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Little Jeff's nurse, Flora, was one of the most troublesome, impudent negro specimens I ever met with. It was pleasant enough to have Jeff Davis (the baby) with Flora in my room-a beautiful apartment, with a piazza opening from it, all to myself; and there were many kinds of toys to entice little Jeff, which Flora scattered all over the floor, where Jeff crawled about to play with them.
When the room was completely covered, until there was not a stepping place left, and Flora felt inclined for a change, she had a plan of exclaiming suddenly," Missus calls ;" and snatching up the child, quick as an arrow away she darted, in spite of my calling and screaming, leaving every scrap on the floor for me to pick up.
The next time she came, pretending Jeff wanted very much to come and see me (intelligent baby of six months old !), she promised to put away the toys if I would allow them to be on the floor for Jeff. Perhaps she would collect one or two, and then contrive an excuse to run off with the baby, saying she would be “back directly," and that was the last of her
One sultry afternoon, I was sitting by the door opening upon the piazza, opposite the room door, and between two open windows. Suddenly a summer tornado came on, and before I had time to collect my brushes-for I was copying a flower—the curtains were flapping, one chair was blown half across the room, the little table at which I sat would have been upset by the gale had I not leant heavily upon it, and my papers were whirling like feathers about the floor.
Flora was in the hall outside, and I called to her to come quickly to shut the windows, while I held the table, and kept my arms over the things upon it. Flora came as leisurely as a person walking in her sleep. “Quick, Flora ! shut the door!” She was not quick by any means, and gave the door a little push, the wind instantly dashing it open as if to tear it off its hinges.
"Shut it, Flora !" (another little push). "Shut it firmly-latch it !" No, she would not; and I was pinned to the table, to keep paint-box, glasses, flowers, and papers together.
About the fourth or fifth time of trying, she latched the door, and then advanced in the same slow, impudent manner, staring about her without an effort to close the window, which, by this time had admitted the rain and hail two or three yards into the room, in a large pool, with everything saturated near it. The door once secured, the current of air was checked, and my hands released. As the “ she imp of darkness” sauntered past me to stare at what was on the table, instead of going directly to close the window, I gave her a tremendous to me) slap on the side of her head, and said, “ Quick! shut the window.”
“Oh, laws-2-me, Miss Jones ! see what mighty big hail!” Was I sleeping or waking ? The latter; for my hand was tingling dreadfully, and my wrist was nearly dislocated by the force I had used. I was trembling all over with the effort, and she was not aware of the blow! I don't believe the creature had even felt me.
Those were the two instances in my Southern experience of punishing negroes. In both cases I came off so much the greater sufferer, that I con. cluded the means did not answer the purpose ; and if I lived twenty years more in the South, nothing would ever induce me to strike a negro again.
These delightful specimens of black humanity monopolised all the fruit in the garden and orchard, just as some white servants do at home. Until water-melons came into season, one plateful of plums was the first and last fruit that was rescued from a whole garden and orchard full, and that in Florida—the land of flowers and fruit! It has been said that President Lincoln's emancipation proclamation was as much aimed at the combatants in the South, with the view to drive them home to their plantations to look after their negroes, as intended to raise the negroes themselves in revolt. The following anecdote of the negro “boss," or steward, in the cotton plantatious, illustrates the point in question, and is the more interesting, as occurring in Florida, the very state recently invaded by armed negroes under Federal officers :
These people, whom I used to come upon quite suddenly, on emerging from our little path in the woods upon the cotton-field, evinced the same fearless freedom of manner towards " white folk” that was so remarkable in Virginia. Whether I noticed them or not, a salutation was not long in greeting me.
“You be allers a hunting weeds, arn't you, missus ? What's the use an' them?” On seeing me examine the cotton plants, and no doubt investing me with the qualities of a connoisseur, the “boss” uncle asked, “How's Muster Milton's cotton crop a comin' on, mistis ?”
“It's very fine indeed-already in bloom."
That was the beginning of June, and the news did not appear very welcome to the man.
"Well! I reckon there isn't many that can beat us at making cotton. We can make more out o' one piece o land than most folks, I reckon."
"Your field looks very fine, but General Milton's is nearly two weeks forwarder. It has been in blossom more than a week, and some of it is nearly in boll.”
That was worse news still, and the man became quite self-important as he replied, “I allers likes what I do, to be just about the best as can be done. I don't like for no other hands to get a head of ours. That's what I allers aim at,” he added, as he took a self-satisfied survey of his crop. That negro was one of ten thousand : such emulation is very rare among them.
Home-sickness--sickness induced by climate, despondency, and morbid anxiety—soon drove the author forth from Florida (where, by-the-by, she was within an ace of buying a noble estate at ten cents an acre) up the Chattahoochie, and across Georgia to Charleston and Richmond, at which latter city she ultimately obtained a pass to the Northern States. She thus speaks, or rather writes, of what she saw of the “ down-trodden slaves” in Georgia :
Necessity compelled me to continue my journey on the Sabbath-day; and what did I see throughout that Sunday journey ? Crowds of slaves in gayest attire, both men and women, getting on and off the train at every country “stopping place;" more particularly at Americus and Cuthbert, two towns of Georgia. Where were they going, in dresses more expensive than many of their own masters and mistresses, in those times of blockade and economy? Some to a distant church, some to exchange visits at a neighbouring plantation, and some merely to enjoy the ride-merry, noisy, loquacious creatures, wholly unconscious of care or anxiety; while on the platform at the roadside station stood groups of grave-looking thoughtful men, who only lifted their eyes from the ground to give a nod to the negro slave, who persisted in attracting the attention of "massa.” My heart grew sick at the contrast, while I reflected that it is these very slaves for whom the whole world is now being brought into calamity. I took particular notice of the dresses of some of the negro belles, which were not only expensive, but in excellent taste; and so were those of their beaux, who sported beavy gold rings and chains, tasteful neckties, and who held the fans and parasols of their companions, assisted them into the carriages, and treated them to water-melons, with all the dig. nity of New York or Washington.
Once among the Federals, she both conversed a great deal about the Southerners, and heard much that was said about the prospects of the war. One Federal officer said, among other things :
“ Much as it would have been against my feelings a year ago to harbour such a thought, I am now convinced that we must go on with this war until the country is cleared of them” (the Southerners).
"And you must annihilate them before you conquer them, for they will aever come back to the Union,” I told him.
“Oh, you need not tell us that. When we get possession of Richmond we shall bring them to their senses. We are now preparing to attack them by a concerted movement on all sides at once. Nothing can save them : look at our vastly superior numbers compared with theirs."
Just think of my listening to such things, and not being able to warn the “vastly" inferior “numbers” of devoted rebels; though I knew they possessed one advantage that their enemies could not boast, which was a spirit and courage that made up for their deficiency of numbers. But I merely said, “Excuse me, you may possess Richmond and all Virginia ; Charleston, Savannah, and Mobile besides, and it will make no difference."
I said that, and a great deal more, and was quite surprised at my own boldness; but I resolved that if I could do anything to convince them of the uselessness of prosecuting the war, I would do so. We also talked on the emancipation question, and he asked me what the “rebels" thought of it. I told him they thought that the Northern President in this, only gave fresh proof of his short-sightedness, and total misapprehension of Southern character.
“How will Lincoln's proclamation scheme affect these people?”
“Some will never know of it, God be thanked! Some will never leave their homes and masters, if they do hear of it. But some, no doubt, will hear of it, and also take advantage of it, as the negroes of New Orleans are doing."
“Do you not think that the greater part of them will rise, and try to escape to our people ?”
"How can they escape to the borders from the far-off interior without the risk of discovery, which would be certain death, or else the risk of starvation and of suffering which they have never known before ? Nothing but misery can result from such a scheme; misery to the slaves and grief to their masters, when compelled to resort to such fearful extremes as will be forced upon them.”
“ Well, to tell the truth, there are very few of our people who approve of the scheme, nor yet that of arming the negroes to fight in the ranks. I believe three-fourths of us would resign if Lincoln persists in carrying it out."
“Besides, what right has Mr. Lincoln to send messages to the Southerners' servants any more than you have to give permission to your neighbour's coachman to take a trip in the Great Eastern?"
“We don't really want to interfere with slavery, it isn't that we care so much about; but it's this thing of having the Union broken up: we can't allow that. I have been in the South myself, and I don't find so much fault. with slavery; but you see the niggers stay at home and work while all the white men go and fight. Now if it were not for them, their masters would be obliged to stay at home and cultivate their own land, as our men do, or starve, and that would so reduce their army that there would be no chance for them. That's what our government is up to."
"Supposing they do hear of the proclamation, as a few of them may, but with very confused notions of what it means; how are they to get away? Would any of the Southern army allow a band of negroes to pass their lines with the intention of escape without shooting them down, after such a proclamation as Lincoln's? It will simply drive the negroes to their destruction. Removed from authority the negro is a savage."
" They are so confounded proud, those Secessionists. The worst thing in slavery is, that labour is disgraced by it. Those slave-holding aristocrats
May-TOL, CXXVIII. NO. DIX.
look down upon us for the very thing that we pride ourselves most upon. We respect people all the more when they help themselves.”
“That is very true and praiseworthy. I have observed with regret what you mention to be the case. Slavery is certainly an obstacle to progress, both of the white and the coloured race."
“They keep their negroes ignorant, to hide their degraded position from them."
“Excuse me, I think not. I have met with many very intelligent negroes, slaves, and feel convinced that when left entirely under the influence of their owners, they will be educated much more than at present. The Southerners choose to manage their own servants, and have been more rigorous of late years on account of the abolition rage. Slavery will wear itself out, and this is its only remedy."
An innkeeper at Baltimore declared that, if any of the Southern generals were to appear in that city, they would rise as one man. They were only waiting their opportunity. Of the grand Corcoran ovation, she heard one gentleman say: “ They are only making a tool of him, to get up an Irish brigade.” We cannot leave this interesting and decidedly very instructive work, without culling another specimen of transatlantic discussion :
Colonel or General Corcoran was being upheld by a Northern gentleman, and was represented to have been imprisoned in the “Tombs," and to have been kept " over a dead-house"—no such places existing in the South, that I ever heard of.
An English gentleman, who had not long since left the South, took up the subject, and warmly exclaimed, “I was in Richmond while Colonel Corcoran was imprisoned there, saw many persons who visited his prison, and know that this statement is entirely false, and that until his condition was changed, as a means of warning to the Federal government that it should, by undue violence to Southern prisoners, be held responsible for his life, he was treated as a gentleman and prisoner of war, and amply furnished with whatever comforts Richmond itself afforded."
A Southerner added, “ These things are written in order to deepen the hatred and stimulate the revenge with which the war is now being carried on."
“If the Union party in the North are firm in proclaiming Death rather than dismemberment,' the Southerners are much more determined in saying 'Extermination rather than submission,'” said a gentleman from New Orleans,
The former replied, " And as to union, it is not power we crave, but peace. It is to escape the contact of 'Yankees' altogether, under any and every circumstance; and if President Davis were appointed Military Dictator, King, or even Emperor of the North, I firmly believe he would decline the privilege of ruling Yankee subjects."
“The Yankees leave no stone unturned to weaken the power of the South; and one object is to lure away the negro labourers in order more easily to * starve their masters into submission,'” rejoined the Louisianian.
“ Starve ! that's the old story again. Can they starve us in such a country as ours ? Look at Virginia and Tennessee, what large wheat-growing states they are; they would supply the English market as well as our own, so soon as our own ports are opened, as they have already done through Northern ports before the war. There will be no lack of bread stuffs' when peace and agriculture go band in hand, not only for ourselves, but others. There is not much danger of our starving; we have only to plant corn instead of cotton."
“ Exactly so,” replied the gentleman from New Orleans; “but no cotton will be planted if there is no prospect of a sale, and another year of bloodshed, which is a disgrace to humanity, will ensue, and another year of suffering for your English factory hands.”
“Let neutrality display itself in trading with all ports, or none, and then the war would soon be over-that's what I think," said the Englishman from the South.
“But we should not permit you to open our ports: the raising of the blockade would be followed by war," said the Northern gentleman ; " and what would be the use of your attempting to fight us? you would only get whipped again, as you were before."
"As to that, it was our blood that fought your battles," retorted John Bull; " the States were inhabited by people of different mettle then than they are now. You have too much on your hands already, and are going headlong to ruin. Recognition of the South would be more likely to bring your government to its senses, with so large an anti-war party already rampant; and you find it too hard a matter to raise men and furnish artillery to conquer the South to attempt the conquest of England or Canada either; and what would you do between all three ?”
“Excuse me, sir," said the Yankee, “ you underrate our power; we have had upwards of a million in the field, and don't miss our men. We shall now raise six hundred thousand more, and as many more to back them when they are gone."
What a wholesale extermination way of talking, and how horrible that sounded! though it was but too true, as I had seen so lately, and where their armies were composed chiefly of foreigners; but I could not help wishing that they did miss their men much more, and realised the horrors of the war they were waging, which perhaps would have induced them to put an end to it without such reckless sacrifice of life. Yet I had heard the Northern people declare (among themselves) that the factories were losing their best hands; and out West, that the farmers offered three dollars a day for labourers.
Another day they were talking of slavery, and the Yankee gentleman was speaking of the Southerners leaving their negroes to take care of themselves, while they made good their own escape.
My fellow-countryman again took up the cudgels, and spoke of the sacrifice the owners were obliged to make when they had fled, with the Federal gun-boats firing on them. He said one lady had informed him that she had saved three negroes out of two hundred.. Another had brought away one out of fifty, and so on. And these were carried away in preference to clothing, jewellery, or other valuables, which would have occupied less space, less care, and required no food and lodging Valuables of all description were left to the enemy.
An English lady observed, “If the helpless, and old ones were left behind, I am inclined to think that it was a sad consequence of the invasion, and not the neglect of owners."
I thought of sable Jane in Florida.
“ The negro slaves are better off than our paupers," said the Englishman, " under ordinary times, but now are in a more enviable condition in every way, as they know not the want of food or clothing, while the state of our starving poor is only one of the frightful consequences of the war.”
There is something very suggestive in the last remark, which we have before alluded to in other words. And yet we are told by the Manchester School that political economy is a science! Is it science that, in Eng. land, a whole nation should be encouraging idleness by continuing a prolonged support, when other fields of labour, or other regions for employment, are open to the industrious and enterprising? or is it science that, in the Southern States, the fine old families should be fighting and their families suffering all kinds of losses and privations, while their negroes and negresses are living in luxury, and wallowing in insolence, dress, and extravagance, if not wantonness ?