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pleasantly, for it was only the beginning of April, and the evenings are the more chilly after the mid-day warmth of the sun in that latitude. Mrs. W. and Cinta reappeared to see if there was a good fire, and hope I had all I wished. They said the trunks would arrive in about an hour. The ladies expressed no surprise to see the invasion of negroes in my apartment, neither were the Topsies at all abashed by their presence, and continued their undisturbed study of my physiognomy; but Aunt Ailsey's ingenuity was put to the test to find errands to get rid of them, for they reappeared so quickly, each time opening the door without rapping or ceremony, and resuming their places on each side of the fire.
The eldest Topsy's name proved to be Flora, and as night came on, this dark flower showing no signs of departing, her new mistress ventured to observe that she had better go to bed.
“ Missus done said I was to sleep heah, ef you'd want me to.”
So she raised herself from before the fire, where she had been leisurely squatting, and departed, grinning as she went, and displaying two splendid rows of teeth. She stopped at the door to say, “Does ye please want any fin mo' ?” and then curtseyed, adding, "Good night, mum.”
Next day, we have a visit to the garden and poultry-yard. When they sallied forth they were followed by three or four negro children, who ran towards them at the sight of “ Mi' Cinta.” Miss Cinta patted the head of one she called “ Jim," saying he was the youngest child and pet of Aunt Ailsey Topsy No. 2, was found to be his elder sister Sally, Cinta's little waiting-maid, who followed with the keys of the hen-houses and food for chickens, while some younger woolly heads were toddling in the rear. A want of finish and untidiness about the yard and buildings, and that amid signs of wealth and abundant labour, for in every direction negroes were to be seen, not only men and women working in the fields, but children, whose business appeared to consist in waiting on the elder ones, otherwise in doing nothing, was one of the first, as it is the most constant, characteristic of slave labour. As they passed these people they greeted Miss Cinta thus, “ Oh, Mi' Cinta, how'dy ?” meant for “ how do you do?” and the common salutation of both white and black throughout the South. Cinta greeted them all with a nod and smile, calling them by name, and stopping to speak to one or two to inquire after a child or parent, when they invariably offered their hand for a shake.
This, to any one who is familiar with the treatment of the black in the Free States, or who has studied “Uncle Toms” and “ Topsies” in the pages or orations of the Beecher Stowes, will appear a startling amount of intimacy, and a great extent of consideration ; yet is it one of the invariable characteristics of the relations between the slaveholder and his slave. When the doctor spoke of his slaves, he did not so designate them
-he called them “his people.” They, on their side, addressed their master thus : “ Massa Fred, hab you done got me dem nails to fix dat ar fence ?"
“ Massa Fred, I wants you to git me a new saw nex time you goes to Richmun', dis eah wone do nohow.”
“ Why, Cæsar, what have you done to wear it out so quickly?"
" Whew! Massa Fred.” And some excuse would follow, as if to persuade the “massa" of his unreasonableness. Many of these replies and arguments sounded to the new comer very much like impudence, but the doctor did not appear to regard them as such, and surprised our author by the calmness with which he tolerated the seeming impertinences. She could not “realise” that all these leisurely, slouching, argumentative negroes were slaves, nor that the easy-tempered, courteous gentleman who was addressed by them could be a slaveholder. A word, however, sufficed to break the spell. They were passing a pretty-looking mulatto girl in field costume, who curtseyed with a smiling, trustful look, and the usual “How'dy, Mi’ Cinta."
“ That's Rosa,” said Cinta. “ Grandpa gave her and her two sisters to me when I was ten years old, and I am going to take Rosa into the house to have her taught different kinds of needlework, and be my own maid.”
The words “ gave her to me” fell upon sensitive ears, whilst equally discerning eyes also saw that Rosa looked proud and happy at the idea of her promised promotion.
All these Uncle Toms, Aunt Ailseys, and Topsies had their cabins, each detached, having a pigsty and hen-house, and patches or gardens, and some with rough porches, with vines or flowers creeping over them; but otherwise the spaces were vacant, trampled, or littered with rubbish. The young children were left in the care of one or two elder ones, or an old negress at her spinning-wheel. During this first walk a great deal of shaking of hands had to be gone through, the negroes offering the new comer a welcome, as if, she remarked, it were as much their business as their master's to make her feel at home, but possibly also equally to avail themselves of a privilege grauted to them.
Our author returned to her home, after this first walk, with “an immense dread off her mind” that no “ very harrowing scenes" were likely to endanger her position in the slaveholder's family.
Owing to the extent of farms or plantations, some estates being from three hundred to three thousand or more acres, neighbours in Virginia are few and far between; yet the greatest amount of sociability prevails, and distance is scarcely regarded in making visits, and all the families are described as distinguished by the same mild, courteous, and cordial manners that characterised the W.s. The manners of the negroes upon these visits were also just the same everywhere. Thus, at OakfieldColonel Harry W., the doctor's brother's — the hall door is opened by an old white-headed but very black negro, iron-black by contrast with his silvery wool:
“Why, Mis' 'Liza"-addressing Mrs. W.-"ye's quite a stranger," shaking hands with the lady. 5 An' how's you, Mis' Cinta ?” who also shook hands. “An' how's Massa Fred ?”
“Quite well, Uncle Cassius; how are you?”
“Well, I thank’ee, marm. An' be's ye come to stop wid us now, Mis' Cinta? Ye han't been heah dis long time. An' how be you, mistis ?” continued the “ Uncle,” with a deferential bow to Miss Jones, followed by the shake of a hand, which that delicate person declares to have felt very much like iron. Uncle Cassius was attended by a little boy, of a pale
complexion, silky black hair, and beautiful eyes and teeth, so pretty and genteel that it was difficult to know how to accost him." This old * Uncle” thus narrated his story at an after-period :
"I b’long'd to ole Massa Harry ebber sin he was married,” began Uncle Cassius, alluding to the colonel's father. “He an' me was jes' about of an age, 'n' I tended him all his life, an' when he married Miss Molly, my ole massa (the colonel's grandfather) gie'd me to him. I allers 'tended to him when he was a boy, an' went out hunting and shooting wid him in vacations; 'n' I trabbled wid him all over de Norf, an' down to New Orleens, an' wharebber Massa Harry went he allers took me. Den he married, an' my ole massa gave me to him 'long wid my wife an' family, and some oth others dat b'longed to dis heah estate, all to young Massa Harry; lesewise he was young Massa Harry a' dat time. So he took me into de house, an' my wife, Miss Molly took her into de house, an' all our children was bringed up in de house to be house-servants too, till dey married. Dat ar leetle yallow boy in de dining-room now, he's my gran'son ; his muyver was my younges' daughter, an' she married a servant what b'longed to old Capp'n Planter over to Caroline (county); so de capp'n he bought her, an' she went and libbed 'long'd her husband over thar. Den I outlib ole Massa Harry an' Miss Molly too, an' I outlib my wife, but young Massa Harry (the colonel) he's boun' to take care o' me, an' he will too; an' I lib an' die on dis heah place whar I b'longs to."
It is from the circumstance of negroes growing up in a family in this manner that the custom has arisen of calling all its members, however old, by their christian names. And upon these visits there were so many old family “uncles” and “aunts," who in their turns presented their ebony palms to the stranger, that she confesses her philanthropy was sorely tried by this perpetual shaking of hands. The short-comings of negroes are, however, so numerous, that they are incessantly pressing upon those placed in contact with them. Our author had not been long settled before Flora was detected unlocking and exploring the contents of her boxes. To the question, “ What are you doing with my things?” all the answer that could be obtained was, “Do' want t' 'rouble an' yer things.” And even Aunt Ailsey took the sulky girl's part. “She didn't want to trouble the things, she jes' wanted to look at 'em ; she wouldn't trouble 'em nohow.” This promising young negress expressed a wish to learn to read. This was simply because she preferred sitting by the fire than fetching wood and water : she never got beyond ba, be, bi. In almost every family you meet with an Uncle Cassius or Aunt Ailsey, and sundry little Jims and Nellies, the children of old house-servants and favourite negroes, who are, consequently, much indulged, and sometimes very troublesome :
Sometimes one would be tempted to wonder how these young negroes ever grow up with notions of obedience and respect towards their masters, as so great a want of discipline and good training is observable. But a natural reverence and awe of " wbite folk" keep them in check as they come to years of discretion, strengthened by a devotion to their owners which seems instinctive, an affection and devotion which no others than their owners and their owner's family are ever lucky enough to share. Negro servants will wait upon visitors very well until the novelty has worn off; but they only continue to do so from compulsion; they will hover about strangers froin curiosity, but their service is dictated by quite a different feeling from that which actuates the same towards their masters. Perbaps some sbare of fear is blended with
their obedience, but this is a necessary influence upon an unreflecting nature. All this I soon discovered in the neglect of various matters in Flora's work. The same thing was daily recurring; but to say, “Be sure to do this every day," is as useless as hopeless. They must be told at the time and every time continually. It by no means follows that a prompt obedience is always rendered to their true masters and mistresses. Far from it. You now and then find old and trusty servants like Cassius and Ailsey, who do not require constantly watching ; but old or young, no idle dunce was ever so ready to "shirk” his task as the genus negro; and no hypochondriac ever so ready to discover grievances and to imagine maladies as these poor timid slaves.
A capacious medicine-closet is an inseparable part of a Southern establishment, and the master will get up any time of day and night to go and tend upon his wayward black helps : not a word of complaint at the disturbance and trouble of going half a mile off in the middle of the night, and often for some trilling ailment. “It is well,” our author remarks, “ that, either by nature or education, the Virginians are of so easy and tranquil a mood, for they would otherwise enjoy no peace in their lives, with their lazy, unreflecting, child-like servants, the negroes.”
Mrs. W.'s sister had proved a very intelligent friend during her stay at Forest Rill. Her home was in the State of Mississippi, and from her I learned a great many particulars as to the management of slaves in the more Southern States. She did not pretend to disguise the fact, that during the cotton and sugar barvests they perform extra labour, but it is usually followed by extra indulgences when the harvest is over. There are strict regulations for enforcing cleanliness; and persons are kept, on large plantations, for the express purpose of visiting the cabins, which undergo a regular purifying every Saturday, and looking after the health of the negroes. She related some instances of the easily transferred affections of negroes, which, coming from so truthful a source, afford strong proof that a vast amount of morbid sympathy is wasted upon their imposed family separations. The following case happened in her own brother's family.
Mr. A. had a negro servant whose wife lived on the adjoining plantation, the two slaves being in the habit of meeting constantly. When they had been married several years, the woman's master being about to sell his Mississippi property, and move to Missouri with all his family and servants, offered to sell Lydia to Mr. A, in order that she might not be separated from her husband. Mr. A. had already as many servants as he desired, and declined to buy her, but gave his own servant Sico permission to go to Missouri with his wife. Sico, in spite of the connubial tie, objected to leave his master. He considered a good deal, and looked very grave. “Massa Harry, I'se boun' not to lebe you, sah! I likes her mightily, an' I be right smart sorry she be a goin', but I likes dis heah place too. If my wife's got to go, she'll have to. Massa Harry, I can't lebe you an' Miss Liza, and all de childern." Mr. A. expostulated, and endeavoured to dissuade Sico from giving up his wife so easily. “Massa Harry, I reckon she better go wid Massa Arthur, she's a right good-looking nigger anyway, an’ she'll soon find annuvver man to hab her, an' dis nigger couldn't lebe you anyhow. Dis year place is my home, an' I don' want any uvver." So Sico being inexorable, his master gave him & holiday, with permission to accompany his wife as far as Memphis, in order to enjoy her society to the last, and make an affectionate adieu. On his way home, he passed the night at Dr. C.'s, where he had acquaintances among the servants. About a week after his return, he told his master he had seen a “right pretty yaller gal" up at Dr. C.'s, and he would like to marry her, with his permission.
"What! Sico, so soon forget your wife ?" " Ah, well, Massa Harry, it's no use to 'grebe over spilt milk,' what's done
can't be undone. I see dis young 'ooman as I was a comin' home; an' I courted her, an' tole her I'd come nex' week to marry her, if you'd no 'bjection, and so she's a 'spectin' on me.”
Mr. A. knowing the damsel in question to be a desirable match, and knowing also that his refusal might result in worse evils, gave his permission; so in one week from the tender parting, Sico took another holiday, but this time on a wedding trip. In a few months he received tidings that his first wife, acting on the same philosophic principles, had also solaced herself with another helpmeet.
It will be observed that in both cases the wives lived apart from their husbands, or it might be inquired how, if Mr. A. could not afford room for Lydia No. 1, he should allow Sico to contract marriage with Lydia No. 2. The negro is not, however, always so insensible to the evils of a forced separation. Here is an instance to the contrary, which occurred at a boarding-house at Richmond :
One day Mrs. Smith’s favourite servant Pete, the husband of Charlotte, whom the young ladies bad pronounced such a "perfect gentleman,” was performing a little job of carpentering in my room. His manners and appearance, though quite negro-ish, were undoubtedly those of a superior rank; a thing one often perceived in house-servants, which may be accounted for in their strong power of imitation, and from being in contact with well-bred people all their lives. This man, “ Uncle Pete,” never presumed on these things, even if he were aware of his superior address. It was a gracefulness and polish of demeanour, blended with obsequiousness and humility, that was almost painful to contemplate; and his mind partook of the same refinement. I was asking him about his children, the three pretty little mulattoes who were often in the house, and always clean and well dressed. This touched a tender chord in the father's heart, and I repeat his words, not to expatiate upon the “cruel separations” so commonly censured, but to declare to my readers that this was the only case I met with during my whole residence in the South where I heard a negro speak so feelingly on the subject. Their wounds are generally but transient smarts, and quickly healed.
“Oh! Mistress Jones, we can none of us tell when our turn will come. I was sold away from my father when I was so young that I shouldn't know him now if I was to meet him. That's a mighty hard thing to think of. And my brother, he went to another part, an' I hain't never seen him since; and we don't know whose turn may come next."
I asked him how many brothers and sisters he had, and spoke of Charlotte; and then turned and asked Frances how old she was.
Pete said, "She don't know how old she is.” “Why so ?”
"'Cause she's never been taught. How can she know, when she's never learnt anything, never had no eddication, and no one to tell her anything ? Her mother knows, tho', maybe, Miss Jones, and she's got a sister older than she is, and she's only sixteen, so this'n can't be as old as that.”
I did not permit myself to encourage Pete in this desponding mood, but the fountain of his thoughts was loosened, and he continued: “If I'd had my will I'd a gone to Liberia ten years ago. We can none of us tell when our turn will come, and maybe I'll lose my children as my father lost me."
It was while the author was at Richmond that secession became a “ fait accompli," and that hostilities commenced. The confidence of the Yankees in being able to bring the South to submission with scarcely an effort, according to the author, who had many friends in the North, and many means of acquiring good information, was one of the chief causes of the war ; while the erroneous views entertained in England of the