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    Chapter 10

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    Chapter 11
    Previous Chapter
    _Life in Baltimore_

    CITY ANNOYANCES--PLANTATION REGRETS--MY MISTRESS, MISS SOPHA--HER
    HISTORY--HER KINDNESS TO ME--MY MASTER, HUGH AULD--HIS SOURNESS--
    MY INCREASED SENSITIVENESS--MY COMFORTS--MY OCCUPATION--THE
    BANEFUL EFFECTS OF SLAVEHOLDING ON MY DEAR AND GOOD MISTRESS--HOW
    SHE COMMENCED TEACHING ME TO READ--WHY SHE CEASED TEACHING ME--
    CLOUDS GATHERING OVER MY BRIGHT PROSPECTS--MASTER AULD'S
    EXPOSITION OF THE TRUE PHILOSOPHY OF SLAVERY--CITY SLAVES--
    PLANTATION SLAVES--THE CONTRAST--EXCEPTIONS--MR. HAMILTON'S TWO
    SLAVES, HENRIETTA AND MARY--MRS. HAMILTON'S CRUEL TREATMENT OF
    THEM--THE PITEOUS ASPECT THEY PRESENTED--NO POWER MUST COME
    BETWEEN THE SLAVE AND THE SLAVEHOLDER.

    Once in Baltimore, with hard brick pavements under my feet, which
    almost raised blisters, by their very heat, for it was in the
    height of summer; walled in on all sides by towering brick
    buildings; with troops of hostile boys ready to pounce upon me at
    every street corner; with new and strange objects glaring upon me
    at every step, and with startling sounds reaching my ears from
    all directions, I for a time thought that, after all, the home
    plantation was a more desirable place of residence than my home
    on Alliciana street, in Baltimore. My country eyes and ears were
    confused and bewildered here; but the boys were my chief trouble.
    They chased me, and called me _"Eastern Shore man,"_ till really
    I almost wished myself back on the Eastern Shore. I had to
    undergo a sort of moral acclimation, and when that was over, I
    did much better. My new mistress happily proved to be all she
    _seemed_ to be, when, with her husband, she met me at KINDNESS OF MY NEW MISTRESS>the door, with a most beaming,
    benignant countenance. She was, naturally, of an excellent
    disposition, kind, gentle and cheerful. The supercilious
    contempt for the rights and feelings of the slave, and the
    petulance and bad humor which generally characterize slaveholding
    ladies, were all quite absent from kind "Miss" Sophia's manner
    and bearing toward me. She had, in truth, never been a
    slaveholder, but had--a thing quite unusual in the south--
    depended almost entirely upon her own industry for a living. To
    this fact the dear lady, no doubt, owed the excellent
    preservation of her natural goodness of heart, for slavery can
    change a saint into a sinner, and an angel into a demon. I
    hardly knew how to behave toward "Miss Sopha," as I used to call
    Mrs. Hugh Auld. I had been treated as a _pig_ on the plantation;
    I was treated as a _child_ now. I could not even approach her as
    I had formerly approached Mrs. Thomas Auld. How could I hang
    down my head, and speak with bated breath, when there was no
    pride to scorn me, no coldness to repel me, and no hatred to
    inspire me with fear? I therefore soon learned to regard her as
    something more akin to a mother, than a slaveholding mistress.
    The crouching servility of a slave, usually so acceptable a
    quality to the haughty slaveholder, was not understood nor
    desired by this gentle woman. So far from deeming it impudent in
    a slave to look her straight in the face, as some slaveholding
    ladies do, she seemed ever to say, "look up, child; don't be
    afraid; see, I am full of kindness and good will toward you."
    The hands belonging to Col. Lloyd's sloop, esteemed it a great
    privilege to be the bearers of parcels or messages to my new
    mistress; for whenever they came, they were sure of a most kind
    and pleasant reception. If little Thomas was her son, and her
    most dearly beloved child, she, for a time, at least, made me
    something like his half-brother in her affections. If dear Tommy
    was exalted to a place on his mother's knee, "Feddy" was honored
    by a place at his mother's side. Nor did he lack the caressing
    strokes of her gentle hand, to convince him that, though
    _motherless_, he was not _friendless_. Mrs. Auld was not
    only a kind-hearted woman, but she was remarkably pious; frequent
    in her attendance of public worship, much given to reading the
    bible, and to chanting hymns of praise, when alone. Mr. Hugh
    Auld was altogether a different character. He cared very little
    about religion, knew more of the world, and was more of the
    world, than his wife. He set out, doubtless to be--as the world
    goes--a respectable man, and to get on by becoming a successful
    ship builder, in that city of ship building. This was his
    ambition, and it fully occupied him. I was, of course, of very
    little consequence to him, compared with what I was to good Mrs.
    Auld; and, when he smiled upon me, as he sometimes did, the smile
    was borrowed from his lovely wife, and, like all borrowed light,
    was transient, and vanished with the source whence it was
    derived. While I must characterize Master Hugh as being a very
    sour man, and of forbidding appearance, it is due to him to
    acknowledge, that he was never very cruel to me, according to the
    notion of cruelty in Maryland. The first year or two which I
    spent in his house, he left me almost exclusively to the
    management of his wife. She was my law-giver. In hands so
    tender as hers, and in the absence of the cruelties of the
    plantation, I became, both physically and mentally, much more
    sensitive to good and ill treatment; and, perhaps, suffered more
    from a frown from my mistress, than I formerly did from a cuff at
    the hands of Aunt Katy. Instead of the cold, damp floor of my
    old master's kitchen, I found myself on carpets; for the corn bag
    in winter, I now had a good straw bed, well furnished with
    covers; for the coarse corn-meal in the morning, I now had good
    bread, and mush occasionally; for my poor tow-lien shirt,
    reaching to my knees, I had good, clean clothes. I was really
    well off. My employment was to run errands, and to take care of
    Tommy; to prevent his getting in the way of carriages, and to
    keep him out of harm's way generally. Tommy, and I, and his
    mother, got on swimmingly together, for a time. I say _for a
    time_, because the fatal poison of irresponsible power, and the
    natural influence of slavery customs, were
    not long in making a suitable impression on the gentle and loving
    disposition of my excellent mistress. At first, Mrs. Auld
    evidently regarded me simply as a child, like any other child;
    she had not come to regard me as _property_. This latter thought
    was a thing of conventional growth. The first was natural and
    spontaneous. A noble nature, like hers, could not, instantly, be
    wholly perverted; and it took several years to change the natural
    sweetness of her temper into fretful bitterness. In her worst
    estate, however, there were, during the first seven years I lived
    with her, occasional returns of her former kindly disposition.

    The frequent hearing of my mistress reading the bible for she
    often read aloud when her husband was absent soon awakened my
    curiosity in respect to this _mystery_ of reading, and roused in
    me the desire to learn. Having no fear of my kind mistress
    before my eyes, (she had then given me no reason to fear,) I
    frankly asked her to teach me to read; and, without hesitation,
    the dear woman began the task, and very soon, by her assistance,
    I was master of the alphabet, and could spell words of three or
    four letters. My mistress seemed almost as proud of my progress,
    as if I had been her own child; and, supposing that her husband
    would be as well pleased, she made no secret of what she was
    doing for me. Indeed, she exultingly told him of the aptness of
    her pupil, of her intention to persevere in teaching me, and of
    the duty which she felt it to teach me, at least to read _the
    bible_. Here arose the first cloud over my Baltimore prospects,
    the precursor of drenching rains and chilling blasts.

    Master Hugh was amazed at the simplicity of his spouse, and,
    probably for the first time, he unfolded to her the true
    philosophy of slavery, and the peculiar rules necessary to be
    observed by masters and mistresses, in the management of their
    human chattels. Mr. Auld promptly forbade continuance of her
    instruction; telling her, in the first place, that the thing
    itself was unlawful; that it was also unsafe, and could only lead
    to mischief. To use his own words, further, he said, "if
    you give a nigger an inch, he will take an ell;" "he should know
    nothing but the will of his master, and learn to obey it." "if
    you teach that nigger--speaking of myself--how to read the bible,
    there will be no keeping him;" "it would forever unfit him for
    the duties of a slave;" and "as to himself, learning would do him
    no good, but probably, a great deal of harm--making him
    disconsolate and unhappy." "If you learn him now to read, he'll
    want to know how to write; and, this accomplished, he'll be
    running away with himself." Such was the tenor of Master Hugh's
    oracular exposition of the true philosophy of training a human
    chattel; and it must be confessed that he very clearly
    comprehended the nature and the requirements of the relation of
    master and slave. His discourse was the first decidedly anti-
    slavery lecture to which it had been my lot to listen. Mrs. Auld
    evidently felt the force of his remarks; and, like an obedient
    wife, began to shape her course in the direction indicated by her
    husband. The effect of his words, _on me_, was neither slight
    nor transitory. His iron sentences--cold and harsh--sunk deep
    into my heart, and stirred up not only my feelings into a sort of
    rebellion, but awakened within me a slumbering train of vital
    thought. It was a new and special revelation, dispelling a
    painful mystery, against which my youthful understanding had
    struggled, and struggled in vain, to wit: the _white_ man's power
    to perpetuate the enslavement of the _black_ man. "Very well,"
    thought I; "knowledge unfits a child to be a slave." I
    instinctively assented to the proposition; and from that moment I
    understood the direct pathway from slavery to freedom. This was
    just what I needed; and I got it at a time, and from a source,
    whence I least expected it. I was saddened at the thought of
    losing the assistance of my kind mistress; but the information,
    so instantly derived, to some extent compensated me for the loss
    I had sustained in this direction. Wise as Mr. Auld was, he
    evidently underrated my comprehension, and had little idea of the
    use to which I was capable of putting COUNTRYSLAVES>the impressive lesson he was giving to his wife.
    _He_ wanted me to be _a slave;_ I had already voted against that
    on the home plantation of Col. Lloyd. That which he most loved I
    most hated; and the very determination which he expressed to keep
    me in ignorance, only rendered me the more resolute in seeking
    intelligence. In learning to read, therefore, I am not sure that
    I do not owe quite as much to the opposition of my master, as to
    the kindly assistance of my amiable mistress. I acknowledge the
    benefit rendered me by the one, and by the other; believing, that
    but for my mistress, I might have grown up in ignorance.

    I had resided but a short time in Baltimore, before I observed a
    marked difference in the manner of treating slaves, generally,
    from which I had witnessed in that isolated and out-of-the-way
    part of the country where I began life. A city slave is almost a
    free citizen, in Baltimore, compared with a slave on Col. Lloyd's
    plantation. He is much better fed and clothed, is less dejected
    in his appearance, and enjoys privileges altogether unknown to
    the whip-driven slave on the plantation. Slavery dislikes a
    dense population, in which there is a majority of non-
    slaveholders. The general sense of decency that must pervade
    such a population, does much to check and prevent those outbreaks
    of atrocious cruelty, and those dark crimes without a name,
    almost openly perpetrated on the plantation. He is a desperate
    slaveholder who will shock the humanity of his non-slaveholding
    neighbors, by the cries of the lacerated slaves; and very few in
    the city are willing to incur the odium of being cruel masters.
    I found, in Baltimore, that no man was more odious to the white,
    as well as to the colored people, than he, who had the reputation
    of starving his slaves. Work them, flog them, if need be, but
    don't starve them. These are, however, some painful exceptions
    to this rule. While it is quite true that most of the
    slaveholders in Baltimore feed and clothe their slaves well,
    there are others who keep up their country cruelties in the city.

    An instance of this sort is furnished in the case of a family
    who lived directly opposite to our house, and were named
    Hamilton. Mrs. Hamilton owned two slaves. Their names were
    Henrietta and Mary. They had always been house slaves. One was
    aged about twenty-two, and the other about fourteen. They were a
    fragile couple by nature, and the treatment they received was
    enough to break down the constitution of a horse. Of all the
    dejected, emaciated, mangled and excoriated creatures I ever saw,
    those two girls--in the refined, church going and Christian city
    of Baltimore were the most deplorable. Of stone must that heart
    be made, that could look upon Henrietta and Mary, without being
    sickened to the core with sadness. Especially was Mary a heart-
    sickening object. Her head, neck and shoulders, were literally
    cut to pieces. I have frequently felt her head, and found it
    nearly covered over with festering sores, caused by the lash of
    her cruel mistress. I do not know that her master ever whipped
    her, but I have often been an eye witness of the revolting and
    brutal inflictions by Mrs. Hamilton; and what lends a deeper
    shade to this woman's conduct, is the fact, that, almost in the
    very moments of her shocking outrages of humanity and decency,
    she would charm you by the sweetness of her voice and her seeming
    piety. She used to sit in a large rocking chair, near the middle
    of the room, with a heavy cowskin, such as I have elsewhere
    described; and I speak within the truth when I say, that these
    girls seldom passed that chair, during the day, without a blow
    from that cowskin, either upon their bare arms, or upon their
    shoulders. As they passed her, she would draw her cowskin and
    give them a blow, saying, _"move faster, you black jip!"_ and,
    again, _"take that, you black jip!"_ continuing, _"if you don't
    move faster, I will give you more."_ Then the lady would go on,
    singing her sweet hymns, as though her _righteous_ soul were
    sighing for the holy realms of paradise.

    Added to the cruel lashings to which these poor slave-girls were
    subjected--enough in themselves to crush the spirit of men--they
    were, really, kept nearly half starved; they seldom knew MRS. HAMILTON'S CRUELTY TO HER SLAVES>what it was to eat a full
    meal, except when they got it in the kitchens of neighbors, less
    mean and stingy than the psalm-singing Mrs. Hamilton. I have
    seen poor Mary contending for the offal, with the pigs in the
    street. So much was the poor girl pinched, kicked, cut and
    pecked to pieces, that the boys in the street knew her only by
    the name of _"pecked,"_ a name derived from the scars and
    blotches on her neck, head and shoulders.

    It is some relief to this picture of slavery in Baltimore, to
    say--what is but the simple truth--that Mrs. Hamilton's treatment
    of her slaves was generally condemned, as disgraceful and
    shocking; but while I say this, it must also be remembered, that
    the very parties who censured the cruelty of Mrs. Hamilton, would
    have condemned and promptly punished any attempt to interfere
    with Mrs. Hamilton's _right_ to cut and slash her slaves to
    pieces. There must be no force between the slave and the
    slaveholder, to restrain the power of the one, and protect the
    weakness of the other; and the cruelty of Mrs. Hamilton is as
    justly chargeable to the upholders of the slave system, as
    drunkenness is chargeable on those who, by precept and example,
    or by indifference, uphold the drinking system.
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    Chapter 11
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