin' by you so, all this night!--Who is he?"
The word roused the failing, fainting spirit. He poured
forth a few energetic sentences of that wondrous One,--his life,
his death, his everlasting presence, and power to save.
They wept,--both the two savage men.
"Why didn't I never hear this before?" said Sambo; "but I
do believe!--I can't help it! Lord Jesus, have mercy on us!"
"Poor critters!" said Tom, "I'd be willing to bar' all I
have, if it'll only bring ye to Christ! O, Lord! give me these two
more souls, I pray!"
That prayer was answered!
The Young Master
Two days after, a young man drove a light wagon up through
the avenue of China trees, and, throwing the reins hastily on the
horse's neck, sprang out and inquired for the owner of the place.
It was George Shelby; and, to show how he came to be there,
we must go back in our story.
The letter of Miss Ophelia to Mrs. Shelby had, by some
unfortunate accident, been detained, for a month or two, at some
remote post-office, before it reached its destination; and, of
course, before it was received, Tom was already lost to view among
the distant swamps of the Red river.
Mrs. Shelby read the intelligence with the deepest concern;
but any immediate action upon it was an impossibility. She was
then in attendance on the sick-bed of her husband, who lay delirious
in the crisis of a fever. Master George Shelby, who, in the
interval, had changed from a boy to a tall young man, was her
constant and faithful assistant, and her only reliance in superintending
his father's affairs. Miss Ophelia had taken the precaution to
send them the name of the lawyer who did business for the St.
Clares; and the most that, in the emergency, could be done, was to
address a letter of inquiry to him. The sudden death of Mr.
Shelby, a few days after, brought, of course, an absorbing pressure
of other interests, for a season.
Mr. Shelby showed his confidence in his wife's ability, by
appointing her sole executrix upon his estates; and thus immediately
a large and complicated amount of business was brought upon her hands.
Mrs. Shelby, with characteristic energy, applied herself to
the work of straightening the entangled web of affairs; and she
and George were for some time occupied with collecting and examining
accounts, selling property and settling debts; for Mrs. Shelby was
determined that everything should be brought into tangible and
recognizable shape, let the consequences to her prove what they
might. In the mean time, they received a letter from the lawyer
to whom Miss Ophelia had referred them, saying that he knew nothing
of the matter; that the man was sold at a public auction, and that,
beyond receiving the money, he knew nothing of the affair.
Neither George nor Mrs. Shelby could be easy at this result;
and, accordingly, some six months after, the latter, having business
for his mother, down the river, resolved to visit New Orleans, in
person, and push his inquiries, in hopes of discovering Tom's
whereabouts, and restoring him.
After some months of unsuccessful search, by the merest
accident, George fell in with a man, in New Orleans, who happened
to be possessed of the desired information; and with his money in
his pocket, our hero took steamboat for Red river, resolving to
find out and re-purchase his old friend.
He was soon introduced into the house, where he found Legree
in the sitting-room.
Legree received the stranger with a kind of surly hospitality,
"I understand," said the young man, "that you bought, in
New Orleans, a boy, named Tom. He used to be on my father's place,
and I came to see if I couldn't buy him back."
Legree's brow grew dark, and he broke out, passionately:
"Yes, I did buy such a fellow,--and a h--l of a bargain I
had of it, too! The most rebellious, saucy, impudent dog! Set up
my niggers to run away; got off two gals, worth eight hundred or
a thousand apiece. He owned to that, and, when I bid him tell me
where they was, he up and said he knew, but he wouldn't tell; and
stood to it, though I gave him the cussedest flogging I ever gave
nigger yet. I b'lieve he's trying to die; but I don't know as
he'll make it out."
"Where is he?" said George, impetuously. "Let me see him."
The cheeks of the young man were crimson, and his eyes flashed
fire; but he prudently said nothing, as yet.
"He's in dat ar shed," said a little fellow, who stood
holding George's horse.
Legree kicked the boy, and swore at him; but George, without
saying another word, turned and strode to the spot.
Tom had been lying two days since the fatal night, not suffering,
for every nerve of suffering was blunted and destroyed. He lay,
for the most part, in a quiet stupor; for the laws of a powerful
and well-knit frame would not at once release the imprisoned spirit.
By stealth, there had been there, in the darkness of the night,
poor desolated creatures, who stole from their scanty hours'
rest, that they might repay to him some of those ministrations of
love in which he had always been so abundant. Truly, those poor
disciples had little to give,--only the cup of cold water; but it
was given with full hearts.
Tears had fallen on that honest, insensible face,--tears
of late repentance in the poor, ignorant heathen, whom his dying
love and patience had awakened to repentance, and bitter prayers,
breathed over him to a late-found Saviour, of whom they scarce knew
more than the name, but whom the yearning ignorant heart of man
never implores in vain.
Cassy, who had glided out of her place of concealment, and,
by overhearing, learned the sacrifice that had been made for
her and Emmeline, had been there, the night before, defying
the danger of detection; and, moved by the last few words which
the affectionate soul had yet strength to breathe, the long winter
of despair, the ice of years, had given way, and the dark, despairing
woman had wept and prayed.
When George entered the shed, he felt his head giddy and
his heart sick.
"Is it possible,,--is it possible?" said he, kneeling down
by him. "Uncle Tom, my poor, poor old friend!"
Something in the voice penetrated to the ear of the dying.
He moved his head gently, smiled, and said,
"Jesus can make a dying-bed
Feel soft as down pillows are."
Tears which did honor to his manly heart fell from the
young man's eyes, as he bent over his poor friend.
"O, dear Uncle Tom! do wake,--do speak once more! Look up!
Here's Mas'r George,--your own little Mas'r George. Don't you
"Mas'r George!" said Tom, opening his eyes, and speaking
in a feeble voice; "Mas'r George!" He looked bewildered.
Slowly the idea seemed to fill his soul; and the vacant
eye became fixed and brightened, the whole face lighted up, the
hard hands clasped, and tears ran down the cheeks.
"Bless the Lord! it is,--it is,--it's all I wanted! They haven't
forgot me. It warms my soul; it does my heart good! Now I shall
die content! Bless the Lord, on my soul!"
"You shan't die! you _mustn't_ die, nor think of it! I've come
to buy you, and take you home," said George, with impetuous vehemence.
"O, Mas'r George, ye're too late. The Lord's bought me, and is
going to take me home,--and I long to go. Heaven is better
"O, don't die! It'll kill me!--it'll break my heart to
think what you've suffered,--and lying in this old shed, here!
Poor, poor fellow!"
"Don't call me poor fellow!" said Tom, solemnly, "I _have_ been
poor fellow; but that's all past and gone, now. I'm right in
the door, going into glory! O, Mas'r George! _Heaven has come!_
I've got the victory!--the Lord Jesus has given it to me! Glory be
to His name!"
George was awe-struck at the force, the vehemence, the power,
with which these broken sentences were uttered. He sat
gazing in silence.
Tom grasped his hand, and continued,--"Ye mustn't, now, tell
Chloe, poor soul! how ye found me;--'t would be so drefful to her.
Only tell her ye found me going into glory; and that I couldn't
stay for no one. And tell her the Lord's stood by me everywhere
and al'ays, and made everything light and easy. And oh, the poor
chil'en, and the baby;--my old heart's been most broke for 'em,
time and agin! Tell 'em all to follow me--follow me! Give my love
to Mas'r, and dear good Missis, and everybody in the place! Ye don't
know! 'Pears like I loves 'em all! I loves every creature
everywhar!--it's nothing _but_ love! O, Mas'r George! what a thing
't is to be a Christian!"
At this moment, Legree sauntered up to the door of the shed,
looked in, with a dogged air of affected carelessness, and
"The old satan!" said George, in his indignation. "It's a comfort
to think the devil will pay _him_ for this, some of these days!"
"O, don't!,--oh, ye mustn't!" said Tom, grasping his hand;
"he's a poor mis'able critter! it's awful to think on 't! Oh, if
he only could repent, the Lord would forgive him now; but I'm
'feared he never will!"
"I hope he won't!" said George; "I never want to see _him_
"Hush, Mas'r George!--it worries me! Don't feel so! He an't
done me no real harm,--only opened the gate of the kingdom for me;
At this moment, the sudden flush of strength which the joy of
meeting his young master had infused into the dying man gave way.
A sudden sinking fell upon him; he closed his eyes; and that
mysterious and sublime change passed over his face, that told the
approach of other worlds.
He began to draw his breath with long, deep inspirations;
and his broad chest rose and fell, heavily. The expression of his
face was that of a conqueror.
"Who,--who,--who shall separate us from the love of Christ?"
he said, in a voice that contended with mortal weakness; and, with
a smile, he fell asleep.
George sat fixed with solemn awe. It seemed to him that the
place was holy; and, as he closed the lifeless eyes, and rose
up from the dead, only one thought possessed him,--that expressed
by his simple old friend,--"What a thing it is to be a Christian!"
He turned: Legree was standing, sullenly, behind him.
Something in that dying scene had checked the natural
fierceness of youthful passion. The presence of the man was simply
loathsome to George; and he felt only an impulse to get away from
him, with as few words as possible.
Fixing his keen dark eyes on Legree, he simply said, pointing
to the dead, "You have got all you ever can of him. What shall I
pay you for the body? I will take it away, and bury it decently."
"I don't sell dead niggers," said Legree, doggedly. "You are
welcome to bury him where and when you like."
"Boys," said George, in an authoritative tone, to two or three
negroes, who were looking at the body, "help me lift him up,
and carry him to my wagon; and get me a spade."
One of them ran for a spade; the other two assisted George
to carry the body to the wagon.
George neither spoke to nor looked at Legree, who did not
countermand his orders, but stood, whistling, with an air of
forced unconcern. He sulkily followed them to where the wagon
stood at the door.
George spread his cloak in the wagon, and had the body
carefully disposed of in it,--moving the seat, so as to give
it room. Then he turned, fixed his eyes on Legree, and said,
with forced composure,
"I have not, as yet, said to you what I think of this most
atrocious affair;--this is not the time and place. But, sir, this
innocent blood shall have justice. I will proclaim this murder.
I will go to the very first magistrate, and expose you."
"Do!" said Legree, snapping his fingers, scornfully. "I'd like
to see you doing it. Where you going to get witnesses?--how
you going to prove it?--Come, now!"
George saw, at once, the force of this defiance. There was
not a white person on the place; and, in all southern courts,
the testimony of colored blood is nothing. He felt, at that moment,
as if he could have rent the heavens with his heart's indignant
cry for justice; but in vain.
"After all, what a fuss, for a dead nigger!" said Legree.
The word was as a spark to a powder magazine. Prudence was
never a cardinal virtue of the Kentucky boy. George turned,
and, with one indignant blow, knocked Legree flat upon his face;
and, as he stood over him, blazing with wrath and defiance, he
would have formed no bad personification of his great namesake
triumphing over the dragon.
Some men, however, are decidedly bettered by being knocked down.
If a man lays them fairly flat in the dust, they seem
immediately to conceive a respect for him; and Legree was one of
this sort. As he rose, therefore, and brushed the dust from his
clothes, he eyed the slowly-retreating wagon with some evident
consideration; nor did he open his mouth till it was out of sight.
Beyond the boundaries of the plantation, George had noticed a dry,
sandy knoll, shaded by a few trees; there they made the grave.
"Shall we take off the cloak, Mas'r?" said the negroes,
when the grave was ready.
"No, no,--bury it with him! It's all I can give you, now,
poor Tom, and you shall have it."
They laid him in; and the men shovelled away, silently.
They banked it up, and laid green turf over it.
"You may go, boys," said George, slipping a quarter into
the hand of each. They lingered about, however.
"If young Mas'r would please buy us--" said one.
"We'd serve him so faithful!" said the other.
"Hard times here, Mas'r!" said the first. "Do, Mas'r, buy
"I can't!--I can't!" said George, with difficulty, motioning
them off; "it's impossible!"
The poor fellows looked dejected, and walked off in silence.
"Witness, eternal God!" said George, kneeling on the grave
of his poor friend; "oh, witness, that, from this hour, I will do
_what one man can_ to drive out this curse of slavery from my land!"
There is no monument to mark the last resting-place of our friend.
He needs none! His Lord knows where he lies, and will raise him up,
immortal, to appear with him when he shall appear in his glory.
Pity him not! Such a life and death is not for pity! Not in the
riches of omnipotence is the chief glory of God; but in self-denying,
suffering love! And blessed are the men whom he calls to fellowship
with him, bearing their cross after him with patience. Of such it
is written, "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted."
An Authentic Ghost Story
For some remarkable reason, ghostly legends were uncommonly
rife, about this time, among the servants on Legree's place.
It was whisperingly asserted that footsteps, in the dead of night,
had been heard descending the garret stairs, and patrolling
the house. In vain the doors of the upper entry had been locked;
the ghost either carried a duplicate key in its pocket, or availed
itself of a ghost's immemorial privilege of coming through the
keyhole, and promenaded as before, with a freedom that was alarming.
Authorities were somewhat divided, as to the outward form of
the spirit, owing to a custom quite prevalent among negroes,--and,
for aught we know, among whites, too,--of invariably shutting the
eyes, and covering up heads under blankets, petticoats, or whatever
else might come in use for a shelter, on these occasions. Of course,
as everybody knows, when the bodily eyes are thus out of the
lists, the spiritual eyes are uncommonly vivacious and perspicuous;
and, therefore, there were abundance of full-length portraits of
the ghost, abundantly sworn and testified to, which, as if often
the case with portraits, agreed with each other in no particular,
except the common family peculiarity of the ghost tribe,--the
wearing of a _white sheet_. The poor souls were not versed in
ancient history, and did not know that Shakspeare had
authenticated this costume, by telling how
"The sheeted dead
Did squeak and gibber in the streets of Rome."
 _Hamlet_, Act I, scene 1, lines 115-116
And, therefore, their all hitting upon this is a striking fact in
pneumatology, which we recommend to the attention of spiritual
Be it as it may, we have private reasons for knowing that
a tall figure in a white sheet did walk, at the most approved
ghostly hours, around the Legree premises,--pass out the doors,
glide about the house,--disappear at intervals, and, reappearing,
pass up the silent stairway, into that fatal garret; and that, in
the morning, the entry doors were all found shut and locked as firm
Legree could not help overhearing this whispering; and it was
all the more exciting to him, from the pains that were taken
to conceal it from him. He drank more brandy than usual; held up
his head briskly, and swore louder than ever in the daytime; but
he had bad dreams, and the visions of his head on his bed were
anything but agreeable. The night after Tom's body had been carried
away, he rode to the next town for a carouse, and had a high one.
Got home late and tired; locked his door, took out the key, and
went to bed.
After all, let a man take what pains he may to hush it down,
a human soul is an awful ghostly, unquiet possession, for a
bad man to have. Who knows the metes and bounds of it? Who knows
all its awful perhapses,--those shudderings and tremblings, which
it can no more live down than it can outlive its own eternity!
What a fool is he who locks his door to keep out spirits, who has
in his own bosom a spirit he dares not meet alone,--whose voice,
smothered far down, and piled over with mountains of earthliness,
is yet like the forewarning trumpet of doom!
But Legree locked his door and set a chair against it; he set
a night-lamp at the head of his bed; and put his pistols there.
He examined the catches and fastenings of the windows, and then
swore he "didn't care for the devil and all his angels," and went
Well, he slept, for he was tired,--slept soundly. But, finally,
there came over his sleep a shadow, a horror, an apprehension
of something dreadful hanging over him. It was his mother's shroud,
he thought; but Cassy had it, holding it up, and showing it to him.
He heard a confused noise of screams and groanings; and, with it
all, he knew he was asleep, and he struggled to wake himself.
He was half awake. He was sure something was coming into his room.
He knew the door was opening, but he could not stir hand or foot.
At last he turned, with a start; the door _was_ open, and he saw
a hand putting out his light.
It was a cloudy, misty moonlight, and there he saw it!--something
white, gliding in! He heard the still rustle of its ghostly garments.
It stood still by his bed;--a cold hand touched his; a voice said,
three times, in a low, fearful whisper, "Come! come! come!"
And, while he lay sweating with terror, he knew not when or how,
the thing was gone. He sprang out of bed, and pulled at the door.
It was shut and locked, and the man fell down in a swoon.
After this, Legree became a harder drinker than ever before.
He no longer drank cautiously, prudently, but imprudently and
There were reports around the country, soon after that he was
sick and dying. Excess had brought on that frightful disease
that seems to throw the lurid shadows of a coming retribution back
into the present life. None could bear the horrors of that sick
room, when he raved and screamed, and spoke of sights which almost
stopped the blood of those who heard him; and, at his dying bed,
stood a stern, white, inexorable figure, saying, "Come! come! come!"
By a singular coincidence, on the very night that this vision
appeared to Legree, the house-door was found open in the morning,
and some of the negroes had seen two white figures gliding down
the avenue towards the high-road.
It was near sunrise when Cassy and Emmeline paused, for a
moment, in a little knot of trees near the town.
Cassy was dressed after the manner of the Creole Spanish
ladies,--wholly in black. A small black bonnet on her head, covered
by a veil thick with embroidery, concealed her face. It had been
agreed that, in their escape, she was to personate the character
of a Creole lady, and Emmeline that of her servant.
Brought up, from early life, in connection with the highest
society, the language, movements and air of Cassy, were all in
agreement with this idea; and she had still enough remaining with
her, of a once splendid wardrobe, and sets of jewels, to enable
her to personate the thing to advantage.
She stopped in the outskirts of the town, where she had noticed
trunks for sale, and purchased a handsome one. This she
requested the man to send along with her. And, accordingly, thus
escorted by a boy wheeling her trunk, and Emmeline behind her,
carrying her carpet-bag and sundry bundles, she made her appearance
at the small tavern, like a lady of consideration.
The first person that struck her, after her arrival, was
George Shelby, who was staying there, awaiting the next boat.
Cassy had remarked the young man from her loophole in the
garret, and seen him bear away the body of Tom, and observed with
secret exultation, his rencontre with Legree. Subsequently she
had gathered, from the conversations she had overheard among the
negroes, as she glided about in her ghostly disguise, after
nightfall, who he was, and in what relation he stood to Tom.
She, therefore, felt an immediate accession of confidence, when
she found that he was, like herself, awaiting the next boat.
Cassy's air and manner, address, and evident command of money,
prevented any rising disposition to suspicion in the hotel.
People never inquire too closely into those who are fair on
the main point, of paying well,--a thing which Cassy had
foreseen when she provided herself with money.
In the edge of the evening, a boat was heard coming along,
and George Shelby handed Cassy aboard, with the politeness which
comes naturally to every Kentuckian, and exerted himself to provide
her with a good state-room.
Cassy kept her room and bed, on pretext of illness, during
the whole time they were on Red river; and was waited on, with
obsequious devotion, by her attendant.
When they arrived at the Mississippi river, George, having
learned that the course of the strange lady was upward, like his
own, proposed to take a state-room for her on the same boat with
himself,--good-naturedly compassionating her feeble health, and
desirous to do what he could to assist her.
Behold, therefore, the whole party safely transferred to
the good steamer Cincinnati, and sweeping up the river under a
powerful head of steam.
Cassy's health was much better. She sat upon the guards, came
to the table, and was remarked upon in the boat as a lady that
must have been very handsome.
>From the moment that George got the first glimpse of her face,
he was troubled with one of those fleeting and indefinite
likenesses, which almost every body can remember, and has been, at
times, perplexed with. He could not keep himself from looking at
her, and watchin her perpetually. At table, or sitting at her
state-room door, still she would encounter the young man's eyes
fixed on her, and politely withdrawn, when she showed, by her
countenance, that she was sensible to the observation.
Cassy became uneasy. She began to think that he suspected
something; and finally resolved to throw herself entirely on his
generosity, and intrusted him with her whole history.
George was heartily disposed to sympathize with any one who
had escaped from Legree's plantation,--a place that he could
not remember or speak of with patience,--and, with the courageous
disregard of consequences which is characteristic of his age and
state, he assured her that he would do all in his power to protect
and bring them through.
The next state-room to Cassy's was occupied by a French lady,
named De Thoux, who was accompanied by a fine little daughter,
a child of some twelve summers.
This lady, having gathered, from George's conversation, that
he was from Kentucky, seemed evidently disposed to cultivate
his acquaintance; in which design she was seconded by the graces
of her little girl, who was about as pretty a plaything as ever
diverted the weariness of a fortnight's trip on a steamboat.
George's chair was often placed at her state-room door; and
Cassy, as she sat upon the guards, could hear their conversation.
Madame de Thoux was very minute in her inquiries as to Kentucky,
where she said she had resided in a former period of her life.
George discovered, to his surprise, that her former residence
must have been in his own vicinity; and her inquiries showed a
knowledge of people and things in his vicinity, that was perfectly
surprising to him.
"Do you know," said Madame de Thoux to him, one day, "of
any man, in your neighborhood, of the name of Harris?"
"There is an old fellow, of that name, lives not far from my
father's place," said George. "We never have had much intercourse
with him, though."
"He is a large slave-owner, I believe," said Madame de Thoux,
with a manner which seemed to betray more interest than she
was exactly willing to show.
"He is," said George, looking rather surprised at her manner.
"Did you ever know of his having--perhaps, you may have
heard of his having a mulatto boy, named George?"
"O, certainly,--George Harris,--I know him well; he married
a servant of my mother's, but has escaped, now, to Canada."
"He has?" said Madame de Thoux, quickly. "Thank God!"
George looked a surprised inquiry, but said nothing.
Madame de Thoux leaned her head on her hand, and burst into tears.
"He is my brother," she said.
"Madame!" said George, with a strong accent of surprise.
"Yes," said Madame de Thoux, lifting her head, proudly,
and wiping her tears, "Mr. Shelby, George Harris is my brother!"
"I am perfectly astonished," said George, pushing back his
chair a pace or two, and looking at Madame de Thoux.
"I was sold to the South when he was a boy," said she. "I was
bought by a good and generous man. He took me with him to the
West Indies, set me free, and married me. It is but lately that
he died; and I was going up to Kentucky, to see if I could find
and redeem my brother."
"I heard him speak of a sister Emily, that was sold South,"
"Yes, indeed! I am the one," said Madame de Thoux;--"tell
me what sort of a--"
"A very fine young man," said George, "notwithstanding the
curse of slavery that lay on him. He sustained a first rate
character, both for intelligence and principle. I know, you see,"
he said; "because he married in our family."
"What sort of a girl?" said Madame de Thoux, eagerly.
"A treasure," said George; "a beautiful, intelligent,
amiable girl. Very pious. My mother had brought her up, and
trained her as carefully, almost, as a daughter. She could read
and write, embroider and sew, beautifully; and was a beautiful singer."
"Was she born in your house?" said Madame de Thoux.
"No. Father bought her once, in one of his trips to New Orleans,
and brought her up as a present to mother. She was about eight
or nine years old, then. Father would never tell mother what
he gave for her; but, the other day, in looking over his old papers,
we came across the bill of sale. He paid an extravagant sum for her,
to be sure. I suppose, on account of her extraordinary beauty."
George sat with his back to Cassy, and did not see the absorbed
expression of her countenance, as he was giving these details.
At this point in the story, she touched his arm, and, with
a face perfectly white with interest, said, "Do you know the names
of the people he bought her of?"
"A man of the name of Simmons, I think, was the principal
in the transaction. At least, I think that was the name on the
bill of sale."
"O, my God!" said Cassy, and fell insensible on the floor
of the cabin.
George was wide awake now, and so was Madame de Thoux.
Though neither of them could conjecture what was the cause of
Cassy's fainting, still they made all the tumult which is proper
in such cases;--George upsetting a wash-pitcher, and breaking two
tumblers, in the warmth of his humanity; and various ladies in
the cabin, hearing that somebody had fainted, crowded the state-room
door, and kept out all the air they possibly could, so that, on the
whole, everything was done that could be expected.
Poor Cassy! when she recovered, turned her face to the wall,
and wept and sobbed like a child,--perhaps, mother, you can
tell what she was thinking of! Perhaps you cannot,--but she felt
as sure, in that hour, that God had had mercy on her, and that she
should see her daughter,--as she did, months afterwards,--when--but
The rest of our story is soon told. George Shelby, interested,
as any other young man might be, by the romance of the incident,
no less than by feelings of humanity, was at the pains to send
to Cassy the bill of sale of Eliza; whose date and name all
corresponded with her own knowledge of facts, and felt no doubt
upon her mind as to the identity of her child. It remained now
only for her to trace out the path of the fugitives.
Madame de Thoux and she, thus drawn together by the singular
coincidence of their fortunes, proceeded immediately to Canada,
and began a tour of inquiry among the stations, where the numerous
fugitives from slavery are located. At Amherstberg they found the
missionary with whom George and Eliza had taken shelter, on their
first arrival in Canada; and through him were enabled to trace the
family to Montreal.
George and Eliza had now been five years free. George had
found constant occupation in the shop of a worthy machinist, where
he had been earning a competent support for his family, which, in
the mean time, had been increased by the addition of another daughter.
Little Harry--a fine bright boy--had been put to a good school,
and was making rapid proficiency in knowledge.
The worthy pastor of the station, in Amherstberg, where George
had first landed, was so much interested in the statements of
Madame de Thoux and Cassy, that he yielded to the solicitations
of the former, to accompany them to Montreal, in their search,--she
bearing all the expense of the expedition.
The scene now changes to a small, neat tenement, in the
outskirts of Montreal; the time, evening. A cheerful fire blazes
on the hearth; a tea-table, covered with a snowy cloth, stands
prepared for the evening meal. In one corner of the room was a
table covered with a green cloth, where was an open writing-desk,
pens, paper, and over it a shelf of well-selected books.
This was George's study. The same zeal for self-improvement,
which led him to steal the much coveted arts of reading and writing,
amid all the toil and discouragements of his early life, still led
him to devote all his leisure time to self-cultivation.
At this present time, he is seated at the table, making notes
from a volume of the family library he has been reading.
"Come, George," says Eliza, "you've been gone all day. Do put
down that book, and let's talk, while I'm getting tea,--do."
And little Eliza seconds the effort, by toddling up to her
father, and trying to pull the book out of his hand, and install
herself on his knee as a substitute.
"O, you little witch!" says George, yielding, as, in such
circumstances, man always must.
"That's right," says Eliza, as she begins to cut a loaf of bread.
A little older she looks; her form a little fuller; her air more
matronly than of yore; but evidently contented and happy as woman
"Harry, my boy, how did you come on in that sum, today?"
says George, as he laid his land on his son's head.
Harry has lost his long curls; but he can never lose those
eyes and eyelashes, and that fine, bold brow, that flushes
with triumph, as he answers, "I did it, every bit of it, _myself_,
father; and _nobody_ helped me!"
"That's right," says his father; "depend on yourself, my son.
You have a better chance than ever your poor father had."
At this moment, there is a rap at the door; and Eliza goes and
opens it. The delighted--"Why! this you?"--calls up her husband;
and the good pastor of Amherstberg is welcomed. There are two more
women with him, and Eliza asks them to sit down.
Now, if the truth must be told, the honest pastor had arranged
a little programme, according to which this affair was to
develop itself; and, on the way up, all had very cautiously and
prudently exhorted each other not to let things out, except according
to previous arrangement.
What was the good man's consternation, therefore, just as
he had motioned to the ladies to be seated, and was taking out his
pocket-handkerchief to wipe his mouth, so as to proceed to his
introductory speech in good order, when Madame de Thoux upset the
whole plan, by throwing her arms around George's neck, and letting
all out at once, by saying, "O, George! don't you know me? I'm your
Cassy had seated herself more composedly, and would have carried
on her part very well, had not little Eliza suddenly appeared
before her in exact shape and form, every outline and curl, just
as her daughter was when she saw her last. The little thing peered
up in her face; and Cassy caught her up in her arms, pressed her
to her bosom, saying, what, at the moment she really believed,
"Darling, I'm your mother!"
In fact, it was a troublesome matter to do up exactly in proper
order; but the good pastor, at last, succeeded in getting
everybody quiet, and delivering the speech with which he had intended
to open the exercises; and in which, at last, he succeeded so well,
that his whole audience were sobbing about him in a manner that ought
to satisfy any orator, ancient or modern.
They knelt together, and the good man prayed,--for there are
some feelings so agitated and tumultuous, that they can find
rest only by being poured into the bosom of Almighty love,--and
then, rising up, the new-found family embraced each other, with a
holy trust in Him, who from such peril and dangers, and by such
unknown ways, had brought them together.
The note-book of a missionary, among the Canadian fugitives,
contains truth stranger than fiction. How can it be otherwise,
when a system prevails which whirls families and scatters their
members, as the wind whirls and scatters the leaves of autumn?
These shores of refuge, like the eternal shore, often unite again,
in glad communion, hearts that for long years have mourned each
other as lost. And affecting beyond expression is the earnestness
with which every new arrival among them is met, if, perchance, it
may bring tidings of mother, sister, child or wife, still lost to
view in the shadows of slavery.
Deeds of heroism are wrought here more than those of romance,
when defying torture, and braving death itself, the fugitive
voluntarily threads his way back to the terrors and perils of that
dark land, that he may bring out his sister, or mother, or wife.
One young man, of whom a missionary has told us, twice
re-captured, and suffering shameful stripes for his heroism, had
escaped again; and, in a letter which we heard read, tells his
friends that he is going back a third time, that he may, at last,
bring away his sister. My good sir, is this man a hero, or a
criminal? Would not you do as much for your sister? And can you
But, to return to our friends, whom we left wiping their eyes,
and recovering themselves from too great and sudden a joy.
They are now seated around the social board, and are getting
decidedly companionable; only that Cassy, who keeps little
Eliza on her lap, occasionally squeezes the little thing, in
a manner that rather astonishes her, and obstinately refuses to
have her mouth stuffed with cake to the extent the little one
desires,--alleging, what the child rather wonders at, that she has
got something better than cake, and doesn't want it.
And, indeed, in two or three days, such a change has passed over
Cassy, that our readers would scarcely know her. The despairing,
haggard expression of her face had given way to one of gentle trust.
She seemed to sink, at once, into the bosom of the family, and take
the little ones into her heart, as something for which it long
had waited. Indeed, her love seemed to flow more naturally to the
little Eliza than to her own daughter; for she was the exact image
and body of the child whom she had lost. The little one was a
flowery bond between mother and daughter, through whom grew up
acquaintanceship and affection. Eliza's steady, consistent piety,
regulated by the constant reading of the sacred word, made her a
proper guide for the shattered and wearied mind of her mother.
Cassy yielded at once, and with her whole soul, to every good
influence, and became a devout and tender Christian.
After a day or two, Madame de Thoux told her brother more
particularly of her affairs. The death of her husband had left
her an ample fortune, which she generously offered to share with
the family. When she asked George what way she could best apply
it for him, he answered, "Give me an education, Emily; that has
always been my heart's desire. Then, I can do all the rest."
On mature deliberation, it was decided that the whole family
should go, for some years, to France; whither they sailed, carrying
Emmeline with them.
The good looks of the latter won the affection of the first mate
of the vessel; and, shortly after entering the port, she became
George remained four years at a French university, and, applying
himself with an unintermitted zeal, obtained a very thorough
Political troubles in France, at last, led the family again
to seek an asylum in this country.
George's feelings and views, as an educated man, may be
best expressed in a letter to one of his friends.
"I feel somewhat at a loss, as to my future course. True, as
you have said to me, I might mingle in the circles of the whites,
in this country, my shade of color is so slight, and that of my
wife and family scarce perceptible. Well, perhaps, on sufferance,
I might. But, to tell you the truth, I have no wish to.
"My sympathies are not for my father's race, but for my mother's.
To him I was no more than a fine dog or horse: to my poor
heart-broken mother I was a _child_; and, though I never saw
her, after the cruel sale that separated us, till she died, yet I
_know_ she always loved me dearly. I know it by my own heart.
When I think of all she suffered, of my own early sufferings, of
the distresses and struggles of my heroic wife, of my sister, sold
in the New Orleans slave-market,--though I hope to have no unchristian
sentiments, yet I may be excused for saying, I have no wish to pass
for an American, or to identify myself with them.
"It is with the oppressed, enslaved African race that I cast
in my lot; and, if I wished anything, I would wish myself two
shades darker, rather than one lighter.
"The desire and yearning of my soul is for an African _nationality_.
I want a people that shall have a tangible, separate existence
of its own; and where am I to look for it? Not in Hayti; for in
Hayti they had nothing to start with. A stream cannot rise above
its fountain. The race that formed the character of the Haytiens
was a worn-out, effeminate one; and, of course, the subject race
will be centuries in rising to anything.
"Where, then, shall I look? On the shores of Africa I see
a republic,--a republic formed of picked men, who, by energy and
self-educating force, have, in many cases, individually, raised
themselves above a condition of slavery. Having gone through a
preparatory stage of feebleness, this republic has, at last, become
an acknowledged nation on the face of the earth,--acknowledged by
both France and England. There it is my wish to go, and find myself
"I am aware, now, that I shall have you all against me; but,
before you strike, hear me. During my stay in France, I have
followed up, with intense interest, the history of my people
in America. I have noted the struggle between abolitionist and
colonizationist, and have received some impressions, as a distant
spectator, which could never have occurred to me as a participator.
"I grant that this Liberia may have subserved all sorts of
purposes, by being played off, in the hands of our oppressors,
against us. Doubtless the scheme may have been used, in unjustifiable
ways, as a means of retarding our emancipation. But the question
to me is, Is there not a God above all man's schemes? May He not
have over-ruled their designs, and founded for us a nation by them?
"In these days, a nation is born in a day. A nation starts, now,
with all the great problems of republican life and civilization
wrought out to its hand;--it has not to discover, but only to apply.
Let us, then, all take hold together, with all our might, and see
what we can do with this new enterprise, and the whole splendid
continent of Africa opens before us and our children. _Our nation_
shall roll the tide of civilization and Christianity along its
shores, and plant there mighty republics, that, growing with the
rapidity of tropical vegetation, shall be for all coming ages.
"Do you say that I am deserting my enslaved brethren? I think not.
If I forget them one hour, one moment of my life, so may God
forget me! But, what can I do for them, here? Can I break
their chains? No, not as an individual; but, let me go and form
part of a nation, which shall have a voice in the councils of
nations, and then we can speak. A nation has a right to argue,
remonstrate, implore, and present the cause of its race,--which an
individual has not.
"If Europe ever becomes a grand council of free nations,--as
I trust in God it will,--if, there, serfdom, and all unjust and
oppressive social inequalities, are done away; and if they, as
France and England have done, acknowledge our position,--then, in
the great congress of nations, we will make our appeal, and present
the cause of our enslaved and suffering race; and it cannot be that
free, enlightened America will not then desire to wipe from her
escutcheon that bar sinister which disgraces her among nations,
and is as truly a curse to her as to the enslaved.
"But, you will tell me, our race have equal rights to mingle
in the American republic as the Irishman, the German, the Swede.
Granted, they have. We _ought_ to be free to meet and mingle,--to
rise by our individual worth, without any consideration of caste
or color; and they who deny us this right are false to their own
professed principles of human equality. We ought, in particular,
to be allowed _here_. We have _more_ than the rights of common
men;--we have the claim of an injured race for reparation. But, then,
_I do not want it_; I want a country, a nation, of my own. I think
that the African race has peculiarities, yet to be unfolded in the
light of civilization and Christianity, which, if not the same with
those of the Anglo-Saxon, may prove to be, morally, of even a
"To the Anglo-Saxon race has been intrusted the destinies of
the world, during its pioneer period of struggle and conflict.
To that mission its stern, inflexible, energetic elements, were
well adapted; but, as a Christian, I look for another era to arise.
On its borders I trust we stand; and the throes that now convulse
the nations are, to my hope, but the birth-pangs of an hour of
universal peace and brotherhood.
"I trust that the development of Africa is to be essentially a
Christian one. If not a dominant and commanding race, they are,
at least, an affectionate, magnanimous, and forgiving one. Having
been called in the furnace of injustice and oppression, they have
need to bind closer to their hearts that sublime doctrine of love
and forgiveness, through which alone they are to conquer, which it
is to be their mission to spread over the continent of Africa.
"In myself, I confess, I am feeble for this,--full half the
blood in my veins is the hot and hasty Saxon; but I have an
eloquent preacher of the Gospel ever by my side, in the person of
my beautiful wife. When I wander, her gentler spirit ever restores
me, and keeps before my eyes the Christian calling and mission of
our race. As a Christian patriot, as a teacher of Christianity,
I go to _my country_,--my chosen, my glorious Africa!--and to her,
in my heart, I sometimes apply those splendid words of prophecy:
`Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated, so that no man went
through thee; _I_ will make thee an eternal excellence, a joy of
"You will call me an enthusiast: you will tell me that I have
not well considered what I am undertaking. But I have
considered, and counted the cost. I go to _Liberia_, not as an
Elysium of romance, but as to _a field of work_. I expect to work
with both hands,--to work _hard_; to work against all sorts of
difficulties and discouragements; and to work till I die. This is
what I go for; and in this I am quite sure I shall not be disappointed.
"Whatever you may think of my determination, do not divorce
me from your confidence; and think that, in whatever I do,
I act with a heart wholly given to my people.
George, with his wife, children, sister and mother, embarked
for Africa, some few weeks after. If we are not mistaken, the
world will yet hear from him there.
Of our other characters we have nothing very particular to
write, except a word relating to Miss Ophelia and Topsy, and a
farewell chapter, which we shall dedicate to George Shelby.
Miss Ophelia took Topsy home to Vermont with her, much to the
surprise of the grave deliberative body whom a New Englander
recognizes under the term "_Our folks_." "Our folks," at first,
thought it an odd and unnecessary addition to their well-trained
domestic establishment; but, so thoroughly efficient was Miss
Ophelia in her conscientious endeavor to do her duty by her eleve,
that the child rapidly grew in grace and in favor with the family
and neighborhood. At the age of womanhood, she was, by her own
request, baptized, and became a member of the Christian church in
the place; and showed so much intelligence, activity and zeal, and
desire to do good in the world, that she was at last recommended,
and approved as a missionary to one of the stations in Africa; and
we have heard that the same activity and ingenuity which, when a
child, made her so multiform and restless in her developments, is
now employed, in a safer and wholesomer manner, in teaching the
children of her own country.
P.S.--It will be a satisfaction to some mother, also, to state,
that some inquiries, which were set on foot by Madame de Thoux,
have resulted recently in the discovery of Cassy's son. Being a
young man of energy, he had escaped, some years before his mother,
and been received and educated by friends of the oppressed in
the north. He will soon follow his family to Africa.
George Shelby had written to his mother merely a line, stating
the day that she might expect him home. Of the death scene
of his old friend he had not the heart to write. He had tried
several times, and only succeeded in half choking himself; and
invariably finished by tearing up the paper, wiping his eyes, and
rushing somewhere to get quiet.
There was a pleased bustle all though the Shelby mansion,
that day, in expectation of the arrival of young Mas'r George.
Mrs. Shelby was seated in her comfortable parlor, where a
cheerful hickory fire was dispelling the chill of the late autumn
evening. A supper-table, glittering with plate and cut glass, was
set out, on whose arrangements our former friend, old Chloe, was
Arrayed in a new calico dress, with clean, white apron,
and high, well-starched turban, her black polished face glowing
with satisfaction, she lingered, with needless punctiliousness,
around the arrangements of the table, merely as an excuse for
talking a little to her mistress.
"Laws, now! won't it look natural to him?" she said.
"Thar,--I set his plate just whar he likes it,round by the fire.
Mas'r George allers wants de warm seat. O, go way!--why didn't
Sally get out de _best_ tea-pot,--de little new one, Mas'r George
got for Missis, Christmas? I'll have it out! And Missis has heard
from Mas'r George?" she said, inquiringly.
"Yes, Chloe; but only a line, just to say he would be home
tonight, if he could,--that's all."
"Didn't say nothin' 'bout my old man, s'pose?" said Chloe,
still fidgeting with the tea-cups.
"No, he didn't. He did not speak of anything, Chloe. He said
he would tell all, when he got home."
"Jes like Mas'r George,--he's allers so ferce for tellin'
everything hisself. I allers minded dat ar in Mas'r George.
Don't see, for my part, how white people gen'lly can bar to hev
to write things much as they do, writin' 's such slow, oneasy kind
Mrs. Shelby smiled.
"I'm a thinkin' my old man won't know de boys and de baby.
Lor'! she's de biggest gal, now,--good she is, too, and peart,
Polly is. She's out to the house, now, watchin' de hoe-cake.
I 's got jist de very pattern my old man liked so much, a bakin'.
Jist sich as I gin him the mornin' he was took off. Lord bless
us! how I felt, dat ar morning!"
Mrs. Shelby sighed, and felt a heavy weight on her heart, at
this allusion. She had felt uneasy, ever since she received
her son's letter, lest something should prove to be hidden behind
the veil of silence which he had drawn.
"Missis has got dem bills?" said Chloe, anxiously.
"'Cause I wants to show my old man dem very bills de
_perfectioner_ gave me. `And,' say he, `Chloe, I wish you'd stay
longer.' `Thank you, Mas'r,' says I, `I would, only my old man's
coming home, and Missis,--she can't do without me no longer.'
There's jist what I telled him. Berry nice man, dat Mas'r Jones was."
Chloe had pertinaciously insisted that the very bills in
which her wages had been paid should be preserved, to show her
husband, in memorial of her capability. And Mrs. Shelby had
readily consented to humor her in the request.
"He won't know Polly,--my old man won't. Laws, it's five
year since they tuck him! She was a baby den,--couldn't but
jist stand. Remember how tickled he used to be, cause she would
keep a fallin' over, when she sot out to walk. Laws a me!"
The rattling of wheels now was heard.
"Mas'r George!" said Aunt Chloe, starting to the window.
Mrs. Shelby ran to the entry door, and was folded in the arms
of her son. Aunt Chloe stood anxiously straining her eyes
out into the darkness.
"O, _poor_ Aunt Chloe!" said George, stopping compassionately,
and taking her hard, black hand between both his; "I'd have given
all my fortune to have brought him with me, but he's gone to a
There was a passionate exclamation from Mrs. Shelby, but
Aunt Chloe said nothing.
The party entered the supper-room. The money, of which
Chloe was so proud, was still lying on the table.
"Thar," said she, gathering it up, and holding it, with a
trembling hand, to her mistress, "don't never want to see nor hear
on 't again. Jist as I knew 't would be,--sold, and murdered on
dem ar' old plantations!"
Chloe turned, and was walking proudly out of the room.
Mrs. Shelby followed her softly, and took one of her hands, drew
her down into a chair, and sat down by her.
"My poor, good Chloe!" said she.
Chloe leaned her head on her mistress' shoulder, and sobbed
out, "O Missis! 'scuse me, my heart's broke,--dat's all!"
"I know it is," said Mrs. Shelby, as her tears fell fast;
"and _I_ cannot heal it, but Jesus can. He healeth the broken
hearted, and bindeth up their wounds."
There was a silence for some time, and all wept together.
At last, George, sitting down beside the mourner, took her hand,
and, with simple pathos, repeated the triumphant scene of her
husband's death, and his last messages of love.
About a month after this, one morning, all the servants of the
Shelby estate were convened together in the great hall that
ran through the house, to hear a few words from their young master.
To the surprise of all, he appeared among them with a bundle of
papers in his hand, containing a certificate of freedom to every
one on the place, which he read successively, and presented, amid
the sobs and tears and shouts of all present.
Many, however, pressed around him, earnestly begging him not
to send them away; and, with anxious faces, tendering back
their free papers.
"We don't want to be no freer than we are. We's allers had all
we wanted. We don't want to leave de ole place, and Mas'r
and Missis, and de rest!"
"My good friends," said George, as soon as he could get a silence,
"there'll be no need for you to leave me. The place wants as many
hands to work it as it did before. We need the same about the
house that we did before. But, you are now free men and
free women. I shall pay you wages for your work, such as we shall
agree on. The advantage is, that in case of my getting in debt, or
dying,--things that might happen,--you cannot now be taken up and
sold. I expect to carry on the estate, and to teach you what,
perhaps, it will take you some time to learn,--how to use the rights
I give you as free men and women. I expect you to be good, and
willing to learn; and I trust in God that I shall be faithful, and
willing to teach. And now, my friends, look up, and thank God for
the blessing of freedom."
An aged, partriarchal negro, who had grown gray and blind on the
estate, now rose, and, lifting his trembling hand said, "Let us
give thanks unto the Lord!" As all kneeled by one consent, a more
touching and hearty Te Deum never ascended to heaven, though borne
on the peal of organ, bell and cannon, than came from that honest
On rising, another struck up a Methodist hymn, of which
the burden was,
"The year of Jubilee is come,--
Return, ye ransomed sinners, home."
"One thing more," said George, as he stopped the congratulations
of the throng; "you all remember our good old Uncle Tom?"
George here gave a short narration of the scene of his death,
and of his loving farewell to all on the place, and added,
"It was on his grave, my friends, that I resolved, before God,
that I would never own another slave, while it was possible
to free him; that nobody, through me, should ever run the risk of
being parted from home and friends, and dying on a lonely plantation,
as he died. So, when you rejoice in your freedom, think that you
owe it to that good old soul, and pay it back in kindness to his
wife and children. Think of your freedom, every time you see UNCLE
TOM'S CABIN; and let it be a memorial to put you all in mind to
follow in his steps, and be honest and faithful and Christian as
The writer has often been inquired of, by correspondents from
different parts of the country, whether this narrative is a
true one; and to these inquiries she will give one general answer.
The separate incidents that compose the narrative are, to
a very great extent, authentic, occurring, many of them, either
under her own observation, or that of her personal friends.
She or her friends have observed characters the counterpart of
almost all that are here introduced; and many of the sayings are
word for word as heard herself, or reported to her.
The personal appearance of Eliza, the character ascribed to her,
are sketches drawn from life. The incorruptible fidelity,
piety and honesty, of Uncle Tom, had more than one development, to
her personal knowledge. Some of the most deeply tragic and romantic,
some of the most terrible incidents, have also their paralle
in reality. The incident of the mother's crossing the Ohio river
on the ice is a well-known fact. The story of "old Prue," in the
second volume, was an incident that fell under the personal
observation of a brother of the writer, then collecting-clerk to
a large mercantile house, in New Orleans. From the same source
was derived the character of the planter Legree. Of him her brother
thus wrote, speaking of visiting his plantation, on a collecting
tour; "He actually made me feel of his fist, which was like a
blacksmith's hammer, or a nodule of iron, telling me that it was
`calloused with knocking down niggers.' When I left the plantation,
I drew a long breath, and felt as if I had escaped from an ogre's den."
That the tragical fate of Tom, also, has too many times had
its parallel, there are living witnesses, all over our land,
to testify. Let it be remembered that in all southern states it
is a principle of jurisprudence that no person of colored lineage
can testify in a suit against a white, and it will be easy to see
that such a case may occur, wherever there is a man whose passions
outweigh his interests, and a slave who has manhood or principle
enough to resist his will. There is, actually, nothing to protect
the slave's life, but the _character_ of the master. Facts too
shocking to be contemplated occasionally force their way to the
public ear, and the comment that one often hears made on them is
more shocking than the thing itself. It is said, "Very likely such
cases may now and then occur, but they are no sample of general
practice." If the laws of New England were so arranged that a master
could _now and then_ torture an apprentice to death, would it be
received with equal composure? Would it be said, "These cases are
rare, and no samples of general practice"? This injustice is an
_inherent_ one in the slave system,--it cannot exist without it.
The public and shameless sale of beautiful mulatto and quadroon
girls has acquired a notoriety, from the incidents following the
capture of the Pearl. We extract the following from the speech
of Hon. Horace Mann, one of the legal counsel for the defendants
in that case. He says: "In that company of seventy-six persons,
who attempted, in 1848, to escape from the District of Columbia in
the schooner Pearl, and whose officers I assisted in defending,
there were several young and healthy girls, who had those peculiar
attractions of form and feature which connoisseurs prize so highly.
Elizabeth Russel was one of them. She immediately fell into the
slave-trader's fangs, and was doomed for the New Orleans market.
The hearts of those that saw her were touched with pity for
her fate. They offered eighteen hundred dollars to redeem her;
and some there were who offered to give, that would not have much
left after the gift; but the fiend of a slave-trader was inexorable.
She was despatched to New Orleans; but, when about half way there,
God had mercy on her, and smote her with death. There were two
girls named Edmundson in the same company. When about to be sent
to the same market, an older sister went to the shambles, to plead
with the wretch who owned them, for the love of God, to spare his
victims. He bantered her, telling what fine dresses and fine
furniture they would have. `Yes,' she said, `that may do very well
in this life, but what will become of them in the next?' They too
were sent to New Orleans; but were afterwards redeemed, at an
enormous ransom, and brought back." Is it not plain, from this,
that the histories of Emmeline and Cassy may have many counterparts?
Justice, too, obliges the author to state that the fairness
of mind and generosity attributed to St. Clare are not without a
parallel, as the following anecdote will show. A few years since,
a young southern gentleman was in Cincinnati, with a favorite
servant, who had been his personal attendant from a boy. The young
man took advantage of this opportunity to secure his own freedom,
and fled to the protection of a Quaker, who was quite noted in
affairs of this kind. The owner was exceedingly indignant. He had
always treated the slave with such indulgence, and his confidence
in his affection was such, that he believed he must have been
practised upon to induce him to revolt from him. He visited the
Quaker, in high anger; but, being possessed of uncommon candor and
fairness, was soon quieted by his arguments and representations.
It was a side of the subject which he never had heard,--never had
thought on; and he immediately told the Quaker that, if his slave
would, to his own face, say that it was his desire to be free,
he would liberate him. An interview was forthwith procured, and
Nathan was asked by his young master whether he had ever had any
reason to complain of his treatment, in any respect.
"No, Mas'r," said Nathan; "you've always been good to me."
"Well, then, why do you want to leave me?"
"Mas'r may die, and then who get me?--I'd rather be a free man."
After some deliberation, the young master replied, "Nathan, in your
place, I think I should feel very much so, myself. You are free."
He immediately made him out free papers; deposited a sum of
money in the hands of the Quaker, to be judiciously used in
assisting him to start in life, and left a very sensible and kind
letter of advice to the young man. That letter was for some time
in the writer's hands.
The author hopes she has done justice to that nobility, generosity,
and humanity, which in many cases characterize individuals at the,
South. Such instances save us from utter despair of our kind.
But, she asks any person, who knows the world, are such characters
For many years of her life, the author avoided all reading
upon or allusion to the subject of slavery, considering it as too
painful to be inquired into, and one which advancing light and
civlization would certainly live down. But, since the legislative
act of 1850, when she heard, with perfect surprise and consternation,
Christian and humane people actually recommending the remanding
escaped fugitives into slavery, as a duty binding on good
citizens,--when she heard, on all hands, from kind, compassionate
and estimable people, in the free states of the North, deliberations
and discussions as to what Christian duty could be on this head,--she
could only think, These men and Christians cannot know what slavery
is; if they did, such a question could never be open for discussion.
And from this arose a desire to exhibit it in a _living dramatic
reality_. She has endeavored to show it fairly, in its best and
its worst phases. In its _best_ aspect, she has, perhaps, been
successful; but, oh! who shall say what yet remains untold in that
valley and shadow of death, that lies the other side?
To you, generous, noble-minded men and women, of the
South,--you, whose virtue, and magnanimity and purity of character,
are the greater for the severer trial it has encountered,--to you
is her appeal. Have you not, in your own secret souls, in your
own private conversings, felt that there are woes and evils, in
this accursed system, far beyond what are here shadowed, or can
be shadowed? Can it be otherwise? Is _man_ ever a creature to be
trusted with wholly irresponsible power? And does not the slave
system, by denying the slave all legal right of testimony, make
every individual owner an irresponsible despot? Can anybody fall
to make the inference what the practical result will be? If there
is, as we admit, a public sentiment among you, men of honor, justice
and humanity, is there not also another kind of public sentiment
among the ruffian, the brutal and debased? And cannot the ruffian,
the brutal, the debased, by slave law, own just as many slaves as
the best and purest? Are the honorable, the just, the high-minded
and compassionate, the majority anywhere in this world?
The slave-trade is now, by American law, considered as piracy.
But a slave-trade, as systematic as ever was carried on on the
coast of Africa, is an inevitable attendant and result of
American slavery. And its heart-break and its horrors, can they
The writer has given only a faint shadow, a dim picture, of
the anguish and despair that are, at this very moment, riving
thousands of hearts, shattering thousands of families, and driving
a helpless and sensitive race to frenzy and despair. There are
those living who know the mothers whom this accursed traffic has
driven to the murder of their children; and themselves seeking in
death a shelter from woes more dreaded than death. Nothing of
tragedy can be written, can be spoken, can be conceived, that equals
the frightful reality of scenes daily and hourly acting on our
shores, beneath the shadow of American law, and the shadow of the
cross of Christ.
And now, men and women of America, is this a thing to be
trifled with, apologized for, and passed over in silence?
Farmers of Massachusetts, of New Hampshire, of Vermont, of
Connecticut, who read this book by the blaze of your winter-evening
fire,--strong-hearted, generous sailors and ship-owners of Maine,--is
this a thing for you to countenance and encourage? Brave and generous
men of New York, farmers of rich and joyous Ohio, and ye of the
wide prairie states,--answer, is this a thing for you to protect
and countenance? And you, mothers of America,--you who have learned,
by the cradles of your own children, to love and feel for all
mankind,--by the sacred love you bear your child; by your joy in
his beautiful, spotless infancy; by the motherly pity and tenderness
with which you guide his growing years; by the anxieties of his
education; by the prayers you breathe for his soul's eternal good;--I
beseech you, pity the mother who has all your affections, and not one
legal right to protect, guide, or educate, the child of her bosom!
By the sick hour of your child; by those dying eyes, which you
can never forget; by those last cries, that wrung your heart when
you could neither help nor save; by the desolation of that empty
cradle, that silent nursery,--I beseech you, pity those mothers
that are constantly made childless by the American slave-trade!
And say, mothers of America, is this a thing to be defended,
sympathized with, passed over in silence?
Do you say that the people of the free state have nothing
to do with it, and can do nothing? Would to God this were true!